This week, the Gabber introduces a nine-part retrospective about school integration in Gulfport and surrounding communities. Some of our readers may wonder why we felt compelled to write about events that, to them, feel far removed from their day-to-day lives.
The short answer: It’s not that far removed from everyone’s lives, and a newspaper must report the news, but also give it context. That’s what this series does: It gives us context for things we see happening today. That context isn’t pleasant to learn, but it’s worse for those who have lived it. Over the next two months, readers will face some uncomfortable truths about how our history still guides our present.
Things are still not equal. It’s not our job, as a newspaper, to tell you how you can make things better. Our job is to print the news and, as I said, offer context. This series will examine how Florida’s history of segregated schools still impacts how we function as a community. We’ll look at how we had to be forced to educate Black students and the lower standards that resulted, and also how some of our schools bear the names of those who led – and fought – the charge for change.
It is our hope that, after reading the series, those of us who have the privilege of never being told we couldn’t attend a white-only school or finish our high school education because of our race will come to a better understanding of how choices made 150, 100 or 50 years ago still drive inequality in how we teach our Black children and what opportunities don’t open up to Black Floridians because of it.
Please join us on this journey.