By Leonard Harris
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Additional info for Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher
He resolved not to be bothered by the group and eventually decided not to acknowledge them when he was in the presence of a white person. 6 Locke at first felt that Harvard should not be a place where separatism prevailed. In his second year he told his mother that “by common consent, [the black students have] unanimously chosen to occupy a separate table together. Now what do you think of that? ” But issues of race and group identity were a fairly constant source of consternation and even anger, and they were not restricted to African Americans.
Perhaps he never pursued such membership in the “exclusive” social clubs because he did not want to face or force the issue. But clearly such incidents in the dining halls kept the question of race in focus, however it might have been complicated by questions of class and sensibility. Group identity and the individual’s role in it drew Locke’s attention and analysis all his life. Whatever paradoxes he might observe in the tensions between these two poles, he felt that he must make the widest possible network of friends and contacts at Harvard, and he set about doing so with purpose.
The first high school to be established by a special law of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, it had been founded in 1836. Its original building was on Juniper Street, south of Market, in the city’s commercial center. Within twenty years it had outgrown this site, and a new building opened in 1853 at Broad and Green Streets. The cornerstone for the third building was laid in 1894, and classes began there in 1900, at the start of Locke’s junior year. At its 1902 dedication ceremonies President Theodore Roosevelt was the honored speaker, attesting to the school’s high reputation.
Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris