Editor’s Note: On Tuesday, October 1, we honored 2013 Community Leadership Awardee, Educators for Fair Consideration (E4FC) for being an essential part of the DREAMers movement, catapulting the organizations role as a leader in both the Bay Area and as a national model in supporting and empowering immigrant youth. Below is Executive Director, Katharine Gin’s, acceptance speech on behalf of E4FC.
Thank you so much, Tessa, for that wonderful introduction, and to Sophie Constantinou for that fabulous film. I’m honored to accept this award on behalf of the entire staff and all the people gathered here tonight who make up this family we call E4FC.
I’d like to begin by reading an excerpt of a poem by Praise Odigie. Praise was born and raised in Nigeria, came to the U.S. at the age of 10, and now lives in Long Island, New York. She’s one of the winners of our national creativity contest this year.
How an Undocumented Immigrant Looks at America
…You ever ran for miles and miles to reach your destination
And realized that you didn’t have the key
You refused to give up
You knocked until your knuckles bled
And kept knocking and knocking and knocking
Hoping someone was listening
Hoping someone was there
Hoping you’d knock so hard you’d eventually break down the wall of indifference that lay ice cold over their conscience
There is something life changing about the moment
When you realize that there are no other options
There are no spare keys for the undocumented immigrant
And so you raise your tired knuckles
And you knock you knock and you knock
Hoping that someday
Someone will be kind enough to open the door
In accepting this Community Leadership Award, E4FC thanks…
Our family who did the unthinkable, who left behind their family and friends and loved ones and carried us on their backs and ran with us for miles and miles and miles to bring us to this door.
We thank our teachers and allies (especially Kiran Savage-Sangwan from the ACLU who nominated us for this award) for being there, for listening, for standing by our side, and for bandaging our tired knuckles.
We thank our supporters (especially all our champions at The San Francisco Foundation) for using your influence, your resources, your power to amplify the weight and sound of our knocking.
We thank you.
But let us not be mistaken. There is no magic key to unlock this country’s immigration debate. There is no right moment. No person kind enough to open this door for us. But we must not give up because there are no exit strategies, no backup plans, no self-deportations.
No, we do not want another option because this is our country, this is our future, this is our home. We are here to stay. We are the ones we have been waiting for.
Alone, in dark and deserted alleys, when no one is watching and together, on bright and sunny streets, when everyone can see, we must keep knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking.
We will break down this door.