Tag Archives: leadership

A hard Journey


Our collective journey right now is a difficult one. Who do we believe? What are the hard truths we will have to face? Will we see more deaths because of the COVID-19 pandemic? Will our children safe in school? Will there be an effective and safe vaccine we can trust? Will our elections be tampered with by foreign enemies or even by our own home grown terrorists? Because chaos begets chaos and because hate begets hate and because uncertainty is a type of terrorism, we must unite to seek the truth. We cannot continue to allow anyone to divide us. We must unbury the American values we cherished so much. What happened to how we deplored big brother watching us, political coups, injustice, bigotry and leaders who lied to their people? Our country lived by values. We cherished our constitutional rights, our civil rights and liberties. What has happened to us? We were not perfect. But we knew about basic decency. We always knew what was the right thing to do for the good of us all. We the People must be the force of goodness, empathy, and compassion. We are all exhausted. We need positive energy to carry on our most valued right. The right to vote. These last few days I feel like I am in a labyrinth and here with the help of Pixabay I have tried to illustrate my poem.

GOD BLESS AMERICA!

A Justice For All


I just heard the news that Ruth Bader Ginsburg has passed. The “Notorious RBG” was a strong and courageous woman. She served all people. My heart breaks because she was a role model for so many women my age. She made America a better place. We were so lucky to have her. God bless her. My condolences to her family and the thousands of women that emulated her.

Remember “Women belong where decisions are being made.”

Eighty-four Days – What we are up against?


As a retired educator, I feel the obligation to stress the need to help our children and young people right now. Parents and families need support as schools open within the next few weeks. School districts and their respective boards and local authorities are planning and trying to make ends meet with regard to supplies to keep their schools clean, safe and how to implement spacial distancing.

Many schools continue to advocate for distance learning  or remote learning via Zoom and other Internet platforms. Some districts have opted for a hybrid system alternating days for face to face learning and on-line learning. There is no doubt that these decisions will be protested and opposed by parents, teachers and even our national leaders. There is no one size fits all. There are too many factors to consider.

There is no equity. But then again education has never really been equitable in our country. We even label some school districts poor or rich. This is just a fact. Some cities and towns are funded by property taxes and supplemented by some state and federal entitlements. However, the buildings and technological infrastructure is either excellent and state of the art or very old and in some cases obsolete or non existent. I am not going to point fingers or blame anyone at this point for our failures in education but the truth is not all schools are created nor maintained equally.

Right this minute, parents are trying to figure out how to get their children suitable devices, update their Wifi speeds or even get Internet service, and how to afford remote learning. Teachers typically use their own dollars to buy materials and supplies during the school year. The difference this year is that they cannot buy all their students tablets or computers. So who can help to provide these devices if we should have to go back to stay at home kind of learning? Make a list if you will.

All the medical experts I have listened to have said that children can be infected and can get seriously ill from COVID 19 . Yes, they have better immune systems but what about the immunity of their teachers and the parents and grandparents they go back home to possibly spread the disease.

So, to attend school or not to go back to school is the critical question for all of us. Let us remember that it takes a village. This is just not a cliche anymore. We spend our energy worrying about what sports teams are doing to play and keep their members safe. Many of the players, may I add are millionaires. I support sports just like everyone else; but should not our focus be our education system? Sports fulfill a large part of our cultural needs and help us to relax in many ways. Just like the NFL, NBA and national baseball teams, our educational system needs sensible and professional leadership, good coaching by knowledgeable educators and fitness experts to support students and teachers.

I am calling for action for all of us to do our part. Check out the needs of your school district. If you can donate a tablet or computer. If you know someone who can afford it ask them to donate. Rich companies like Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, Samsung, LG, Walmart, Amazon, to name a few, and how about the richer members of the stock exchange to donate computers and devices to communities where children and their families simply cannot afford to get a suitable device. A parent should not have to give their child a cell phone to use during remote learning. Some parents work from home as well. How do they share the time to get on-line? We have always been a very generous country and people. Let us put our money in the right place.

Last, our politicians should work out a viable bipartisan plan to continue to help our most vulnerable populations. We need people to feel safe and empowered again. No one wants to stay home and never leave it. I do not know anyone who loves to be on food stamps or depend on others to survive. Many folks want and need to get back to work.

However we need to help slow down this deadly virus and to keep each other safe. Love thy neighbor! Follow the guidelines to keep yourself and others safe until we find a cure, a safe vaccine and effective treatments. 163,533 souls suffered so much pain and lost their worst life’s battle. Let us not loose the war. It is not appropriate or acceptable to say that “It is what it is”. 

We need to keep up the fight, call out those leaders who are not doing their jobs, vote for those who are capable of getting the job done. This is how we will honor the memory of those who have fallen.

Let us pay attention to our local public officials. Check out what they are voting for to keep our country safe. Write letters, make the phone calls.

Please stay safe my friends.

Eighty-six days – What Good Trouble are You Making?


