Urban Education


Chapter ___.

Urban Teaching, Urban Education

Memory possesses authority for the fearful self in a world where it necessary to claim authority in order to Question Authority. Their may be no more pressing intellectual need in our culture than for people to become sophisticated about the function of memory. The political implications of the loss of memory are obvious. The authority of memory is a personal confirmation of selfhood, and therefore the first step toward ethical development.

Patricia Hampel, p36.

America refused to be an idea. It was a country, and its national self – that personality Whitman tried so valiantly to identify – was emerging as national identity always does: out of history, out of circumstance and experience. Ibid, 59.

We are a new breed – a bunch of social reconstructionists which is the new place of education in the world. Are we to become a director of what is, or a director of what ought to be? The change-agent philosophy is interesting – get into the conventional system and be ome a friend. Then, influence change through your friendships. …The educational revolution will be accomplished only by work from within. We must lead our teachers, and not reflect them. (UTTP Journal, 7/23/64)

America refused to be an idea. It was a country, and its national self – that personality Whitman tried so valiantly to identify – was emerging as national identity always does: out of history, out of circumstance and experience. Ibid, 59.

If my time in Syracuse and the Urban Teaching Preparation Program were surely the moments of my life that I began to learn my craft (I still am, by the way), they were also the moments where I learned first hand that there were many America’s. I was late in life coming to this idea that many realities describe instants of time. But I came to it head on in Professor Lindsey’s historiography of American history seminar my senior year at college. James Beard’s An Economic Interpretation of the American Revolution revolutionized my thinking. Somehow, I’d always believed there was a “real” reality and deviations from it were just that, deviations. Now it wasn’t that I didn’t know there were multiple realities running around in this world. I’d see that first hand in abnormal psychology. But the deviance strand was large there – “abnormal” to be exact. Beard, and others, opened up for me the idea that real life events could have many webs of causation and that causation could be a cultural, sociological phenomenon as well as an historical event.

Huge events swirled around me in the 1960s. During my upperclass years at Rochester and my years teaching in Syracuse, America’s historical register numbered at least the following. And every image came into every American home that owned a television. Black and white flickering images of an America increasingly at war with itself. An America struggling to put down insistent voices. An America of fear. An America that was finally dealing with its issues of privilege and power. An American that was defining for itself just who were the people that Lincoln meant. And an American where peoples freely claimed that Lincoln had meant them! Every night on the evening news, evidence in the flickering black and white images told the story of different interpretations of what it meant to live in the “land of the free,” of who was to be included, and who wasn’t. It was ugly. And it inspired both those who wanted things to be as they were in the McKinley era of conservatism, and it inspired those who would destroy the US as we knew it if their voices remained unheeded. These were huge events.

• John Kennedy beats Richard Nixon at the wire.

• Woolworth lunch counters become known for something other than tuna fish sandwiches.

• Greyhound Buses carrying Freedom Riders are stopped and burned by the Klan.

• The Berlin Wall goes up.

• Kennedy and Khrushchev face off over the placement of ICBM’s 90 miles from Florida. Kennedy wins.

• The Klan bombs homes and churches throughout the south. Four little girls die during Sunday morning church school in Montgomery, Alabama.

• Bull Conner runs roughshod over civil rights as his police sic German shepherd police dogs on men and women, adults and children, protesting their lack of political power.

• John Kennedy is shot down in Dallas, Texas.

• America watches Jack Ruby pump two 38-caliber bullets into Lee Harvey Oswald, John Kennedy’s assassin.

• Thousands assemble in Washington to hear Martin Luther King and others marshal support for congressional action related to voting rights.

• Congress passes the civil rights act of 1965 and the voting rights act of 1966.

• Lyndon Johnson and Martin Luther King sit down to talk.

• Johnson pushes through the Great Society programs. Head Start is born. The Elementary and Secondary Education Act is born. Entitlement programs to end poverty come on line.

• The bodies of James Chaney, Michael Schwerner, and Andrew Goodman are dug from an earthen Mississippi dam. Indictments occur only forty years later.

• Cassius Clay changes his name, resists the draft, goes to jail, emerges as Mohammed Ali, and wins the heavyweight championship of the world.

• Pictures of armed militant Black students taking over the administration building at Cornell University flash across newspaper wire services. Higher education is forced to look at its role, not only in terms of minority admissions but also in terms of follow up support for students who believe the kingdom is theirs as well.

