This week, I am sending out my weekly journal on Wednesday, as many of you will undoubtedly be celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday with family and friends tomorrow.
I encourage you to reflect on the origins of this celebration. President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed Thanksgiving a national holiday in 1863. While our increasingly secular culture backs away from any mention of God, Lincoln’s intentions for Thanksgiving were to “set apart and observe the last Thursday of November… as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.”
Lincoln’s national day of thanks and praise came about, in large measure, because of the efforts of a tireless visionary, Sarah Josepha Hale. Ms. Hale persevered for 40 years before realizing the fruits of her labors, lobbying members of Congress and 5 presidents to “create an official day of thanks.” Such single-minded and enduring dedication to a cause is an encouragement to all of us who want to see fundamental education reform in our country.
Speaking of education reform, we will soon have the opportunity to hear a modern-day crusader speak about his fight to reform Florida’s schools. T. Willard Fair, President and CEO of the Urban League of Greater Miami and Vice Chairman of the Florida State Board of Education, has rescheduled his trip to North Carolina (sidelined when Hurricane Wilma blew into Florida). Mr. Fair will speak at a luncheon event on December 12th, from 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Urban League of the Central Carolinas, 740 West Fifth Street in Charlotte, North Carolina.
I first had the privilege of hearing Mr. Fair at a national conference on education in 1999. The recipient of the “Rebel with a Cause” award that evening, Mr. Fair spoke eloquently about the needs of urban children. Since that time, I have heard Mr. Fair speak on many occasions, and have always been heartened by his unflagging advocacy for children’s educational needs.
A vigorous defender of disadvantaged students, Mr. Fair has referred to tuition vouchers as an “important and just opportunity” for poor and minority children. In 1996, Mr. Fair began a partnership with Jeb Bush to advance charter school legislation; both men went on to found the Liberty Center Charter School, the first charter school in Florida. Mr. Fair has used his influence in Florida to push for wide-scale education reform, referring to public schools as “too regulated, entrenched in bureaucracy, with overcrowded classrooms, out-of-control children, and teachers who are not held accountable due to too much union interference.”
Please consider attending this event. Box lunches (available for $10) may be reserved by e-mailing me at [email protected], or by calling me at 704.231.9767. I hope to see you on the 12th. Space is limited, so be sure to reserve your seat as soon as possible.
May God bless you during this special holiday time with your friends and family, and may He continue to bless our great country!