Remembering Why… Education Matters

And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man. ~ Luke 2:52

Many years ago, a college student asked a philosophy professor, “Why are there no Black philosophers in our textbook?”

The professor’s immediate, casual, self-assured reply sprang forth like a lightning bolt. “Blacks didn’t have time to look up at the heavens and wonder. They were too busy tilling the soil. Struggling with hardships…  Getting to bed early… to get up the next day… to do it all over again! To be a philosopher, you had to have time to reason. Time to ponder man’s complexities and observe the universe around you. It took men of leisure… to gaze up at the starry sky and consider their existence… the scope of the cosmos… with profound insight…”

That student still has that philosophy textbook. However, she seldom opens it up. Oftentimes, she stares at it from across the room. Its prestigious emerald green spine with golden embossed letters perched inconspicuously on the third shelf of a bookcase.

But, this day… she took it off the shelf and thumbed through its pages. Imagining a young girl looking through a majestic windowpane. Her nose pressed confidently against the cool glass. Seeing in and out at the same time. It’s then that she remembers the autobiography of Booker T. Washington.

His words mesmerized, transformed, and filled her with hope. She innately grasped their meanings. Words she memorized years ago. “I determined, when quite a small child, that if I accomplished nothing else in life, I would in some way get enough education to enable me to read common books and newspapers… I was tired, I was hungry, I was everything but discouraged… I delivered my message, which was one of hope and cheer; and from the bottom of my heart I thanked both races for this welcome back to the state that gave me birth.” (Washington, 1901, pp. 27, 49, 319).

The word “education” danced around in her mind…  identified struggles… eased barriers… and gave aspiration to the precious freedom of her ancestors’ dreams.

Education… learned in the streets and down the dirt roads… learned in churches, classrooms, and lecture halls… learned from families, friends, and foes.

Education… questioning fallacies… demanding justice… discerning right from wrong… and choosing good over evil.

Education… revealing the world as it is and as it can be… alleviating poverty… improving health… generating wealth… and increasing prosperity.

For, education had amplified her learning… united knowledge with wisdom through faith… and discerned many nuances.

Abruptly, her reminiscing got interrupted by a knock at the door. She laid the emerald green book with the golden embossed letters down… beside the engraved personalized office name desk plate. She glanced at the letters… Ph.D., exquisitely imprinted behind her name. She smiled, remembering why… education matters.

She stood up and walked over to a window and peered outside. Amazed by the large diverse crowd of students gathered on the University quad… to hear her speak! She walked over to the other window in the room and looked out at the beautiful twilight sky.

Then, she bowed her head and folded her hands in prayer. “Thank you, Jesus, for education. Thank you… for the prayers, hopes, dreams… the courage and actions of those who came before me. So, that even I can look up at the heavens and contemplate the vastness of God’s creation… as my ancestors did!”

God Bless… I am Wiley’s granddaughter…