Equal Opportunity Day

November 19, the anniversary of the Gettysburg Address (given in 1863) has been designated Equal Opportunity Day. Read these words by President Eisenhower, spoken this day in 1957, and see if they don’t apply even more today.

“Today, when our national strength is being tested at every point, this tradition takes on added urgency. Our nation’s economy can ill afford to waste the talent and abilities of any individual because of discrimination against him on the basis of his race, his color, or his creed. Every citizen who helps to make legal and economic equality a living fact, is helping America.” Today we might add “or his or her gender.”

There’s a cartoon I have seen on the Internet, which shows three boys before a fence with three boxes beside them. I’ll explain it in words, but to see the cartoon, click here. Equal means each boy gets exactly the same box, even though they are different heights, and it means one boy cannot see over the fence because he is so much shorter than the others. Equality or equity means that they pile up two of the boxes so that the shorter can now see over the fence. The tallest needs no box, the middle needs one, and the shortest needs two so that they can all achieve their objective. This can carry over to life, where some who come from positions of privilege do not need any more help than their own hard work, but others may need a hand up in the form of some kind of social aid. I hope on this Equal Opportunity Day, we all are willing to fight for equity or equality for all.


Quotes about equal opportunity.

While our country has made great strides in breaking down the barriers which for so long denied equal opportunity to all Americans, we are not yet the beautiful symphony of brotherhood of Dr. King’s dream.–Adam Schiff

Time is an equal opportunity employer. Each human being has exactly the same number of hours and minutes every day. Rich people can’t buy more hours. Scientists can’t invent new minutes. And you can’t save time to spend it on another day. Even so, time is amazingly fair and forgiving. No matter how much time you’ve wasted in the past, you still have an entire tomorrow.–Denis Waitley

I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve.–Nelson Mandela

All of us do not have equal talent, but all of us should have an equal opportunity to develop our talent.–John F. Kennedy

Can a woman become a genius of the first class? Nobody can know unless women in general shall have equal opportunity with men in education, in vocational choice, and in social welcome of their best intellectual work for a number of generations.–Anna Garlin Spencer

I want to state upfront, unequivocally and without doubt: I do not believe that any racial, ethnic or gender group has an advantage in sound judging. I do believe that every person has an equal opportunity to be a good and wise judge, regardless of their background or life experiences.–Sonia Sotomayor

Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home.–Eleanor Roosevelt

I stand for simple justice, equal opportunity and human rights. The indispensable elements in a democratic society – and well worth fighting for.–Helen Suzman

The problem … is emblematic of what hasn’t changed during the equal opportunity revolution of the last 20 years. Doors opened; opportunities evolved. Law, institutions, corporations moved forward. But many minds did not.–Anna Quindlen

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