We love the fifties—
a time of prosperity, new cars and shining faces;
a time of peace and bright promise.
We had won in war,
and we were still winning.
But we lucky ones forget
—or never knew—
that for millions of others
it was a time of losing—
losing for their skin color,
losing for their birthplace,
losing for their sex,
losing just for being known as losers.
“We” were not all of us.
It is said,
“We must restore that golden time.”
But how dare we?
“Well, some must always lose,”
comes the reply.
but if some lose,
let it be in spite of our full effort
to help every person thrive on what Walt Whitman called
“The democratic wisdom underneath,
Like solid ground for all.”
The dream born in 1776
was alive in the fifties and lives today
—but it is still in its adolescence.
The dream needs work.
It is time for us to learn from one another,
to lift one another’s burdens
to honor every person,
to press on—not against—but side by side,
and make the democratic dream a reality for all of us.