Take Me to Your Leader

Take Me to Your Leader: the Road Trip

While most of our election unit colleagues are busy gearing up for the Republican and Democratic Conventions next month, we're preparing for a different kind of adventure. Come convention-time, we will pack our clothes and microphones and embark on that greatest of American traditions: the cross-country road trip.

And where will we go? Thus far, we only have a rough draft. We'll begin in Chicago, Barack Obama's hometown, and slowly make our way to Phoenix, John McCain's hometown. Our trip is premised on the idea that every hometown has a leader. So while McCain and Obama are accepting their party nominations, we want you to take us to your leader.

Who is it that makes a difference in your community? Is it your congressman, an activist, an elementary school teacher, Boy Scout headmaster, the textile magnate, pastor, rabbi, or the 6 o'clock news anchor? Is it the high school football star who was drafted into the NFL, the financial advisor who helped you avoid foreclosure, the union boss who stood up for higher wages, or the woman who saved downtown by opening that new burger joint? Or is it your brother, your aunt, or your mom?

We leave in three weeks and want to hear from you. We may not immediately respond, but believe us, we're taking notes.



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great idea.
along your travels, please stop in at a fair amount of UNION OFFICES & SHOPS or UNION MEMBER VISITED "JOINTS".
Thanks so much.

Sent by Tim Tracy | 9:31 AM | 8-24-2008

There are so many folks in our country that keep the wheels turning in the lives of their neighbors. The small eastern Kentuckty town of Prestonsburg, and the mountain communities around them are filled with such people who spend their lives caring for others. (please don't publish the following portion, as I don't want to publish their names without their knowing -- they are very humble folks, but would be great people to go to for this project) John and Jean Rosenberg are two such people there who have worked to empower and defend folks in the community. Jean has worked for decades with local women going back to school, and John began the Legal Aid program in Kentucky over 30 years ago.

Sent by Audra | 8:05 AM | 8-25-2008

While traveling thruogh Missouri and possibly Kansas, consider stopping by the Presidential Museums for TRUMAN and EISENHOWER, for some perspective.

Sent by j harring | 8:15 AM | 8-25-2008

I listened to your report this morning from Chicago's south side and heard you were coming to Indiana and wanting ideas for leaders. I have a great leader in Indianapolis education- someone who is changing the face of our public education system and inspired me to enter the education field as a teacher. Please consider talking to Dr. Eugene White of Indianapolis Public Schools. I would love to be a part of it as well. THANKS!

Sent by Windi Hornsby | 9:03 AM | 8-25-2008

When (and if) you make it to California I have a suggestion for a great leader...Philip Yenawine, co-founder of the Visual Thinking Strategies. This educational methodology is changing the face of education. For more information see VUE.org or visualthinkingstrategies.org.

Sent by Hope Torrents | 9:21 AM | 8-25-2008

Two food place suggestions:
1) In southern Indiana, go to Haubstadt on US 41 just north of Evansville - there, the Haub Haus offers 5 star food in a town of significantly less than 2000 people - by all means have their black bean soup with onions and sherry

2) in southern Illinois, go to Carbondale and Mary Lou's for breakfast - it's a greasy spoon and any egg dish order will automatically get you the best biscuits and gravy anywhere - it's a hangout where everybody who's anybody is know by first name and where students, faculty and townies mingle regularly.

Sent by Jack Frerker | 9:51 AM | 8-25-2008

The only place in Kansas City to get the real "person on the street" take is the small diner-type "Town Topic", the one on Broadway, just about 6 blocks South of I-70/670 Interstate. It's open 24 hours and the "Truck Stop" breakfast is world renowned.

Sent by Don Potts | 10:44 AM | 8-25-2008

When you go thru MO, you should go to Mexico, Mo. to the local Mexico restaurant, the older one, not the one "out by the Wal-Marts", for a talk with the middle of the middle of America. Don't miss it.

Sent by J. T. | 11:06 AM | 8-25-2008

You should really take a detour to Lizana,Mississippi and meet Karen Parker. Karen helps run Project Hope and Compassion which provides food and shelter for volunteers that come to help Hurricane Katrina survivors. Karen is truly an amazing person. She cooks for nearly a hundred volunteers daily and still has no place to call home. She is truly a leader and inspiration and well worth the detour.

Sent by Brianne Grealish | 1:13 PM | 8-25-2008

I teach high school English in Salina, KS. Geographically, we sit in middle of the state, at the intersection of Interstates 70 and 35. As a teacher, it is disheartening to hear so many negative comments about the state of public education. In Salina America, we are consistently meeting AYP in the midst of continuing cuts and low salaries. There are so many excellent teachers here; and I'm so proud to be one of them. Teachers are unsung leaders and deserve attention and recognition.

Sent by Tina Schaub | 1:22 PM | 8-25-2008

I am looking for the story aired this morning. Itwas about a woman on the south side of Chicago who ran a restaurant. Can you tell me where to find it. It was a great story.

Sent by John Forde | 1:32 PM | 8-25-2008

Thank you for interviewing Izola White she was a bright light in my San Francisco morning fog!

I love her tenacity, positive outlook, and sass.

