Is Gay the New Black?

Is Gay the New Black?

© copyright 2013 Betsy L. Angert BeThink

June 27, 2013

Dearest Rachel…

It is me, Betsy. I am writing to say Congratulations to you and all Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Americans.  It has been a great week for all our LBGT brethren. Sadly, it is a little less so for those whose complexion is Black or Brown.  What or who am I kidding? It has been an awful week for America as a whole.  Once again, we have done as we did since the day of our founding; we denied our brothers and sisters equal rights.  I hope you understand that while I too think anytime rights are afforded to an individual or group it is a good time, a time to celebrate, this week I cannot. Indeed, I do not see a day when I will reflect on this Court’s rulings and be ready, willing, and able to rejoice.

Affirmative Action lost.  The inalienable right to cast a ballot for your Representatives, gone!  It was not that either of these laws, in practice, ever brought about equality, but a girl can dream.  I had hope.  Now, I do not.  Today, my heart broken, I can only reflect on the old adage; if my brother is poor or in pain then so too am I.  John Donne spoke for me when he said “Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”

I am unsure if you are with me Rachel.  I listened to your review of the week and felt confused.  Therefore I ask.  On Thursday, June 27, 2013, you spoke of the angst yourself. You recounted the woe millions of California voters expressed on election night 2008. First there was elation; the first Black man was elected President of the United States.   It seemed we had arrived. It was as you exclaimed. a “civil rights milestone.” People took to the streets and danced.  Corks were popped.  Confetti fell from sky-high windows.  Then, as more ballots were tallied, a dark realization set in.  In California, marriages once declared legal would not be going forward. As you stated, “That whiplash moment, that California, alone, experienced the night 
President Obama was first elected,” was devastating. Perhaps, the man in the video clip you played this Thursday evening said it best for the LBGT community.

“In 2008 when we elected the first African-American 
president, it was a glorious day, but later that night it was a horrible night when the returns for Prop 8 came in saying that we were going to be 
treated as second-class citizens, and we just could not fathom being 
treated like that anymore.”

Therein lies the difference Rachel, one of many that I see.  People of color can fathom being treated like scum.  Granted persons in the LBGT community can too.! That said, the two experiences are not one.  The color of our skin cannot be camouflaged. Sexual orientation is perhaps but a subtle “clue.”  In other words, Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, and Transgenders come out of the closet.  Blacks and Browns are more likely to be invited into the [water] closet to clean the mess white persons’ leave behind.  Caucasians can be so cruel, as can those of a certain socio-economic “class.”  I guess anyone can be.

Thus, I ask; do we celebrate our own victories and ignore the victimization of others?  ‘Tis true, we can delight in one while decrying the other.  It is the imbalance I bemoan.  I too, as the millions of others did, expressed elation for the decisions that brought good fortune to the LBGT community. I also cried and cried tears of distress.  For me, the long history of struggles is barely equivalent.  I am forlorn and again befuddled as I reflect on your review of the week.

Oh Rachel, after the aforementioned clip you said,  “Now, this week, we are essentially having the mirror image of that [2008] moment, 
thanks to the Supreme Court. “  Really?  Seriously?  Rachel, for me, what occurred in this, the last week of June is not the image in reverse.  The decision on the Voting Rights Act is, as you also stated in the next sentence, “a sledgehammer to the cornerstone of American civil rights law.”  However, sadly, it has not elicited a similar response.  With the race related rulings we heard silence or worse; endorsement for the now “Supremely” sanctioned divide.

Conservatives did not object. Liberals barely said a word.  States shouted, but in glee.  Loss of Affirmative Action and Voting Rights?  ‘It is as though the country as one said, Oh well.’  Gay rights on the other hand brought out the best in people.  Beginning years ago, Dick Cheney, made it known that he supports gay marriage.  The Democratic elite such as the former First Lady and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton “came out” with her own declarative statement.  Legislators within Grand Ole Party chimed in.  They too were there to support gay marriage.  The reactions to racism are not as strong as we think they might be.  I think of your own response Rachel and say “Wow!”

I was not surprised that white families, the wealthy and powerful did not take up the banner. Here in Florida, when the elderly and well-established citizens were purged from voting rolls few voices were heard.  Certainly States did not complain.  Eliminate the Black and Brown vote? That works well for Republican Governors.  Measures were and are already underway.   The “new prejudice”  persists and is supported. Black and Brown persons are not.  Their  second-class” citizenship is the accepted standard.  Their “forgiveness is just expected.”

Equality? First-Class citizenship?  Rarely. Barely. Quite the contrary.

Oh there are the few who appear to have “made it.”  We might cite President Obama, General Colin Powell, Oprah Winfrey, or, hmmm? Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas?  I wonder. Put any of these in casual clothes, without the accoutrement of an office and might they be stopped and frisked, arrested for Driving-While-Black, or conceivably denied their right to vote? Oh Rachel, for me there is a glaring difference between the fights for rights.

Do you remember the words of the Author, John Howard Griffin, a white man who only occupied a darker skin for a time? I do. “The Negro is treated not even as a second-class citizen but as a tenth-class one.” Granted, times have changed since Griffin penned his words in 1964. Then racism was overt. Today, it is covert and sanctioned by the Highest Court in the Land.   What is it they say Rachel, “The more things change, the more they remain the same”?  That is likely true for those who are born Black, Brown, or on the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder.

Oh I heard the calls.  Beginning in 2008 white citizens proclaimed that we live in a post-racial society. Black Americans on the other hand knew we did not.  Indeed, in 2011 Researchers affirmed for those whose complexion is dark in color, life is hard. Only two years ago, Black Americans said that it is actually worse than it was a score earlier. As of this week, with the Supreme Court rulings on Affirmative Action and the Voting Rights Act, surely it is no better.  The Court’s action is a clear step backwards. In reality, it is a slap in the face or a whip lashing in the back.

Class and color affords access and is the genesis for our attitudes.  I recall the “Roots” of African-American History and the historical origins of homosexual expression.  The former was borne out of enslavement while the later was an outgrowth of greater freedom in society and the workplace.

Rachel, was it Janis Joplin who said it so well? “Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose – Nothing don’t mean nothing honey if it ain’t free.”  I wonder; are we to presume that Blacks are now free? There is little left for them to lose. I reflect on self-identity.

You might recall the original Doll Experiment or the more recent 2009 repeat of the research.  The results were the same. In the “Doll Test,” four plastic, diaper-clad dolls, identical in every respect except for color determine racial perception and preferences amongst children.  Regardless of the decade, black children between the ages of three and seven, responded in-kind. Almost all of the children readily identified the race of the dolls. Even the young see color.  When asked which they preferred, the majority selected the white doll and attributed positive characteristics to it. Indeed, the consensus was Black dolls were “bad.”  White dolls are far better.  That is what we teach and affirm through Supreme Court rulings.  Sad; but true.

“Second-class citizenship.”  Children of color know it well, and likely, their children will too.

Bigotry is common, all too common, as are expressions of it.  Therein lie the similarities between the Gay Rights and Black Civil Rights Movements.   Nonetheless, the contrast is stark.   As millions noted, the realization of Gay Rights came quickly.  The Civil Rights Movement, on the other hand,  is riddled with detours, deterrents, disillusionment, and disinvestment. Discrimination never realizes deliverance.  After centuries of sanctioned enslavement, The Emancipation Proclamation, gave way to a failed Reconstruction and another ruling, Plessy v. Ferguson. the landmark Supreme Court decision that held that racial segregation was constitutional. We had the Brown versus Board of Education decision and The Great Society legislation.  Future rulings resulted in their ultimate demise.  The Regents of the University of California v. Bakke and Parents v. Seattle and Meredith v. Jefferson returned the dictum, white is again right.

We saw the Voting Rights Act come into being only to be threatened at every turn. Today, well that “right” is lost and Dick Cheney’s endorsement of the  “more civil union [sic]” is nowhere to be found. This essential democratic right is again, and again denied.  We might guess who might be coming to dinner, but we must know that even if it were the first Black American President, he may not be welcome.

Indeed Rachel as we celebrate the rights awarded to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender let us also ask ourselves what is the State of the Union? What if Barack Obama were born today?  Eighteen years from now will a young Barack have the opportunity to attend a college, and were he to run for President, would he himself be allowed to vote? What bell will toll in the next score, and will it toll for thee?

References and Resources…

Stop and Frisk the Research!

Stop and Frisk the Research!

By Betsy L. Angert empathyeducates

Mayor Bloomberg, your supporters, Attorney General Eric Holder, Mister President, the Justice Department, and all you other big city Mayors that think stop-and-frisk is fine please, sit down. Take a break. Stop and Think!   Breathe deeply and ask yourselves; is it not time to stop weighing Constitutionality and think psychology.  If pondering the science is a bit too weighty, please consider our children!  Our young men and yes, young women need to be seen not for the color of their skin, but for the color of their character!

If it is a challenge to see the beauty that is other than skin deep when people are out on the street, then contemplate the cash.  Juvenile Incarceration is costly; $5 billion to confine and house young offenders in “confinement” facilities despite evidence that shows alternative in-home or community-based programs can deliver equal or better results for a fraction of the cost.  As stated in the Annie E. Casey report “Juvenile correctional facilities do not reduce future offending.” These dollars might have been spent on education and could be if we choose to stop-and-think, read the research, or reflect.

Put yourself in the place of a young Black or Brown teen or remember when you were young.  When walking with friends down the boulevard, did adults look at you cautiously?  Did people step aside or cross the street as though they hoped to escape an altercation? When in a store did management follow you, even if only with their eyes?  Oh, it happens to white teens too.  When you are youthful you are fruitful in the sense that you are ripe for victimization.  If you are a young adult of color, watch out.  Consider the circumstances of a Community College student, Nicholas K. Peart, 23.

.

I was 14, my mother told me not to panic if a police officer stopped me. And she cautioned me to carry ID and never run away from the police or I could be shot. In the nine years since my mother gave me this advice, I have had numerous occasions to consider her wisdom.

One evening in August of 2006, I was celebrating my 18th birthday with my cousin and a friend. We were staying at my sister’s house on 96th Street and Amsterdam Avenue in Manhattan and decided to walk to a nearby place and get some burgers. It was closed so we sat on benches in the median strip that runs down the middle of Broadway. We were talking, watching the night go by, enjoying the evening when suddenly, and out of nowhere, squad cars surrounded us. A policeman yelled from the window, “Get on the ground!”

I was stunned. And I was scared. Then I was on the ground – with a gun pointed at me. I couldn’t see what was happening but I could feel a policeman’s hand reach into my pocket and remove my wallet. Apparently he looked through and found the ID I kept there. “Happy Birthday,” he said sarcastically. The officers questioned my cousin and friend, asked what they were doing in town, and then said goodnight and left us on the sidewalk.

