Yesterday, before the blizzard kicked into full gear, I walked around the Hall of Fame for Great Americans at Bronx Community College and snapped some photos. The Hall of Fame is a New York City landmark that was founded in 1900 to honor prominent Americans. The chief architectural feature is the open air colonnade, which showcases bronze busts of the honorees. The categories of endeavor include authors, educators, humanitarians, scientists, statesmen, artists, and explorers; stone plaques along the walkway distinguishes each one. I happened to snap two of the plaques in succession: scientists and teachers. Looking at these two photos reminded me of something I once read. In response to this NY Times article (http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/18/nyregion/18kearny.html) regarding the controversy that erupted after a New Jersey high school teacher expressed his religious beliefs in class, Neil deGrasse Tyson wrote:
“People cited violation of the First Amendment when a New Jersey schoolteacher asserted that evolution and the Big Bang are not scientific and that Noah’s ark carried dinosaurs.
This case is not about the need to separate church and state; it’s about the need to separate ignorant, scientifically illiterate people from the ranks of teachers.”
I agree with him.
I thought it fitting that I dedicate these pictures to him. Tyson was born in Manhattan and raised in the Bronx, is an alumnus of Bronx High School of Science and is half Puerto Rican—just like my oldest nephew! He is also someone I can imagine with a bust in the Hall of Fame for Great Americans.