Rights and Democracy
If columnists tend toward liberalism, it is because their close contact with world tragedies teaches there is something better than illiberalism.
Dr. Dorothy Height was a lantern and role model for millions of women and a long-haul social change agent, blessed with uncommon commitment and talent. Her fingerprints are quietly embedded in many of the transforming events of the last seven decades as African Americans, women, and children pushed open and walked through previously closed doors of opportunity.
My organization, Children’s Defense Fund, was blessed to have her serve on our board for over 30 years. When she passed away on April 20 at 98, we all lost a treasure, a wise counselor, and a rock we could always lean against for support in tough times.
Former NAACP executive director Benjamin Hooks opened doors. “Many of the rights we take for granted today were made possible by the courage and tenacity of Ben Hooks and others of his generation who devoted their lives to the relentless pursuit of equality and justice for all,” writes National Urban League CEO and OtherWords contributor Marc Morial.
The NCAA is mulling the expansion of the men’s college basketball tournament, an inevitability that will mean young athletes will rake in millions more dollars for their schools. Marc Morial’s recent OtherWords op-ed, College Basketball Graduation Rate Insanity and cartoonist Khalil Bendib’s accompanying cartoon highlight this exploitation, which will only deepen as the money increases. And this change would be a great opportunity to follow up on Morial’s suggestion “that schools failing to graduate at least 80 percent of their athletes not only be ineligible for post-season play, but lose all of their athletic scholarships.”
The Washington Post ran a front page story reminding us that our schools are a reflection of our society as a whole. And in many parts of the country, segregation is on the rise again. Just a week before the Post story ran, OtherWords columnist William A. Collins wrote about how electing our first African-American president didn’t do away with racism in America. In it, he noted how our schools’ “slow drift toward re-segregation has continued unabated.” This cartoon by OtherWords cartoonist Khalil Bendib, titled School Resegregation, illustrates this problem.
What part of “in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the ideal of free human beings enjoying freedom from fear and want can only be achieved if conditions are created whereby everyone my enjoy his economic, social and cultural rights, as well as his civil and political rights and freedom” do our lawmakers reject?
In March, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other top diplomatic officials traveled to Mexico to announce a “new phase” of U.S.-Mexico cooperation in the fight against drug trafficking. In her address, Clinton referred to increased funding for drug treatment programs in the U.S. and anti-poverty efforts in Mexico. Unfortunately, these positive developments were paired with a failure to recognize the inevitable outcome of any program that intends to crush drug violence with more violence: failure.
Colleges prepare all year for the lucrative chance to send a team to the basketball championship tournament commonly known as “March Madness.” But, when it comes to making sure that student-athletes are academically prepared for the game of life, madness quickly turns to insanity.
When Jaime Escalante died, we lost a pioneering teacher who changed people’s ideas of what children are capable of learning. Many people know about Escalante’s work from the popular movie “Stand and Deliver,” which depicted his success teaching Advanced Placement (AP) calculus classes to students at East Los Angeles’s Garfield High School. The Bolivian-born teacher died at 79 of cancer on March 30.