In July, CNN aired Black in America 2, the follow-up to last summer’s Black in America. Both series were hosted by CNN’s Soledad O’Brien and explored issues of contemporary African-American identity. Last summer, the show focused on the struggles faced by African-American women and families: single motherhood, HIV/AIDS, black women in the workplace and more. This year CNN shifted its focus a little, toward strategies for change within the black community.
The achievement gap is one of the bigger issues facing the African-American community today. Black in America 2 profiles Steve Perry, principal of the Capital Preparatory Magnet School in Hartford, Connecticut. Capital’s claim to fame is its 100 percent graduation rate, and that it sends 100 percent of its graduates to college. The school serves a mostly poor student body, many of whom are first-generation Americans.
In a supplementary editorial for CNN.com, Perry writes about the struggles involved in opening a school and composing a team of educators. He talks about his efforts, early on, to hire an all-black staff, a move he now sees as a mistake:
I assembled an all -black team. My plan was to put black educators together, and we would show ‘em. Brothers and sisters were gonna open a successful charter school. Black educators serving black kids. This was my first major mistake.
Talent and commitment have no color. Kids don’t care what color their teachers are, and I shouldn’t have either. After almost a year of stops and starts with a team that was not effectively assembled, I realized that I failed in my judgment because I did not keep my eye on the goal, which was to build a school that sent kids to college regardless of their hue or economic status. I have never made that mistake again.
Watch the video profile Perry and his school:
You can find out more about Perry, and other prominent leaders and activists in the African-American community, on CNN’s website.
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