THE DEATH last Wednesday of Samuel L. Banks, an educator and an inveterate contributor to The Evening Sun, has sparked a lot of reminiscing around town.
At his memorial service on Monday night, Del. Elijah Cummings, recalled his time as a student of Samuel Banks at City College. "He was not known for giving As and rarely Bs," he said. He also recalled that after he went on to Howard University, Dr. Banks checked on Mr. Cummings' college grades without his knowledge. "He truly cared about us," Mr. Cummings said.
In the more than 20 spoken tributes to Dr. Banks, speakers quoted Marcus Garvey, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Carter G. Woodson, the Bible and other well-known works and famous people. But each one marveled at the many pieces of correspondence from Dr. Banks they each had received over the years. The president of Mount Washington Pediatrics Health System, Francis A. Pommett Jr., noted that he recently examined a thick file containing notes and letters from Dr. Banks.
One person not at the memorial service was a city elementary school teacher who shared her first introduction to Dr. Banks with an Evening Sun editor at a local swimming pool last week.
It was several years ago, on a hot, humid August day, at a meeting for new teachers that Dr. Banks left an impression on this young teacher. "He told us that we were responsible for educating these children," she recalled.
"He said, 'Don't tell me you can't teach them because of what kind of home they come from, or what kind of parents they have, or any other reasons. You are entrusted with the duty to produce educated citizens who can become productive human beings.' "
She said that she and many of her fellow new teachers thought Dr. Banks was expecting too much from them. "I didn't think then, and I don't think now, that I can overcome a horrible home situation," she said. "But I've never forgotten what Dr. Banks told us."