Somebody ought to do something

“Putting Our Values to Work: A Guide for the Association Human and Civil Rights Activist” as found on

Often times when people hear or read about a wrong, they say somebody ought to do something about it. But the truth is, when people say that, they often mean: Somebody else ought to do something.

Activists are the ones who step up and do something. They lead by example. What’s more, they invite others to join them. Activists make the world go around.

Every day, when 13-year-old Jack McShane rode his bike past New Orleans City Park, it bothered him. It wasn’t right. City Park is one of the great urban parks in America. But after Hurricane Katrina flooded it, the city abandoned it. And weeds and long grass took over.

So one Saturday morning Jack took his Dad’s lawn mower over to City Park and just started mowing. “Well, nobody was doing it, so I had to,” Jack says. And for many weekends thereafter, this skinny 13-year-old boy could be seen somewhere on City Park’s 1,300 acres, mowing away.

What’s more, Jack recruited other volunteers, mainly other teenagers, into his grassroots mowing club which he named the “Mow-Rons.” And the Mow-Rons are now an official, non-profit charity and have purchased dozens of mowers. Each week they clear a little more of City Park and bring a little more of New Orleans back to life.

“It’s really great to see people having fun in the park again,” says Jack.

Jack McShane is an activist.

You can be one too. See a problem—take it on!

Sick of all education being reduced to a standardized test score?—do something about it.

Class sizes too big in your school?—make class size reduction your issue, take action.

Worried about the kids who drop out of school and are never heard from again?—speak up, reach out.

Are students who are struggling to learn English falling further and further behind academically?—do something about it, help get them help.

Wonder why more minority students are not taking college prep courses?—ask some hard questions, kick up a fuss.

Is your union trying to bargain decent wages and benefits for you?—stand up and support your union.

Fed up with politicians who talk piously about hold public schools accountable, then fail to deliver the resources needed to improve your school?—hold the politicians accountable, put them on the spot.

Be an activist.

Education is the human and civil rights issue of the 21st Century.

To work for better schools and better pay for educations is to be a human and civil rights activist.

See something that needs changing? Be the person who does something about it. Be an activist.

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