Lessons in History, Hope and Resiliency
Since 1920 when women earned the right to vote there have been millions of young women and little girls who have dreamed about becoming the first female President of the United States. In the early 1960’s I was one of them. My father recently reminded me of the Parent Teacher conference that he attended with my mother at P.S. 20 on Simpson Street in the South Bronx. My teacher proudly shared my achievements and informed them that I could become the first woman to become President of the highest office of the land. They have shared this story since I was a child. Last night, I reminisced once again with my father and laughed about how Secretary Clinton was soon to be voted in for what should have been my job, the first Woman of the United States of America! This morning we all woke up to the breaking news that the grand vision to shatter the glass ceiling did not come to pass. The victory that millions of women were ready to celebrate suddenly came to a halt.
This morning my husband did not have CNN, this was not a good sign and it was a solemn morning. He suggested that I should consider calling in sick. Sadly, I knew what this meant. I put on the news, and my soul cried out. My thoughts immediately went to our students. I began to process what I could possibly say to the hundreds of children we serve, many of whom are from immigrant families who are undocumented and preparing to apply for college.
Beyond partisan party politics, what message does this send to the young minds and hearts of our students? What do I say to our scholars this morning whom I reassured earlier in the week that they did not have to fear a United States of America with anti-immigrant policies that would threaten to take their parents away through deportation and build walls? How do we as educators explain that their world will be better and promise that they will have a brighter future? An America where any dream and aspiration is possible? How do I inspire when all inspiration and hope seem to be lost- if just for a moment.
This country is made up of generations of immigrants and America stands on its shoulders. We built the roads and constructed bridges and have kept businesses and communities alive and vibrant. So America did not elect the first woman into the office of President and someone who would represent change. This is an opportunity and a lesson in hope and resiliency for all young women and communities of color, our English Language Learners and Special Needs student alike.
Today, I am rising up again. I am determined that I must continue to inspire, even if I have lost my inspiration-if just for a moment. This is a call to action. The answer must be to continue to teach and deliver a high quality education with high expectations for all of our aspiring scholars. We no longer have to live with a disenfranchised and marginalized mindset limited by inequity and fear. This is my resolve and this is my inspiration. Will it be yours?
“Never Stop Believing that fighting for what is right is worth it! …Someday someone will shatter that glass ceiling”
-Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton
We Celebrate Puerto Rican Heritage as we remember Evelina Antonetty
“We will never stop struggling here in The Bronx, even though they have destroyed it around us. We would pitch tents if we have to rather than move from here. We would fight back. There is nothing that we would not do. They will never take us away from here. I feel very much a part of this place and I am never going to leave. And, after me, my children will be here to carry on … I have very strong children … and very strong grandchildren.”
- Evelina Antonetty
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