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
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.
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
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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