Listening to All Voices

by Steve Hartshorne on July 10, 2013

temba-maqubela

This video is shot in the theater at Groton School, where nearly fifty years ago I heard a South African clergyman — I can’t recall his name — explain the system of apartheid in that country. He summed it up neatly: “Apartheid = Apart, Hate.”

About that same time, Temba Maqubela, then 17 years old, escaped from South Africa and went into exile. He lived in various African countries before coming to the United States with his family in 1986. He taught chemistry in public schools in New York before accepting a position at Philips Andover. During his 26 years there he won the White House Distinguished Teacher Award and other academic honors too numerous to mention.

This month he took over as the eighth headmaster of Groton School since it was founded in 1884 by Endicott Peabody, who also founded the first Episcopal church in Tombstone Arizona back when Wyatt Earp was marshall there.

Groton School could accurately be called a bastion of power and privilege but “The Rector,” as he was known, also made a commitment to truth and justice an integral part of the school’s mission.

Franklin Roosevelt, a Groton boy, said of him, “As long as I live his influence will mean more to me than that of any other person next to my father and mother.”[

Peabosy’s successor, Jack Crocker, along with his wife Mary, carried on this tradition. They integrated the school in the 1940s and marched with Dr. Martin Luther King.

For the record, I was expelled from Groton School three weeks before graduation, but nonetheless, it fills me with joy to see a friend and associate of Nelson Mandela move into the headmaster’s house. I believe it is a sure sign that humanity is moving inexorably forward.

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