Category: Uncategorized

Legend Challenges Young People to Carry on Work of MLK, Follows by Playing Piano and Singing Audience Favorites

By Kirsten J. Barnes
CCBP Graduate Assistant

John Legend kept a crowd of more than a thousand spellbound by his words and his music during the 25th anniversary of the Realizing the Dream concert.
John Legend kept a crowd of more than a thousand spellbound by his words and his music during the 25th anniversary of the Realizing the Dream concert.

On Sunday, January 19, the eve of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s national holiday, more than 1,000 people, many of them University of Alabama students, filled the Frank M. Moody Music Building to hear a lecture and the music of Grammy Award winning singer/songwriter/humanitarian John Legend.

“I’m especially honored and humbled to be here to celebrate one of my personal heroes,” Legend said, acknowledging his amazement that so many people would come out to see him in “football country,” when there was an NFL playoff game on television.

“We take this time every year to recognize his incredible work, the spirit of his work and the impact of his work and think about how we can live our lives in a way that honors his legacy,” Legend said. “We know that you young people are next in line to carry on his work. Now I know that might sound like a daunting task, but I think you’re up to it.” Legend speaks at colleges and universities around the world and is always impressed about the readiness of students to take on the world’s challenges.

“We’re here today to talk about something bigger than ourselves individually. We’re going to think about how we build a better community and build a better world,” Legend said. “We also have a piano here, so maybe I’ll sing a little bit after I’m done.”

Before he was done talking he had admonished students to realize that being in college is a gift not to be taken lightly.

“It is expensive and it is difficult. Many of you overcame significant obstacles just to be here today,” Legend said, recalling his own college career and how few of those in his freshman class ended up in his graduating class. “The reason why you’re here is so you can become a better thinker. You gain the ability to think critically, to question the status quo, to challenge yourself and to challenge the ideas that you hear from other people.”

John Legend performs a crowd favorite during the Realizing the Dream Concert.
John Legend performs a crowd favorite during the Realizing the Dream Concert.

Although King was an activist and a revolutionary, Legend acknowledged that King had to be aided by bold politicians like President Lyndon B. Johnson to make these changes law.

Legend called education inequality today’s civil rights issue.

As the salutatorian of his high school class in Springfield, Ohio, Legend said he realizes that had he not received his education at the University of Pennsylvania, where he released his first album, his life would have turned out differently.

“One of the greatest things about an education is that it gives you control over your own destiny,” Legend said, stressing how hard it is for poor children to get a quality high school education and that for many of them a college education is out of reach. “It remains a gift to some, when it should be a right to all. These statistics are a call to action.”

He challenged today’s college students to get involved as activists and politicians and as community leaders. He told them to look at their resources and extra curricular activities and see if they could use their extra money and time to make a difference in the would around them.


This self-examination led Legend to support organizations like Teach for America and to start The Show Me Campaign. Founded in 2007, Show Me, works to break the cycle of poverty by supporting the help to provide every child with a quality education, spreading awareness about the issues and inspiring citizens to take action.

“As we celebrate Dr. King’s Legacy I’m here to motivate you to make a difference,” Legend said. “We have to talk about the problem so we can talk about the solution.”

Legend mentioned not only education, but also mass incarceration of our young men and the plight of the working class.

“When you are fighting for something important it will not always be popular in the beginning,” Legend said reflecting on King’s life and the hurdles he had to overcome. “There is so much opportunity for you to make changes.”

Legend entertained the crowd with his music, beginning with a cover of “Wake Up Everybody,” a song that focuses on social activism and education. “When you teach children, teach them the very best you can,” he sang. “When you teach the children, teach ’em the very best you can. The world won’t get no better if we just let it be, na, na, na. The world won’t get no better, we gotta change it, yeah. Just you and me.”

In addition, he preformed crowd favorites, such as “Tonight” and “Save Room.” The crowd applauded enthusiastically and often and several attendees said the University made a good decision to bring Legend to campus for the Realizing the Dream celebration.

CCBP’s 2013 5-K Wellness Team


CCBP once again entered a formidable team in the University’s 5k health fitness competition. While the results of the November 17 Crimson Couch to 5K event have not yet been released, no one would be surprised if CCBP was again the winner, as it has won the past three. Team captain Yun Fu again recruited this year’s team of walker/runners. The event is part of the University’s Well-Bama program.

