November 24 2015

We often think of Thanksgiving as another landmark on the calendar where we need to figure out which family will take on hosting duties and the route with the least traffic.

All of that is true. But I also see each Thanksgiving as yet another stroke on an impressionist’s portrait of our family timeline.

Like many of you, I remember as a child my parents arguing about politics, my grandparents wisely trying to change the subject, the bounty of turkey, stuffing, squash and, of course, all that pie! The men retiring to the TV room for football and the moms, aunts and grandmothers caucusing in the kitchen – this was an “old school” version of Thanksgiving.

Now, we see Thanksgiving through different eyes and a changed cast of characters.

Some of our grandparents, parents and other loved ones will be there only in memory. Now we’re the matriarchs and patriarchs. We’re the ones “in charge,” saying grace, hoisting the bird, and figuring out just the right moment to introduce the great family debate about the 2016 campaign.

We will see children and grandchildren sitting in the spots where we once sat.

But something has changed. Something more than the circle of life that shifts each generation across the Thanksgiving table.

When we fight about Hillary, Ben, Bernie and Donald over platters of drumsticks and mashed potatoes, the young people will have something to teach us.

They will be able to tell us how they are done waiting for politicians.

They are leading the change, forcing university presidents to resign, getting police departments to stop jailing young girls who are trafficked, fighting for justice for undocumented Americans and helping President Obama as he takes action for boys and men of color.

At the Endowment, we have their backs.

We are fighting to make sure that all young people, including undocumented Californians and their parents, have the health care they need. We are making sure that schools themselves have sensible discipline policies that keep troubled children in school, as well as our work to implement Proposition 47, is helping to dismantle the school to prison pipeline that engulfs so many young boys and girls of color.

And let’s keep in mind that our Native American and Tribal brothers and sisters across the nation view the celebration of Thanksgiving through a different lens, a different history, and a different context.

In a blur, the boys and girls at the “kids table” and the college students home for break will take over for us. They will lead a badly needed charge against inequality in our nation.

This Thanksgiving, I am grateful that today’s young people are rising to the challenge and empowering themselves to make change. And I am grateful to each and every one of you for spending your days making sure that more young people have an opportunity to be part of that change. I am especially thankful for all young people fighting against exclusion, stigmatization, and inequality.

So enjoy this Thanksgiving. Create new memories, remember the friends and family you wish could be there, and cherish everyone who gathers.