Black History Roll Call: Thank YOU!
A PICTURE IS WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS. . .NOW YOU’VE SEEN IT!
As a concerned educator, parent, and grandparent, nothing I can say about the need for more
instructional help for our children could be more impactful than the poignant evidence you
witnessed on the stage during the performance of “Black History Roll Call”. Like me, you
probably cringed as sixth grade students struggled with reading passages that were assigned to
them to enlighten the audience about the lives and achievements of great Black artists of the
theater. These people, of whom they spoke, are our heroes, whose legends have paved the way
for today’s African-American stars and super-stars of music, verse, drama, and dance. The
passages were written at what could easily be classified as Third/Fourth Grade level by today’s
standards. What we saw was a prototype of many African-American and Latino students who
have not mastered basics of reading: word attack, context clues, and fluency. It’s not their fault. I
am not casting blame. I am saying that these and so many other students like them, who are
currently enrolled in public and charter schools, are in desperate need of help if they are to
continue their academic pursuit with enough success to finish high school and (hopefully)
college. So, that’s where we, the members of NCNW, come in—through the door of
As one who continues to be involved in upgrading the quality of education for minority students
in various school settings, through my work as a educational consultant, I couldn’t sit there in the
audience and just feel pain; I saw abundant opportunity for the crucial role that our organization
can play in ameliorating the problem. Texas Preparatory Charter School has been begging for
tutors—especially those with educational backgrounds; teachers, counselors, administrators,
coaches—to engage with them in volunteer capacity to help them lift up these young people to
the skills levels that will provide a path to future academic success, and empowered citizenship.
It is the perfect opportunity to prove our own worth to the Austin community—not waiting
for external action, taking action of our own, on behalf of our own. I frequently state in my
writings, “change is an inside job.” Someone else as said, “We must be the change that we
desire.” And, “Mista Swift” said in his drum and rap presentation last night, “ It must start with
YOU!” And was it not Michael Jackson who said, “Look at the man (woman) in the mirror”?
What are you willing to do to make things better?
My challenge to dear members and affiliates of NCNW is to think about what you witnessed,
and to propose to our small group of highly intelligent women (and man), a program of
intervention—yes, yet another initiative– that we can pursue in which we might have a chance
at making a difference in this critical area. I know for sure that Mr. Mark Terry, CEO, has
open doors. I view Texas Preparatory/Austin Campus as a small enough “garden spot” to
develop a NCNW Tutorial Program and to get some “success traction” with dedicated
volunteers. We are not looking for daily commitment. The work can be shared in a way that
accommodates busy schedules. The school’s personnel will help, once we have decided to do it.
This will be a topic that will be discussed at our March General Membership Meeting.
Please come prepared to participate in the dialogue. We can’t do everything, but we can do
something. Additional information will be available regarding the school, its location, and its
Let us remember this quote from the Last Will and Testament of our founder, Dr. Mary McLeod
Bethune that sums up all of the above:
“I leave you, finally, a responsibility to our young people.”
I eagerly await your response.
Shirley Sprinkles, Ph.D
President, NCNW/Austin Section