"Say what you have to say, and not what you ought."
~ Henry David Thoreau

Monday, January 21, 2013

Inauguration 2013

Gillian watching President Obama's inaugural address
This morning Gillian and I watched the inauguration together. Even though she is a normal 14-year old girl and not all that interested in politics and current events, she is at least aware of what's going on in the world around her and understands the historical significance of today. It would be pretty hard for her not to be aware, since there's rarely a day when I'm not talking passionately about something political! 

Four years ago when Gillian was in 5th grade her class watched Obama's first inauguration and were asked to write down their observations. Here are her notes from that day.

I tried to get her to write down her observations today, but she refused since it's a school holiday and she didn't want to do anything remotely resembling school work. Instead, as we watched I asked her questions. We talked about the historical significance of this inauguration being held on Martin Luther King Day, during the year marking the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. Luckily, due to a having a great U.S. History teacher this year, and having also seen the movie Lincoln not long ago, she has a good understanding of both events.

I mentioned to her that Obama took his oath of office on two bibles, one that was President Lincoln's, the other having belonged to Martin Luther King Jr. She seemed most interested in the connections between today and Martin Luther King Jr. In her history class they recently watched a movie about Martin Luther King Jr. and the Children's Crusade. I asked her if she would ever be willing to do what those children did. Would she go to jail for something similar? She replied "I wouldn't have to" which I guess was a young person's very innocent, honest recognition of her white privilege.  A minute later she said, "But I would if I had to for things to change." Phew! I was relieved. One of the principles I'm trying to teach her is that although obeying laws and rules is important and right most of the time, civil disobedience for the greater good is equally important. To me, having strong convictions and being willing to risk personal comfort for those convictions, along with a sense of justice for ALL mankind  is extremely important. Belief in personal convictions and being willing to speak up against popular culture and the majority is something I really value. Because of this I'm trying to raise a child who is a thinker, not a follower. 

Much has changed in the last four years. Gillian is no longer a young child making innocent, non-political observations about our president's inauguration. Today she is more aware of the greater world around her and her connection to it. She's learning about the struggles and challenges in our country and world, and how the outcomes of such struggles impact her. I love watching this process, seeing her learn, watching the light bulbs come on in her head. She's beginning to understand her place in the world, and I hope, the importance of being an informed, active, engaged citizen. This morning was one those gratifying days of parental reward. Two months ago we sat together watching election returns, Gillian seeing me cheer and cry when Obama's victory was announced. Today we again watched history in the making. It was a good day. 


  1. Thank you for teaching my granddaughter so well. This post brought tears to my eyes for so many reasons. I see the tradition that I had as a child, one where we were taught the significance and importance of such occasions in the great history of our nation, being passed on to my granddaughter. I see your heart. I see your passion. I see your belief in a system that is not perfect. I see your belief in social justice. I see your commitment to personal responsibility in maintaining a free society. I see your desire to raise a child who shares your value of having the courage to stand up and be counted for what you believe in even in the face of great personal sacrifice. I am proud to be your mother. I love you.

    p.s. It was great texting with you during the Inauguration. I would have preferred to be there in person, but at least we could share our thoughts, observations, and emotions as they happened. XO

  2. Your daughter does have white privilege, but she is aware that there are other things that she might be called upon to stand up and be counted for. She comes from a long line of very cool women, from what I can see. One day she will be doing something like this with her own child, I hope. Most likely she will! Congratulations to you, her mom, and to her grandmother for everything you did that made today possible! :-)

    1. Thanks DJan. I don't know that Gillian would agree that I'm cool, but thanks for thinking so. I'm excited to see what kind of person she becomes. It's a fun process to watch.

  3. Great post, Keicha, and moving. As to your reply to DJan .... if Gilliam doesn't think you're cool at this juncture in life, I'm sure she will at one day in the future. You ARE a cool mom to keep her awareness of important life events at such a top level, and she will know. Keep doing the good job you are.

  4. Keicha, you are doing one rocking wonderful job of raising your daughter -- teaching her such important things by asking and talking WITH her, not at her. I have no worries about this child's evolution into adulthood. And that will be due in large part to her mother.

  5. I didn't watch the ceremony because I was in Texas visiting my granddaughters and they don't have TV. I had to watch short clips online later in the day. We are blessed with the democratic process...and this year the people got it right!


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