In this tribute to a cherished mentor, Collis D. Patterson collects Samuel L. Banks’ writings and oral presentations (produced between 1990 and 1995), as well as outlines of academic policies for the multicultural curriculum that he developed for the Baltimore City Public Schools. Patterson, a teacher, met his mentor in 1973, when Banks was social studies coordinator for the Baltimore school system.
Banks, a Virginia native, earned a bachelor’s degree at Howard University and a doctorate from George Washington University and worked as a fellow of the National Endowment for the Humanities at Harvard University. He is the author of Stony the Road: The Black American in the American Experience (1972) and The Education of Black Children and Youths: A Framework for Excellence (1985). Banks’ writing appeared in newspapers such as the Baltimore Sun and the Afro-American.
He examines how local and world events impact the African-American community by writing about a range of topics: the end of Apartheid, the black family, the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., and the importance of black colleges and universities.
The themes of persistence and hope are found throughout Banks’ writings. While he does not deny the challenges facing the African-American community, he does not despair either. Banks can get a little preachy at times, but he does not berate, and his rhetoric is aligned to his background and experience.
Patterson’s organization of the book, which is chronological, would have been better had he arranged the material by theme. Missing words, misplaced punctuation, and misspellings can make this book a bit difficult to read.
Overall, Dr. Samuel L. Banks Speaks … Selected Writings 1990-1995 is worthwhile for those who have an interest in Banks’ ideas and for those interested in the work of African-American educators.