A film by Tom Dey
Bill Berkeley
Bill Berkeley
President, Independent Schools Talent Search/ABC Program
Interviewed at his home in NH, 8/26/12
"I've always found that the ABC Public School Program was an incredibly courageous thing for people to do, and the fact that it worked so well once it got established I think is something that needs to be told more broadly. I was very proud of those communities for doing what they did, and they've been in business for decades now. It is a commitment that is intensely human and personal, and one that I appreciate very much."
"I think the obvious lesson from ABC is that there is just extraordinary talent out there that's being wasted."
"Nobody in the beginning would have said it would ever work. It was too crazy an idea, and it was the most beautiful crazy idea I'd ever known!"
William McCurine
Dartmouth Student and Resident Tutor, Hanover ABC Public School Residence
Interviewed at the Federal Courthouse, San Diego, CA, 9/22/12
"[The] ABC story is so important because it worked. It dramatically changed the lives of people who might otherwise have been chewed up by the system or simply forgotten."
"I believe, statistically, that ABC has graduated, from college, more minority students, and particularly blacks, successfully than any other non-governmental program in the history of this country. It was a little, bitty thing, and it worked… it changed lives. That’s what ABC did… it was a seed that became a forest…"
"People want to know, do I matter? Do my efforts count? Is there a reason to get involved? Is there a reason to hope? What difference will it make, anyway? And the answer is: You matter. Your efforts matter. And as to whether it makes a difference, you roll the dice, you do the best you can..."
Thaddeus Seymour
Dartmouth Dean of the College
Interviewed at Baker Library, Dartmouth College, 9/28/12
"Every once in a while in life somebody will point out something you've always taken for granted and point it out in a way that you say, of course! We have this empty campus, we have people who really want to help. We have a resource of students who can be a part of this as tutors. Of course!"
"From my point of view, the ABC program is the single most important event in the modern history of the college because it brought to Dartmouth a sense of student engagement in national service. It also transformed secondary education in the Northeast almost overnight. In the longer run, it really brought about change, not only in the schools, but in the colleges, and made it possible for there to be a critical mass of black students at these institutions."
Jesse Spikes
ABC student, Hanover, NH High School
Interviewed in Atlanta, GA, 11/3/12
"I remember going down to the bookstore and almost crying because you just want to absorb all that knowledge from all those books."
"I often think about the Frost poem, The Road Not Taken. And most people, when they site that poem, they site the end: ‘I shall be telling this with a sigh, somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I, I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.’ But that's not the point that impresses me. ‘Both that morning equally lay, and leaves no steps had trodden black. Oh, I kept the first for another day, yet knowing how way leads on to way, I doubt if I should ever come back.’ And that's how life has been. Way has lead onto way. It has been an incredible journey."
Charlise Lyles
ABC student, Hawken School, Cleveland OH
Interviewed in the MLK Jr. Intl. Chapel at Morehouse College, 11/3/12
"We studied the writings of T.S. Elliot, who is one of my favorite poets. One of his famous poems, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, is about a British gentlemen going to tea and he's feeling very insecure about life and thinking and they're going to sort of crucify him socially."
"There's one line in the poem where he says, just as he's about to enter the tea room, Do I dare disturb the universe? What he's saying is, is he going to be so awkward and out of place that he's going to upset their world, their little universe, the ladies who are having tea? And I felt, is this little girl growing up Afro and American, am I gonna say the wrong things or say them in such a wrong way that I will upset everybody's world, this world of prim and proper and privileged people with my very unprivileged self?"
Lucy Hale
ABC mother of Wendell Hale
Filmed at her home in Birmingham, AL 11/4/12
"What I heard was they were coming down and they were looking for children to send to school and give them a better chance, and I know I wanted a better chance for my son."
"The adviser at the school, well, I think she and Ray had had a discussion, not too friendly, and she says, I want you to come to a meeting. And when I went she told me, I don't know all the details here but it's something about giving a child a better chance, and to learn more and I said, well I don't know about his daddy, but I said we'll try it."
"I didn't want his letters because he'd send me these pictures of him doing such dangerous things! Now see, I didn't know anybody climbing mountains. I said, what does that have to do with going to school, climbing mountains?!"
Tom Mikula
Director of ABC Summer Program; Resident Director of the first public school ABC program in Hanover, NH. Director of the National ABC Public School Programs.
Filmed in Wayne, PA, 11/20/12
"I was completely responsible. There wasn’t any other person who understood what these kids were supposed to be getting ready for. They were getting ready for college and the mathematics that they knew certainly wasn’t sufficient, and I just felt that I was the only one who knew what was ahead for them and it was my way or the highway!"
"I guess it was Dean Dey who told me that he had support for another program, and did I have any idea where it could be done. It occurred to me that I was a member of a church in Andover, Massachusetts. Our minister was just a great person, so I went to him and talked to him about this and he said ‘Yup, start here in Andover.’ He brought a meeting together and I took Bill McCurine with me. Bill said, ‘I’m not gonna have to say anything, am I?’ Well, a guy asked a question, and I said ‘Bill, can you answer that?’ Bill had a use of the language that went beyond even a Dartmouth sophomore. He spoke eloquently that night, and if anybody needed any convincing, then he did it. The Andover program took off within a year. And still goes, even now, it’s still going."
Howard Bad Hand
ABC Public School student, Hanover, NH
Filmed at his home in Taos, New Mexico 1/28/14
"When I first went to private school, after I went through the ABC summer program at Dartmouth, I was getting on the bus in Valentine, Nebraska to go to the Lennox school in Massachusetts. My grandmother took me to the bus. She gave me a big hug and she said, you know you can always come home. And no matter what you learn or no matter what you’re trying to study, remember you’ll never have blue eyes. I said okay. What she was saying to me was, you’ll never stop being Lakota. You know? So don’t forget. And I never did."
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