Digital Equity as the New Civil Rights Issue to Facilitate Empowerment and Broaden Engagement


THE PAST

Washington was the birthplace of one of Martin Luther King’s most impressive gatherings.I was not fearless about civil right then. I was a new teacher and it was one of the first days of school, and though the bus drivers in the system were allowed to go to the mall, I was not . My sisters in high school, went and I even saw them on television later. During the March on Washington , we who lived in the suburbs housed and fed people from around the nation. There was not room for everyone at the mall in the tent cities. People arranged transportation to the places where other people slept and were fed. That was the history of my generation. People wept at the power of the gathering. There were many neighborhood hands contributing to the comfort of those who gathered.

Here is a monument to that day on the mall. When I pass by it there are so many people milling around and thinking about the things he said. Here is the link for the website of the memorial

If you stand under the momument this is what you will see

I like this quote
“In a sense we’ve come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men – yes, black men as well as white men – would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness… America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked ‘insufficient funds.'”

– “I Have a Dream”, August 28, 1963

It was a hot summer day!  People from all over came to see one man make one simple speech. The people only knew that it was about equal rights. They had no idea that this speech would change the the world that we know.. The people never knew that the outcome of this speech, that they were about to hear, would end up so famous. Martin Luther King’s speech began with a simple statement which had every audience member attention “I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in the history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of the world.

I had seen Dr. Martin Luther King on my campus in school. I was not a stranger to the civil rights issues.Some of us did not do the lunch stands, we did the libraries and the schools and the water fountains and the amusement parks Washington, was mild compared to places down south, even rural Virginia. We did the things that were a part of a vast system of segregation.. toilets, drinking water,trying on clothes in the store, and being able to purchase food and eat it in the place. This was a hard one, because we in the culture were usually good cooks. So eating out at the time was not a big thing,

Here in Washington, there was a lot to protest about. I had a friend who helped to integrate the Georgetown dining places, and Glen Echo. The press was not so complimentary, or steeped in understanding. You can find the stories of Glen Echo on line, but not the stories of the integration of dining places in Georgetown. There was a time when going to Georgetown for a meal was a problem. There was a trial based on refusal to serve, at Nathan’s which is no longer in business. Dr. Michael Proctor went to trial over the fact that he was refused service at Nathan’s,  The trial was not successful. But various people kept trying to change things. It took a toll on the activists. It was a concern for their parents and friends. My aunt lifted me out of a demonstration saying that I could change the world with my teaching. Who knew how hard that would be?

Pony Rides, and Amusement Parks, and Places to Eat.. oh my!!

Glen Echo? But not just Glen Echo. Washington was a divided city, divided into black and white and Diplomat. This is history for those of you who do not know the past.


Glen Echo amusement park opened in 1898 and operated for 70 years.

The privately owned park was for whites only and thrived during the World War II era.

After pressure from the community, Glen Echo Park opened the venue to all races in 1961.

The park closed in 1968 because of continued racial tension, declining attendance and financial issues. It reopened as an arts park operated by the National Park Service in 1971.

Since 2002, the park has been managed by the county’s Glen Echo Park Partnership for Arts and Culture Inc., a nonprofit that manages the facilities and programs.

Places to eat, amusement parks, bathrooms( yeah they were separate in some places and certainly not equal, I could make a big list but you get the drift, Not mentioning hairdressing salons, the way we were treated in upscale department stores, or the movie Digital divide we sat in the balcony if allowed Did I mention the trains? We took boxes of food on the train because we were not allowed service down south.   Did I mention schools? That subject is coming up.
Glen Echo amusement park opened in 1898 and operated for 70 years.

The privately owned park was for whites only and thrived during the World War II era.

After pressure from the community, Glen Echo Park opened the venue to all races in 1961.

The park closed in 1968 because of continued racial tension, declining attendance and financial issues. It reopened as an arts park operated by the National Park Service in 1971.

Since 2002, the park has been managed by the county’s Glen Echo Park Partnership for Arts and Culture Inc., a nonprofit that manages the facilities and programs.

I loved being able to take my brother and his little friends there . They rode the various rides , ate the things from the vendors and loved the roller coaster. They rode that clanky roller coaster over and over again,

NOTE( If you wanted to go to an amusement park you went up North. My uncle had a place in Martha’s Vineyard.We as kids could not understand how there were different rules for different parts of the US. Most of the time we obeyed the rules, but my grandmother had a hard time with us on the bus because we sat up front. She eventually stopped riding the bus with us and we were taken everywhere by car in Portsmouth , Va.

Change

You can integrate a park or a movie theater, or even a swimming pool and the rewards, the experience is instant. But schools? We are still trying to change the face of education in the nation.

