DR. JOHN TELFORD: Presents; A Life on the RUN – Seeking and Safeguarding Social Justice
Dr. Telford is the only retired executive educator in America—black or white, urban or suburban—who dared and cared enough to return to a tough inner-city high school to teach, and he was still doing it in his seventies. He often has been called the Jonathan Kozol of the high school. An amateur boxer who was raised in the tough near-west side of Detroit and incarcerated as a teen, he was expelled from one Motown high school for fighting but rose to become a world-ranked sprinter, meet a Pope, lead suburban school districts, and direct programs working to reform the city’s street gangs and rehabilitate parolees. While he has received many high honors and accolades, he never lost the common touch.
John Telford has run on many tracks during his tumultuous seventy-three years—not all of them always the right ones. He outran Olympic champions, hosted radio shows, appeared on television, wrote over one thousand newspaper columns, coached and taught in ghetto schools and in colleges, led school districts and social service agencies, and fought for urban school reform and minority rights.
But he also was incarcerated as a teen, was expelled from a Detroit high school for brawling with an administrator, made indiscreet and indiscriminate love with other men’s wives, was attacked for his controversial educational and social initiatives and for hiring black administrators in white schools, and was fired from a suburban superintendency for recruiting Detroit students against the wishes of white residents.
Dr. Telford pulls no punches telling his often scandalous, sometimes humorous, yet poignant and inspiring life story—which former Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer calls “spellbinding!”, Michigan state senator Hansen Clarke calls “unadulterated dynamite!”, and a former ACLU national legal director calls “a triumphant tale of racing, rebellion, and raw courage.” In this blockbuster autobiography, an electrifying educator, athlete, lover, and poet bares his soul. Once you start reading it, you won’t be able to stop!
© 2010, John Telford. All Rights Reserved.
Dr. John Telford has long been called a lightning rod for controversy. He retired in 1991 as the deputy superintendent of Schools in 98% white Rochester, Michigan, where skinheads riddled his house with midnight gunfire for hiring black administrators. After retiring, he became an executive director in the Detroit Public Schools, where he clashed with inept top administrators.
He served most recently as the superintendent of the Madison District Schools and was fired for recruiting hundreds of Detroit students against the wishes of white residents. Undefeated at 400 meters in Europe as a worldranked sprinter, Dr. Telford coached champions and authored a noted book on the quarter mile —The Longest Dash. In 1978, he was inducted into the Wayne State University Athletic Hall of Fame.
He has written newspaper columns, hosted radio shows, and directed human-rights agencies. A former director of the innovative and controversial Division of Basic Education at Macomb Community College and a published poet, he also taught at Wayne State and Oakland universities. Wayne State University named Dr. Telford its Distinguished Alumnus of the Year in 2001 for his civil-rights activism. A Detroit high school track is named for him.
Throughout the years, his students have consistently pronounced him a great teacher. Their accolades are the ones the 73-year-old activist values most.
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