New Teacher Leadership Academy Launched for Alabama; Pilot Programs Begins with Tuscaloosa County Schools

By Kirsten J. Barnes
CCBP Graduate Assistant

October 9, 2013

These three are helping to bring the Teachers Leadership Academy (TLA) to Alabama. From left, Dr. Heather Pleasants, facilitator of the Parent Leadership Academy, forerunner to the TLA; Dr. Polly Moore, the TLA facilitator; and Dr. Joyce Stallworth, associate provost.
These three are helping to bring the Teachers Leadership Academy (TLA) to Alabama. From left, Dr. Heather Pleasants, facilitator of the Parent Leadership Academy, forerunner to the TLA; Dr. Polly Moore, the TLA facilitator; and Dr. Joyce Stallworth, associate provost.

TUSCALOOSA — Having launched the award-winning Parent Leadership Academy (PLA) in 2007, The University of Alabama Division of Community Affairs has decided to build upon that success by creating a new program similar in nature but which incorporates another component of the school community – teachers.

Dr. Joyce Stallworth, associate provost and professor of education at UA, said the new Teacher Leadership Academy (TLA), offspring of the Parent Leadership Academy, came about after conversations with local principals and teachers, past PLA participants, Vice President for Community Affairs Dr. Samory Pruitt, and Center for Community-Based Partnership Community Education Director Dr. Heather Pleasants.

The new organization held its first meeting Friday, October 8, at the Bryant Conference Center. Eight area elementary schools were represented. Pruitt called the meeting “a great start. I could not have been more pleased. The teachers in attendance showed how very appreciative they were of how professionally everything was done.”

One of the speakers was Dr. Gay Barnes of Madison, Alabama, the state’s 2012 teacher of the year and one of four finalists for the national teacher of the year. Dr. Polly Moore, retired assistant superintendent for Tuscaloosa County Schools and facilitator of the program, presented an overview, summarizing the program’s purpose in these words: “Parents need the teachers and the teachers need the parents.”

The program’s origin, Stallworth said, came when “we asked ourselves what we could do to help parents become more engaged,” adding that becoming involved is not the responsibility of parents only; schools also must create opportunities for involvement.

Searching for existing parent-school partnership strategies, the group concluded that the most effective model is the National Network of Partnership Schools (NNPS), founded at Johns Hopkins University in 1996.

As a member of the network, the TLA will use the NNPS framework, a research-based approach for organizing and sustaining excellent programs of family and community involvement with the goal of increasing student success. NNPS has accumulated three decades of research on parental engagement, family engagement and community partnerships, and that will be the model the TLA will follow, Stallworth said.

Implementation of the program locally will mean more teachers joining more parents to be trained to be school leaders and equipped with the skills necessary to improve public education.
Although UA’s program will not provide college credit, the 27 teachers involved will improve skills to increase parent and family involvement; improve communication between teachers and parents; increase support for schools through community networks, partnerships, and grants; and ultimately increase opportunities for students to succeed.

Moore, the program facilitator, has previously worked with the PLA and brings more than 30 years of experience as a teacher and educational leader to her new role.

“I’m excited to be able to come back as a retired educator to get this off the ground,” Moore said. “The parents are such a valuable resource, and we need teachers to know how to involve those parents. This is just a natural follow to the PLA to get teachers and parents talking to improve the students’ overall success. Teachers who really know how to get parents involved are much more successful.”

Now in its sixth year, the PLA began with the Tuscaloosa city and county school systems. In the PLA, parents attend class to gain knowledge about how to become involved in their schools. Parent leaders then recruit other parents who want to learn more, along the way learning that their increased knowledge about their schools can be critical to school success by creating strong parent teams within schools. PLA is now expanding to other school districts. UA faculty and administrators are working with new partners, including Bessemer City Schools and Lamar County Schools.

The next steps for TLA are for Stallworth, Moore and Pleasants to attend the NNPS Leadership Development Conferences for Improving Programs of School, Family, and Community Partnerships, October 24–25, 2013, in Baltimore, and in December, NNPS will conduct a teacher leadership workshop in Tuscaloosa.

“This year is a pilot,” said Stallworth, explaining that the program will start with nine schools. “We will collect data as we go along.”

