Joseph Wresinski on the events of May 1968

Fr Joseph Wresinski was a former French JOC lay leader who became a priest and later founded a movement now called ATD Quart Monde which aims to reach out to the people of “the third world who live in the first world,” hence, the name “Fourth World.”

The student and worker demonstrations of Paris in May 1968 caused him to reflect deeply.

“In 1968, I saw all these young people full of intelligence, with considerable possibilities, and I said to myself:” They are losing their time to make discussions whereas in the poor districts, there are millions of ‘children who can not even read and write’,” he later wrote.

“It was then that I thought of (the concept of) ‘ street knowledge’ by saying that students must come to teach the thing that they know, the things they have already learned, and share it with those who unfortunately will never have the opportunity to go to university.

“So I went to the bars, talked with them and managed to win over a few who came to join us.

“What I was looking for was for ‘the person who knows how to learn, to teach those who do not know how to learn’.”

“Knowledge should not be a privilege for a few, it must be a gift to everyone and for everyone,” he explained.

“If the students had put their demonstration at the service of the poor and if they had gone to all the cities of the Parisian region to create libraries in the street, then I think that all the working people, working people who live poorly would have agreed with them… because they would have discovered that there is no gap between the university and the world of the poor and the miserable and that it is the same humanity fighting for the same cause, namely freedom and respect for each other. ”


Les événements de 68 vus par Joseph Wresinski (ATD Quart Monde)

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