At hallowed sites around Boston, history feels so palpable that you can almost hear voices from the past. In Harvard Yard this week, you can actually hear some of those voices.
To commemorate its 375th anniversary, Harvard has installed speakers above its historic yard to broadcast bits of addresses delivered nearby. The experience can be arresting. Clips from Bill Gates and W.E.B. DuBois touch on the speakers’ formative experiences at Harvard, and sound bites from J.K. Rowling and Alan Greenspan offer uplifting advice. The words of others are made more poignant by the protests in Boston and other cities.
“America must sail toward the shores of liberty and justice for all,’’ booms Ted Kennedy. Madeleine Albright declares “there is not a page of American history of which we are proud that was authored by a chronic complainer or prophet of despair.’’ And Congresswoman Barbara Jordan declares that “what the people want is very simple: they want an America as good as its promise.’’ The whispers bouncing off Harvard’s red bricks remind us that today’s words become tomorrow’s history.