Academic journal article Phi Delta Kappan

A Small Space of Sanity

Academic journal article Phi Delta Kappan

A Small Space of Sanity

Article excerpt

Schoolchildren should learn all they can about the people who stood up for humanity against the war-makers and the powerful. I'm talking about the abolitionists and the suffragettes, the Wobblies and labor organizers, the freedom riders and civil rights marchers, and the antiwar activists. Students should learn about Burr Tillstrom, one of the geniuses of early television, who created the Kuklapolitans and the show "Kukla, Fran, and Ollie." They were puppets, little rags that came to life in Burr's hands: Ollie was the one-toothed dragon; Buelah Witch, the outspoken and independent feminist who always refused to ride her broom sidesaddle; and Kukla, the round-headed enigma. And they became the inspiration for Jim Henson's Muppets. The Kuklapolitans lived in our world, but they created a small space of sanity within it--humane, tender, gentle, filled with humor and good will.

Burr Tillstrom graduated from Senn High School in Chicago, a place the current mayor wants to transform into a military academy, the exact opposite of the world Burr Tillstrom imagined. …

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