Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Mississippi Experience

I had the opportunity to speak at the 41st memorial to the deaths of the three Mississippi Freedom Summer Civil Rights Workers, Mickey Schwerner, James Earl Chaney, and Andrew Goodman on June 19, 2005 in rural Neshoba county Mississippi near where they were killed. That memorial is a story itself which I will try to tell soon, but what happened next might also capture your imagination. I stayed in Mississippi the next day for the final day of the trial of Edgar Ray Killen for their murder.

I was there for the presentation of the final three witnesses for the defense who included the brother of one of the prosecution witnesses who wanted to say that he thought his brother had lied, a former mayor of Philadelphia, Mississippi who said that he didn't consider the Ku Klux Klan to be a violent organization, and an ex-Klansman who had also testified for the prosecution who said that the reason he had not come forward with the truth about his understanding of Killen's involvement before was that he had feared for his life.

Outside the courtroom during one of the recesses while awaiting the Attorney's final arguments, I ended up in a discussion with Richard Barrett who I had not heard of before, but who seemed very familiar with things going on in Greensboro. He gave me a copy of his white supremacist newsletter "All The Way" which had two front page articles on the Greensboro Truth and Reconciliation Commission. One of the articles incredibly accuses the Commission of being "foreign agents working to overthrow the government."

I had my minidisc recorder with me and got part of his comments recorded. I have posted them in the media files section of Greensboro101.com. I want others to hear the argument that he makes. Let me know what you think.


Something Else I'd Like to Share

Over the past many years I have been doing a lot of thinking and writing about education. There is a collection of stuff I wrote on education and community that is being used in one of the diversity classes in the grad school of education at A&T. It is also posted as one of the additional resources on the web site that contains the entire recorded curriculum of the 1964 Mississippi Freedom Schools. These schools were a real example of liberatory education and community building. I have included links to my booklet and the Freedom School site on my list of links. I hope others find them useful.


Sunday, June 26, 2005

Ed Whitfield Lecturing at A&T on Racism in Education Posted by Hello

Getting Started

I have resisted this as long as I could. A couple of weeks ago, David Hoggard called me on the phone and on one of those rare ocassions when I answer my home phone, we spoke about me starting a blog.

I explained to him at the time that I was a little afraid of the amount of work and attention that needed to be paid to blogging to do it effectively, but he insisted that he thought I had some things worth saying and volunteered to set it up for me. Needless to say, I didn't stop thinking about what had suggested.

I recently returned from Mississippi with a lot of stuff that I need to share with people here. I had gone to speak at the 41st memorial service for the deaths of the three civil rights workers -- Mickey Schwerner, James Chaney and Andrew Goodman -- in Neshoba County back in 1964. There is much more to write about that and how it relates to this community -- its history and its future -- than I can possibly put in my bi-weekly newspaper columns or talk about on my radio talk show.

My talk show co-host insisted recently like Hoggard that I had things that I had a responsibility to share and that setting up a blog would be easy. I finally relented. Here it is. The thanks and the blame go to David Hoggard and Joya Wesley although the content will be mine. I hope that the readers who stumble across these musings will gain something from them and hopefully join in an expanding dialog that promises to enrich us all.

Here we go....


Why "Stuff"?

Sometimes it is good to take in a lot of different things and think about them. When the things are unsorted and you are left having to put them in their proper order, figuring out how they are similar and how they are different I like to call them "stuff." When you get things already sorted out, you miss part of what you might be able to learn from them if you had to do the categorizing yourself. You lose part of the potential meaning which might include subtleties that go beyond the initial ability of others to sort them out. In fact the physicist David Boehem once wrote that figuring out the differences between things that seem alike and the similarities of things that seem different is the best way to come to understand them deeply.

And so we have "stuff."

I often write in a less than linear fashion, drawing odd parallels and hair-splitting differences. I enjoy it. But it also serves the purpose of helping to go beyond the usual ways of thinking about things. To me, this is so very necessary since the way things are must be connected with how we think about them, and so much of how things are now needs to change.

Don't ask me "exactly what does this mean?" Like pieces of art, the meaning does not come simply from the artist, but from the interaction of the artist, the art and the appreciator. It is the same with ideas. We ultimately construct the meaning of things collectively so that the full meaning is not inside any one of us. I share these ideas, this "stuff", so that we might all share in a process that helps to move us toward a deeper understanding and a better world.