NAACP: 'We need to send a strong message' in response to racist incidents in Fairfield

Photo of Tara O'Neill
The Fairfield Ludlowe High School sign at 785 Unquowa Road in Fairfield, Conn.

The Fairfield Ludlowe High School sign at 785 Unquowa Road in Fairfield, Conn.

Hearst Connecticut Media file photo

FAIRFIELD — The Greater Bridgeport NAACP said it will meet with school officials next week to discuss two racist incidents involving students in the Fairfield Public Schools community.

Superintendent Michael Cummings on Wednesday sent a letter to families informing them that a second racist incident — this one involving students from Fairfield Warde and Fairfield Ludlowe high schools — happened last weekend.

“Again, there was an investigation, those involved were identified and appropriate actions were taken,” Cummings said.

But the school hasn’t shared what disciplinary actions those involved faced, citing student privacy reasons.

“We take these incidents very seriously,” Cummings said.

The weekend’s incident followed one last Friday involving Fairfield Warde students. That incident — where officials said a racist caption was added to a social media post — prompted the school’s principal to launch a coalition to focus on addressing discrimination.

Following Friday’s incident, a student was arrested. It’s unclear if an arrest was made after the weekend incident.

Rev. D Stanley Lord, president of the Greater Bridgeport NAACP, said Thursday that his organization was investigating the first incident and hadn’t heard about the second one. He said now that they know about the second, a meeting planned for May 17 with school officials will focus on both cases.

Lord said his organization had planned to meet with the superintendent and principal of Fairfield Warde, but said he would request the principal at Fairfield Ludlowe join the meeting as well.

“We need to send a strong message that this won’t be tolerated,” Lord said.

He said the NAACP has been working with the victim’s mother from the first incident. Lord said a civil rights complaint was filed.

“We will be suing,” he said.

Lord said the only way to stop incidents like this from happening is to educate the students and start a dialogue.

“We need to have a real honest and open conversation about race and let’s stop placating and sugar-coating that there’s no racism in our towns,” Lord said. “Everybody has implicit bias ... The whole idea is to educate, get people to rethink their mindset.”

Lord said racism is not something learned overnight, adding that it usually cultivates in an environment that allows it.

“We need to come together as a community with a mindset of oneness, with a mindset that we can all live together, strive together, work together, play together. But we have to do it with respect and love,” Lord said.

Cummings said support is available to anyone in the school community impacted by the recent incidents.

“Together, as a community, we can move forward and make progress,” Cummings said.