Children’s Defense Fund joined the NAACP and others outside the Supreme Court at the People’s Rally for Student Debt Cancellation. I was excited to feel the energy from students and families across the country who understand the importance of canceling student debt.
Because it is necessary, it is legal, and it is morally just.
We were raised in a nation where we were told to do three things: work hard, defer gratification, and get an education. We were told that if we did those three things, we could do and be anything in America.
Yet, getting an education has been racking us with debt to constrain our lives.
I stood at the steps of the Supreme Court as the son of a single mother with five children, the only one of the five to make it through school. It took me five years to make it through undergrad. Maybe it took me longer because I worked overnight at a Shell gas station in New Orleans, Louisiana, to pay the bills to go to school the next day. Maybe it took me a little bit longer because I had to work the [Federal] Work-Study program while also trying to contribute to student activities to maintain my grades. Maybe it took me a little longer because I had to send a few dollars home to make sure that my younger siblings could make it. And to do [all] that, I racked myself with student loans.
I stood at the steps of the Supreme Court because access to the American dream for me, and the last 20 years of making student loan payments, is not something I want for my four children. Access to the American dream for my 7-year-old daughter should not mean her having to rack herself with debt for another generation.
I am no legal scholar, but SCOTUS knows better than I do that the Heroes Act from September 11 gave broad latitude to the Secretary of Education to cancel student debt. They know better than we do that the president used that same authority in the context of a pandemic that is still ongoing. They know better than we do that President Biden has the authority to cancel student loan debt.
And so because it is legal, SCOTUS, do your job.
If you believe there is moral authority in this world and justice for all people, let us cancel student debt because it is necessary, legal, and morally right. Then we can fulfill our obligation to the next generation of Americans.