The Obama staffers and community leaders with whom I spent my break between sophomore and junior years referred to our campaign as Freedom Summer 2008. Decades after courageous, radical young women and men swarmed Mississippi in the summer of 1964 to register suppressed and intimidated blacks voters, I moved to Miami, Fla., among the thousands of women and men who worked as organizing fellows to achieve a pipedream of the 1964 Freedom Summer: our first black president.

ore than a year after President Obama’s election, I get the sense that many of my fellow staffers have been disappointed with the results. Yes, it’s easy to attribute the ineffectiveness and centrism of the Democratic agenda to the cavalier Republican filibuster. Additionally, talk show hosts, Tea Party activists and conservative icons have painted Obama as everything from a socialist Muslim terrorist to a radical Christian nationalist, despite Obama’s record of promoting some of the policies of his predecessor.

But liberals and progressives alike have to own some of our disappointment. I think we must have expected Obama’s brand of change to solve all of the world’s problems without considerable opposition or regard to the divergent hopes and positions among Obama supporters. Some of us trusted that behind the progressive rhetoric was a leftist masquerading as a centrist to get elected. What we got was, not surprisingly, a centrist neoliberal capitalist president, who has even appointed powerful economic advisers who were influential in the Reagan administration.

I think we wanted change to be easy, fluid and convenient. We wanted change to smooth out the rough edges of an otherwise perfect union of democracy and capitalism built on the foundation of our founding fathers’ brainchildren – the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. But those documents at once declare all men free and declare blacks to be three-fifths human. Women also were not considered in either founding document.

Creating an equal and just society from a framework built by genocidal barons and human trafficking capitalists is hard work, and it won’t happen overnight if we leave it to others.

This lesson has been a persistent one over these past four years. I enrolled at Georgetown inspired by the Jesuit values of faith and justice, educating the whole person and women and men for others. It didn’t take me long in my freshmen year to realize that those words were aspirations for some, options for many and realities for a few.

Diversity means different things to different people. For me, diversity has been synonymous with my Georgetown experience. I’ve been exhausted and discouraged by the apathy and incredulity of our campus regarding issues of race, gender, class and sexual orientation.

If we truly intend to become a just and inclusive campus that produces women and men for others, then we have to make changes at the foundational level – changes that might seem radical. Who we are comprised of, what we aim to accomplish and how we approach the daily business of learning has to change fundamentally. We have to push our leaders for change and stand up to lead when no one stands up for what’s right.

I didn’t come to Georgetown as a radical diversity nut. I didn’t come here thinking I would lead anything or accomplish anything other than a solid B average. I came here as a newly converted Christian inspired by Jesus’ humility, devotion to serving others and prophetic courage. God brought me to Georgetown eager to serve, ready to listen and open to radical changes in my personal, communal and spiritual life.

If I’ve accomplished anything good, or even great, at Georgetown, it is only the result of the vision that has passed through my hands. I’m grateful and terrified of that responsibility, but that is the faith required if God is to use us to make the world a better place.

We cannot be afraid of how we will be viewed or surprised when the world sees us as ideologues, radicals or extremists. But as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., wrote in “Letter from Birmingham Jail,”So the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice?”

y concluding thoughts are these: We must be the radical change we seek in the world or accept the terrible deeds done on our behalf as citizens, spectators and human beings.

We’ve got to be open to radical changes in our lives, new directions and extreme positions that make us uncomfortable. To paraphrase King, perhaps Georgetown, “the nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists.”

Brian Kesten is a senior in the College and the co-founder of the Student Commission for Unity.

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