History: Homeschool Warrior and Pioneer

The African-American March in Homeschooling

By Raymond Moore

About the time talk was spreading that our black brothers and sisters were indifferent to home education, I had the delightful experience of meeting Helen Jackson …in court. The talk was rampant that Blacks feared home education was being used as an excuse for separating Blacks and Whites.

That was not true at all. And I’ll tell you how I know. My Black friends have minds of their own. I found that out when we had three of them on our Research Foundation Board at one time: Mylas Martin of IBM, Harvard professor Stuart Taylor, and Dr. John Ford, who was at various times, Mr. San Diego, vice president of the California State Board of Education, and later president. He is still a consulting specialist who lives in Cardiff-by-the-Sea, California with his lovely wife, Ida. Dr. Ford was chairman of our Research Committee, the operational arm that contributed largely to the pioneering and development of the modern homeschool movement when Reader’s Digest picked up the research from Harper’s and scattered it to 52,000,000 readers around the world. The men were not rabble-rousing, color-conscious activists. None of us even considered at our meetings that they were men of color.
In fact, Dr. Ford is the hero who took copies of the Phi Delta Kappan – America’s leading educational journal – to the California Legislature that destroyed the efforts of the State Superintendent of Public Instruction to get all California tots into school by age two and a half. Our cover story on the June 1972 issue of that magazine, and three guest editorials, was a long report of our research that targeted the California early schooling plan. The State School Head was Dr. Wilson Riles, an elegant Black man. But no favors from Dr. Ford!

We lost Helen Jackson’s whereabouts for several years and when we were finally able to get in touch with her we found her story continues logically with five Jackson achievers, Helen’s kids, all well-moored Christians:
o Johnny, age 16, a distance runner who is looking forward to a math/physics major in college.
o Zakiaya, 17, a National Merit Scholar who was president of the student union in her secondary school and has turned down an all-expense scholarship at MIT for $35,000 award from Vanderbilt U. for a career in bioengineering and physics
o Isa, 25, who after accepting a scholarship in chemical engineering from University of Tennessee, Knoxville, has formed his own, now nationally known construction engineering firm.
o Malik, 27, a Robert Morris College presidential scholarship grad who is now a financial analyst and software specialist.
o Baqiyyah, 30, near image of her mother, a scholarship student all the way. After 5-years as a missionary, is taking a teaching MA.

We could go on and on about a graphics genius and his well-known editor wife – Art and Pat Humphrey, now of Fort Worth, and deeper into the Lone Star State to Earle and Erma Toussaint of Austin. Both couples have been stars against the backdrop of trials during the early years of the homeschool movement. One of these days we must tell you more about an array of heroes and heroines of all colors and creeds from Maine, Michigan and Georgia to Texas, Colorado, California and Washington. Hopefully that will reach you via an authentic history of home education early in 2001, told by those who were there.

Meanwhile we continue the story of a rare heroine whose hard-working siblings all know what it’s like to occupy scholarship row:

In 1986 Fort Worth Attorney Shelby Sharpe asked me to be expert witness in a class-action suit instituted by Gary and Cheryl Leeper et al. against the State of Texas. I anticipated a tough battle. Some of our greatest homeschool heroes and heroines, starting with Ruth Canon and leaders of the Truth Forum, were from the Lone Star State. Its State Education officials had pained us for years. Make no mistake, whether for good or bad, Texas can be tough. Yet the judge was good news. He opened the way for a little black lady to gently peel anti-family toughs like a hot, boiled potato. She left no doubts that she knew how to peel potatoes. Her little paring knife had a handle of love and a steel blade of truth.
My recollections are not exact; but the nuances are crystal clear in my memory. I remember the kind judge. With him and Attorney Sharpe, my job was a song. His honor freely expressed approval of our evidence. This was Black-Hispanic-White class-action synergy.

The bailiff called the petite mother to the stand from the back of the courtroom, her five young ones strung along beside her. She responded with a smile – nothing supercilious; just confident. Those who know Helen Jackson, know her faith in God.

