“Nobody’s free until everybody’s free.”

The event hosted by Cathy Davidson and her colleagues Carla Shedd and Tressie McMillan Cottom was truly invigorating. Excellent points were made throughout the program but some of my favorite points were centered around ideas of collectivism and community. I believe it was Professor Cottem who stated, in regards to higher education that, “It only works if it works for everybody.” When I heard that quote it reminded me very much of another quote by civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer who stated, “Nobody’s free until everybody’s free.” But I think the reason why that quote resonated with me was not only because it touched on the need for collectivism but it also pointed to the fact that some private troubles are indeed public issues. The issue of certain schools, especially schools located in urban areas and concentrated with minoritized students, being inadequately funded is a public issue that mimics the systems and structures that exist in our society. Furthermore, the reason why we have yet to have seen these inequalities fully addressed is that once again they’re viewed as private troubles as opposed to systemic issues. We have to stop placing bandaids over gunshot wounds and address the real issues that exist. Another thing that was discussed was the need for us to see schools beyond a place of learning but to view them as an outcome. An outcome, that for many young people is a means of economic mobility and a newfound possibility of a wealth of new opportunities. Professor Shedd even talked about schools not only being seen as just a place of surveillance but as a place of much more value – a place worthy of investing in. The idea of colleges also being vested in the communities they exist in is also a key part of reimagining the way we view higher-ed institutions. Imagine if colleges were open regularly for highschool students to do research when libraries were closed. Imagine if colleges had childcare programs for working moms in the community and free college prep programs for older children. Finally, imagine that there was also a mentoring program in which students were able to form positive relationships with professionals, thus encouraging them to further their education after high school and to earn a college degree. Wouldn’t that be great? Now I admit maybe some of these solutions might be a bit idealistic. I honestly believe, though, that the possibilities are endless when colleges and communities work together and are supported at the federal and state level. That is where measures such as differential funding can be implemented to create a more equitable space for minoritized students. At the end of the night, though, this program had me asking myself, “Am I doing my part? And how can I do better knowing what I know now?”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

* Copy This Password *

* Type Or Paste Password Here *