A Letter from the President

Honoring an Icon

photo of Kim HendersonOne of the beauties of living in cities like Miami and DC is the numerous brushes with fame that you have. These cities are a magnet for both the famous and infamous. DC is unique in its capacity to make celebrities out of policy makers, politicians and yes Supreme Court justices. A few years ago as a coordinator for Grinnell College Fall Semester in Washington, DC interns, I attended a small group meeting with Justice Ginsberg. I must admit, I didn’t know much about her so to prepare for the meeting I watched some of the interesting movies and documentaries of her life and read a few articles. But nothing prepared me for her intellect, grace, and warmth. Before I go on about the actual meeting, I want to say that I arrived to the Supreme Court and not one of the students actually showed up. So frantically, I dialed the students who were in a guesthouse just a few blocks away. Maybe three of them sauntered over very unconcerned about being tardy and the warning we got that you needed to arrive early to guarantee entry.

I thought that because approximately half of our students were international students that perhaps they didn’t understand the honor and rarity of this invitation? In any case, I was quite disappointed. As I ponder Justice Ginsberg’s passing and lift myself out of this feeling of weariness and fear for this Country, it is clear to me that many of us take for granted the democracy we enjoy. It is my deepest hope that we all understand that blood shed to build and preserve this democracy. Throughout history those in the vanguard fighting to expand freedom’s franchise to minorities, women, sexual minorities and others did so while jeopardizing their jobs, income, careers, and yes lives. Freedom’s fighters believed so much in democracy they gave 100 percent to preserve and expand it. On November 3rd, we can say “thank you” by voting.

My brief hour or so in the Ginsberg meeting was magical. She pointed to the pictures of early American leaders and discussed how they shaped our country. Justice Ginsberg discussed modern day decisions of the Court. It was a very good day. As I meditate on her life my sense of weariness eases because she left us the gift of determination and perseverance. I believe in this Country and our constitutional democracy. I remain determined to continue working to make it better for everyone.

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