He said he is all for the "normal give and take among the various sectors and ideologies of the society." But he feared "our growing inability to act - even to think - in the interest of the nation. It's almost as if there is no national interest. . The whole society seems to be disintegrating into special interests."
Raspberry plans to invest more time in a program called "Baby Steps," about which he says in his final column, "It is my attempt to renew faith in the magic of education and to spark a faith in the efficacy of community. I believe that pulling a community together around the future of its children can do wonders to transform both."
Here's the posting on the Okolona, Mississippi Chamber of Commerce Web site: "Baby Steps involves more than passing along parenting tips; it involves the notion that an entire town can rally around its children. Raspberry states, 'I truly believe we have the possibility of transforming Okolona by uplifting its children, perhaps even creating an example that other communities can learn from.'"
According to the Okolona Chamber of Commerce, "Baby Steps' first phase began in Okolona in August with more than 20 parents involved. It is patterned after MegaSkills, a parental leadership program based in Washington, D.C. Working closely with school superintendents and teachers, parents receive information on early childhood education, child motivation, and role-playing." The University of Mississippi has agreed to partner in the early reading effort.
Bill Raspberry is coming full circle. He'll remain in Washington, teaching Duke University students, but he will also spend more time in his hometown encouraging young people. One or more might become the next William Raspberry.
I'll bet such a thing would trump his Pulitzer Prize in personal satisfaction.