Let Freedom Ring: Entreaty to Teachers
The words of Margaret Mead “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world… it is the only thing that ever has,” are as pertinent now, as ever. The anniversary of the march on Washington has just passed. 9.11 is approaching. While something ominous and deadly is imminent in Syria. Events have a way of arriving and then departing like weather reports and headlines, here in America, where we are afflicted with historical amnesia and the conveyor belt of holidays. In the spirit of dreams and the tradition of dissent, I offer this multimedia list as a resource to use with your students (whether in Amsterdam or Brooklyn, international schools or public ones), to remind us of the madness of the world and the vigilance that peace requires.
Myles Horton’s The Long Haul
Dr Kings “Letter from the Birmingham Jail”
Paul Robeson’s “Old Man River” (the unexpurgated version)
Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthurs Court
Dalton Trumbo’s Johnny Got His Gun
Langston Hughes’ “Columbia” from The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes
Bob Dylan’s “Masters of War”
Charles Mingus’ “Meditations on Integration”
Phil Ochs’ “I Aint Marching Anymore”
Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five
Wendel Berry’s “Thoughts in the Presence of Fear”
Billy Holiday’s “Strange Fruit”
Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land”
My entreaty is this, put aside your lesson plans for a day, or at the very least, one period. Because this is the core curriculum: learning how to become a citizen and a human being. So that freedom one day will resound with the energy of rock and roll, from sea to luminous sea, from farms to cities, from the east to the west, without wars, or arms, or the shameless pilfering of the earth. Do this with and for the children you teach. So they discover that history is made by ordinary people with the courage not to be silenced or sit in the back of the bus. And come to understand that freedom for all is still a dream deferred. Is still the only dream worth having.