Contemplate the cost on a young person’s life. Our youth live in fear of what night happen, as do their parents. Siblings too suffer. Reputations are ruined. Respect is lost. Commit a crime or not, once stopped, suspicion lingers.  Scars can be deep. The repercussions can fracture a family and also break the city’s bank.

If the personal is too touchy, and you think practical concerns must be our priority then let us look at the return on our “investment” and the results.  The dollars spent on mass incarceration impair our nation!  In New York City alone, in 2011, $185.6 million was spent to settle legal claims against the police department. This marked a 35 percent increase from the year before, according to a report by New York City Comptroller John Liu.  Liu stated that while it is impossible to calculate the exact legal cost of stop-and-frisk lawsuits it is undeniable that the expense associated with the policy is high.  Suits that address civil rights violations, excessive force and unlawful arrest, are frequently inherent in stop-and-frisk cases Liu said.

The New York Civil Liberties Union stated that, as of March 2013, the police department was nearing 5 million stop and frisks. Of the 4.4 million stops recorded, more than 86 percent of the people involved were black or Latino, and 88 percent of these interactions did not lead to an arrest or citation requiring a court appearance, NYCLU said. Twelve percent is quite the gain, you might say. Obviously, juvenile incarceration is worth the price or is it.

Again, let us stop and think. “Numerous states have closed facilities or lowered correctional populations, reaping significant savings for taxpayers without any measurable increase in youth crime.”

What is so wrong with juvenile incarceration? The case against America’s youth prisons and correctional training schools can be neatly summarized in six words: dangerous, ineffective, unnecessary, obsolete, wasteful, and inadequate. ~ No Place For Kids. The Annie E. Casey Foundation

Yet, the beat goes on.  Currently, the U.S. Offers Conditional Support for Police Monitor in Stop-and-Frisk Case.  The question is why “monitor”? Why not read the research or remember your own experiences.  We were each shaped in our youth. Were we presumed guilty even when innocent…innocent as 88 percent who stopped-frisked-and-let-go or as Nicholas K. Peart is and was.  Let us look at  Reasons to Act Now on Juvenile Integrity.


5 Reasons to Act Now on Juvenile Justice Reform:

Originally Published at API, Psychology Benefits Society June 13, 2013

by EFUA ANDOH

By Kerry Bolger, PhD (Public Interest Government Relations Office)

Did you know that the U.S. incarcerates more of its kids per capita than any other developed nation-and that we spend about $5 billion a year of taxpayers’ money to keep them locked up?

Is that because a lot more kids in America are committing violent acts and getting arrested for them?  No; they’re not.  It’s largely because our juvenile justice system incarcerates many young people for low-level offenses and technical violations, and shortchanges investment in evidence-based alternatives that can save money and make communities safer.

This can change.

Here are five reasons to act now on youth justice reform:

1. Overreliance on incarceration is unnecessary.

Many young people in juvenile correctional facilities are incarcerated for low-level and nonviolent offenses.  In 2010, for example, of the 59,000 youths under age 18 confined in juvenile facilities in the U.S., only 1 in 4 was detained or committed for a serious violent offense.  About 12,700 kids (1 in 5) were confined only for status offenses (such as truancy, curfew violation, or running away) or technical violations (such as failing to report to a parole officer).

A number of states have shifted their youth justice policies away from overreliance on incarceration, with no accompanying increase in juvenile crime.

2. Incarceration doesn’t reduce future crime.

Juvenile incarceration doesn’t reduce re-offending, but rather increases it, especially among youth with less-serious delinquency histories.

That’s no surprise, considering that youth in juvenile correctional facilities are exposed to more serious offenders and to widespread physical and sexual violence in confinement.

3. Evidence-based alternatives work.

A large body of research shows that alternatives to incarceration, including diversion, community-based supervision, and evidence-based interventions, reduce re-offending, even among youths who have committed serious offenses.

Youth who receive post-incarceration community-based supervision and services are also less likely to re-offend, and more likely to go to school and work.

For a minority of young offenders deemed a threat to public safety, the success of the Missouri model suggests that smaller facilities, closer to youth’s homes and focused intensely on safety, youth development, and family involvement, reduce recidivism and increase educational progress compared to juvenile correctional facilities.

4. It’s time for government to stop wasting our money and young people’s futures.

It costs American taxpayers about $88,000 to keep one youth incarcerated for one year.  In contrast, an evidence-based intervention such as Functional Family Therapy, Multidimensional Treatment Foster Care, or Multisystemic Therapy costs less than a tenth as much and yields a positive return on investment-while actually helping kids and reducing crime.

Incarceration often disrupts a young person’s education, and many youths don’t return to school after being incarcerated. Individuals incarcerated as juveniles are at higher risk (even after controlling for other factors) for being unemployed even years later in adulthood.  That doesn’t help anyone.

5. The American people get it.

According to a recent national survey, 3 out of 4 Americans agree that the juvenile justice system should focus on rehabilitation rather than incarceration and should provide youth with more opportunities to better themselves.

How can you act now to reform youth justice?

Connect with groups working on state-based reforms.

Stop and Frisk the Research!

Stop and Frisk the Research!

By Betsy L. Angert empathyeducates

Mayor Bloomberg, your supporters, Attorney General Eric Holder, Mister President, the Justice Department, and all you other big city Mayors that think stop-and-frisk is fine please, sit down. Take a break. Stop and Think!   Breathe deeply and ask yourselves; is it not time to stop weighing Constitutionality and think psychology.  If pondering the science is a bit too weighty, please consider our children!  Our young men and yes, young women need to be seen not for the color of their skin, but for the color of their character!

If it is a challenge to see the beauty that is other than skin deep when people are out on the street, then contemplate the cash.  Juvenile Incarceration is costly; $5 billion to confine and house young offenders in “confinement” facilities despite evidence that shows alternative in-home or community-based programs can deliver equal or better results for a fraction of the cost.  As stated in the Annie E. Casey report “Juvenile correctional facilities do not reduce future offending.” These dollars might have been spent on education and could be if we choose to stop-and-think, read the research, or reflect.

Put yourself in the place of a young Black or Brown teen or remember when you were young.  When walking with friends down the boulevard, did adults look at you cautiously?  Did people step aside or cross the street as though they hoped to escape an altercation? When in a store did management follow you, even if only with their eyes?  Oh, it happens to white teens too.  When you are youthful you are fruitful in the sense that you are ripe for victimization.  If you are a young adult of color, watch out.  Consider the circumstances of a Community College student, Nicholas K. Peart, 23.

.

I was 14, my mother told me not to panic if a police officer stopped me. And she cautioned me to carry ID and never run away from the police or I could be shot. In the nine years since my mother gave me this advice, I have had numerous occasions to consider her wisdom.

One evening in August of 2006, I was celebrating my 18th birthday with my cousin and a friend. We were staying at my sister’s house on 96th Street and Amsterdam Avenue in Manhattan and decided to walk to a nearby place and get some burgers. It was closed so we sat on benches in the median strip that runs down the middle of Broadway. We were talking, watching the night go by, enjoying the evening when suddenly, and out of nowhere, squad cars surrounded us. A policeman yelled from the window, “Get on the ground!”

I was stunned. And I was scared. Then I was on the ground – with a gun pointed at me. I couldn’t see what was happening but I could feel a policeman’s hand reach into my pocket and remove my wallet. Apparently he looked through and found the ID I kept there. “Happy Birthday,” he said sarcastically. The officers questioned my cousin and friend, asked what they were doing in town, and then said goodnight and left us on the sidewalk.

Contemplate the cost on a young person’s life. Our youth live in fear of what night happen, as do their parents. Siblings too suffer. Reputations are ruined. Respect is lost. Commit a crime or not, once stopped, suspicion lingers.  Scars can be deep. The repercussions can fracture a family and also break the city’s bank.

If the personal is too touchy, and you think practical concerns must be our priority then let us look at the return on our “investment” and the results.  The dollars spent on mass incarceration impair our nation!  In New York City alone, in 2011, $185.6 million was spent to settle legal claims against the police department. This marked a 35 percent increase from the year before, according to a report by New York City Comptroller John Liu.  Liu stated that while it is impossible to calculate the exact legal cost of stop-and-frisk lawsuits it is undeniable that the expense associated with the policy is high.  Suits that address civil rights violations, excessive force and unlawful arrest, are frequently inherent in stop-and-frisk cases Liu said.

The New York Civil Liberties Union stated that, as of March 2013, the police department was nearing 5 million stop and frisks. Of the 4.4 million stops recorded, more than 86 percent of the people involved were black or Latino, and 88 percent of these interactions did not lead to an arrest or citation requiring a court appearance, NYCLU said. Twelve percent is quite the gain, you might say. Obviously, juvenile incarceration is worth the price or is it.

Again, let us stop and think. “Numerous states have closed facilities or lowered correctional populations, reaping significant savings for taxpayers without any measurable increase in youth crime.”

What is so wrong with juvenile incarceration? The case against America’s youth prisons and correctional training schools can be neatly summarized in six words: dangerous, ineffective, unnecessary, obsolete, wasteful, and inadequate. ~ No Place For Kids. The Annie E. Casey Foundation

Yet, the beat goes on.  Currently, the U.S. Offers Conditional Support for Police Monitor in Stop-and-Frisk Case.  The question is why “monitor”? Why not read the research or remember your own experiences.  We were each shaped in our youth. Were we presumed guilty even when innocent…innocent as 88 percent who stopped-frisked-and-let-go or as Nicholas K. Peart is and was.  Let us look at  Reasons to Act Now on Juvenile Integrity.


5 Reasons to Act Now on Juvenile Justice Reform:

Originally Published at API, Psychology Benefits Society June 13, 2013

by EFUA ANDOH

By Kerry Bolger, PhD (Public Interest Government Relations Office)

Did you know that the U.S. incarcerates more of its kids per capita than any other developed nation-and that we spend about $5 billion a year of taxpayers’ money to keep them locked up?

Is that because a lot more kids in America are committing violent acts and getting arrested for them?  No; they’re not.  It’s largely because our juvenile justice system incarcerates many young people for low-level offenses and technical violations, and shortchanges investment in evidence-based alternatives that can save money and make communities safer.

This can change.

Here are five reasons to act now on youth justice reform:

1. Overreliance on incarceration is unnecessary.

Many young people in juvenile correctional facilities are incarcerated for low-level and nonviolent offenses.  In 2010, for example, of the 59,000 youths under age 18 confined in juvenile facilities in the U.S., only 1 in 4 was detained or committed for a serious violent offense.  About 12,700 kids (1 in 5) were confined only for status offenses (such as truancy, curfew violation, or running away) or technical violations (such as failing to report to a parole officer).

A number of states have shifted their youth justice policies away from overreliance on incarceration, with no accompanying increase in juvenile crime.

2. Incarceration doesn’t reduce future crime.

Juvenile incarceration doesn’t reduce re-offending, but rather increases it, especially among youth with less-serious delinquency histories.

