EDUCATION: PAST, PRESENT & FUTURE
HOWARD ALUMNI BANQUET 5 DECEMBER 2009
SACRED LETTERS FROM OUR ANCESTORS
The Black experience has lasted since the
time that man’s records began. Many tales,
many letters have been passed down. Many
scholars also have never been heard.
PART I: UNFORGOTTEN PAGES (NOTES) IN BLACK HISTORY & EDUCATION
We began our story in 1619 as some came as
slaves, free and as indentured servants. However,
the rule throughout the slave-holding south was a
restriction on education for the slaves.
Meanwhile, some stole their ABC’s by the light
of the moon and hidden candle light in dark
cold slave cabins. Here our story is about those
in the cotton fields in the southern region.
But some that were Black did see the inside of a
School-house in the north, but the restrictions remained.
Meanwhile the letters that were stolen were not seen as
a crime. Because the crime was leg irons and shackles.
There was also the crime of long hot hours in the mid-
day sun toiling from day to night and starting as soon
as God broke the day. Beasts of burden had to rest some
time they also needed water and food to eat.
So as the Afro-centric scholars look back in time we
reveal that the enslavement of the African was for
economic reasons as race were not the question. Racial
hate did not cause the economics of racism.
Meanwhile as the dust, blood, sweat and tears settled
and flew through the air, racism came upon the invention
table. Thus, race came to justify slavery as it harbored some
of the greatest ills of humankind.
I looked back and saw Black men, women, boys and little
girls and babes carried in arms running for freedom. Christianity
was thrust upon some and accepted by many. It also gave rise
to slave preachers that also became leaders in the rebellion for freedom.
Thus, we hail Denmark Vesey, Gabriel Prosser, Nat Turner and John
the man Brown. We also call your attention to the first and last Black
abolitionist and those that were on the outside that also stood up for our
freedom. During these times the initial Freedom’s Journal was born.
As we speak and write we also hail in 2009 the FreedomJournal Press
on-line and off- line as an independent Publishing House. The smoke cleared
and the loud and silent guns, cannons and rifles cease to burn bullets against
brother and kinsmen as the Civil War ended.
So did the institutionalized slave system that ruled the south. But we still
wanted our letters and to read and write. If no education was not bad
enough we heard Carter G. Woodson say “Mis-Education of the Negro.”
How did Blacks miss education? Who threw the book at Black education?
John paused as my participant spectator and said there came a time when
enslavement education spoke of the destruction of the natural inclinations
to be self-sufficient for one’s own survival. This was a sad replacement for
no education at all.
All things fail and have success in someone’s eyes. The missed education
thus rendered to some and not just a few a permanent dependence on the
former slave masters. Control the mind and control the hands. Thus newly
freed slaves were not free.
But why was there a need by former body keepers to control the minds of
the slaves that were now said to be free? Is education, was education a panacea
for freedom? Or was this just a guise and ruse to keep us confused? Would
an independent and free education defeat the historic control of Black people?
As I sit, I cease to wonder asking what is education? Why is it important?
My great great grandfather Samuel Arnett rose up one day and found
education as the smooth development of knowledge, skill, ability. There
had to be some teaching, study and experience said Grand Ma Louisa.
Therefore the definitive qualities of this thing education reveal what? There
is the sheer logic of educational need in a developing world? There are no
great thinkers in an uneducated society. Does one actually live or function in
a world absent of any intellect? Slaves and free need to eat, work and sleep.
At Howard School we once had grades 1-12. However, education is on many
levels. The schools of higher learning take us away from our 12th and last year
of public education. There are Trade Schools, Business Schools, and Colleges
and Universities. There are also various degrees A.A., B.S. M.A. and Ph.D.
Meanwhile, Carter G. Woodson continued to write about Mis-education. Was
he radical or just an independent Truth-seeker? Could you really change the
way a man would think? His actions are now known as the plots continue.
One man thought he was inferior. He soon accepted that status.
Thrown away and an outcast he sought out the back door on his own.
