In November of 1960, six-year-old Ruby Bridges, flanked by a quartet of armed federal marshals, stepped silently through the doors of an all-white school in New Orleans, where she had recently been enrolled as its first African-American pupil. For the rest of the year, she sat alone all day in an empty classroom with just one white teacher who had volunteered to instruct her. It took nearly a year for Ruby to be integrated with other children in her new school.
While Ruby’s experience is an extreme example, no children should be expected to sit in classrooms that fail to reflect the diversity of their own community. And yet still today, children of minorities in many independent schools, including Waldorf schools, face the prospect of never being educated by a teacher who shares their ethnic background.
Though founded over 100 years ago on the ideals of human freedom, equality, and fraternity, many Waldorf schools across this continent still do not fully embody these social ideals. And, as one might expect, a lack of diversity within the faculty and staff of schools is also evident among Waldorf teacher education programs, which struggle to attract sufficient minority teachers to meet the demands of our schools.
The leadership of the Center for Anthroposophy (CfA) and the Waldorf Program at Antioch University New England are committed to addressing this issue, but we cannot effect change on our own. With this appeal, therefore, CfA is launching a new “Diversity Scholarship Fund” to attract, retain, and support teachers of color in our education programs with large-scale scholarships.
We ask that if you have not been a donor before, please join us this year. And if you have supported our programs in the past, we urge you to increase your gift. If this turbulent past year has taught us anything, it is that deep-seated social change requires collaborative human initiative. Please help us take a stand and donate generously.
Torin M Finser
President, CfA Board of Trustees