A recent “front porch experience” with one of my daughters, evoked memories of my schooldays. I began to reminisce about how my daddy would stand in our driveway as I waited to meet my schoolmates for our short walk to school. He would speak to children who passed by on their way to Edward H. Phillips Elementary and Junior High Schools. Not only would he say good morning to them, he would also encourage them to do well in school.
Poppa Herb as some of his grandchildren and neighborhood children called him, would make big signs, post them near the street, as well as hold them while children walked by on their way to school. The signs would say things like, “Read!” Other signs would say, “Be cool, stay in school.”
Though I didn’t realize it then, Herbert Lawrence Green, Sr. was an example of someone notable, a distinguished person. Based on that definition, my daddy was a monument. My daddy’s heart and soul, the living matter that made school more than just bricks and mortar was evident in the daily gestures of encouragement and recognition. He was a part of children’s educational experience.
Now, neighborhood schools are not a part of New Orleans’ educational landscape. Pre-dawn bus rides from distant parts of the city and sleepy children diminish opportunities for heart and soul types of interactions among children and those who would be their neighborhood heart and soul monuments.
Brick and mortar monuments of people whose lives influenced history and places exist as reminders of their contributions to communities. I believe that some of the educational and social successes of children who passed 3922 Buchanan Street on their way to school can be attributed in small part to Mr. Green’s monumental influence.
Who in your community has had monumental influence on your life? Who was the heart and soul of your daily “on the way to school experiences?” Say their names! Write them and make it plain!
See you next month, baby!