“Our children are the living messages we send to a future we will never see… Will we rob them of their destiny? Will we rob them of their dreams? No – we will not do that.” – Congressman Elijah Cummings
Hope and opportunity. Those are the reasons our ancestors came to this land by the millions for well over two centuries. Mine came from Sicily and Ireland. They came with plenty of hope and were most fortunate to find the opportunity America then offered. I cannot help but think of those who made this country truly great, including my own relatives who braved the trek to come to America for a better life for themselves, their children and their children’s children. They all had the same dream – a distant shore that brought both hope and opportunity to those brave souls who ventured to this new and prosperous land, where “all men are created equal.”
Our history has not proven that “created equal” sentiment true, as the land of equality has too often limited the opportunities of scores of people who deserve so much more. And given our current president and his shameful legacy of prejudicial statements and vile slander of people of color already living here and those who dare to try to come to our borders, it is understandable that the original idea of a land of “hope and opportunity” cannot seem a reality today for millions of our citizens, and especially for far too many of our youth.
For those of us who have benefitted so much from the opportunity this country has provided, it is incumbent on us to assure that the disenfranchised and most vulnerable are provided the same opportunities we are enjoying. These predominantly people of color do not possess the power and resources necessary to combat the prejudice and limited opportunities they endure and end the cycle of poverty and violence that is too often their everyday lives. Nonprofits like my Boys & Girls Club organization strive to provide many opportunities unavailable to children of poverty. While we will soon be operating 20 sites within the greater Los Angeles Harbor Area, this combined with the other nonprofits doing great work is not nearly enough.
When done right, public education is the truly great equalizer and opportunity for our youth, and we must do everything in our power to assure that all youth are provided the best opportunity for a full and equal education. It is incumbent on us to provide the children of Rancho San Pedro and similar neighborhoods with the resources necessary to compete academically with their more affluent peers.
When I went to San Pedro High School, California was one of the top five states of per pupil spending in the nation. Today, we are in the bottom five. In all truth, we are not nearly investing enough in our public education pathway, and if we continue to do the same then we will continue to subject those born to limited opportunities with a lifetime of struggle and little hope for a better life for themselves and their families. This is not the American Dream the vast majority of us enjoy.
“By providing students in our Nation with such an education, we help save our children from the clutches of poverty, crime, drugs, and hopelessness, and we help safeguard our Nation’s prosperity for generations yet unborn.” – Elijah Cummings
Without hope, opportunity will be unattained. Without opportunity, hope is just a pipedream. Let’s truly make America great again. Time to change the rhetoric and excuse-making and provide the infrastructure investment we truly need – our children. It is time to provide all the opportunity necessary, so that “hope” is more than just a word. spt