Book ban, and mayor’s gesture of good will, shows history is repeating itself. But we were born to persevere | Opinion

·5 min read

When I read that several books have been banned from the Bob Graham Educational Center in Miami Lakes, including the poem “The Hill We Climb,” the poem by Amanda Gorman that the young poetess read at President Joe Biden’s inauguration, I thought: Now, somebody is really tripping.

It was bad enough that the story of Ruby Bridges had been placed on the banned books list, now this. I took comfort in knowing that our very own Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, immediately extended an invitation to Gorman to come to Miami for a public reading of her poem.

The mayor’s gesture of good will reminded me of Eleanor Roosevelt. It was in 1939, when the famed opera singer Marian Anderson was not allowed to appear in concert at Constitution Hall, a venue owned by the all-white organization, The Daughters of the American Revolution, because she was Black.

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READ MORE: Poet speaks up after Miami-Dade school bars elementary students from reading her poem

Eleanor Roosevelt, who had met Anderson in 1935, when she sang at the White House, was appalled. That this great American talent, who was revered throughout the world, would be the victim of such hate and racism right here in her own country was beside the then First Lady.

Like our mayor, Eleanor Roosevelt had a plan. She invited the singer to do a concert in at the foot of the Lincoln Memorial on April 9, 1939. That day, Anderson sang before an audience of 75,00 people!

I don’t know how many will attend a reading by Gorman if she decides to accept the mayor’s invitation. I suspect thousands. And I would like to be in the number.

When Gorman learned that her poem had been banned from the elementary section of the school, she said, “I was gutted. Because of one person’s complaint, my inaugural poem, “The Hill We Climb” has been banned from an elementary school in Miami-Dade, Florida…”

Gorman said she wrote the poem “… so that all young people could see themselves in a historical moment.” She said since reading the poem at the president’s inauguration she has received “… countless letters and videos from children inspired by the poem to write their own poems...”

“Robbing children of their chance to find their own voices in literature is a violation of their right to free thought and free speech… Together, this is a hill we won’t just climb, but a hill we will conquer,” she said.

As I thought about the banning of Gorman’s poem and of other books so significant to the historical education of our children, I thought about how much alike the banning of Marian Anderson from Constitutional Hall 84 years ago, and the reaction of Eleanor Roosevelt, is like the recent Gorman incident and Mayor Levine Cava’s invitation. It seems that history really is repeating itself. Right before our eyes.

READ MORE: A Miami-Dade school flagged her poem. The county’s mayor invited her to read it

To me, banning books – especially those that tell the stories of the treatment of Blacks in America down through the ages, is like building a slow and deliberate killing field. Kill our history and you kill us.

As I think back over the paths, we as Blacks have trod; the blood-stained, tear-smeared road we have traveled to get to this point in our history, I dare say: We won’t go quietly. We never have. We never will. We will continue to fight the good fight. We have been through worse times than now. And we survived. With the help of the Lord, we will continue to survive.

So, to you, Gov. DeSantis, and to all who think that by banning a few books, you have buried our history, I say this: You don’t know us. You never have. You have created myths about us and tried to make us live up to those myths. But they are only myths. Not us.

You don’t know our resilience, how we were born to persevere. How do you think we made it this far? By faith, we learned how to climb over mountains and maneuver our way through mind fields set by you, to trap us. But those things only serve to delay us, because we just keep on, keeping on. It’s in our DNA.

Nope! We won’t go quietly into the night and be a forgotten people. We won’t hover about in some dark corner of the world, afraid to lift our voices and be heard. We will keep on writing and telling our stories.

So, ban our books if you will. And we will write their pages on our hearts and minds. We will whisper them into the ears of our young and help them to memorize our stories. We will survive. Yes, we will. It’s what we do.

READ MORE: Fabiola Santiago: Miami censors Amanda Gorman’s luminous poem. Will they ban José Martí, too? | Opinion

Miami native appointed to senior role at Office of Head Start

I am happy to announce the recent appointment by the Biden/Harris administration of Khari M. Garvin, M.Ed., as director of the Office of Head Start at the Administration for Children and Families at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Garvin, a Miami native, is the son of medical doctor Thom Garvin, was just an adolescence, when he became interested in children’s education and development, said his mom June Garvin.

Khari M. Garvin, M.Ed.
Khari M. Garvin, M.Ed.

His interest never waned and after graduating from American High School, he entered Emory University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology. He later earned a master’s degree in education from Southern Illinois University.

In 1999, Garvin started his Head Start career when he became a Head Start Fellow. Garvin also served as the executive director of Head Start Programs for Save the Children Federation.

Garvin, who at the time of his appointment lived in Greensboro, also has served as CEO and president of the United Way of Greensboro, where he has developed and implemented the organization’s 2030 strategy to end local poverty.

Garvin and his wife Leslie, have re-located to Washington, D. C.

Reach Bea Hines at bea.hines@gmail.com