He assumed that all things backward and less than less was his way
not his destiny. Was it a righteous nature that assured him that inferior
was his way and his byways would always be wretched he demanded.
But I heard and felt John say that education is power, free the independent
mind and control your destiny and station in life. Let not the oppressor
control your education as adversity will lead to confusion. John said don’t
allow something good for you to be a tool of those that wish you to stumble.
A system that we wish to defeat as we grow in Truth took shape as
enslavement soon after freedom was mandated. Does it still exist?
If not in form in fashion and a lingering philosophy of many that still
crowd the planet earth.
Since the time the school house door was open certain philosophical
aspirations have directed and guided the educational experiences of
Black folk. There was Neo-Colonialism and Neo-slavery. So there was
no education and then mis-education. There was the church, abolitionist
and the philanthropist as some of the first to lean on education Black.
The precedents were set. Before the Red, Black and White blood was dry
spilled on the battle fields defeated in a Rebel cause the Freedmen’s Bureau
came as teachers for the newly freed slaves. They needed to know their
duties as new citizens.
Getting closer to the contemporary times there was a great disagreement
over industrial education and classical education. Some love Booker T.
while others saw him as a buffoon and clown of dependence and a waiter
and busboy that thrived on carrying out the slop jars of those that still rested
in mint Julep heaven.
Some also got kick-backs for leading us astray as concessions historically
came to the boss that thrived on straw. Who was the head man in charge
in the cotton fields? Who handed the overseer the fresh well water and
the rifle to annul rabbits of the field and fleeing Black bodies on the run.
Someone who had never looked upon a book in 1865 posed a difficult
task to educate. The missionaries came south to see. Some said they had more
classes on social programs than reading, writing and arithmetic. But the
not so freed Blacks were still seen as basic economic tools to be seen with pity.
We hear Woodson, Carter G. once again. Had the Negro man, woman and child
reaped such good White benefit from slavery that his mind revealed exactly
what was desired of him mired in a submissive nature? Was this enhanced in
books and teaching methods designed do miss an uneducated the Black mind?
John now moved without pausing and said Dear Howard School. Should
we close the doors of the schools that miss and call on Black independent
Schools? Should they be our primary and secondary schools? Will the community
Black in which one lives provide the educational needs of those that live there?
Will those that are Black at Howard School are any other Black school
be able to petition the state for their own curriculum? Will truly Afro-Centric
curriculums ever be a part of the Black experience? Woodson: As we look
contemporary times and the times in which we now live:
"Blacks who are trained under racism in institutions that do not protest are cowards, and in life will continue as slaves in spite of their limited emancipation."
PART II: CONTEMPORAY PAGES IN BLACK HISTORY & EDUCATION TURNED
As we step into the times we now live I saw Old Howard become
New Howard and move from the west side to the south side.
These were the days when there was only one high school for
Black people in Chattanooga. The schools were determined for Black
and for White.
Also a slave education still lingered, but gained fertile ground in the
more rural south as the urban north and east also the west brought up
the rear. Some schools Black were falling down and in need of repair.
Also many books were missing but at Howard there was an exception.
Dedicated teachers made up for many things lacking.
Then, they had compassion for the students their younger brothers and
sisters. I remember as I left with a class in 1963 which was the last to
be segregated as City High became Riverside and a place also for
Black education. For those that loved history will always remember
T. R. Gaston the greatest history teacher and coach in the south east.
The famed “Hustling Tigers” the maroon and gold will always pay
tribute to the legendary coach “Chubby James” who led the Tigers
to numerous undefeated seasons. R. O. Vaughn was allowed corporal
punishment but he was still much loved for his care and concern .We will
also love Ms. Blackshear for the great memories and her love.
Meanwhile as high school students we look forward to college and
the thrill of life’s experiences. Those steeped in intellect also latch
on to the independence to think. What has been the grave and often
stale state of independent thinking and the Black community?
So as John and that other man of letters looked on, the Black independent
intellectual was thrust although often hidden and unseen into the vanguard
of the struggle for freedom and liberation long over-due. What did a
young man know of these things in 1961, 62 and 1963?
