News and Tribune

Columns

January 28, 2013

CUMMINS: The American Dream is alive and well

The American Dream is not a myth. It happens all the time, and that’s why so many people want to come here. My ancestors did and so did yours. I vaguely remember someone saying, “You can grow up to be whatever you want to be, maybe president someday.” The presidency didn’t interest me, so I dreamed about becoming a ball star, throwing, shooting or kicking one. I never dreamed about becoming a rock star, because there weren’t any back then, but we had loose rocks all over our place. While hauling them off the hills, I dreamed there must be something better than this, and there was.   

 I never dreamed life would be so good to me, particularly during my old, but “new” days. It is because my folks and America were good to me. I lived with the notion that I’m free to be and do whatever I want to, but it’s up to me. We need to tell every child that. Although talents, abilities and the luck of the draw are unequal, the opportunity to be what you want to be must remain a realizable dream. If we ever lose that, then it won’t be America. 

Perhaps the greatest example of the realization of the American Dream had its roots in the birth of a bi-racial child in 1961 in Hawaii, not Kenya. His dad, whom he saw only briefly twice in his life, ran away. His mother bounced around, married and divorced again, struggled and survived at one point on food stamps. When things became too tough, the young man, called Barry, went to live with his white maternal grandparents from Kansas.

In reflecting upon his childhood, Barry wrote, “That my father looked nothing like the people around me, that he was pitch black and my mother milk white, barely registered in my mind.” He also admitted smoking dope to “push questions of who I was out of my mind.” Encouraged by his family, he was a good student, and holds degrees from Columbia and Harvard Law School, graduating magna cum laude.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Columns
LOCAL MAGAZINES
Easter 2014 photos


Click on any photo to purchase it.

SPECIAL CONTENT
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
AP Video
Bon Jovi Helps Open Low-income Housing in Philly Pipeline Opponents Protest on National Mall Hagel Gets Preview of New High-tech Projects S.C. Man Apologizes for Naked Walk in Wal-Mart New Country Music Hall of Fame Inductees Named 'Piles' of Bodies in South Sudan Slaughter New Yorkers Celebrate Cherry Blossom Blooms SCOTUS Hears Tv-over-Internet Case Justice Dept. Broadening Criteria for Clemency Chief Mate: Crew Told to Escape After Passengers 'Miss Meadows' Takes Holmes Back to Her Roots Biden: Russia Must Stop Talking, Start Acting David Moyes Out As Manchester United Manager Raw: Leopard Bites Man in India Iowa College Finds Beauty in Bulldogs High Court to Hear Dispute of TV Over Internet Stowaway Teen Forces Review of Airport Security
2013 Photos of the year


Take a look at our most memorable photos from 2013.