I attended an Obama house party in Oakland, California and met Chris Young. Chris is a lawyer who gave up his high paying corporate job to work on the Obama campaign. When I asked him what are progressive values, he talked about the importance of opportunity. He told the story of his African-American father who was in Folsom prison and how some opportunities opened up for him. Those opportunities trickled down to personally affect Chris' life.
" Ability is nothing without opportunity." Napoleon Bonaparte
"Start where you are. Distant fields always look greener, but opportunity lies right where you are. Take advantage of every opportunity of service." Jim Rohn
Chris Young: To me progressive values that stem from and find strength in communities that have historically been disenfranchised, that have historically been ignored and have historically suffered great injustice. And what we saw in the civil rights era was a progressive movement. And I think that the values of that era were and in a sense continued to be a place, a land of opportunity regardless of what your color, race, and gender is.
You should, and you ought to, and you deserve to be offered a full and fair opportunity to succeed and to thrive in each respective community and throughout America.
Progressive values are not values that are associated closely with special interests, progressive values to me are not value that cater to or are appreciated by a minority. They are the values that Presidential candidate Barack Obama espouses and believes in. And those are values that within them there’s a common ground whether you’re rich, poor, black, white, woman, man, gay, lesbian, straight. We all share a desire to help our common neighbor to help raise our children and our society will be better than the one left by our parents and grandparents.
progressive values to me are about moving forward, and to move forward together, not for some to move forward and others to be left behind.
Edwin: Could you boil it down to a few terms? You mentioned opportunity. Do you think of that as a single value? Is that a value that you have personally? What value is most important to you.
Answer: Opportunity. I value the value of opportunity. Opportunity is most important to me because through opportunity and to be afforded opportunity, everyday people will be able to realize their potential and have that potential acknowledged and appreciated by the government and your local community.
Me personally, I have been fortunate to have a number of opportunities. They have come through a combination of hard work. I’ve also been fortunate to have been in the right place at the right time.
Edwin: Would you like to talk about those times when you felt that opportunity was manifest?