Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Wynton Marsails at Tulane

Now is the time for your generation to reclaim the energy, optimism, and fire that is the real American spirit. I am confident that you students can, and will, make an incalculable contribution to the intelligent and compassionate rebuilding of our city and protection of our dispersed populace. In doing so, you will be using your collective power to redefine the soul of our nation... Don’t be disheartened by the destruction of the hurricane or by political ineptitude or even by the apathy of others. Remember, we are all home. That is why I urge you not to let this moment pass without sending a clear message to your peers and elders around the world, “New Orleans will be rebuilt, and it will be rebuilt with an intensity, with an intelligence, with an impatience and with a freshness that only serious young people can bring.” One of the great lessons of the Civil Rights Movement – when the minds and hearts of enough citizens are focused on change – America changes very quickly. I know that the challenge of rebuilding may seem insurmountable. But we have a roadmap to success - the path of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Because he didn’t settle for “that’s just the way things are,” we don’t have to. Because he led an intelligent assault on all sorts of sanctioned corruption, we too can use our intelligence to project integrity… You will hear that the most immediate concerns for New Orleans are the wetlands, the levees and the homes. But I’m here to tell you that the most immediate concern for New Orleans is the well-being of our displaced neighbors spread out in a Diaspora all over the United States. Look around the room … and I want you all to understand that there are forces all around you who wish to exploit division, rob you of your freedom, and tell you what to think. They are afraid of change … some of these forces are even within you. But I’m here to tell you, when young folks are motivated to action, when they act with insight, soul and fire, they can rekindle the weary spirit of a slumbering nation. It’s time somebody woke us up. He didn't mention the Return of the Chocolate People or the Angry God's Ass-Kicking Weather Revenge. Perhaps he just forgot.

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