Radical Optimism: The Story of Robert Bennett

Listen to the Sounds of Blackness' song "Optimistic":

In this exhibit I want to show a glimpse of the astonishing life of Robert Bennett, Dartmouth College class of 1969; father, life-long student, mentor, adventurer, consultant, and so much more. 

Bennett’s upbringing — growing up during the peak of the civil rights movement — has made him a history fanatic and this early-found passion has fueled the trajectory of his career path in pursuing law and consulting all over Africa. Throughout the oral history interview, Bennett shares how being surrounded by such strong and independent black people growing up in the face of discrimination and segregation of the 50s, 60s and beyond, has shaped the way he views himself today. While all his experiences have not been necessarily positive, the way he allowed them to affect his life definitely was. 

“Optimism, the theory, in philosophy, is that the world is the best of all possible worlds, or in ethics, that life is worth living" 

-Britannica Encyclopedia

When Bennett first arrived to Dartmouth, it was not the Dartmouth he wanted, in terms of treatment of their Black students, yet instead of just sitting there and complying, the Black students at Dartmouth were driven to create a new Dartmouth. Seeing the positivity and optimism Bennett radiated throughout his interview while talking about numerous intense events he has experienced, has shifted my perspective on life. Despite the negativity he was surrounded by, he has proven time after time that he has the power to persevere and overcome any obstacle he comes across. Hence the new theme of his exhibit — Radical Optimism: The Story of Robert Bennett.