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Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Power of Knowledge

I have one more day in my fall semester at Essex County College. I'm anxious about my grade in my most challenging class; French.  I also took African American History II, Biology 101 and Cinema appreciation to go towards the fulfillment of my communications degree. I'm thinking about things like maintaining my grade point average, and what am I going to do after I graduate. There was a time I never thought I'd have concerns like making it to class in the morning, or getting an assignment submitted on time. And here I am a full fledge college student. 

I sit in class on some days, distracted by the young adults around me sighing out loud in complaint of the Professor's homework assignment. It was frustrating for the progression of my African American history class to be hindered by students that didn't appreciate the opportunity to get an education. There we were, watching a film on the sacrifices people made to improve the quality of the educational system, and the young people watching were uninterested! I just didn't get it. If they only knew what it was like to want to go to school, and not be allowed to.


My father homeschooled me until I was 11. Before he stopped teaching me, he promised that I would go to high-school. I looked forward to the day I'd walk through school doors and sit in a classroom with other students. Well, while under my father's rule, that day never came.  By the time I was 14, my dad banned education among me and my siblings all together. Any teaching I did of my brothers and sisters, I did in secret. I had to worry about my father finding worksheets I created for my sisters to practice their handwriting. I got nervous any time he walked in on them reading a book. So when I watched a film in class on Fredrick Douglass, showing him sneaking around to learn to read, I became overwhelmed with emotion. That film and any others like it themed in slavery, connects to my life growing up on so many levels. Therefore it pains me to see others take the opportunity they have to get an education for granted. 




Kermit sacrificed himself for science and education. 
Learning French gave me a better understanding of English. I've seen the inside of a frog up close and personal. I learned that the free school breakfast my kids eat in the morning, is thanks to a man named Heuy P. Newton; and instead of just watching a film, I can't help but analyze the editing, cinematography and Mise-en-Scene.


I didn't get the chance to walk through school doors and sit in a class room with other students until I was 35 years old. And most of the other students are my daughter's age. I may feel a little uncomfortable when one of these kids wants to give me attitude like I'm their peer, because I'm harshly reminded of my seniority over them. I've even had professors 8 years my junior which is a test in humility in itself. But I'm not embarrassed and I'm not ashamed because I'm using my opportunity to get an education for all it's worth. Better late than never, is what I say. 


Food for thought (this time it's literal):

In January, 1969, the Free Breakfast for School Children Program was initiated at St. Augustine's Church in Oakland by the Black Panther Party. The Panthers would cook and serve food to the poor inner city youth of the area. Initially run out of a St. Augustine's Church in Oakland, the Program became so popular that by the end of the year, the Panthers set up kitchens in cities across the nation, feeding over 10,000 children every day before they went to school.[1