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Patrick Ian Jackson May 18, 2001 student graduation address University Of Wisconsin Law School An Open Letter To Mama: I know this is supposed to be my day; the day my friends and I are recognized for our accomplishments. Nevertheless, I couldn’t let this day pass without sharing with you a few things. I truly believe that my 31-year existence would have been a great deal more difficult, or more perilous, had you not been the one sacrificing, staying up late, getting up early. I know that too many other women have been in your shoes, but I also know that there are many others who have not persevered like you have. I know you missed out on some opportunities, put off some dreams because of the four, sometimes hardheaded boys you raised under your grandmother’s roof. I’d like to thank you … for service above and beyond the call of duty. I know we hear that phrase all too often, but I say this because you were and are mother and father, psychologist and physician, chauffeur, adviser, and friend for Michael, Andre, Marcus, and me. I’d like to thank you for … � all the times you worked two jobs to take care of Great-grandma and us, yet still finding time to take us to the doctor or go to the school if there was a need to do so � believing in us and never letting us sell ourselves short, despite the shortsightedness of the so-called guidance counselors and school administrators — no offense to the good ones here today � having the ability to deal with more than one child going through teen angst at one time, and � when I was younger, demanding that I be home before dark, not at dark but before. Yeah, I had to learn that lesson the hard way. You always said a hard head makes for a soft behind. I’d like to thank you for … � patience � teaching us to have respect for ourselves and respect for others � teaching us not to waste so much time hating others for their bigotry, ignorance, and cowardice that we lose sight of what we can do to overcome it � urging me to forgive the man who calls himself my father � being there to pick me up whenever I have fallen or failed, or at least felt that I had I’d like to thank you for … � impressing upon me as a youth that what I saw around me was not all that life had to offer � making me sing in the choir when I was younger � keeping those 1970s family pictures on display in the living room � making magic in the kitchen — everyday, no matter how little we had; and � most of all, I’d like to thank for 31 years of boundless love and support. I’d be lost without you.

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