A potent hybrid of prideful memoir and galvanizing guidebook derived from lectures on race and education.
Esteemed youth leader and president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Hrabowski (Overcoming the Odds: Raising Academically Successful African American Young Women, 2002, etc.) was barely a teenager when he was arrested for participation in the anti-discrimination Children’s Crusade march in central Alabama in 1963. His highly personal account retraces this event and its impact on his life and livelihood, which began in oppressive Birmingham, where he was raised by hardworking teacher parents who fostered his early affinity for mathematics. With his parents’ ambivalent blessings, Hrabowski, just 12, joined the historic civil rights march against antagonistic segregation and was swiftly corralled in a mass arrest and jailed with hardened criminals for five days. The words of Martin Luther King Jr. would soon motivate him into forging a career in education, the promotion of critical thinking curriculums such as goal-based academic disciplines, and youth advocacy. In other sections of the book, the author praises the evolution of his university’s innovative culture and the impressive role it has played in promoting undergraduate education and research work amid an all-inclusive, unsegregated atmosphere conducive to learning. His discussion dovetails nicely with the book’s concluding chapters, which address the historical advancement of American educational and economic opportunities, particularly for African-Americans. Spawned from the speeches Hrabowski delivered during the Simmons College-Beacon Press Race, Education, and Democracy Lecture series in 2013, the book’s strength derives from the advancements achieved by African-American students, in which the author has played a significant role. Still, he acknowledges that there is much more work to be done with regard to overall unemployment rates, income levels, and civic equality.
A noble personification of the civil rights movement and an inspirational manual on instilling empowerment and possibility in today’s youth.