The Wilson Academy is an accredited private school located in Lithonia, GA just outside Atlanta. They educate “young men and women in grades six through twelve.” Founded in 2002, their current enrollment is approximately 70 students. Despite their small size they field athletic teams in basketball, track, cross country and tennis.
Wilson Academy by all accounts is a model institution. The students wear conservative uniforms. The young men wear ties and the young ladies modest length skirts. They perform community service and take field trips to the Federal Reserve and college campuses. One of their cheerleaders was the “Best tumbler in the nation” and appeared on the Today Show. Their students graduate and matriculate to college. Parents rave about the program. They build robots… and they’re black.
In order to compete against schools of similar size and values. They joined the Georgia Independent Christian Athletic Association (GICAA). The league has three divisions and represents close to 150 schools. The Wilson Academy Warriors men’s basketball team is ranked #2 in the Southern Region. One of two Black schools in the Division, at their road games the student athletes and cheerleaders were jeered and booed. “Despicable”, “Deplorable”, “Disgraceful.” These children were treated this way when hosted by “Christian” schools because when the National Anthem played.. they knelt.
These children learned, at way too young a age. That when the National Anthem was written they would not have been considered human. The writer, Francis Scott Key held contempt for the “hireling and slave”, rooting for their death in the third verse. Many Veterans have told the Wilson Academy administrators that not only did they not feel disrespected. They were grateful that because of their actions, we live in a free society where injustice can be protested.They said there is “no higher form of Patriotism.”
On February 1, 2017 the President of the GICAA informed the Wilson Academy they had changed their rules that day, unilaterally changing the contract between Wilson Academy and the league. They were making changes in the manual effective immediately forbidding “public protests at GICAA events.” They further said, “Wilson Academy is an ‘AT WILL’ participant in the GICAA and has the right to leave if they feel they cannot comply with the new stipulations put in the manual. I hope that you decide to stay, we have enjoyed our relationship with your school these past few years.” It was signed… “Thank You and God Bless” by Todd Harmon, President GICAA. All this just ahead of the beginning of the Championship Games.
In the E-mail announcing their decision they made note of a “divisive atmosphere” which apparently means when white Christian fans and parents are abusive to black students (not once did a black person spew hate or violence). The solution is to punish the black school. Later in the day the league indicated that the host school of the tournament game “won’t allow them to play in their venue unless they stand for the Anthem which as a private institution is their right.” Later still they offered that the game could be played at another venue if the other team agreed and Wilson Academy paid for the site.
I ask everyone that reads this to call or Email, Todd Hannon the President of the GICAA and voice your opinion. He can be reached at (678) 679-7123 and firstname.lastname@example.org Please call, write and share this post so that others may do also!
UPDATE!!! The team is being allowed to play in the Tournament while still exercising their First Amendment rights! Thanks to all who called, wrote or shared! Activism combined with faith still works!