Arc continues to bend towards justice
At the August Board meeting, I mentioned how that day represented the 100th anniversary of the constitutional amendment granting women the right to vote. That milestone was the culmination of decades of effort by the brave suffragettes. On this day in 1872, a seminal event in that movement took place, when Susan B. Anthony was arrested and later convicted for voting in NY, leading to what came to be known as the Susan B. Anthony Amendment, or the 19th Amendment. This month, the power of that movement was on full display, as the sentiments of suburban women and the turnout of black women were decisive in altering the outcome of our Presidential election, and perhaps the nation’s future.
At the June Board meeting, I spoke of the Juneteenth celebrations, and separately, how that date was 70 years to the day that the Group Areas Act was passed into law in S. Africa, memorializing apartheid as state policy by separating residential and business areas by race. On this day in 1993, a new constitution was approved in S. Africa, introducing universal adult suffrage and finally abolishing the ugly system of Apartheid.
Both of these painful journeys evidence the progress and regression experienced by societies as they advance, some detours short-lived and others prolonged, but each validates the arc continues to ben bend towards justice. We’ve witnessed first-hand how societies and institutions can deviate rapidly and severely in one direction or another, and how critical an active and well-informed populace is to provide a check against unfortunate digressions and to drive positive change.
On a side note, on this day in 2003, the MA Supreme Court ruled by a single vote that the state’s ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional, making MA the first state to do so. But before their legislature was able to change their law 4 months later, as required, a young Mayor, a month into his term, took it upon himself to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples here in San Francisco, kick-starting with his bold leadership, the erratic path jurisdictions across the nation traveled to what is now widely accepted as simply the right and decent outcome. Thank you Governor Newsom.
Lastly, an information item. At the May board meeting, we celebrated the birthday of the Golden Gate Bridge. I noted how the grand opening occurred more than 20 years after the bridge was designed and following failed bond offerings to finance the bridge that occurred at the height of the Great Depression. Recently, the bond offering for the Desert Express HSR from Las Vegas to Los Angeles was postponed by its sponsors. Another grand infrastructure project, more than a decade in progress, and on the precipice of overcoming a final hurdle to its groundbreaking, found that the markets were not amenable to such an aspirational project during the heart of an economic crisis.
We understand large and audacious endeavors are never easy or straightforward, even in the best of times. But we believe that with perseverance, Desert Express will come back to market and prevail, establishing a model for other ambitious HSR projects across the country.