BAR editor and columnist, Dr. Marsha Coleman-Adebayo
On a school trip to a ranch, a gang of white students wrapped a rope around Black 12 year-old girl’s neck and almost lynched her to death. Seven white adult chaperones thought the girl’s horrendous injuries did not warrant medical assistance or a call to police. Waco, Texas, is famous for lynchings, a citadel of “utter contempt for black life and the lives of our children.”
Black 6th Grader Nearly Lynched at School: Officials Deny Responsibility
BAR editor and columnist, Dr. Marsha Coleman-Adebayo
“KP’s parents thought sending her to a predominately white school would provide a superior education and access to a brighter future. This decision almost cost KP her life.”
A 12-year-old girl, attending the 6th grade at a pricey predominately white school in Waco, Texas, was viciously terrorized and nearly lynched by 3 white male classmates. No charges have been filed against the boys. According to reports, the boys wrapped a swing rope around the neck of the girl, identified as “KP,” knocked her to the ground and dragged her. “KP” was the target of on-going attacks and assaults by white classmates while she attempted to study at the predominately white Live Oak Classical School in Texas. This young lady was placed in a hand-to-hand combat situation for which she was utterly unprepared and at the mercy of white school administrators who denied the viciousness of the attacks and refused to protect her.
In 1900, Ida B Wells, newspaper publisher, journalist and anti-lynching activist wrote:
“Our country's national crime is lynching. It is not the creature of an hour, the sudden outburst of uncontrolled fury, or the unspeakable brutality of an insane mob.”
Ida Wells would have understood that the violence KP confronted was simply the continuation, in the 21st century, of the national “unspeakable brutality” that has laced the history of this country. The attempted murder of KP was an escalation from previous attacks that were condoned by the principal and other school officials.
According to exhibits submitted with a pending $3 million dollar lawsuit, the school’s principal, Allison Buras, in response to KP’s mother’s concerns, wrote that she "would never want children hurting one another" and that she spoke to the boys about the alleged incident. “It sounds like he may have pushed on the back of her leg to make her leg buckle, which is something the kids sometimes do," Buras wrote. "Rarely is that done out of meanness but more out of a desire for sport.”
Like many black parents sold on the notion of integration, KP’s parents thought sending her to a predominately white school would provide a superior education and access to a brighter future. This decision almost cost KP her life.
“The chaperons did not report the incident to the police or call for medical attention; instead they asked KP to apply Vaseline to her neck and take Motrin to alleviate the pain.”
KP was one of two black students among 20 other children who participated in an overnight trip to a local ranch. Anticipating danger, KP’s mother offered to chaperon the trip but school officials denied her request, choosing instead seven other white parents.
According to reports KP was:
“standing to the side of the swing, three white boys (including one boy who often bullied her) allegedly wrapped the rope around her neck, jerked her to the ground, and didn’t help her up. The rope cut into the entire front of her neck, halfway around her back, and burned her skin.”
When KP told the chaperons about the attack, in what can only be considered complicit behavior, the chaperons did not report the incident to the police or call for medical attention; instead they asked KP to apply Vaseline to her neck and take Motrin to alleviate the pain.
With remarkable consistency, none of the white chaperons bothered to tell Sandy Rougely, KP’s mother about the attempted murder the night before. When KP’s mother saw her walking from the bus she thought her daughter was wearing a necklace. She "…looked like somebody had ripped her neck apart and stitched it back together." Rougely, immediately called an ambulance and took KP to the hospital. Rougely reported that the principal was “shocked when she learned they were going to the emergency room.”
Doctors working in the emergency room, however, thought KP’s injuries were apparently so severe that police were notified and an investigation launched.
The refusal to view KP as a human being continues. Jeremy Counseller, a board member for the school, told the Dallas Morning News “Live Oak takes the safety of its students seriously and is saddened that one of its family suffered an unfortunate accident and injury.” Counseller has described what happened as an “accident.”
“The principal was “shocked when she learned they were going to the emergency room.”
This ridiculous babble shows the utter contempt for black life and the lives of our children who attempt to negotiate with white supremacy, begging to be allowed to sit or be miseducated at the same table.
In the face of the attempted lynching of 12 year old child and other young people engaged in daily hand-to-hand combat in white schools it is appropriate to remind ourselves of a brighter and more sustainable future for the African community in the US.
In 1966, The Black Panther Party (BPP) proposed a 10 Point Program of liberation. This program and its goals are still worthy of consideration. On the issue of education, the BPP Program stated:
“We want education for our people that exposes the true nature of this decadent American society. We want education that teaches us our true history and our role in the present day society.”
One of the lessons that we can learn from this tragedy is the ultimate importance of controlling the institutions in our community that preserve the integrity of our lives and provide an environment where our children can be free.
Dr. Marsha Coleman-Adebayo is the author of the Pulitzer Prize nominated: No FEAR: A Whistleblowers Triumph over Corruption and Retaliation at the EPA. She worked at the EPA for 18 years and blew the whistle on a US multinational corporation that endangered South African vanadium mine workers. Marsha's successful lawsuit led to the introduction and passage of the first civil rights and whistleblower law of the 21st century: the Notification of Federal Employees Anti-discrimination and Retaliation Act of 2002 (No FEAR Act). She is Director of Transparency and Accountability for the Green Shadow Cabinet, serves on the Advisory Board of ExposeFacts.com and coordinates the Hands Up Coalition, DC.