‘When historians pick up their pens to write the story of the 21st century, let them say that it was your generation who laid down the heavy burdens of hate at last and that peace finally triumphed over violence, aggression and war. So I say to you, walk with the wind, brothers and sisters, and let the spirit of peace and the power of everlasting love be your guide.” – Late Congressman John R. Lewis

 

I finally read the entire OpEd written by John Lewis shortly before his death. It brought back Dr. Martin l. King’s last prophetic speech where he said, “I have seen the promise land; I  may not get there with you but I want you to know we as a people will get to the promise land.”

We cannot let the words of these two great men be erased from our history and most importantly from our collective conscience. We need to make sure that their dreams live on. We must exercise our right to vote and to make sure our country is under the leadership of intelligent, truthful and empathetic men and women.

I pray that COVID 19 does not continue to kill so many vulnerable Americans. I pray that I see the change in my lifetime. I pray that I can be a part of the change. We have 86 days to think about what is at stake. It is time to think big like one of my wonderful teachers used to say. He would challenge us everyday with this: “let me see how shrewd you are.” This continues to resonate in my mind.

Of course I just had to write a poem about it. Here it is.

Let me see how shrewd you are,

he’d ask us every morning.

We all knew he expected

from all of us to be

the best that we could be.

He wanted us to see

from all different perspectives.

 

He’d write a quote on the board

and made us think real hard

His methods some would say were a little avant-garde

He had a domineering voice

Everyone had to opine

We did not have a choice.

His quoted people from all walks of life;

usually someone he admired

for their leadership and courage.

 

Everyone loved him

He made learning fun and adventurous

Not once did we get tired

of how vociferous

he was.

If Mr. G is still around

I hope he knows he made good trouble

when he told us

to always stand our ground.

 

 

Time Is What We Make It


Time Is What We Make It

Fifty-one years have passed since the assassination of Reverend Dr. Martin L. King, Jr. America lost a pure soul and a charismatic leader who tried to unite people. Many television programs devoted time to memorialize one of the true kings of justice and equality. His surname is such an appropriate fit.

Someone said that “Dr. King is more alive today.” He certainly lives collectively in the hearts of many Americans and people from all over the world. Many of us can recall and recite different excerpts from his famous speeches. Perhaps what we should remember more is that Dr. King knew that humanity had a life’s lesson to learn. He knew that it may not have been learned or internalized immediately. And five decades later, that lesson is just as pivotal.

We must be “appalled at the silence of good people.” Too many of us continue to accept injustice. Some of us prefer to look the other way when we see homeless individuals on the streets of every major city in this country.  This country, the greatest democracy in the world does very little to change the intolerable state of existence of homeless people.

Martin L. King III reminded us recently that the best way to honor Dr. King’s memory is to do something to eliminate the poverty in this country. He cited that there are 36 million Americans that live in poverty. That is appalling. Twelve million children live in poverty. That is appalling. Where have the good people been for the last fifty years? Jonathan Kozol warned us of the “Savage Inequalities” he observed a few decades ago in the poorer school districts of our more important cities. Not much has changed. This is appalling.

According to the census data compiled by Kids Count, in Louisiana, twenty-eight percent of people under the age of 18 live in poverty. Mississippi statistics report 30 percent and New Mexico falls in the third place with twenty-six percent of this age group living in poverty. This is appalling.

Dr. King spoke of the “triple evils of poverty, racism, and violence” and still fifty-one years later we have more prisons than ever to house our violent criminals. Yet very few opportunities for reform and for restructuring the individuals who need help the most. We are bombarded by violence everywhere from the children’s cartoons to television and movies. And, fifty years later, yes, racism is still alive.

Should we be concerned about the time that has elapsed? Well, according to Dr. King, “Time is never right and never wrong; time is what we make it.” So, it is about time that we make good use of the time. We must start a roll call at churches, schools, community centers, and any type of organization that claims in their statements of mission that any or all the triple evils have to be dealt with collectively. We must not only roll up our sleeves but be ready to remove all the obstacles that obscure or shroud the clock of time well used.

Many of us are so absorbed with Facebook, Instagram and Twitter where we share pictures taken with the pink colored lens. Many of us live in solos. We forget the importance of the real life community. We follow people we don’t even know just because they look good or cute. We accept what is posted on social media as the definite truths. We accept alternative facts as truth. We forget that our greatest strength as a nation is our votes. We van be the change. Dr. King proved that united we stand.

History views as prophetic Dr. King’s last speech that fatal day in Memphis. But, his very last words to Ben Branch, a musician, are mind-boggling.

Dr. King asked him to play his favorite song, Take My Hand, Precious Lord.

The following is an excerpt:

“When the darkness appears
And the night draws near
And the day is past and gone
At the river I stand
Guide my feet, hold my hand
Take my hand precious Lord, lead me home”

Our nation is capable of making good of the time. We must think of ourselves as a great corporation. The stakeholders must all invest and help others to grow. We must keep our eyes on the clock and make sure that when the time comes for us to clock out that we have worked hard to effect social justice. We must emulate the work of the king of social justice and civil and human rights.

