Monday, January 21, 2008

proud papa

shakin' it up in east texas. (*edited 1-22 )

in my imagination, it's kinda like that DJ on Northern Exposure. remember that show? he always talked it up. he always kept it real. but this is no tv or movie star...

this is my son, sean. he's 23 years old.
he works in a university library.
i'm always very proud of him, but never moreso than i am today.

today he went to work, wrote an email to his boss, the library, and the board of regents, and then he went home.

before sending it out he showed it to his boss who said something like, "but you have an awful lot of work to get done today."
"i'll get it done later," he replied.

(* i didn't show it to my boss, but she did say that i had a lot of work. and i said "want me to do anything really important before i leave?" she said no.)

he told me about this on the phone before i read his email. i have to admit, as a parent i couldn't help but worry a little about *job security.*

after i read his articulate, heartfelt missive, any silly worries i may have had immediately evaporated. i was left with nothing but a sense of overwhelming pride and admiration.
thanks, sean. you're an awesome man.

i've posted his email after the cut.

Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day which commemorates a man and a legacy that still resides within the people who lived through the Civil Rights Movement. Yesterday, I spoke to a man who said he would be volunteering at his church today, because that is what he was doing 40 years ago. I was almost ashamed to tell him that I would be at work. Today is not a day to be belabored in work, nor is it a day to sleep in and watch the Price Is Right. Today is a day when we should remember good people and their sacrifices, a day every American should hold on to, lest we all forget how important our individual choices are.

Today is not just about celebrating Dr. King's life, but about reflecting on the entirety of the Civil Rights movement. Beginning in the early 1900's with the Jim Crow laws and then in 1954 with Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka Kansas, we as a nation began to grapple not just with the blatant and vigorous racism in the south, but with the illegitimacy of the system of institutionalized racism across the entire country.

Since that time, we've certainly come a long way, but not yet long enough. The Movement is not dead, and work continues to be done in the name of equality and tolerance. Recently, Emmit Till's murder case was reopened, and similar cases are being examined to this day. Last year Corretta Scott King died. Two years ago Rosa Parks died. What are we telling our family, children, friends and the rest of the community by working today instead of commemorating, celebrating, or even discussing why Martin Luther King Jr. is a "national holiday"? What happens when no one remembers? When holidays become nothing but symbolic gestures, stripped of actual meaning and purpose? It is our responsibility to treat this day with the respect it deserves. I am going home because I will not disrespect this day and I think it is contemptible for the library to be one of the few institutions to remain open.

On April 3rd, Dr. King gave a speech entitled "I've Been to the Mountaintop." I encourage you to visit

and either read or listen to Dr. King's speech. If you don't have 45 minutes to listen to one of the greatest speeches in American history, at least spend two minutes reading the end. Dr. King told that congregation in Memphis that he "Like anybody would like to live a long life" and that the "Promised Land" was closer than it had ever been. He said:

"I may not get there with you, but I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land!"

He knew that the promised land wouldn't come overnight. He knew that people had tried to kill him, and would try again and again. He knew that "we as a people" didn't mean just black people or white people, and he knew that the promised land would only open it's doors when we as a nation knocked loudly on the gates of justice with respect and unity. This is a message that all Americans, regardless of race, class, religion or gender should be able to support and honor, and that is how I intend to spend this Martin Luther King Jr. day. Dr. King was killed the day after his Mountaintop speech.

I know that a lot of offices are open today, but many more are closed. If you have information on how to make MLK day a non working holiday, or want to get involved, please contact me.

Sean B****

Digital Projects Specialist


R.W. Steen Library



Somer said...

You have every right to be a proud papa! Well said, Sean!

~Betsy said...

Wow - you have a very courageous son. You have a right to be proud of a young man who speaks his mind with eloquence and grace. He is not only brilliant but stands up for something he believes in. Good job, Sean.

~Betsy said...

By the way - my son (senior in high school) had school today. It is the first time in the 15 years we have lived in this district that they didn't honor MLK day. I am mortified and embarrassed by the Board's decision to hold classes. I fired off an email to them but haven't had a response. Sigh.

Susie said...

Beyond admirable...absolutely beautiful!
Thank you, Sean, for standing up, and thank you, Rick, not only for sharing, but for helping to bring such a quality human being to the world.

cornbread hell said...

somer, betsy, susie - thanks for your supportive words. as proud as i am of sean, i always remember we are All in this together. thank god for the youngsters.
no fear + right action = hope.

betsy - good job. lemme know if/when you hear back from *the board.*

*(·¸*Chris*¸·)* said...

This does not suprise me. Look who his father is:) You done good, Rick.

Sean, if you find youself reading this, I commend you for going outside the lines, marching to the beat of a different drum and giving the naysayers a little something to digest tonight with their evening meal. People like you give me hope for a better tomarrow. This is what MLK was all about. And he would have been darn proud of you too. This country needs more movers and shakers like youself. Keep on keepin on.

Anonymous said...

Hi. I work at the same university. The reason we don't have MLK Day off is because we get a week off at Christmas and a week for spring break. We also do not get other state holidays off so that our holidays can be grouped together for these two weeks, and the majority of SFA employees prefer this. Anyone is free to take a day of vacation on MLK day to celebrate as they see fit. If the university was closed, I would not have the option to work, if I so desired. So we are giving people the FREEDOM to decide on their own what to do. We do not take Presidents Day off, so why would we take MLK Day off? I personally believe these two holidays should be consolidated and celebrated as "leadership day." But, please leave our Spring Break and Christmas holiday break alone!

Annie said...

You must be bursting with pride. What a fine young man.

Barby said...

Like Father like son......he is a cutie btw too!!!!!

Joanne D. Kiggins said...

Trying to catch up. You should be proud of Sean, Rick. I think it's wonderful that he stands up for what he believes and speaks his mind about it. Great job!

Anonymous said...

What your son said is good. other generations have overcome the failings of the generations that they replaced. maybe mlk's dream will come true, but that depends on so many things that it will take many generations to undo all the failures. when it is done, it will be worth all the sacrifices. amen and amen.