Cambridge Couple & The New Jim Crow

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Cheryl Brown's picture

Peter & Charlotte Temin Fight for Justice

Before the infamous non-trial of Darren Wilson for the killing of unarmed teen Mike Brown in Fergeson, MO; even before the non-indictment of George Zimmerman for the killing of unarmed youth Trayvon Martin, there was trouble brewing in paradise in the home of Peter and Charlotte Temin. Their beautifully appointed Cambridge condominium overlooking the Charles River was miles away from either incident. But the trouble brewing was in their hearts and minds at witnessing the discrepancy between Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. "I have a Dream" speech and the nightmare of racial injustice surrounding massive incarceration of young black males in America. Charlotte remembered being at the march on Washington and was moved to action.

Charlotte Temin, Clinical Instructor in psychology, Harvard Medical School; Psychologist in private practice and Peter Temin, Professor of Economics, MIT; a quiet unassuming couple had experienced the trials and joys of raising a family, enjoyed prosperous careers and were prepared to sit back, relax and enjoy the fruits of their labor. But Peter and Charlotte could not rest. There was a passion burning within. .

Reminiscing of witnessing 1964 MLK Jr. "I have a Dream" speech on the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., Charlotte said that message inspired her to want to do something about racial injustice in America. Noticing the gaps in civil rights laws passed and regression of legal rights for blacks, Peter and Charlotte wrote a curriculum which was taught at Harvard's Institute of Learning in Retirement where they taught their first class back in 2010 on The New Jim Crow, a book written by attorney Michelle Alexander. They remember the blank stares they received at the mention of The New Jim Crow during the first class. Few people had heard of it.

As events unfolded across the country of unrest surrounding numerous slayings of young blacks at the hands of those that were hired to "protect and serve"; the nation was awakened to a pattern of behavior that needed to be addressed immediately and globally. In 2014, I was a new student of Temin's class and began to use social media to share what I had learned about The New Jim Crow. I recommended the book as a must read every chance I got. As a result of much cross-sharing, an enlightenment grew. Movements such as "Harvard Doctors for Racial Justice", "Black Lives Matter", "Hands Up Don't Shoot", "I Can't Breathe", "Stop Mass Incarceration", "Ban the Box" and "I AM Trayvon Martin" unified people of all colors and cultures.

Economist Peter Temin found the words of Dr. King "America had written a check that bounced" relevant, understanding that a dream deferred is a dream denied.

If we don't learn anything else from Peter and Charlotte Temin let us understand this, no man stands watch over sand of the sea, continual vigilance and watch must be had over precious treasures. Until we recognize that black lives matter and treasure individuals in America, we will all be at a disadvantage against our foes in the future. How can we be strong as a nation if we kill and incarcerate our allies. United we stand, divided we fall. We've seen the enemy. The enemy is not only ISIS. The enemy is US