That’s no surprise, considering that youth in juvenile correctional facilities are exposed to more serious offenders and to widespread physical and sexual violence in confinement.

3. Evidence-based alternatives work.

A large body of research shows that alternatives to incarceration, including diversion, community-based supervision, and evidence-based interventions, reduce re-offending, even among youths who have committed serious offenses.

Youth who receive post-incarceration community-based supervision and services are also less likely to re-offend, and more likely to go to school and work.

For a minority of young offenders deemed a threat to public safety, the success of the Missouri model suggests that smaller facilities, closer to youth’s homes and focused intensely on safety, youth development, and family involvement, reduce recidivism and increase educational progress compared to juvenile correctional facilities.

4. It’s time for government to stop wasting our money and young people’s futures.

It costs American taxpayers about $88,000 to keep one youth incarcerated for one year.  In contrast, an evidence-based intervention such as Functional Family Therapy, Multidimensional Treatment Foster Care, or Multisystemic Therapy costs less than a tenth as much and yields a positive return on investment-while actually helping kids and reducing crime.

Incarceration often disrupts a young person’s education, and many youths don’t return to school after being incarcerated. Individuals incarcerated as juveniles are at higher risk (even after controlling for other factors) for being unemployed even years later in adulthood.  That doesn’t help anyone.

5. The American people get it.

According to a recent national survey, 3 out of 4 Americans agree that the juvenile justice system should focus on rehabilitation rather than incarceration and should provide youth with more opportunities to better themselves.

How can you act now to reform youth justice?

Connect with groups working on state-based reforms.

Voting and Learning Denied. Education and Entitlement

©copyright 2013. Betsy L. Angert BeThink



Is it fear of the darkness that dims our mind or is it the dim of our mind that is dark and damning?  No one can be sure; however we can see what occurs and ask why.  Why might Americans systematically deny rights to people of color? Why might the young, the most vulnerable among us, be victims of prey?  Indeed, why do we prejudge people at all and why is it that even the elderly cannot escape our diabolical doings?  The theories abound; answers escape us.  Nevertheless, the veracity is our truth. The right to learn and the right to vote are denied.

We close their schools, deny them an equal and equitable education, and in 2013 we may ultimately rescind the voting rights of the few.  In January of this year, the Journey For Justice 2 Alliance met with officials in Washington, District of Columbia, to discuss the topic, education policies that discriminate.  Today, on February 27, 2013, just down the lane from the Department of Education hearing, another inquiry was held.  The Supreme Court heard the case, Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder.  On the face of it, the argument may seem separate from the subject of school closures.  However, considering the consequences of what might be after a day of testimony,  Voting Rights Law Draws Skepticism From Justices, there is reason for concern.  Will the cycle of recrimination continue? Will we curse the darkness that is our own?  

Perhaps, we might seek the light? We saw it once and embraced it.  It exists and can again, if we just walk through the window of time.  Luminosity can be our guide. Let us consider a vital voice from the past, President, Lyndon Baines Johnson spoke in defense of the Voting Rights Act. He said…

The Negro citizen may go to register only to be told that the day is wrong, or the hour is late, or the official in charge is absent. And if he persists and, if he manages to present himself to the registrar, he may be disqualified because he did not spell out his middle name, or because he abbreviated a word on the application. And if he manages to fill out an application, he is given a test. The registrar is the sole judge of whether he passes this test. He may be asked to recite the entire Constitution, or explain the most complex provisions of state law.

And even a college degree cannot be used to prove that he can read and write. For the fact is that the only way to pass these barriers is to show a white skin. Experience has clearly shown that the existing process of law cannot overcome systematic and ingenious discrimination.

“Discrimination.”  It touches more than one race, color, or creed.  Age too in 2012 limited or eliminated the right to vote.  96-Year-Old Tennessee Woman Denied Voter ID Because She Didn’t Have Her Marriage License. Va. senior citizens denied no-excuse absentee voting. Where you lived, whether you attended school far from home, or if you merely left whatever document requested at home, you could not cast a ballot.  The excuses used to negate voting rights are as they were in the 1960s, endless. Yet, Supreme Court Jurists affirm, “Justice is blind.”

From the bench we were provided with a rare view, Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Scalia cannot see. Roberts reeled off statistics that suggested the provisions are no longer made sense. Justice Antonin Scalia said the law, once a civil rights landmark, now is but a “perpetuation of racial entitlement. “Entitlement? Might we tell the parents of children who are today, denied access to equal and equitable education the time has past? Their offspring no longer have the rights afforded to the many, mostly white Americans?  Was learning given a limited contract? Is it now considered a “perpetuation of racial entitlement.

Voting and learning. Education and entitlement. Let us look at the evidence.  Complaint says Omaha voters denied ballots. Rick Scott Defends Voter Purge As Necessary ‘To Have Fair Elections’.   Republican Voter Suppression Campaign Rolls Back Early Voting.  The beat goes on.  

Please ponder the veracity that not only are our Black and Brown children affected by punitive polices that allow for “phase-outs,” “collocations,” “turnaround,” and again, the devastating “school closures,” others too are impacted.  Consider the white suburban Mom and her children, School turnarounds prompt community backlash. Again ask yourself; do we fear the darkness or does the darkness, lack of knowledge with us, dim the mind.

Do we deny light to those who wish to learn and live?  What have we denied ourselves or within us?  Let us, one and all learn!  Let us seek the light.  Today, let us consider what could occur if access to an education and, or the right to vote are denied. Might a child less prepared, less learned, due to the discriminatory actions in education policy be unable to prove he can read and write? Currently, literacy in America is in crisis. 11 Facts about Literacy in America

  • An estimated 30 million Americans over 16 years old cannot perform simple and everyday literacy activities.
  • 55% of adults with below basic reading comprehension did not graduate high school.
  • Only an estimated 13% of adult Americans can perform complex and challenging literacy activities.

Consider today and what occurred decades ago. Please ask yourself, do we deny access to education and to voting rights. If we do, what will become of our children and our country?

President Lyndon B. Johnson – We Shall Overcome



I speak tonight for the dignity of man and the destiny of Democracy. I urge every member of both parties, Americans of all religions and of all colors, from every section of this country, to join me in that cause.

At times, history and fate meet at a single time in a single place to shape a turning point in man’s unending search for freedom. So it was at Lexington and Concord. So it was a century ago at Appomattox. So it was last week in Selma, Alabama. There, long suffering men and women peacefully protested the denial of their rights as Americans. Many of them were brutally assaulted. One good man–a man of God–was killed.

There is no cause for pride in what has happened in Selma. There is no cause for self-satisfaction in the long denial of equal rights of millions of Americans. But there is cause for hope and for faith in our Democracy in what is happening here tonight. For the cries of pain and the hymns and protests of oppressed people have summoned into convocation all the majesty of this great government–the government of the greatest nation on earth. Our mission is at once the oldest and the most basic of this country–to right wrong, to do justice, to serve man. In our time we have come to live with the moments of great crises. Our lives have been marked with debate about great issues, issues of war and peace, issues of prosperity and depression.

But rarely in any time does an issue lay bare the secret heart of America itself. Rarely are we met with a challenge, not to our growth or abundance, or our welfare or our security, but rather to the values and the purposes and the meaning of our beloved nation. The issue of equal rights for American Negroes is such an issue. And should we defeat every enemy, and should we double our wealth and conquer the stars, and still be unequal to this issue, then we will have failed as a people and as a nation. For, with a country as with a person, “what is a man profited if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”

There is no Negro problem. There is no Southern problem. There is no Northern problem. There is only an American problem.

And we are met here tonight as Americans–not as Democrats or Republicans; we’re met here as Americans to solve that problem. This was the first nation in the history of the world to be founded with a purpose.

The great phrases of that purpose still sound in every American heart, North and South: “All men are created equal.” “Government by consent of the governed.” “Give me liberty or give me death.” And those are not just clever words, and those are not just empty theories. In their name Americans have fought and died for two centuries and tonight around the world they stand there as guardians of our liberty risking their lives. Those words are promised to every citizen that he shall share in the dignity of man. This dignity cannot be found in a man’s possessions. It cannot be found in his power or in his position. It really rests on his right to be treated as a man equal in opportunity to all others. It says that he shall share in freedom. He shall choose his leaders, educate his children, provide for his family according to his ability and his merits as a human being.

To apply any other test, to deny a man his hopes because of his color or race or his religion or the place of his birth is not only to do injustice, it is to deny Americans and to dishonor the dead who gave their lives for American freedom. Our fathers believed that if this noble view of the rights of man was to flourish it must be rooted in democracy. This most basic right of all was the right to choose your own leaders. The history of this country in large measure is the history of expansion of the right to all of our people.

Many of the issues of civil rights are very complex and most difficult. But about this there can and should be no argument: every American citizen must have an equal right to vote. There is no reason, which can excuse the denial of that right. There is no duty which weighs more heavily on us than the duty we have to insure that right. Yet the harsh fact is that in many places in this country men and women are kept from voting simply because they are Negroes.

Every device of which human ingenuity is capable, has been used to deny this right. The Negro citizen may go to register only to be told that the day is wrong, or the hour is late, or the official in charge is absent. And if he persists and, if he manages to present himself to the registrar, he may be disqualified because he did not spell out his middle name, or because he abbreviated a word on the application. And if he manages to fill out an application, he is given a test. The registrar is the sole judge of whether he passes this test. He may be asked to recite the entire Constitution, or explain the most complex provisions of state law.

And even a college degree cannot be used to prove that he can read and write. For the fact is that the only way to pass these barriers is to show a white skin. Experience has clearly shown that the existing process of law cannot overcome systematic and ingenious discrimination. No law that we now have on the books, and I have helped to put three of them there, can insure the right to vote when local officials are determined to deny it. In such a case, our duty must be clear to all of us. The Constitution says that no person shall be kept from voting because of his race or his color.

We have all sworn an oath before God to support and to defend that Constitution. We must now act in obedience to that oath. Wednesday, I will send to Congress a law designed to eliminate illegal barriers to the right to vote. The broad principles of that bill will be in the hands of the Democratic and Republican leaders tomorrow. After they have reviewed it, it will come here formally as a bill. I am grateful for this opportunity to come here tonight at the invitation of the leadership to reason with my friends, to give them my views and to visit with my former colleagues.

I have had prepared a more comprehensive analysis of the legislation which I had intended to transmit to the clerk tomorrow, but which I will submit to the clerks tonight. But I want to really discuss the main proposals of this legislation. This bill will strike down restrictions to voting in all elections, federal, state and local, which have been used to deny Negroes the right to vote.

