THROUGH A TOWNIE’S LENS
By Jock Lauterer
There’s a local paper rolled up with a rubber band
One more sad story’s one more than I can stand
Just once, how I’d like to see the headline say
“not much to print today — can’t find nothing bad to say.”
Because nobody robbed a liquor store on the lower part of town
Nobody OD’d — nobody burned a single building down
Nobody fired a shot in anger… nobody had to die in vain
We sure could use a little good news today
We sure could use a little good news today…
• From Anne Murray’s 1983 song, “A Little Good News”
In this political and cultural inflection point in which we find ourselves as a nation, it is gratifying to be able to bring to our community “a little good news today.”
For the second year, the Lincoln High School-Chapel Hill High School Joint Alumni Association has honored two outstanding recent local high school graduates for their community service work in helping to bring about racial equity.
Victoria Fornville and Hannahlee Isaacs, both of Chapel Hill-Carrboro, were named this year’s winners of the annual community service awards.
Isaacs and Fornville were feted at a remote awards ceremony, Aug. 16, for their bridge-building work across racial lines during their time at Chapel Hill High School.
The honor carries with it a $1,500 award for educational purposes. Winners were evaluated for community building, civic engagement, equity awareness, public service and desire to make a difference. Both of this year’s winners are 2020 graduates of Chapel Hill High School.
Fornville is the daughter of Vickie Feaster Fornville and O’Neal Fornville III of Chapel Hill. This fall, she is an entering first-year student at UNC-Charlotte.
Her high school career is peppered with community-building volunteer work aimed at building bridges across racial lines: joining the Youth Leadership Institute, attending the Minority Student Achievement Network conference and then presenting her racial equity findings in many schools in her school district, creating a similar MSAN network for area fifth-graders, helping to create a black history month assembly for CHHS, being elected president of the local NAACP youth council and joining the new CHHS equity team called DRIVE.
Fornville says, “I know that the work of improving racial relations among many ethnic groups is far from over, but I take much pride in the work I have done to help improve it, and I plan to continue this work for the rest of my life.”
Isaacs, the daughter of Sarah Kazdan Issacs of Chapel Hill and Robert Isaacs of Carrboro, attended Woods Charter School for her early high school where she was a founding member of the Diversity Alliance, a club that addresses issues surrounding racial equity.
When she transferred to CHHS, Isaacs brought the club along with her, sponsoring a spate of bridge-building projects, including adding books to the school library that featured diverse characters and authors. Last summer she served as an intern with the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, attending first appearances and court hearings for inmates at the county jail, collecting criminal records for inmates.
Says Isaacs, “Watching my community members — the majority of whom were Black males – be given excessive bail amounts for simple crimes and discussing our flawed legal system with sheriffs and lawyers taught me that injustice is not just a phrase; it’s something that impacts human lives on a daily basis. My efforts to understand racism and fight for equality are just beginning; I hope to continue bringing people together and create a stronger, kinder and more fair society.”
The Lincoln High School-Chapel Hill High School Service Award was created in 2018 when John Allcott, a Chapel Hill High School grad of the segregated class of 1963, pulled together a steering committee comprised of his former classmates plus graduates of the then-segregated Lincoln High School in Chapel Hill. According to Allcott, identifying and honoring current high school racial equity “bridge-builders” became their mission.
In addition to Allcott, a practicing family doctor in Oregon his entire career, members of the steering committee include: Carolyn Daniels, LHS and CHHS; Richard Ellington, CHHS; Dave Mason Jr., LHS; Tito Craige, CHHS; and Jock Lauterer, CHHS.
The awards are administered by the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Public School Foundation, headed by Executive Director Madeline Blobe, who commented, “The Public School Foundation is honored to assist with the LHS/CHHS Alumni Award for students fighting for social justice.”
The steering committee members, now all in their 70s (and who didn’t know each other during their segregated high school days), have now formed new friendships with the motto of, “It’s Never Too Late – To Be a Classmate!”
Steering committee member Ellington, noting that back in the ‘60s the two segregated Chapel Hill high schools were in relatively close proximity, said, “We were a mile apart physically, but a million miles apart experientially.”
At one recent steering committee meeting, new friends Mason and Lauterer discovered they had both participated in the same Chapel Hill civil rights demonstration during the summer of 1964.
Allcott’s initial seed grant has spurred other significant donations to the fund, notably support from the CHHS classes of 1968 and 1969. Sarah Geer, class of ’69, reflected, “As soon as we heard of the awards, it fit with our goals of fostering racial equity.”
Her classmate of ’69, Barby Prothro, chimed in: “Our CHHS Class of ’69 lived through the Civil Rights Movement of the ‘60s and the segregation of our schools in Chapel Hill until the high schools merged in 1966. We were the first class to be fully integrated for all three years of high school. Donating toward this scholarship represents what we lived through and the work that so many of us have continued since our high school days. It is an honor to acknowledge the students of today who carry on our legacy of racial justice.”
Class of ’68 CHHS grad and steering committee member Carolyn Daniels, reflecting on the service awards and this year’s awardees, cited these words of the late civil rights lion, John R. Lewis:
“You are a light. You are the light. Never let anyone — any person or any force — dampen, dim or diminish your light …”
“Get in good trouble, necessary trouble, and help redeem the soul of America.”
Jock Lauterer began selling newspapers for Jim Shumaker and Roland Giduz on the streets of Chapel Hill at the age of 8. For the last 20 years, he has served as a senior lecturer and adjunct professor at the Hussman School of Journalism and Media, teaching photojournalism and community journalism.