by Dr. Michael Flanagan
Okay I will put it out there, I am probably not what one would envision when they hear of a group called the MOMocrats. The “ocrats” part is clear. We are trying to be part of the political process. Voices for the 99% of Americans that cannot afford the campaign cash to lobby politicians to act in the best interests of our children. The “MOM” part, as it applies to me, necessitates a bit more of an explanation. I was lucky enough to be accepted by this group of grassroots organizers, and one of its leaders and editor-in-chief Cynthia Liu, but I am sure they were a bit suspect at first. Probably keeping an eye on me even now. They may have asked how this guy ends up going to the DNC as a member of a group of activist mothers?
And a valid question it would be. Crossed my mind a few times as well. As a justification to people who might inquire, I had thought to articulate the fact that I am a single father sharing custody while raising my 12-year old daughter. I could put up my 30 years in education, or my work with the Badass Teachers Association (BATs), but that does not really cut it. Therefore all I will really do is thank the MOMocrats for allowing me to be included in their group. My participation started when my colleague in BATs, Tina Andres posted that the MOMocrats were looking for people who would be interested in going to the DNC and blogging or podcasting from the event. Each person, who would share credentials to get into the DNC at different times, would focus on a few specific issues. I requested for education and social justice. Since becoming a member of other activist groups, I have learned to seize any opportunity to speak, write or participate in actions. I have learned to leave my doubts by the wayside, and dive in. It is advice I give my students, and my daughter. If you have a forum to speak and be heard, take it. So I asked to join with the MOMocrats.
I will be honest though, I did not think I would actually be accepted. I was sure someone else would be interested in this offer. But, it didn’t hurt to ask. I do not like sitting there with a handful of “woulda, coulda, shoulda, but didn’t”. This presidential election will be historic, and potentially earth shaking. I would not want to look my daughter in the eye and tell her I had the opportunity to participate and contribute from the event, but hesitated because I was not a mother and did not even ask to join. When Cynthia contacted me and asked for my information so she could request Secret Service clearance for me, she at no time made me feel as if I was an outsider. She even offered to call me a “DADocrat”. I responded no, that I want to be a MOMocrat. I am proud and humbled that they are that confident as to include me, not just because I am a man and father but, because I was a stranger to them. Yet accept me they did, and I am now on the team. I am a MOMocrat and I will be loud about it. Now that I think about it, I am wondering if I can get a T-shirt before the convention? But I digress.
I have been lucky enough to work with many, many mothers in the education movement. Women who constantly fight for their children, and for our public schools. Mothers who opted their children out of inappropriate high stakes testing. I have listened to mothers who have lost their children to systemic racism and violence in our society. Seen their neighborhood schools closed and charter schools, sold to the highest bidder, move in to take their places. I have worked with brave teachers who have risked their jobs to stand up for the learning conditions of our students.
I am privileged to be welcomed into the MOMocrats. We are going to the DNC, to interview and convince delegates and politicians to represent us. Stand for our issues, our families, and most of all our children. We will write what we see and interview those who are there. We will make the voices of mothers known and heard. We are standing for our children, and we are not going anywhere. Mothers are the ultimate special interest group. My colleagues and I in the MOMocrats will be posting updates, podcasts, blogs interviews etc in order to convey a sense of what is going on at the convention. I am writing this piece as a way of introduction to the members and readers of MOMocrats. My name is Mike, and I am a MOMocrat.