Stallworth, who has an outreach charge as associate provost, said she would like to see the program expand into Shelby, Hale and Greene counties, but wants make sure the pilot schools are successful before adding new areas. “We are looking at expanding, but we want to go very carefully and understand our capacity,” she said.

The initial 27 teachers will come from the following Tuscaloosa-area elementary schools: Skyland, Englewood, Matthews, Myrtlewood, Tuscaloosa Magnet, Holt, Flatwoods, Southview and Martin Luther King elementary schools.

In addition to working on creating school-based leaders, the TLA will work to provide support for the already required school-improvement plans by assisting teachers and parents with school-wide projects and programs they can initiate.

“I always told my teachers when I was a principal that parents send us the very best that they have and they want the very best for that child. Some of them just know how to go about it a little better than others,” Moore said, adding that these programs help to educate all teachers and parents on the best way to get the best results for their students.

The teachers will meet four times a year, with the first meeting on October 10, 2013.

“We don’t want this to be a burden to the teachers. We want this to be a safe space for teachers to come and talk about these issues,” Stallworth said. “Therefore, October seemed the perfect time to have the first meeting.”

Both Stallworth and Moore said their hope is that the teachers will leave with information they can immediately use to improve parent/school partnerships.

Looking Back and to the Future of the Parent Leadership Academy in West Alabama

By Dr. Heather Pleasants
Director, CCBP Office of Community Education

(The following profile looks at the Parent Leadership Academy (PLA), one of this campus’ leading engaged scholarship projects.)


It has been my privilege to direct the PLA almost since its founding in 2007, but I will be the first to say that the program’s continual success would not have been possible without the teamwork developed through a strong partnership between the parents, Tuscaloosa City and County public schools, and the University.

Here are just a few of the reactions to the program by parents and educators:

“PLA went way beyond what I was expecting. I learned so much from other parents, and from the speakers.”

“The PLA story is one of empowerment and engagement … (where) parents develop the knowledge necessary to make them effective partners in the work of our schools.”

“I have observed parents blossom as a result of their participation in the Parent Leadership Academy.”

The purpose of PLA is simple to state but complex in its execution: Its purpose is to prepare parent leaders in areas of knowledge relevant to their children’s education so that they can actively share that knowledge with other parents to create strong parent communities within their schools. PLA participation builds parental involvement and academic success within individual schools and ultimately within the district as a whole.

For several years before the PLA began, local school officials, teachers and community-involved UA faculty and administrators engaged in ongoing dialog about critical needs of public schools. The community was challenged to create and implement a strategy to educate and support parent leaders who would “grow their own” engaged parent communities. Local schools partnered with UA faculty, staff and students to develop the PLA as a yearlong leadership program for parents nominated by area principals.

PLA parents participate in the academy to gain knowledge about how to help other parents be positively involved in their schools with the goal of supporting students’ academic achievement. As indicated through surveys and other research, PLA parents recognize that gaining increased knowledge about their schools and sharing that information with other parents can be critical to school success. Through parent leadership projects and parent action teams, these motivated, well-informed parents are truly making a difference in the lives of the students in our community.

Now entering its seventh year, the PLA has worked with more than 200 parents who, in turn, have involved hundreds of other parents in becoming parent leaders. Students from throughout the two city and county school districts now have the support of parents, educators and the community working together to provide the foundation for improved academic and social success.


Recently, this success received national recognition, when Tuscaloosa’s school boards and PLA leaders accepted a Magna Award, one of only 15 nationally to receive the award in 2013. This award, based on best practices in local school districts, is sponsored by the National School Boards Association’s American School Board Journal. Though both city and county school boards were acknowledged in the application, the award was made to the Tuscaloosa City Board of Education.

From its inception until its present form, the PLA has exemplified an integrated partnership within every aspect of the model. Key community and university partners include city and county superintendents, district staff charged with promoting parental involvement and academic achievement, principals from all city and county elementary schools, guidance counselors and other school staff, community organizations that serve children and families, the West Alabama Chamber of Commerce, and faculty, staff and students from UA’s College of Education, College of Human Environmental Sciences, and Division of Community Affairs.

The development of the PLA has been guided by an emphasis on valuing all partners and the work they do through the PLA.

