CHARLOTTE – Shortly after Earnest Winston took the oath of superintendent during the Aug. 13 Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education meeting, chairwoman Mary McCray read from two emails she received criticizing the hire.
McCray, who lives in an unincorporated area of Mint Hill, said members of the school board usually take criticism, but it comes to a point when “you have to say enough is enough.”
One email accused the school board of racism by hiring a person with no superintendent experience. The other email described the school board as a racial slur and accused them of “making CMS a sewer.”
“It’s past time for us to start speaking out against people who taunt and name-call behind a computer screen and keyboard,” McCray said. “Never before with the hiring of several other superintendents while being on this board have I received such racist criticism as I have now. This is not about the capability of Earnest Winston to lead this district, but it’s all about the fact that he is a black man.”
McCray shrugged off the fact that Winston has never served as a superintendent or a principal, adding she knows of principals who have never worked as teachers. She also pointed to the superintendent of Miami-Dade County Public Schools in Florida as an example of a successful superintendent without a doctorate degree.
She said it’s easy for people to second-guess the school board and everyone can choose to run for the elected office to make the changes they’d like to see. But she offered a bit of advice.
“When you walk past a mirror,” she said, “stop and take a look at the person staring back at you and ask, ‘Am I a racist?’ You might get a response.”