Governor Tom Vilsack choked back his emotions this (Monday) morning as he received a lifetime achievement award from the Iowa Commission on the Status of African-Americans. “I think of my own mother who taught me great lessons in life about not to give up on what you truly believe in,” Vilsack said. Every once in a while Vilsack mentions his mother, who is deceased. Shortly after Vilsack became governor he was under fire for the way the state handled a child abuse case and he told a crowd in Spirit Lake that his mother beat him as a child. More recently Vilsack has talked about his mother’s long battle with alcoholism and the climate of fear the reigned in his childhood home, yet Vilsack also has praised his mother for getting sober. Vilsack accepted the award during the state celebration of the Martin Luther King, Junior’s holiday, and he pledged to continue to work on civil rights issues.
Vilsack is linking his call for more state spending on preschoolers with the words of Dr. Martin Luther King. Vilsack says King would not rest until every Iowa four-year-old is enrolled in quality preschool. “Sadly, today, that’s not the case in our state. Not all of our youngsters — and particularly not all our youngsters of color — have that opportunity,” Vilsack says. “Their parents struggle every day to make ends meet. They don’t have the resources to necessarily afford quality child care.”
Vilsack says if Iowa is to live up to the dream King outlined for all of us, then the state must begin by ensuring Iowa’s youngest children get the best start in life.