Three Texas State attorneys, one an assistant attorney-general, were arrayed against her. They knew my background, but obviously knew little about this bit of Black femininity. They hadn’t bothered to check her out, although she was the Black plaintiff in the class-action triumvirate that was accusing the State of harassment for teaching their young at home.

Then all changed! One of the Texas team, I believe the assistant attorney general, lit into her. I feared over-kill, like a sledge-hammer hitting an upholstery tack, but soon found that the sledge was cardboard, and the ‘nail’ was hardened steel. I don’t have the record handy, so I offer only a sketch at best, but the outcome was about like this:

“Mrs. Jackson, Do you believe in women working?”
“Yes, sir.”
“Do you work?”
“Yes, sir.”
“Where?”
“At home.”
“Have you ever had a job?” The questioning moved along in what seemed a taunting or disrespectful tone, including his eyes and body language, as if to find out what kind of broom Helen had pushed. She took it all patiently, even sublimely. The attorney seemed irritated at her quiet freedom.
“Yes, sir” she replied.
“Where did you work?”
“In Houston.” She was brief, determined not to reveal her surprise until the last moment.
“Where in Houston?”
“At NASA.”
“What did you do at NASA?” At this point he smiled indulgently, as if wondering if she worked in the restaurant or in housekeeping. This was the opportunity she had patiently waited for…
“Well, you see, I am a John’s Hopkins University astronautic electronics engineer. At NASA, I was promoted to be the first black woman in space when I discovered that my oldest son was developing serious emotional symptoms and needed me more than NASA did. So I returned to teach him at home. And he is doing very well.”

The lawyer’s jaw dropped. Another attorney dropped her pencil. The judge peered over his spectacles with a big grin. There was some commotion in the Court, but he soon brought down his gavel. He ultimately gave us the case. Although the State twisted and weaseled in order to cloud it, Texas has been among our freest of the 50 states and the U.S. territories ever since.

Shortly after, Phyllis Schlafly, herself something of a heroine, with her Eagle Forum, made Helen “National Mother of the Year.” Often she was compared with Crista McAuliffe, the school-teacher mom who left her family to meet tragedy as the first woman in space. Invariably it was decided that Helen’s mothering way was really the better way.

This article was originally printed in two issues of the Moore Report International (Sep/Oct 00 and Nov/Dec 00)

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Hyperfocus

Hyperfocus: “Hyperfocus is an intense form of mental concentration or visualization that focuses consciousness on a subject, topic, or task. In some individuals, various subjects or topics may also include daydreams, concepts, fiction, the imagination, and other objects of the mind. Hyperfocus on a certain subject can cause side-tracking away from assigned or important tasks.”
“In some cases, it is referred to as perseveration—an inability or impairment in switching tasks or activities or desisting from mental or physical response repetition (gestures, words, thoughts) despite absence or cessation of a stimulus.” (Wikipedia)

“The over-concentration or hyperfocus often occurs if the person finds something “very interesting and/or provide(s) instant gratification”-
I’ve been really into Chinese dramas lately and that led to an interest in Chinese history which led to an interest in Chinese mythology, and…
I dreamed last week that was a script writer writing a Chinese drama in Chinese. My drama in my dream was in production, so I also was on set while writing, conversing with the actors and director and constantly updating or defending my drama as written. All in Chinese.
It all seemed so perfectly normal until at some point in my dream I got excited about how well I was writing and speaking in Chinese and an Obnoxious Voice matter of factly pointed out “You don’t speak, write, or understand Chinese.” I was very disappointed as I realized, while still dreaming, that this is true, so I must be dreaming and then I realized I was still dreaming and I woke up.

 

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Sea Shanties are in for 2021!!

I am pretty excited about that.  If you are of the tik-tok generation, this is ancient news, really, really OLD stuff, but I prefer not to see time passing by as though we had the lifespan of fruitflies.

In December a young Scottish man named Nathan Evans posted a video of himself singing a sea shanty called The Wellerman.  Apparently it’s a Tik-Tok thing to do this and invite others to do their own version, or to record themselves doing a duet and share that, and I say more power to the tik tok generation that do this kind of thing.  It is totally delightful and awesome and more, please.  People did join, it was a huge hit, somebody elses did some remixes splicing a bunch of them together, and this is my favourite:

I cannot stop singing it, and I hope you can’t, either.

