Sunday, May 28, 2023

The Black Experience

 My classmate and friend Bernie is receiving an honorary doctorate today.  Yesterday I attended a forum in which Bernie, her husband and two adult children spoke about their experiences in college.  When Bernie and I were in college in the turbulent mid-sixties, Bernie was one of six Black women in our class, along with five Black men in a predominantly white university.

Bernie and her husband were instrumental in effecting change that benefitted the African American community at our university.  They pushed for their rights, but in a polite and respectful way.  They mentored Black students who came up behind them.  They both had successful business careers in technology.  In time they were both chosen for leadership roles on the boards that run our university.

At yesterday's forum, Bernie, her husband and the two children (one a doctor and the other a business man) talked about their college experiences and how the university changed during their time here. 
The parents in particular were instrumental in making the changes.

I know what America and college was like in the 1960s and how they have been over the decades since then.  I know there have been many rough experiences for Black people.  It was striking how each related their experience without resentment or anger, but calmly, positively and optimistically.

Maybe that is one of the secrets.  To be forceful and persistent in demanding what you want, but with a smile on your face and with optimism.


RedPat said...

A really touching story, Jack. Nice to hear.

William Kendall said...

I would enjoy attending this.

Michelle said...

Nice to see these issues being discussed.

Taken For Granted said...

Good to know your university is honoring leaders of the Civil Rights movement. My university had one black student when I went there in 1962, and he followed the "Jackie Robinson" model of being over qualified. He was a basketball and track star, Student Council President, and went on to earn a Dr.'s degree and become the Superintendent of Milwaukee Public Schools. So good these people were there to improve our lives.