Vivian “Celeste” Neal
Occupation: Retired teacher, administrator and executive officer for community partnerships and minority affairs in Akron schools, former Akron program officer for the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
Lived the past 49 years in: Akron area.
Dr. King’s message: The challenge he delivered is one that we have made great strides but we are not there yet. Yes, we talk about looking back and coming from slavery. Yes, we look at voter and voting rights laws. ... But we really haven’t accomplished much because there was so much to accomplish. ... There is so much more. And don’t get tired. Don’t stop because you have an African-American president. What have we done but slip back?
Accomplished: We elected the first African-American president. ... We have made some strides but they are just little pockets. It seems every step we take, every two steps forward, we go three back. ... We have gone back silently.
Still to be done: Education. The opportunity for all children regardless of the poverty they might have grown up from. The drugs that might be in their elements. How does a child come up from the projects in Chicago, fearing for their life, and think the first thing is education? How do you, with limited food and limited education, speak up for yourself? How do you know to navigate that system for your child? You don’t. Education is still the key.