CHICAGO—Nationally acclaimed civil rights attorney Ben Crump accused Chicago Public Schools (CPS) of a “pattern and practice of discrimination against Black principals,” during a recent news conference held in front of CPS headquarters in downtown Chicago.

Standing with Atty. Crump demanding an investigation into CPS on July 6 were nearly 100 supporters, including Father Michael Pfleger of St. Sabina Catholic Church, Troy LaRaviere, president of the Chicago Principals and Administrators Association, alumni from Lindblom Math and Science Academy, parents, former students, members of Rainbow PUSH, and the Nation of Islam officials, including veteran attorney Sa’ad Alim Muhammad.

As reported in the June 6 and July 4 editions of The Final Call(See Vol. 42 No. 34 and 38), on March 31, CPS, removed Abdul Muhammad from Lindblom Math and Science Academy after a sloppy, one-sided investigation—only eight months into the school year, despite quantitative improvements and progress he made in his first, not even a full school year at the high school.

Mr. Muhammad, a longtime educator is not alone. Last year, six other Black principals were removed from their duties without due process during the 2022-2023 school year.


“I’m here in Chicago, in front of the Chicago Public Schools Board with these great Black principals,” said Atty. Crump. “If it happened once, it’s an incident. If it happens twice, it’s a coincidence, but when it happens three times, four times, five times, six times, seven times it is a pattern and practice of discrimination against Black principals,” he said referring to seven Black principals recently fired and told they could never apply to be a principal again in CPS.

The three principals present at the news conference have a commendable track record of success in CPS and have both the right and deserve to have an opportunity to respond to negative reports, he explained. “Give these Black principals due process. Give them a fair proceeding where they can show that they have been falsely accused and they can exonerate their good names and they can get back to doing what they loved to do and that is to educate our children,” said Attorney Crump.

Mr. LaRaviere, speaking on behalf of the principals, urged local, state and federal actions be taken to end the attack on Black principals. First, the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division should investigate the abusive and discriminatory patterns and practices of Chicago Public Schools and develop a decree to stop those practices.

Second, they demand the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus and the Illinois State Board of Education hold hearings on the systems within CPS that disproportionately target and persecute Black principals and disempower local school councils and predominantly Black schools and propose new legislation and rules to prevent similar abuse.

Finally, they urge Mayor Brandon Johnson to direct the Board of Education to return Abdul Muhammad, Gerald Morrow, Dr. Kimberly Gibson and all Black principals who were discriminated against and persecuted by CPS officials to their rightful positions.

“We reviewed candidates and chose Mr. Muhammad as our main candidate,” said Lynn White, chairperson of the Principals Selection Committee who spoke at the news conference.

“On the day of the vote, Kishasha Williams-Ford, the director of the Office of Local School Council Relations, joined the meeting uninvited and tried to impose changes, becoming increasingly disruptive and shouting at us. She emphasized her friendship with Ms. Karen-Fitzpatrick Carpenter, the assistant principal who couldn’t participate in the selection process due to eligibility issues, and insisted on securing a candidate she felt was suitable for the school,” said Ms. White.

“I rescheduled the vote for the following week, during which staff members distributed negative information about Mr. Muhammad’s religion, expressing unfounded bias against White people, gay people, and Jews. After the vote, we discovered a coordinated effort by staff to tarnish Mr. Muhammad’s reputation. They met with Chicago Public Schools Network Chief Devon LaRosa and some alumni, aiming to ensure his failure. This campaign began with a protest on the first day of school by individuals who had never met Mr. Muhammad and lacked understanding of Islam. They even threatened him physically,” said Ms. White.

“From the time that Mr. Muhammad started as principal of Lindblom, I have seen nothing but excellence and positive leadership,” said Mark Dryer, an involved Lindblom parent since 2015 and a 17-year veteran Illinois public school teacher.

“I have seen social media posts of Islamophobic comments from Lindblom teachers and staff. If you have a problem forming a relationship with Black Muslims, then what are you doing teaching in West Englewood?” asked Mr. Dryer.

