Superintendent Steve Smith of Wilcox County Schools and Principal Chad Davis of Wilcox County High School in Rochelle, Georgia made a truly unfair decision to force the all African-American varsity boys basketball team to forfeit their first round state playoff game in February of 2012. The decision was made in response to a minor fight between one member of the Wilcox County High School varsity boys basketball team and a Wilcox County High School Black male student who is not on the basketball team. The fight involved one punch and the Black male basketball player received the punch. A significant number of the boys basketball team members were around at the time this minor fight transpired off-campus.
Again, this was a small fight that happened off-campus.
Take a moment and read “Wilcox County Forfeits out of GHSA Boys Basketball Playoffs” to gain more information.
Superintendent Steve Smith arranged a meeting of the boys’ parents, the boys, administrators, and the head coach of the varsity boys basketball team to inform them of his decision to forfeit the game because of the minor off-campus fight where one of the players was involved in the fight and a significant number of the basketball team members were present. Superintendent Steve Smith made this move without much thought and consideration about what was in the best interest of these Black male student-athletes. It’s becoming increasingly clear that Steve Smith is unfair to African-Americans, and he seems to not have a problem discriminating against African-Americans.
The parents of the Wilcox County High School boys basketball team expressed their outrage at this decision and cited racism as being the chief motivation behind the decision of Superintendent Steve Smith and Principal Chad Davis. Steve Smith and Chad Davis had to orchestrate their plan and this decision late the night before the game was scheduled or possibly early in the morning of the day the game was scheduled. By going ahead and forfeiting the game early in the morning, this would not allow the parents and players to have their voices properly heard and would give them the impression that there was nothing they could do about this decision.
Principal Chad Davis stated that “if anyone thinks that he is a racist, then they don’t really know me too well.” The reality is those parents are too familiar with him and were articulating their beliefs based on a history of actions from him that evince for them he’s a racist.
If there would have been adequate time to advice the parents about what they could do to respond to the decision of Superintendent Steve Smith and Principal Chad Davis, they would have been informed that they had the power to have a lawyer to file an injunction, which would have temporarily overruled the forfeit and allowed the boys to play in the first game of the state playoffs that day. By the time a judge would have heard the case, the boys could have been well into the playoffs and possibly in the championship game before the case would have had a chance to be heard by a judge. Even then, a judge could have ruled against Superintendent Steve Smith and resolved that his decision was not proper.
The Black community in Wilcox County must become more organized and active in fighting against injustices, discrimination, and racism. You live in a county where Jim Crow still rears his ugly head daily.
Antonio Maurice Daniels
University of Wisconsin-Madison