Setting the Stage
The fact that I regard myself as a traveler through time reflects that I have experienced a lot of firsts, which I didn’t care about or even know about when they were occurring. They were seen through the eyes of a marginal man, and the eyes of the marginal man sees things that other people do not see. Marginality at first might have seemed a hardship, but, really, it is a value.
Being the first full-time black faculty appointee to the Yale School of Medicine (and, apparently, the second to the faculty of Arts & Sciences) was the “first” that set off the impetus for this project.
The ceremony occurred in 2010 during the Yale Medical School Bicentennial celebration. The “First” occurred in 1963.
It set me to thinking about major firsts that occurred during the ’60s and ’70s. Big social movements were sweeping the country — feminism, voting rights, racial justice, deinstitutionalization & the community mental health movement; The Great Society programs – the War to End Poverty, Medicare, Medicaid, Head Start, the Food Stamp program, the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, PBS; and legislation to protect the public interest, such as the Truth-in-Lending Act.
The 1960s were the first time in U.S. history that poor people, regardless of race or background, conceived of themselves as a unified group, with collective bargaining power and authority. The Model Cities Program was initiated to eliminate inner city poverty and bring all people, in all communities, into the public dialogue, reflecting a view that cities were the future of America and mankind.