Westport children are deprived. Most of them have just about everything money can buy, of course-an over-abundance. But there are things money can’t buy.
Many so-called minority children in America are deprived in other ways. For the past two years I’ve been working with a group of folks in town who decided to bring ABC scholars to Westport.
ABC (A Better Chance) was founded in 1963. It’s mission is to substantially increase the number of well-educated minority youth capable of assuming positions of responsibility and leadership in American society. ABC unlocks the door that has kept so many out.
One of the big draws to Westport is our excellent school system. My son Jonathan graduated from Staples. He had spent his first two years in Attleboro and was discouraged- then we came to Westport and he couldn’t believe what he found. The arts programs provided what he needed and wanted. Carlyn is in fifth grade at Westport’s Greens Farms School, so I have direct access to the top notch educational opportunities she has.
The problem with sitting at such an abundant banquet table, however, is the realization that so many others are getting only scraps and leftovers. The Westport ABC program will provide an opportunity for eight highly qualified young men of color to sit at the table with Carlyn, and when they graduate from Staples they can take advantage of higher education opportunities and change the face of our still-segregated society.
That’s why our Interfaith Council, which I have co-chaired for three years, has decided to contribute this year’s Make a Joyful Noise receipts to ABC. Lory and I contributed $1,000 to the effort, and one of our members contributed $1,000 in memory of Ed Bryce who was so devoted to this cause, working for years as a mentor in Bridgeport.
The concert will be held on Sunday afternoon, April 28 at Temple Israel at 4 p.m. I’ll be reciting some poetry. (They twisted my proverbial arm.) Ed Thompson has fine-tuned our Special Projects Choir, and Dorothy Bryce has streamlined the program which will conclude with a special song by Westport clergy-Catholics, Protestants, Unitarians and Jews will make a joyful noise in harmony. Well, as much harmony as Ed can get from us.
I hope you’ll buy a ticket, consider serious sponsorship, and I hope you’re able to attend.
Our Westport children are deprived of the opportunity to live, work and study side-by-side with people of color. Too often they develop deep and lasting prejudices. Racism is the most pernicious of prejudices poisoning our people. We have a responsibility to eradicate racism, to provide appropriate educational opportunities for all children, and to help change the faces at this big banquet table. Get your ticket here on Sunday morning.