Jonathan Kozol

April 4 , 2001

Since the 1960s, award-winning author Jonathan Kozol has exposed the social problems of segregation and unequal schools, illiteracy, and homelessness through his work.

Kozol, a graduate of Harvard and Oxford, says a defining moment in his life occurred in 1964 when he heard about three young civil-rights workers who had been murdered by the Ku Klux Klan. He had never been political or had any involvement in race issues, but he was greatly affected by the news. Soon after he began working as a teacher in a freedom school that had been set up in a black church in a low-income, predominantly black area in Roxbury, just south of Boston.

The segregated public school in Roxbury was very different from the school Kozol had attended as a child growing up in the wealthy Boston suburb of Newton. Shortly after he began teaching in the public school system, Kozol was fired for reading from a book of poetry by Langston Hughes that was not on the approved curriculum list. Soon after, he wrote his first work of nonfiction, Death at an Early Age: The Destruction of the Hearts and Minds of Negro Children in the Boston Public Schools, based on his teaching experiences in Roxbury. The book won the National Book Award in 1968.

Kozol's books often involve first-hand accounts of his experiences. In Amazing Grace (1995), Kozol addresses the issues of race and poverty by exploring the lives of inner-city residents in the South Bronx. Kozol currently lives with his dog Sweetie Pie in a 200 year-old farmhouse in Byfield, Massachusetts

The Finger Lakes Times did a story titled "Author Discusses Children, Education" for the April 5 issue.


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