Thursday, February 7, 2008

Separate and Unequal: 'Dream Not of Other Worlds' at Washington College

Chestertown, MD — The Washington College 2007-2008 Sophie Kerr Lecture Series and the Office of Multicultural Affairs will present a Huston Diehl reading, "Dream Not of Other Worlds: Teaching in a Segregated School, 1970," in the Sophie Kerr Room at Miller Library on Monday, February 25, at 4:30 p.m.

When Diehl began teaching a fourth-grade class in a "Negro" elementary school in rural Virginia, the school system's white superintendent assured her that he didn't expect her to teach "those children" anything. It was the waning days of the Jim Crow South, and Diehl soon discovered how low expectations impeded her students' ability to learn. With its overcrowded classrooms and poor facilities, her segregated school was vastly inferior to the county's white elementary schools, and the message it sent her students was clear: "Dream not of other worlds."

In her memoir Diehl reveals how her students reached out to her, a young white Northerner, and shared their fears, anxieties and personal beliefs. She reflects on what the students taught her about the hurt of bigotry and the humiliation of poverty as well as dignity, courage and resiliency.

Today, Diehl is professor of English at the University of Iowa and a widely published authority in the field of Renaissance literature. Her memoir, Dream Not of Other Worlds: Teaching in a Segregated School, 1970, chronicles an important moment in American history and the struggle to integrate schools in the South.

The February 25 presentation at Washington College will be a reading from her memoir. Professor Diehl will be joined in the reading by Polly Sommerfeld, Lecturer in Drama at Washington College.

Admission to "Dream Not of Other Worlds" is free and open to the public.

February 7, 2008

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