There is a recent article on the trials of those trying to keep up with technology. But we know in reality that broadband is not everywhere and that rural and distance and urban or poor have much less in the way of technology.  There are some interesting reasons that people don’t have technology. Some of the reasons are economic, some are a lack of education as to how to use the technology, and some people fear the Internet-based on stories they have been told.

Martin Luther King?

Martin Luther King on Technology
“When we look at modern man, we have to face the fact that modern man suffers from a kind of poverty of the spirit, which stands in glaring contrast with a scientific and technological abundance. We’ve learned to fly the air as birds, we’ve learned to swim the seas as fish, yet we haven’t learned to walk the Earth as brothers and sisters.” This clip comes from the documentary “Berkeley in the Sixties” I have no more info about this speech. If you do, please post it.
MLK technology martin luther king speech topangacreek

I know that Martin Luther King would think of some way to create an interface for technology for those who are slow to come to it.

I know he would recognize the fact that there are schoolteachers, and educators who do not have access, or training.

What’s the Big Deal about MIT and their new program?

A friend of mine wanted to know what was the big deal about MIT giving online learning and then being able to be certified for it.MIT today announced the launch of an online learning initiative internally called “MITx.” MITx will offer a portfolio of MIT courses through an online interactive learning platform that will:

  • organize and present course material to enable students to learn at their own pace
  • feature interactivity, online laboratories and student-to-student communication
  • allow for the individual assessment of any student’s work and allow students who demonstrate their mastery of subjects to earn a certificate of completion awarded by MITx
  • operate on an open-source, scalable software infrastructure in order to make it continuously improving and readily available to other educational institutions.

Personally, I had to remake my education as it was based on inferior schooling.The college that I initially went to had to redo the high school education of most of the students who attended it. Our college was not at the level of the white colleges. I thank National Geographic, and NSTA, and NCTM, and NCSS for the knowledge and information that I was able to obtain to better my teaching, but today I would be thanking  MIT for making information and access possible for learning. I patched together NASA, National Geographic, NSTA, and NCSS , with the wealth of information they could give. But all of us were  not able to do that. Some people were busy raising families.

Why the big fuss about outreach from MIT?  There is this informal and static one and then there is what is new.

A funder of mine, who is now deceased understood the problems. He used to say well it was ok when the school systems for poor people were inferior . Now we have a problem, and it affects all children. He wanted to be able to give an IEP , an individual plan for educational progress to all children. The project was started, but political winds blow helter and skelter and he was not able to get the approval he needed.. You understand as you watch the congress posture and castle because of the coming election.

I am grateful to  MIT for  unlocking minds and  empowering students and educators everywhere..

DIVERSITY and BROADENING ENGAGEMENT IS FOR ALL CITIZENS

So far we as a nation invest more in incarceration than in education. See here

Jack Taub cared about children and was worried about digital equity and social justice. He was a funder of mine.

“It’s a systemic problem… in America now they’re talking about reform, but you can’t reform this problem – you need to transform. We need a new system utilizing current facilities and retraining existing teachers with the support of the teacher’s unions.”

The problem, as he describes it, is delivering this whilst the system continues to operate:

“Now, how do you start a new system with 54 million kids showing up every day… you’ve got to do this while the system is going. It’s analogous to rebuilding an airplane while it’s in flight and full of passengers. And during the flight you also have to retrain the pilots (teachers)”

But he is in no doubt that anything less is unacceptable:

“In America, based on the reading skills of a child in 4th grade we determine how many prison cells we’re going to need. It’s very bleak – think of the child when they first showed up there. It’s particularly tragic when you consider that every child shows up for kindergarten with unlimited curiosity and a genetic need to learn. It’s tragic, but that’s what kept me going…”

As I drive over the 14th Street Bridge and glance to my right now ,  I see a constant crowd of people at the Martin Luther King Memorial. Lots of people, the memorial is distant from public transportation but still they come and gaze and think and wonder. Has the change been enough?

Change has come. Some change has come. The President said:

“When thinking about the work we must do – rebuilding an economy that can compete on a global stage, fixing our schools so that every child gets a world-class education, making sure that our health care system is affordable and accessible to all – let us not be trapped by what is, we’ve got to keep pushing for what ought to be,” he said.

Referring to protests against the wealthy and the corporate culture that have spread from New York around the country and overseas, Mr Obama said: “Dr. King would want us to challenge the excesses of Wall Street without demonising those who work there.”

The long awaited dedication of the US national memorial to slain civil rights icon Martin Luther King had been rescheduled from the 48th anniversary date of King's "I Have A Dream" speech due to Hurricane Irene (REUTERS)

The 30ft high pink granite monument to King is the first dedicated to a black American, and the first to a non-president or non-war hero on the National Mall, the capital’s hallowed central park.

Advertisements

One thought on “Digital Equity as the New Civil Rights Issue to Facilitate Empowerment and Broaden Engagement

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s