Op-ed: Mass. charters fight racial oppression

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By Sephira Shuttlesworth

By 1959, my late husband, the Birmingham, Ala. civil rights leader Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, had been beaten with bike chains, brass knuckles, and baseball bats by a segregationist mob, had his church bombed twice and survived his house being bombed by the Ku Klux Klan on Christmas Day. On a Monday night that year at the St. James Baptist Church, he was convening a mass meeting of his parishioners and other community activists.

After weeks of harassment from the Birmingham Fire Department, firemen showed up claiming a report was called in about a fire in the church. Upon leaving the church to resume the mass meeting at another church a block away, Fred Shuttlesworth told the Birmingham fire chief, “Y’all think it’s a fire in there? You know there ain’t no fire in there. The kind of fire in there you can’t put out with hoses and axes!”  And so it is for thousands of poor and minority students who are trapped in chronically underperforming schools in urban areas across Massachusetts with no means of escape.  Read more in The Fitchburg Sentinel & Enterprise, New Bedford Standard Times, The Lowell Sun, and The Providence Journal.