Excerpt from Chapter 7: Graduation… Going Forth

Like the founding patriots of our county, my generation was influenced by the English philosopher John Locke’s Social Contract with its “age of enlightenment” philosophy that all rights and powers not given to the government remain the rights and powers of “We the People,” free from interference by our government. Although we renounced violence in our social protests, we stood by the principles of America’s founding fathers that, as true patriots, “We the People” in a true Democracy were obligated to protest against our own government’s hypocrisy and injustice because, like America’s founders, we intuitively knew “bad things happen when good people remain silent.” We brought our founding father’s philosophy to the streets of America for all to see because we also intuitively knew that the more robust the ideological debate in the American market place of ideas, the greater the chance America had to make the right decisions, follow the right path, and take the right course of action.

Where we saw injustice and hypocrisy, “We the People” of my generation held a mirror up to the face of America and demanded change. America’s 200-year-old political promise set forth in the Declaration of Independence forcefully proclaimed that it was “self evident” that “all men are born equal.” Yet in the 1950s and the 1960s of my youth, the right of “We the People” to vote was taken away from millions of American citizens, mostly black and mostly the poor and uneducated, because those American citizens could not afford to pay a poll tax to vote or because those American citizens couldn’t pass a literacy test as a prerequisite to casting their vote. With President John F. Kennedy and later President Lyndon Johnson, the Children of the Greatest Generation changed that.