We are so pleased to have been joined by Dr. Dudley Flood who has been deep in this work, trying to ensure that every child in North Carolina has access to high-quality, equitable education for many, many decades, and continues to share wisdom, the challenges and also the hope. To wrap up the episode we asked Dr. Flood share what gives him pause and what gives him hope.
Dr. Dudley Flood: Let me first talk about what gives me hope, because I spend very little time with pause. That’s not a good use of my energy. What gives me hope is things like what I just witnessed at the2022 Color of Education Summit: a realization of the value of diversity. We still encounter people who don’t fully understand its value, but here we were in a gathering of people of all ages, all races. Our purpose was to understand how valuable it was to have different opinions, different perspectives, different understandings and, incidentally, to gather new tools for whatever work we must engaged to move forward. So it’s difficult for me to feel poorly about any of that, because I think our impetus has to be not so much what was but what is and what can be.
As you might guess, I read a fair amount and one thing I read years and years ago has stuck with me. It was a quote by the Hebrew poet Balik in 1500: “We are born into a world that is coming but is not fully gone and into a world that is going but is not fully gone.” Well, that was very evident to me when you looked at the generations that were present and heard the stories of people who had lived through instances which the younger people hadn’t experiences. And then when you heard from the younger people about what they are now doing and what they perceive can be done and ought to be done. It all makes you realize they’re still in the dusk, we’re still living in a world that’s coming. It’s not for the here and, in a word, it’s going not for the gone. So it gives me hope that as we learn how to straddle that world, how to not separate it, how to not have it, have parts that have to battle against each other. But there’s continuity, one blessing that I have, the blessing of having lived a long time. And when I look at the privacy in my specific experience from where we came to where we are, I know we can get to where we had it. I know that I don’t have to wonder about it. So that gives me hope. That gives me promise. What gives me promise to some degree is that we don’t always have the avenue through which to share with those who might profit from such sharing, and for that reason I’m encouraged that we’re now beginning to build that avenue. We are building that through the Flood Center. We’ve built it through the Public School Forum, through other avenues that haven’t been available to us in a demonstrative way for awhile. If I had wished, that would have been a continuity of what we did in the seventies. But there wasn’t there was a lapse, there was some realization of acceptance. Now we’ve got that done, we’re going to something else. But I recognize that anything that is maintained nourished diminishes its a normal fact. And those theories that are always like the quote, I used to be a science teacher in the elementary school and I used to teach the law of inertia: a body in motion tends to continue in the same line of motion unless it is acted on by an external force. So what we have to learn to be if we don’t become that external force, whatever was, will continue to be just as it was. But I do believe we’ve learned now how to create some external force, to not have inertia be so much like it was but have it continue to move but move in a proper direction that serve all people, so that is what gives me hope.
Dr. Mary Ann Wolf: Thank you so much, and I also felt that multi-generational influence at the Color of Education very much and just seeing everyone soaking up from each other, but also thinking about what does that mean for me tomorrow, and I guess I’d like to end today just with what does the Flood Center mean to you, dr. Flood.
Dr. Dudley Flood: It epitomizes there being realization that this can be done and that one of the difficulties we’ve had is not to have an identified, identifiable element to which we could all relate. That belongs to all of us, doesn’t belong to just a few people, it is not hamstrung by perception that some one person has. But we gather opinions, we gather information, we gather data, we gather success stories and apply those in ways that are available to general populous, so that whomever is looking for a resource, we don’t tell them what they ought to do. We ask them what they need, and then we set about trying to help them to discover that and gather that. And so it is to me, their tool among others, of course, that gives me the greatest hope, because nobody can say again, well, I don’t know where to find that. Well, we’ll find it for you, help, help you find it you will help you a lot.
Dr. Mary Ann Wolf: If you were talking to a high school student or a college student who said so, what do I do? What would you tell them?
Dr. Dudley Flood: I would tell him or her the first thing you have to do, is to be an example. You have no credibility and preaching one thing and behaving in a different way than that. So if you yourself become a model, it there’s continuity between what you say and what people see in you as a human being, and that takes self evaluation on a daily basis. Even at my age, I have to evaluate every day what did it mean, what I did yesterday and how can I improve that? How can I apply it today? But more than that, if you don’t see that in me, then you don’t get all that you could get from whatever I might have said. So I would ask any high school student or young person remember: people don’t necessarily remember what you say, but they remember how you made them feel. So if you’re able to bring out of them the best set of feelings in the right direction that they’re headed, that you think they would be in their best interest to be going in a lot of times, even though they may not say that back to you at some point down the road they get it. That’s what we were talking about. That would be, I would hope our young people would grasp.
Dr. Mary Ann Wolf: Dr. Flood, thank you, as always, for sharing with us every single time I get to be with you, even for a few minutes, I learn more and I leave inspired to do better. So thank you.
Dr. Dudley Flood: Thank you. Thank you for allowing me this opportunity.