The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, April 26, 2002


Race discussion eludes Carlisle-based group

Is race a non-issue in Carlisle? Only three of fifteen enrolled Millennium Discussion Program members in the Ends of Civilization program hosted at the Gleason Library showed up on April 16 to discuss the scheduled topic of racial integration. While those with young children may have traveled during the school vacation, the majority of the members must have had other reasons for failing to attend.

The book scheduled, The Ordeal of Integration by Orlando Patterson (1997), raised issues that a largely non-integrated town like Carlisle should consider. The book notes that while the largely successful desegregation of schools in America has resulted in the emergence of a black middle class, Afro-American families still earn only 87 percent of that earned by similar Euro-American families. Held to lower income percentiles, could affordable housing be the only way Afro-American families make their homes in an expensive town like Carlisle?

Fitchburg State College Professor of Sociology Margot Kempers led the small discussion group. She earned a B.A. in history at Brandeis, an M.A. in International Development Education from Stanford, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Sociology from Brandeis. Issues examined by the group included:

· Introduction of a new vocabulary about race

· Examination of integration vs. racial crisis

· Defining The American

· Discussing affirmative action controversies

· Predicting trends for the future

Kempers pointed out Orlando Patterson's own conclusion, "Just stop saying that it [integration] can't be done. Just do it!" That is quite something in a scholarly book to have as the last word. Meanwhile, Carlisle continues to exist as a beige speck in the colorful fabric of America.

The Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities provides the reading materials and speakers for the Millennium Discussion Program. The program will conclude this year having made visits to 27 libraries. The program consists of five sessions held two weeks apart. The third session in Carlisle will review ecological issues raised in The End of Nature by Bill McKibben. The discussion will take place on Tuesday, April 30, in the Hollis Room of the Gleason Library. To enroll for the next session or to inquire about future ones, call the library at 1-978-369-4898.

2002 The Carlisle Mosquito