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Community Forms Biracial Committee To End Three-Day Black School Boycott

February 19, 1987

SENATOBIA, Miss. (AP) _ A biracial committee has been formed to negotiate an end to a black student boycott that continued into its third day Thursday.

Another such committee was named to prevent a similar boycott in Canton, and its mayor promised to follow its recommendations if it decides a black school board member should be appointed.

Senatobia Superintendent Mike Waldrop said nearly 500 black pupils in this northeast Mississippi town missed classes Thursday. But he said an 11-member committee would meet to resolve some of 28 demands presented by black protesters.

The 1,650-student school system is 34 percent black.

Boycott organizers, supported by state NAACP leaders, say they will continue to protest until a black administrator is named to replace a recently appointed white assistant superintendent. The Rev. Michael Cathey, a protest leader and a member of the biracial committee, said the school board reneged on a promise to appoint a black to the position.

″Waldrop has made statements that he couldn’t find qualified blacks,″ said Cathey, pastor of the Senatobia Church of Christ. ″If he can’t find a black assistant superintendent or doesn’t want to work with one, maybe he ought to go.″

Waldrop would not comment on Cathey’s statement, but has denied breaking a promise.

The biracial committee is composed of Waldrop, Cathey, four black and four white parents and assistant principal Ermon Macswine, who is black.

The group had tentatively scheduled a meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday in Waldrop’s office, but Cathey was unsure whether he would go.

″We’re still waiting to hear from the Board of Education. They’re the ones that have to make the decisions,″ Cathey said.

In central Mississippi, Canton Mayor Sidney Runnels said he hopes to head off a threatened boycott of white-owned businesses by black protesters scheduled for next Thursday.

Protesters argue that a black should be appointed to the school district. About 97 percent of the system’s pupils are black.

The city’s Board of Aldermen appointed two white members to the board; its two black members were elected. A vacancy was created in January when a white, Ebbie Spivey, stepped down.

Mrs. Spivey, head of the Mississippi Republican Party, was appointed by the aldermen in December, but quit when black parents complained that a black should have been chosen instead.

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