James Mercer Langston Hughes – (Feb 1, 1902 – May 22, 1967)

 

I, too, sing America.

I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.
Tomorrow,
I’ll be at the table
When company comes.
Nobody’ll dare
Say to me,
“Eat in the kitchen,”
Then.
Besides,
They’ll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed—
I, too, am America.

Doing Dishes, While Living Life

Summer_Tanager_s52-11-415_l_1

A Summer Tanager – one possibility for the glorious streak of red I saw in my backyard, while I was supposed to be preparing for autumn classes.

It would be nice if life brought to us challenges in neat packages: “Deal with this, and when you’re done I’ll bring you something new to test out.” Our school days are organized along these lines.

But the events and issues on our timelines overlap and circle around and sometimes travel against time and double up and triple up and overwhelm us and trip us up when they can. We do what we can, as we are able, using our skills for parsing catastrophe, and calling on the resources we recognize in the midst of all the chaos. Continue reading

Isaiah 2:4: “[N]either shall they learn war any more”

I am privileged to teach in a first-year writing program at a northeastern U.S. university that allows me to draw in readings as I see fit, as long as the structure of the class follows a model shared by other classes in the program.

My class is called “War Stories.” Everything we read has something to do with war.

Most classes have read large sections of Homer’s “Iliad” (a modern translation, although we dove back into older translations to explore language variations). We always read from Walt Whitman’s Drum Taps, about the Civil War. We view John Trumbull’s paintings from the Revolutionary war and photographs from the Civil War. We read British soldier/poets of World War I, including Wilfred Owen’s often-anthologized “Dulce et Decorum est.” We might read Elie Wiesel’s Night, Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughter-House Five, we might see movies (always by Stanley Kubrick), and we end with modern conflicts: Vietnam and Iraq.

This is not a history class. Neither does it seek to glorify war or warriors. (Hence the reference to Isaiah 2:4: “… neither shall they learn war any more.”) But we do read a lot about war and its often debilitating consequences.

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“Lift off.”

An address from, to, for the Class of 2016 in the Harvard Graduate School of Education, by Donovan Livingston, Ed.M. ’16 – which phrasing sells way short what you will experience if you play this brief and inspiring video.

[Some very brief biographical information: Mr. Livingston is a 2009 graduate of UNC Chapel Hill (BA History), earned an MA from Teachers College in 2011, and became a member of Phi Beta Sigma in 2008.]

And here, for posterity, is the transcript of Mr. Livingston’s address, as provided by the Harvard website:

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