Wake County (N.C.) Public School Board meetings have been quite lively ever since a newly-elected conservative majority started taking steps to repeal the county’s nationally acclaimed diversity policy and replace it with one that promotes neighborhood schools. The idea of neighborhood schools has a lot of appeal for those who live in nice neighborhoods, but less for those who live in poorer areas. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to predict that a policy of 1950s style “neighborhood schools” will inevitably lead to something approaching segregation.
Protests against the shift have been hot and heavy, with local NAACP president William Barber and Pullen Memorial Baptist Church pastor Nancy Petty, along with others, being arrested multiple times as they practiced civil disobedience to air their concerns about the coming pull-back in diversity within the schools.
At the most recent meeting, the person leading the protests was a high school student named Seth Keel, a young man who believes fervently that all students should have equal opportunities, and that diverse students can learn from one another. During a public comment period, Seth chastised the board for their actions, then declined to leave the podium when his two minutes were up. He was joined by five others, and all of them were arrested for second degree trespassing.
I’ve rarely been more proud. Seth’s family were members at Woodhaven Baptist years ago, when I was pastor there. Seth was born shortly after our daughter Bethany was killed. We held him as an infant and watched him grow. To see him stand up for the rights of others, even at the risk of facing arrest, brought not only pride, but also hope: there are young people in whom idealism, courage, and concern for justice burns strong and bright.
Way to go, Seth.