Rev. Dr. Cornell Edmonds Esq. is Interim Pastor of The Church of the Covenant, E. 42nd St NYC (around the corner from United Nations).
The prophet Hosea wrote, “they destroyed my people for a lack of knowledge.” (4:6) Remember hearing, “wake up and go to school?” I certainly recall those, education essential, early morning wakeup calls. Recently I got a wakeup call while sitting in a barber’s chair at Upper Kutz, Jesse Lockett’s barbershop in New Jersey. Jesse told me, “Families aren’t coming in for pre-Easter cuts like they used to.” Young people with pre-Easter cuts and hairdos atop suits and dresses symbolized the pride and cultural values of our community. Barber shops and hair salons were key places for transmission of knowledge with our communities. Back then the dangerous minds of the day got their hair cut then armed themselves with knowledge rather than guns. Such were the dangerous minds that provoked revolutions of positive change. Pictures can be found of both Malcom X and Martin Luther King Jr. at barber shops. Barber shops and hair salons historically produced good cuts and dangerous minds.
If the people are no longer bringing their children to barber shops and hair salons, where are they going? My thoughts then drifted to a recent pre-Easter shooting as people gathered at a marijuana dispensary in Harlem. Is that where pre-Easter time is now being spent? Marijuana dispensaries are opening in our communities, as barber shops and hair salons are shutting down. How ironic. How tragic. What kind of dangerous minds can be produced in marijuana dispensaries? “Remaining Awake Through A Great Revolution” was a speech given by Dr.Martin Luther King Jr. four days before his assassination. We must again heed his call to “wake up and go to school.” “Education is the key to unlock the golden door to freedom,” said inventor George Washington Carver. Wake up and connect the dots, threats to education are threats to freedom.
Wake up young people and go to school because education must begin early in life. Dr. Thelma Adair, the 102-year-old pioneer of Head Start in Harlem, says “the mind, like a building, must have a good foundation.” What we do early impacts what happens later. Wake up old people and go to school, before it’s too late to reverse the continuing anti-literacy efforts aimed at restricting education. Anti-literacy assaults, such as the 1739 “Negro Act” of the province of South Carolina, and others, which forbad education of Black people, or the recent restrictions upon teaching, which forbid factual instruction on African American history, were and are an assault upon our basic freedom as human beings. Restrictions on education curtail certain inalienable rights, such as “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” declared by the ‘dangerous minds’ of that time, and fomented a revolution for positive change at the dawn of this nation’s independence.