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President Obama's Back to School Message Good

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Hardy L. Brown
There’s been much to do about President Obama’s speech to our school children by some conservative Republicans, with some saying he is out to brainwash the students, he is a communist, he is a socialist, therefore I’m going to keep my kids out of school. Now the ones who are saying these things and keeping their kids out of school are the ones who need school the most. Those Republicans who started this uproar are letting their kids attend school as a matter of fact the one Republican in Florida who sounded the alarm took his kids to school to listen to the president.  Now that the conservative speech has been delivered by President Obama and got the support of First Lady Laura Bush, they all see it was much to do about nothing but Obama’s race.

These same critics said not a mumbling word when Presidents Ronald Reagan or George Bush Sr. or Jr.  addressed our students, which is clear to me that it is or was not the message but the messenger. 

At 66, I can say that I have consistently witnessed a small group that has found it difficult to take orders from a Black person, and especially a Black male. Some still think and act like the United States Supreme Court did in the decision of Dred Scott vs. Sanford when that court said “being of an inferior order, and all together unfit to associate with the white race, either in social or political relations, and so far inferior that they (we) had no rights which the white man was bound to respect”.  Some people still share this view and belief. It was one of the prevailing log jams when it came to integrating the military. It is one of the barriers blocking many promotions in corporate America for Blacks, Hispanics, Indians and women of any race.

As for those few who believe that way I say, “Get a Life” we are not returning to those days of yesteryear.  Obama is the first African American to be elected president but I am sure he will not be the last. You might as well get ready for the first female and the first Hispanic, Asian and Indian to hold the office of president. While all of that will come we will have more White males to occupy the office as well however, their acceptance of the so-called minority groups will be more inclusive. 

Now what President Obama told the children of America sounds like it came out of a conservative play book. He said regardless of your circumstance or status in life, that is no excuse to not get an education. Not having a parent in the home is no excuse. Not having money or too much money is no excuse to not get an education. 

When I was president of the California Coalition of Black School Board Members, I told my fellow board members our kids have no reason for not being the very best students. They come from homes that have carpet on the floor and electric lights. We came from the threshold of outhouses for restrooms, walking down dirt roads, heaving coal into stoves for heat in the winter and hand me down books from the white children we grew up with. And yes, our parents and everyone in the community said don’t give me an excuse of why you can’t learn.  I recall an incident in class when I was talking during taking a test in the fourth grade and Mrs. Israel, God rest her soul, gave me a lick across the back and I yelled back at her. I didn’t tell my mom but she found out and waited until the next morning when I started out the door for school to ask me what happened. She had a switch in her hand and began to put it on me with these words. “Your job is to go to school and do what the teacher tells you to do, so don’t talk back.” I did do some things wrong but I never talked back to a teacher. 

I wished the President of the United States would have sent us a message at the beginning of school like Obama.  I may have tried harder instead of following the “School Day” song message of Chuck Berry. Chuck’s message was “Up in the morning and out to school the teacher is teaching the golden rule. American History and practical math studying hard hoping to pass. But the part that stuck with me was “soon 3 o’clock rolled around, you finally lay that burden down. It was then time to hit the street and rock a coin into the juke box or listen to my favorite disc jockey “Hot Foot Larson” spin those records.

In closing let me encourage all of you to read President Barack Obama’s school day message to America’s future leaders and ask yourself was the problem the message or the messenger?

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