Paul Quinn College's loss of accreditation, is for many, a death knell for the school. For some it is an opportunity to review whether or not the commitment of Dallas to support the presence of a historically black college is real. But, at the end of the day, it is not really Dallas per se, that must prove its commitment, as much as it is African-Americans who live in Dallas. To be honest, if its not important to us, then it shouldn't be here.
Michael Sorrell, who for the past two years has an extremely impressive job of leading the troubled school, now needs the help of alumni and black Dallasites to rally to support Paul Quinn. Dallas area pastors Frederick Haynes of Friendship West Baptist Church, Denny Davis of St. John Baptist Church in Grand Prairie and Kerry Wesley of Antioch Fellowship Baptist Church, are among those who have, annually, for years, raised hundreds of thousands of dollars annually and more in other fundraisers to sustain Paul Quinn. Ironically, all are alumni of Bishop College. Bishop, also the school I attended, suffered the fate which Paul Quinn currently endures and eventually closed in 1988.
Mike Hashimoto of the Dallas Morning News asked a very important question regarding this school's existence - 'Why?'. Why should the school exist and in light of the challenges it currently faces, why should it continue. While there are those who seek to highlight a significance that has yet to materialize and those who speak of Paul Quinn as an asset that is only now understood as it lies on virtual life support, Mike is right in that no one has answered that question: 'Why should Paul Quinn be saved?'
If I can attempt an answer: we ought to save it because as black people, we cannot claim to love our history and not prepare for our future. To attempt to do so is to let down those heroes and heroins, both black and white, who built these institutions and handed them to us as a sacred trust.
I'm thinking about the people, like the woman Booker T. Washington mentions in his autobiography 'Up From Slavery'.
As Washington crossed the country raising money to build Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, an old woman, an ex-slave, approached him. In broken English she said, 'I kno's who you is! You's that man goin 'round tryin' to raise money to eddicate these boys and gurls. Now I ain't got no money. All I's got is these six hen eggs. But you take these hen eggs and you build that collitch and eddicate them chillun.'
We let that old woman down in 1988 when Bishop College closed.
We'll let her down again if we allow Paul Quinn College to fail.