Well, next thing, Nathan Evans went to bed on Friday as a postman and on Monday he had a recording contract and another cut of The Wellerman was released and number 1 on the charts for two weeks.

Also, that rosy cheeked young lad with the plaid shirt and hoodie or baseball cap and the voice that makes all the bones in your body vibrate with it’s depth- he’s 19 year old ‘Luke the Voice’ and a student at Liberty University. He’s got another video out there of his roommate singing Amazing Grace with him and it’s so worth hearing. And he’s also done a couple Johnny Cash songs that I don’t have anything but cliches to describe it because my brain is old and brittle. His voice is young and deeper than deep.

Nobody is telling me who the Black man with the hair and the intriguing bookcase full of books behind him. Nobody else had a bookcase. I must know his name.

I like this remake better, because it adds history and deletes the cat. I don’t care for the cat.

I’m also singing this one at random moments- it’s new to me, and I kind of feel like it might not be an authentic old song, but one written for that viking show. But it’s cool.

Here’s a fanmade version you don’t want to watch with wee kiddies. Lots of footage of hewing and the capital parts of the hewed.

These will all throw some pep intoyour day and they make great housecleaning music.

P.S. Here is his latest official release, with gorgeous scenery from the Scottish coast:

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K-drama, C-Drama

I kind of dropped Turkish dramas just because they are way too long.  I still like the ones I watched- light, rom-commy stuff.  I dabbled in a couple more serious ones, and disliked them immensely.

BTW, there is going to be no order at all in this post.  We will take things as they come to my butterfly brain.

I watched all of Ming-Lan, a Chinese drama, and I loved it so much.  It was fabulous.  I am now watching The Sword and Brocade because it was supposed to be similar. I am totally enjoying it, and it is a bit similar, but one key difference is that while both the leads are essentially good, decent, and quite smart people, they just are nowhere near as smart as Ming-Lan and Lord Gu.  So people expecting MingLan are going to be disappointed, since the brains in that power couple set the bar so high.  So if you want to enjoy Sword and Brocade, remember it is *not* precisely another Ming Lan.

It is a Chinese  period drama with a couple who come to love each other *after* an arranged marriage.  They are really smart, but they don’t have the rock solid trusting foundation Ming and Gu have, and they are not the Machiavellian geniuses we have in Ming Lan and her spouse. They do gradually fall in love with each other after their marriage, which is my drama catnip. But it takes a long time, and the Mrs (Shiyi) takes longer than she should to trust her husband.  The ending felt a little bit rushed, but I still enjoyed this one very much.

 

I finished Rebel Princess (or Monarch Industry) and it broke my heart into tiny pieces more than once, but overal I found it immensely satisfactory and happy making, and the costumes are stunning.  Because I loved the male lead here so much, I also watched Longest Day in Ching-Lan, another c-drama, and enjoyed it, although it’s totally different- all war and fighting and adrenaline, few costumes, not a love story, just spiraled layers upon layers to uncover, very twisty.  And Cool.

I watched the K-Drama L.U.C.A. and I loved it until the last four episodes.  I thought I was watching a Frankenstein story with a happy ending, but I was watching a Frankenstein story with an apocalyptic ending. You don’t see the apocalypse, but you do see its birth and there’s no doubt it’s coming.  That is a dark and dramatic story and they did it well. It’s just that I ordered an ice cream sundae with whipped cream and what I got was death with a side of apocalyptic destruction and some insanity sprinkles. But the music was cool.

I am watching Song Joon Ki, I mean, Vincenzo.  I have watched enough K-dramas now that it’s pretty much a certainty he’s going to die in the end – I thought it was going to be violence, but now I think it will be cancer.  I am sad but resigned. I have no idea how this baby-faced, slender and elegant actor manages to channel such lethal energy using only his eyes and a well tailored suit,  but he does. Also, Taek is just so much fun to watch here.  The first drama I saw him in, I did not think he was a good actor, but he has improved in every drama.  This may be the best yet.  He’s fantastic.

