Dr. Howard Fuller, Grad ’85, is animated when he recalls dodging machine gun fire from Portuguese helicopters during the 1960s liberation movement in Mozambique, taking shelter with his translator at a banana plantation before escaping into the mountains.
It was like a movie, Fuller says, except it was real. “I hugged that banana tree so hard that I became a banana tree,” he recalls, now able to laugh about the experience while describing it during a guest appearance at “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” at Marquette University Law School.
The distinguished professor of education and founding director of Marquette’s Institute for the Transformation of Learning chronicled his experiences as a community organizer, civil rights leader and education reformer in his recently published memoir, No Struggle, No Progress: A Warrior’s Life from Black Power to Education Reform. Fuller wrote the autobiography with Lisa Frazier Page to inspire young people to act on injustices they see in society — to “engage in struggle,” as he puts it — and as a tribute to fellow activists. “A lot of the people who were close friends of mine have passed, and I felt like it was my duty to tell their story by telling my story,” he says.
That story includes Fuller, then a young community organizer, leading rent strikes to force landlords to make repairs and taking a role in the founding of Malcolm X Liberation University in Durham and Greensboro, N.C. He eventually returned to Milwaukee, where he accepted an administrative job with Marquette’s Educational Opportunity Program and later served as superintendent of Milwaukee Public Schools, before returning to Marquette to found the Institute for the Transformation of Learning.
Much of Fuller’s energy is now spent supporting school voucher programs, a stance that subjects him to criticism in some circles. “You get up every day and fight,” he says. “You have to accept that the way that you choose to fight is not going to be universally admired and accepted.” Read more at howardfuller.org. — CJ