Why We Went to New York

We went to Gettysburg (PA) in 2002 to come together, unite, and discover the value of diversity.

We went to Vicksburg (MS) in 2003 to witness up close the differences which reside in all of us.

We went to Tahlequah (OK) in 2004 to clear a path for us to see the way to the enlightened society we desire to be.

We went to Chicago (IL) in 2005 in search of "The True American". We wanted to experience immigration and diversity in action. We wanted to create student ambassadors to lead our communities into the future.

We went to The Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee in 2006 to compare the diversity found in nature with that found in today’s society. We went through a program of team-building in hopes of developing in our students some trust, goodwill, and stewardship in fostering acceptance of others who are different.

Now, we are on our way towards New York City in 2007. A destination that is full of symbols and hopes. Between 1892 and 1954, Ellis Island was the main port by way 12 million immigrants entered our country. Something had caused these immigrants (our ancestors and relatives) to leave their former homes and seek out a new life. They were greeted by the Statue of Liberty, as they entered the harbor, after enduring many hardships and surviving a long and sometimes treacherous journey. Many yearned for something better. In Emma Lazarus’ famous poem (The New Colossus - 1883) found on the base pedestal of the Statue it states,
"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…"

Some were well received as the poem suggests, as they entered America, with relatives already waiting for them to arrive. But, unfortunately, many immigrants were treated poorly upon arrival; and given a rather harsh set of obstacles to overcome to become United States citizens. Some immigrants were not allowed to enter our country and were deported because of disease, discrimination, illiteracy, etc. We hope to gain for our students some inspiration from these enterprising peoples as they struggled for much sought-after freedoms and a new life.

As we continue our trek in New York City, we hope to draw some strength and resolve from a stop at the Ground Zero Remains and Memorial of the Trade Center Tower 9-11 Attacks. We hope to achieve some ideas on how to maintain world peace from a stop at the United Nations.

In the end, we hope that our participants will be willing to step forward and lead us to a new spirit of cooperation and acceptance of all peoples and their differences. We want our students to promote an environment where each person will be examined on their own individual merits and not be pre-judged based on hateful stereotypes and beliefs. We would like this country to achieve the goal of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s "I Have a Dream" Speech, where these words were evoked:

"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."
-- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (delivered 28 August 1963, at the Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C.)

Robin L. Roberts - Tri-Valley Team Leader
December 29, 2006

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McLean County Diversity Project   c/o Jeffrey A. Schwartz   16043 Dorado Road Bloomington, IL 61705