In Black and White
By Terry Artis
My most valued mentor and friend, Percy Green II, often tells me of times that he was fighting for equality, and how there were White people who were engaged in the battle with him. White people who realized that equality for the Black man in America is the only true course to the ideal, “Indivisible, with liberty and justice for all...”
I have a White running mate who is engaged with me in the battle for seats on the Normandy School Board. My team member’s name is Dryver Henderson, and like me, he is also a Normandy High School alumnus (Dryver - class of 1955, me - class of 1982).
Dryver grew up in Northwoods - like me. He started out at Garfield Elementary - like me. Most importantly, he still loves his school district, and wants to see it be the wonderful institution of learning and youth development that it has been and can continue to be - like me.
I realize that many will ask, “What is a Malcolm X following, Black Nationalism subscribing, Black liberation expounding brother like you, doing with a White running mate?” It’s an interesting tale and I’ll make it brief.
When I first encountered Dryver, 2 years ago, he was what seemed like an angry old White taxpayer, lambasting the Black superintendent, Dr. Stanton Lawrence, and the Black Board of Education members at public board meetings for failing to support the high school newspaper project that he was working to revitalize. I thought that he was a teacher at the high school, and respected his courage to speak his mind and put his job on the line. I was later told that he was a volunteer and the former editor-in-chief of the Courier (Normandy High School newspaper). I was also told that Mr. Henderson had run twice, unsuccessfully, for the school board, and that he was bitter. On top of that, I was told that he’s a racist.
With all of this insight, I thought, “Let me talk to this former editor, bitter racist, and failed school board candidate to see what his problem is and get him to channel his anger and energy in more positive ways.” We scheduled a lunch together and I got to know the passionate, caring, dedicated and sincere man that is Dryver Henderson. I also got to know of the shenanigans that Dryver had been speaking out against and that he was making a third run for a seat on the Board.
I helped with his 3rd campaign and he ended up just 7 (SEVEN) votes shy of a seat. Dryver had decided that he would give up trying to earn a position on the board, but he would continue to be an engaged stakeholder and advocate for change.
The district lost its accreditation (effective January 1 of this year), and I asked Dryver if he would please run one more time with me on a ticket with him, and see if the two of us alumni could get the support to turn this Board and district around. I told him that at least with me on his side, NO ONE will be able to say that he’s a (racist), because community people know me well enough to know that I would never associate with a person of that leaning. He agreed to give it one more shot, and here we are: “Ebony and Ivory,” “Ying and Yang,” the “Dynamic Duo” as we’ve been called. Two men working to help rebuild our school district, which was once a model of educational excellence, and return it to that high ideal once again.