Dear Howard and illustrious alumni, students and teachers thanks for the
young adult memories that can never be re-lived or wiped away from the
smorgasbord of life’s events and dramas.
This was a learning experience
and an educational experience that would carry me through life.
We moved through, I moved through the educational process as young
folk growing up in Chattanooga, TN. Most had been taught as our parents
and their parents looked back to slavery and beyond realizing that education is a
necessary ingredient to relieve many of the problems of second-class citizenship.
There was also something significant about the time period from
1619 to 1900. So Black education for some made a significant
leap forward by 1900. We are now in the year 2009. So as we
still grasp the reality of the need for education we look on.
Howard O’ dear Howard the first public school in the Chattanooga area.
Established in 1865 Howard took its name from Oliver O. Howard
a well known Commissioner of the Freedmen’s’ Bureau and Civil
War General. Is Howard then oldest public school and Black in Chattanooga?
Historic Register material and just cause to never tear down again.
From Howard School (1-12) Howard High and now Howard
School of Academics and Technology. Howard has made a leap forward
but we the alumni must continue to support the academic schools and of
course the Howard Marching 100 and the athletic programs.
I also saw a dedicated and committed alumni association taking a
more direct interest in the school's curriculum and the teachers
of the school. One said the educational wheel keeps rolling with
concerned, committed and talented teachers.
Where will the future take us? One man had stopped looking nor did
he pray and see Heaven. He had given up hope when things had been
tough. Times were rough, but God would not allow you too much to
bear as the saints walked in the Spirit.
PART III: THE FUTURE OF THE BLACK EDUCATIONAL EXPERIENCE
One day for sure the world will cease the great debate regarding
Truth. There will be a methodology for obtaining Truth. The Spiritual
Scientist will be common place as he will be in no assigned place but
Truth can be seen and will be seen in a better Light.
John proclaimed that Truth equals Spiritual Science squared. Truth
which is Light thus also rest in the principles of non-conformity.
John never conformed to the established church. He also never
bowed to a world of conformity.
“Whoso would be a man, must be a nonconformist” so said Emerson.
There Is Limited Truth Without God
We come boldly proclaiming that the greatest outlook
is through spiritual eyes. Hence a great theory is
born and established. This man saw not the ways
that are pagan often evil of the world.
He also vowed not to compromise his principles
and his independence to think, for a job, bread or
butter. He saw no favor in joining any group no matter
what prestige or fortune it brought if it called on him,
To become not a creative artist but a robot a clone and
clowning puppet only told, commanded and programmed
what to do. Never in this mode could he cause anything
into being for the first time. When the Arts die so does man.
Thus, he would never paint the Rainbow as the group saw it
and not in his own eyes that saw it as he dreamed. Political
aspirations chosen or appointed saw those that laid principles,
values aside as votes were more important.
Independence broke the back of tradition and custom.
As a man called to please Jesus he frowned on the man
pleasers. However in the church is where the greatest
nonconformity should take place.
Sadly the preachers that conformed to the world spoke
not for God. He clearly found this to be a great abomination.
But who had the courage to stand up against the established culpables
in the Church? He then saw Jesus standing, so was John the Baptist.
All the Great Apostles and Prophets passed by his eyes and lips.
However they lingered in mind as he digested their tenure and he
gained from what they were inspired by Almighty God to render
to the lost and found brethren. Just where is the remnant?
In the great forest he was never alone as many stood with him.
Silent although vocal as they made a testament as to who really
controlled the world. Meanwhile among those described as humans
he saw few as supporters as the world to them was most important.
But what of the life after, the resurrection and Peace and Paradise?
Struck by his on-going conversion process he looked back as he
conformed not to a bankrupt mis-guided educational system. He knew
little though before saw the single Light of Christ.
But he soon saw the T=ss˛ as this is where Truth begins, started
and would never end.
Peace and Paradise,
Carl A. Patton, FreedomJournal Press, Howard Class of 1963
11 November 2009
All rights reserved FreedomJournal Press 2009.