Through the PLA, parents are asked to initiate proactive conversations with principals, to attend and speak at school board meetings, and to talk with others in the PLA and in their schools about issues relevant to their school communities. Feedback from parents is gathered during and after each session, and PLA graduates have been special speakers at graduation ceremonies over the past three years of the PLA. Principals are also empowered through the PLA process, through engaged conversations about the process and outcomes of the PLA, through active involvement in sessions, and through work with their school’s PLA participants.

Sustaining Funds and Building Hours of Service

The success of PLA over the past six years has come from an investment of over 7,000 accumulated hours of work by parents, teachers and students. Launched with a $10,000 seed fund donation from UA, the city and county school districts have received outside funding and also contributed from their operating funds $38,400 annually to sustain and grow the program.

Additional grant applications have been submitted to expand the program. One PLA participant recently received a competitive UA seed grant to support her parent project to improve science and math education at Faucett Vestavia Elementary School. Another PLA project involved the formation of a grant-seeking subcommittee of the PTA that remains very active and is supported by PLA graduates and involved parents at the school.

Impacts are measured by parent activities and involvement in schools. One PLA graduate was invited to serve on the Superintendent’s Advisory Committee, gaining a critical seat at the table, as well as further opportunity to put her PLA-inspired leadership skills to work. During 2011–2012, Southview Elementary implemented a program facilitated and organized by parents and teachers to provide small group workshops for parents regarding curriculum.

Additional graduates have served in a leadership capacity for local educational initiatives such as the Westside Scholars Academy, which is an “academically challenging enrichment program” designed to support students’ “intellectual and social capacities … while contributing to the assets of the West Side community of Tuscaloosa,” according to the organization’s website,

We have been invited to talk about the PLA at the Alabama PTA Convention, the conference of Doing What Matters for Tuscaloosa’s Children Conference, the Optimist Club, Tuscaloosa Rotary, and District IV Federal Program Officers’ meetings. We are now expanding to other school districts. UA faculty and administrators are working with new partners, including Bessemer City Schools, and Lamar County Schools.

Research-Based Model

From the outset, the PLA model has been “research-based” in terms of its practices and strategies, with an emphasis on “context-based teaching and learning experiences.” In formulating the PLA model, we have identified successful, research-informed parent involvement programs that could serve as an initial framework. The emphasis on research is carried out in each PLA session. For example, each presenter/workshop facilitator is evaluated by parents to gain information about the effectiveness of the presentation and the utility of the information discussed.

Additionally, parents complete pre and post surveys that measure levels and changes in leadership self-efficacy, levels of communication with principals and other parents, perceptions of knowledge, and perceived current and future levels of engagement. Also, direct assessments of parents’ knowledge growth are collected at various points in the PLA year. Preliminary analysis of this data shows dramatic increases in parents’ knowledge about key issues, for example Alabama College- and Career-Readiness Standards (CCRS) and school finance.

In working with parents within and across each session, emphasis is placed on providing experiences that are interactive, involve active dialogue, and give specific attention to assisting parents with strategies for sharing information with other parents.

Through the PLA, faculty and graduate students in the College of Education and the College of Human Environmental Sciences have had direct experience in teaching, research and outreach in the area of parent involvement. UA faculty and graduate students have regularly made presentations to PLA participants, as have staff from both school districts. Graduate students have also made presentations about the PLA to a variety of audiences, and have participated in the creation of peer-reviewed research presentations.

Through the development of the PLA, The University of Alabama has deepened and strengthened its relationships with both school districts. These collaborative relationships have led to additional partnerships and engaged scholarship opportunities, through work with principals and with PLA graduates. Overwhelmingly, PLA graduates find sessions informative, helpful and renewing in their ability to positively impact their school communities.

Application Stressed

Prior to each session, we meet with every presenter/facilitator to ensure that how to apply the information, not just its presentation, is a central component. There was also interest in implementation of knowledge acquired. Parents were required to create a project at their schools that would significantly impact parental involvement and academic achievement. Interview data suggest that many of the projects designed continue to be implemented within schools.

Among the best practices sustained through six years of PLA are the following: full utilization of the knowledge possessed by individuals from the community and university as a support for parents’ learning; regular communication (including social media) with all stakeholders to build and sustain parent involvement over time; and active application of knowledge gained through the PLA through Parent Leadership Projects (with an emphasis on sustaining projects over time and inserting engaged scholarship principles within the projects themselves).

