Springboards for Lesson One
1: a member of a political party claiming to represent the common people;
2: a believer in the rights, wisdom, or virtues of the common people
A society that defines selfishness as a main way of proceeding is embracing both heedlessness and irresponsibility…Good societies work on a sense of mutual affection, which is ordinary in our species.
Citizens in such societies think of responsibilities rather than rewards, which tend to come from a sense of giving, not taking. Insisting on fairness, call it justice, is a way we preserve ourselves and take care of our communities.
—William Kittredge, "The Politics of Storytelling," p. 65.
excerpt from Taking Care: Thoughts on Storytelling and Belief
The thing that matters is community and the public good, and the spirit often asserts itself in the most unexpected places and in the most delightful ways……America wasn't built by conformists but by mutineers—we're a big, boisterous, bucking people and now is our time…..This is a crucial moment when America desperately needs you and me to stand up as citizens. We are not only what democracy counts on, we are what democracy is.
—Jim Hightower, excerpt from his article "The Public Spirit of America,"
Orion Magazine, Sept/Oct 2003
Jim Hightower hails from Texas, where he was formerly the Texas Agricultural Commissioner. He has since become one of America's most popular populists, speaking with down-home humor and wisdom for the common man and woman and spreading a message of community activism and hope.
…...It took a bloody civil war before the 13th Amendment could be adopted to abolish slavery, though not the consequences slavery would have for future Americans. While the Union survived the civil war, the Constitution did not. In its place arose a new, more promising basis for justice and equality, the 14th Amendment, ensuring protection of the life, liberty, and property of all persons…and guaranteeing equal protection of the laws. And yet almost another century would pass before any significant recognition was obtained of the rights of black Americans to share equally even in such basic opportunities as education, housing, and employment, and to have their votes counted, and counted equally….. Along the way, new constitutional principles have emerged to meet the challenges of a changing society. The progress has been dramatic and it will continue…….The men who gathered in Philadelphia in 1787 could not have envisioned these changes. They could not have imagined, nor would they have accepted, that the document they were drafting would one day be construed by a Supreme Court to which had been appointed a woman and the descendant of an African slave. "We the people," no longer enslaved belongs to those who refused to acquiesce in outdated notions of "liberty," "justice," and "equality," and who strived to better them……..
Excerpt from the full text of his"Remarks on the Bicentennial of the Constitution," May 8, 1987
Thurgood Marshall was born in 1908, the great grand-son of a slave, he graduated as valedictorian from Howard University Law School. He in one of our most widely regarded American citizens who went from working as a law clerk to being the first African-American nominated and appointed to serve as a Supreme Court Justice. Marshall was a life-long civil rights activist. His passionate voice for equal rights remains a great legacy in the story of the on-going struggle for people of color throughout American history. He retired from the court in 1991 and died on Jan. 24, in 1993.
I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.
We are not afraid to entrust the American people with unpleasant facts, foreign ideas, alien philosophies and competitive values. For a nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people.