Florence NAACP issues statement regarding political speakers at graduation

The Florence NAACP sent a letter to Florence 1 Schools, regarding political figures speaking at graduation ceremonies at South Florence High School and West Florence High School. Gov. Henry McMaster, Sen. Lindsay Graham, South Carolina House speaker, Jay Lucas, are scheduled to speak at South Florence and West Florence High School. The Florence branch of the NAACP claims the speeches from political figures violates Florence 1 Schools own policy, as it relates to speakers for graduation ceremonies.

Former NFL star, Lawrence Timmons will deliver the commencement address at Wilson High School. It is the position of the Florence NAACP that Lawrence Timmons, being a Wilson alumni, and former student athlete, will not have any political overtones, as would Sen. Graham, Gov. McMaster, or SC House Speaker, Jay Lucas.

President of the Florence NAACP, Jerry Keith Jr, issued a statement Tuesday morning:

“The Florence Branch of the NAACP is compelled to call this press conference to inform the public of the travesty being perpetrated on this community. But, more importantly on our children. Our graduating seniors called graduation in 2020. By the once again dereliction of duty, by Florence One School Board of Trustees and their one employee, the superintendent. Who has shamelessly politicized one of the most important milestones and events in our children's’ lives. That being high school graduation. To allegedly caring favor for himself or themselves, because they are allowing the violation of their own policy and tradition. Clearly stating in Florence One Trustees policy manual, under personnel policy GBI. Staff participation in political activities. The board prohibits campaigning and in public schools. By individual candidates or parties for municipal, school board, county, state or federal elections. No one may use or authorize the use of the public funds, property or time to influence the outcome of an election or a valid measure. Having three speakers all of one political party, that being the Republican party. Two, presently seeking reelection. And one involved in a hotly contested U.S. Senate campaign. It can only be seen as a partisan politics. And a clear violation of its own board policy. So, in the immediate response to hundreds of citizens who have contacted the branch office and or individual members to demand that we call out the duly , elected Board of Trustees’ policy GBI. The legally constituted governing board of the school district is the Board of Trustees of Florence County school district one. While the board is responsible to the South Carolina Department of Education, it is by law and tradition responsible to the community it serves and represents. It is therefore the duty of the board, to carry out the will of the community in matters of public education. Therefore via this press conference, the Florence branch of the NAACP request on behalf of the citizens of Florence One Schools that be a highly politicized selection of speakers be apologetically abandoned. And return to the format that was adopted more than 10 years ago by the board. Designating the valedictorian and salutatorian to be the speakers for their respective graduation ceremonies,” said Florence Branch NAACP President Jerry Keith, Jr.

Read more here, at our media partner: WPDE

Photo credit: Media partner WPDE/Tonya Brown

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