Archives For Leaders Matter

looks at current, past, and future leaders and qualities of leadership in a global interconnected world. Posted on Tuesdays

In honor of Presidents’ Day this week, I thought I’d share some quotes about difference and commonalities from various presidents through the ages.

Abraham Lincoln 16th U.S. President (1809-1865)

“Accustomed to trample on the rights of others, you have lost the genius of your own independence and become the fit subjects of the first cunning tyrant who rises among you.”

John Fitzgerald Kennedy 35th U.S. President (1961-1963)

 “If we cannot now end our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity.”

 

Hubert H. Humphrey 38th U.S. Vice-President under Lyndon B. Johnson (1965-1969)

 “Fortunately, the time has long passed when people liked to regard the United States as some kind of melting pot, taking men and women from every part of the world and converting them into standardized, homogenized Americans. We are, I think, much more mature and wise today. Just as we welcome a world of diversity, so we glory in an America of diversity — an America all the richer for the many different and distinctive strands of which it is woven.”

Jimmy Carter 39th U.S. President (1977-1981)

“We are, of course a nation of differences. Those differences don’t make us weak. They’re the source of our strength.”

Bill Clinton 42nd US President (1993-2001)

 “Justice may be blind, but we all know that diversity in the courts, as in all aspects of society, sharpens our vision and makes us a stronger nation.”

Barack Obama 44th US President  (2009–)

“What the American people hope -– what they deserve -– is for all of us, Democrats and Republicans, to work through our differences; to overcome the numbing weight of our politics. For while the people who sent us here have different backgrounds, different stories, different beliefs, the anxieties they face are the same. The aspirations they hold are shared: a job that pays the bills; a chance to get ahead; most of all, the ability to give their children a better life.” State of the Union Address, Jan. 27, 2010

“We can’t expect to solve our problems if all we do is tear each other down. You can disagree with a certain policy without demonizing the person who espouses it. You can question somebody’s views and their judgment without questioning their motives or their patriotism. The problem is that this kind of vilification and over-the-top rhetoric closes the door to the possibility of compromise. It undermines democratic deliberation. It makes it nearly impossible for people who have legitimate but bridgeable differences to sit down at the same table and hash things.” Remarks at University of Michigan, May 1, 2010

I wanted to include this last quote even though it is not from an American President because if we all follow the advice, I believe the world could be a better place.

Andrew Masondo, African National Congress, Freedom Fighter, survivor of
Robben Island imprisonment along with Nelson Mandela

“Understand the differences; act on the commonalities.”

Read more at http://www.notable-quotes.com/o/obama_barack.html#mATJmI3mptUmu4hW.99 or http://thinkexist.com

I have a dream that if I share enough stories that connect, inspire and educate, then the world will become a better and kinder place. And who better to inspire and connect than Martin Luther King Jr?  So I am sharing a few personal favorites that I hope move young audiences to become new advocates for peaceful change.

ImageMartin’s Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

By Doreen Rappaport, illustrated by Bryan Collier

Bryan Collier’s stunning mixed media illustrations and Doreen Rappaport’s simple but poignant text make for a powerful tribute to King’s life. Ideal for the young  and older audience alike, the theme that “hate can not drive out hate. Only love can do that” is highlighted by Collier’s  award winning use of different collage elements to forge unlikely connections. Even students in the second grade can grasp how his technique brings power to this hero’s story.

martin-and-mahalia-02_1200x450

Martin & Mahalia: His Words  Her Song

By Andrea Davis Pinkney Illustrated by Brian Pinkney

This talented husband and wife team have once again combined talents to bring to life hitherto unsung parts of history.  In a story of how Mahalia Jackson and Martin Luther King Jr’s lives mirrored each others, the power of an individual’s voice to make a difference comes through loud and clear. It is no surprise that is takes a duo not unlike the subject matter to play off each other to make the world richer for us all.

Some people pray for ordinary things and get extraordinary results.

Malala Yousafzai is one such girl!

