Roscoe Nix, the only black on the seven-member Montgomery County school board, admonished blacks in the county for their quiet and infrequent lobbying of the school board and challenged a group of them "to rise and take control over the destiny of your children."
At a Montgomery County branch meeting of the National council of Negro Women last week in the Kensington library, Nix said, "The most patient, the most nonpersistent, and the most benign of the groups (that come before the board) have been the black advocate groups . . . How long will you be patient, non-persistent, and beneign about the education of your children?"
Nix urged Montgomery blacks to become "board watchers," and attend at least the two main meetings the board holds each month.
"You ought to monitor the education of black children in an ordered, systematic way. An ad hoc approach is inadequate. You can be psyched out and faked out on the emotional issues," he said.
Blacks must pool their resources to study and critique school board actions, according to Nix.
"There are blacks who know about the budget; there are blacks who know about curriculum; there are blacks who operate major programs," he said. "Some of the best information we get comes from outside the school system."
Nix encouraged the approximately 50 women and men at the meeting to get involved in all issues concerning education.
"It's not expected of us that we will go for the big things," said Nix. "Black folks are not supposed to be concerned about reorganization. But some of you turned up at the worksession on reorganization. You scared some folks to death - they wanted to know what it meant, blacks interested in reorganization."
Nix related the report he always gives to his wife after he returns from school board meetings and hearings with the community.
"I tell my wife 'well, we had about 300 people tonight, and they called us every name under the sun.'"
Nix said most advocacy groups aggressively pursue his time and his vote. He noted that blacks must do that not only with him but with all the school board members.
"You've got to call all the board members. We all vote," he said. "We all have a responsibility to you . . . (Others groups) don't let us get away. You have got to do that," he said.
Although Nix's demeanor at school board meetings is generally quiet, he rarely minces words when he has a point to make. He smiled when he explained his reserve during board meetings.
"I feel that when I'm on public time I'm very selective about what I say . . . I like the public more in informal situations like this, when I can talk and get feedback."
Nix said he will not seek reelection in November after four years on the board, so that he can have more time to read, go to the theater, and become involved in American activities relating to the liberation movement in South Africa.
"I honestly believe that a person who works needs to give (the school board) up after four years," said Nix, a Justice Department community arbitratorwho said he spends 40 hours a week on board work. "It virtually controls one's life."
Nix was given a plaque by the group commemorating his service on the board.