Black community wants own school

April 11, 1993|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,Staff Writer

Hoping to stop having children bused to schools outside their community, parents rallied yesterday to try to get a closed elementary school reopened in a black neighborhood.

Proponents of opening the former Adams Park Elementary School, which now serves as a learning center for troubled youths, said busing breaks up their community and keeps parents from getting involved in education.

"For 20 years, we've been integrating schools by any means necessary," said Carlesa Finney, who grew up in the Clay Street area. "We were told we won the battle. As our children would say -- not."

Members of the Adams Park Community Alumni Association promised to take their plan to the county school board April 21, when members are scheduled to decide various redistricting plans for Annapolis. The group said it is time to get away from 1960s terms such as segregation and "separate but equal."

"Our plan is to get the school open," Keith Gross, who also grew up in the area, told the 30 people who attended the meeting at the Obery Court Community Center. "The issue is not segregation. If we open this school, we are assuming that it will be predominantly black.

"That is not segregation," he said. "People say we will have problems if that school is predominantly black. That is the old way of thinking that black is bad. Segregation was pushed on us. We are choosing this. What better message to send to our children?

"People say that because the school is predominantly black, we won't have the resources. That is nonsense," Mr. Gross continued. "There are schools in this county that are lily-white, but they don't talk about segregation there."

C. Berry Carter, the county school superintendent, said he didn't want to comment until his staff, which has been studying Adams Park, makes its recommendation. But in December, he proposed leaving Adams Park as a learning center.

At yesterday's meeting, city Alderman Sam Gilmer supported reopening the school, but reminded the group about his work in the 1960s to desegregate learning institutions and warned them to prepare their plan of attack carefully.

He recalled a former wall between Adams Park Elementary School, which closed in 1971, and Taylor Avenue, "in the white community."

At recent city redistricting meetings, Mr. Gilmer said, parents in white communities worried about blacks being bused to their schools.

"They are the ones supporting this because they are saying, 'This iswhat I wanted all along,' " he said. "My suggestion is that while you push to open Adams Park school, come in prepared with a plan so that you will not disrupt some type of integration."

Other speakers said that it is hard to watch their 7-year-olds board a bus and ride to other, mostly white, neighborhoods to attend schools such as Rolling Knolls and West Annapolis Elementary, because it makes it so difficult to keep involved in their education.

Dora Brown, whose 7-year-old son, Laronja Owens, is bused to Rolling Knolls, said that when he is sick, it costs her $14 in cab fair to pick him up.

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