‘Racism' alleged by supporters of Nichols Elementary - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

‘Racism' alleged by supporters of Nichols Elementary

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) -

By Brad Kessie – bio | email BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Supporters of Nichols Elementary School still can't understand with Biloxi's only star rated school will not open next fall. On Saturday, they held another rally outside the mothballed facility, hoping their words would convince school board members that saving Nichols is a lot more important that cutting the budget.

Their voices once echoed through the hallways at Nichols school in Biloxi. This weekend, former students returned to the Nichols campus so their voices could be heard again. At one point, they could be heard chanting, "We are the Tigers, the mighty, mighty Tigers," a reference to the team mascot years ago. The also sang a song about Nichols High.

Delmar Robinson was one of the participants. "We will not let up until these doors are reopened as a school," he told the group.

Another woman who lives in the neighborhood said, "Nichols is the heart of the community. When you take the heart out, what do you have left."

About 100 people in town for a Biloxi combined schools reunion staged a save our school rally in front of Nichols Elementary's front entrance. The Rev. James Black helped coordinate the event. He told protesters he was skeptical about the budget cuts that forced Nichols to be mothballed. "You can call it what you want to call it, budget my foot," he said, eliciting a laugh from the crowd.

Since April, when the Biloxi school board voted to close Nichols, Beauvoir and Michel, men like the Rev. Black have held protest after protest. Saturday's rhetoric stirred up memories of the civil right era. "We have old, ragged schools that 40-50 years old that they're keeping open and closing down this very state of the art school," Rev. Black said. He continued by saying, "It is racism at its best. It is not dead."

WLOX News tried to get a comment from Biloxi Schools Superintendent Paul Tisdale or board president Kenny Holloway about Rev. Blacks's racism statement. But a text from the school board's spokesman said the board would not dignify the remark.

When the rally ended, the protestors marched through the neighborhood adjacent to the Nichols school. They vowed to keep speaking up for the school, and for the community until the Biloxi school system rescinds its decision to close the only star rated school in the district.

Reverend Black says he'll be at the next Biloxi City Council meeting. And so will several of Saturday's protesters. They're hoping their show of support will convince city leaders that Nichols Elementary School must remain open.

Copyright 2010 WLOX. All rights reserved.

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