Broward County’s first African American School Board member, the late Dr. Kathleen Cooper Wright, honored with statue unveiling ceremony
Thanks to the efforts of the Fort Lauderdale Links, Inc., in conjunction with Broward County Public Schools, Broward County government, the Broward County Education Foundation and the entire Broward community, who made the sculpture a reality.
By Charles Moseley
Dr. Kathleen Cooper Wright received a posthumous honor during the unveiling ceremony of a her very own statue on March 31, 2016, adjacent to the KC Wright Broward County School Board administrative offices, in downtown Fort Lauderdale, Fla., before proud family members and a host of community well wishers.
“The statue symbolizes the significant accomplishment of my mother being elected to the School Board. Her legacy of inclusion, fairness, and a quality education for all of Broward County’s students is still a challenge for some of central Broward’s underserved students. Hopefully the statue unveiling will also serve as a reminder that there is still work to be done,” said her son, Anthony Wright.
Dr. Wright has the unique distinction for becoming the first Black to serve on the Broward County School Board and first Black female to serve on any school board in Florida.
The Links, in partnership with Broward County Public Schools, Broward County Government, the Broward County Education Foundation and the entire Broward community made the sculpture a reality. Dr. Wright was an educator, community leader, and public servant.
Dr. Rosalind Osgood serves as the chairperson on the Broward County School Board in commemoration of 100 years of academic excellence as well as co-chair for The Kathleen Wright Project Committee. This moment in history was particularly gratifying for Dr. Osgood, who benefited first hand due to the efforts of Dr. Wright.
“Dr. Wright paved the way for me. I thank God for blessing me to be a part of the leadership team for the unveiling. . May her spirit live on in each of us as we continue to create opportunities for our children to grow every day.”
Perhaps no one knew her better than her husband, retired Broward County Judge Zebedee Wright, also a native of Fort Lauderdale and community leader in his own right, who stood for social justice and quality education and opportunities for those within Broward County’s African American community.
“Kathy was a longtime teacher in the system over at Dillard High School and at Broward Community College and she was a very dedicated individual toward the education of children. She thought only of the kids. She never considered adults in favor of different things for people; every-thing was geared toward the child.
“The conception and the idea was great. I’m very happy that it finally came to a conclusion. I wasn’t too thrilled with the results because that image is no more than a statue. It is not a reflection of Kathleen. In other words, I’m saying the sculptor himself apparently didn’t talk to people close to her like her children, her sister, her brothers. See, in order for a sculptor to do a real job in catching the image of the person their sculpturing, they’ve got to get a real feel for that person. And obviously he didn’t because the sculpture itself, that statue is just a statue, it’s not Kathy.
“But, I’m proud that it’s there because it can serve as an inspiration, particularly for young Blacks to reach their maximum heights in their pursuit of what-ever that goal may be,” Judge Wright added.
Dr. Dorothy Orr, former Broward County Interim School Board superintendent, worked alongside Dr. Wright and attended the unveiling ceremony, reflected upon the impact that Dr. Wright had on the educational landscape of Broward County. Both Dr. Wright and Dr. Orr were natives of Fort Lauderdale and attended Dillard High School during the days of school segregation in the 1950’s. Dr. Orr spoke admirably as she shared her personal reflections on Dr. Wright from the perspective of being the liaison for the superintendent’s office to the Broward County School Board.
“When she spoke with you, she spoke with knowledge that she had and she explained things very well so that you could understand clearly what she was saying. She was no nonsense. She had a way about her in dealing with people. When it came to business she was just-no nonsense.”