Jonathan Kozol: "In Praise of a Beautiful Profession: Educators Working in the Front Lines of the Public Schools"
Ted Constant Convocation Center
President's Lecture Series; Jacobson/Wallenberg Humanitarian Speaker
In the passion of the civil rights campaigns of 1964 and 1965, Jonathan Kozol moved from Harvard Square into a poor black neighborhood of Boston and became a fourth-grade teacher in the Boston public schools. He has devoted the subsequent four decades to issues of education and social justice in America.
"Death at an Early Age," a description of his first year as a teacher, was published in 1967 and received the 1968 National Book Award in Science, Philosophy and Religion. Now regarded as a classic by educators, it has sold more than 2 million copies in the United States and Europe. Among the other highly honored books that he has written since are "Rachel and Her Children," a study of homeless mothers and their children, and "Savage Inequalities."
His 1995 bestseller, "Amazing Grace: The Lives of Children and the Conscience of a Nation," described his visits to the South Bronx of New York, the poorest congressional district of America. Praised by scholars such as Robert Coles and Henry Louis Gates, and children's advocates and theologians all over the nation, "Amazing Grace" received the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award in 1996, an honor previously granted to the works of Langston Hughes and Martin Luther King.
Kozol received a summa cum laude degree in English literature from Harvard in 1958, after which he was awarded a Rhodes scholarship to Oxford University. He has been called by the Chicago Sun-Times "today's most eloquent spokesman for America's disenfranchised."
Kozol, Jonathan, "Jonathan Kozol: "In Praise of a Beautiful Profession: Educators Working in the Front Lines of the Public Schools"" (2009). President's Lecture Series. 111.