Miami Dade College
We’ve gone through periods of great economic turmoil, from an economy where most people worked on farms to one where most people worked in factories to now one fueled by information and technology. Through it all, we’ve persevered. We’ve adapted. We’ve prospered. Workers found their voice, and the right to organize for fair wages and safe working conditions. We carried forward.
When waves of Irish and Italian immigrants were derided as criminals and outcasts; when Catholics were discriminated against, or Jews had to succumb to quotas, or Muslims were blamed for society’s ills; when blacks were treated as second-class citizens and marriages like my own parents’ were illegal in much of the country – we didn’t’ stop. We didn’t accept inequality. We fought. We overcame. We carried the dream forward.
We have carried this dream forward through times when our politics seemed broken. This is not the first time where it looked like politicians were going crazy. In heated debates over out founding, some warned independence would doom America to “a scene of bloody discord and desolation for ages.” That was the warning about independence. One of our greatest presidents, Thomas Jefferson, was labeled an “infidel” and a “howling atheist” with “fangs.” Think about that. Even I haven’t gotten that one yet. Lincoln, FDR, they were both vilified in their own times as tyrants, power hungry, bent on destroying democracy. And of course, this state has seen its fair share of tightly contest elections.
And we’ve made it through those moments. None of it was easy. A lot of it was messy. Sometimes there was violence. Sometimes it took years, even decades, for us to find our way through. But here’s the thing. We made it through. We made it through because in each of those moments we made a choice. Rather than turn inward and wall off America from the rest of the world, we’ve chosen to stand up forcefully for the ideals and the rights we believe are universal for all men and women.