One of the most common refrains that one hears regarding education is that it is a ‘thankless’ job that pays very little considering the voluminous amounts of time and effort that goes into being a “master teacher”; this evocative title of “master teacher” is a title that should never be bestowed upon oneself, it can only be freely given by those whose lives they have touched. I am proud to relate that I have been so honored.
The reward that I receive as a Professor is neither found in a pay check, nor is it always immediate. However, it is a reward that I have been given the privilege of seeing increase like a ‘Blue-Chip’ stock over time. I have come to learn that “master teachers” are not only adored, loved, and respected by their students, but also given the privilege of seeing their growth and maturation over time. I frequently muse that I crossed paths with some of my most memorable students at the age of eighteen and a mere four years later they are in many ways unrecognizable in regards to what can be best termed ‘professional polish’ and arrival at the precipice of manhood in regards to how they structure their lives and organize their priorities.
Anyone who has ever taken one of my courses will tell you that I push my students to engage the writings of African-American scholars, regardless of their discipline, with an uncommon zeal as I hope to instill in them that such endeavors must become an essential aspect of their life. Of all the things that I attempt to model for my students, this is one that I pray sticks.
I am certain that you can therefore understand how pleased I was when I opened up Facebook this week and read the following communication from Nigel H. Redmond, a former student who is also an attorney;
We had a wonderful time and an extremely powerful discussion tonight at our first book club meeting. We read Between the World and Me by Coates. Yes, black men do read! Inbox me if you would like to join so I can add you to the list serve.
As if things could not get any better at this moment, I recognized yet another one of my students, the indomitable genius of a Brother called Michael Cleere, a brother who has historically resisted his calling as a “master teacher” even while teaching, standing in the circle of brothers who participated in a recent book club meeting for African-American men.
I must relate that one of the foremost disappointments that I have come across regarding my brothers is not the absence of reading, as we know very well we do have a segment of brothers who read everything from Egyptology through the Obama Presidency, it is that we tend to do it in isolation; thereby cordoning ourselves off from others who could contribute so much to our learning.
So on this day, I would like to applaud those brothers in the photo with Nigel H. Redmond and Michael Cleere because you have displayed for us all the best of both worlds; you are not only increasing your knowledge base, but also building a brotherhood. I salute you in this endeavor while also issuing a call to all African-American male readers to form book clubs aimed at increasing our knowledge base and healing every petty divide that exists between “the Brothers”.
Dr. James Thomas Jones III
© Manhood, Race and Culture, 2016
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Author, Creating Revolution as They Advance: A Historical Narrative of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense
Author, ‘Foolish’ Floyd: The Life & Times of an African-American Contrarian
Author, O’Bruni: An African-American Odyssey Home?