Priest, Scholar Discusses Literacy and Freedom at JALC
Logan Media Services
CARTERVILLE - Father Joseph A. Brown, Ph.D. was the featured guest at a diversity and multicultural event held Wednesday at John A. Logan College. Brown, a Catholic priest and the chair of Africana Studies at Southern Illinois University Carbondale gave an address called, “The Underground Railroad: Literacy and Freedom.”
Brown told the audience that he had not come to speak about the physical Underground Railroad that many slaves had used to escape bondage in the South. He used the term as a metaphor about how enslavement of the mind had always been a tool of enslavement of the body and spirit.
“We need to learn what our ancestors knew about teaching people to be free, and all freedom begins with literacy,” Brown said. “I talk about people like Frederick Douglass and other black scholars of that era who had to use deception to learn to read to illustrate the value and importance of literacy.”
Brown said he lectures on the importance of reading and literacy a few times a year.
“I can’t do lot of these talks anymore because I teach full time, but I like to try and do them three or four times a year,” he said. “I like to share my message with others, and I feel confirmed when they come up to me afterwards and say, ‘I get it.’”
Dr. David Cochran, professor of history at JALC, who once worked with Brown at SIU, attended the presentation.
“I thought Father Brown’s talk was very relevant today as he pointed out that in some communities in the U.S. nearly 50 percent of high school graduates are unable to read. Our educational system is failing to adequately educate our children. He showed the crucial link between literacy and freedom, especially economic freedom.”
Toyin Fox, director of educational planning at Logan who chairs the college’s diversity advisory committee, helped organize the event.
“I’m glad we had the opportunity to have Father Brown come and speak to us today,” Fox said. “I’ve always been fascinated by stories of the Underground Railroad and how people struggled and took chances to learn to read and write and become literate. This topic was perfect for this time of economic strain and the national agenda for improving higher education success in our country. I was enriched by his speech, and I hope it has been an inspiration for people to do the best that they can to achieve literacy and freedom.”
Posted: September 27th, 2012 under General.