Monday, January 16, 2023

Education and freedom

From The New Yorker: Charlayne Hunter-Gault writes about meeting Martin Luther King, summer 1961:

I ran up to him, prepared to introduce myself and to lavish praise on him for all that he had done for Atlanta and the students, and for his sacrifices on behalf of black Americans. As I started to introduce myself —before I could get past my name — he reached for my hand, energetically shaking it, while telling me he was proud to meet me. “You are doing a such magnificent job down there,” he said, a reference to my enrollment at the all-white University of Georgia, where Hamilton Holmes and I were the first African-American students to attend earlier that year. As I recalled, in a book I wrote years later, King told me that education “was the key to our freedom, and then he generously thanked me again and wished me success.”
Which reminds me of something from a 2020 episode of American Public Media’s podcast Educate, “Is learning to read a constitutional right?” From Helen Moore, a Detroit resident, then eighty-three, described as “fighting for better schools for more than fifty years“:
“Listen: here’s the secret. If you can’t read, you can’t do anything else. It’s the doorway to education. Reading is the basis of freedom as far as we’re concerned as Black people.”

comments: 3

Anonymous said...

in a way this is apropos for this post:

"It’s a sentiment being echoed by conservative officials in red states across the country. The indefinite academic appointments that come with tenure — the holy grail of university employment — have faced review from lawmakers or state oversight boards in at least half a dozen states, often presented as bids to rein in academics with liberal views."

would those same wanting to look at tenure want to look at whether students can read?

and yes, reading is crucial to anyone. i remember years ago meeting someone who could not read but had someone help him to memorize the cookie recipes so he could do his job.

i still remember the day he was shot in Memphis and a friend called to tell me as i didn't have a television growing up. i knew before i answered the phone that was what she was calling to tell me.


Michael Leddy said...

I think many on the right are with the defeated former president, who once said that he loves “the poorly educated.” A public that knows little history, gets its news from TV propaganda outlets, and unquestioningly accepts folklore and mythology as truth (about history, Commies, Jewish people, immigrants, vaccines, fentanyl in candy, young people being “castrated,” and on and on) is easily manipulated. I think many care about education only in a grimly vocational way. Being able to read freely and critically is at odds with all of that. And faculty who can teach without fear are a threat to all of that. (The threats to faculty can come from all directions, as the art instructor at Hamline and many others know.)

Michael Leddy said...

I forgot to mention: I too remember when King (and RFK) were assassinated. I wasn’t even in my teens, but I was pretty politically aware. For a long time 1968 was the worst year of history in my lifetime.