You know i’m an old fashioned guy in this respect. I still believe that Doctor King was right and that those heroic young people
gathered here at this campus in 1964 were right and that the great court decision Brown versus Board of
Education was right in telling us that racial isolation does tremendous damage to the young
mentalities of children by giving him the message that
they have been set apart like an infectious subset of the population so that they cannot
contaminate the education of the rest of us. I still
believe this represents a sin against the highest moral values of American Society. Cincinnati as you
probably know has one of the most segregated systems in the country the black children of the
schools of Cincinnati are the eighth most segregated in the nation. The worst is Detroit then Chicago New York City and LA Ohio schools are also among the most
unequal in per-pupil spending: again and again
the courts here… any be old enough to remember the court
decisions to the nineteen nineties well I was involved in that struggle for
decades again and again the courts here in Ohio found the present system to be
unconstitutional and again and again governors and members of the legislature have defied the orders of the court and did
so with impunity. Now I like to you know I don’t like to
be impolite to nice people and a lot of nice people do bad things that’s the misfortune of it all. I I met the governor of this state at that
time a man who is who’s the son of President of the United States himself
you know who mean Robert Taft. Bob Taft. Every time a court-ordered that the school’s had to be equalized in
funding he would just refused to obey it he would
just say we can’t afford it we don’t have the money which meant they
weren’t willing to tax people who did have the money to make it possible. I met him once in Cincinnati I don’t know why but I was invited to preach at his
church I’m Jewish I told you that this is like an episcopal cathedral in Cincinnati Episcopalian and they told me that’s the governor right there in the front row And so I looked right at him when I was talking about this I’ll I I just can’t tell you as a Jew how much joy I get in in preaching to
delinquent Christians forgive me I quoted the words of Jesus right at him you know the least if these among us it didn’t
matter nothing changed now I have I have friends in wealthy suburbs all over the country in this state and in New York and elsewhere and they always tell me they care about
poor children They always say “Jonathan, you know I deeply care about those children that you work with… those children” But then they it’s the oddest thing. These are people that
like me so they have me to dinner at their homes you know New York City some of them are my
Harvard classmates and and they’ll invite me to a dinner party to meets somebody in the government you
know and of course they’re a little nervouse because they don’t
know what I’m gonna say they always look uncomfortable as though I’m
gonna ruin the dinner I’m polite I save it for dessert I wait for the coffee and the
creme brulee you know and then I let them have it and the thing is they always look at me when I talk about
this and they’ll say can you really solve this kind of problem by
throwing money at it they love that expression throwing money so you know I always ask them where their
kids go to school and typically if they don’t go to private
school they live in a very wealthy suburb where you know where the district maybe spends
ten thousand dollars more each year on every child than it spends
in poor neighborhoods of the South Bronx
and these people have the nerve to look me in the eyes and asked me you
know whether money really matters they say can you really solve this problem
by throwing money at it? I always say sure hey that’s a great way that’s the best
way I know dump it from a helicopter you know give it to me I’ll bring it
there myself I don’t know a better way to you know to help a school
principal reduce the size of class you know from 32 to 16 so good teachers have twice as much time for
every child I don’t know a better way to flood a school
library with beautiful expensive delicious exciting books for children I don’t know a better
way to put a new roof on a collapsing building you know…