This bill will establish a simple, uniform standard which cannot be used, however ingenious the effort, to flout our Constitution. It will provide for citizens to be registered by officials of the United States Government, if the state officials refuse to register them. It will eliminate tedious, unnecessary lawsuits which delay the right to vote. Finally, this legislation will insure that properly registered individuals are not prohibited from voting. I will welcome the suggestions from all the members of Congress–I have no doubt that I will get some–on ways and means to strengthen this law and to make it effective.

But experience has plainly shown that this is the only path to carry out the command of the Constitution. To those who seek to avoid action by their national government in their home communities, who want to and who seek to maintain purely local control over elections, the answer is simple: open your polling places to all your people. Allow men and women to register and vote whatever the color of their skin. Extend the rights of citizenship to every citizen of this land. There is no Constitutional issue here. The command of the Constitution is plain. There is no moral issue. It is wrong–deadly wrong–to deny any of your fellow Americans the right to vote in this country.

There is no issue of state’s rights or national rights. There is only the struggle for human rights. I have not the slightest doubt what will be your answer. But the last time a President sent a civil rights bill to the Congress it contained a provision to protect voting rights in Federal elections. That civil rights bill was passed after eight long months of debate. And when that bill came to my desk from the Congress for signature, the heart of the voting provision had been eliminated.

This time, on this issue, there must be no delay, or no hesitation, or no compromise with our purpose. We cannot, we must not, refuse to protect the right of every American to vote in every election that he may desire to participate in.

And we ought not, and we cannot, and we must not wait another eight months before we get a bill. We have already waited 100 years and more and the time for waiting is gone. So I ask you to join me in working long hours and nights and weekends, if necessary, to pass this bill. And I don’t make that request lightly, for, from the window where I sit, with the problems of our country, I recognize that from outside this chamber is the outraged conscience of a nation, the grave concern of many nations and the harsh judgment of history on our acts.

But even if we pass this bill the battle will not be over. What happened in Selma is part of a far larger movement which reaches into every section and state of America. It is the effort of American Negroes to secure for themselves the full blessings of American life. Their cause must be our cause too. Because it’s not just Negroes, but really it’s all of us, who must overcome the crippling legacy of bigotry and injustice.

And we shall overcome.

As a man whose roots go deeply into Southern soil, I know how agonizing racial feelings are. I know how difficult it is to reshape the attitudes and the structure of our society. But a century has passed–more than 100 years–since the Negro was freed. And he is not fully free tonight. It was more than 100 years ago that Abraham Lincoln–a great President of another party–signed the Emancipation Proclamation. But emancipation is a proclamation and not a fact.

A century has passed–more than 100 years–since equality was promised, and yet the Negro is not equal. A century has passed since the day of promise, and the promise is unkept. The time of justice has now come, and I tell you that I believe sincerely that no force can hold it back. It is right in the eyes of man and God that it should come, and when it does, I think that day will brighten the lives of every American. For Negroes are not the only victims. How many white children have gone uneducated? How many white families have lived in stark poverty? How many white lives have been scarred by fear, because we wasted energy and our substance to maintain the barriers of hatred and terror?

And so I say to all of you here and to all in the nation tonight that those who appeal to you to hold on to the past do so at the cost of denying you your future. This great rich, restless country can offer opportunity and education and hope to all–all, black and white, North and South, sharecropper and city dweller. These are the enemies: poverty, ignorance, disease. They are our enemies, not our fellow man, not our neighbor.

And these enemies too–poverty, disease and ignorance–we shall overcome.

Now let none of us in any section look with prideful righteousness on the troubles in another section or the problems of our neighbors. There is really no part of America where the promise of equality has been fully kept. In Buffalo as well as in Birmingham, in Philadelphia as well as Selma, Americans are struggling for the fruits of freedom.

This is one nation. What happens in Selma and Cincinnati is a matter of legitimate concern to every American. But let each of us look within our own hearts and our own communities and let each of us put our shoulder to the wheel to root out injustice wherever it exists. As we meet here in this peaceful historic chamber tonight, men from the South, some of whom were at Iwo Jima, men from the North who have carried Old Glory to the far corners of the world and who brought it back without a stain on it, men from the east and from the west are all fighting together without regard to religion or color or region in Vietnam.

Men from every region fought for us across the world 20 years ago. And now in these common dangers, in these common sacrifices, the South made its contribution of honor and gallantry no less than any other region in the great republic.

And in some instances, a great many of them, more. And I have not the slightest doubt that good men from everywhere in this country, from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico, from the Golden Gate to the harbors along the Atlantic, will rally now together in this cause to vindicate the freedom of all Americans. For all of us owe this duty and I believe that all of us will respond to it.

Your president makes that request of every American.

The real hero of this struggle is the American Negro. His actions and protests, his courage to risk safety, and even to risk his life, have awakened the conscience of this nation. His demonstrations have been designed to call attention to injustice, designed to provoke change; designed to stir reform. He has been called upon to make good the promise of America.

And who among us can say that we would have made the same progress were it not for his persistent bravery and his faith in American democracy? For at the real heart of the battle for equality is a deep-seated belief in the democratic process. Equality depends, not on the force of arms or tear gas, but depends upon the force of moral right–not on recourse to violence, but on respect for law and order.

There have been many pressures upon your President and there will be others as the days come and go. But I pledge to you tonight that we intend to fight this battle where it should be fought–in the courts, and in the Congress, and the hearts of men. We must preserve the right of free speech and the right of free assembly. But the right of free speech does not carry with it–as has been said–the right to holler fire in a crowded theatre.

We must preserve the right to free assembly. But free assembly does not carry with it the right to block public thoroughfares to traffic. We do have a right to protest. And a right to march under conditions that do not infringe the Constitutional rights of our neighbors. And I intend to protect all those rights as long as I am permitted to serve in this office.

We will guard against violence, knowing it strikes from our hands the very weapons which we seek–progress, obedience to law, and belief in American values. In Selma, as elsewhere, we seek and pray for peace. We seek order, we seek unity, but we will not accept the peace of stifled rights or the order imposed by fear, or the unity that stifles protest–for peace cannot be purchased at the cost of liberty.

In Selma tonight–and we had a good day there–as in every city we are working for a just and peaceful settlement. We must all remember after this speech I’m making tonight, after the police and the F.B.I. and the Marshals have all gone, and after you have promptly passed this bill, the people of Selma and the other cities of the nation must still live and work together.

And when the attention of the nation has gone elsewhere they must try to heal the wounds and to build a new community. This cannot be easily done on a battleground of violence as the history of the South itself shows. It is in recognition of this that men of both races have shown such an outstandingly impressive responsibility in recent days–last Tuesday and again today.

The bill I am presenting to you will be known as a civil rights bill. But in a larger sense, most of the program I am recommending is a civil rights program. Its object is to open the city of hope to all people of all races, because all Americans just must have the right to vote, and we are going to give them that right.

All Americans must have the privileges of citizenship, regardless of race, and they are going to have those privileges of citizenship regardless of race.

But I would like to caution you and remind you that to exercise these privileges takes much more than just legal rights. It requires a trained mind and a healthy body. It requires a decent home and the chance to find a job and the opportunity to escape from the clutches of poverty.

Of course people cannot contribute to the nation if they are never taught to read or write; if their bodies are stunted from hunger; if their sickness goes untended; if their life is spent in hopeless poverty, just drawing a welfare check.

So we want to open the gates to opportunity. But we’re also going to give all our people, black and white, the help that they need to walk through those gates. My first job after college was as a teacher in Cotulla, Texas, in a small Mexican-American school. Few of them could speak English and I couldn’t speak much Spanish. My students were poor and they often came to class without breakfast and hungry. And they knew even in their youth the pain of prejudice. They never seemed to know why people disliked them, but they knew it was so because I saw it in their eyes.

I often walked home late in the afternoon after the classes were finished wishing there was more that I could do. But all I knew was to teach them the little that I knew, hoping that I might help them against the hardships that lay ahead. And somehow you never forget what poverty and hatred can do when you see its scars on the hopeful face of a young child.

I never thought then, in 1928, that I would be standing here in 1965. It never even occurred to me in my fondest dreams that I might have the chance to help the sons and daughters of those students, and to help people like them all over this country. But now I do have that chance.

And I’ll let you in on a secret–I mean to use it. And I hope that you will use it with me.

This is the richest, most powerful country which ever occupied this globe. The might of past empires is little compared to ours. But I do not want to be the president who built empires, or sought grandeur, or extended dominion.

I want to be the president who educated young children to the wonders of their world. I want to be the President who helped to feed the hungry and to prepare them to be taxpayers instead of tax eaters. I want to be the President who helped the poor to find their own way and who protected the right of every citizen to vote in every election. I want to be the President who helped to end hatred among his fellow men and who promoted love among the people of all races, all regions and all parties. I want to be the President who helped to end war among the brothers of this earth.

And so, at the request of your beloved Speaker and the Senator from Montana, the Majority Leader, the Senator from Illinois, the Minority Leader, Mr. McCullock and other members of both parties, I came here tonight, not as President Roosevelt came down one time in person to veto a bonus bill; not as President Truman came down one time to urge passage of a railroad bill, but I came down here to ask you to share this task with me. And to share it with the people that we both work for.

I want this to be the Congress–Republicans and Democrats alike–which did all these things for all these people. Beyond this great chamber–out yonder–in fifty states are the people that we serve. Who can tell what deep and unspoken hopes are in their hearts tonight as they sit there and listen? We all can guess, from our own lives, how difficult they often find their own pursuit of happiness, how many problems each little family has. They look most of all to themselves for their future, but I think that they also look to each of us.

Above the pyramid on the Great Seal of the United States it says in latin, “God has favored our undertaking.” God will not favor everything that we do. It is rather our duty to divine His will. But I cannot help but believe that He truly understands and that He really favors the undertaking that we begin here tonight.

President Lyndon B. Johnson – March 15, 1965

References and Resources…

Voter Suppression and My Situation





13 December 2011

Dearest Rachel Maddow. . .

As I write I listen to you speak of poll taxes and voter suppression.  I wish to share my story in respect to my personal reality and the fear that I live with.  Decades before the Barack Obama long-form birth certificate, I realized my own fear.   Unlike the persons in your account, I am not a senior citizen.  I am a permanent resident of the United States and have been for all of my life.  While I have never crossed a border into another country, I have great apprehension for what might occur.  

May I provide a bit of background? For the last six years, I have lived in the State of Florida. I trust that the Florida situation, and thus mine, is familiar for more than a few.  Millions of Americans have found, or will discover, circumstances have changed.  The opportunity to cast a ballot, early, easily, or to merely to be part of the electoral process is no longer theirs.  

Defending Democracy: Confronting Modern Barriers to Voting Rights in America

Viewing the current attacks on voter access as a whole, several key points emerge:

• Fourteen states enacted a total of twenty-five measures that will unfairly and unnecessarily restrict the right to vote and exact a disproportionate price on African-American and other voters of color. Dozens more restrictions have been proposed nationwide, in a coordinated assault on voting rights.

