Thursday, January 11, 2018

Recognizing American Greatness . . . Again


One of the random fun bits of my job as a textbook writer is when I can do a bit of research and find something interesting. It's rare that I have enough time to really stop and read . . . but I had a bit of time recently while doing some supporting research for a task and I found these two inspiring government documents.

First, a House Judiciary Committee report that began the often failed efforts to pass an Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution. This particular committee action seemed (at first) the same as many other ERA attempts in the decades between 1923 and 1970. But this move resulted (eventually) in the first actual Floor vote on the notion of constitutional equal rights.

What I found so interesting about this simple bit of legislative procedure--after all, the basis of this document was simply to add two simple amendments to the committee's proposed wording--was the lengthy Report that accompanied the legal wording. It gave a historical overview of the existence of inequality in our legal system which began thusly:

“In recommending the proposed amendment to the Constitution, your Committee recognizes that our legal system currently contains the vestiges of a variety of ancient common law principles which discriminate unfairly against women. Some of these discriminatory principles are based on the old common law doctrine of ‘coverture’ which treated the husband and wife as a single legal entity, but which regarded the husband alone as ‘the one.’ Other discriminatory principles still discernible in our legal system are based on an invidious and outmoded double-standard which affords men a greater freedom than women to depart from conventional moral standards. Still other forms of discriminatory laws have their origins in obsolete and often irrational notions of chivalry which in a modern context regard women in a patronizing or condescending light. . . . [These discriminations] are in many cases without rational justification and are no longer relevant to our modern democratic institutions. Their persistence even in vestigial form creates disharmony between the sexes. Therefore, we strongly recommend that all irrational discrimination on the basis of sex be eliminated.”

If you are so inspired, you could read the whole item here.

Following that, I began research on some other (related) topic and found this speech given by President Obama in 2012 when he awarded Presidental Medals of Freedom to such American citizens as Madeleine Albright, Dolores Huerta, Bob Dylan, John Glenn, and Juliette Gordon Low, and John Paul Stevens.

It was so nice to read an eloquent speech given thoughtfully from the White House, highlighting such a variety of people who have truly Made America Great in their own personal ways. One excerpt from that speech is:

". . . [W]hen Cesar Chavez sat Dolores Huerta down at his kitchen table and told her they should start a union, she thought he was joking.  She was a single mother of seven children, so she obviously didn’t have a lot of free time.  But Dolores had been an elementary school teacher and remembered seeing children come to school hungry and without shoes.  So in the end, she agreed -- and workers everywhere are glad that she did.  Without any negotiating experience, Dolores helped lead a worldwide grape boycott that forced growers to agree to some of the country’s first farm worker contracts.  And ever since, she has fought to give more people a seat at the table.  'Don’t wait to be invited,' she says, 'Step in there.'"

Please do me a favor and read the whole speech. It is so inspiring.