Update: Justice for Kelley Williams-Bolar!

8 Sep

In January, we reported the story of Ohio mom, Kelley Williams-Bolar. Bolar was arrested for “records falsification,” tried, convicted, and sentenced to nine days in prison for sending her two daughters to school in a more affluent district outside of Akron where she resided. In July, in a move that defies reason, a parole board denied her request for clemency. Their decision amounted to an especial form of cruel and unusual punishment because prior to her conviction,  Ms. Williams-Bolar had returned to college to complete required coursework to become a teacher for special needs children. With a felony conviction on her record, funding for college and a teaching job would be impossible to obtain. But we are happy to report that Ohio Governor John Kasich disagreed with the parole board and granted Williams-Bolar clemency earlier this week. The result is that her felony convictions have been reduced to misdemeanors, and she will be able to pursue her education and her dreams of becoming an educator. The violence, humiliation, an undue hardship that she has had to endure at the hands of our mostly flawed criminal justice system is not lost on us. Indeed these narratives of bad Black mothering coupled with a belief in Black criminality continue to endanger the life chances of Black people, particularly women and children. We need a new conversation about public education in this country, one that pivots upon a fundamental restructuring of the ways schools are funded. Property ownership has long been used to disfranchise Black folk, and now property taxes have become another way to structurally discriminate against the poor, who are disproportionately Black and Brown. This must change. For while Ms. Williams-Bolar has now been given “a second chance,” according to Kasich <and he gets the serious side eye for the condescending and sanctimonious language>, her daughters have been forced to return to subpar Akron schools. Williams-Bolar’s reprieve, then, is a small victory and certainly worthy of celebration, but the battle for equal education and opportunity is far from won.

6 Responses to “Update: Justice for Kelley Williams-Bolar!”

  1. sheridf September 8, 2011 at 7:55 PM #

    Thanks for looping back to this story. These types of institutional abuses fall through the cracks every minute of every day. The counternarrative is a discussion about property taxes and as a elementary school parent this issue is at the center of how my family has to organize our daily lives.

  2. Alkali September 9, 2011 at 8:55 AM #

    Not many people are reporting this, but I’m glad it’s out there. Awesome!

  3. Mustard Seeds (@mustardseeds27) September 10, 2011 at 9:26 AM #

    This is outstanding news! Good Luck to her.

    • Olga September 16, 2011 at 5:20 AM #

      I am appalled with what happened to this woman.
      I am a single mom, an immigrant to Canada. Many of us would do what she did without a hesitation if our daughters were in danger of bad company that can affect her life and her chances to become a good person.
      The act of desperation that was punished so harshly sent shivers down my spine. Overjoyed to read that true justice prevailed, and this woman and her kids still have a chance to get out of poverty.

  4. numol September 24, 2011 at 10:25 PM #

    i would really like to link to/quote this on tumblr. is that ok?


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