Summary and Future

The PLA has increased parent participation in the schools that are part of the network. We are continuously exploring ways to expand our network of schools and parents because the PLA is a working model for building leadership capacity among parents. To that end, the University has initiated plans to develop the Parent and Teacher Leadership Institute (PTLI) to focus specifically on developing leadership capacity among parents and teachers to increase the collaboration between school and home. Teachers and parents are crucial to overall student achievement. Therefore, the primary tenets of the PTLI will be professional development of teachers and parents to increase their leadership capacity, with the overall purpose of supporting students and increasing their academic achievement. The purpose will be to expand PLA, create a Teacher Leadership Academy (TLA), and develop a research and and effective practice clearinghouse.

The expanded PLA will reach more elementary parents in the West Alabama area, and add pre-K parents to the program. The TLA, set to begin as a pilot in fall 2013, will mirror the PLA and will include a network of elementary teacher leaders dedicated to expanding schools’ capacities for engaging parents and families. The research and effective practice clearinghouse will be a web-based collection of digital resources available to anyone interested in our research-based materials for parent and teacher leadership and engagement. For example, our curricular materials, videos of parent projects, and advocacy strategies would be readily available.

Dr. Samory T. Pruitt, vice president for Community Affairs, has great confidence in the ability of PLA to improve education throughout Alabama. “The research clearly shows that if you support parents, then our homes, schools and communities will benefit in ways that will transform education in our state. The partnerships we have created are bringing about positive changes, and we look forward to another good year in 2014.”

Tucker: King’s Beloved Community Was About More Than Race

Transcript of the Martin Luther King Legacy Banquet Lecture, January 18, 2013, delivered by Cynthia Tucker, University of Georgia

Well, I’m not sure I can live up to that introduction that Dr. Mullins has given you. Thank you so much. I am delighted to be with you this evening. I am close to home, even if I am here in Alabama territory. I have enjoyed my evening so far. And if I’ve had to listen to a little bit of gloating about a certain recent football game, I can handle it. I can handle it.

I am genuinely happy to be here. I am now one of two Charlene Hunter-Gault Scholars in Residence at Georgia. Her entrance to the University of Georgia was one of those barrier-breaking moments that changed, not just the South — we think of these moments as changing the South, but they also changed the country. It has been an astonishing 50-60 years of incredible progress. It is amazing to think of that.

To the kids in the room thinking “50 years, if I live to be that old …” but in the lives of nations and in terms of social and civic change, 50 years is not a long time at all. And the United States has seen incredible change in the last 50 years. Much of it I remember. I’m not going to tell my age, but I will say that I remember many of those signal moments. I remember George Wallace’s stand in the schoolhouse door. I was a kid, but I remember it. I remember the March on Washington. And I remember the absolutely horrible church bombing in 1963. And now just yesterday when I was in Washington, the city was preparing for the second inauguration of the nation’s first black president. (applause)

I have to tell you I bet that I’m not the only one in this room who didn’t believe it would happen in my lifetime. I simply did not believe a black president would be elected in my lifetime. I certainly believed it would happen but I did not believe I would live to see it. And this time I did not believe it until Ohio was called. And I wrote a column saying I didn’t believe it was going to happen. And so something was happening in the country that I simply did not see coming, that despite my journalism experience — and what I think of as pretty good reporter’s instinct — there was something going on in the country that I simply did not see coming.

I remember having this conversation with a colleague of mine, another black colleague, a little younger than me, shortly before Obama’s first election and polls were showing he was going to win, and we were both discussing our doubts. And she said, “You know, Cynthia, that means the country has changed in ways that even we don’t see.” And I think that change is now absolutely clear in the second election. There are some political scientists and scholars who are arguing that the second election is more important than the first. The first was historic, the second transformational. The first might have been dismissed as a fluke for many, many reason. The second signifies that the nation has changed in fundamental ways.

I still remember that first election vividly. I remember the first inaugural. I had, in my dotage, decided to adopt a newborn. I had two tickets to the inauguration and my child was supposed to be born in January but was born in December 2008. So I sat with my mother, on Barack Obama’s first inauguration with my newborn in my lap, and watched the ceremonies all day long, thinking that my child will grow up in a country where having a black president is not only possible but part of her history and she will see two little kinky-haired girls running on the white house lawn. I find that remarkable. And with his second election she thinks that’s the way it should be.

