Archive |

Back to 1967

28 May

Let’s go way back, to 1967, back to Seattle, Washington, back to my college days at Seattle University.  Frank, my best buddy, and I were enrolled in a Sociology class.  Our Quarter project was to go into the community and help the underprivileged.

Back in those days Seattle University was on the fringe of the Central District, and the Central District was primarily low-income, black in color.  After brainstorming for a week or so, Frank and I decided we were going to volunteer to help disadvantaged kids to read.  We went to the local community center, tossed our idea to the Center supervisor, he gave his approval, and two weeks later we had started the Central District Reading Program.

I remember working with fourth and fifth graders who had the reading level of 1st grade . . . see Dick run . . . see the cow in the field . . . watch Bob run fast . . . that sort of thing, and wondering how in the holy hell it was possible that there were kids in the Public School System who were that poorly educated.  What kind of disadvantage that must be, at that age, to be unable to read.  What are the chances of success when a kid is basically facing an impossible struggle at the age of ten?  How friggin’ lucky I was . . . I am . . . to have grown up in more supportive circumstances.  And the contrast was so stark: an institute of higher learning literally three city blocks from a community center where kids couldn’t read.

What we as writers do is important.  We are the guardians against widespread ignorance.  We are the other end of the spectrum.  We signify hope and advancement for society.  We tell stories, we report on events, and we explain how things function.  We take readers to far-off lands, and we take them to imaginary worlds.  We are a healthy escape for those kids in poor districts who have stopped dreaming of ever making it out of the Hood.

The day you take your writing talents for granted is the day you should stop writing, because at that point you will have forgotten just how lucky you are to be doing what you are doing.

See Dick run indeed!

Just something to think about!

Bill

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”