Transcript: Tomzak's "Poor Little Black Girls" Speech
Tomzak criticizes NAACP for failing to provide leadership in the wake of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination, highlighting plight of teenage pregnancy among "poor little black girls."
Editor's Note: The following is transcribed directly from audio recorded at last night's city council meeting. A summary of Tomzak's speech can be found here.
Mayor Thomas Tomzak: This coming Monday we're going to honor a great American patriot, a man who has made a tremendous difference in our country, Reverend Martin Luther King. What he did was expose a blemish on our country, in reality, tested what America is all about, and demonstrated the denial of the American dream to many based on race was just not viable.
I still remember Reverend King walking arm in arm gentlemen that reminded me of my grandfather, facing dogs, water cannons, batons, and always peacefully risking their lives so that the American dream would be advanced to all. I sometimes wonder what the world would be like without Martin Luther King, or what America would be like when I see the violence in Northern Ireland and other parts of the country where rights are denied based upon religion or race. But thank God for Martin Luther King, and we will rightly observe his life this coming Monday.
My political awakening began in the mid to late 60s during this tumultuous time, and it's when I entered health care where I first became aware of racism and deep poverty. I particularly saw the dynamics of poor women and poor little girls, especially poor little black girls who had come from so little, had so little self esteem, saw so little options and were so often victimized and condemned for lives of poverty as were their children.
And I thought that the work that Doctor King was doing and all of the programs that have taken place in America, that this type of dynamic, this type of human tragedy, would be a thing of the past by the turn of the century.
Unfortunately for America, and especially for women and poor little black girls, Doctor King was killed. And with his death, the momentum to reform behavior that kept poor little girls of all persuasions, especially poor little black girls with children, in the cycle of poverty stopped and has not been restarted.
Poor little girls, especially poor little black girls, are not just victimized by black males, but are victimized by a variable rainbow coalition of bums.
In this annual celebration which Doctor King deserves, he will be honored with praise and ceremony. But I think Doctor King would be more honored by substantive actions that break cycles of poverty and abuse and cycles of poverty in children.
I've attended many Martin Luther King functions over the last eight years, and I still cringe every time I hear a leader of the NAACP saying that he's disgusted with the fact that the lack of reading in the third grade was a risk factor for imprisonment.
Well the fact of the matter is that is a disgusting statistic, it's particularly disgusting in 2011, and it's a statistic that reflects neglect, irresponsibility and bad decisions.
When a child leaves a nursery in 2012 in Fredericksburg, Virginia, because of Doctor King, it does not matter the ethnicity of the child. The child has the same chance as everybody else. But the environment that the child goes to is what's going to determine its failure of lack of it. And there's been no contemporary leadership from the NAACP to modify the behavior that results in child neglect.
Besides the lack of action regarding poor little girls and poor little black girls, there are other concerns of reactionary racial attitudes of the NAACP and community leaders and now the leadership of the local Democratic party in this city.
I was approached by a senior official in the school administration a while back that wanted to discuss racism in Fredericksburg. The concern of the school official was based on the fact that entertainer named Johnny Legend was driving through Fredericksburg late at night, became lost, stopped and asked directions and was told by somebody–to paraphrase–to go to Hades. This was reported by Channel 4 in Washington D.C. The man who contacted me, and I said: You've got to be kidding, somebody from Washington, D.C., worried about this?
Look at Dunbarton High School.
Then the school official cites this example and the example of the new theater complex out in Spotsylvania that was going to have a confederate war symbol on it. That was an example of racism to this school official, that's frightening.
I said I'll be glad to talk about this in public when I call the official back. I've not heard heard anything else since.
The other incident, is recently—we tried—Fredericksburg wanted to get out of the, wanted to bail out of the federal requirement that we had to notify the Justice Department, and use staff time to notify the Justice Department, and wait 60 minutes [sic] so that we can change a polling place in this town.
We went through this when we changed a polling place in Walker Grant to another church. This bailout has been challenged by the NAACP community leaders and the local Democratic leadership.
I think that this challenge, to this bailout, is an insult to the citizens of Fredericksburg.
What it accuses us, is of blatant racism. I think the NAACP, community leaders, and the leadership of the Democratic Party, owe the citizens of Fredericksburg a real apology.
Again. Martin Luther King should be honored. But as a health care provider, women, particularly for poor women in my current role as mayor, I call upon the NAACP, Democratic leadership, and community leaders to recognize the need, the special need of poor little girls, especially poor little black girls.
Martin Luther King said he hopes to see a day when man would be judged by his character and not the color of his skin. And I agree. We have too many men of low character abusing our young girls in this community.
I call upon the above mentioned to stop enabling male irresponsibility that condemns poor little girls, especially poor little black girls and their children, to cycles of poverty.
In 2012, let's honor Dr. King by building upon his success and doing what it takes working together to break the cycles of poverty.