As I was listening to Dr. Dunning talk earlier about trying to present the legacy of the last 50 years and not sound something like — what did he allude to? — Napoleon or some ancient history. I know how different that will be because the changes are so amazing. Young people born in 1970 do know the country I was born in and that’s a good thing. That country was so strange and perverted that it’s really difficult to describe. Last evening when I was in Washington surrounded by some legendary black journalists, I was sitting at a table where the very distinguished Simeon Booker, now 94 years old, who was working for Jet Magazine, was telling stories about the Civil Rights Movement and being chased by mobs. There was a young black woman, right out of college, she was sitting and listening with fascination on her face that I used to have when my grandparents would tell stories. You know, “how far I used to have to walk to school” or “the bucket I carried biscuits in.” (laughter) And I just though, you know, I said to her, “You know it seems strange, but I remember some of this and it wasn’t that long ago.”

So I think we should all be celebrating and rejoicing about the absolutely seismic social changes the country has seen in the last 50 years. However, I did not come just to talk about celebration and just to pat ourselves on the back about how far we have come. I want to talk a little about what I think the country looks like today and what I think it will look like in the next 30–40 years. And what I think a good American, those who want to continue to see their country as the shining city on the hill, ought to be thinking about.

What should the movement for us look like, as we try to keep this country a beacon for equal rights and human rights for nations all over the world?

Obama’s second election signaled the solidification or solidity or what I call the “Obama Coalition.” This is a group of voters who supported his presidency twice … that are multigenerational, multiracial, and multi-ethic. Certainly you all know because you heard about it from November 6th to now. You know about his demographic groups that were in his coalition. Obama won with upwards of 95% of the black voter and more blacks voted in 2012 than voted in 2008. He got about 71% of the Latino vote. He got 73% of the Asian vote, but he also got a significant percentage of the white vote. He got 39% of the white vote overall, but he got 44% of white voters under age 30.

Now that was the second election. That marks a drop off from 2008, when he got 54% white votes under the age of 30. So that means there is a significant minority or perhaps a majority, depending on the economic conditions of white voters that see the country in ways that there parents and grandparents do not. Clearly, they are much more comfortable with the demographic change that we have seen over the last 40 or 50 years.

But here is the challenge I think for all of us: “Can this multi-ethic coalition hold together as a vibrant democracy?” There are naysayers who say it cannot. Older conservatives, who still harbor clear racial antagonisms like, Pat Buchanan, said the United States will not survive when the white population falls below 50%. I am not making this up. He wrote a book in 2011, Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025? and it’s all about the demographic change of the lost white Christian majority and how that does not bode well for American Democracy. And Buchanan is not the only ultra-conservative with that view. For some esoteric reason I immersed myself into that type of reading last summer, so I can assure you he is not the only stinker out there who believes the country can’t survive as a multi-ethic democracy.

Professor Robert Putnam, who is a die-hard liberal, has done research that shows that people of different races and ethnicity do not have an easy time learning to live together as one community or one nation. Putnam is best known for his book Bowling Alone on frayed civic ties. But he has also studied the effects on diversity and its effects on social capital. As what he found was that residences of diverse cities and towns came to trust their neighbors and civic institutions less than residences of homogenous communities. He called it the “turtle effect.” There is something about diversity that makes turtles out of all of us. I interviewed him about this research and he was troubled because conservatives had used it as ammunition for their argument — “I told you the country was going to be in trouble if it becomes more diverse!”— but he said, “That’s not what my research shows, but it does show that for communities to forge strong social ties when they’re diverse is not easy and does not come natural; it is something that takes time and something we all have to work at.” I think that is something that all of us in the room need to think about, because regardless of what Pat Buchanan thinks, we are already in this multi-ethnic diverse nation.

We cannot go back. By the year 2050, whites will no longer be a majority of the population. They will still be the single largest ethnic group but they will not be a majority. That is the hard demographic fact that Mitt Romney did not see coming at him. (laughter) The Republican Party still has to come to terms with it and they have to grapple with that, but so do we all. It is not just a political matter and a voting matter; it speaks to how we will cohere as a multi-ethnic nation. How do we think of ourselves? And I would argue that we still have some work to do in terms of getting to know each other well as a multi-ethnic democracy. Yes, we have done so much over the last 50 years, but we all know that the work is not yet done.

