Tag Archives: social justice

Presidential Citizenship

I am writing this post in the waning hour of Inauguration Day, in anticipation of the Women’s March in the morning. I do not know what tomorrow will bring, but I have hope.  My neighbor, the noted poet and beloved teacher Kim Stafford, wrote a slim and wise volume of poetry in honor of the times, and I was particularly moved by this poem.

Presidential Citizens

When four guards led Nelson Mandela

first into the prison yard in chains,

he set the pace, slow and steady, so

they stumbled until they matched the step

he had chosen for them all.


Now our playground bully

has become school principal

and we are the students of his reign.

Wise rhythms, clear testimony

must be our love of country

guiding from below.


I have so many hopes for the future, at least as many as my fears. This is my hope for myself today–that I will be presidential in my citizenship. That I will proceed from this day with dignity and fairness, and with steadfast resolve to guide from below and so help to shape the course of those who have set themselves so far above.

Having looked at the mission statement and unity principles of the Women’s March I am very encouraged by the commitment to non-violence and to upholding human rights. My whole family will be marching in several cities. I am enormously encouraged to see that the Women’s March has hundreds of sister marches around the world. I hope that whether you march or not, you will be a fellow citizen in search of a more perfect union, a more inclusive, kind, just, and generous nation.

The poem Presidential Citizens was reprinted by permission of the author from The Flavor of Unity: Post-Election Poems by Kim Stafford (Portland, Oregon, Little Infinities, 2017).