The March on Washington at 50

San Diego

In “How the Streets Honor MLK” [Sept. 2/9], Camilo José Vergara quotes a local resident as saying in reference to a Martin Luther King mural: “Rosa Parks sat so Martin Luther King could walk. Martin Luther King walked so Obama could run. Obama ran so we all can fly.” Those words actually come from the song “My President Is Black,” by Jay-Z. Too often people simply see the materialistic side of hip-hop and overlook the social conscience roots the genre was largely born of, and that many artists still use music to make political statements.



Martin Luther King’s famous speech talks about all “men” being equal. Women helped in the equality movement, even after they realized that men ran it and it wasn’t going to help them in their struggle for equality. It wasn’t until long after black men got the vote that women were allowed to vote. Women are always having to wait for equality. And no one seems to worry that the Equal Rights Amendment was never ratified and that to this day women don’t have equal rights. We need to focus on passing the Equal Rights Amendment, which would at last bring equality under the law to women as well as men. 


Tip in Cash—Please

Brandon, Fla.

Some time ago I became aware of the injustice served up to restaurant workers as described by Laura Flanders in “Serving Up Justice” [Sept. 2/9]. Because my husband and I knew that waiters and waitresses earn little besides their tips, we made it a point to give large tips. We also asked if tips included on credit card payments actually went to them or were simply absorbed. If they did not get the money, we would leave cash on the table. But if tips get better, restaurant owners could say, “Why increase minimum pay?” We need both, not one or the other. 


Education ‘Reform’ Is a Scam

Chillicothe, Ohio

Amy Dean, in “School Activists Unite” [Aug. 19/26], is right that we need to unite and take to the streets to stop the phony “reforms” of public education, which are designed not to improve schools but to destroy the public sector unions that are critical to the overall labor movement. They are also designed to frack schools, parents and kids for profit. American public education has not failed! It has succeeded admirably, overall, and now needs improvement—not dismantling.


Monetize This!

Blooming Grove, N.Y.

Can there be a more perfect description of the current state of higher learning in America than Michael Hofmann’s poem “Higher Learning” [Aug. 5/12]? I can tell you it applies to two-year community colleges (I teach English at SUNY Orange in New York’s Hudson Valley) as much as it does four-year institutions like the University of Florida, where Hofmann teaches poetry. We, too, have coin-slots on our copy machines. We, too, boost distance learning. We, too, are top-heavy with MVPs. Go Colts!


Johnstown, Pa.

It was such a pleasure to encounter a coherent, accessible poem in The Nation! Thank you, Michael Hofmann, for so accurately (and hilariously) describing what “monetizing the university” has brought us to! I now feel truly free to resent the incessant coverage of Penn State in our local media.