They marched. They fought. They shouted, protested and prayed. And they won.
Tuesday marked the final day of Valdosta voting. Along with the new mayor (congratulations John Gayle), Sunday alcohol referendum (alcohol is now sold on Sundays in Valdosta, awesome) and Valdosta Council at Large, the no school consolidation movement succeeded.
While a few, the 1 percent if you will, favored school consolidation (Chamber of Commerce, I’m talking to you), the majority of the city and county residents, the 99 percent, opposed it very strongly.
For those of you who are unaware of the issue, Valdosta has two school systems: the Valdosta City system and the Lowndes County system. Community Unification for Educational Excellence, Inc. (CUEE) helped kickoff the idea of taking the old way and transforming it.
CUEE wanted to combine the traditional school systems into a “unified” system: school consolidation. This means the city system would have had to get sucked up by the county and give up its charter.
CUEE wanted this to supposedly help diversify the schools and improve the students’ education, among other reasons. It looked to other schools as guides and pushed to make Valdosta one of the consolidated statistics.
Well, county and city residents stood up for their children and teachers, and said no.
They spoke. Several forums were held such as the one held by Valdosta City Schools on Oct. 25 at J.L. Lomax Elementary School and by Lowndes County Schools Tuesday at Lowndes High School.
They marched. More than 200 marched from the front of the Chamber of Commerce to the Martin Luther King Jr. Park on Oct. 22.
Signs were posted in yards; websites on both sides were made. They fought to the end. On Election Day, I saw people holding the “No School Consolidation” signs on N. Patterson Street and one person out of a car, and I am sure there were others.
Protest and effort does bring change. It brought revolution around the globe in places such as Egypt and Libya. It brought us desegregation in the fifties and sixties.
People around the globe, in the United States, in London, in Australia, in Rome, are angry. They see corporate greed, among other issues, and revolt passionately against it.
Even if you don’t follow the news, you have heard about the Occupy movements in some degree. That’s how long they have existed and how impactful these groups are.
Speak up. If you have a problem, say something. Nothing will happen if you sit back and let it go by.
Don’t be a spectator or commentator, shaking your head at or wiping your hands of the groups.
Be one of the Lowndes County citizens who fought school consolidation. Be one of the people who marched down streets with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Be one of the citizens who rose up against their unfair governments. Be one of the 99 percent.