Notable Quotes About Our Work
CONGRESSMAN ELIJAH E. CUMMINGS
Chair, House Oversight, and Reform Committee
Member, Congressional Black Caucus
“Ms. Alice Bernstein, a writer, and speaker against racism, studied for many years with the philosopher and poet Eli Siegel, founder of the education Aesthetic Realism…which encourages people of all races to treat others with respect and kindness…. She writes particularly about education and the cause and remedies to racial prejudice. Many articles are in Aesthetic Realism and the Answer to Racism... [which] has contributed significantly to promoting an increased understanding between races in this country.”
Congressman Cummings said in the first interview with him for “The Force of Ethics in Civil Rights,” Oral History Project:
“When people ask me for an autograph, I write 'Reach for the Light,' which means reach for the truth. That reminds me of our good friend, Eli Siegel: reaching for the light, for what is best, and asking how do I get the best out of something!”
TEXAS SENIOR DISTRICT JUDGE L. CLIFFORD DAVIS
Legendary civil rights lawyer worked with Thurgood
Marshall in cases involving Brown v. Board and other civil rights issues. Since 1954 he served as a Forth Worth attorney and judge
“I give my heartfelt recommendation of the author and Aesthetic Realism Associate Alice Bernstein for the commitment she and her
colleagues have to education and to ending racism. Our acquaintance began in 2005 with a mutual friend, Barbra Pace Sears, Managing Editor of La Vida News/The Black Voice in Ft. Worth, Texas. In the column, “Alice Bernstein & Friends” I saw the need for people to know Aesthetic Realism and its understanding of contempt as the cause of racism, and how to fight it. The importance of Alice's study with the philosopher Eli Siegel, who founded Aesthetic Realism, and her continuing study of its principles cannot be overestimated. I say this backed by a lifetime —70 years—as an attorney in the civil rights battle, and as a former state district judge. I know “up close and personal” the extent of
racism. After the Brown decision, a sign picturing a lynching was posted on the main street in Tarrant County, and read: “This Negro tried to enter a white school.” My role as legal counsel in that school integration lawsuit was recognized years later at the dedication of the L. Clifford Davis Elementary School in Ft. Worth. I know “The People of Clarendon County-A Play by Ossie Davis, and the Education that Can End Racism” would solidly advance the educational and social goals of
Brown v. Board and I hope Alice Bernstein & Friends will visit schools in Ft. Worth to present it. I proudly affirm this statement at age 96, in May 2021.
JOSEPH H. HOLT, JR.
Civil Rights Leader, North Carolina
Integration Lawsuit, Holt v. Raleigh Board of Education
“The beauty, the power, and the importance of the Aesthetic
Realism philosophy resides in its enabling people to recognize what motivates us to see others as less than ourselves—contempt—and to learn that seeing others as more like ourselves than different is actually a greater and better acceptance of ourselves.”
CONGRESSMAN MAJOR OWENS
NY State Senator (1974-82)
Elected to the congressional seat of retiring U.S. Representative Shirley Chisholm, serving 25 years
Congressman Owens championed the Americans with Disabilities Act Distinguished Lecturer, Medgar Evers College,
DuBois-Bunche Center for Public Policy, until his passing in 2013
“The kind of things that are being done by Alice Bernstein and the
Alliance of Ethics & Art, based on Aesthetic Realism, is great!” ...I have observed journalist and Aesthetic Realism Associate Alice Bernstein's work over many years. The free educational performance event, "The People of Clarendon County"--A Play by Ossie Davis, & the Answer to Racism, fills a continuing gap in our nation's civic history, and has been eagerly inserted into the calendars of schools, colleges and libraries. More resources for the replication of this approach would benefit our society immensely."
