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Dan Rather On The $10,000 Rather Prize And The State Of The Nation

Montinique Monroe for KUT News
Dan Rather at the Texas Tribune Festival in 2018.

From Texas Standard:

Dan Rather left the anchor chair at "CBS Evening News" more than 15 years ago. But the journalist and native Texan has not gone quietly into retirement.

These days, Rather hosts "The Big Interview" on AXS TV. He and his family have also lent their name and support to another project, the Rather Prize, an annual award presented to the best idea for improving Texas public education. Rather's grandson, Martin, came up with the idea for the prize, which provides a $10,000 award, annually.

Rather talked with Texas Standard host David Brown about why he believes the award is important.

“As a product of Texas public schools, it grieves me every year when the ranking of public schools in the nation come out. In some recent years, Texas has been as bad as 39th, or even worse, in the 40s,” Rather said. 

This year's Rather Prize went to Armin Salek, a teacher at Akins High School in Austin. He created the nation's first high school-based legal aid clinic, the Legal Eagles.

“The idea is to educate young people in what the legal system is -  how lawyers work, how cases are developed – to introduce them to the legal system. And he’s had remarkable success,” Rather said. “It’s a great idea which we’re hoping that other schools will pick up.”

Knowledge of the legal system is especially relevant right now during the ascendancy of the Black Lives Matter movement.

“We’re at a special moment in this sense. There have been remarkably large and consistent demonstrations in the streets against racism,” Rather said. “What strikes me is the diversity in these mass protests.”

During civil rights movements of the past, Rather says, he never saw such diversity of protesters in terms of race, religion, gender and age. 

“Whether this particular moment in the arc of history, of the remarkably diverse mass movement in the streets, actually results in some substantive changes, we’re about to find out,” Rather said.

Web story by Sarah Gabrielli.

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