The sweltering heat did not stop hundreds of students, parents, politicians, community leaders and clergymen from convening on July 11 at the Together We Stand Church situated in Missouri City, Texas.
What sparked this rally and march was the recent decision by the Fort Bend ISD board to move the Electronic Engineering Academy from the predominately Black Thurgood Marshall High School to majority White Elkins High School for reportedly having lack of productivity. The community disagreed but refused to make it an issue of race.
"This is not about Black or White. This is about treating people right and doing what is right", said Tx Congressman Al Green, who served as the keynote speaker during the rally portion.
(Congressman Al Green: Photo by Jesse Muhammad)The program was broken down in two segments with a unity march to the campus of Thurgood Marshall taking place in between. Marshall is located about a mile from the church, which Congressman Green said was a short distance compared to history.
"Our people had to march in the 60's in Alabama and it was hot then. But they didn't let that stop them! So I am here to tell you that if they could walk from Selma to Montgomery, which is 50 miles, then surely we can walk across the street to Thurgood Marshall", he said as the crowd stood to their feet.
"You can not have progress without protest", said Congressman Green. "Those who want progress without protest, want rainbows without rain. Being involved is what it takes to make a difference."
Thurgood Marshall houses the only Electronic Engineering Academy in Fort Bend ISD. According to flyers handed out at the rally, the academy has had a 100 percent graduation rate over the last three years along with producing the school's last three valedictorians. These stats and more prompted the Fort Bend Pastors Association to get involved.
The association was represented by Pastors Hughes Jenkin, Theodore Deaver, James O'Neal, Rudolph White, Bobby Morgan, Mathew A. Davis, and Allen Rice, who oversees the hosting church.
State Representative Dora Olivo (D-27) said, "This march is so important because it's all about the kids. Schools have to be the best not just for a few kids, but for all kids. "
Congressman Green received a letter dated July 10 from Fort Bend ISD Superintendent Dr. Timothy Jenny explaining why the move was necessary but a meeting has been scheduled with Dr. Jenny for July 16 at Abiding Faith Church in Missouri City.
Other speakers at the rally included Ron Reynolds (President of the Missouri City & Vicinity Branch of the NAACP), Homer Stewart (Academy Director), Chris Hudson (Advisory Council), and the last two Thurgood Marshall valedictorians Ashley John (2008) and Gilbert Tumaliuan(2009)
Supporters also included State Senator Rodney Ellis; County Commissioner Grady Prestage; Missouri City Councilwoman Cynthia Lenton-Gary; Houston Councilwoman Wanda Adams; Constable Ruben Davis; Judge Joel Clouser; Houston Mayoral Candidate Gene Locke; and Jeffrey Boney of the Texas Business Alliance.
(Ron Reynolds of the NAACP: Photo by Jesse Muhammad)
(Houston Mayoral candidate Gene Locke (L) : Photo by Jesse Muhammad)
(State Representative Dora Olivo: Photo by Jesse Muhammad)
(Members of the Fort Bend Pastors Association: Photo by Jesse Muhammad)
(2009 Valedictorian Gilbert Tumaliuan : Photo by Jesse Muhammad)
(Marchers in front of Thurgood Marshall: Photo by Jesse Muhammad)
(Marching down to Thurgood Marshall: Photo by Jesse Muhammad)
(Mr. and Mrs Golf with Constable Ruben Davis (L) : Photo by Jesse Muhammad)
(A parent applauds during rally: Photo by Jesse Muhammad)