The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

May 4, 2012

Our View: A place on the guest list

The Joplin Globe

— We know there will be many on the waiting list for tickets to Joplin High School’s graduation ceremonies where President Barack Obama will speak.

Each graduate will receive eight tickets for family members for the ceremonies scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday, May 21, at the Leggett & Platt Athletic Center at Missouri Southern State University. The university plans to shut down the campus for the event. There will be an overflow room for residents in Taylor Auditorium.

We hope after reading Kelsey Ryan’s story about Russell England (Globe, May 3), someone will come forward with a ticket and a seat for the 90-year old England, whose wish is to see the president.

England grew up in Joplin, attending Lincoln School — Joplin’s segregated black school. He served in World War II and returned home, where he witnessed changes in attitudes toward blacks.

Now England says he would like to see the nation’s first black president.

“It would be the happiest thing in my life,” England said.

England has seen history that only a handful are old enough to remember. Yes, he saw prejudice and hate, but England also led the Joplin chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People as president. He saw Joplin elect its first black councilman and he saw the Joplin Board of Education desegregate its schools after the U.S. Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision.

We’d think England should be able to add one more historic event to his long list. We can think of nothing better than including him as an invited guest to the Joplin High School graduation ceremonies.