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FREEDOMWAYS                   FOURTH QUARTER 1968
threatened. No group welcomes intrusion into its pre-empted domain, but this is the sort of development which must occur when we engage in questioning the legitimacy of existing arrangements. Americans must ultimately come to terms with the impact of the arguments made by black people when their language challenges the "system" and calls for new forms of decision-making. This is difficult for an old order to understand, precisely because it has always assumed the legitimacy of established ways-notwithstanding the demonstrated and documented irrelevancy of those ways. Many of the black people who have been relegated to roles of inactivity and uselessness by a racist, insensitive, exploitative society have skills and energy which can, and should, be used for the development of the black communities. The field of education is one of the most vulnerable fields in which to begin innovation. Education is an essential and inevitable on-going societal function; the products of that process ultimately contribute to the viability of that society (albeit, a substantially transformed society). Transforming the educational system is an activity which could involve large numbers of black people. That is, it is clearly not "make-work" with the ultimate consequence of pacifying the restless and protecting the status quo.
A comprehensive educational plan would include on its agenda the important matter of self-awareness, heritage and self-respect. I am not suggesting that the schools should not serve as socializing agencies. The schools clearly will play such roles, whether we like it or not. I am suggesting that the substance of that process must coincide with the values and aspirations of the people involved—not with what is conceived to be legitimate by some removed from the community and who have long since proved their irrelevancy. Anything less will only lead to further frustration and alienation. It does little good to attempt to impose a consensus on black people who insist on the illegitimacy of that consensus. The wisest course of action would be to permit those previously oppressed and subordinated to develop their own institutions consistent with their view of relevancy and legitimacy. This is the essence of the new agenda being pronounced by black people today. At this stage in history in this country, given the historical and contemporary environment, this approach constitutes the epitome of enlightenment and modernity.