Earlier in the morning, when various important people were introduced, I took note of the fact that the mayor of Hollywood was at the table right next to ours. Afterwards, we decided that we should speak to him.
The head of Admissions and I went over and introduced ourselves and our campus. I realized that we likely wouldn’t have much time with him, so I came right to the point and told him that we could really use a bus line on Taft Street.
He said that it wasn’t only up to the City of Hollywood, that we would have to talk to others, like the Broward Transit people, but he would see what he could do.
I said, “We would really appreciate that. I know that a lot of government attention goes to the beach and the downtown area of Hollywood, and I live in the historic district, so I understand that it’s easier to work for the prettier parts of town. But the citizens who live out west need government help too.”
He said, “I would like to come visit your campus.”
We said, “We’d love to have you come visit.”
We asked if he had a card, and he didn’t. I gave him one of mine, and we shook hands and assured him that we’d be in touch.
Will we get a busline? I know it's not that simple. Will the mayor come to the campus? I won't be surprised if he doesn't. Will the poorer residents get some government attention? Probably not.
Still, I feel good, because I could tell he was in the process of brushing us off, and something I said (I think) made him stop and talk about coming to campus. He's a new mayor, and fairly young, so maybe I planted a seed. Maybe he'll remember that people like me are paying attention.
I also like that my brain is now going in different directions. I'm thinking of looking up the representative on the Commission that represents the school's zip code. I'm thinking of a variety of political events and discussions that the school could host. It's good to start thinking of these things before the next election season goes into full swing.
I'm feeling good because I'm remembering that lots could get done at a local level, when it comes to politics. I can't make Trump quit sending out tweets that bring us to the brink of annihilation, but if I could get a busline to an impoverished area, that would make me feel proud.
After we returned to our table, my colleagues looked at me with a mixture of awe and something else. One of them said, "I didn't know you had it in you." I think it was said in admiration.
Truth be told, I didn't know that I was going to say what I did until the words were flowing out of my mouth. But I feel like I've been trained through decades of social justice work, both in church groups and secular groups. One must seize the opportunity to speak to politicians who might be able to make a difference. One must be polite, direct, and forceful--it's a delicate balance, and one I think I achieved.