Man celebrates 50 years of empowering youth in Harlem
In this day and age, some would say it’s hard to find teachers that are committed. But no one could say that about Edouard E. Plummer.
He’s been guiding the youth of Harlem for half a century.
Since 1964, he has taken promising poor and minority children and, in one intense year, given them the academic and social tools to get into — and thrive at — the nation’s leading schools and beyond.
“This one went to Lawrenceville, then Yale,” Mr. Plummer said, pointing a worn yardstick to old news clippings and fliers on the wall. “This one, Peddie. Hotchkiss, St. Paul’s. This one went to Harvard undergrad and Harvard Law. This one’s a doctor. He ran for Congress.”
His smile betrayed his satisfaction. His words, however, underscored that despite getting more than 500 young people into 108 different boarding and preparatory schools though the Wadleigh Scholars Program, more needed to be done.
Plummer originally set out to work in Foreign Services. Due to segregation, he was rejected despite having done well in history, German and biology in college. “They said, ‘Thank you, but we have nothing to offer you,’ ” he told The New York Time. “You know why they did that. It was the color of my skin.”
He went on the serve in the military, soaking up the culture of Paris. He even became good friends with writer James Baldwin.
After returning to the states in 1959, a friend helped him get a job at Wadleigh Junior High in New York where he taught math and worked as a guidance counselor.
Five years later he heard of A Better Chance, an organization that helped disadvantaged children get into prep schools. He decided his students needed this benefit. He created an academic boot camp, which prepared boys and girls for the secondary school test and offered etiquette classes, trips to the theater and other events.
The program remains to this day.
Mr. Plummer we salute you sir for going above and beyond the walls of the classroom to prepare our youth.
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