Thursday, May 17, 2007

David McCullough's Charlotte visit

This morning I caught up with David McCullough, one of the nation’s premier historians, during his visit through Charlotte today. It was great to see throngs of teen-agers, from 8th grade through high school, who were excited to see him.

He stopped by ImaginOn to mingle with the students – and tonight he’s at the Charlotte City Club for a $150-per-ticket event honoring the anniversary of the signing of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence on May 20, 1775 (click here to read more about it).

When I interviewed McCullough Wednesday, he said he always makes it a priority to meet with young people when he makes public appearances.

"Something I care very deeply about is that we are raising generations of Americans who are historically illiterate. It’s not just that young people, say, in North Carolina don’t know about Mecklenburg, but they don’t know much about anything concerning the Revolutionary War, and it’s our fault. We can’t blame them for not knowing what they haven’t been taught," he said.

"I think it’s of the utmost importance that parents and leaders in all fields of a community take part in the processes of education and not just leave it to teachers and schools."

From the looks of things, McCullough didn’t need to worry about the hundreds of kids packing into the auditorium at ImaginOn. They were chosen to attend because of their interest in American history, and a hand-picked group of about 16 got to meet privately with McCullough before his speech.

Laporcha Ingram, a 12th grader at Harding University High School, was among them. "I’m very honored to meet him," she said afterward.

Why, I asked her, should a 17-year-old care about what happened in the 1770s?

"Because," she replied, "if you don’t know your history, how do you know where you’re going?"

A wise 17-year-old indeed.


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