• Clarissa Street in Rochester, N.Y. burns in what was the first of many urban riots across the country. Detroit, Watts, Newark, Washington, DC burn. Sol Alinskey works to organize poor urban communities to gain political power in order to stem random violence.

• Malcolm X goes to Saudi Arabia and returns, ready to renounce his brotherhood in the Black Muslims. He meets with King, once.

• Ministers of the Nation of Islam, pump seven shotgun shells into Malcolm X during a speech at the Avalon Ballroom in Harlem. Malcolm dies in the arms of his wife, Betty.

• 350 freedom marchers are tear gassed, beaten, and set upon by horses and police dogs as they cross the Edmund Pettis Bridge in Selma, AL. White supporters, church members of all kinds among them, come to Selma from all over the US and join King in the march for civil rights. Five days later 13000 people gather in Montgomery to hear King and others speak from the Capitol steps. The march passes the Dexter avenue Baptist church where the Montgomery bus boycott had begun ten years before. George Wallace remains inside, sealed behind double and triple ranks of Alabama State police. The National Guard, called out by the President Johnson, protects marchers during the five-day walk for freedom from Selma to Montgomery. Viola Louizzo is murdered during this civil action.

• The Voting Rights Act of 1966 is passed by Congress.

• Police beat demonstrators at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago in 1968.

• Stokely Carmichael and SNCC, Eldridge Cleaver, Bobby Seal, and the Black Panthers, and James Farmer and CORE all move towards outright militancy and sometimes armed confrontation as the seams of civil authority in urban America begins to unravel.

• King broadens his message to include economic injustice and continues to march, often in defiance of America’s expanding role in Viet Nam.

• James Earl Ray ambushes Martin Luther King in Memphis, TN. King takes one high-powered rifle bullet to the neck and dies almost instantly on a second story balcony of the Starlight Motel in Memphis, TN. He was readying himself for his second march with the Memphis sanitation workers.

• Shirley Chisholm is elected to congress, and becomes the first black woman to run for president of the united states.

• Bobby Kennedy takes up his brother’s idealism and becomes the democratic candidate for President. Sirhan Sirhan assassinates him in June, 1968.

• The Ohio national guard murders students during a student anti-war protest at Kent State University.

• The mathematics building at Wisconsin University is bombed by a cell of the Weatherman.

And on and on the list could go. An absolutely amazing and horrifying decade. Jokes remain about the ‘60s: drugs, LSD trips, dropping out and turning on, the Summer of Love in San Francisco, hippies, VW vans, Wavy Gravy, tie died everything, free love. The idea of America as Whitman had written in Leaves of Grass, as Jefferson and others had embodied in the original documents, as Lincoln had summarized in the address at Gettysburg, as Mrs. Ames had wanted us to know in seventh grade. This is what I believed America was. The 60s saw my awakening to the fact that America wasn’t what I thought it was. The lynching I’d fastened upon when I was six now loomed as much more definitive of an America whose reality I didn’t want to acknowledge. But the idea of America was still a good thing to me and I saw my professional efforts as the way to work towards that idea of government of, for and by the people. Only now, “the people” for the first time ever, perhaps, was to include all the people. And America was having a tough time figuring out how to do that.

The reflection back from our national mirror was ugly and at times profane. The transformation of America, the airing of our dirty laundry, the open and very public images were now available to all and could not be avoided. These images still cannot be avoided. Though the issues of inequality and social injustice remain very much before us, our problems are no longer hidden from view. Then the issues were hidden except to those who suffered the repression of underclass citizenship and those who were doing the suppressing. Now that our imperfections are so obviously clear to the entire world, our need is to overcome the insensitivity and outright denial to what is so obviously wrong in Democracy’s fabric.

My part in righting the wrongs as I saw them was small. But my part was very real. And while others were traveling further and putting themselves on the line in ways that were way more dangerous than mine, I have finally come to respect my own actions during this period of time as also important, as also contributing to the improvement of our nation as a whole and the lives of those I came in contact with. Teaching and social justice work was one and the same then. I believe they are one and the same, now. The need is great. The forces of ignorance and repression are strong. The necessity for action is absolute.

