Joe Flora’s Nov. 30 essay “Silent Sam and the messages in our monuments” was a compelling perspective on America’s efforts to deal with historic racism. It was a thoughtful, reasoned description of the context of Silent Sam and suggested a solution that recognizes the contemporary black experience as equally valuable.
Flora, without so saying, makes an equally compelling case for the value of the liberal arts scholar. He blends skills in English composition and rhetoric with a well-grounded knowledge of history and art to make a valuable contribution to the public discourse on a difficult topic. Society cannot flourish by reacting to events; it must reflect, consider, civilly debate and constructively propose in order to further civic maturity.
Perhaps I am biased. Joe Flora was my favorite professor at UNC (apologies to Jim Leutze). He gave me a life-long love of literature and almost persuaded me to forgo law school. Those who argue that higher education should refocus on job skills and post-graduate economic success should read this piece and consider the value it adds to us as a community.
I was reminded how complete I feel to have a liberal arts degree and the knowledge it provided. No amount of money would have ever added as much value to my life.
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Executive director, NC Association of Feeding America Food Banks