The Return of Reading Rainbow?

After an eight year hiatus, “Reading Rainbow” appears to be returning.

LeVar Burton was determined to bring the show back and he went to the site Kickstarter to help raise the necessary funds for production. Burton and his crew sought to raise a cool $1 million and did so — in just 11 hours.

“Reading Rainbow” premiered in 1983 and used the medium of television to stress to children the importance of reading. The show didn’t just portray reading as some bland activity only to be done in relation to school work, but also emphasized the power of imagination and just how much one could ascertain from reading consistently.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/readingrainbow/bring-reading-rainbow-back-for-every-child-everywh/widget/video.html

Since its Kickstarter debut, proceeds for a “Reading Rainbow” reboot have raised more than $3.5 million. As the show’s host and most recognizable face, LeVar Burton, has pointed out these contributions show not only the strength of the “Reading Rainbow” brand, but also the soft spot that many people well into their 20s and 30s still have for the program. I certainly have fond memories of “Reading Rainbow” and am glad that it’s entering a new realm.

LeVar Burton has pointed out that the money donated towards “Reading Rainbow” will help it adapt to kids post the millennial generation. That means apps geared towards tablets and phones and the web. While a television may have been enough to reach kids in the 80s and 90s, times done changed and I’m glad to see Mr. Burton realizes that as much as anyone. Looking forward to this.

http://player.theplatform.com/p/2E2eJC/EmbeddedOffSite?guid=n_mhp_12read_140608

Sy Stokes and Black Male UCLA Bruins Take A Stand

College admissions have always been a tenuous process. When that process involves race and ethnicity, people become divided, temperatures rise and questions are raised.

In the case of UCLA (University of California – Los Angeles), Sy Stokes has brought national attention to the dearth of black males on campus. He brings up the statistic that black males make up only 3.3 percent of the male population at UCLA, of whom 65 percent are athletes. Stokes also addresses the fact that UCLA has made cuts to financial aid in recent years, but that hasn’t stopped the university from spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on flights and hotel suites.

While some may take issue with the video and say, “well why don’t more black males just work harder and get better grades,” the matter isn’t that simple. Poor and failing schools, a shortage of resources, and in some cases a lack of quality teachers, too often occurs in black and brown neighborhoods. If these students don’t have access to supplemental help through the form of strong support systems or tutoring, many will fall through the cracks. And that doesn’t even begin to touch on the issue of financial aid.

The lack of diversity at UCLA reminds me of my college experience to a certain extent. My campus wasn’t particularly diverse, but it has improved in recent years. I remember a number of times being mistaken for an athlete (this is the main reason why I never brought any football or basketball t-shirts from the bookstore). Because there were so few black men on campus, many people naturally assumed you were only there because you were a member of a team. I’m sure the guys at UCLA must get this all the time and are probably tired of it, I know I was. Credit to them for taking a stand and making their presence known.

Looking Back at "To Sir, With Love 2"

When I think back to some of the more inspiring and intriguing movies that I’ve seen these last 10-15 years, they’ve all left me wondering to some degree. It could be about the characters, plot development, scene structure, or any other particular overarching themes. “To Sir, With Love 2” left me thinking about not only the importance of teaching, but the type of person depicted to lead a classroom.

“To Sir, With Love 2” was a former Movie of the Month of mine back in July 2003. It stars one of the legendary names in Hollywood cinema, one Sidney Poitier. Poitier was also the star of the original “To Sir, With Love,” which took place in an inner-city London school in the mid-1960s. While the first “To Sir, With Love” was released in 1967, the sequel would not come out until 1996. I can’t recall another series of movies where the sequel came out nearly 30 years following the original. 

Unlike Joe Clark in “Lean on Me,” or the motorcycle riding take-no-prisoners Rick Latimer in the 1987 movie “The Principle,” Poitier’s character is far more reserved and tactful. It seems surprising at first that a man who just retired from 30 years of teaching in England, would welcome the duty of educating the toughest students in a nondescript Chicago public school. However, Poitier’s character, Mark Thackeray, does just that.
Thackeray challenges his students to not only think about what makes them who they are, but also consider that they ultimately determine other people’s perceptions about themselves. Now that’s not to say there aren’t some real problems his students are facing, but Thackeray refuses to allow them to use outside influences as an excuse. The entire movie is actually on Youtube and I’ve included some of the more poignant clips below.