All this remains true for me even though I’ve come to understand an important shift in my perspective. In the 60s I was doing it “for them.” Though it pains me to admit it, I did see myself doing my social justice work for others. I, and others like me, had little understanding that we would be made more free by our work back then. Our focus was clearly on making lives better for those with whom we were engaged. Hurray for us and a pat on the back! What I understand now is the absolute necessity of doing social justice work for myself. Freeing myself from the role the structures of institutionalized racism and economic domination defines for me can be done only with my own collusion. The work of social justice, especially where the vetting of racism is the focus, has to be attended to by those who are of privilege. I don’t think we can ever completely root out the racist assumptions that are so much a fabric of social and economic intercourse in this country. The 3/5s compromise saw to that. All we can do is to keep on exposing it for what it is, and then act to eradicate its manifestations. Once we see it, we can refuse it. Seeing it is the issue. But I’m getting a bit ahead of myself here.

The events chronicled in my list defined the national context while I was learning to teach at Madison Junior High School and then later in the City of Syracuse. These events informed my Urban Education. I have come to understand my urban education as the much larger context of which my urban teaching was a part. The process was inductive at the time. My focus was my work with the kids and families I came in contact with within the UTPP. Through it, both in experience and in sensibility, I connected to the place and world beyond. I didn’t much get out of the United States. But at least I got to the United States. One place I got there was through the church.

Grace Episcopal Church was a hundred yards south of Madison Junior High School. My apartment at the time was the first building just north of Grace, right on University Avenue. 410, to be exact. I’d heard Carl and Moses and Queen and Ruth talking about the fun they’d had the night before. Goofin’ on each other. The kind of banter kids brought into homeroom with them every morning. The kind of chatter they let you hear, chatter that was home talk, uncensored, and full of the events of their out of school lives. The boys were talking about who’d done what to whom playing pool and the girls were talking about how good their singing had sounded, that they’d be sure to win the next singing contest at school. I knew that if I started asking a lot of questions, they’d maybe get silent. I wasn’t sure whether to reveal to them that I had ears for this talk as well. But I found out from Doris that the church down the road had a neighborhood program going on and that I might want to check it out. She gave me a number to call and a name, Esther Green. I thought that heck, the church was near and if I could help out, I’d get to know my kids in a place outside of school. I knew that taking a bigger step in our relationship could only help my teaching. The kids could get to know me in a different way. I figured that would be a good thing because I knew from experience they knew nothing about what my life was like outside MJHS. I did my laundry once a week at a neighborhood launderette. Early in the fall, some of my kids had walked in to use the candy machine and they spotted me transferring my undies from the washer to the drier. They were stunned. Mr. Ratbone! You do laundry here? I couldn’t figure out if they were more stunned that I had dirty laundry or that I did my own laundry or that I did my own laundry there in that neighborhood gathering place? But that revelation clearly had been important to them because I heard from one of the other teachers at school that I’d been spotted by the kids over the weekend. They were going on and on about me and that launderette. So I figured hey, why not show them a few more moves outside of school as well. It all fit. Anything I could do to enhance my credibility with them was fair game at that point.

So I called Esther and we set a time to meet. She said just come in the side door of the church and ask for her. Anyone I’d find would know where she was. So I did.

Grace Episcopal Church was a fascinating microcosm of what happened to white churches that showed sympathy to the black movement of the time. Grace was a small stone edifice, in need of paint and repair here and there, but absolutely beautiful. It’s interior was filled with dark wooden benches and wainscoting. A stunning mostly blue and red stain glass rose window over looked the rear of the sanctuary, and the alter had been brought forward as much as it could to face God’s people. Father Walter Welsh was the priest who directed what was happening at Grace. He was a tall, slightly grey, thin man with a view of Christ on earth that I’d not found anywhere else. Grace had been a predominantly white and wealthy enclave on the edge of an encroaching black ghetto when James Farmer and the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) came to Syracuse to test the rental market. CORE would bookend a black couple with white couples as a strategy to see if discrimination was present in the real estate market. When Farmer came to give his first community wide address, no venue would open their doors to him. Not even the black churches further down Madison Street. Welsh invited Farmer to use the Grace sanctuary for his meeting. By the next month, white attendance at Grace had dropped precipitously. By the time I met Esther Green, Grace Episcopal was for all in tents and purposes, a poor Black church. If memory serves me right, two white communicant families remained active. That’s all. Father Welsh was the first minister I ever knew who lived out a ministry to the poor and dispossessed. I’d thought I’d found a Presbyterian Church in Rochester that did so, but it was all words and money and not direct, face-to-face action. Though the existence of Grace was fragile and vulnerable, Father Welsh taught me what Christian love was really all about.

