Cumberland Times-News

Opinion

June 26, 2013

Bernard Wynder was a local hero and fought the good fight

I first came to know Bernard Wynder (obituary, June 22 Times-News, Page 2B) nearly 40 years ago in a class on African American History that I taught at Frostburg State University.

Over the following decades he became one of my local heroes.

The reason was quite simply that he reminded me of my favorite national hero, Frederick Douglass.

Both spent their youth in East Baltimore. Douglass was a slave who taught himself to read in the city’s shipyard and on the streets.

Wynder later grew up in a part of urban America where street life would more likely teach him crime rather than the 3R’s.

Poising as a free black sailor, Douglass escaped to free states where he thereafter worked ceaselessly to rescue other slaves from bondage.

FSU became Bernard’s place of opportunity. He wanted to play football and to become different from his neighbor peers in Baltimore. Frostburg State became his “block.”

After graduation, in a variety of administrative positions, Wynder mentored the growing number of black male students from the metropolitan areas on becoming good students and productive citizens, so as to avoid the fate of many of their contemporaries.

Nationally, there are more black males in prison than in colleges and universities. Bernard was surely aware of that fact and made it a special personal mission to alter this tragic condition, one student at a time.

There is one small effort that those of us who want to carry on the egalitarian work of Douglass and Wynder can do.

Join the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (popularly known as the NAACP). It has fought for racial justice since 1911.

And by the way, it is an interracial organization, and racial inequalities exist here. Its address is P.O. Box 623, Cumberland (21502). The next meeting will occur in the social center of Holy Cross Church in Cumberland on July 16 at 7 p.m.

Bernard, who was instrumental in establishing this chapter, knew and fought its enduring battle as well as anyone could.

John Wiseman

Cumberland

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