I have not handed out my ‘Founding Fathers Award’ in quite sometime, but today, I bestow this personal award of mine to Henrietta Hughes who showed courage beyond belief in that town-hall meeting in Fort Meyers, Florida.
When people are forced to live under such hardships as she lives in her car, it can be a humiliating factor where one does not want anyone to know of their plight. Often-times, they feel they have failed in life and in these dire times, it is far from the truth. The government and the system itself failed her, yet she showed the courage to speak saying to the president, “Please help.”
Her pleas must not be ignored when the AFP reported that California may not have any alternative to then to lay off 10,000 workers. As Republicans in the U.S. Senate exhibit their obstructionist powers, Republican governors like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Crist and Rell back President Barack Obama. They like mayors who came to the White House pleading for help are on the front lines as these Republican senators cling to their ideological beliefs.
As I heard her pleas to President Barack Obama for a kitchen and a bathroom to call her own, the tears came. I could not believe in that any American would be forced to beg to any president, yet she did and grabbed the heart of this lone journalist. She became my hero for speaking up for millions of Americans and she must be our hero as well.
Finally our collective-misery had a face in Henrietta Hughes and we must all in our souls be thankful to her for speaking out on behalf of we the people.
As I think of her courage, the bile rises swiftly in my throat thinking of the greedy CEOs at banks and those who have benefited from our tax dollars through the first TARP bailout. As they hide, swimming in our money, this woman stood up to be the opposing voice.
Ms. Hughes does not want a junket, or any of the perks that we the people have given to them through the first bailout package which had no restrictions: She wants a bathroom to call her own.
As Rosa Parks stood up and sat in the front of that bus telling America what was emphatically wrong when it came to race relations in this country, Henrietta Hughes stood up for all of us. She became the voice of all Americans no matter what race or class you belong to. Even if you are a member of the upper-class, be mindful of the fact, you as well may be forced to live a car like Ms. Hughes.
In looking upon her tearful face, the anger seethed in me knowing how any recovery bill that goes back to the senate after conference must meet the requirements of Senators, Specter, Snowe and Collins. How dare they hold onto their ideological beliefs when people like Ms. Hughes are suffering!
If I could grab the attention of these senators and other Republican senators, I would say, grab a cot for any filibuster they may wish to enact. We the people must be heard. I would remind them of the millions in this country who do not have any cot to sleep on as Ms. Hughes reminded all of us stating she is living in her car.
Lastly, as I viewed President Barack Obama walk over to her to hear her plight, I thought finally we have a compassionate president. As he reached out to her, and kissed her cheek he carried away with him her tears. Her tears were the tears of a true hero in my eyes. Thank you, Ms. Hughes for being the voice and face of we the people and we all owe you our debt of gratitude.
Author’s email address is, firstname.lastname@example.org
I wish to add an addendum to this piece: Hours after writing that article on Henrietta Hughes, I was please to read where some help did come to her. As reported, “A White House press secretary said administration officials asked the local housing authority to contact her after the exchange in Fort Myers.” As well as this, “Meanwhile, the wife of Florida state Rep. Nick Thompson offered to let the woman stay in a house she owns that's vacant about 30 miles away. Chene Thompson isn't sure if Hughes will take her up on the offer.” Whatever the outcome is, I am thrilled beyond belief for her good fortune.