The sixteen-year-old prayed to be two or three inches taller than her five feet. “But,” she told the crowd in Boston as she received a bronze bust of John F Kennedy, “I can now reach the sky because reaching you with my cause is the greatest height.”

I can’t imagine anyone standing taller in the name of women’s rights than this courageous global heroine. Malala has had strong women behind her, like her mother encouraging her to tell the truth, to speak up and raise her voice. She’s had brave women beside her, like all the other girls in her village who despite the Taliban’s disapproval, still go to school. Yet, it is Malala’s own mix of wit, humility, and way with words that has made her a towering international symbol for peace and the right to education.

Even though last October, the Taliban tried to assassinate Malala because of her efforts to gain access to education for women, she wants to return to her homeland of Pakistan. The passion with which she spoke about education broadening your world views was palpable. So it was easy for the audience to imagine her following her dream of becoming a politician. To serve her nation and to get education for every child.

Malala Yousafazai and her father Ziauddin in Boston last Saturday.

Malala Yousafazai and her father Ziauddin in Boston last Saturday.

At one point Malala said “I heard your voice through my heart.”And while she may not have won the noble peace prize, listening to her was powerful, peace inducing poetry for my soul. As a mother of a daughter and a library teacher, how could I argue with her adamant declaration that “It is the right of every person whether a girl or a boy to get education. It’s a responsibility and a duty that you must have knowledge. You must not be limited to your house .You must know about the whole world. You must know about other cultures, other traditions other societies, and learn from them.”

So let’s make sure we listen to each other’s stories, read them, tell them, and share them. I know that celebrating International Girl Day by listening to Malala and her inspirational story has reinvigorated me and left me a richer person.And maybe one day we can all stand as tall as Malala Yousafzai!

To hear clip of Malala’s speech,click here.

Here’s a link to the Washington Post’s review of her book, I am Malala: The girl who stood up for education and was shot by the Taliban which was released on Tuesday.

Just a few weeks ago, you may have taken a moment to reflect on the great civil rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the legacy of his “I have a dream speech.” But have you stopped to honor the work of a Mexican American civil rights leader, who almost 50 years ago this week, also changed the face of history?

On September 16th 1965, Cesar Chavez’s union joined with Filipino workers in the Delano Grape Strike and put in to motion the first agricultural strike to be successful in U.S. history. Chavez went on to be an iconic champion for Latino rights. He lead a peaceful 340-mile march, fasted for 25 days, organized boycotts, and served jail time, all of which eventually helped improve the life of thousands of migrant workers -a group with the longest working hours, lowest pay, and shortest life spans.

Harvesting Hope: The Story of Cesar Chavez,  written by Kathleen Krulll  and  Yuyi Morales.

is a gorgeous picture book, both in its narration and its illustrations. This account of his life is worthy of multiple readings since it rich with themes of courage, perseverance, social justice, family, power dynamics and the hope that we all can create change.

For more wonderful ideas how to use this book click here, Yuyi Morales and

have created a fabulous guide.

May you enjoy it as much as I do.

 

 

Fifty years ago this week, two individuals peacefully fought for freedom by raising their powerful voices during the August 28th, 1963 March on Washington.

Today, a husband and wife team employs their gifts to keep that dream alive for the next generation.

Andrea Davis Pinkney, an award winning author, who strives to fill the gaps in children’s literature with books that celebrate the African- American community, and Brian Pinkney, a Caldecott Honor illustrator, have created another stunning book.

martin-and-mahalia

Martin & Mahalia is the story of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr and the legendary gospel singer, Mahalia Jackson. You can hear her amazing voice and learn more about her life and work from  the Official Web Site of the Mahalia Jackson Residual Family Corporation.

The art and words bring to life the parallel and intersecting paths of Martin and Mahalia as they both use their gospel gift and voice to fight unjust practices. It also shares the little known story of how during the rally, Mahalia shouted to Martin to tell the crowds about his dream. So he deviated from his script and the rest is history.

To learn more about this story and the making of the book click on Entertainment Weekly’s family blog to read an interview with the Pinkneys.

And stay tuned for ways to keep the dream alive.