Celebrating Presidents and Black History

George Washington could have been a dictator. Instead he chose to be president and to serve a limited term. Thus he set the model for all presidents who followed him, lending a sacredness to the top office of the land. Some who have followed have sullied the office. Others have heightened the awe in which we view this position. Abraham Lincoln is one of our historic heroes. In his day, he listened to and was influenced by Fredrick Douglass, who pushed for civil rights. Freedom, however imperfect, followed. It was a great step in the right direction.

A hundred years later, Martin Luther King, in his push for civil rights, influenced John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson. Again, freedom was advanced.

I look at the faces of those who stood before MLK when he gave his great speech. And I see these people as, well, people.

I am white. Yet there is a connection with these people. It goes beyond the rainbow branches of my family. It goes beyond my nephew, years ago, regarding the boxes in his college application papers and trying to decide which one to check. White? Black? Chicano? Native American? Asian?…

This quandary of choices is not unusual. There are no stereotypes. The rainbow effect of our unity and blending adds richness, depth, knowledge, beauty.

I look at the faces of those who joined MLK in his march for freedom and think of how these wonderful people can teach all of us to fight peacefully and stubbornly to preserve and enhance our civil rights, our securities and protections, our freedoms. We are all brothers and sisters in this together. We are the tremendous force for good in our country. May we stand together, in peace and in love.


The Presidents on Mount Rushmore

Who are these presidents who are memorialized on Mount Rushmore? What do they have in common?

In some way, these four greats shaped and protected our democracy.

George Washington was the first president. He set the standard for all future presidents. He chose not to become king or dictator. He chose to become a public servant, a leader of what would eventually become the free world.

Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, a list of complaints against England as a reason to form our own government. The Constitution, a separate document, was a group effort, led by James Madison, who is therefore considered as father of the Constitution, the law of our government.

Abraham Lincoln kept our nation together and freed the slaves. Consequently our government of the people, by the people, and for the people, became of government for all the people, not just the white ruling class.

Theodore Roosevelt wrested government from the control of big business. He built the Panama Canal, and he advanced our national parks system. Many doctors recognize the health benefits of spending time in nature. More than that, the wilderness is our planet’s lungs. Because of this, we need to set aside more.

Other presidents have built on these advancements. Franklin Delano Roosevelt helped us during the Great Depression. My parents got their start from his programs. And to this day we benefit from his creation of Social Security.

Harry S. Truman ended segregation in the military.

We could go on telling how presidents added to the public welfare, enhancing life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Then we arrive at Donald Trump and his supporters who vow to undo Barrack Obama’s legacy. By doing this, they are dismantling the legacies of all the great presidents who came before.

We need to see politicians for what they are, our elected representatives to serve our interests. Sure, some are crooked and don’t deserve their office. But many are our public servants, our warriors in a not-at-all cushy job, who are passionate about improving the lives of all the people in their district. Democracy is not to be taken for granted. We are all in this together. We are all responsible for protecting our freedoms. There is a great force for good in our country, and we must be part of that force. The way it looks now, Donald Trump may be president, but he can never call himself leader of the free world.

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