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What's Got MDC Buzzing?

What's Got MDC Buzzing?

Before you read anything else, go watch the video of former Savannah Mayor—and MDC board chair—Otis Johnson, speaking at MDC last night. It was an inspiring evening and we’re happy to be able to share it here.

It’s almost Oscar time and if we were in the academy, we’d nominate MDC board member Ambassador James Joseph for his part in a new History Channel documentary, Miracle Rising, about “ … the epic legacy of South Africa’s political transformation that culminated in the first free and fair elections in April 1994.” It premiers this Saturday, February 23. (Check your local listings!). Here’s the cast page with a nice bio about (and wonderful quote from) the ambassador.

In this piece for the New York Times online Opinionator, Joseph Stiglitz argues that, while nationally Americans believe in equality of opportunity, there’s not a lot of evidence showing that it exists in our nation. It’s becoming less and less likely that children born into low-income families make the leap to a higher income. Stiglitz notes Brookings research that shows only 58 percent of Americans born into the bottom fifth of income earners move out of that category, and just 6 percent born into the bottom fifth move into the top; in Stiglitz words, “it’s not that social mobility is impossible, but that the upwardly mobile American is becoming a statistical oddity.” He points to structural changes in our economic and institutions that make the way out much more difficult—as racial segregation decreased, economic segregation increased, and the gap between rich and poor at school rose, too. Stiglitz still believes that education—widely available and of high quality—is the way to bridge this divide. The question remaining: how to turn belief in equality of opportunity into the will to fundamentally change the way we deliver and fund education for all.

Here’s a poetic companion to Stiglitz article: “A House Divided,” by Kyle Dargan, explores the same issues of opportunity, inequality, and education, all on a rhythmic Amtrak ride. Here’s an excerpt, but you should take a moment to read the whole piece:

To you, my America appears
distant, if even real at all. While you are
barely visible to me. Yet we continue
stealing glances at each other
from across the tattered hallways
of this overgrown house we call
a nation—every minute
a new wall erected, a bedroom added
beneath its leaking canopy of dreams.

Because it’s Friday and because it’s an important message: check out this Shane Koyczan animation and spoken word poem, “To This Day,” for a reminder about the power of language—and compassion. We’d nominate this one for an Oscar, too.