Rahm Emanuel could learn something from these kids

13 Mar

Rahm Emanuel has a lot to learn.

The mayor of Chicago is a fine politician and I don’t want to disparage his work. But he was recently blown out of the water by a group of high school kids.

At the 2012 Boys & Girls Clubs of Chicago Youth of the Year banquet, Mr. Emanuel spoke before an audience of 800 about the importance of after school education. He touted his recent legislation and budget maneuvers. He tried to sound accomplished. And really, no one disagreed with his message.

His speech served as an introduction for 10 urban, underrepresented kids who had been nominated as Youth of the Year by their local Boys & Girls Club. The kids were all high school juniors or seniors and they came from all over the Chicago area, in fact, many of its worst neighborhoods. The kids had submitted essays, interviewed with a panel of judges, and on that night, were set to deliver speeches about the importance of Boys & Girls Clubs in their lives.

Each kid spoke in turn, before the same audience of 800, and each spoke with poise, composure, and sincerity. Some talked about their lives in low-income households of single moms. Others spoke about growing up surrounded by gangs. All spoke about how Boys & Girls Clubs gave them confidence, support, and a second home.

As I wiped tears from my eyes or laughed along with the kids, it struck me that Mr. Emanuel could learn from these kids and from their stories. It was the kids that delivered heart-warming speeches. It was the kids that inspired the audience. It was the kids that demonstrated the importance of Boys & Girls Clubs. And if Mr. Emanuel had just spoken about  how proud these kids made him and said that he will fight tirelessly to help other kids like this, then he could have been great. But instead, he delivered a political stump speech and totally missed the point.

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2 Responses to “Rahm Emanuel could learn something from these kids”

  1. Sue Leadem March 13, 2012 at 9:25 am #

    I’m overwhelmingly proud of my daughter and all she does to help this same group of kids…..

  2. jbleakly March 13, 2012 at 1:56 pm #

    Right on, Becca! Keep up the good work!

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