Sunday, October 6, 2019

Highland’s University Statue


For my birthday my wife surprised me with a visit back to the Castaneda ...

The idea was that their much-touted restaurant and 12 course tasting menu would be open and ready, but that was not to be.  Construction delays as always.  We had a lovely time anyway, and, wanting to visit a part of town we had not been to before, we went over to Highlands University. It was founded in 1893 as a teacher training school but is now a branch of the state university system.

On a Saturday afternoon the campus was almost empty and even the library was closed.  That would, of course, not have been the case in my day but then, I didn’t have the internet for research. As we walked around, we found the Commons with a bronze statue in the center.  Titled “Harmony” it consists of three figures by artist and educator Gary Coulter (1935-2000). It was dedicated in 1987 to “to recognize and honor the cultural and ethnic diversity of New Mexico Highlands University’s students”. Definitely not a great work of art but what they did with it I found so appropriate for a place of learning in these days of conflict.


Large plaques on each side of the base have excerpts from the writings of John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, and José Marti, as well as “A song of the Tewa”.

The Tewa are a linguistic group of Native Americans living today in pueblos along the Rio Grande. The Song of the Tewa, is looking to the day when tame animals and children are blessed as are their brother Indian tribes and even the Mexican and Anglo-American people, wishing all “may make our lives together here”.


José Marti (1853-1895) was Cuban poet, and philosopher who is regarded as a hero in his country as a revolutionary activist. In 1893 he writes, “Man has no special rights because he belongs to a particular Ethnic Group, “Anyone, you might want to send this plaque to?


JFK writes in 1962, “In a time of turbulence and change, it is more true than ever that knowledge is power…” “Liberty without learning is always in peril and learning without liberty is always in vain.”  Oh, how I wish that our politicians would learn their history before aspiring to a political office.


The plaque with the best known quotation is, of course, Martin Luther King’s, “I have a dream” speech of 1963, It continues, “I have a dream that one day, on the red hills of Georgia the sons of slaves the sons of former slave owners will sit together at the table of brotherhood.”


Just think if every student who came to Highlands University would just sit in front of this statue and take in the lessons that each of these plaques had to offer what fabulous individuals and politicians they would make!

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