I was in Cambridge last weekend and had a crash course in history at the NAACP Civil Rights School hosted by Harvard Law School.
Vic Bulluck, executive director of the NAACP Hollywood Bureau, told me the civil rights school is an oral history project that will launch the NAACP's centennial celebration in 2009. The Harvard session was the third of four convenings. The previous sessions were held at UCLA and Howard University. The fourth will be held at New York University in April.
Each session focuses on a specific 25-year period in the NAACP's history:
The two-day program brings together scholars, historians, political scientists and NAACP stalwarts to discuss the nation's oldest civil rights organization. The notables included Herb Boyd, Scot Brown, Henry Louis Gates Jr., Lorenzo Morris, Charles J. Ogletree Jr., Mildred Roxborough, Hilary Shelton and Patricia Sullivan. Individual interviews of the participants will be included in a documentary directed by Emmy® award-winning producer/director Sam Pollard.
Ms. Roxborough is living history. She has an amazing power of recall, as well as a face and voice that belie her six decades as an eyewitness to black Americans' struggle for political and economic integration into American society. I listened with rapt attention as she recounted stories of W.E.B. DuBois, Walter White, Roy Wilkins and A. Philip Randolph.
It was kismet that the Harvard session focused on the Benjamin Hooks era. My interest in communications policy was fueled in part by Dr. Hooks, who was the first African American to serve as a member of the Federal Communications Commission.
I had to leave so I missed an advanced screening of "The Great Debaters," starring Denzel Washington, which opens on Christmas Day. But there is no debating that this December 7 is a date that I will never forget.