Sitting here in this building dedicated to Lyndon Baines Johnson who did so much to address poverty and education and issues of class, I am struck by how much we still have to do to realize the dream of a “Great Society.” The Covenant with Black America – or any social change that we strive to make – will only work if we live in communities where people can connect in real ways, in honest discussion, in personal relationships. I cannot understand the challenges you face – nor can you understand mine – if we do not connect on a meaningful level.
We live in a community that is a true melting pot. If we nurture and treasure our diverse cultures and traditions, we move toward understanding one another – and ourselves – on a deeper level. But as wealth grows in our community, so does segregation. People form enclaves based on income and abandon the diversity that connects us to one another and makes our lives so much richer. I don’t want to live in a community where everyone looks and thinks like I do, and I don’t want my grandchildren, if I ever have any, to live in a world where everyone is the same . I want them to enjoy and appreciate the richness of diversity, and understand how our differences underscore our commonalities bringing us together on common ground.