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Classroom memory sparks insight today

Back there in my foggy memory, I can recall an assignment from my sixth grade year at Havelock Elementary School in Lincoln, Neb.

The class was asked to choose one of the candidates running for president of the United States and then present a speech to the class advocating for that candidate. I’m sure most of my classmates chose to defend the candidate their parents were supporting. Most of us are reflections of the values and beliefs of our parents, as was I.

Mom and Dad were members of The Greatest Generation. Dad had flown 30 missions over Germany in the 8th Army Air Corps, and post-war was a 25-year member of the Ironworkers Union. Mother had worked in a garment factory during the war, but she was a stay-at-home parent. Naturally, I reflected their values and completed my school assignment by giving a speech supporting John Kennedy for president.

As a career-long social studies and history teacher, I have been very interested in and well-informed about political issues and platforms. During my lifetime the issue of racial equality and voting rights has evolved to the point where the party that was opposed to racial progress, Southern Democrats, has shifted.

The “solid South,” the Democrat bastion in the former Confederacy, as a result of the Civil Rights Movement, has swung 180 degrees, and today the greatest barrier to racial progress and equality is shockingly the party of Abraham Lincoln. I would imagine President Lincoln would be saddened by this shift.

Gene Orr