Deval Patrick: Massachusetts' Idealist-in-Chief
With a new "rags to riches" memoir out, the governor tells The Root why he loves teachers, rejects cynicism and thinks blacks should be sensitive to the gay-marriage struggle.
TR: Speaking of teachers, why do you think they're getting such a bad rap these days?
DP: I really worry about that. We've done some amazing things with our own education reform here, but every time I pick up the paper, it is portrayed as doing battle with the teachers unions. We've had the teachers and their unions at the table, and they have been responsible for the extraordinary results [here in Massachusetts]. Teachers are not the problem. Poverty is the problem. We ought to start talking about that.
TR: You share in your memoir that one of your daughters came out to you and revealed that she's a lesbian. You've also supported same-sex marriage. What do you think it will it will take for more African Americans, who tend to be conservative on this issue because of religious reasons, to accept equal rights for gay Americans?
DP: There's nothing about a change in the law that compromises anybody's own religious practices. I think we [African Americans] ought to bring some special sensitivity, given the fact that it was in my lifetime that it was against the law for whites and blacks to marry. Some of the folks who were advocating for that also quoted the Bible.
There's a chapter in the book where I write about how I was taught that faith is not just what you say you believe; it's how you live. The notion that we should treat others the way we wish to be treated is a fundamental premise, not just among we Christians, but among most of the faith traditions on the planet. If we bring a little bit more of that to the way we actually live, a whole lot of the challenges facing our communities and our country would get solved.
TR: Will you run for president in 2016?
DP: [Laughs.] No, no, no, no, no. I'm looking forward to finishing this term and then returning to private life.
Sheryl Huggins Salomon is The Root's deputy editor.
An earlier version of this article misstated that A Better Chance is a scholarship program. It is program that helps to facilitate college preparatory education.