I am responding to the letter written by Mr. Jim Gates in WEDNESDAY JOURNAL on April 20.

I have been actively involved and striving to improve civil rights and justice in Oak Park and other communities for over 30 years. I have diligently worked with parents, children, leaders and school administrators and boards to make this community better.

In the past three years, I have attended most board meetings that pertained to the well-publicized issue of Mrs. Green’s leadership. During that time I have heard several people speak harshly and even discourteously of Mrs. Green. But I have never heard Mr. Gates express concern that they were “delegates of disharmony” or “demagogues of divisiveness.” During three years of attacks on Mrs. Green, I never once heard Mr. Gates suggest that anyone temper his or her speech.

Why is Mr. Gates so concerned about race now? Could it be because more minorities are in attendance and demanding respect and justice at the school board meetings? Does this make him uncomfortable? And does he really think that calling me a “self-appointed, counterfeit leader” will stop me from speaking my mind or people from listening to me?

I do agree with Mr. Gates that there is a need for open and honest dialogue on race. The community leaders and advocates are vigorously addressing racial issues within Oak Park. Each person also has to privately examine his or her belief in the system, tolerance for others and their viewpoints before any effective changes can occur.

It is unfortunate that it took three years of unfair and unproven attacks on Mrs. Green to bring Oak Park’s race issue to the surface. Now our community must come together for healing.

Wyanetta Johnson
Oak Park

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