U.S. CONGRESSMAN JAMES E. CLYBURN
Proudly Serving the 6th District of South Carolina
House Majority Whip
“I thank Alice Bernstein for presenting "The People of Clarendon County"—A Play by Ossie Davis & the Answer to Racism. She discovered this lost work and has brought it back to life as an important teaching tool against racism. The play recounts the story of Briggs v. Elliott, the desegregation lawsuit filed in my home state of South Carolina, which later became part of Brown v. Board of Education. I knew the people depicted in this play, and have seen the tremendous impact its presentation has on an audience when coupled with the knowledge of Aesthetic Realism.”
Civil Rights Leader
Son of Briggs v. Elliott defendants in Clarendon County, SC
the lawsuit that led to Brown V. Board of Education
“I thank Eli Siegel, founder of Aesthetic Realism, for his words and the work now going on to teach how to change the mindset of racism, to conquer this evil. We all need to read the works of Eli Siegel and others in this book.”
BISHOP FREDERICK CALHOUN JAMES
Bishop of the Second Episcopal District of the AME Church
[INCLUDING BALTIMORE & WASHINGTON, DC]
Friend of Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela.
Ecumenical theologian, advocate for fair and decent housing,
a proponent of civil rights, political leader, and public servant.
“I'd like to say what's in my heart. What this nation needs is more caring across ethnic lines. I think our nation and the world need what Eli Siegel, the great founder of Aesthetic Realism, the philosophy of life in America and the world, teaches. It's certainly in harmony with the great religious scriptures and the heart of all faiths across this globe. Thank you for introducing Aesthetic Realism’s incisive understanding of the cause of racism, this most significant issue!”
Former member of White House Advisory Board on Historical Black Colleges & Universities; U.S. State Department’s Advisory Board on Religious Freedom; National Vice President of the Interfaith Alliance.
Civil Rights Leader; Founder/Publisher, Tennessee Tribune
2019 Lifetime Achievement Award (NNPA)
National Newspaper Publishers Association
“The Tennessee Tribune has been publishing informative articles on Aesthetic Realism by Alice Bernstein and others for more than 22 years! They are of real interest to our readers, give insight on current issues and the fight against racism, with Aesthetic Realism as a learning tool. Along with the authors’ deep appreciation for the work of African Americans who are known, they inform readers about people who aren’t well known, and in-depth stories about Black history barely covered elsewhere. We look forward to publishing Alice Bernstein’s work for many more years.”
REUBEN FAST HORSE
Educator, cultural representative, water protector
Standing Rock and Pine Ridge Sioux Tribes of the Lakhota
Nation (North Dakota and South Dakota)
I am Lakhota from the Standing Rock/Pine Ridge reservations.
These are the poorest places in America. My people are struggling to stay alive, and to save our history and culture from dying. I am proud to be an original American and to share my heritage stories with Alice Bernstein through what she learned from Aesthetic Realism.
She has covered my Lakhota language and culture classes at NYU, events with indigenous peoples at the United Nations and at PowWows. I thank my friend, the educator Rachel Bernstein, for introducing me and my wife Susie Schmeider, to her mother’s work based on the education founded by Eli Siegel. I am 49 winters old and have been an educator since I was 16 winters old. It means a lot that I was interviewed by Alice Bernstein along with Monique Michael, educator and speaker against racism, and with Rachel for “The Force of Ethics in Civil Rights” Oral History Project.
Sincerely, Reuben Fast Horse
KEITH A. BEAUCHAMP
Filmmaker, The Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till
“At a time when the world is fighting for its survival against a pandemic and the chant, "Black Lives Matter" rings out in our streets, Racism continues to be the most dangerous preexisting condition of America. Having devoted most of my life fighting and searching for answers to combat this social cancer, Aesthetic Realism helped me understand that racism is not just a societal construct, but the human impulse to have contempt for someone other than one's self. The teachings of Eli Siegel's Aesthetic Realism could very well be the philosophical tool to help defeat race hatred.”
