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Dear Mr. President and all role models, good and bad,

As I was marching yesterday with 200 people of all ages in a nearby mostly Republican small town, I started thinking about role models, good and bad, and some of the important characteristics that we want ourselves, our children, our grandchildren to emulate. And who in history or in the public eye today exhibits those characteristics, and who does not? We have our well known heroes (Martin Luther King, Winston Churchill, etc.), but what of the ordinary people?

Courage. Who does not have it? You and every member of Congress who take money from the NRA and are silenced by greed and fear on the issue of gun violence. You fled to your Florida resort rather than stand in front of and in support of those who took part in the March for Our Lives.

Who has it? The children leading us in the marches yesterday and tomorrow, many of them survivors of the terror wreaked by guns, determined to end America’s scourge of gun violence. The African American children of 50 years ago who faced fire hoses and dogs, determined to end the American scourge of racism.

Honesty. Who does not have it? You, who has honed lying to a fine art, and all politicians who lie about their intentions to “fix” gun violence. Each member of Congress who act as if his or her political life can continue as always in the face of the wave that is coming and will swamp them. Spokesmen for the NRA who state that those 800,000 marchers in DC and those around America and the world must be controlled by “violent radicals,” similar to the remarks made by white supremacists 50 years ago who said that those who marched for voting rights were controlled by Communists: all vicious lies meant to smear and undermine the honesty and authenticity of the marchers.

Who does have it? The kids who organized March for our Lives and who say “We call BS” to all those who stand in the way of real progress on gun control. And all those who speak truth to power, who call out hate and bullying and the lies.  The kids who walk out of their schools in memory of those who were victims of gun violence and who cry “Enough!”

Love and brother/sisterhood. Who does not have it? You, who rips apart families, denies the right to serve to many transgender members of the military, who every day divides us even as you claim to unite.

Who has it? As I watched the end of the DC march, I was deeply moved by the authentic love and caring and support for each other exhibited by the kids. They linked arms, hugged, freely shared their tears, reached out to those victims of gun violence in urban cities.  50 years ago as my husband and others marched in Selma, they felt held up by the linked arms of the marchers and the united singing of “We shall overcome” and “We shall not be moved.”

Yesterday, Jennifer Hudson sang “The times they are a-changin,’” written by Bob Dylan in 1964, and I felt a surge of hope. Those who marched in the 1960s registered voters, just as the kids are doing today, because in a democracy political change must happen through voting. The voting rights act of 1965 proved that change, big change, can and will happen through the efforts of the young. These kids and their advocates today will not be moved and they and we SHALL overcome.



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