• Several of the very states that experienced both historic participation of people of color in the 2008 Presidential Election and substantial minority population growth according to the 2010 Census are the ones mounting an assault to prevent similar political participation in 2012. These states include those that experienced the largest growth in total African-American population during the last decade (Florida, Georgia, Texas, and North Carolina), and three states that saw the highest growth rates in Latino population (South Carolina, Alabama, and Tennessee).

• The restrictive measures adopted by these states include:

• Tightening the requirements for voter registration or making the voter registration process unnecessarily difficult by imposing severe restrictions on persons who conduct voter registration drives or requiring individuals to produce documentary proof of citizenship in order to register to vote.

§ Increasing disfranchisement of people with felony convictions.

§ Substantially reducing the opportunity to vote early or by absentee ballot.

§ Erecting barriers to participation on Election Day itself The heart of the modern block the vote campaign is a wave of restrictive government-issued photo identification requirements.

In a coordinated effort, legislators in thirty-four states introduced bills imposing such requirements. Many of these bills were modeled on legislation drafted by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)-a conservative advocacy group whose founder explained: “our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.”

According to one estimate by the Brennan Center for Justice, these block the vote efforts could impede as many as five million eligible voters from registering and/or casting ballots in 2012. While the sheer volume of the affected eligible voters is alarming in itself, the threat is compounded when you consider that the effects will not be felt evenly throughout society. In the context of state photo identification requirements, for example, an astonishing 25% of African Americans (over 6.2 million African-American voters) and 16% of Latinos (over 2.96 million Latino voters) do not possess valid photo ID. By comparison, only 8% of whites are without a current government-issued photo ID.

However, the trepidation I feel existed before my move here. It began when I first realized that my birth certificate and proof of my lineage were in question. More than once, I have been asked to produce what I can do, only in part.  While I am not visibly a minority, other than being a woman, which may be both a majority and among the marginalized, I may not be among those characterized as a fully documented citizen.

My Mom is my birth mother. My dad adopted me when I was thirteen.  My natural father as well as each of my parents is no longer present in the physical world.  Even when they were here on Earth, I was concerned.  Being adopted while living a thousand miles away from my birthplace; indeed, even being adopted while in Middle School, on many occasions I have been asked to present my papers!

Since the age of seventeen, I lived on my own.  I also began my career as an extremely committed and regular voter.  In Wisconsin, if you were seventeen during the primaries but would be eighteen by the time of the general election you could as I would, cast a ballot in the Spring.

When I was in my late teens or very early twenties, my mom gave me my hospital birth certificate, the State papers, as well as the revised, post adoption documents.  I know not how, or when, I only know that I proceeded to lose every record.

Thankfully, I had studied the three before these disappeared. I know the name of the hospital I was born in, the city, the county, and the State.  I am well aware of the time of birth.  My Mom always told the story I love. I know the tale of how and where I was conceived. Still, for all these years, I have been unable to secure copies of my original birth files.

The hospital changed hands.  The State of Pennsylvania, a score ago, sent me the altered copy of my short version birth certificate.  On it, my adopted Dad and Mom are listed as my parents.  Funny or not, today, I know not where that document is either.  [I have moved too often and from State to State.] Were I asked to produce a long form file, or required to furnish more forms that speak to the specifics, I could not.

Perhaps, having been asked for my papers on many occasions in my five decades on this planet, in this country, shades my reality.  In truth, that is why Mommy bestowed the certificates.  Schools, professional pursuits, medical circumstances, and much more in an American life, at times, necessitates that I produce documentation.

Aware of the current political environment, and where I now live, my apprehension increases.  While I believe I am still able to retrieve a copy of the altered post-adoption short-form certificate, were there a need for me to actually present verification of my birth, complete with the names of my natural parents, the hospital and time at which I was born, I cannot do so.

No Rachel, I am not Black, Brown or any color other than the Caucasian pink.  I am not elderly.  I am not an immigrant.  I was born in a hospital, one that still stands.  I also was born in a very large city!  Produce my official papers?  Currently, I cannot!

I strongly suspect I am not alone.  Might a Tea Party person share my truth?  I often wonder.  Could a Conservative too be without the documents he or she is certain someone has? Independents too, in America, do not live on an island.  Any of these might experience as this Democrat does.  I am without documents

I thank you Rachel for reading my story. I hope my veracity will serve to expand the story. The disenfranchised could be you, and very easily me!

So long as I do not firmly and irrevocably possess the right to vote I do not possess myself. I cannot make up my mind-it is made up for me. I cannot live as a democratic citizen… ~Dr. Martin Luther King, Junior

“Only you can choose whether the Earthly weight, the gravity of circumstances holds you down.  You have the power to decide if  you are one with the whole of the elements. Wind, air, fire, and water are yours for the taking . . .

Fly freely.  Breathe deeply.  Ignite or inspire with intensity.   Drink the joy of living with gusto. Learn. Grow. Glow Greater!”


 . . . Betsy L. Angert

Reference for Voters Rights . . .

businesscard.aspx

Love; The Life of Ted Kennedy




Watch CBS Videos Online

copyright © 2009 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

I love you Ted Kennedy.  I have for a very long time.  Please let me count the ways.  

I have forever thought Senator Edward Moore Kennedy was the more effective, endearing, enduring, committed, and constant Kennedy.  Perhaps it is my age, or the lackluster logic of hindsight.  Possibly, I was too new to politics when I was very young.  After all, my interest was only ignited at the age of five.  Maybe, I might relate more to someone whose birth rank is more similar to my own, or to a person who, like me, throughout his life was thought to be more Liberal than the two older siblings he is often associated with.  I know not with certainty why I feel as strongly as I do.  Nonetheless, my impression of John Fitzgerald Kennedy and Robert Francis Kennedy cannot be compared with my sense of Ted, Edward Moore Kennedy.  Oh, how I admired, appreciated, and adored Teddy Kennedy, and will for all of my days.  The reasons . . .  

I recall when we met.  No, we did not sit down to dinner.  We have no friends in common, at least none I am aware of.  I was but one of many who attended a very small gathering in Irvine, California.  I believe the year was  . . . indeed, I am uncertain. Although I trust it was well over a decade or two ago.  Less than forty persons were present.  Even that number may be an overestimation.  We who stood and spoke with Senator Kennedy were die-hard Democrats.  

For us, or at least for me, the legendary Kennedy charisma and charm that both John and Bobby were famous for would never has been of interest to me.  All of my life I have been attracted to those who actively address issues such as international harmony, health care coverage for all, civil liberties, human rights, equality, and education.  A man, woman, or child who learns from his or her experiences, and authentically empathizes with others, is, in my mind, a quality person.  Intelligence, consistency, and an intense sense to serve the average Americans, appeals to me.  I have long felt Edward M. Kennedy is the embodiment of what I think worthy.

Today, as a nation mourns the passing of a legacy, I too look back.  With thanks to Jezbel for what is admittedly but a summary of Senator Edward Moore Kennedy’s achievements, I submit to you dear reader some of the countless reasons I love the man I now mourn.  May we as a nation, not let the vision die.  As Senator Kennedy declared in 1980, “The dream lives on.”  It is alive and well in us, if only we act on our greater desire for global goodness.  “Teddy,” if I might be so familiar, may you, may we all, rest in peace.  May everyone remember what remains most meaningful.

The list is by no means comprehensive, but is meant to serve as a tribute to his work in public service.

Gender Equity: Kennedy saw [cosponsored] the Senate of the Equal Rights Amendment in 1972, which aimed to make men and women equal in the constitution. He reintroduced the legislation again this congressional session, but it has yet to make it into the constitution.

Kennedy championed Title IX of the Civil Rights Act in 1972, which prevented educational institutions from discriminating against women (afterward, colleges and universities integrated, paving the way for women like Sonia Sotomayor and Hillary Clinton to attend Ivy League institutions), as well as requiring equitable athletic opportunities.

Civil Rights:  Kennedy saw the passage of the Civil Rights Restoration Act of 1988 as committee chairman, which strengthened the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Afterward, then-executive director of the Leadership Council on Civil Rights Ralph Neas said, “Now you see what happens when you have a civil rights champion in charge of the committee.”

He was also chief sponsor on the Civil Rights Act of 1991, which addressed intentional discrimination and harassment in the workplace. He was also a key sponsor of legislation by the same name in 2008, which sought to restore civil rights protections stripped by Supreme Court rulings in recent years (like the Lilly Ledbetter case.)

Pay Equity:  Kennedy worked on the Fair Pay Restoration Act, which sought to restore the rights of women to sue with each discriminatory paycheck, overturning the Supreme Court ruling in Ledbetter v. Goodyear.

Voting Rights:  Kennedy worked on the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which allowed equal access to voting as part of the Civil Rights movement. He also worked to add amendments in 1982 that expanded voting access to Native Americans, Latinos, and others who required language assistance.

Affirmative Action:  Kennedy helped defeat legislation that would have ended federal affirmative action in 1998 and joined his colleagues in the Senate in filing a brief urging the Supreme Court to uphold affirmative action in 2003.

LGBT Rights:  Kennedy has been the chief sponsor of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act since 1994, which would make it illegal to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation in the workplace. The bill has yet to pass.

Hate Crimes:  Kennedy worked on the Matthew Shepard Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act in 2007, which would implement more severe penalties for crimes against women, gays, lesbians, and transgender persons. The bill was vetoed by President Bush in 2007, but the legislation has been reintroduced in the 110th Congress.

HIV/AIDS:  Kennedy introduced what became the Ryan White CARE Act, which addressed thirteen cities hit hardest by the HIV/AIDS crisis in 1990. When it was up for reauthorization in 2000, it provided nearly $9 billion in HIV/AIDS services over the following five years.

Domestic Violence:  Kennedy worked with Vice President Joe Biden on the 1994 Violence Against Women Act. He also worked on its reauthorization in 2000, which allowed immigrant women to apply for permanent status in the United States without their abusive partners.

Disability Equity:  Kennedy worked to pass the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990, which provided much-needed accommodations for those with disabilities.

Minimum Wage:  Kennedy worked with Congress in 2007 to pass the first hike in the minimum wage in more than a decade. Women disproportionately make up the population low-wage hourly workers.

Women in Combat:  Kennedy championed the repeal a ban of women in combat in 1991. Women are still technically barred from fighting on the “front lines,” such stipulations are meaningless in modern combat. By working for legislation that repealed archaic legislation, Kennedy helped women achieve more equality in the military.

Military Child Care:  In 1989, Kennedy saw the passage of the National Military Child Care Act, which established the Department of Defense’s child care program. This allowed working spouses of military members and women who were enlisted themselves to have access to high-quality, federally funded child care.

Health Insurance for Children and Pregnant Women:  In 1997, Kennedy co-sponsored the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), allowing families to have access to health care that previously didn’t. Kennedy also introduced legislation that has yet to pass, Affordable Health Care Act, which would expand Medicaid and SCHIP coverage for children, pregnant women, and the disabled.