Our politicians need to roll up their sleeves and walk the walk. It is time. We must remember that Dr. King was only twenty six years old when he started his journey to effect change. He won the Nobel Peace Prize and was the youngest person to have received it at the time. He professed economic justice for all. He was here for a very short time; very much in the presence of good and with a great awareness of what needed to be done. We have a long way to go. Or do we? We are better equipped to get more people involved. There are no excuses. Are there?  I can’t think of one excuse that would exonerate us from our failure to act now. Representative John Lewis said that Dr. Martin L. King, Jr. “redeemed the soul of America.” We must live up to that redemption one by one.

 

 

 

My Favorite Dr. M.L.King Quotes


“An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.”

“The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.”

“Have we not come to such an impasse in the modern world that we must love our enemies – or else? The chain reaction of evil – hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars – must be broken, or else we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.”

“If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michaelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.”

These are just a few of my favorite quotes. I think they are timeless. I hope we reflect on his wisdom and move to act and do what Is right to honor him.

My Dream and His: My Favorite Quotes


My Favorite Dr. Martin L. King Jr. Quotes

 

Every year for as long as I was a teacher, quotes would be posted all over my classroom during this time of year especially but all year as well. I would ask students to think about the quote and to talk about what Dr. King was saying within the given context or circumstances. I think many of my students were inspired and it was amazing to me what they said sometimes.

Every time one or two students would challenge me and ask me tough questions as well. Many times students would express disappointment and despair because they felt that nothing had really changed as a result of the Civil Rights Movement and Dr. King’s dream. Many were pessimistic and I could not blame them. I tried very hard to convince them that they were the change.

I hope that some of them remember how much I believed in the dream. I like to think that I planted a seed in their hearts and brains. As I thought about my former students today, I found myself writing a poem for them. The celebration would not be complete if I would not post some of my favorite quotes.

 

Here is the poem:

 

The Dream

I woke up from a real deep sleep

the warmth of the sun on my face

a promise for a better human race

was a part of my dream

I fell asleep again

to witness history

a token for our collective memory

We walked together side by side

Hand in hand with so much pride

The whole world knew Dr. King had died

His widow and small children

Lead the way

They still stand tall today

King eulogized himself that day

His last sermon at Ebenezer Baptist Church

was played

the famous ‘Drum Major’ sermon,

he’d given on February 4, 1968.

I will never forget the date.

Sadness spread throughout the land

for the Peace Prize Winner and Holy man

we could not help but to remember

the dream he had for us all.

John Lewis, Jesse Jackson and

Andrew Young would remain

To follow in his footsteps

To ensure his dream comes true

His distinct voice stronger than ever

grew in their heads.

His last speech echoed

And repeated like a refrain

“I don’t know what will happen now;

we’ve got some difficult days ahead.

But it really doesn’t matter to with me now,

because I’ve been to the mountaintop…

I’ve seen the Promised Land.

I may not get there with you.

I’m not worried about anything;

I’m not fearing any man.

Mine eyes have seen the glory

of the coming of the Lord.”

In the dream I saw your faces

(My students of yesteryear)

Pop up before me from different spaces

and as your teacher, I tell you now

Do not let the dream fall down

Keep it alive!

Keep it alive with your actions and deeds.

To my students: I wish you all God’s speed.

 

 

 

 

My Favorite Dr. Martin L. King Jr. Quotes

“I’ve seen too much hate to want to hate, myself, and every time I see it, I say to myself, hate is too great a burden to bear. Somehow we must be able to stand up against our most bitter opponents and say: We shall match your capacity to inflict suffering by our capacity to endure suffering. We will meet your physical force with soul force. Do to us what you will and we will still love you…. But be assured that we’ll wear you down by our capacity to suffer, and one day we will win our freedom. We will not only win freedom for ourselves; we will appeal to your heart and conscience that we will win you in the process, and our victory will be a double victory.”

“Violence never really deals with the basic evil of the situation. Violence may murder the murderer, but it doesn’t murder murder. Violence may murder the liar, but it doesn’t murder lie; it doesn’t establish truth. Violence may even murder the dishonest man, but it doesn’t murder dishonesty. Violence may go to the point of murdering the hater, but it doesn’t murder hate. It may increase hate. It is always a descending spiral leading nowhere. This is the ultimate weakness of violence: It multiplies evil and violence in the universe. It doesn’t solve any problems.”

“We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people.”

”I am convinced that love is the most durable power in the world. It is not an expression of impractical idealism, but of practical realism. Far from being the pious injunction of a Utopian dreamer, love is an absolute necessity for the survival of our civilization. To return hate for hate does nothing but intensify the existence of evil in the universe. Someone must have sense enough and religion enough to cut off the chain of hate and evil, and this can only be done through love.”

“If you want to be important—wonderful. If you want to be recognized—wonderful. If you want to be great—wonderful. But recognize that he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. That’s a new definition of greatness.”