Unreleased Remarks for 2013's March on Washington for Jobs, Freedom, and Justice

08/28/2013 03:45 pm ET | Updated Oct 28, 2013

Today, I'm happy to join my brethren in celebrating the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

In the 21st century, we now underline this title with the idea of justice. Justice is the idea that, as we work towards progress in this country, we seek to right our wrongs on a daily basis. When A Phillip Randolph spoke of the civil rights revolution as not confined to the Negro, he understood the pressing interest of the entire human race to join in, reflect, and correct those wrongdoings. Whether Black, White, Latino, Asian, Native American, or any other culture, creed, race, religion, or gender, we as a collection of the great and innumerable have to stand up and demand for more than immoral compromises, as John Lewis said.

We are a party birthed on the shoulders of Bayard Rustin and Fannie Lou Hamer. We are not a party of principles. We are a generation of purpose and intent.

In order for us to move forward, we must learn lessons from our injurious and well-trodden past.
With that, I salute everyone who, through broad coalition, came today to congregate at the Lincoln Memorial. As you seek the change, you too are the change. Whether you're only young enough to stand as tall as your parents' knees, or you're old enough to remember the first time this occurred, embrace the newest rendition of our demonstration.

As an educator, I view the world through math, and the numbers look grim today. Unemployment still knocks the doors of too many of our poorest brothers and sisters while we lend out our collective fortune to investors who won't invest in us. Incarceration rates have broken many a home and steered our most disenfranchised through revolving doors, ones that our country refuse to shut down. Our young people live through different justice systems, ones that depend on the color of their skin and the looseness of their threads.

We are all human, all worth the skins, the minds, and the hearts that make us.

As a public servant, when students walk through my door, I must accept them and teach them from where they stand. It is not enough to simply tell our youth that they don't appreciate our struggles; we must show them the common lineage with all of our ancestors. It is not enough to simply tell the world that we are doing something; we must show them the why, the reason why we fight as we do.

We must give children windows by which they can see the world, where they're often confined through cages and walls with little air to breathe, and a transparent ceiling. While it is my responsibility to teach math, it is our collective responsibility to teach our children that learning happens as life. It would be fatal for the children we teach to shut themselves off from the opportunities bestowed upon them by nature and earned for them by their predecessors. We are all students in life. It just so happens that some of us have passed more courses than others, but we are all still learning.

Our current system continues to proffer reading, writing, and arithmetic over science, social studies, and the arts. Our society is asked to sit still when balance demands that we move, we change, and we progress. Even in our reading classes, we ask children to read and write enough to let others determine the value of your writing via a narrow assessment of what is possible. As in any real curriculum, equity means children read as much about themselves as they do about their shared experiences with the rest of the world. No longer can we force wedges between generations. Rather, we're placing wedges on doors to hold them in place for the people who come afterwards.

While learning, we can't forget the conditions under which we learn. We can't take for granted the idea of fresh air, wholesome food, and comfortable places to rest. Children shouldn't fear losing their parents to drones, air strikes, and semi-automatic rifles. Children shouldn't listen to denigration from national news or multi-colored gangs. Children shouldn't have to brace themselves for the curious looks of those who were hired to protect us, much less stopped and frisked with or without question.

Children shouldn't have to worry whether enough adults care about them or not.

They ought to worry whether they're doing the best to make our world a better place to live. They should have pathways by which they can be the best citizens possible, whether they immigrated here or not. If they serve the greater good, then our own good gets greater still. Only true education can do that, and we cannot be satisfied with just one set of laws or one set of standards. We must set forth a vision that continues to cycle us towards true peace.

This is our hope, and this is the faith that I go back to my classroom with.

With this new faith, we will search for hope and get lucky the first time we search for it. With this new faith, we will drive through the highways of peril and exit towards a path of certainty and righteousness. With this new faith, we will see to it that, regardless of our background, we will move forward and see the light designated for all of us if we are willing to work together.

For this, we must dream, for we are the dreamers, the ones willing to understand that our current reality only tells us where we are, not where we are going to be, and we continue working towards that dream. We are the dreamers who step foot in uncharted territory towards a greater unity. We dream loudly, expeditiously, and with little trepidation about the grounds we shake or the monuments we reclaim.

We do not dream with our eyes closed, but with our eyes wide open. We cannot wait for our dreams to be fulfilled!