A sad story out of the De Pere School District in suburban Green Bay. Dr. Alveda King, Niece of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., held several events in the Green Bay area this week. Dr. King is is Pastoral Associate and Director of Afircan American Outreach with Priests for Life and yes, she often gives pro-life messages during speeches and is also a staunch supporter of traditional marraige.
But in an interview today, Dr. King (audio attached) said she also speaks to public school students on a regular basis and that message is one of abstience and personal responsibility and does not include the polarizing issues of abortion and gay marriage. The De Pere School District apparently was well aware the nature of her message but shortly after her October appearance was announced in late September the district began getting a lot of complaints about her scheduled appearance, according to Superintendent Dr. Benjamin Villarruel. Villarruel says he was first contacted about King and "gave" the idea of her appearance to Principal Annette Deuman, who scheduled the event.
Villarruel says it was Deuman who convinced him to cancel the event, concerned King's message would get lost in the controversy. Villarruel also shared that the district was still smarting from allegations that Governor Scott Walker was treated disrespectfully during a recent visit, something Villarruel denies.
Villaarruel says as a result of this experience, the district in the future will still invite elected officials, but "nobody else famous...from either side." How sad. Villaarruel concedes that King's message as planned would have been perfectly appropriate and that her message was stifled by the threat of those who would create trouble. He acknowledged it, but I don't think he understands the impact of that position.
Dr. King told me on the show today that she has spoken at public schools many times and this has happened a few times before. She's invited, somebody Googles her and she's uninvited, even though she has a proven track record of sticking to the topics she says she's going to discuss. Villaarruel and Deuman don't realize it, but they caved to the classic mob mentality. Villaaruel saying they won't invite famous people anymore is a pronouncement of victory for bigotry. We can shut somebody out because of views they hold, even if those views won't be shared in a planned speech.
Suppose a school was going to invite Michael Moore to discuss documentary film making to a class that was learning movie making. Would I have a problem with that? Honestly, I might, because Moore hasn't proven that he can stay away from his personal beliefs in any setting. Alveda King has spoken to public school students many times and Villaarruel admits he wasn't worried about politics entering her presentation; he was worried about the blow back. That's a sad, sad message for a public school to send. Villaarruel says they could have handled it better by not inviting her in the first place. No; they could have handled it better by not caving to a mob mentality.