I look forward to the other local leaders you will meet on this adventure.

- Coyote Karrick, CA

Sent by Coyote Karrick | 1:40 PM | 8-25-2008

John Forde: you can listen to the story about Izola White here: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=93927132

Sent by Evie Stone, NPR | 2:14 PM | 8-25-2008

Check out a very effective "leader" in our community....Christopher 2X...He's a defacto leader that has just stepped up and stepped in, in assisting the whole community. Altho he's black, he has helped whites, hispanics, Somali's ect.

Sent by Paterick G Curran | 3:34 PM | 8-25-2008

I love this it is really cool. I heard two interview stops today, one in Chicago and one in Gary, both were interesting. I would like for you to go to Fort Worth Texas. See Gwendolyn Robinzine. She is my mother and a definitely leader in many aspects. She is the youngest of four girls but you would think she is the eldest because of her leadership. She is 5 foot 3 inches tall about a 130 lbs and has driven the city bus for 28 years or more. She is the mother of two. She is a leader in her family, church, community, neighborhood and work. She has helped thousands. I hope you make it there and have her make you some good old Texas brisket while you are there, you won't want to leave!

Sent by LaShay Avery | 7:28 PM | 8-25-2008

In addition to Paterick Curran's comment (3:34pm est, 8/25), I too would like to suggest that you ask an imam (mosque leader) who his leader would be. Furthermore, I think it'd be interesting to see the difference between asking the leader of a predominately African-American mosque (i.e. Masjid Mu'minun, St.Louis, MO) and that of a predominately immigrant mosque (i.e. Dar us Sallam Masjid, St. Louis, MO). Thanks.

Sent by Yusuf A. H. | 7:49 PM | 8-25-2008

You need to spend some time in Kansas, a state that typifies the electoral split between traditional conservatives and emerging liberal voting blocs.

Kansas is home to several Presidential aspirants - Dwight Eisenhower, Bob Dole, and Alf Landon; the state where the landmark Brown vs. Topeka Board of Education case originated; a place where school boards battle over teaching of creationism; a strongly Republican state with a highly regarded female Democratic governor.

Wichita epitomizes these contrasts. Talk to auto dealers, who have been among the political leaders - formally and informally - in the city.

Sent by Robert Morgan | 1:36 PM | 8-26-2008

I want to be like Molly when I grow up. She has been such a huge inspiration to me, and works harder than most women 1/4 of her age. Here is something I found on the internet about the dedication of the public wildscape she founded in Arlington, TX, (and works countless hours in). That's Molly in the blue:


Sent by cherie' king | 4:08 PM | 8-26-2008

August 27th Wednesday
My son called to say you were in Lakeview Arkansas. First I would tell you that there are a lot of mosquitoes in the cypress swamp across the highway from Lakeview.
But the best place to stay in the area is The Edwardian Inn on Biscoe as you drive into Helena Arkansas.

Sent by Rufus Crow | 4:49 PM | 8-27-2008

I am the fearless leader of a small business in risk of "going under"after over 18 years.

Everyday I think that things will get better after a change in the White House, but I'm not sure I will even be able to survive until things do change.

Stop by and chat with us if you make it to Austin Texas, I would love to share my story.

Thank's Mucho,

Sent by Susan Bremer | 7:20 PM | 8-27-2008

If you want to meet and talk with a fascinating man, consider visiting Marion, Illinois, and meet the Mayor, Robert Butler, an 84? year old who has served as that town's mayor since the late 1950's. I am in my late 50's, and he is the only mayor that I remember here.

He is one of the longest-serving mayors in the country, I think, and has done a remarkable job of moving this small town into the 21st century. Growth here has been amazing for a small southern Illinois town, and he deserves a great deal of credit for that.

But, beyond that, he is just an interesting fellow. I am not a Republican like Mayor Butler, but he has my admiration and respect. One of the last of his breed..........

Hey, and if you come, you can also hop over to Carbondale and visit Mary Lou's restaurant for biscuits and gravy, as an earlier poster suggested!! Yum....

Sent by Sandy | 9:08 AM | 8-28-2008

Are you visiting Albuquerque, New Mexico? If so I suggest stopping by the Peace and Justice Center (near the University of New Mexico). The volunteers and workers there are leaders in the community. Also suggest visiting Java Joes for the ambience and my friends Postcard Exhibit.

Sent by Robert Messenger | 8:16 PM | 8-29-2008

Anywhere you go, you are likely to be near a Scout troop. Scouting teaches boys and girls to be leaders by putting them in charge of running their own organization. It works best when parents and adult leaders back off and allow the young people themselves learn how to lead.

Find a unit (by contacting a local Scout office) wherever you are that is doing that effectively, and let the young leaders be part of your story.

Sent by Alan Sill | 9:21 AM | 9-6-2008

You might want to stop at lansing,MI and see my dad Dr.Amit Ghose who has been helping this community in multitude of ways and playing a great role in medical leadership;this I suppose is the ultimate American dream.

Sent by Natasha Ghose 8th grade Kinawa Middle School.Okemos;MI | 9:45 AM | 9-7-2008