Carver High teacher had profound impact
I was born and raised in Cumberland and graduated with my sister Betty in the first graduating class from Carver High School in 1942, a class of 16 students. Carver High School was formerly known as the Frederick Street High School. I attended the school from the first grade to the 12th grade, and my high school English teacher was Miss Ruth Franklin. I was blessed with a loving, warm, but strict home environment made up of my mother, Edith Bromery my father, Randolph Bromery and my grandmother, Sarah Bromery. All lived out their full lives in Cumberland.
Along with the deep love and strong support from my family, the other person with the greatest influence in my life was Miss Ruth Franklin. My sister Betty and two brothers, Lawrence and Robert, were also touched by Miss Franklin and are currently living in the Washington, D.C. area, each of them achieving success in their respective professional disciplines.
Miss Franklin was a superb teacher and demanded strict discipline in her classroom. She gave much to her students and required much in return. She told us that if we learned to read well, comprehend what we had read, and be able to express ourselves both orally and in writing, we could achieve success regardless of our ambitions in life. The school's physical plant was woefully inadequate, however, Miss Franklin and the other teachers at our school were very competent and caring, and to a great extent mitigated the negative effect of the substandard building. During that era, the "colored school" extended from the first grade to the 12th grade with the exception of the eighth grade, which was eliminated by the school board. The only positive outcome for me of that strange anomaly was that I went from the seventh grade to the ninth grade and was taught English by Miss Ruth Franklin one year early.
After graduation in 1942, and following service in World War II with the Tuskegee Army Air Corps, I attended undergraduate school through the G.I. Bill, and with a sound preparation and motivation for college from Miss Ruth Franklin. I graduated with a B. S. in mathematics and physics from Howard University earned a M.S. in geology and geophysics from The American University in Washington, D.C, and was awarded a Ph.D. in geology from The Johns Hopkins University, all earned while working as an exploration geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey. After nearly 20 years with the USGS, I began to plan and conduct geological studies worldwide. Eventually, I left the federal government and moved into higher education. I was appointed a professor of geophysics at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in 1967 and taught undergraduate and graduate courses in geophysics. I served as chair of the Department of Geology and Geography, and in 1971 was appointed chancellor of the Amherst campus of the University of Massachusetts, served as interim president of Westfield State College in 1988, was appointed chancellor of the Board of Regents for Higher Education in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in 1990, and was elected president of Springfield College in 1992. I recently retired as Commonwealth Professor Emeritus from the University of Massachusetts. I have been awarded honorary doctorates from several universities world-wide.
Many other persons at Frederick Street and Carver High School have been equally successful because they were privileged to have studied under and been motivated by Miss Ruth Franklin. In my case, the love, care and support from my family and the solid educational foundation, motivation and self-discipline taught by Miss Ruth Franklin were the primary ingredients to all of my life's achievements.
Miss Ruth Franklin followed the concept of the "Talented Tenth" advanced by the late African American intellectual, Dr. W E. B. Dubois. According to Dubois, the "Talented Tenth" was to be a cadre of broadly educated African American men and women who would provide the leadership in the struggle to eliminate the "color line." Dubois said these men and women must be well educated, possess a "deep moral conviction," and be willing to sacrifice. Miss Ruth Franklin was a member of that "Talented Tenth." She not only taught English, she also carefully and deeply motivated her students. She must have also been inspired by the distinguished African American Episcopal priest Alexander Crummel who in 1895 said, "Man or woman never passes beyond boundary lines of dull content into the arena of strife or agitation, unless some deep moral conviction first circles his or her brain and fires his or her blood or tingles his or her imagination." Something fired the blood and tingled the imagination of Miss Franklin, and she in turn fired our blood and tingled our imagination.
I felt compelled to write this memorial in honor of Miss Ruth Franklin, hopefully on behalf of all of her students. I was unable to attend her funeral and desperately wanted to more adequately describe the significant impact this gently strict and gifted woman had on my life, the life of the Bromery family, the African American community of Cumberland, the Allegany County school system, the greater Cumberland community and, through her many students, a significant component of our; nation's society. To me, Miss Ruth Franklin was the Miss Sojourner Truth of education, and I and countless others were most fortunate that she touched our lives, awakened our inner souls, emancipated us from the terrible; bondage of ignorance, and opened our minds so that we could earn that special and glorious gift of intellectual achievement.
Miss Ruth Franklin dedicated her life to the happiness, satisfaction and fulfillment of many people — those she knew, strangers she did not know, children yet to be born and the hopeful world of the future. Few people in their lifetimes have touched and advanced the lives of so many people as has the nearly five score years of the life of our loving and dedicated teacher, Miss Ruth Franklin.
Dr. Randolph W. Bromery
Commonwealth Professor Emeritus
University of Massachusetts
Randolph W. Bromery
Allegany County, Maryland
African Americans, History; Allegany County (Md.), History.
Allegany County (Md.), 1890-2008