Don't get me wrong. The people I meet in small towns and big cities, in diners and office parks, they don't expect government to solve all their problems. They know they have to work hard to get ahead and they want to. Go into the collar counties around Chicago, and people will tell you they don't want their tax money wasted by a welfare agency or the Pentagon.Find out more at the Obamablog.
Go into any inner city neighborhood, and folks will tell you that government alone can't teach kids to learn. They know that parents have to parent, that children can't achieve unless we raise their expectations and turn off the television sets and eradicate the slander that says a black youth with a book is acting white. No, people don't expect government to solve all their problems.
But they sense, deep in their bones, that with just a change in priorities, we can make sure that every child in America has a decent shot at life, and that the doors of opportunity remain open to all. They know we can do better. And they want that choice.
"I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired." In 1962, Mississippi sharecropper Fanny Lou Hamer and a group of blacks set out to register to vote. They were met with harassment, literacy tests, fines, imprisonment, and brutal violence. Forty years ago this week, at the 1964 Democratic Convention, Hamer challenged the state party to include her Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party into the all-white affair. "Is this America?", her speech at the convention, concludes with a plea that, in the age of Jeb Bush's Florida roadblocks and voter purges, could've been said today: "All of this is on account of us wanting to register, to become first-class citizens, and if the freedom Democratic Party is not seated now, I question America, is this America, the land of the free and the home of the brave where we have to sleep with our telephones off of the hooks because our lives be threatened daily because we want to live as decent human beings, in America?" (So infuriated by Hamer, Lyndon Johnson, fearing that public sentiment would be with Hamer if the American people heard her speech--and cost him the election--requested TV airtime for a press release to kill coverage of it. The networks complied, but aired the entire speech later that night.) Hamer--whose powerful voice can be heard in this NPR segment--is buried in Montgomery County, Mississippi, beneath a gravestone that reads "I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired."
Do something: Join People for the American Way in urging John Ashcroft to investigate voter purges in Florida and determine if the state's election officials violated the 1965 Voting Rights Act during the 2000 elections.