Randall L. Kennedy Shares His Thoughts on Race Relations in America
Milton’s 48th War Memorial speaker, Professor Randall L. Kennedy, told students, alumni and parents that despite “a chasm that separates the circumstances in which whites and blacks typically find themselves” he is still an optimist about race relations in the United States. Mr. Kennedy is the Michael R. Klein Professor at Harvard Law School, where he teaches in the fields of criminal law, contracts, and the regulation of race relations. On Tuesday evening in the Fitzgibbons Convocation Center, Professor Kennedy continued an important Milton tradition that brings to campus public figures who discuss core social and political issues.
Although the election of President Barack Obama was an amazing and pinnacle moment for America, Mr. Kennedy said many African-Americans were deeply affected by the economic downturn and believe President Obama has “been too fearful of being charged with racial favoritism and has done too little to educate the public on the hazards that blacks face.”
“Beneath the malaise is a deep current of racial pessimism that has a long history in American and African-American thought,” said Mr. Kennedy. “Pessimists believe that racial harmony predicated on fairness is not part of the American future. They posit that America will not overcome its tragic racial past.”
Mr. Kennedy made clear that he is an optimist, while stressing that “intentional, invidious racial discrimination constitutes a force in American life that is far from negligible. It is a substantial headwind that blacks and other racial minorities face in many key areas, including housing, finance, employment, criminal justice, electoral politics and markets for romance and marriage.”
Taking Care of Straus Library
Milton’s facilities department recently took great care in restoring one of campus’s most beloved buildings. Straus Library—one of the School’s original, Georgian structures—housed the Milton Academy library from 1929 to 1971; it now serves the college counseling office and is a gathering space for formal and informal events. This summer, a devoted maintenance team, led by Associate Director of Facilities Steve Zannino, corrected structural damage and completely restored Straus’s back patio.
Due to drainage issues, water damage was causing the original bluestone patio to erode and the floor of the Trustees Room to deteriorate. Mr. Zannino cites one reason for the damage being an overgrown root system of surrounding trees and plantings. These plantings were replaced with new shrubs and trees, including boxwoods and magnolias. The maintenance team replaced gutters and waterproofed the foundation. Restoring the patio involved meticulous planning; preserving the original railings and bluestone capstones was a priority, once the patio was laid with new bluestone. New, brick walkways between Wigglesworth Hall and Straus are ADA compliant and offer on-grade access to the new patio. The result is a welcoming and open outdoor space that maintains the integrity of the building’s rich history.
Positivity, In Outlook and In Action: Themes to Begin the Year
A formal, traditional expression of School life, Convocation marks the start of the academic year: new opportunities, new faculty, and new classmates. Messages from Head of School Todd Bland, Upper School Principal David Ball, and Milton's co-head monitors, Caroline Wall (I) and Louis Demetroulakos (I), were highlights of the ceremony. Mr. Bland urged students and faculty to approach this year with a positive, "glass half full" attitude. He drew on the example set by Lou Gehrig, whose grace and positivity in the face of his career-ending diagnosis can be an inspiration to all of us. Mr. Ball's message, which began with a personal (and hilarious) childhood tale of horseback riding in the "grand, majestic American west," encouraged us to practice "urgent optimism" and "infectious action"—to "stand up, stand for, and give to." He spoke of the Wright Brothers, who as young boys believed they could transform the human experience through flight, which they did without funding or formal education. "Pedigree doesn't determine the success of innovation," Mr. Ball said. "Passion does."