He saw the passage of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act in 1978, which made it illegal for employers to fire women for leave taken due to pregnancy. We still don’t require employers to provide paid maternity leave.

Minority Health Care:  Kennedy championed The Minority Health and Health Disparities Research and Education Act in 2000, which provided funding for research for how to reduce disparities in cancer, heart disease, HIV/AIDS, diabetes, and other severe health problems that are found to be significantly higher in minority populations. In 2006, he introduced the Minority Health Improvement and Health Disparity Elimination Act, which would address inequalities in health care access and treatment if passed.

The Inclusion of Women in Scientific and Medical Research:  Kennedy co-sponsored the NIH Revitalization Act of 1993, legislation that called for the inclusion of women and minorities in federally funded clinical research.

Senator Kennedy, may you be with us all forever.  May each of us take you into our hearts and act as you always did.  May we keep the dream alive.  

References . . .

“I Have a Dream”



Martin Luther King “I have a dream

copyright © 2009 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

Today, while not the actual anniversary of Martin Luther King Junior’s birth date, is the occasion on which we commemorate the man who reminded all of us of our greatness.  Reverend King reflected; we are human beings.  When we are united, we can, and will accomplish grand feats.  We can overcome injustice, hatred, and abuses of a perceived power.  As a country, we need not continue on the path of prejudice.  A dream of opportunity for all can be realized if we work to right the wrongs of the past that, at the time of his speech, and today, still live.  In front of hundreds of thousands, Doctor Martin Luther King Junior cried out for an ethical, economic, and emotional equity.

The revered Reverend recounted a history that in nineteen hundred and sixty three haunted humanity.  In a nation founded on liberty and justice for all, for centuries, men, women, and children rose up on the back of slaves.  He recalled the Emancipation Proclamation, that was intended to set Black people free.  As Doctor King stood in the symbolic shadow of a President he characterized as a great American, Abraham Lincoln he reflected on the doctrine meant to end the discrimination that allows for such captivity.  There in Washington District of Columbia, on that hot August day, Martin Luther King spoke of his dream, and a promise not yet fulfilled.

The pledge, a former President committed to, was then, five score years after it was avowed, not honored.  Late in the twentieth century, Reverend King had seen in the streets of Alabama, understood, on the curvaceous slopes of California, on the red hills of Georgia, on every mound and molehill of Mississippi, in the Alleghenies of Pennsylvania, and on mighty mountains of New York, freedom had not rung for Black Americans.

Hence, this son, grandson of a Pastor knew; he, his Black brothers, sisters,  and all people could no longer remain silent,  Doctor King worked towards an end to segregation.  He endeavored to achieve enactments of Civil Rights laws.  He helped create a coalition of conscience.  The Reverend inspired many.  Yet, he felt a need to do more.  He had a dream.

On this summer day, unexpectedly, and advised against such high-minded rhetoric  Martin Luther King could not restrain himself.  He felt “the fierce urgency of now.”  Thus, he mounted the platform, built on the backs of his ancestors, slaves, and revealed a reality that for too long was not mentioned publicly.  The Reverend stood strong and spoke for the sons of former slaves, and their son, all of whom were stationed, by virtue of their race in an invisible bondage.  King proclaimed what these men, women, and children could not say; yet, what all knew to be true.  Racial discrimination, in the land of the free and home of the brave, flourished.  

On August 28, 1963, after years of nonviolent protest, ample requests for racial equality, a cessation to prejudice, “Martin,” as those close to him called him, addressed an audience of many colors.  He acknowledged, the veracity, that we, as people, are one.  Humans, every one, are joined to the other.  As he looked out onto the Washington Mall, Civil Rights leader King recognized that some, whose skin was not dark, who may not have experienced the bigotry their brethren had, still understood the dream as he did.  

We must work together.  On that afternoon, many persons whose complexion was pink and pale, expressed they were willing.  “(W)hite brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny.  They have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.”

Yet, now, two score and three years anon, as a nation, we have yet to fully honor the promissory note Abraham Lincoln bestowed upon our Black brothers and sisters.  The check Martin Luther King Junior referred to as “bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds” is not secured.  

Granted we have made progress, slight and slow.  There is still much to be done.  Tomorrow, we hope to see a beginning.  The first Black President will be sworn into office.  An African-American family will reside in the White House.  The Obama’s inspired Americans who yearn to believe that “Yes we can!”

Yet, let us not forget, one Black man, and his relations cannot, and will not, fulfill Martin Luther King’s dream.  If all men are to reach the Mountain Top, we must climb together, in every moment.  Obstacles cannot be forded by the eloquent words of our founders.  Nor could Doctor King conquer the invisible inequity that permeated a prejudice populace then.  Today, Barack Obama will not have the power to prohibit intolerance; nor can he do more than advocate for acceptance.

Change does not come from external forces.  Only we can choose to believe, as Doctor Martin Luther King did.  “I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.  This is our hope,” his, yours, and mine.

Let us make our dreams come true.  Let freedom ring!  “And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! free at last!  thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

Please peruse the full text of this momentous, memorable speech.  Let the words wash over you.  Breathe them in.  Let us begin to fulfill a dream too long denied.


I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we have come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.” But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check – a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now.

This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quick sands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. They have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.

As we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied, as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities.

We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating “For Whites Only”. We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.

Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.

I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with a new meaning, “My country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.”

And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!

Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!

But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

Black History: The Later Klans

© copyright 2008 Storm Bear.  Town Called Dobson


To view the original, travel to a Town Called Dobson.  Black History: The Later Klans

From Wikipedia:

The name “Ku Klux Klan” began to be used by several independent groups. Beginning in the 1950s, individual Klan groups began to resist the Civil Rights Movement by bombing houses in transitional neighborhoods and the houses of activists, as well as by physical violence, intimidation and assassination. In Birmingham, Alabama, during the tenure of Bull Connor, Klan groups were closely allied with police and operated with impunity. There were so many bombings of homes by Klan groups that the city’s nickname was “Bombingham”. In states such as Alabama and Mississippi, Klan members had alliances with governors’ administrations.

Many murders went unreported and unprosecuted. Continuing disfranchisement of blacks meant that most could not serve on juries, which were all white. According to a report from the Southern Regional Council in Atlanta, the homes of forty black Southern families were bombed during 1951 and 1952. Some were social activists whose work exposed them to danger, but most were either people who refused to bow to racist convention or were innocent bystanders, unsuspecting victims of random terrorism.”

Among the more notorious murders by Klan members:

  • The 1951 Christmas Eve bombing of the home of NAACP activists Harry and Harriette Moore in Mims, Florida, resulting in both their deaths.
  • The 1957 murder of Willie Edwards, Jr. Klansmen forced Edwards to jump to his death from a bridge into the Alabama River.
  • The 1963 assassination of NAACP organizer Medgar Evers in Mississippi. In 1994, former Ku Klux Klansman Byron De La Beckwith was convicted.
  • The 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, which killed four black girls. The perpetrators were Klan members Robert Chambliss, convicted in 1977, Thomas Blanton and Bobby Frank Cherry, convicted in 2001 and 2002. The fourth suspect, Herman Cash, died before he was indicted.
  • The 1964 murders of three civil rights workers Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner in Mississippi. In June 2005, Klan member Edgar Ray Killen was convicted of manslaughter.
  • The 1964 murder of two black teenagers, Henry Hezekiah Dee and Charles Eddie Moore in Mississippi. In August 2007, based on the confession of Klansman Charles Marcus Edwards, James Ford Seale, a reputed Ku Klux Klansman, was convicted. Seale was sentenced to serve three life sentences. Seale was a former Mississippi policeman and sheriff’s deputy.

The 1965 Alabama murder of Viola Liuzzo. She was a Southern-raised Detroit mother of five in the state to attend a civil rights march. At the time of her murder Liuzzo was transporting Civil Rights Marchers.

The 1966 firebombing death of NAACP leader Vernon Dahmer Sr., 58, in Mississippi. In 1998 former Ku Klux Klan wizard Sam Bowers was convicted of his murder and sentenced to life. Two other Klan members were indicted with Bowers, but one died before trial, and the other’s indictment was dismissed.

There was also resistance to Klan violence. In a 1958 North Carolina incident, the Klan burned crosses at the homes of two Lumbee Native Americans who had associated with white people and threatened to return with more men. When they held a nighttime rally nearby, they found themselves surrounded by hundreds of armed Lumbees. Gunfire was exchanged, and the Klan was routed at what became known as the Battle of Hayes Pond.

When Freedom Riders arrived in Birmingham, Alabama, the police commissioner Bull Connor gave Klan members fifteen minutes to attack the riders before sending in the police. When local and state authorities failed to protect them, the federal government established more effective intervention. While the FBI had paid informants in the Klan, for instance in Birmingham, Alabama in the early 1960s, their relations with local law enforcement and the Klan were often ambiguous. The head of the FBI J. Edgar Hoover, appeared more concerned about Communist links to civil rights activists than about controlling Klan excesses. In 1964, the FBI’s COINTELPRO program began attempts to infiltrate and disrupt civil rights groups.

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Farewell To Privacy. Hello To Arms

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copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert

The Courts and Congress have come to believe there is reason for fear.  Enemies are everywhere.  Those who wish to do us harm are in our homes.  They talk to us on our telephones.  Some sashay in through our computers.  “Evil doers” are ubiquitous in the United States.  Our open society places the public at risk.  We, the people, must defend ourselves.  Thus, the Supreme Court and Congress have given the government and us the means.  The highest judicial body in the nation has made it possible for the common man to protect himself with a pistol; Legislators provided the President ethereal firearms.  Indeed, individuals and the Commander-In-Chief were bequeathed more than either had asked for.  In 2008, we have entered the Summer of Separation.  In the United States we say, “Farewell to privacy.  Hello to arms.”

Absorbed in fear, Americans have detached themselves from the original intent of the United States Constitution.  We the people have embraced weaponry and rejected our right to privacy.  The populace, with assistance from Congress willingly chose to forfeit the Fourth Amendment.  authentic freedoms were  disemboweled.  If the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act  (FISA) stands, and there is no reason to think a Bill signed into law by the President of the United States and each House of Congress would not be fully implemented, the press and the people will no longer have unfettered access to information.  Nor can they disseminate data without intense scrutiny.  Chris Hedges, a twenty year veteran Foreign Correspondent for The New York Times, speaks to a truth that he lived and now fears will die.

The new FISA Amendments Act nearly eviscerates oversight of government surveillance.  It allows the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to review only general procedures for spying rather than individual warrants.  The court will not be told specifics about who will be wiretapped, which means the law provides woefully inadequate safeguards to protect innocent people whose communications are caught up in the government’s dragnet surveillance program.