So I started meeting a group of kids once a week in the evening in the basement of Grace Episcopal Church. I didn’t have to do much with them. My presence assured their entry to the building. I was basically there to keep an eye on things and that was fine by me. Beyond the occasional homework help I was able to provide, I was the chief learner here. We had lots of fun together in what was usually, a pretty raucous gathering of ten or eleven high-energy young adolescents. The girls sure did sing. I can still sing the words of Mr. Postman just as if they were right next to me. I never got to the pool table although I did show them a few wrestling moves. Very few.

One Thursday night I’d forgotten to pick up the key. A few early arrivals and I were standing out in front of Grace wondering what our next move should be. I really didn’t want to call Father Welsh. That man worked long, long days and I knew this was one of his few nights at home. I didn’t think much about it when one of the smaller boys said, “Don’t worry Mr. Ratbone. I’ll get us in,” and off he took like a flash. The next thing I knew he was up a tree, on the roof, through a window and to the front door. He opened it with a big proud smile for the rest us and in we went. It was a usual kind of evening. Lots of noise, lots of laughs, lots of banter. Then, one of the girls came and got me. She had a bit of a worried look on her face. Said there was someone at the door making a big racket. I got a little worried myself as I could hear the banging now all the way downstairs. So I went upstairs and without pausing, opened half of the large, heavy, dark oak, arched church door. As I unlocked the door and started to slowly open it, it pushed in upon me and I was flung back against the wall with the almost explosive force of the entry. Four fully armed policemen burst through the portal, weapons drawn, pinning me against the wall. Then the floor. A passing taxi driver had seen my young lad disappear over the rooftop and had notified the police of a robbery in progress. It was the first and only time I’d had a gun trained on me and I was scared out of my mind. After some explaining, they gathered all the kids together while I phoned first Esther, and then Father Welsh. When they found out I knew Willie Gilbert, Doris’ husband, the tension eased and they agreed to let me remain that evening while assuring me that if I ever pulled such a stunt again, I’d end up downtown. After they left the kids almost burst apart with cop stories. They figured we were pretty lucky that some heads hadn’t gotten busted and I thanked them for not provoking a larger confrontation. I was frightened and shaken and could not get out of my mind for weeks afterwards, the feeling of that moment when the door rushed in on me. But the stories I heard at school the next day brought some laughter to the situation. Now, not only did Mr. Ratbone do his underwear at the local launderette, Mr. Ratbone had made friends with the local police department.

I don’t know if Father Welsh and his work at Grace Episcopal Church went unrecognized in the larger community. He had the support of his Bishop. In fact, Bishop Higley confirmed me on the day I became a member of Grace. The congregation grew back in size although it was slow work. The church became a gathering place for those interested in living out the social justice mission that is Christianity and each Sunday would see a very mixed group of worshipers. Father Welsh was a luminescent figure in my life. His faith and the challenges it lay before him took a toll on his health but he continued to provide a place of hope for anyone who walked through those beautiful oaken doors as long as I knew him. He also started to build networks across other congregations in Syracuse, congregations who could provide resources for places like Grace and congregations that were in need of resources like Grace. The place I saw this networking work most effectively was after King’s marchers had been beaten at the Edmund Pettis Bridge.

Father Welsh and other ministers within the coalition decided to charter a flight to Montgomery and join the Selma to Montgomery march for its final day, the day the speeches would be made on the steps of George Wallace’s capitol building, the home town of Rosa Parks, the place where some people said it had all begun, ten years before. Esther called me and encouraged me to go. I was hesitant. But I signed up, paid my money, and got ready to go. It was my first trip to the deep South.

Why was I hesitant. I’m embarrassed to say, even now, what my feelings were. I knew my parents would object to this direct action on my part. And growing up the way I did, I couldn’t or didn’t have a direct conversation with them about my plans. My Mom would worry. And she’d express that worry. And I didn’t want to add to her worry list, especially since I knew Dad’s alcohol consumption had been worse lately. She didn’t need me to be concerned about as well. But I felt in my heart that she’d want me to do what I thought was right. Dad was another concern altogether. I knew he’d not like it. I think he had little sympathy for the movement. As far as I could surmise, because we never talked about such things, he considered African Americans to be beneath him in circumstance. He was, despite the monkey on his back, a private, dignified individual with his own sense of order about the way the world worked. I think he was troubled by the disorder he saw in life. He thought these people had a place, their place, and that those who believed that place should change were nothing but troublemakers. If I went, then I was joining the troublemakers. He would now support my wish or my reasoning. His use of the word “absurd” echoed in my mind as I fantasized about the conversation that never came. So I was hesitant to go because I didn’t want my parents to find out I was doing something that was disobeying their wishes. I was still caught in that authoritarian relationship with my Dad particularly, a relationship sealed in the miasma of alcohol, a relationship I felt I could only change by going ahead and doing what I wanted which I was pretty much doing by the choice of my career. I imagined he would say what I’d heard him say over and over again to my mother through the heating ducts on the interminably long nights in bed, that I “should be ashamed of myself” for doing what I was about to do. So even though it was an amazing trip, I spent lots of time ducking TV cameras just in case my parents tuned in to the evening news to see their youngest son marching with King and his people in Montgomery in 1965. Old Shame was there, even then.

