Dr. Rex Ellis of Colonial Williamsburg closed the Stratford Hall Seminar on Slavery by urging the seminarians to make a difference on "their watch."
He spoke of the legacy of the pioneers of education who taught students to think for themselves. Historically black Americans had to prove they were worthy; they had to crack the stereotypes. From Frederick Douglass, to the Tuskegee Airmen, to the black debate team from Wiley College, Marshall, Texas that defeated many white universities in 1930's, to Linda Brown, to Jesse Jackson, the legacy of extending the American dream to all has been kept and nurtured.
Rex entered college as a drama major. A recruiter came from Colonial Williamsburg looking for acting students to portray African Americans. The idea of being a part of telling the story of the "Other Half," at Colonial Williamsburg entranced him. He was instrumental in starting the African American interpretation program at Colonial Williamsburg. He is now Vice-President of the Historical District. The irony has has not eluded him that a descendant of slavery is now in charge of the Historic District.
He likens his charge to pass on an all inclusive Williamsburg legacy to a line in the Apollo 13 movie. As the crew struggled with the capsule, one of the control room personnel said , "We've never lost a capsule in the history of the space program, and we are not going to lose one on my watch."
He asked the seminarians to accept and share this legacy and be faithful stewards while on their watch. The world is filled with technology, good intentions, talent, and money, but those are secondary to the efforts of those who are entrusted with transmitting this legacy. The more seminarians acknowledge they are an integral part of the transcendent whole, the more they must realize their obligation to make this world a better place than they found it.
He urged the seminarians to use the precious hours they spent at Stratford to reflect on where they want to be in the future.
"Seize the day and tell the stories about who we all are on your
watch. Ensure that they continue to soar with the winds of time because they
have been told by you."
Recommended Works for Using Language to Teach Recommended by Rex Ellis in Previous Seminars