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Minorities playing Major roles in the government: Diversity in Bushs Cabinet

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When I was kid, I idolized the great Martin Luther King Jr. Listening to his speeches aroused my desire of becoming a politician. I wanted to be a leader like MLK, who valiantly fought against societys discrimination against his racial group. I told my friends about my dream, and they just laughed at me, telling me that You aint MLK brother! At that time, they knew that the odds are not in favor for minorities like us who bid to become government officials, given the racial prejudice that existed back then. I reassessed my goals, wondering if pursuing a career in politics was a good idea.

However, as society evolves, and as minority groups gain more influence and strength, the American government has realized that the best way to serve a country with diverse communities is to pattern their structure with this diversity. Slowly, minorities such as African-Americans, Asian Americans, Hispanics, even homosexuals are filling in government seats. They have displayed their solid leadership, and they have shown how much they can contribute to the betterment of this country. As I witnessed these developments, I thought, maybe theres still a chance for me to live up my childhood dream.

Currently, President Bushs cabinet has its fair share of minority members who loyally carry out their duties in the government. They are testaments that leaders are not determined by the color of their skin or ancestry, but by their burning passion to lead and serve the people. I have researched the profiles of a few cabinet members, and when you marvel at their outstanding accomplishments, remember that they also belong to minority groups.

The Secretary of State: Colin Powell

Retired general Colin Powell has molded a career of serving the United States Government. He studied geology in the City College of New York, and his military inclination started in his excellent performance in the Reserve Officers Training Corps. He joined the U.S. Army as a 2nd lieutenant, and he was sent to Vietnam where he earned recognitions for his heroism. For his duties in Vietnam, he received the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star, the Soldiers Medal and the Legion of Merit, among other citations.

Powell received his Master of Business Administration degree at the George Washington University. During President Nixons term, Powell, who was then promoted to major, was designated at the Office of Management and Budget. His simultaneous tasks in the government and the military became his trend over the years. While he was climbing the promotional ladder in the army, he was assuming different positions in the government, including the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs.

Powell gained prominence during the Gulf War, acting as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President Bush Sr. He retired a Lieutenant General. In 2001, President Bush assigned Powell as the Secretary of State, the first African-American to be named in this position. He has been one of the key figures in Americas war against terrorism, determined to rid Iraq of its Weapons of Mass Destruction. In early 2003, he presented convincing evidence about the existence of WMDs in Iraq, and how Iraqis relocate them whenever UN inspectors arrived. This strengthen their resolve to carry out Operation: Iraqi Freedom 1

As Secretary of State, Colin Powell administers foreign policies, helps in appointing ambassadors and representatives to foreign countries, coordinates treatise and agreements, implements immigration laws and advocates harmonious relationship with other nations. Generally, the Secretary of State is responsible for every aspect of the countrys foreign affairs, and he spearheads Americas role in the global picture. 2

The Secretary of Education: Roderick Paige

Rod Paige earned his Bachelors degree at Jackson State University and his Masters and Bachelors degree at Indiana University. Education is in Paiges blood, and he performed with utmost excellence in this profession. While he was the dean of Texas Southern University, he founded the universitys Center for Excellence in Urban Education, aiming to improve the educational system of urban schools. In 1994, he was appointed as the superintendent of Houston Independent School District.

For his enormous contributions in the field of education, he was recognized as one of Houstons 25 most powerful people and as the National Superintendent of the Year in 2001. Because of his extensive experience in managing education, President Bush named him the seventh Secretary of Education.

As secretary, Paige was a key proponent in the No Child Left Behind Act, a law which will give local districts the tools and resources they need to help every child learn, regardless of the color of their skin or the accent of their speech. Through the leadership of Paige, states and districts are now working together to implement a system that would ensure that no child would be left behind in terms of education, where more educational programs and resources will be provided to help students do well in the academe. Secretary Paige also combated the anomalies reported within the Department through the creation of the Blueprint for Management Excellence, which will strongly fulfill the Departments main objective- equal access to education and promoting educational excellence throughout the nation 3

The Secretary of Labor: Elaine L. Chao

Elaine Chao earned her bachelors degree in Economics in from Mount Holyoke College and her Masters in Business Administration from Harvard Business School. The hospitable environment that she experienced when they immigrated motivated her to serve the community, helping people have the opportunity to pursue lives of dignity and financial independence

She became a Peace Corps director, promoting good relationship with former communist nations. Before, she was the President and CEO of United Way America, a charity institution. Her leadership skills and keen awareness of the needs of the American society can be attributed to her experiences in various government positions that she held before, as Deputy Secretary and Deputy Maritime Administrator at the U.S. Department of Transportation, and as Chairman of the Federal Maritime Commission.

President Bush appointed Chao as Labor Secretary on January 2001. In her position, she wants to translate the expression America as a huge melting pot into concrete actions, where every laborer has the chance to land into noble jobs in the states. She envisions the landscape of labor in America where jobs and opportunities are available for those leaving welfare, job training is accessible for those left behind, disability never bars a qualified person from the workplace 4

The Secretary of Transportation: Norman Y. Mineta

Norman Mineta and his family were part of the Japanese Americans placed into interment camps in World War II. He graduated from the University of California at Berkeley, and he subsequently joined the Army in 1953 as an intelligence officer. His career in politics began in 1967 as a Councilman in San Jose, and eventually elected as the citys mayor in 1971, the first Asian-Pacific American mayor of a U.S. city.

He was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for two decades (1975-1995), where he championed increases in investment for transportation infrastructure His experience in supervising transportation came during his involvement with the House Public Works and Transportation Committee, leading aviation and transportation subcommittees.

By serving as the Secretary of Commerce under President Clinton, he made another breakthrough by becoming the first Asian-Pacific American member of the cabinet. Under President Bush, he was appointed the Secretary of Transportation.

Secretary Mineta manages the intricate and advanced transportation of the country, including 3.9 million miles of public roads, 120,000 miles of major railroads, more than 5000 public-use airports, and more than 300 ports on the coasts Due to the terrorist threat, Mineta established the Transportation Security Administration, committed to increase the security measures to help ensure the safety of the American people. 5

Minorities with Major roles

Collin Powell, Rod Paige, Elain Chao, and Norman Mineta. They are just four of the many minorities serving in the U.S. government. They represent the voice of diversity. Their accomplishments erase stereotypes and popular misconceptions of people within the minority groups. Regardless of color and ancestry, they are American leaders who guide a continuously growing and changing society as the complexity of civilization rises. They have set examples that could spark a new generation of aspiring politicians from the minority groups. In that way, diverse communities can have a more balanced representation in the government.

For minorities, dreaming of becoming a politician is not a bad idea. Not too bad at all.

1. Academy of Achievement: Colin Powell Biography. http://www.achievement.org/autodoc/page/pow0bio-1
2. Duties of the U.S. Secretary of State: http://secretary.state.gov/www/albright/duties.html
3. Rod Paige. U.S. Secretary of Education. Biography. http://www.ed.gov/news/staff/bios/paige.html
4. U.S. Department of Labor: Office of the Secretary: About Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao. http://www.dol.gov/_sec/aboutosec/chao.htm
5. U.S. Department of Transportation/ Norman Y. Mineta. http://www.dot.gov/affairs/mineta.htm
* Images from the official website of the White House

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