"The politics of my graduation is quite simple: I am among the few in this world that has had the chance to go higher and higher, and until all have that same right education will remain a privileged power."
During the past three years I studied at Wake Forest University School of Divinity. Fruitful does not begin to describe how wonderful, how transformative my experience has been. Yet I realize that getting an education, especially as Masters, sets me apart from many Americans––even the world. I have privilege, and the chance to pursue education, though requiring hard work, has been a privilege as well. What Rice's argument and my experience shows me is that we still have along way to go until education is viewed as a basic right, and that all are able to pursue their dreams without hindrance.
When I receive my diploma, I know that I could not have arrived their on my own account. The teachers, like my Kindergarten teacher Ms. Eckstein, Third Grade teacher Ms. Troutman, or Senior English teacher Ms. Elmore, all have contributed to my getting that single piece of paper. The people from my communities that have supported me, giving me hope, free food, and challenged me to never forget them, that diploma is for them. For my family, who has supported me words cannot convey my deepest, sincere gratitude for your love.
Such deep, personal history I bring to that stage, but I also bring with me those in history that have not had the chance to pursue an education. Because of their race, creed, gender, sexuality, or birthplace they have not had the chance I have. The politics of my graduation is quite simple: I am among the few in this world that has had the chance to go higher and higher, and until all have that same right education will remain a privileged power.
Our politics are embodied, and the ritual of graduation reveals how divided our country and communities can be. In the final analysis, education is the greatest gift and magnificent right that requires responsibility for those that obtain "keys" to higher-paying jobs, greater influence, and leadership positions. We are bound together in a calling to change our world not only for ourselves, but for those in the past, present, and future.
I write these words knowing that my younger brother will, in August, begin his teaching career in a 4th Grade classroom. Today, May 19, he graduates from my alma mater, Georgetown College. Since 1999 there has been a Bailes there, my three brothers and me all attended there in succession. Education becoming a right is something my brother will embody, and for that I am thankful.
Our most lasting achievements are those we leave upon our communities. May one of those achievements be the transformation of our communities through the power of the basic right we call, "education."