Last year was the centennial of the publication of John Dewey’s classic, “Democracy & Education: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Education.” Similar in many ways to Ethical Culture founder Felix Adler’s pedagogy, this pragmatic humanist’s work called for the complete renewal of public education and inspired teachers to create their own “learning-by-doing” curricula. Many of us remember taking field trips, performing in school plays, and being encouraged to pursue our own interests. However, since the 1980’s, traditional-values conservatives and the business community, funded by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Charles Koch conservative think tank the Heartland Institute, have steered national education policy toward Common Core standards and job training. Many students and their parent are taking up the cause for progressive education, and it is time to revisit Dewey’s groundbreaking work.
Honoring Black History Month: Black women were among the courageous many who opposed the institution of slavery in America and worked for its end. They fought not only slavery, but assumptions that the speaker’s lectern was an unfit place for a woman, especially if the audience was mixed men and women, and assumptions that African Americans and former slaves were not fit for mixed racial company. Hear about some of the lesser-known women abolitionists (including Frances E. W. Harper and Charlotte Forten Grimké), plus a few most have heard of and can learn more about (Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth), and their contributions to the anti-slavery movement of their day.
Sankofa is an African word from the Akan tribe in Ghana. The literal translation of the word and the symbol is “it is not taboo to fetch what is at risk of being left behind.”
Presented by the Brooklyn Society Writera group of writers of all levels and disciplines dedicated to promoting the art and craft of writing.
Honoring Black History Month: Frederick Douglass, one of the finest orators and inspirational writers of the 19th century, began his life enslaved. In the abolitionist movement, he was living testimony that the slaveholders’ excuse for slavery was a lie: that people of African descent lacked the capacity to long for and enjoy freedom. He went on to hold public office and work for a variety of reforms, and held firmly to the value of equality and freedom for all people — including Black people, Native Americans, women, immigrants. Learn more about his life (and even some connections to Ethical Culture) in this talk by our Clergy Leader, Jone Johnson Lewis, on why Douglass is one of her ethical heroes.
The long known principle of cooperation as a path to liberation was articulated by W. E. B. DeBois in a piece he wrote in 1907. Honoring his life and connecting his work to present day struggles, the Honorable Roger Green will tell the story and the vision of the Coalition to Transform Interfaith. The community and labor coalition formed to save the hospital looked deeper than a typical reorganization to create a plan for transformational impact that promises to bring health and wealth to the community.
Hon. Roger L. Green, Executive Director of Dubois-Bunche Center on Public Policy, Medgar Evers College, CUNY and the Coalition to Transform Interfaith, served as an elected member of the New York State Assembly from 1981-2005. During his tenure in the State Legislature Green was widely acknowledged as an expert on educational reform and children and family policies. Green served as the Chair of the Committee on Science and Technology, the Committee on Children and Families and the Joint Budget Conference Committee on Human Resources. A longstanding advocate of civil and human rights, Green worked within the legislative process to enact numerous laws that reflected his commitment to these principles.
While feminism and freethought are separate causes, there is significant overlap. The feminist movement has sometimes marginalized freethinkers “for the good of the cause,” and feminism hasn’t always been welcomed with open arms within freethought or atheist movements. Clergy Leader Jone Johnson Lewis will look at both historical and current tensions between the two, plus highlight a few individuals who worked for feminism and freethought — and often also were involved with other social justice causes, including anti-racism and economic justice. With Clergy Leader Jone Johnson Lewis.
On this Sunday, the Brooklyn Women’s Chorus with Bev Grant will help us celebrate Women’s History Month with songs celebrating women and their struggle for freedom and justice.
The Brooklyn Women’s Chorus is celebrating their 20th year together with a concert on May 12 at the BMCC Tribeca Performing Arts Center in Manhattan at 99 Chambers Street. The chorus has been rehearsing at BSEC every Tuesday since its formation.
Women experience racism somewhat differently than men do, and white women experience sexism differently from women of color. Movements for women’s rights were historically mostly dominated by white women, often focused on issues relevant primarily to white women, and were often expliclty or implicitly racist. Movements for racial justice were historically mostly dominated by men and often focused on “equal manhood,” and could be explicitly or implictly sexist. Each movement sometimes actively worked against the other, and often the two movements saw each other as a common cause. It’s a complicated history, including cooperation and betrayals. Clergy Leader Jone Johnson Lewis will call out some lessons for today in this tangled mess in honor of Women’s History Month.