Ayers settlement signals time to look to future

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 26, 2001

It’s refreshing to hear Dr. Clinton Bristow talk about the future, again. With the apparent settlement of the 26-year-old Ayers desegregation case, the Alcorn State University president and his peers at other colleges and universities in Mississippi can finally plan for what lies ahead.

And what lies ahead is improvement and growth.

The Ayers decision should go a long way toward resolving issues of discrimination against students at the state’s three predominantly black schools, as well as minorities attending other state schools. The leadership of Dr. Robert Khayat, chancellor at the University of Mississippi, and Mississippi State University President Mack Portera in a campaign to create a $35 million private endowment for the predominantly black schools sends a clear message that higher education leaders in our state are united. That unity is perhaps best evident at Alcorn State and Copiah-Lincoln Community College in Natchez, where cooperative efforts have created a model for other colleges throughout the state to follow.

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The future promises more cooperation, and more growth – including a fine arts complex to be jointly built and operated by Co-Lin Natchez and Alcorn that will benefit the entire community.

It’s this type of vision and cooperation that we hope will spread as a result of the Ayers case settlement. For too long, our state has been mired in its past; now, our university and college leaders can invest their energies in looking toward the future – and building partnerships that strengthen that future for all of us.