When Denver teenager Dajina Bell graduated from high school last week, she celebrated a remarkable academic and personal comeback. Bell's high school years, marked early on by her brother's death and a host of other troubles, ended with her becoming her family's first graduate.
When students at The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in New York took over the president's office one month ago to protest the school's decision to charge tuition, they painted the lobby black.
They also took a painting of the school's founder, and hung a piece of red fabric from the frame, as if Peter Cooper himself had joined in the protest.
Fifty-five boys — all poor and almost all African-American — were a part of a bold educational experiment in the early 1960s. They were placed in an intensive summer school program. If they finished, the headmasters of 16 prep schools agreed to accept them. Tuition paid.
Planning for that experiment started in 1963 at the height of the civil rights movement, one year before President Lyndon B. Johnson declared his "War on Poverty." Today, what began with 55 students and 16 schools has become an institution celebrating its 50th anniversary. It's called "A Better Chance."