BY MARIO M. CUOMO
In July of 1989—months before democracy blossomed in the capitals of Eastern Europe—the seed for this book on democracy was planted halfway around the world, in the capital of New York State.
I had the privilege of welcoming to Albany a delegation of leading educators from Poland, a nation with a long history of yearning and fighting for liberty, but at the time, only the briefest experience enjoying liberty itself.
They were members of the Teachers’ Section of Poland’s Solidarity Union, the heroic coalition of working people that had been advocating democratization in the face of rigid, historic repression. They had come to the United States on a tour sponsored by the “Democracy Project,” a global exchange program organized by American teachers to foster understanding and opportunity among teaching professionals here and overseas. The American hosts had invited me to greet their Polish colleagues, and I was delighted to accept, hardly realizing that their visit would inspire this volume.
When they arrived in July, I proudly guided the delegation through our recently restored and refurbished “official” governor’s office. This is an ornate chamber in the capitol building known as the “Red Room,” where many of my predecessors, including Theodore Roosevelt, Frank- lin D. Roosevelt, and Thomas E. Dewey, all enjoyed working, but which I use only for ceremonial purposes, preferring to work in smaller quarters next door. The Red Room, with its gleaming wood paneling, stately chandeliers, formal drapery, and gilt molding, is an architectural marvel. And it is more. It is a reminder of all that was accomplished