SNCC Organizer, Author: The Wrong Side of Murder Creek; Subject of 2021 Film, Son of the South
Director: Barry Alexander Brown
Executive Producer: Spike Lee
“Alice Bernstein, a friend, and organizer of many years has written a book that is urgently needed today. Aesthetic Realism and the Answer to Racism can be instrumental in helping us understand and change prejudice, mobilize to heal our tattered democracy, and save our planet from ecological disaster.”
BARBRA PACE SEARS
La Vida News/The Black Voice, Texas
Secretary to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Southern Christian Leadership Conference
“It was my case that was actually fought and won in the Georgia Supreme Court to desegregate Georgia State College in the 1950s. I had to face the KKK and the White Citizen's Council almost daily for three years. I had to move my two children to 'safe' houses almost weekly until my parents picked them up and took them back to Pennsylvania. I fully understand the ramifications of racism. Aesthetic Realism offers a real solution.”
JOHN E. SCOTT RICHARDSON
Haliwa-Saponi Indian Tribe, North Carolina
Cultural Ambassador, Actor, Musician, NC/NY
“I met Aesthetic Realism at the North Carolina Museum of History, where I joined the speakers in presenting the Ossie Davis play and spoke about racism as a Native American. The work Alice Bernstein and friends have been doing based on Aesthetic Realism is so vital now. It is for the enlightenment and betterment of mankind.”
EARL L. IJAMES
Farmer Curator, Historic Preservation, North Carolina Museum of History
“Racism and History are like an onion. Sometimes when you peel the layers of the skins it can make you cry! Alice Bernstein and Aesthetic Realism and the Answer to Racism help us better understand that we must peel it to get to the core of racism: what Eli Siegel explained--it’s contempt. In her oral history project, we see powerfully through the revelations of primary sources—the people who lived that history—the contempt at the root of what they witnessed, endured, and fought courageously.”
Elementary School Educator
Public Speaker on the Answer to Racism
“I feel very moved to be able to say: racism is not inevitable. Because Eli Siegel understood its cause, people of different backgrounds can learn to honestly and warmly respect each other and feel proud doing so. Both my personal and professional life using the Aesthetic Realism method in NYC schools for 25 years are evidence for this.”
Civil Rights Historian and Photographer
Founder, Cecil Williams Civil Rights Museum, Orangeburg, SC
“Two decades into the 21st-century racism is still a systemic problem affecting our country and world. Because racism is rampant, Aesthetic Realism & the Answer to Racism is essential to persons in all walks of life. This anthology of writings offers clear, true, learnable, and practical answers. This is a must-read!”
SNCC organizer; Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party; Director, Foundation for Minority Arts & Culture, Montreal;
Clinical Services for Inuit Girls, Inukjuak, QC.
“Since 2006, it has been my honor to know and collaborate with Alice Bernstein on…social justice and anti-racism issues, and to be interviewed for her groundbreaking project featuring unsung heroes of the Southern Civil Rights Movement—efforts which accorded the honor of inclusion in the Library of Congress Civil Rights Oral History Project. This includes conducting interviews with Descendants of Chinese, African American, and Native American railroad workers whose contributions to building the Transcontinental and other railroads in the 19th century are frequently omitted in official histories. I strongly support this project’s essential mission of combatting racism and the insufferable loss of these histories, based on tenets of Aesthetic Realism.”
ISABEL SEPULVEDA-de SCANLON
Born in Chile, Co-founder/President, OLA of Eastern Long Island, Inc.
Founder, Voz Latina, bilingual newspaper (2009-present)
Hate Crimes Task Force for Suffolk County, LIIA (Long Island Immigrants Alliance)
"It was in your Answer to Racism event that a teacher, Monique Michael, told what she learned from Aesthetic Realism and from anthropologist Dr. Arnold Perey who was also on the program: that we all came from Africa, and depending on the areas of the world where people went, the different geography and climates—your skin, your eyelids, your hair, your nose, changed. It was the first time ever somebody put it so wide to me that I could understand why we are the
same even with these differences. It made so much sense, and it makes you think. And the way Aesthetic Realism teaches why there is racism—contempt—and how it can change, nobody ever told me that in school. It should be in everybody’s life."
