Statement on Hoover City Schools and Derrick Barnes Controversy

February 2, 2023

Like many of the members of our community, Hoover-AHEAD is disappointed to see the situation that has played out over the past week or so in our school system with regard to the Derrick Barnes author visits that our city’s students will no longer have the opportunity to enjoy and learn from.

But also, like many of you, we are asking ourselves where our community goes from here and how we can take this unfortunate turn of events and turn it into something positive and meaningful. How we can work together to move Hoover ahead.

We have a wonderful opportunity to learn, if not directly from Mr. Barnes next week (now that his appearances have been canceled), then from the lessons the situation has to teach us about being a community that truly embraces the concepts of diversity and inclusion.

So let us stop and reflect on what has happened here. Let’s look not only at the facts of the matter, though important they certainly are, but also at the way our community has responded, both in positive and less encouraging ways.

Hoover-AHEAD has been grateful for the opportunity to speak directly with officials at Hoover City Schools’ central office about this matter in recent days, and we look forward to working with them more closely in the future as we collaborate on the shared goals we have related to creating a community where every member feels comfortable, safe, valued, seen, and understood. We have sent a private letter to school officials expressing our gratitude for their conversations with us and including our thoughts about moving forward from this unfortunate series of events. And, of course, since we believe that strong communities are made up of engaged citizens, if you have questions or concerns about the school system’s actions in the Derrick Barnes situation, we encourage you to write to or call members of the Hoover school board or other school officials to engage in respectful conversations with these officials as well.

Hoover-AHEAD is happy to announce a panel discussion (with a Q&A session to follow) scheduled for the afternoon of Sunday, March 5th, at 3:00 at the Hoover Public Library titled “In Defense of Diversity Initiatives.” In particular, we are pleased to announce that among other local professionals who are going to be able to share their informed perspectives, Dr. Terry Lamar, HCS Chief Administrative Officer, will be participating in the panel so that he’ll have an opportunity to speak to HCS’s commitment to work in this area moving forward.

We hope you’ll join us for that respectful, productive, and informed discussion at this important juncture where our city stops to take an important look at where we are and where we plan to go from here.

—Hoover-AHEAD Ambassadors