Words: Maryam Elhabashy
During the process of writing my story for the “Unsung Heroes of The Civil Rights Movement in Howard County,” I tried to get as many credible voices to speak about desegregation in Howard County as possible. I decided to contact Allan Kittleman, whose father Robert Kittleman was extremely involved in desegregating Howard County. I emailed the Howard County Government website. I didn’t expect a response. I figured The Howard County Executive was an extremely busy man who had more important things to focus on. A few days later I was elated to see a reply. These are the words Allan Kittleman wrote to me. Below it is a link to a timeline I created to emphasize on the momentous events that brought the end of segregation in Howard County.
Dear Ms. Elhabashy,
I’m touched and delighted that you’re recalling my father’s contributions to the historic actions leading to the desegregation of our County’s schools.
Needless to say in today’s times, that action was long overdue, and corrected a terrible wrong, but in those times it took great courage to speak out against the status quo, the old practice of having separate schools for black and white children.
My Dad did what he did not because he thought we’d remember and praise him 50 years later, but because he knew it was right. He helped others see that segregation was wrong, and was hurtful to our county and his friends of every color. Dad got criticized and even threatened for saying all kids had equal rights and deserved equal treatment, but he didn’t let that change his mind. He’s the example I think of every time I face a question that demands courage to do what’s right, and what may be unpopular. I recall how he worked with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and became its first white member in Howard County, and later its only white President. Now our schools are widely thought to be among the best in the United States, and the contributions of every member of our tremendously diverse student body are among the reasons why that is so. Thanks for recalling how we got to where we are today.
For more information about the history of the Civil Rights Movement in Howard County, check out http://www.dipity.com/melhab/Desegregation-in-Howard-County-Schools/