“If you take the time to build a relationship with Mr. Muhammad, you’ll find a man that is not there to give preference to people based on his race and religion. You’ll find a man who is there based on a set of ethics and principles and a very high moral code that he holds all of his students to,” he added.

“Since Mr. Muhammad came, the fighting has stopped. Mutual respect among students has increased, achievement levels have increased. And he was fired. And we as parents still have not been given any reason as to why Mr. Muhammad was removed. And yet we saw nothing but positive change in the Lindblom community since his arrival. We want Principal Muhammad to receive due process and receive the honor he deserves for all the work he’s done,” said Mr. Dryer.

“Every day we talk about the children in Chicago. When they come downtown, we have something to say. When they do something wrong, we have something to say. And the constant refrain is, is there anybody who can do something about these children? And Chicago Public Schools are working against the very ones that can do something about it,” said Mr. Muhammad.

His accomplishments at Lindblom deserved praise, not removal, argue his supporters. As the principal of Lindblom High School, Mr. Muhammad prioritized community engagement and collaboration by hosting gatherings with local, state and federal elected officials, parents, alumni and community leaders. He personally monitored the hallways and it became a daily routine to maintain order and safety.

“I personally greeted students at the front door every morning until 8:00 a.m., conducting walkthroughs of the entire school building. This allowed me to identify facility issues that needed attention. I also walked students to the bus stop at 63rd and Wolcott, prioritizing their well-being,” said Mr. Muhammad.

He organized field trips to enrich students’ educational experiences. For instance, he took 50 students to the Illinois State Museum in Springfield, with State Representative Sonya Harper even putting forth a resolution to designate that day as “Lindblom Day.”

“We ensured that unused SmartBoards, which had been sitting in the hallway for years, were installed in classrooms to benefit students’ learning,” said Mr. Muhammad.

Those gathered at the news conference also heard from Dr. Kimberly Gibson, who tearfully recalled that she was the victim of a conspiracy that cost her job. “This is systematic racism. I was terminated. We have been marginalized,” she shouted. Atty. Crump held placards of screenshots of chat messages from Dr. Gibson’s coworkers in which she was degraded and told that she would not be at her job long.

“Black children’s lives matter!” shouted supporters during the conference.

National Assistant to the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, Student Minister Ishmael Muhammad, was also present to support the “call for justice”.

“I thought it was a wonderful display, demonstration of tremendous support and exposing the racist institution and systematic racism of Chicago Public Schools,” he told The Final Call. “We know that in this time that the Honorable Elijah Muhammad has taught us, is the time of God’s judgment, God’s wrath, God’s retribution, and in the time of God’s justice, so no weapon formed against the righteous in the time of God’s justice and judgment will prosper.”

Also speaking out at the news conference was Gerald Morrow, an educator for over 32 years, but who was removed from Dunbar High School citing “mismanagement.” Under his leadership, Dunbar’s enrollment rose from 230 to nearly 500 students through collaborative efforts with the Local School Council (LSC) and the community, which resulted in the reintroduction of various programs. Partnering with a barber college, they reestablished programs and constructed a music studio and an aviation program, providing opportunities for student success.

“We will continue to use our voice. We will continue to fight. We will not stand down. We will make sure that these systems and structures are dismantled,” said Mr. Morrow.

“At the end of the day, it’s not about me. It’s about setting a precedent of how we’re going to treat our leaders, especially African American leaders who have done the heaviest load in this district. Muhammad and I and others like me, we were there to serve our communities and serve our children,” said Mr. Morrow.

“When we think about the decisions made by the U.S. Supreme Court regarding Affirmative Action and attacking our children during the college admission procedures, we have to look at the whole education system and see where else they are attacking our children. Because now more than ever, we have to affirmatively stand up for our children’s future. We have to affirmatively fight for our children’s future because if we are not going to fight for our children’s future, we now clearly see no one else is going to fight for our children’s future,” said Atty. Crump. For more information, visit:

Final Call Staff Writer Tariqah Muhammad contributed to this report from Chicago.