Vol. 14 No. 9
May 6, 2019
BEAMing with Excellence
Our Stories
Columns & Features
by Heidi M. Pascual
The Naked
by Jamala Rogers
Editor's Corner
by Jonathan Gramling      
Remembering Virginia and Eyvonne
One of the hard things about getting old is that you witness the pillars of your life come down one by
one, leaving an uncertain landscape once the dust has cleared. When we are young, our lives are given
comfort and support by the people whom we have in our lives, no matter how superficial or deep. All
of these people form an environment within which we operate. They add a sense of reassurance that
the sky will not fall today, that one is not alone in the pursuit of some great passion like social justice.

I have had many of those pillars in my life pulled down, people like Betty Franklin-Hammonds, Rev. J.C. Wright, Ilda Thomas, Gene Parks,
Paul Kusuda and so many others. Their passing leaves a certain bareness to life, a vacuum that never quite gets filled.
And now two more pillars have come tumbling down, Virginia Henderson and Eyvonne Crawford-Gray. They always
seem to come down in twos and threes.
The first time I recall meeting Virginia was back in the early 1990s. Betty Franklin-Hammonds and her social work
interns had published two reports on the achievement gap of African American students. I think the first year the report
was published, MMSD received it and was content to let it sit on a shelf somewhere.
But then, the Urban League published another report and the district decided that it wasn’t going to go away. The
Urban League was creating programs like Project Jamma and another project that was the precursor to the school
parent liaisons and we also trained some of the first parent school liaisons. I remember Rev. David Smith was one of
the first.

I think the school district was intent on creating their own response to reduce the gap and promoted Dr. Virginia
Henderson as the Special Assistant to the Superintendent for Equity and Diversity, an achievement gap czar, if you will.
Virginia headed up a number of initiatives that worked with parents and the community to improve the academic
achievement of African American students.--

Virginia Henderson and Eyvonne