- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 15, 2005

The Rev. Glenn Taylor sounds a little like Bill Cosby — not in his joke-telling, but in his criticism of young blacks.

“Some of them are excelling, but so many don’t understand the opportunities they have,” says the pastor of Jerusalem Baptist Church in Poolesville.

“Some of them don’t know how to interview, can’t spell. They don’t know how to talk to someone, and they have this attitude that people owe them something.”

The Montgomery County school board last week honored Mr. Taylor, 67, for his pioneering spirit in civil rights as a member of the 1955 class of George Washington Carver High School — the county’s only secondary education facility for blacks at that time.

The school board now meets in the building that used to keep blacks such as Mr. Taylor from mixing with white students.

“I don’t think they understand how much it cost us to get this far,” Mr. Taylor says of today’s black young people.

Several of his classmates also were recognized during last week’s school board meeting.

“We have come a long way,” says Ethel Shelton, 67, of Silver Spring.

Mrs. Shelton and others in the group described long walks or bus rides on Bus 69, which always broke down in cold weather, past schools for white children to their school, which had no plumbing and used outhouses.

They described their parents’ efforts to explain segregation and to avoid situations where their children might be ridiculed or discriminated against.

And they described their determination to get an education.

“There was no such thing as not going to school,” Mrs. Shelton says. “It was the only way to survive.”

They dreamed of “the same thing everybody else dreamed of — college, good jobs, good homes, so our children wouldn’t have to struggle like we did,” says Annabelle Owens, 67, of Gaithersburg.

Mrs. Shelton and many others in the group said they have worked to pass on their stories to their grandchildren.

But some — such as Mr. Taylor and Robert Stewart, 67, of Gaithersburg — worry that young people have forgotten that such blatant racism existed just 50 years ago.

“Our past is gone. We have nothing to show them the struggles we went through. They never experienced that, and when we tell them, their mouths drop open,” Mr. Stewart says. “It’s good to tell our story because there are not that many ears that listen.”

Black culture has come under scrutiny since last May, when Mr. Cosby, who is also 67, criticized poor young blacks and their parents during a dinner commemorating the 50th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision, which ended segregation.

In the past year, Mr. Cosby set out on a nationwide tour of speaking appearances, challenging blacks to make family and education a higher priority.

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