Black and white

Published 10:03 am Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Earlier this month, both the Southampton County and Franklin City school boards went through the annual exercise of voting on their respective leadership structures for the 2015-2016 school year.

The Southampton board voted 5-2 to retain Dr. Deborah Goodwyn as chairwoman, and 6-1 to keep Jim Pope as its vice chairman. Goodwyn, who is black, was opposed by the two other black members of the board, Florence Reynolds and Wayne Smith, who voted for Bill Worsham, who is white. Worsham himself voted for Goodwyn. The other white members of the board in attendance also voted for Goodwyn. Pope was unopposed, but Wayne Smith cast a dissenting vote.

Franklin’s board, which is comprised of four black and three white members, last week voted strictly along racial lines to reappoint Edna King, who is black, as its chair for the upcoming year. It similarly voted 4-3 to replace last year’s vice-chair, Will Council, who is white, with Andrea Hall-Leonard, who is black.

Do the nature of the outcomes mean that one board voted based on race and the other one did not? We will likely never know. But it does raise further questions in the City of Franklin, where the two most recent votes by both city council and the school board have fallen right along racial lines.