I have always been a collector of memories. And, as many of you already know, the digital age has made memory-collecting a very different and exciting enterprise. People are easier to find. Old photos easier to scan and share. Google “Street-View” even lets you see what a given address looks like today.
This morning I woke up thinking of Vincent Avenue Elementary School in Covina, California. I was a 6th grader there and had a teacher — John Duvanich — who was an extraordinary influence on my life.
Anyway, I checked and found out that Vincent School is no more but that it now houses a wonderful entity called The Vincent Children’s Center, with special education programs for pre-schoolers. Is that great or what?
The school was originally one of many built in the 1950s to handle the mob of baby boomers. When we all stopped booming, the school closed and then reopened to provide special education services.
When I attended, virtually no special education services were provided. The Individuals With Disabilities Education Act of 2005, with its origins in an earlier 1975 law, had not yet mandated equal treatment for the disabled. The law made The Vincent Children’s Center possible.
Given all available digital tools, this took me 10 minutes to find out.
Nice. Real nice.
Now I have to go back and visit Room 16.
Room 16. Magic.
I am speechless. I am crying. I never thought I would see it.
The names of ghosts are overwhelming me, people who did not live to see this day.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Mose Wright, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, Michael Schwerner, Robert Gorelick,, Robert Gilleece, Elizabeth Gorelick, Harold Gorelick, Abraham Minkus, Libby Minkus, Barbara Lombardo, Gregory Hines, Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, John Duvanich, Eva Rubin, Paul Robeson, Tom Bradley, Burke Marshall, Malcolm, Abraham Joshua Heschel.
I can’t think of anything else: Those who aren’t here.
We are their witnesses.