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Starting Strong Barbershop Talk: Men discuss school safety, HBCUs, and Affirmative Action | #schoolsaftey

This month, we’re tackling issues to help parents and kids prepare for back to school. In this week’s edition of “Starting Strong”, WVUA 23 News Anchor Jabaree Prewitt visits a local barbershop to find out the role everyone has to play in educating our children.

QUESTION: What’s your reaction to the Supreme Court’s reversal on Affirmative Action?

“I work in an HBCU, so affirmative action is in the forefront of our minds. It helps to remind us of the purpose and the mission of an HBCU. You know, HBCUs were founded after the Civil War to give African Americans access to education so, it’s all hooray, but we’re looking at the admissions numbers and hoping that students who may not have a chance at other schools would look at HBCUs but we’re also hoping to close the education gap,” said Quin Kelly Jr.

“We’ll I think as far as Shelton State goes it won’t impact us at all being a community college. You know the ruling really does show society’s look on diversity and inclusion. You know, I think we’re to a point now where we’re seeing some rulings by the Supreme Court that’s opening our eyes to things like HBCUs.  We need to take those things more seriously. We need to put more money into those, so that is an option for us if it comes to that point. If you look at majority Black lawyers and doctors in society today most of them are HBCU graduates anyway, so I think it’s something we should shed some light on,” said Joseph Eatmon.

“I just want to piggyback off these two gentlemen, to really get to the point, we really have to get our children exposed to it. Right now, I teach at a middle school and once our eighth graders know or exposed to not only the schools here in Tuscaloosa like your Shelton State or UA but, if we can get them exposed to an HBCU and let them know that there are colleges out there that can benefit anyone.” said Anthony Huggins.

“I have also seen concern and I’m proud of this from large corporations who are worried that their workforce is going to be less diverse because of the Ivy League schools who really needed the affirmative action to diversify their student population, so I think this is a moment for us to stop as a society and take a look at what our government and the courts are doing and whether or not that’s what we want as the people here in America.” said Kelly.


QUESTION:  Why don’t HBCUs get enough support? Since we are speaking of HBCUs. Why do you think the community isn’t supporting our HBCU’s? For instance, take Stillman College right here in West Alabama. It took Dr. Cynthia Warrick to come in to get it where it is now.

“I think it’s relationship building and that’s what I know President Dr. Yolanda Page put on the table for us. She doesn’t want us to go out into the community with ‘woe is us’. She wants us to go out into the community and be a friend first,” said Kelly.

“First of all, I speak of Stillman. I think it’s important that here in town that Stillman is a gold mine here in the City of Tuscaloosa. I think it’s extremely important from the top to the people on Stillman’s campus that we support Stillman because I think Stillman is a gold mine in West Tuscaloosa. If you just look at the students that come to Stillman or Shelton, they stay here in Tuscaloosa. They work here in Tuscaloosa and they contribute to the City of Tuscaloosa.” said Eatmon.


QUESTION: Are our kids safe in schools, going into this school year, do we think that?

“I don’t think our kids are safe anywhere to be honest. Schools, walking down the street, you know I don’t think they’re safe. I just think we live in this society where guns are so popular and guns are so accepted and gun laws are so loose that I don’t think we’re safe in Walmart.” said Eatmon.

“You got teachers.  You got kids, You got SRO’s.  As a matter of fact one SRO was charged in Florida. He just got off. He beat the case because they expected that one man to protect all those kids.  I just thought one day, over time, why not equip the teachers to be ‘teacher warriors?’ Why not equip them to protect their own classrooms, like their homes? It’s called “classroom defense” just like ‘home defense.’ What do you do in a situation like that?  Does the education system want to put in the money or the correction system want to collaborate and put in the money to train these teachers how to defend their own school? I know that may be a legal thing,” said Eddie Murphy, owner of e-tags Barbershop.

“That’s what I was about to say. There’s such a big liability there when you start talking about arming teachers but if done the right way it could be successful,” said Eatmon.


QUESTION: When did we stop treating schools like sanctuaries?

“I know when it started leaving. I’m going to tell you when it started leaving, when they started disrespecting and losing the honor for the teachers. When they took prayer out of schools. We use to have to come in and say the Pledge of Allegiance and had to pray over the whole school. When they took that out, when they took paddling out of schools, they took authority from the teachers. That’s like a police officer without a gun,” said David Murphy.

“We push education and make it a serious matter. The life skills are important because at the end of the day your hands is what built America. What’s going to keep America going after everything fails? your hands. So you got to be good with that as well, so yea we push education” said Khalin Binion.


QUESTION: What is it going to take for our kids to be successful going into the upcoming year?

“Reassuring them. Know they are in a space of comfort and level headedness so that they are able to be successful as students, making sure that parents know where to receive resources like everyone said, whether you want to divvy out resources to the schools, using community resources like United Way which has a 201 number. Call and they will refer you. They will get you the resources that you need,” said Tyler Davidson.



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