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E.R. Braithwaite
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    (June 27, 1912-December 12, 2016)
    Born in Georgetown, Guyana
    Birth name was Eustace Edward Ricardo Braithwaite
    Author and diplomat
    Best know for the autobiographical novel ‘To Sir, With Love’ (1959) about being a black teacher at a mostly white school in London
    Guyanese representative to the United Nations (1967-69)
    Ambassador to Venezuela
    In an autobiography he described his initial impression of his students: ‘a smelly classroom with forty-six foul-mouthed youngsters.’
    One of his former students wrote a memoir describing him as a cold and rigid man ‘who struck fear into us by favouring corporal punishment.’
    He admitted he did not keep in touch with his former students: ‘I don’t know if I changed any lives or not.’
    He said about the film adaptation (starring Sidney Poitier and Lulu) of ‘To Sir, With Love,’ ‘I detest the movie from the bottom of my heart.’
    He was a pilot in the Royal Air Force during World War II.
    He earned a physics degree from Cambridge, but was unable to get work as an engineer because of racial discrimination.
    He said of his decision to teach, ‘I was too black to be a scientist, and too educated to be a lot of other things.’
    He said about his breakthrough in teaching a class of undisciplined students, ‘It struck me one day that the children didn’t have any respect for themselves, and this was why they had no respect for other people and I seized upon that idea. I challenged them to respect themselves.’

Credit: C. Fishel

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