Remarks to the Trenton NAACP Freedom Fund Banquet, October 31, 2010

Note: I was given the NAACP Education award at this event. I hope to post more information about the event and the other honorees soon.

Thank you for this unaccustomed honor. I am particularly grateful for the presence of my family and friends. I also want to honor the memory of Ann Barnes, who brought me into the world and sacrificed to give me the opportunity for a stable home and an education.

Thank you as well to Brenda Jackson and the Trenton NAACP for choosing me for this special recognition, and placing me on a dais with such an accomplished assemblage. Thank you to all of you for supporting the ,NAACP. The quest for social justice and equality before the law is as urgent now as it was 101 years ago.

I work in the tradition of my intellectual ancestor, WEB Du Bois, who inaugurated the NAACP’s Crisis magazine 100 years ago, ┬ánot only to expose the injustices of racism, but also to highlight and leverage the accomplishments of black people. In that tradition, I honor the presence of Dr. Randal Pinkett, both for his own accomplishments and because he represents a vanguard of scientists technologists, social scientists and mathematicians who labor mostly in obscurity to create a better life for all of us. Their largely unrecognized efforts have opened doors of opportunity that too few of us are prepared to enter. That is our present crisis.

Because I am a professor, and because of the urgency of this crisis, I have a homework assignment for you before I sit down. I’d like you to write down the address of three websites: scratch.mit.edu, csunplugged.org, and algebra.org. The Scratch and CS unplugged sites have free and fun resources that help children become technology innovators instead of just technology users. Please download those resources kearn to use them, and share them with a child you care about. ┬áThe third site is the home of the Algebra Project, which is much needed in Trenton and every other community in this country.

God bless you and God bless the NAACP.