We flew out of Syracuse at 4am in the morning aboard a twin engine Mohawk Airlines DC-3 (maybe?). About forty-five of us headed to the Montgomery Airport with a stop in North Carolina to refuel on the way. First time I’d been in North Carolina as well. We were scheduled to join the march around ten in the morning. Buses would pick us up at the airport and ferry us to the place where we’d rendevous with the main body of marchers. I wore a white shirt, a necktie, a sports coat, and a London fog raincoat.

The rendevous site was a large athletic field surrounded by a chain link fence on the outskirts of Montgomery. Patrolling outside the fence were full armed national guard units. Jeeps and weaponry were readily apparent. The gathering of people was massive, at least to me. It was thrilling to see clusters of marchers holding signs from all over the United States. I was stunned by the number of clergy gathered in that one place. In that one day, my respect for collared prelates increased substantially. The march was incredibly well organized. We were told where we would march, how we were to march, to follow the orders of the organizers and marshals and that we’d be protected by national guard along the way. We were told to march an arms length distance from marchers either side of us until we were given the signal to close ranks. When we got that signal, we were to move together shoulder to shoulder. If trouble was to occur, it would happen as we moved in to the downtown area and they marshals wanted as much space between us and the sidewalk crowds as possible.

The first hours of this final day of the march was through black neighborhoods. Local residents watched, clapped, waved, posted welcome signs, and just generally witnessed this massive turnout of people. At this point the march stretched on for miles. I wondered then what it must have meant to have all these people walking past your home for hours on end. The few people I spoke with expressed thanks that I’d come. It was hard to explain that I hadn’t done much. That they were the people to thank. One woman said none of that made any difference. We were all there and that was what mattered. She was right.

By the time my section of the march reached the capitol, the speeches had begun. Walking slowed after we closed ranks. There were no incidents. Some predictable gestures, some shouting at us, some name calling, some waving of the confederate flag, but no gunshots and no rifles. State troopers sealed off the capitol doors from King and others. All this had been negotiated I’m sure. A podium was set up in front of the lines of troopers and it was from there that the speeches were made. The capitol was very far away from where I was standing and the whole ceremony is now a blur to me. What remains is feeling of what it was like to stand with such a large, mixed crowd of people from all over this country who gathered on that one day to bare witness to the fact that this country need to bring everyone into the voting process and that poll taxes, constitutional examinations, reading tests, and whatever else was used to deny poor people the right vote would no longer be tolerated in this country. Some people say they say George Wallace looking out from a window of the statehouse. I’m not sure it happened. It didn’t have to.

It was difficult finding a bus back to the airport after the rally ended. Somehow I got separated from my group and I had to walk the streets of Montgomery a bit searching for a ride. The shoe was on the other foot. I was so frightened I was sick to my stomach. I didn’t know who was friend, who wasn’t. I stood out like a sore thumb. So this was what it was like to live under the repression of a white majority? My imagination was having the better time of it as I saw the Klan waiting for me as I rounded around every corner looking for a bus. A car pulled up next to me and a Black man and his partner called out, “You need a ride, boy. Goin’ to the airport? Hop in. We’ll take you there.” On their dashboard was a handlettered sign that said “Airport Taxi: Free rides today.” They told me that churches (Black) all over Montgomery were providing free rides back to the airport all that afternoon and into the evening. They said they were glad they saw me and what was I doing walking alone like that? I muttered something stupid, I’m sure. I told them they weren’t half as glad as I was that they’d stopped to pick me up. They dropped me at the airport, I gave them $10 for their collection plate, we bid each other good-bye and God Bless and I was ready to be back on my airplane. My stomach was feeling better. My impressions of the march had more to do with the people I’d met than from the pavement I’d walked. From my journal: “the died in the wool racists as well as the Negroes who have succumbed to the racists will never change. The real hope is in the kids – they shout and are working for “freedom.” I don’t think they will be stopped…it is with this generation that the work must be done.”

