This I Believe

Emily - Chattanooga, Tennessee
Entered on September 16, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30

September 12, 2006

Dynamite Comes in Small Packages

I am a product of the public school system of the southeastern United States. Throughout my educational pursuits- as my years in grade school progressed and I learned more and more about different types of people and different types of places, I began observing the serious discrepancies among the public school systems of the Southeastern United States other areas of the country. My friends from Florida, Massachusetts, and New York had serious advantages over me from access to more advanced classes and better facilities to the overall concern for the typical student. I saw, most of all, that the public school systems of these areas were an interesting representation of their society and decided that it would then be my responsibility as a woman of the South to stand up for change.?

Establishing myself with an educational activism group that fought for my principles, I saw the magical power of a small group of determined people to effect change. We all believed that we could make a difference, and we were in it for the betterment of our town, for the betterment of our community, our neighbors, our children, and ourselves. We shared this empowerment with our county commissioners every Wednesday morning at 9a.m. I saw students- who normally would be playing video games or sleeping all day during their summer break come out in masses to our county commission meetings to demand educational improvement. Through our dedication, we were able to convince the county commissioners to pass a small property tax increase that would give an additional sixteen million dollars to education in my area.?

As Harriet Beecher Stowe once said, “we knew to never give up, because that is just the place and time that the tide will turn;” inherently observing and abiding by this philosophy, we couldn’t be stopped. I believe that the essence of our country, and most importantly, the essence of a democracy is this kind of grassroots activism holding our leaders accountable for their responsibilities. The root of the failure of a democracy as I have learned through experience- is the second when citizens stop taking action.

This concern and activism can, essentially, be measured in voter turnout rates, and while our country’s young voting has been at an all time low, I know that there are others out there-like me- that will not stand for this. We may be small in number, but that didn’t stop us before and certainly won’t stop us now. For, as I learned that summer, a small group of determined and motivated people can impact their community. It is these circles of dedicated individuals that form the essence of democracy: grassroots activism. I believe that a small group of people can, always have, and always will, be the light of the world.