To help us explore the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement he lead, Waynflete’s racial awareness group, RAaW, has invited Arlie Schardt – a longtime journalist and public interest advocate and the grandfather of Josh (’17) and Tobias (’23) Lodish – to speak at the Upper School assembly on Thursday, January 14.
Mr. Schardt began his journalistic career editing his grade school, high school, and college newspapers. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin, he played in the 1956 U.S. Olympic water polo trials, and then landed his dream job—on the staff of Sports Illustrated magazine. But after hearing several speeches by the Rev. Dr Martin Luther King Jr., he obtained a transfer to TIME magazine, where he spent nearly seven years covering the historic Southern civil rights movement.
Mr. Schardt then joined the legislative staff of the American Civil Liberties Union, where he co-directed a national campaign to impeach President Richard Nixon, one year before the Watergate scandal. His book, “Amnesty: The Unsettled Question of Vietnam,” was a key factor in President Jimmy Carter’s decision to pardon thousands of Vietnam War draft resisters.
Mr. Schardt went on to serve for seven years as Executive Director of the Environmental Defense Fund, which won a long, long battle to ban the pesticide DDT—thereby preventing the extinction on the Maine Coast and elsewhere of such iconic species as the eagle and the osprey. He was then chosen as National Press Secretary for Al Gore’s 1988 presidential campaign.
In 1995, Mr. Schardt founded his own national environmental organization, Environmental Media Services (EMS), which generated a huge increase in media coverage of energy, environmental. and health issues. EMS was the first to launch campaigns on today’s most important problem—climate change—some 20 years ago. Although now retired, Mr. Schardt still serves as chair of Friends of the Earth, one of the most activist front-line groups on issues from climate change to reversing the collapse of bee colonies and related threats to our food supply.
At the assembly on Thursday, Mr. Schardt will be followed by two local high school students, Salim Salim and Muna Adan, who will deliver their recently recorded TEDxDirigo talks on their experiences as people of color in America. Muna is the sister of Waynflete graduate Abukar Adan (’13). The write ups on each speaker from the TEDxDirigo website is below:
“Salim Salim has direct experience with risky and dangerous situations. Born and raised in the city of Mosul, Iraq. Salim’s family was forced to escape due to increasingly risky security issues in 2008. After leaving Iraq, Salim and his family lived in Turkey as refugees via the UN. He came to the United States in 2010, on the verge of adolescence. Landing in a totally foreign place and not speaking the language, Salim faced a new set of challenges. Instead of shying away from them, Salim took risks to jump head-first into his new life in Maine. Salim is currently a senior at Deering High School in Portland, Maine, and serves as the school’s Student Body President. Throughout his high school career, the Seeds of Peace camp has given him a multitude of opportunities and changed his entire life for the better. Salim, who speaks five languages, credits organizations like Seeds of Peace, The Telling Room, and TEDxDirigo for helping him maximize his potential as an immigrant living in America.”
“Muna is an 18-year-old student who, in the midst of adversity, began to convey her emotions through poetry. Growing up as a black Muslim woman, Muna has dealt with many forms of discrimination, but instead of allowing the abhorrence of others to consume her, she decided to become a voice for change—a leader. After finding herself and overcoming these difficult times, poetry became a great part of her life. By the end of her junior year in high school, Muna began to perform at numerous events where she utilized her love for poetry, writing, and motivational speaking to advocate for social justice. Her faith in the integrity of humanity encourages her not to abandon the change that she desires to implement. Muna now attends the University of Southern Maine, where she double majors in Communications and Media Studies.”