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Kelly Norris: Shabazz ‘dedicated, courageous’ leader in Amherst

VICTORIA PEARSON
Amilcar Shabazz, chair of the Afro-American Studies Department at Umass, is now a candidate for the Amherst School Committee.

VICTORIA PEARSON Amilcar Shabazz, chair of the Afro-American Studies Department at Umass, is now a candidate for the Amherst School Committee. Purchase photo reprints »

To the editor:

As a member of the newly formed Equity Task Force in Amherst, I feel compelled to put in context recent comments made by our chair, Amilcar Shabazz, and to emphasize the incredibly important and difficult work he is doing.

At our last meeting, Shabazz was speaking passionately about the need to empower the children in our community so that they do not feel they have to resort to violence. He cited the incident where two kids of color assaulted a white student as evidence of the urgent call we have to support students in our schools who are feeling frustrated.

And Shabazz is doing just that. He has demonstrated his concern for the well-being of our youth by stepping up to the task of examining the district’s history of equity and providing leadership for a diverse group of voices to come together and problem-solve — no easy feat. Let’s not let one unfortunate comment tarnish the reputation of a dedicated, courageous, and much-needed leader in our community.

Kelly Norris

Amherst

Comments
Legacy Comments3

Reports on other forums suggest that at the same meeting where Shabazz referred to a white student as "the greatest student racist", that he also made erroneous statements about Superintendent Geryk. It has been alleged that he told the committee members that the superintendent refused to provide him with documents that she in fact had supplied him and all the other school committee members with. It was also alleged that he told the committee that if he were to try to enter the Amherst Regional Public High School, that Superintendent Geryk would have him arrested. I can't imagine the "context" within which either of these untrue statements would be deemed appropriate. If these allegations are true, these are incredibly divisive comments that do not reflect a willingness to cooperate with school administration. And further, if it is true he made these statements without Geryk there to defend and counter against mis-information and untruths... that is FAR from courageous. Will someone from the committee who attended the meeting please answer to these allegations?

I am left wondering why Dr Shabazz has not responded to the reported quotes from him.

Kelly, you might want to recalibrate your definition of courage.

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