I am slowly watching the C-Drama The General and I because Wallace Chung,  fun martial arts stuff, smart female lead and mainly Wallace Chung.  Stalled out at the moment but I will probably finish it.

I am watching (slowly), River Where the Moon Rises, mainly out of curiosity to see how well it works with the new actor since the scandal where they had to ditch Jin Soo and he’s going to join the army and maybe will never act again. Korea seems to be giving it lots of viewing love, and probably more than a few kindly sympathy watches and a lot of nosy parker and idle curiosity watches are also contributing to the rates.

I dropped My Heroic Husband (Cdrama) because it got repetitive and boring.

I was watching Sisyphus the Myth (K-drama) even though it’s a train wreck because I like sci-fi and time travel.  I just cannot at all buy the female lead as elite fighter, but I just roll my eyes and keep going. I do like her pink gun and smiley faced smoke bombs.

I am watching LadyLord (Kdrama), or rather, have watched the one episode, because Lee Minki.  Now I am watching for the next episode for more of Lee Minki, Nana, and that house, plus the cohabitation trope happening in that house. And I generally like dramas about dramas, esoecially when the writer-nim is a key player and also Lee Min-Ki.

 

I am about halfway through The Psychopath’s Diary (Kdrama).  Yeah, it finished airing a while ago.  I wanted to watch it because I really like the lead actor, but I didn’t because of the Psychopathic killer as a joke part just didn’t appeal to me.  I tried it, and in a weird way, with some stoutly suspended disbelief, it was funnier than I expected, but now I am putting off finishing it because it’s getting serious. Like a psychopathic killer isn’t inherently serious.  I dunno. I really like several of the characters.  I like the drama far more than I expected to.

I am watching a currently airing drama called You are My Hero.  It’s highly satisfying.   I didn’t know anything the show or about any of the actors.  Somebody called just a copy of Descendants of the Sun so I was curious, because that was awesome.  I am glad I am watching this one.  It’s fabulous.  It isn’t a copy, but it’s definitely in the same family.  He is a cop and a member of SWAT.  She is a doctor.  They meet the first time when she is at a bank during an attack, and he’s the SWAT guy who swoops in and saves her in dramatic fashion.  But she never sees his face because he’s in the SWAT mask. Three years later her medical team has to go for some special training with the police.  The idea is that sometimes medical and police teams have to work together so if they do some special training together it will help the medical people build endurance and help with communications between the two groups.  He’s the instructor and hes hard-core and by the book and deadly serious about his job and protecting the public and making sure the medical team measures up so they don’t cost citizen lives because they are, for example, too afraid of heights to help somebody on a cliff or or high rooftop and also in medical need.  Anyway, of course they clash, and she thinks he hates her, but he really likes her.  And there we go.  I like the screen writing, I like the actors. I like the characters. If you liked Descendants of the Sun, you will like this, too.  There is definitely that thrill of a man in uniform doing his job and doing it well.  There’s the caring, compassionate, doctor who cares about her patients.  There are the fun sidekicks.  There is also a bit of Chinese nationalist propaganda.

 

I like the couple’s relationship, and how they work together and talk things out and aren’t too stupid about things.  There isn’t really a serious villain- there are a few episodes of a story where a girl wants to be a serious villain but the couple just keep spiking her guns and everything she tries only gives good characters the opportunity to step up and be supportive and spike her guns, and that’s always satisfying.

 

I don’t know if I am just not finding them, but it feels like Korean dramas are missing the mark a lot lately.  I never thought I’d end up watching more C-dramas than K-dramas, but right now, that’s what’s going on.

I am not watching any English language shows, although I did enjoy Endeavor for a while, aside from the bed-hopping.  I have watched a few episodes of the Hawaii 5-0 remake with one of my girls, and I like it when I am watching it with her, but it doesn’t come to  mind when I am at home and thinking about what to watch.

 

What are you watching these days?

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More Black Poetry

Louise Curran on black poets: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1ovogLcVNBWYTvF8pcYygrhuWAQtBsUYZ/view

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