Obama, McCain Call Youth to Action in Exclusive Teaching Tolerance Magazine Essays


On the brink of the presidential election, candidates John McCain and Barack Obama call America's youth to action and appeal for more community service in exclusive essays written for the Fall 2008 issue of Teaching Tolerance magazine. The magazine, which was released today, is being distributed free of charge to more than 400,000 educators nationwide.

The essays are part of a special youth engagement issue offering tips for teachers looking to educate students about civic involvement as the presidential election nears. Both candidates examine the power of community service and the high cost of inaction.

"[A]t this historic moment, we must ask our rising generation to serve their country…. Because that's how real change has always come — from ordinary people coming together to do extraordinary things," Obama writes in his essay, "Choices for a Rising Generation."

In "A More Peaceful and Prosperous World," McCain explores the cost of missed opportunity. "After 9/11, leaders in Washington missed an opportunity to call young people to service," he writes. "Young men and women, who are willing to give of themselves and sacrifice, want a leader who will ask something of them."

The candidates' essays and the latest issue of Teaching Tolerance can be read at www.teachingtolerance.org.

"Too many people in our country feel that their voices aren't being heard, that they can't change things," said Jennifer Holladay, director of the SPLC's Teaching Tolerance program. "These essays — and this issue of Teaching Tolerance — will serve as powerful reminders to students that they can truly make a difference by standing up for what they believe — and that all of us can and should give something back to our communities and our country."

The magazine also examines how encouragement from teachers and others helps students take action in their communities. And the special issue offers seven great moments in youth activism from 2007.

Keeping with the theme of civic engagement, this issue introduces Teaching Tolerance's newest teaching kit, Viva la Causa, and offers a lesson preview for teachers. The 39-minute film and accompanying teacher's guide spotlight one of the great episodes of the struggle for human rights in America — the grape strike and boycott of the 1960s. Led by César Chávez and Dolores Huerta, farmworkers and Americans from all walks of life joined together to demand justice and fairness for exploited farmworkers in the fields of California. Teaching Tolerance expects to distribute 50,000 copies of the teaching kit, free of charge, to educators over the next two years.

Teaching Tolerance magazine, published twice a year by the Southern Poverty Law Center, is the nation's leading journal serving educators on diversity issues. In 2007, the magazine was named Periodical of the Year by the Association of Educational Publishers for the second consecutive year. Teaching Tolerance films have garnered four Academy Award nominations and won two Oscars.