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I was annoyed when the jazz station DJ had diverted from his typical format in the early morning hours to play a spoken word recording. I had been tape recording and I wanted cool jazz not somebody reciting a dumb story. Back in those days I had no money to buy records, so I recorded music from directly the FM Stereo radio. The best time to record was after 12 midnight because there were fewer commercials.

    A deep voiced man told an audience of inner-city high school girls about the "eagles and the chickens". The story goes something like this: A farmer raised eagles as chickens but the two young eagles were self-conscious and ashamed of their bronze colored feathers. One a day an older eagle flying in the sky, sees the young eagles among the chickens and schools them on who they are. "You are an EAGLE! The king of the skies! The color of your feathers represents ROYALTY!"

    I played the cassette tape and decided not to erase it. It was an interesting story; a rare story. It was worth keeping.

    A few years later I did an interview for a small neighborhood newspaper. I was interested in the controversial views of Dr. Edward W. Robinson, a lawyer, businessman, and community activist. I met him at his office. He theorized that in order to provide a quality education, teachers must love and respect their students. He said that unfortunately, many teachers had low expectations of African-American children. The children would rise to those expectations and go no further. Non-Affective education had negatively impacted minority children, stymying their growth. He had designed a program to help teachers overcome their biases by offering them a special, in-depth course in African culture. His plan was submitted for review at Philadelphia’s Public School District. That was 1981.

    I found out later that the man I interviewed and the speaker telling the story on the tape, was the same guy!

    Looking back on it now, I recognize that Dr. Robinson’s story of the “eagles and the chickens” was like giving water to a man dying of thirst. Our community had little to be proud of. Yes, there would be a few bright shining stars in the darkness, like when Joe Louis knocked out Max Schmelling, or when Sammy Davis Jr. sang and danced on TV, but mostly, life in the ghetto was filed with despair. Negroes were ashamed of themselves. They bleached their skin and “processed” their hair. They wanted to rid themselves of their blackness. Dr. Robinson sought to heal the wounds of a people that did not know their history.

    His plan for the Philadelphia School District was finally adopted in 2004.

    Dr. Robinson held many high level positions during his lifetime but he was always a warrior. Right up to the day he died. He was 94.

    news article

    The album Black Rhapsody by Dr, Edward W. Robinson is out of print. "Copyright Disclaimer Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for "fair use" for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing. Non-profit, educational or personal use tips the balance in favor of fair use."

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