Viewing page 28 of 132

This transcription has been completed. Contact us with corrections.


of American history. This phase has been made necessary largely because of the peculiar and distinctive character of black-white relations in this country. Whatever the course of development for other ethnic and racial groups in this country, we have lost the opportunity for a less painful transformation in regard to black people.

The new concern is an effort to devise an educational system which is functional, not dysfunctional, to the needs of black people. Traditional educational policy-makers apparently never deemed it important to have national holidays commemorating black heroes. The Establishment was not very concerned about involving black parents in any important way in the operation of the schools. These matters not discussed until impatient black people began raising them. And now those who occupy seats of authority would argue for their perpetuation in power even while they admit their failure in the past to deal with these very important questions. Many black spokesmen are saying today, and rightly so, that those traditional people with their traditional institutions have forfeited their right to rule. They are now anachronisms. I would further suggest, and this is a most crucial point, that precisely because the impetus has come from the "outs," the "ins" are no longer in a position to dictate the subsequent development of that thrust. The authority and legitimacy of the "ins" have been discredited. Had the "power structures" been as astute and wise as they frequently conceive themselves, they would have recognized years before (when there was still time to change within the established framework) and they would have initiated the change themselves. Now, they must be followers, not leaders; they must be respondents, not innovators, however damaging this might be to their own sense of efficacy. They can no longer control the intricacies and details of social change, once those processes of change have been set in motion by decidedly more perceptive people. This is one of the realities of this historical period that this society must face, the predilections and hindsights of some people notwithstanding.

The new agenda is focusing on ways to forge a closer link between the black parents and the schools. Surely, if we embark on mammoth busing plans which transport black children miles away from their homes, we cannot maintain that black parents will be able to travel such distances to PTA meetings on cold wintry nights, to be surrounded by a sea of white, insensitive faces-organized effectively in voting blocs to get what they want, which translates more often than not into maintaining their cultural norms. More culturally