BATON ROUGE, LA (FOX44) — PBS gave the effort to incorporate the city of St. George a national audience, but the chairman of the incorporation committee believes they did not see the true story.
Thursday night's broadcast of "Frontline" was titled "Separate and Unequal," and focused on public education. The first half of the hour-long program focused on East Baton Rouge Parish.
Members of the St. George incorporation committee had been nervous about the angle of the show since a preview was released in June, and they said the full airing confirmed their suspicions.
"The main thing that happened here was, the twist on this story became all about separation, it became all about segregation, and all," said Norman Browning, the committee's chairman. "It became all about race."
The effort to incorporate the southeastern part of East Baton Rouge Parish came after two years of failed attempts to create a breakaway school district through the state legislature.
"This is nothing more than a community of parents who have come together, recognizing there's a need to do something about the failed education system in East Baton Rouge Parish, and that's what it all is."
Approximately 18,000 people must sign the incorporation petition for the issue to reach a ballot. After several months of silence on the subject, a spokesman for the committee said last week that they had obtained 17,076 signatures. Browning said that number has increased recently, in part thanks to "Frontline."
"With this show coming, being aired and so forth, we got a lot of activity (Thursday)," he mentioned. "A number of signatures came out (Thursday)."
To put St. George before voters on the November ballot, the petition must be completed and submitted by July 23. If that deadline is not met, the committee can get it on the December ballot if they submit the petition in October.
There is no time limit to submit a petition for incorporation.