Sometimes Good Does Come From Bad
John N. Gardner
I have been through many US presidential elections but I can’t remember one that had so many presidential wannabees appealing to our most base instincts: fear, prejudice, xenophobia, jingoism, and intolerance. Am trying to not let myself become preoccupied with worry about where this may all end up. In this state of mind I am even more inclined to be on the lookout for some good coming from some bad. I found an illustration the other night.
The occasion was a fund-raiser for a local non-profit charitable organization in Brevard, North Carolina, where Betsy Barefoot and I reside and have an office for our own non-profit organization. The event we attended was to raise money for a local program known as “Rise and Shine.” This is an after school enrichment, tutoring, support, and motivational intervention for local children who are from economically distressed families. This organization is celebrating its 20th anniversary. It currently enrolls 50 kids, elementary school through high school. Each one has his/her own personal tutor and advocate daily. Virtually every kid in this program for the past two decades has gone on to college. What odds against that!
This initiative grew out of a reaction led by one woman to a march in 1988 by the Klu Klux Klan, right here in this beautiful little mountain town of 6000 where I live in this now very red state. This is also the town that had the first high school in the state to racially integrate. But it is in a county that has two high schools which only exist for historical reasons, each one lacking the desirable economy of scale. One is for the more rural end of the country and enrolls no black students at all. The other is in the town itself, which is racially diverse, thank goodness. We maintain two of them to perpetuate de facto segregation. As I look around this peaceful little place I find it hard to imagine the Klan marching here less than 30 years ago. But it did. And some of those marchers are probably alive and well around me.
Anyway, this lone woman of conscience pulled together a band of folks who wanted to start something to promote racial and social justice as the antithesis to the Klan actions. And this non-profit Rise and Shine was born.
This is the language of Rise and Shine today and I commend it for my readers’ consideration as a living testimony to what can result when our citizens say enough is enough; and when we act on a positive vision instead to overcome the barriers of race, class, poverty, prejudice, intolerance and fear of displacement by societal factors beyond our control.
DELIVERING THREE KEY MESSAGES TO KIDS
Your needs, your wishes, and your opinions count
We Believe in You
We are here for you every day because we have faith in who you are and who you will become
Let your dreams inspire you to work hard and reach high.”
So what’s your message to inspire your students to help them achieve social justice?