Senator Johnston made remarks last week in San Francisco for an event for the Bay Area’s chapter of Teach For America. Speaking to a crowd full of educators and reform advocates, he invoked the story of the 54th Regiment Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, the first black unit during the Civil War, to share the story of what drove him to join Teach for America and run for the State Senate.
Quoting the memorable line from the movie “Glory,” when Col. Shaw asks, “If this man should fall, who will lift the flag and carry on?”, Senator Johnston said:
The commitment is that when the flag falls, whatever role you play, you stop what you’re doing and you pick it up and carry it forward. At Fort Wagner, they were carrying that flag to take lives. In this moment now, we’re carrying that flag to save lives. I’m not asking you tonight … to take the vow that when this flag falls, I will pick it up. …
What are kids need most from you is — in that moment when they feel most defeated and most afraid — to see you stand up, stand next to them, pick up the flag, and lead the way forward. Because where you’re leading them is to dream that they once held and once lost, and now believe is possible.”
Check out Senator Johnston’s remarks below: