Wednesday, April 20, 2011

75 Years Too Late!

I hate stories like this....I have to give credit where credit is due , to my wife, who made me aware of this story. She posted it on her Facebook page.

She said that In 1936,a black woman named Fanetta Nelson, a top student and piano prodigy, was denied being named valedictorian, a wrong righted only recently.75 years after the fact.

See, this should be one of those ohh gosh darn feel good stories , but it's not..Not to me...After I tell you the story, I'll explain why it's not. In 1936, Fanetta Nelson, a top student and piano prodigy, attended Westinghouse High School in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where she was destined to be valedictorian, just as her sister had been three years before. Unfortunately, the school principal vowed not to allow a second African-American make valedictorian - only two years prior, Nelson’s sister, Sophia, had been awarded the honor at graduation. "We are not gonna have two niggruhs walking around here as valedictorians." said the Principal.

What was even more surprising to the Nelson sister's parents, who, coincidentally, were both teachers, was that their younger daughter’s stellar academic performance had met the 1936 requirements for valedictorian, but the principal had forced her music teacher to lower her grade from an A to B to prevent her from gaining the top spot in the class. Some years later, the music teacher confessed what he had done to the Nelsons.

Despite the young woman's setback at Westinghouse High and the discrimination both she and her sister endured, they both attended the University of Pittsburgh and became school teachers. Fanetta Nelson also became a concert pianist.

Recently, a Westinghouse High School alumni, Reggie Bridges, joined with former classmates to right the wrong done to Fanetta Nelson . Upon investigation, they clearly saw the erasure marks on her transcript. The high school agreed, and historical records now acknowledge Fanetta Nelson as the 1936 valedictorian. Unfortunately, Fanetta Nelson won't be able to accept her due or bask in decades long vindication. You see, Fanetta Nelson died in 2008. She was 88 years old. Her older sister, Sophia accepted the award for her.

In a sense...This is a great story about justice delayed, but finally not denied..but to is justice done too late. These steps should have been taken years ago while the victim was still alive and breathing. My mother and my aunt always said -"Give me my flowers while I can smell them."

If you want to know the truth...This should have never ever happened...but the small mindedness and idiocy that was American racism and a sign of those times, unfortunately..prevailed. Shame on that principal..shame on him..I won't ever give American racism any quarter at any time..nor the people who perpetrate it and benefit from it.

I am thankful that some good, well meaning people decided to right a decades old wrong...but for poor Fanetta...It's at least three years too late..if not 75.

1 comment:

Big Mark 243 said...

I share your frustration but that it happened gives us hope that it won't happen again and if it does, it is quickly recognized and addressed.


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