But the events of this trip were not over yet. The airport was jammed packed with people inside and out. The charter aircraft had to take off in between the normal arrivals and departures so it was slow going. I found a patch of grass near the main tarmak walkway and sat down to rest for the first time since we’d gotten off the bus earlier that day. Again, I was just amazed at all the priests and nuns in the crowd. I guess I’d never imagined the Catholic church as a place of social activism. Despite the encyclicals of Pope John XXIII. I must had dozed off because I remember waking up to a buzz in the people around me. Word was out that Dr. King was leaving and would pass by right in front of us and sure enough, within moments, a group of me surrounding a rather small, hatless individual came down the path, slowly moving through the crowd. They were given their space and instead of pressing forward, the crowd moved apart as they came by. King looked desperately tired. Yet still, he managed to say thank you to those nearest to him as he moved through the crowd. I don’t know whether it was him, or whether it was one of the small entourage that accompanied him, but one of them touched my outstretched hand and squeezed it ever so gently as they passed by. Simple thank-yous were exchanged and then it was over. They passed on by. He left to continue a struggle that was becoming increasingly contentious and divided. We left to return to a Syracuse that remained contentious and divided. Daylight was dawning when we touched down once again at Hancock Field. I was depressed for days after he was killed. Even now, my eyes swim with tears as I write these words. This work remains incredibly important, and incredibly complex, and incredibly difficult. But if I learned one thing from this trip, it was this. Every act counts. Every witnessing. Every voice raised. It was needed then to urge a recalcitrant congress onward. It’s needed now.

My urban education was personalized in many more ways. Washing Steve’s light green Volkswagen after it had carried him back from his work in the Mississippi Freedom schools with bullet holes in it; Suzanne’s lecture on writing curriculum for the Freedom schools, curriculum that included the likes of Sojourner Truth, Frederick Douglas, Rosa Parks, and Mary McCloed Bethune; my own refusal to attend a rally in Syracuse where members of SDS were going to chain themselves to bulldozers scheduled to carry out another act of urban renewal; Robert Kennedy’s visit to and stroll through MJHS; listening to Daniel Berrigan organize resistence to the war effort; becoming one of the kids in the balance of powers role playing task as I started to work as a staff assistant in the UTPP; telling my father I’d been south and hearing him say, “Oh No. That was not a good thing to do,” Period; getting dizzy in disbelief and crying with my wife the moments after I’d heard Robert Kennedy had been shot; living through a 2am fight with my good friend, a Marine, that nearly came to blows over our involvement in Viet Nam; and listening to Mario Fantini’s farewell speech after control of the Madison Area Project had been transferred to City Hall.

No series of events since has affected me in the way these events did. At the time, I was unaware of their cumulative effect. I was aware that for the first time, secrets long held and long avoided could not be avoided again. Technology, in the form of television, had ended our cloak of innocence. We could no longer as a nation avoid the injustices that we all knew were a part of our fabric. In retrospect, the social convulsions of the 60s, the see-saw of justice and injustice played out between a government and its people, the right to march protected by law through country that days earlier was laying in wait to lynch, torture, and murder citizens whose only crime was to speak the truth and ask for what was rightfully theirs, was the inevitable result of a country refining its core purpose and mission.

To this day, it is hard to separate my learning to teach from the times in which I learned to teach. In this urban education program, teaching was an act of social justice. Though we talked about this very little, the very fabric of the program was to make a difference in how schools operated for those most in need. Memory is useless if it serves no purpose. Mine has fed both a spiritual and political end. These memories fire my passion for teaching and keep me wanting to connect. King was so right. Injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere! I expect my students to make a difference for the children that are most in need in their classrooms. I want them to know the effects their power and privilege have on those with out it. And I expect them to know all sides of their teaching role. Back then, I believed that schooling was the answer. Now, I no longer know. Teachers need to see themselves as agents of social change. Can they? And teachers need to know how to swim against the currents that serve to keep our society from moving ahead. Can they? The democratic vision is what we have to guide us. It remains and it remains much more than a myth. It is, perhaps, the only thing we have left.

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Charles Rathbone

Retired. Emeritus. UDL consultant, FIrst UU Racial Justice Committee, photographer, married, four children, five grandchildren. Embracing life, all of it. "Today is tomorrow's past."

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