Youth Justice


I am so proud of America! I am so proud of President-Elect Barack Obama who calls us to greatness and to rise to our best selves. And I am so proud of all the young people who joined with him in saying, “Yes we can.”

The election of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States has revived America’s dream from the smoldering rubble of war; the quicksand of racial, religious, and class strife; and the selfish individualism and reckless greed that brought our nation’s and world’s economies to the brink of collapse. Hope is alive again and we, as a more united people, are poised to move forward and tackle the unprecedented challenges we face working more collaboratively with leaders throughout the world.

What a powerful message President-Elect Obama’s election sends to children everywhere. It affirms every child’s life is of equal value and each child can strive to achieve at the highest level that his or her talent, discipline and hard work allow. It says that neither color, nor gender, nor family circumstance nor any extrinsic obstacle need stop you from soaring and reaching the highest levels of leadership. The poorest Black boy can say, “I can make it.” The child without a father in the home can say, “Yes I can.” The poor child with a parent on food stamps can say, “This is temporary.” The biracial child whom many said belonged to no race can say, “Yes, I belong to the greatest race, the human race” in a world that is incredibly diverse, reflecting all the rich hues of God’s universe.

All of our children must be prepared to respect one another and compete in a globalizing world that is two-thirds nonwhite and poor and in a nation that will be majority minority in another 40 years. The election of Barack Obama is a testament that America sees and hears and is prepared to join and help guide the world in this new era. It also signals a recognition that America’s dream can and must become real at home to be credible abroad. How wonderful that our new President in his persona, character and talent is able to re-establish the idea of America as a beacon of hope and equality.

After we savor our great stride forward and the most brilliant political campaign in my lifetime, let us hunker down for the hard work of helping our new President and Congress achieve sound solutions to the enormously complex concerns we face inside and outside America: the greatest divide between rich and poor in our nation’s history and the in world’s history; epidemic poverty; economic, energy and environmental crises; a huge human capital development deficit resulting from our long-term failure to ensure the health and education of all children. These are the very children who will determine our collective future. If the child is safe, everyone is safe. So let us begin in 2009 by making a commitment to ensure that every child is given a healthy and fair start and is able to begin life on a more level playing field.

Yes we can believe in miracles again. David Ben-Gurion once commented that a man who does not believe in miracles is not a realist. Let us thank God for this transforming miracle by translating it into reality for the millions of children left behind in our nation and the world so that they can believe in miracles in their daily lives. Let us organize and lift a mighty voice as citizens to ensure that our leaders make the right choices among their many competing ones. Building healthy, hopeful, educated children must be the first priority for all of us.