The law, passed under the guise of national security, ostensibly targets people outside the country.  There is no question, however, that it will ensnare many communications between Americans and those overseas.  Those communications can be stored indefinitely and disseminated, not just to the U.S. government but to other governments.

This law will cripple the work of those of us who as reporters communicate regularly with people overseas, especially those in the Middle East.  It will intimidate dissidents, human rights activists, and courageous officials who seek to expose the lies of our government or governments allied with ours.  It will hang like the sword of Damocles over all who dare to defy the official versions of events.  It leaves open the possibility of retribution and invites the potential for abuse by those whose concern is not with national security but with the consolidation of their own power.

Trepidation has long been a tool for intimidation.  A frightened fellow or female will happily adopt a policy or a pistol to relieve apprehension.  Perhaps, that it why after the events of September 11, 2001, Americans, panicked and the power elite prospered.  As the Twin Towers fell, the people cried out for protection.  Congress gleefully approved the Patriot Act; and as a nation, we pursued a course of action that was and is contrary to Constitutional principles.  Even early on, Americans said,  “Farewell to privacy.  Hello to arms.”

As the war thundered on, the public worked to avoid greater anxiety.  People purchased more guns for personal safety sake.  They feared the government might not be able to shield them from all potential harms.  Indeed, this attitude has been ubiquitous in American history.  The Wild West outlook often overrides logic or Constitutional law.  In America, there have been many Summers of Separation.

When humans think weaponry is the solution, as they do in a country where there are ninety guns per every one hundred U.S. residents, they will grab a pistol when faced with any problem.  The availability of petroleum has become a paradox.  Prices for fuel and food are high.  The cost for shelter is higher.  Homes are in foreclosure.  Job security is but a myth.  Employer provided benefits are elusive.  The cost for Health Care coverage is out of reach; yet, the gun that could end it all is close.

Immigration is also an issue that irks many in America.  When migrants flee to the States in search of financial freedom, the native-born feel further threatened.  The divide between the races causes much resentment.  Income inequity offers reason for rage.  Economic slavery causes tempers to rise.  In 2008, the effect of all these predicaments troubles the populace.   The American public is aggravated.  Currently, people feel less safe, less strong, and more scared.  Millions ponder.  Force can seem the great equalizer.  Hence, gun ownership is great.  The Small Arms Survey, released in August 2007 reveals Americans have a ready arsenal.

With fewer than five per cent of the world’s population, the United States is home to roughly 35-50 per cent of the world’s civilian-owned guns.

The report went on to state that the common folk are better equipped with weaponry than law enforcement or the military might be.  Civilians who reside in cities, suburbs, and those who dwell in the countryside possess the vast majority of total firearms owned in the United States.  Citizens in a country built on might will use firepower to retain what they believe is their right. If they are refused the privilege to pack heat, Americans will seek recourse by any means.

Special-forces policeman Heller, a resident of Washington District of Columbia certainly did.  The lawman, aware that anyone on the street might be armed sought solace in a piece of hardware.  Mister Heller applied to register a handgun he wished to keep at home; the District denied his request since, at the time, the District of Columbia forbade civilian handgun ownership.  Disgruntled, and prepared for battle, as Americans often are, Officer Heller filed a legal suit.  He stated his Second Amendment Rights were violated.  The Supreme Court agreed.

A review of the actual Second Amendment which states Americans have the Right to “bear arms in times when a well-regulated militia is necessary to the security of a free State,” or research might have led the Justices to decide otherwise.  Nonetheless, in a summer steeped with separation from acumen, the Supreme Court ruled civilian gun ownership is a right.

The Administration, policymakers, and pundits think the decision wise.  After all, it is a dangerous world.  Americans need to be prepared to fight the ominous foe  Fifteen years ago,   near half of American households understood this.  People built arsenals.  Thirty-one percent of adult Americans owned a firearm in 1993.  Still, that armory was not enough to protect the citizenry from attack.  Years later, the munitions stored,  while likely larger, were no better protection.

Crimes occurred outside the home, on the streets of any given community and , just as predicted, some transgressions traumatized those within four walls. Few Americans ponder the weightier aspects of artillery in the American home.

Earlier this year (1997), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a mind-boggling report showing that the U.S. firearm-related homicide rate for children was 16 times higher than the combined rate for children in 25 other industrialized countries.  Meanwhile, the U.S. child rate of firearm related suicide was 11 times higher. . .

Last year, Congress nearly slashed the budget for the CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (NCIPC), which collects and monitors firearm injury data and funds related research as part of its mission.  As a result of new funding mandates, CDC this year has been forced to dramatically reduce its firearm-related injury research, and CDC-funded gunshot injury surveillance programs will come to an end in several states.

All this comes at a time when gunshot injuries are expected to soon outstrip automobile accidents as the number one cause of injury death in the U.S., costing an estimated $20 billion yearly in medical costs and lost productivity.  Surprisingly little medical research monitors the kinds of firearm injuries that occur or the types of guns used.  While the CDC samples unshot injury data from 91 hospitals around the country, there is no comprehensive national surveillance system to accurately track how many people are wounded by guns each year..

Surveillance is the sham used to explain what Federal officials think a greater priority.  Those who have more power than a weapon might wield understand the statistics on civilian gun wounds would not please or appease Americans.  Information on gun injury might shift the fear factor.  If the people are to remain focused on foreign forces, then FISA, the Bill that keeps on giving to the politically powerful, will remain safe, and after all, is that not the truer issue.  As foreign correspondent Christopher Hedges reminds us . . .

It (the law) is about using terrorism (at home or abroad) as a pretext to permit wholesale spying and to silence voices that will allow us to maintain an open society.

Thankfully, when prized pistols are in question, it is easy to silence voices of dissent.  Physicians were not asked to speak before the Supreme Court shot down a ban on gun sales.  Had they had the opportunity Americans and the Justices might have heard  . . .

Doctors worried by Supreme Court gun ruling

By Maggie Fox

Reuters

Wed Jul 9, 2008 7:44pm EDT

Washington (Reuters) – Last month’s Supreme Court ruling striking down a strict gun control law in the U.S. capital will lead to more deaths and accidental injuries, the editors of the New England Journal of Medicine said on Wednesday.

They joined a growing clamor from medical doctors, especially emergency room physicians, who fear a surge of accidental deaths, murders, and suicides if handguns become more easily available than they already are.

The ruling struck down a law in Washington that forbade personal ownership of handguns.  The court made explicit, for the first time, that Americans had rights as individuals to own guns.

It won praise from President George W. Bush, Republican presidential candidate John McCain and guns rights advocates (and the presumptive Democratic nominee, Barack Obama)

Justice Antonin Scalia, who voted with the 5-4 majority on the decision, said citizens may prefer handguns for home defense because they “can be pointed at a burglar with one hand while the other hand dials the police.”

Perchance, Justice Scalia would be comforted to know, that with thanks to his cohorts  in the Legislative Branch, when a city dweller or a rural resident telephones for assistance, he or she can be comforted by the thought the authorities are very close by.  Indeed, public officials may be plugged into the individual’s phone, and computer.  In the Summer of Separation, as powerbrokers in one part of Washington said , “Hello To Arms,” those on the other side of the Hill proclaimed, “Farewell To Privacy.”

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act established thirty years ago was all but rescinded.  The court system created to help public officials in a crisis is no longer needed to swiftly serve warrants when an investigation is requested.  The Constitution has been compromised.

Lawmakers are already justifying their votes for making major changes to that proven regime by saying that the bill is a reasonable compromise that updates FISA technologically and will make it somewhat harder to spy on Americans abroad. But none of that mitigates the bill’s much larger damage. It would make it much easier to spy on Americans at home, reduce the courts’ powers, and grant immunity to the companies that turned over Americans’ private communications without a warrant.

It would allow the government to bypass the FISA court and collect large amounts of Americans’ communications without a warrant simply by declaring that it is doing so for reasons of national security. It cuts the vital “foreign power” provision from FISA, never mentions counterterrorism and defines national security so broadly that experts think the term could mean almost anything a president wants it to mean.

The President is abundantly pleased.  The present Commander-In-Chief is now assured ultimate power.  Future potential Chief Executives, one of whom voted to support this conciliatory commitment to telecommunication companies, will forever retain the “right” to be spy on the citizenry.   In the Summer of Separation, cognitive and Constitutional dissonance is secure.  Congress and the courts assured us of this.

Congress cast aside the Fourth Amendment,  The Supreme Court rescinded the essence of the Second Amendment.  Our countrymen are now be free to carry a gun, and chat on an open line with the trigger cocked.  Former President of the United States, Franklin Delano Roosevelt  told us “Only Thing We Have to Fear Is Fear Itself.”  Perhaps, the prominent predecessor could not have predicted a day when citizens would be convinced to embrace fretfulness, to forego freedom, and to sing, “Farewell to privacy.  Hello to Arms.”

References and Rights . . .

Black History: The Ku Klux Klan

© copyright 2008 Storm Bear.  Town Called Dobson


To view the original, travel to a Town Called Dobson.  Black History: U.S. Colored Troops

Ku Klux Klan (KKK) is the name of several past and present secret organizations in the United States, mostly in the South, that are best known for advocating white supremacy and acting as vigilantes while hidden behind conic masks and white robes. The first KKK arose in the turmoil after the Civil War. It used terrorism, violence, and lynching to intimidate and oppress African Americans.

The first Klan was founded in 1866 by veterans of the Confederate Army. Its purpose was to restore white supremacy in the aftermath of the American Civil War. The Klan resisted Reconstruction by intimidating “carpetbaggers,” “scalawags” and freedmen. The KKK quickly adopted violent methods. The increase in murders finally resulted in a backlash among Southern elites who viewed the Klan’s excesses as an excuse for federal troops to continue occupation. The organization declined from 1868 to 1870 and was destroyed by President Ulysses S. Grant’s prosecution and enforcement under the Civil Rights Act of 1871.

In 1915, the second Klan was founded. It grew rapidly in another period of postwar social tensions. After WWI, many Americans coped with booming growth rates in major cities, where numerous waves of immigrants from southern and eastern Europe and the Great Migration of Southern blacks and whites were being absorbed. After WWI, labor tensions rose as veterans tried to reenter the work force. In reaction to these new groups of immigrants and migrants, the second KKK preached racism, anti-Catholicism, anti-Communism, nativism, and anti-Semitism. Some local groups took part in lynchings, attacks on private houses and public property, and other violent activities. Members used ceremonial cross burning to intimidate victims and demonstrate its power. Murders and violence by the Klan were most numerous in the South, which had a tradition of lawlessness.

The film The Birth of a Nation and the sensationalized newspaper coverage of the trial, conviction and lynching of Leo Frank of Georgia sparked the Klan’s revival. The second Klan was a formal fraternal organization, with a national and state structure. At its peak in the mid-1920s, the organization included about 15% of the nation’s eligible population, approximately 4-5 million men. The Klan’s popularity fell rapidly during the Great Depression, and membership fell further during World War II.

