Why Do We Say “Classrooms Can’t Make Men”

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Teach a man, he’ll conquer the world.
What if this man must conquer such world to be taught?
One child in a classroom.
One plus one does not equal two.
As his stomach grumbles with only remnants of last night’s frozen dinner.
“Something ain’t” not “something isn’t” right
As his deep, muddy eyes strain to see scrawlings on the not too distant chalkboard.
Lincoln was Martin Luther King Jr. on that morning at Gettysburg
As he tries to remember the winter morning he last saw his daddy
but can only see those flashing lights
The classroom bleeds onto the streets.
Teachers become brothers.
Grades are issued with the finality of a bullet.
Yet if only this young man could conquer the world.
A world that provides the lessons he must learn to survive.
Then maybe, just maybe the classroom would teach his brilliant mind

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A Second City

A tale of two cities except there’s just one
City streets tell a story but only to some
One child marvels at the lights around him
while others get chills as the nights surround them
People come and people go each day, each year
Unaware of the prison walls that lock some in fear
Freedom, not an unfamiliar sight or fable told
But for those in the second city its something uncontrolled
No visible chains, no locks keep these citizens bound
yet their escape a distant dream to never be found
The same city that imparts hope and opportunity
for the forgotten it provides a desperate, hopeless unity
Citizens of the first city preach to these children to leave
To make something of themselves and just believe
but each sermon leaves these youth still enchained at their feet
With commands to run the race, but do not cheat
If cheating means merely hoping for the day
when the invisible chains will finally appear and fall away
Then cheating is the only way that this neglected city
will see their dead-end wandering as more than just shitty
But, hear this, we won’t stop until it is shown
that through a little invisibility and magic of our own
we can strike down the structures and chains that bind
and leave the tale of two cities far away, far behind.
Only then will the black son of God no longer face Abel’s fate
and maybe then the heart of the unaware Cain will choose to relate
Only then will a child’s prison of great lakes: despair and self-pity
turn this second city of beauty into my city, his city, our city.