Monument to Horace Mann, Antioch College

Monument to Horace Mann, Antioch College

Horace Mann (May 4, 1796 – August 2, 1859) was an American education reformer, and a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives from 1827 to 1833. He served in the Massachusetts Senate from 1834 to 1837.

At Antioch College a monument carries his quote (now the college motto): "Be Ashamed to Die Until You Have Won Some Victory for Humanity."

In 1848, after serving as Secretary of the Massachusetts State Board of Education since its creation, he was elected to the US House of Representatives. Mann was a brother-in-law to author Nathaniel Hawthorne.

Arguing that universal public education was the best way to turn the nation’s unruly children into disciplined, judicious republican citizens, Mann won widespread approval from modernizers, especially in his Whig Party, for building public schools. Most states adopted one version or another of the system he established in Massachusetts, especially the program for "normal schools" to train professional teachers. Mann has been credited by educational historians as the "Father of the Common School Movement".

In September 1852, he was nominated for governor of Massachusetts by the Free Soil Party, and the same day was chosen president of the newly established Antioch College at Yellow Springs, Ohio. Failing in the election for governor, he accepted the presidency of the college, in which he continued until his death. There he taught economics, philosophy, and theology; he was popular with students and with lay audiences across the Midwest who attended his lectures promoting public schools. Mann also employed the first woman faculty member to be paid on an equal basis with her male colleagues, Rebecca Pennell, his niece.

His commencement message to the class of 1859 to "be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity" is repeated to the graduating class at each commencement.

Antioch College was founded by the Christian Connexion which later withdrew its financial support causing the college to struggle for many years with meager financial resources due to sectarian infighting. Mann himself was charged with nonadherence to sectarianism because, previously a Congregationalist by upbringing, he joined the Unitarian Church.

He collapsed shortly after the 1859 commencement and died that summer. Antioch historian Robert Straker wrote that Mann had been “crucified by crusading sectarians.” Ralph Waldo Emerson lamented “what seems the fatal waste of labor and life at Antioch.” Mann’s wife, who wrote in anguish that "the blood of martyrdom waters the spot," later disinterred his body from Yellow Springs. He is buried in the North Burial Ground in Providence, Rhode Island, next to his first wife, Charlotte Messer Mann.

Rod Serling (December 25, 1924-June 28, 1975), one of television’s most prolific writers, is best known for his science fiction television series, The Twilight Zone.

Serling enrolled under the G.I. Bill of Rights at Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio. In the late 1940s Antioch was famous for loose social rules and a unique work-study curriculum. Serling was stimulated by the liberal intellectual environment and began to feel "the need to write, a kind of compulsion to get some of my thoughts down." He was also inspired by the words of Unitarian educator Horace Mann, first president of Antioch College, "Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity." Serling would later feature these words and a rendition of Antioch’s Horace Mann statue in the 1962 Twilight Zone episode, "Changing of the Guard."

During his first year at Antioch, Serling met his future wife Carol Kramer, a Protestant. Both families had a difficult time accepting the proposed union. Serling’s mother had always hoped her sons would marry Jewish women. Carol’s father told her, "I absolutely forbid you to marry that black-haired little Jew." Shortly before their marriage Carol convinced Rod to convert to Unitarianism. She was not practicing her parents’ faith and he had never shown interest in Judaism, though he always identified as being ethnically Jewish. The liberal environment at Antioch, which had Unitarian connections going back nearly a century, helped Rod and Carol to shed their family religious traditions and to accept Unitarianism as a convenient compromise. They were married in an ecumenical service at the Antioch chapel in the summer of 1948.

In 1959 Serling expressed his frustration: "I think it is criminal that we are not permitted to make dramatic note of social evils that exist, of controversial themes as they are inherent in our society." Because of the hostile creative environment Serling began to see the advantages of writing science fiction and fantasy. He learned that advertisers would routinely approve stories including controversial situations if they took place on fictional worlds. Out of this realization came the television series The Twilight Zone, 1959-64, on which Serling and other writers would enjoy unprecedented artistic freedom.

The Serlings were active members of the Unitarian Community Church of Santa Monica, California. The minister of the church was Ernest Pipes whose humanist preaching suited Serling’s outlook and with whom he corresponded on politics and the state of humanity. Serling was an ardent supporter of the Unitarian Universalist Association, the Santa Monica church, and the American Civil Liberties Union. He supported these and other organizations by accepting speaking engagements and with monetary donations. He was politically active, and in 1966 campaigned for incumbent Pat Brown against Ronald Reagan in the California gubernatorial race.

Serling’s social activism also took the form of writing letters to newspaper editors. In one poignant example Serling responded to Dr. Max Rafferty, a religious conservative educator, who had a weekly column in the Los Angeles Times. On October 10, 1966 Rafferty’s column addressed social reform and claimed that humanity’s problems were not the responsibility of society but of the individual. The article’s theme is well expressed in Rafferty’s statement, "I don’t feel guilty about crime in our cities because I’m not committing any." Serling’s incensed response was published five days later. In it he rebuked Dr. Rafferty with his words, "The good doctor had best take his Bible in hand and discover what is the compassion of faith, the selflessness of worship and the charity of Christ" and concluded by saying, "[Dr. Rafferty] take note of what the ghost of Jacob Marley said to Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol. ‘Mankind! Cries the ghost, was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business.’"

In 1967 Serling said, "I happen to think that the singular evil of our time is prejudice. It is from this evil that all other evils grow and multiply. In almost everything I’ve written there is a thread of this: a man’s seemingly palpable need to dislike someone other than himself."

Posted by elycefeliz on 2011-10-23 11:45:09

Tagged: , Yellow Springs , Ohio , Horace Mann , Antioch College , monument

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Monument to Horace Mann, Antioch College

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