If I were a teacher in this school, or any Negro school, and I was dealing with Negro children, who were in my care only a few hours of every day and would then return to their homes and to the streets…I would try to teach them—I would try to make them know—that those streets, those houses, those dangers, those agonies by which they are surrounded, are criminal….I would teach him that the press he reads is not as free as it says it is…I would try to make him know that just as American history is longer, larger, more various, more beautiful, and more terrible than anything anyone has ever said about it, so is the world larger, more daring, more beautiful and more terrible, but principally larger—and that it belongs to him. I would teach him that he doesn’t have to be bound by the expediences of any given Administration, any given policy, any given time—that he has the right and the necessity to examine everything….I would suggest to him that he is living, at the moment, in an enormous province. America is not the world and if America is going to become a nation, she must find a way—and this child must help her find a way—to use the tremendous potential and tremendous energy which the child represents.
From “A Talk to Teachers” by James Baldwin. Delivered October 16th, 1963. I’m having trouble locating the name of the school. Available online here.
It’s Monday morning. Love to all of you teachers who got in early for class prep.