C O M M E N C E M E N T '9 5
Speaking shortly after the murderous bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building, Commencement speaker Marian Wright Edelman called the atrocity "a loud wakeup call to every American about our homefront struggle for the soul, values and future of our great nation."
Edelman said that the nation has yet to answer the question Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. asked in 1968: "Where do we go from here, chaos or community?"
She stated that "something is out of balance in an America where 26,000 poor families with children lived on less income in 1993 than one entertainment industry executive." Continuing to focus on the plight of children, Edelman made the following points in her address:
"I'm like one of those middle class parents who cried a lot when my children went off to college. I hope we don't have to cry harder when you move back home after college because you can't find a job.
"If we tell our daughters not to engage in premature and irresponsible sex and have children before they are prepared to parent and support them, and do not tell our sons the same thing, then we are a part of the problem and not the solution."
"I hope we will stand up to political leaders who think it's OK to slash $4·6 billion from child nutrition programs and from child care and from student loans, in order to give a $189 billion tax break to the non-needy. Donald Trump doesn't need another tax break: We need to educate our children."
"I believe it is healthy to debate the roles of federal, state and local governments and of the private sector. I think it is healthy to assess what works and doesn't work in a reasonable and thoughtful fashion.
"But I think we ought to slow down and understand what is happening in our great nation before we shred a 60-year-old safety net for hungry, neglected, abused, disabled and poor children, and for working families and average Americans, before we talk about change. And we better make sure that we are putting something better in place, something that is fair and that is going to bring us together as Americans and make our families work. Inform yourselves. Get involved in the decisions that are being made in your name.
"Don't confuse legality with morality. Dr. King pointed out that everything Hitler did in Nazi Germany was legal. Decades of slavery and segregation in America and South Africa was legal-but it wasn't right. Every day in our rich nation, small babies die of cold and suffer from preventable hunger quite legally, but it isn't right."
"Take parenting and family life as seriously as you do your career. … Young men, remember that your wife is not your mother or your maid, but your partner and friend. As all the women of generation know who tried to do it all, Superwoman have died of exhaustion and we think Clark Kent should show his true colors at home as well as in the workplace."