An education leader relates how his experiences with the civil rights movement led him to develop programs promoting educational success in science and technology for African Americans and others.
When Freeman Hrabowski was twelve years old, a civil rights leader visited his Birmingham, Alabama, church and spoke about a children’s march for civil rights and opportunity. That leader was the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., and that march changed Hrabowski’s life.
Until then, Freeman was a kid who loved school and solving math problems. Although his family had always stressed the importance of education, he never expected that the world might change and that black and white students would one day study together.
But hearing King speak changed everything for Hrabowski, who convinced his parents that he needed to answer King’s call to stand up for equality. While participating in the famed Children’s Crusade, he spent five terrifying nights in jail—during which Freeman became a leader for the younger kids, as he learned about the risk and sacrifice that it would take to fight for justice.
Hrabowski went on to fuse his passion for education and for equality, as he made his life’s work inspiring high academic achievement among students of all races in science and engineering. It also brought him from Birmingham to Baltimore, where he has been president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County for more than two decades. While at UMBC, he co-founded the Meyerhoff Scholars Program, which has been one of the most successful programs for educating African Americans who go on to earn doctorates in the STEM disciplines. In Holding Fast to Dreams, Hrabowski recounts his journey as an educator, a university president, and a pioneer in developing successful, holistic programs for high-achieving students of all races.
A Race, Education, and Democracy Series Book
“A noble personification of the civil rights movement and an inspirational manual on instilling empowerment and possibility in today's youth.”
“Dr. Hrabowski’s personal experiences as a child of the Civil Rights Movement being raised in a community committed to educating African-American children with high expectations during difficult times, reminds us we have an obligation to support all children. This message could not come at a more opportune time. While clear that there is still much work to be done, Dr. Hrabowski provides a blueprint for anyone interested in taking up the challenge of ensuring that no child in America ever has his or her dream deferred.”
—David J. Johns, Executive Director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans
“Freeman Hrabowski is the son of Freeman Hrabowski Jr., son of Freeman Hrabowski (firstborn free man and farm owner in Lowndes county near Selma), son of Tom Hrabrowski, born into Lincoln’s age as a slave. In Holding Fast to Dreams, he speaks to a twenty-first century America, addressing Lincoln’s ‘House Divided’ conundrum: ‘If we could first know where we are and whither we are tending, we could better judge what to do and how to do it.’ Get the book. Read all about it.”
—Dr. Robert P. Moses, President and Founder, The Algebra Project, Inc.
“Freeman Hrabowski has gone from being a frontline soldier in the Birmingham Children’s Crusade to a national leader in the twenty-first century movement to expand access to education. In this inspiring and hopeful book, he shares his extraordinary story and lessons learned from a lifetime of striving for, studying, and nurturing excellence against any odds.”
—Marian Wright Edelman, President, Children’s Defense Fund
“A mathematically gifted African-American grows up in the segregated South, nurtured by loving and caring adults. He spends 5 frightening days in a Birmingham jail at age 12 for joining a peaceful protest. A keen observer with a scientific mindset, Dr. Freeman Hrabowski explains how he continually learns from a series of such experiences to become a great leader—creating a new pathway that enables many other African-American males to likewise succeed as scientific, engineering and medical intellects. This is a wonderful story, told by a man who serves as a role model for all Americans—regardless of race.”
—Bruce Alberts, President Emeritus, US National Academy of Sciences
1. Standing Up for Justice
2. Development of an Educator
3. Inclusive Excellence in Science and Engineering
4. Raising a Generation of Achievers
A Note from the Series Editor
- Salon.com, excerpt, 1/17/2016
- Blackengineer.com, review, 12/8/2015
- Time.com, original piece, 11/5/2015
- Comcast Newsmakers, interview, 10/19/2015
- The Washington Post, op-ed, 7/10/2015
- Kojo Nnamdi Show/WAMU, interview, 7/7/2015
- Andrea Mitchell Reports/MSNBC, interview, 6/11/2015
- The Root, interview, 6/6/2015
- The Marc Steiner Show/WEAA, interview, 6/5/2015
- CampusTechnology.com, Q&A, 5/19/2015
- John Merrow's "27 Resources on Eduction" on PBSNewsHour.com, listed, 5/13/2015
- WYPR (Balitmore's NPR)'s Maryland Morning with Sheilah Kast, interview, 5/11/2015
- The Baltimore Times, feature, 5/8/2015