Let Freedom Reign

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“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.”

Thank you, Harriet Tubman. On this day, in 1853, she started the Underground Railroad of safe houses and helped many slaves escape to freedom. Later, she became an activist and an advocate for women’s suffrage.

Oh, Say Can You See?

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… of the United States, have elected a new president and I spent most of yesterday in the dark, literally.

Do I blame those who voted differently than me? Of course not. Our forefathers gave us that right.

The ground beneath me (perhaps yours) has cracked and shifted. Like a desert with no water? I hope not.

Oh say can you hear?

–how the voices on both sides were loud, strongly opposing, and severely divided.

On Tuesday night, did we form a “more perfect union?”

Do you hear Lady Liberty’s song, the lyrics still tucked in my brain after singing them almost every day in my elementary school music class?

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No, not anymore. Not anymore.

We have chosen a different kind of candidate. “In order to form a more perfect Union”?

Oh say can you feel? Why I am sad? Bear with me here.

I follow politics, but I am not a politician. I am not skilled in the workings of politics nor do I hold a public office.

But I do hold something else and have carried it for a long time.

I was a quiet hippy kid in high school when our psychology class took a field trip to the state school that housed our mentally impaired. After other classmates had shooed her away, a five-year-old girl with Down Syndrome climbed up my (then) skinny body like I was an oak tree. We clung to each other as if life depended on it. For me, it did. Her grip so tight, the attendants had to peel her away from me. But I never forgot her, that little girl who helped me choose what path to take.

In high school, I avoided conflict. In speech class we had a student who kept to himself. He wore thick glasses and could read only if the text was an inch from his face. One day we had a fire drill. My speech class, including this student, left the building and united with others on the school grounds. A popular football player pushed the boy, laughed, called him a name.

“And the rocket’s red…” glared.

The quiet, non-conflict Carolyn tugged his sleeve and yelled, “Hey! What are you doing!”

I had shocked myself. But I had discovered that indignity was too powerful for me to ignore.

Mr. Trump brought back that memory. To me, he was that bully who not only mocked that reporter but pushed my classmate with the thick glasses.

At UT Austin, I went from studying Special Ed to Early Childhood. After tugging my professor’s arm, I was allowed to student teach at a Title XX  low income center where I interacted with children of all races and religions. I learned.

And the man said, “I like kids. I mean, I won’t do anything to take care of them.”

I graduated, ran a Child Development Center, taught my staff about  bias-free education, and how to implement it in their classrooms.  I spoke at state and local conferences on why teaching tolerance was so important to, not just our country, but to our world.

Intolerance scrapes, tugs and wrenches my insides.

People with disabilities, African Americans, Mexican Americans,  women, the LBGT community, children, illegal immigrants, Muslim Americans, (the list continues) all of us, want to see a better world, have a better life.

Some used to proudly say America is melting pot. I  believe we are a beautifully tossed salad and, in our giant bowl, each ingredient adds a special flavor.

I have to believe that we are not a union of intolerance. I do not want to believe that intolerance motivated people to vote for Trump. But if he won the electoral vote because his voters wanted change in our government, I can accept the decision. Because that reasoning trumps intolerance.

We are all huddled masses yearning to breathe free. Let’s just huddle a little closer to one another and let freedom to ring for all.

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