‘I’m blessed’: Marlon Anderson happy to have job back, but says fight isn’t over

Marlon Anderson, the black security guard fired for using a racial slur when asking a student to not call him that, is excited to get back to work, but says the fight for racial justice isn’t over.

The Madison Metropolitan School District rescinded Anderson’s termination Monday afternoon.

It’s official: Marlon Anderson has his job back at West High. Just spoke with him, and he says he’s blessed to have all the support he’s gotten and looks forward to advancing change.#News3Now@WISCTV_News3⁩ ⁦@cherhttps://t.co/uqa8E3nn8i

— Madalyn O’Neill (@news3madalyn) October 21, 2019

“I’m thankful. I’m blessed, and I’m so happy to be going back and doing what I do,” Anderson said. “I miss the kids. I’m looking forward to hitting the ground running. I’m excited (and) so happy for the kids because they got out and fought for this, and they won. I’m excited to walk back into the school because that’s going to let them know their voices are powerful.”

Through all the people who have had his back the past few days, Anderson has learned something about himself.

“I didn’t expect support from all over the world. I didn’t expect these young people to step up and go on a rally and go down to the Doyle building and say they want me back,” he said. “I didn’t think I was this special.”

Anderson hopes his story will serve as a learning experience for the school district he loves being a part of.

“Staff don’t need to be afraid to teach a student,” he said. “If you have a teachable moment, you have to take that moment.”

That’s what Anderson says he was trying to do when repeating the N-word back to a student, asking the student not to call him that. Instead, he was fired.

“It’s time for a change,” Anderson said.

Madison School Board President Gloria Reyes recommended the district rescind his termination Monday.

“Often times, when we implement universal practices and take action on that, we ultimately impact the people that we’re trying to protect,” Reyes said.

Anderson wants MMSD to examine its zero-tolerance practice for staff saying racial slurs and develop a new policy.

“The fight is still there,” he said.

Reyes said the board will consider developing an official policy and will review practices through a lens of “deep racial equity.”

While a transition plan is put in place for Anderson to return to West High School, he’ll likely stay with the Boys and Girls Club of Dane County, where he was temporarily hired. He said he’d consider having a presence there afterward, as well.

CEO of the Boys and Girls Club Michael Johnson has been an advocate for Anderson.

“I feel really good for him,” Johnson said. “I’m thankful both the superintendent and the school board president over the weekend took our calls. They followed to a T the recommendations we presented to them, and I don’t think we could have asked for a better situation.”

Johnson said he and Anderson are in touch with Cher’s publicist about ways she can help. The singer tweeted support for Anderson last week.

How Can Ppl Be This Disrespectful⁉️A Beloved,Man of Color Just Passed,& Our Nations Mourning Him.Cong.Elijah Cummings FOUGHT FOR JUSTICE.He Was loved & Feared. If You Want To sue MMSD Ed.Board I Will Incur Your expenses.�EC

— Cher (@cher) October 18, 2019

Anderson hopes his story can be a lesson that can help others beyond the district, and even Madison.

“That is my prayer! That’s what I’m hoping,” he said. “Hopefully this is one of those things that happened that will be a platform for change, because I’m just one voice, but there are thousands of voices that have not been heard.”

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