Ayers settlement keepsrace discussions alive

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 24, 2001

The deal isn’t complete, but we can almost hear the grumblings already. &uot;I can’t believe they gave them $500 million,&uot; from one camp. &uot;Can you believe they only gave them $500 million?&uot; from the other side.

The settlement in the controversial Ayers case, announced Monday, is certain to rankle the feathers of many Mississippians – both black and white.

One week after a controversial flag vote that largely fell upon racial lines, Mississippi again confronted its past on Monday with the announcement that a settlement was reached in the Ayers case.

The case was originally filed in the 1970s by the father of a black college student who felt Mississippi was neglecting the state’s three historically black universities with a gross misappropriation of funds.

Now a generation later, the original plaintiff is dead and thousands of black college students have been educated at the historically black colleges – Alcorn State University, Jackson State University and Mississippi Valley State University.

It’s difficult to deny the three universities have been treated unfairly in the past. How to permanently &uot;solve&uot; the issue is so puzzling that it’s taken years and years to get the settlement issue resolved.

Lots of folks certainly will balk at the settlement, however the settlement itself doesn’t solve the deeper problem – race. It is still a factor in many issues here in Mississippi.

As much as some folks would like to ignore the issue and hope it goes away, it won’t. Mississippi’s future depends upon continuing the discussions and dialogue that issues such as the Ayers case bring forth.

Hopefully one day race won’t be a factor in anything, but until that day comes, keeping the discussion alive will help us move toward putting the issue behind us.