Inspiration, motivation, patriotism and personal experiences …..these are the themes that President Obama emphasizes in his address to students. I have just read the text of the President’s address and I believe that there can be little offense taken from this message.
Having grown up in a segregated America and now benefiting from the many educational opportunities afforded me, I know the importance of President Obama’s message in inspiring children to strive for greater heights. It was the message from my Mother, Olivia, it was the message from my role models, Cecil Frederick (the first and only black pharmacist in West Palm Beach at that time), Dr. Sam Botosto, my first psychology professor at Palm Beach Jr. College, Dr. Jay Singer, my professor at FAU, who opened up the world of research in the biological bases of behavior, which would shape my career as a professor and researcher in the emerging area of neuroscience and Dr. Ken Michels, the Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs at FAU who encouraged me to pursue a career in academic administration (against my instincts to the contrary). As the only college graduate in the Bradshaw family, I know that the encouragement of all of these and many others contributed to my success.
I must admit in all candor, growing up I never thought that there would be someone of African descent as President of the United States of America in my life-time. All of us should feel great pride in knowing that the USA is the land of opportunity for everyone. Partisan politics will always be a part of this great democracy. Indeed, from time to time, it is what brings out the best in our political system. Never the less, motivating and encouraging our school children to strive to be the best that they can be should not be partisan. Simply, it is what has been and will continue to make our country strong. It is the ultimate in patriotism.
I have read the text of President’s message to our school children. It is the message of all educators…..it is the message of all Americans…..it is the message of individual responsibility and opportunity. For everyone, including those who have been historically underserved by education (low income, rural, communities of color, first generation college students) it is a message that should be embraced.
Wilson G. Bradshaw, Ph.D.
Florida Gulf Coast University