Each month, The Oklahoman's editorial board recognizes a contributor to Your Views for a letter to the editor that exemplifies a timely, fair, accurate and cogent viewpoint. James Hawkins, of Yukon, is the honoree for letters that appeared in Your Views last month. His “Picture of unity” letter was published Jan. 25.
Meet the writer
Originally from Dill City, Hawkins has been in secondary and higher education for more than 40 years in Colorado, Texas, Mississippi and Oklahoma. Currently he's a professor of educational administration at Cameron University in Lawton. He has served as a national examiner for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. Jim and his wife, Ruth, are active members of Quail Springs Baptist Church, where Jim serves on the leadership team, finance committee and as vice chairman of the deacons board. Jim and Ruth have two grown sons and four grandchildren.
I'm weary of hearing, reading and seeing black versus white, Republican versus Democrat, red versus orange, liberal versus conservative, North versus South, etc. My New Year's resolution was filled with hope that we could be a nation together again, but I suppose I'll have to wait for another national tragedy for that to happen. I wrote a majority of my doctoral dissertation about a former governor in Mississippi, William F. Winter, who sought and succeeded in his time by making the educational playing field level for all children. Trying to unite black and white was a huge challenge in that beautiful Southern state but Winter did so because he cared for the well-being of all. Mandatory school attendance and kindergarten for all were a part of his education reform act.
As I look back and then look to the future, perhaps we can capture the vision of those reformers who looked at the entire picture, not just those parts that we hear about, read about or see, and visualize a picture of unity. As a servant leader, continuously learning and continually improving, I hope we will all go the extra mile, model the behavior that we expect and follow the work ethic that I learned on a farm from my eighth-grade-educated father who said, “Son, sometimes you must start a little earlier and work a little later to get the job done with what you have.”