My father was a first generation American born to Russian-Jewish immigrants. My mother was born into a family of New England yankees. I am married to a man whose father was born in Puerto Rico and whose mother was born in Rhode Island from a background of Welsh and English. I have lived in California, Hawaii, Texas, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island, crossing the country back in the days of Jim Crow laws, have seen them finally repealed under a new Civil Rights Act, have lived through World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and have tried to keep my congressmen and senators from voting to go to Iraq. Through it all I continued to be a Democrat, as my parents were, because I witnessed the inequities of life as they affected those less fortunate than I. I believe that people should speak out when they see democracy being threatened. I have tried to do this during my lifetime, but I realize how for many decades Americans allowed their rights to become overrun by a ruling class because they were too afraid to take a stand. America, I believe, is finally waking up from its slumber and will eventually reinstate the principles of equal opportunity for all future generations. To be American means to embrace optimism because this nation has proved that it can rise to any occasion.