Toni Morrison

American novelist, professor
1988 Pulitizer Prize winner
1993 Nobel Prize winner

birthdate: Feburary 18
birthplace: Lorain, Ohio

If you're going to hold someone down you're going to have to hold on by the other end of the chain. You are confined by your own repression.

Make a difference about something other than yourselves.

Women's rights is not only an abstraction, a cause; it is also a personal affair. It is not only about us; it is also about me and you. Just the two of us.

As you enter positions of trust and power, dream a little before you think.

At some point in life the world's beauty becomes enough. You don't need to photograph, paint or even remember it. It is enough.

Somebody has to take responsibility for being a leader.

When there is pain, there are no words. All pain is the same.

The Progressive Agenda identifies the pillars upon which healthy social structures can be built. Each pillar is designed to improve, even rescue, the lives of vulnerable populations. From financial traps, to failing schools, to jobs, to methods for strengthening families and communities—each pillar of support enhances the lives of the poor and middle class—which in turn benefits the whole society.

The solutions are not mysterious, not unknown; nor are the means by which to achieve them. We know what they are and how to apply them. There is simply, and too often, no will to organize and enact the agenda. But indifference and inaction stops here. With Mayor de Blasio's insistence and foresight along with the dedication and passion of serious progressives, vital changes in our cities and towns will surface.

Remember when we used to be called 'citizens'? There were levels of citizenship, certainly, but we were citizens none-the-less. "I am an American citizen" was our proud boast. Then, following World War Two, the prosperous decades began and we were called 'consumers.' The American consumer wants; the American consumer needs—and consume we did. Items that were once luxuries became necessities and, unlike our great grandparents, we were ashamed to have only one pair of shoes or one 'Sunday' dress. Being a consumer is not without pleasure or comfort. Yet now we are identified by a brand new label—one that floods political speech, pundit themes, and media headlines. Taxpayer. It seems that definition is all we are. The difference between understanding oneself as a citizen or as a taxpayer is not merely wide; it is antagonistic. A citizen thinks primarily about his/her community, is preoccupied with the safety of the neighborhood, the health of the elderly and disabled, the nurture and well-being of the young.

A taxpayer thinks mostly about his or herself, about who or what is taxing, that is to say 'taking', his hard-earned money to give to some undeserving body or some other distant, wasteful thing.

The Progressive Agenda seeks to return us to citizenship, the happily adult responsibility of citizens to each other: how to ensure a livable wage for all of us; how to improve schools in all our neighborhoods; how to protect working class jobs and pensions from predators who rely on exploitation and selfish behavior; how to welcome the immigrant, the "huddled masses" we ALL [except for Native Americans and slaves] once were.

This new Progressive Agenda re-imagines citizenship and is far, far more than worthy; it is crucial.



Kids | Youth | Adults | Calendar | Quotes | Heroes | Stories | The EMILY Fund | Scholarships
DO ONE THING and BetterWorld Kids Clubs are projects of The EMILY Fund (The Emily Silverstein Fund, Inc.)
Hero portraits are included for illustration purposes only - no celebrity endorsement implied

The Emily Fund
Education, Mentorship, Inspiration, Leadership, Youth
- for a Better

PO Box 430
Roosevelt, NJ 08555-0430