I would like to start out by telling a short story, related to me last summer by Seiichi Yasumura, a student at the old Horace Mann/Lincoln School, also, incidentally the husband of former NLS teacher Lee Bek-Gran Yasumura and a friend of my brother’s.

Before The New Lincoln School existed there were the Lincoln School and the Horace Mann schools which were initially separate schools, but eventually combined into one and run by Columbia Teacher’s College for the purpose of pursuing experimental education techniques.  In 1946, the administration of Teacher’s College decided to close down the combined Horace Mann/ Lincoln School.  This upset the parents, students and staff of the HML School and they decided that they wanted to start a new school.  Miraculously and through hard work, I am sure, they were able to get together the funding, hire new staff and find the appropriate building (this one) and form the New Lincoln School.  Before the final closing of the Horace Mann Lincoln School some of the parents, students and teachers began appropriating books, science lab equipment and other supplies from the HML School.  Some of you may have opened a library book or used a science lab tool stamped with the name Horace Mann Lincoln School.  Now you know why.

I am not sure how the founders of New Lincoln came to hire my father as the first director.  It may have been through his uncle, Dr. Vincent Ravi Booth, who was a co-founder, with William Heard Kilpatrick of Bennington College, and it may have been because my father’s PhD work at Northwestern University was in experimental education and he may have come to someone’s attention there.  All I know is a story that my mother told me:   While my parents were operating their sleepaway boys and girls summer camp in the mountains of north Georgia, some people from New York came down to the Georgia mountains to interview him.  Everyone at camp went barefooted and my father only had one pair of shoes which my mother did her best to clean up for the interview.  She put them in the oven to dry and then forgot about them so that they burned and were unwearable.  What to do when your only pair of shoes were ruined and you were about to go for an important job interview.  They rushed over the red clay roads to the nearest general  store and bought whatever shoes they could find that would fit.  They must have been ok because he got the job.

I am ashamed to say that I never appreciated my father when I was younger and when he was alive, but in my maturity, I have become very proud of the work that he did for New Lincoln and I like to think that he had a large responsibility for its success. I am proud that he testified at a trial in Prince Edward County, Virginia as an expert witness that separate educational facilities for whites and blacks had a detrimental effect.  Having taught in the Atlanta public schools for several years and having attended southern schools himself for high school and college and then having the New Lincoln experience qualified him for an opinion and from what I have read about the case, he made his point. This case was one of the cases brought to the Supreme Court in the great successful  Brown vs. The Board of Education case.  I am proud when I realize how many students of New Lincoln came from families where one or both parents had been blacklisted by the McCarthy committee and how brave my father and the board of New Lincoln were to buck public opinion of the time or when I remember that my father and the board were responsible for setting an example and offering Minnie Jean Brown an opportunity to attend a happily integrated school.  

My brother sent me some newspaper articles when I told him that I would be speaking here.  The only one of interest came from what looks like a Daily News gossip column which said:  Dr. Brooks, principal of the progressive Lincoln school, was discovered operating the elevator in the afternoon.  He explained it was to enable the regular operator to watch the series game on TV.

My father loved attention and he would have loved to have been here to see this remarkable gathering.  I am proud to be here in his place.
Thank you to everyone who is responsible for arranging this event.