Freedom Riders of the New WPA

(Originally posted at Greater Democracy)

I did not want to go hear a warmed over former presidential candidate keeping his options alive for 2008, but I got an invitation to blog John Edwards’ visit to Yale and I thought I really should go. Fortunately, it wasn’t leftover politics that John Edwards was serving.

I am on all the mailing lists. DNC, DFA, Emily’s List, DCCC, Kerry, Edwards, Clark, Bayh, Meetup, Moveon; the list goes on and on. So generally, I glance at these requests but pay them little mind. That was my initial reaction to the Edwards message from MoveOn.

The question popped up on one mailing list I was on asking if anyone was going. I sent an email saying that I had heard Senator Edwards speak and annual Jefferson Jackson Bailey Dinner and was fairly disappointed. I told people that I wasn’t planning on going.

But then a friend sent me an email about blogging the event. I enjoy blogging political events, so I made arrangements to go.

At Yale, I ran into a few old friends from the Dean campaign. I did my same rant with each of them. If Senator Edwards does the standard leftover politics, I will be disappointed, but not surprised. I sure hope, however, that he will really talk about a new generation of Freedom Riders. One person commented that she had come, hoping to get re-invigorated.

In early September, I wrote, “It is my dream that just as Freedom Riders hopped on buses over forty years ago to help bring equality to blacks in the south we will see a new generation of people head to the Gulf Coast to help rebuild and help fight poverty.”

So, when Senator Edwards invoked the image of Robert Kennedy in Appalachia, my friend excitedly said, “That is exactly what you were talking about.” I wondered if this is what I’ve been hoping for.

Senator Edwards said all the right things, talking about a movement, led by college students to touch the national consciousness and address the growing problem of poverty.

So, will Senator Edwards manage to pull this off? Afterwards there was a brief Q&A and I asked him if he envisioned a new generation of Freedom Riders with digital cameras blogging, photoblogging, videoblogging and podcasting their experiences. Senator Edwards spoke about the importance of using technology to get the message out. I repeated the question focusing on the Freedom Rider aspect of it and he said that it is something he is hoping for. I hope so to.

So, will we see a new generation of Freedom Riders? Will they document the plight of poor in America, generating great work like the writers from the WPA? Will we see a 21st Century equivalent of ‘Let us now praise famous men’? Will this result in a drastic reduction in poverty?

Let us hope so. I will do my part, which right now, is about spreading the word through the blogosphere. Go to Opportunity Rocks. If Senator Edwards is going to be visiting a school by you, please go. If not, try to get a school near you on the list for his next tour. If you do get a chance to go, please blog about it and spread the word.

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Thanks for the link. Also, c