Former Chief, Bureau of Educational Equity,
Connecticut Department of Education
“Aesthetic Realism and the Answer to Racism which she co-authored, shows that Alice Bernstein’s passion to end racism is the driving force in her life….Her work, [based] on the ethical principles of Aesthetic Realism which she learned from its founder Eli Siegel, is a valuable contribution to education and American history.”
Parent, Actor, Union Activist, Teacher,
Student of Aesthetic Realism for 20 years
“In this book, people can learn the definitive explanation of what causes a person to be racist, and how through the study of Aesthetic Realism racism can end. Yes, it can organically change a racist way of seeing the world and people--which weakens a person, into one that strengthens them and others. This book gives me hope that racism can end forever.”
REV. BOOKER T. SEARS, JR.
Civil Rights Activist
Pastored 3 Churches in South Carolina
Goodwill Baptist Church, Bronx, NY 1985-present
“Racism still exists and Alice Bernstein’s book shows that Aesthetic Realism, the philosophy of Eli Siegel, provides a way forward. Studying kindness and respect while getting to know the depths of our own contempt offers tools in dismantling the entrenched system of oppression. This book, this philosophy, has the power to transform us all.”
WILLIAM (BILL) LUCY
International Secretary-Treasurer AFSCME, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees from 1972-2010
As a labor leader for decades, I’ve been in the trenches of the struggle for a better life for working people and their children. I know that the ultimate goals of Brown v. Board of Education—for children of all races to learn together in an environment free from prejudice—have yet to be fully realized. Alice Bernstein’s understanding of the underlying cause of racism, based on principles of Aesthetic Realism and her study with its founder, Eli Siegel, is a crucial asset in the struggle. I don’t express this opinion lightly, but as a man who worked with Dr. King in the crucible of 1968, Memphis Sanitation Workers Strike, and as a founder and president of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU).
Project Researcher, Library of Congress Civil Rights Oral History Survey; Reference archivist, Amistad Research Center of Tulane University; Currently Manager, Corporate Engagement/Special Initiatives, University of Georgia
"I encountered Alice Bernstein and the principles of Aesthetic Realism a decade ago, and these teachings are more relevant now than ever. As our species continues in conflict with itself and our planet, her civil rights documentary work through the lens of Aesthetic Realism highlights narratives of local leaders who've championed equal justice. Importantly, her approach to documenting the civil rights movement with her colleagues faithfully depicts the struggle as a grassroots movement. Great to see “The Force of Ethics in Civil Rights” collection has made it to the Library of Congress Civil Rights History Project! I was one of four (LOC) employees in 2010 to canvass the country and put that original database together, including “The Force of Ethics!”
JUDGE D ’ARMY BAILEY (1941–2015)
Circuit Court, 13th District, State of TN; Founder, National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel
“I know how urgent it is to preserve our heritage and show its relevance today. Eli Siegel's explanation of the fight between respect and contempt in all people is a cornerstone for understanding and ending the scourge of racism. I had read the analysis about contempt as the cause of racism, and I heartily agree. How do you combat that contempt, that drives us to measure ourselves against someone we denigrate in order that we feel taller? That's the challenge which Aesthetic Realism can address in contemporary society.”
REV. DR. BENJAMIN L. HOOKS (1925-2010)
Civil Rights lawyer; National Director, NAACP; and MRS. FRANCES DANCY HOOKS (1927-2016);
Educator, Civil Rights activist, Memphis, TN
“We believe that…Aesthetic Realism and the Answer to Racism should be required reading for all Americans.”
Former Dean/Law Professor Emeritus, Tulane University Law School, said about “The People of Clarendon County” A Play by Ossie Davis, & the Answer to Racism
“This is a very important event, presenting the interconnection between politics, ethics, art, and law, based on Aesthetic Realism, with the focus on racism and what we can do in terms of our own thought processes and education within our society to deal with it.”