Now I can tell you that the kind of race bigotry that Martin Luther King and Andy Young and Joseph Lowery and so many in the movement, including some in this room, spent their lives battling is essentially dead. I am not arguing that racism is dead. I got an email from a reader who called me a jigaboo, so I would certainly not argue that racism is dead, but I will tell you that as a powerful political force in this country that sort of racism was buried on November 6, 2012. That’s over. But we still have to struggle with getting to know each other well enough, getting to trust each other enough that this country can continue to be a vibrant democracy.

I look around in churches, which Martin Luther King criticized as largely segregated. We call ourselves a Christian nation, certainly in the Deep South, and yet at 11 o’clock on Sunday morning, we are still, what? segregated. (audience says “segregated” in unison with her) That has not changed very much, which is something to think about, something to think about. I think we also need to think about how and whether we are welcoming all these new Americans, who in my view have helped make this a stronger and younger country.

My home state has the distinction of having passed the toughest anti-immigration law in the country. Despite the fact that there are so few illegal immigrants in this state — hard to run into any — they make up about 2% or 3% of the entire state population. Yet, they are seen as such a threat. Now Alabama is not the only place that has done this, Georgia is not far behind. They have about the second or third harshest law aimed at illegal immigration in the country. Again, for a state that likes to talk about its morality, its Christianity … . I wonder what happened to that gospel about how we treat a stranger? There have certainly been Alabama churches that have risen up in protest against these immigration laws. It has not been anything, though, resembling a full-fledged movement, which is a little food for thought.

What about the Muslims among us? What do we do when a mosque is threatened? How is it when a group of Muslims want to build or expand a mosque, it violates building licenses. If we are truly going to become a vibrant, multi-ethnic democracy, we have to be welcoming and respectful of every law-abiding citizen. We know the Constitution is still a hallmark document that informs democratic movements all over the world. We brag about it a lot. We certainly brag about it to foreigners, but sometimes I wonder how far we actually take it. Again, a little food for thought. How will we become the vibrant multi-ethnic democracy that I hope we will be in the year 2040?

And on one note on the broader question on diversity: In the old days the struggle was of the righteous against the old system of Jim Crow. Today we have to find a way to battle against a broad range of prejudices that will keep us from investing in all of our talents. We have to battle not just racial prejudice, not just religious prejudice, but also prejudice over sexual orientation. I wasn’t sure if my president was going to do enough to endure full equality for gays and lesbians. I am proud of what he did in the last two years of his first term. I think there is much more work to be done. There is much more work for all of us to do on that.

I have written in columns more than once that gay marriage is not just a rite — R-I-T-E — but also a right —R-I-G-H-T. You don’t have to accept, your church doesn’t have to accept the marriage of gay men or the marriage of lesbian women to allow them to get married at the courthouse. No Baptist church, no Catholic church, and no Jewish synagogue, if they choose not to — none of those religious centers — has to marry a gay couple. Couples get married at the courthouse every single day. The same privileges that extend to the rest of us Americans, the right to be married before the law, ought to extend to all. Young people are already there. So I am confident we will see that change by the year 2020, by the year 2030.

I had a young woman in one of my classes, who describes herself as a conservative Christian, and she was trying to figure out something to write about. I said, “You know if you’re a conservative Christian you probably are opposed to gay marriage.” She said, “You know I have never really thought of gay marriage because it is none of my business.” I thought, well that is a dramatic change and one that we all need to be able to get our heads around.

The beloved community that Martin Luther King struggled for is, I think, in sight, but it is not quite here yet. We all have some work to do. From what I know, King never saw the movement as about black people. King’s beloved community was always about more than that. And I know that the final crusade he had in mind was a poor people’s crusade, that he intended to unite all poor people in America — black, white and brown. So, I know that King was committed to a beloved community that was multi-ethnic. I think he would be pleased to see how far we have come, but I am pretty sure he wouldn’t want us to rest on our laurels. I am pretty sure he would keep pushing us along for the work ahead. There is plenty more work to do, I urge you to continue that work.

Thank you very much. (standing ovation)