Tony Thurmond, candidate for Superintendent of Public Instruction, authored this OpEd in Latino Edge Magazine:
As we continue to celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month, and to recognize the contributions of Latinos in America and in California, I take a moment to harken back to the sacrifices my ancestors made that helped me to get to where I am today.
My experience is one of blended cultures and traditions. My mother’s parents were born in Colombia and Jamaica and raised their seven children in Panama. My grandparents on my father’s side were the descendants of African slaves who were brought to America and settled in Mississippi and Detroit, Michigan.
My maternal grandparents struggled to make a living cleaning people’s homes. My grandmother and each of her children, including my mother, emigrated to the United States in hopes of finding better opportunities in America. In San Jose, California, my mother became a teacher. My father was a soldier, stationed at the army base at Fort Ord in Monterey where I was born.
No one in my family was ever elected to any office or even ran for an office, so I am deeply grateful to have had the opportunity serve as an elected official for almost 12 years as a city councilman, a school board member, and in the California State Assembly. My passion for education is what led me to pursue the office of State Superintendent of Public Instruction, the top education official in the state of California. If elected I would be the first ever Latino and the first ever Afro-Latino elected to this office. At a time when our student body is more than 50% Latino, it would be an honor to work to provide a great quality education for Latino students and all of our students in California.