Near a month has passed since the Save Our Schools storm swept through Washington District of Columbia. As with all squalls the effects of such an event linger long after the winds die down. A physical space cleaned-up after a tempest takes place does not erase the memory of what occurred. Be it a blast of air or an action, the calm does not close a chapter in our lives. The current, commitment, the cause, and our concern do not wane with time, that is, unless we choose to move on or tell ourselves that that is possible. I believe the notion the past is past is fallacious. Our past permeates the present and is a foundation for the future. Thus, for me, the thought, and the March to Save Our Schools are strong. It survives as is evidenced by the now named Movement.
I believe the Movement did not begin with the March. The happening was but a moment, albeit an extremely significant historical occurrence. The energy exhibited on July 30, 2011 was an expression of what preceded it and illustrates what will follow. Determined not to invite the doom of a forgotten precedent, demonstrators such as I reflect on what was. Together we will build a better potential for our progeny. May we begin to extend the journey today? Ask yourself what you saw, did, felt, tasted, touched; tell your Save Our Schools March story. I offer mine as a gift to you.
I ask and answer questions presented to me? Whether you were in Washington, District of Columbia for what some characterize as the main event, at another Demonstration elsewhere, or connected only through the tube, YouTube, radio, and papers, what did you perceive, receive, or retrieve? Please share your personal story!
May our offspring, schools, society, and we, grow greater through our caring and sharing. Let the past, the procession, and the prospect be our guide.
1. Describe what you saw at the Save Our Schools March, July 30, 2011.
As I approached the Marchers, or where the throng would be, before the actual walk began, I saw only a loosely dispersed crowd. I looked for familiar faces. Fortunately, I was made aware of an opportunity to lead the "parade."
A good friend of mine was selected to escort the procession. He would chant into the megaphone. I would be just behind him, or so I thought at the time. Slowly, people gathered around us. The Save Our Schools banner appeared, accompanied by those chosen to carry the sign. The "pilots" took their positions. I watched it all.
As we Marched, I saw more. I was astounded. City dweller and visitors to the nation's Capital stopped in their tracks. Cars and cabs stopped. Passengers took photographs of the event. Visibly, conversations centered around our appearance. Thumbs went up. Frowns turned to smiles as the Save Our Schools protesters approached. A few applauded. Many mouths were agape. Some seemed stunned. No one was numb. Even the one dissenter did not stand idly by. He addressed the crowd and began a tÃªte-Ã-tÃªte. Talk is what I observed at every turn.
However, I never saw the depth and breadth of the moment . . . that is not until the March was over.
2. Describe what you heard at the March.
While at the March, as we proceeded up and down the streets of Washington, I heard a harmonic hum. The voices of two persons with megaphones, my friend's and another man's, sang out. The amplified sounds filtered through the air. The now massive following repeated the words these individuals sang. "Our Children." "Our Schools." "Our Voices." "Save Our Schools." These slogans were among the more easily recognizable refrains. Other odes were also opined. However, none was more memorable or meaningful to me than the one that I continue to hear in my head. Aloud, marchers offered an appeal, "Show me what democracy looks like." In response, we all trumpeted, "This is what democracy looks like." As we did so, I heard and felt my own sobs. Tears streamed down my face.
3. Describe what you felt (emotions)
Oh my! What I felt? Empowered. Energized. Emotional which is not my usual. Indeed, feelings have never been my friends. I prefer living in logic. You cannot imagine my surprise. I was struck by how often I choked. My first March, or the first time I ever participated in a civic action was long ago, I was eleven or twelve, enrolled in Middle School. Equal Rights for all races was the issue. Black Americans had finally found their voice and all those years ago, I mine. As I marched this July in Washington District of Columbia I realized the connection. The two topics have tugged at my heartstrings. Each has torn my spirit into tatters. They are one.
For me, society, our schools, our students have forever been separate and unequal. As a culture and a country we segregate. We speak of fairness and justice, and then act on inequitable simplistic "solutions."
Children of commoners are seen as scores and statistics. Even those in the Middle Class and Upper Middle are given few chances for true fulfillment. I think of my own experiences. At times in my life, I was poor, comfortable, or well-off. I was part of every population, all but the most elite. Yet, in each, as an auditory learner, I was subjected to examinations meant for a visual learner.
The young are often used as a means to serve adults and their silly need for some mythical sense of accountability.
Black and Brown people are treated as slaves. White people may wish to deny this; however actions speak. African-Americans are also taught to serve. Rarely does the majority expect much of those forced to live in miserable circumstances. Indeed, I believe for generations we have been taught to fear persons of color.
Lest I forget to mention another thought that troubles me. I observe that the poor, the impoverished, Black, Brown and Caucasians, who have far fewer means than the affluent do, do not have equal access to high quality education. These persons too are economically enslaved. The difference is, traditionally, society does not easily define the paler of these individuals as inadequate to achieve. One is standardized; others are defined as substandard. Neither is given a chance to truly thrive.