Saturday, November 15, 2008

'iChatted' With Alexis Herman

Posted by Jarvis Holliday On 11/15/2008 No comments
Last evening I attended GenerationEngage's iChat with former Secretary of Labor Alexis Herman. The event was held at RealEyes Bookstore in NoDa and it was GenerationEngage's first event since the election. See folks, the work doesn't stop and the need for political involvement isn't over.

RealEyes feels like a bookstore you would find in Boston or Chicago and it was a great backdrop for the event. Since it was an iChat, Herman was being broadcast to us live from a college campus in Miami. And a group from San Jose was also in on it, so the three cities were split on a huge Mac monitor in RealEyes.

I like going to stuff like this, which is why I blog about it and why I post events like this in my "Events for the Week." I could've been doing a number of things on a Friday evening but I chose to go to a bookstore and sit with a group of young, intelligent adults and engage in a conversation with a woman who shared insight on what our country and generation needs to do to tackle these economic problems we're facing.

Herman, who served in the Clinton Administration and was the first African-American Secretary of Labor, was very smart and down to earth in her conversation. She talked about being a child and receiving $1 a week for allowance and when she turned 10 years old her parents increased it to $2 a week. Her father then took her to the bank to open a savings account and that instilled in her many of the principles she lives by today. She also talked about growing up in the deep South in the 1950s and '60s and how her father, a civil rights activist, was harassed and beaten by the Ku Klux Klan. She didn't dwell on that stuff, but it served as a great reminder of how far we've come as a nation, especially to an audience who only reads about this stuff in history books. Herman answered questions from the audiences in the three cities and the questions mostly pertained to what can be done to save jobs and stimulate the economy. To sum up her responses, we're going to have to work hard to dig out of the hole this country is in.

After the event I was talking to Rod Garvin, one of GenerationEngage Charlotte's community directors, and he echoed Herman's sentiments. Young people were inspired and turned out in great numbers to vote in the election. Many of them voted for Barack Obama and were voting for change. Well, as Obama said, we're going to need all hands on deck.

Just like many of you were so in tuned with the election and considered yourselves to be politically and civically engaged because you voted, your active participation will be needed even more now. Now that the campaign signs have come down and the "BaRack The Vote" T-shirts have been folded away, what are you going to do to address the problems facing our communities--crime, inadequate education, job loss, lack of funding for programs? I'm not sure what I'm going to do, but I went to a GenerationEngage event last night. That's a start.


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