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Receiving on Martin Luther King day

The NAACP LogoMy husband and I and Bill Larson attended an Educational Workshop run by the NAACP before going to the Dr. Luther King Parade today. Here is my summary and highlights of the workshop….


Michael Harris, School Superintendent, encourages parents to get involved, show up at school events. He seriously wants to get more African American teachers in our system.

Dr. Jean Scott Murphy, a former educator, said that parents need to be active in their children’s lives. Many times parents are too tired or too busy to talk to the teachers and their children. Somebody: A parent, aunt, uncle, grandparent, has to be there for the child. A child should not feel isolated in the school environment. At open houses, the children keep looking at the door. They are looking for us, the parents. Children do well in school to please us, nobody else. Our home should include a safe space for children to work, think and be. We have to give that to them. We have to care enough to establish limits and guidelines for our children.

As parents or caregivers, it is up to us to see the light in our children. We are in the position to bring out that light. We do that with encouragement and talking about what is positive. If we only talk about what’s negative, that’s what grows. We can cherish every accomplishment. Children don’t always do what it is that we wish they would do. We should celebrate their accomplishments. Their work can go up on our refrigerators. We can focus on their strengths. NEVER PUT THE LIGHT OUT IN A CHILD. We can make college a possibility by stressing that it is not just for people with money, but people who work hard.

Dr. Jean said our children are precious human beings. (Do not let anyone convince you otherwise.) Be ready to go to your child’s aid at school. Sometimes you have to go to school wearing armor. The NAACP helps give parents the armor they need to protect your child.

I wish, I wish that I had heard this kind of thing when I was a young mother with kids starting school. The school took me aside and said, “You know, your child isn’t quite the miracle that you perceive him to be. Here’s a list of things that he doesn’t do well enough…”

They went on to say, “We agree that we understand your child better than you do and we think that you should: (list of choices, but not necessarily in that order)

  1. Discipline him
  2. Test him
  3. Drug him
  4. Label him
  5. Teach him”

I felt like I was being pressured to take the school’s side or my child’s. There is so much social pressure to have the perfect children and punish the child for not being a perfect product. For my daughter I met with teachers and once they saw that I really cared, they worked with her to help her. I home schooled my son after 2ndgrade. I was lucky to be able to make that choice.

It took me a lot of years to figure out that I had to stand up and fight for my kids. It wasn’t something that was easy to do. But even my grandmother had stories of when she went to school to defend her son. Hearing from Dr. Jean would have really helped me out in my isolation.

I would add to the list, be ready to validate the teacher too, when they are really wonderful. They have a thankless job and again, putting attention on the positive will increase the positive and make it easier to fight the negative.

We heard about predatory lending from L. Patricia Mock, Attorney. There are legal ways that bankers are getting rich on us because we don’t understand the language of home loans. She pointed out some watch words: balloon notes, pre-payment penalties, variable rates. We tend to think the banker is going to be on our side but it is so easy to lose money and our property.

We heard about harmful and legal lending scams. Cash advance loans, pre-approved credit cards with outrageous fees (read the small print!) and refund anticipation loans.

I wish I would have heard about this when I was a young person thinking that life would be great if I only had a credit card.

Then we heard from Rev. James Hill. He said that there are one million Christians with HIV/Aids whom we have forgotten or ignore. There are 40 million in the world. He said he realizes that it is a Christian duty to care for our fellow man. When he wasn’t caring he realized that he was wrong. He said we need to take off our blinders, remove the cotton out of our ears. Question not how someone got Aids but how can we help? He said the president of Uganda brought his country from a statistic of 20% infected to 2% infected by addressing the problem. Canada provides the medicine. He challenges this city to do something about the problem.

He has been running the CAMTAN, Clarksville Area Ministers Technical Assistance Network. (1325 Dodd Street, Clarksville (931) 249-4262) Yes, they do take volunteers and that is what he is. Please help.

The community spirit of this meeting and giving of so much vital information was outstanding. And then hearing that a Black Ministry was helping Aids victims! I was so filled. The kids had been downstairs doing lessons too.

The Parade

A light rain washed our parade walk through town. Vultures flew over us going in the same direction on public square. (I like vultures, their Indian message is: release the past). We sang songs all the way and stopped to say some prayer/blessings for the government buildings (and people within) that we passed.

At the end Jimmy Garland said that the march we just did was not just a walk around town. We were taking a stand on a powerful idea. We were willing to be seen for what we believe.

All day I said hello to and was greeted by welcoming people. Once again I’m reminded that here are folks who are so familiar with oppression. They have conquered their own apathy and despair well enough to move into action. The speeches I heard today were pure wisdom and strength and loving kindness. Here are the finest teachers.

Debbie Boen
Debbie Boen
Debbie and her family moved to Clarksville slightly after the tornado of 1999. Debbie founded the group, Clarksville Freethinkers for Peace and Civil Liberties, in 2004. She participated in Gathering to Save Our Democracy, a group dedicated to obtaining free and verifiable elections in Tennessee. She has supported groups including the NAACP, Nashville Peace Coalition, PFLAG, Friends of Dunbar Cave and the Mountain Top Removal Series of Films and speakers. She participated as an artist in the ARTZ gallery group in Clarksville and won Best of Show, First and 2 Second Place awards for four of her sculptures. She won a voter's choice award for a performance at the Roxy Regional Theatre. She is a wife, mother and cancer survivor. She is always amazed at the capabilities of the human spirit, and the wisdom to find humor when there is none.


  1. I moved your first post because it was a response to Debbie’s article and didn’t contain enough content to justify posting it as a separate article. So I moved it as a comment to the article it was in reference to.

    I find myself in strong opposition to your second comment.

    Anyone who moves this nation the distance Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. did during his life in his drive for equality for all, deserves any and all recognition we as a nation can provide. The holiday is the least we can do in recognition of his sacrifice. He died on the battlefields of justice and equality to what should be the sadness of all Americans.

  2. Great Job Bill..
    It is ironic that we still have people who do not and probably will never realize the sacrifice Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. made to set the stage for real equality. They narrow mindedly focus on the color of his skin while ignoring the content of his characrter.

    While this is their right, it still puzzles me as an American to think we have come so far but fallen so short. As long as the oppressed remain in their places, those who are of closed minded feels secure. Secure in believing they hold the key to true democracy.

    As I reflect on the MLK Day celebration held this week, I feel a sense of pride in knowing that there are citizens within our communities who feel as I do. We are in this thing called a, “melting pot” together. We can choose to honor the contributions of all Americans or simply remain in a position of denial.

    I challenge those who dare question the patrotism of Dr. King to walk a mile in his shoes. I guarantee the trip will be one of enlightenment as well as a sobering journey.

    Clarksville is a growing metropolis. Being such, we need to start advocating spirits of inclusiveness. Too long have we lived in isolation. We need to approach our dailiy vocations rememberin, that we are living the year 2007 not 1864.

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