The name Ku Klux Klan has since been used by many independent groups opposing the Civil Rights Movement and desegregation, especially in the 1950s and 1960s. During this period, they often acted with impunity by alliances with Southern police departments, as during the reign of Bull Connor in Birmingham, Alabama; or governor’s offices, as with George Wallace of Alabama. Several members of KKK-affiliated groups were convicted of manslaughter and murder in the deaths of civil rights workers and children in the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Alabama, the assassination of NAACP organizer Medgar Evers, and the murders of three civil rights workers in Mississippi. Today, researchers estimate there may be more than 150 Klan chapters with 5,000-8,000 members nationwide. The U.S. government classifies them as hate groups, with operations in separated small local units. The modern KKK has been repudiated by all mainstream media, political and religious leaders.

As W.E.B. DuBois noted, “It is always difficult to stop war, and doubly difficult to stop civil war…In the case of civil war, where the contending parties must rest face to face after peace, there can be no quick and perfect peace.” As reported by Mississippi Governor Sharkey in 1866, disorder, lack of control and lawlessness were widespread; in some states armed bands of Confederate soldiers roamed at will. Southerners seemed to take out on blacks all their wrath at the Federal government. They casually attacked and killed blacks whose bodies were left on the roads.

The original Ku Klux Klan was created in the aftermath of the American Civil War by six educated, middle-class Confederate veterans on December 24, 1865. from Pulaski, Tennessee. They made up the name by combining the Greek “kyklos” (??????,circle) with “clan” It was one among a number of secret, oath-bound organizations, including the Southern Cross in New Orleans (1865), and the Knights of the White Camellia.

In an 1867 meeting in Nashville, Tennessee, Klan members gathered to try to create a hierarchical organization with local chapters reporting eventually up to national headquarters. As most of them were veterans, they were used to such organization. Former Confederate Brigadier General George Gordon put the proposals together in what was called the “Prescript.” The Prescript suggested elements of white supremacy belief. For instance, an applicant should be asked if he was in favor of “a white man’s government,” “the reenfranchisement and emancipation of the white men of the South, and the restitution of the Southern people to all their rights.” Despite Gordon’s work, local Klan units never accepted the Prescript and continued to operate autonomously. There were never hierarchical levels or state headquarters.

Gordon supposedly told former slave trader and Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest in Memphis, Tennessee, about the Klan. Forrest allegedly responded, “That’s a good thing; that’s a damn good thing. We can use that to keep the niggers in their place.” A few weeks later, Forrest was selected as Imperial Wizard, the Klan’s national leader, though he always denied leadership.

In effect, the Klan defended the interest of the planter class and Democratic Party by working to curb the education, economic advancement, voting rights, and right to keep and bear arms of blacks. The Ku Klux Klan soon spread into nearly every southern state, launching a “reign of terror” against Republican leaders both black and white. Those political leaders assassinated during the campaign included Arkansas Congressman James M. Hinds, three members of the South Carolina legislature, and several men who served in constitutional conventions.”

In an 1868 newspaper interview, Forrest stated the Klan’s primary opposition was to the Loyal Leagues, Republican state governments, people like Tennessee governor Brownlow and other carpetbaggers and scalawags. He claimed that many southerners believed blacks were voting for the Republican Party because they were being hoodwinked by the Loyal Leagues. One Alabama newspaper editor declared “The League is nothing more than a nigger Ku Klux Klan.” At the local level, however, old feuds and grudges were the cause of numerous attacks, and Klan members worked for their own dominance in the disrupted postwar society.

Klan members adopted masks and robes that hid their identities and added to the drama of their night rides, their chosen time for attacks. Many of them operated in small towns and rural areas where people otherwise knew each other’s faces. “The kind of thing that men are afraid or ashamed to do openly, and by day, they accomplish secretly, masked, and at night.” With this method both the high and the low could be attacked. Some blacks believed Ku Klux Klan nightriders were the ghosts of dead Confederates.

The Klan raided black members of the Loyal Leagues and intimidated southern Republicans and Freedmen’s Bureau workers. Agents of the Freedmen’s Bureau reported weekly assaults and murders of blacks. “Armed guerilla warfare killed thousands of Negroes; political riots were staged; their causes or occasions were always obscure, their results always certain: ten to one hundred times as many Negroes were killed as whites.” Masked men shot into houses and burned them, sometimes with the occupants still inside. They drove successful black farmers off their land. General Canby reported that in North and South Carolina, in 18 months ending in June 1867, there were 197 murders and 548 cases of aggravated assault.

Klan violence worked to suppress black voting. As examples, over 2,000 persons were killed, wounded and otherwise injured in Louisiana within a few weeks prior to the Presidential election of November 1868. Although St. Landry Parish had a registered Republican majority of 1,071, after the murders, no Republicans voted in the fall elections. White Democrats cast the full vote of the parish for Grant’s opponent. The KKK killed and wounded more than 200 black Republicans, hunting and chasing them through the woods. Thirteen captives were taken from jail and shot; a half-buried pile of 25 bodies was found in the woods. The KKK made people vote Democratic and gave them certificates of the fact.

In the April 1868 Georgia gubernatorial election, Columbia County cast 1,222 votes for Republican Rufus Bullock. By the November presidential election, however, Klan intimidation led to suppression of the Republican vote and only one person voted for Ulysses S. Grant.

Klansmen killed more than 150 African Americans in a county in Florida, and hundreds more in other counties. Freedmen’s Bureau records provided a detailed recounting of beatings and murders of freedmen and their white allies by Klansmen.

By 1868, two years after the Klan’s creation, its activity was beginning to decrease. Members were hiding behind Klan masks and robes as a way to avoid prosecution for free-lance violence. Many influential southern Democrats feared that Klan lawlessness provided an excuse for the federal government to retain its power over the South, and they began to turn against it. There were outlandish claims made, such as Georgian B.H. Hill stating “that some of these outrages were actually perpetrated by the political friends of the parties slain.”

Although Forrest boasted the Klan was a nationwide organization of 550,000 men and he could muster 40,000 Klansmen with five days’ notice, as a secret or “invisible” group, it had no membership rosters, no chapters, no local officers, making it difficult for observers to judge its membership. It had created a sensation by the dramatic nature of its masked forays and many murders.

One Klan official complained his, “so-called ‘Chief’-ship was purely nominal, I having not the least authority over the reckless young country boys who were most active in ‘night-riding,’ whipping, etc., all of which was outside of the intent and constitution of the Klan…”

A federal grand jury in 1869 determined the Klan was a “terrorist organization.” It issued hundreds of indictments for crimes of violence and terrorism. Klan members were prosecuted, and many fled jurisdiction, particularly in South Carolina. Many people not formally inducted into the Klan had used the Klan’s uniform for anonymity, to hide their identities when carrying out acts of violence. Forrest ordered the Klan to disband in 1869, stating it was “being perverted from its original honorable and patriotic purposes, becoming injurious instead of subservient to the public peace.” Historian Stanley Horn writes “generally speaking, the Klan’s end was more in the form of spotty, slow, and gradual disintegration than a formal and decisive disbandment.” A reporter in Georgia wrote in January 1870, “A true statement of the case is not that the Ku Klux are an organized band of licensed criminals, but that men who commit crimes call themselves Ku Klux.”

While people used the Klan as a mask for nonpolitical crimes, state and local governments seldom acted against them. African Americans were kept off juries. In lynching cases, all-white juries almost never indicted Klan members. When there was a rare indictment, juries were unlikely to vote for conviction. In part, jury members feared reprisals from local Klansmen.

Others may have agreed with lynching as a way of keeping dominance over black men. In many states, officials were reluctant to use black militia against the Klan from fear that race tensions would be raised. When Republican Governor of North Carolina William Woods Holden called out the militia against the Klan in 1870, it added to his unpopularity. Combined with violence and fraud at the polls, in the election, the Republicans lost their majority in the state legislature. Disaffection with Holden’s actions led to white Democratic legislators’ impeaching Holden and removing him from office, but their reasons were numerous.

Union Army veterans in mountainous Blount County, Alabama, organized ‘the anti-Ku Klux.’ They put an end to violence by threatening Klansmen with reprisals unless they stopped whipping Unionists and burning black churches and schools. Armed blacks formed their own defense in Bennettsville, South Carolina and patrolled the streets to protect their homes.

National sentiment gathered to crack down on the Klan, even though some Democrats at the national level questioned whether the Klan existed or was a creation of nervous Southern Republican governors. Many southern states began to pass anti-Klan legislation.

In January 1871, Pennsylvania Republican Senator John Scott convened a Congressional committee which took testimony from 52 witnesses about Klan atrocities. They accumulated 12 volumes of horrifying testimony. In February, former Union General and Congressman Benjamin Franklin Butler of Massachusetts introduced the Ku Klux Klan Act. This added to the enmity southern white Democrats bore toward him. While the bill was being considered, further violence in the South swung support for its passage. The Governor of South Carolina appealed for federal troops to assist his keeping control. A riot and massacre in a Meridian, Mississippi, courthouse were reported, from which a black state representative escaped only by taking to the woods.

n 1871, President Ulysses S. Grant signed Butler’s legislation. The Ku Klux Klan Act was used by the Federal government together with the 1870 Force Act to enforce the civil rights provisions for individuals under the constitution. Under the Klan Act, Federal troops were used for enforcement, and Klansmen were prosecuted in Federal court. More African Americans served on juries in Federal court than were selected for local or state juries, so had a chance to participate in the process. In the crackdown, hundreds of Klan members were fined or imprisoned. In South Carolina, habeas corpus was suspended in nine counties. The Klan was destroyed in South Carolina and decimated throughout the rest of the South, where it had already been in decline. Attorney General Amos Tappan Ackerman led the prosecutions. “By 1872, the Klan as an organization was broken.” In some areas, other local paramilitary organizations such as the White League, Red Shirts, saber clubs, and rifle clubs continued intimidation and murder of black voters. Although destroyed, the Klan achieved many of its goals, such as suppressing suffrage for Southern blacks and driving a wedge between poor whites and blacks.

Despite suppression of the Klan, violence continued against African Americans as whites struggled for power. On Easter Sunday 1873, black citizens fought a mixed political and racial battle against white militia in Colfax, Louisiana. The ostensible cause was an election contested at both the state and local levels. Each man elected sheriff claimed the local office. When black Republicans gathered at the courthouse, white militia collected to force them to leave. Estimates of African Americans killed overnight and into the next day were 105 to 280. Some bodies were hidden in the woods or thrown in the river; others buried before state and Federal troops arrived. African-American legislator John G. Lewis remarked, “They attempted (armed self-defense) in Colfax. The result was that on Easter Sunday of 1873, when the sun went down that night, it went down on the corpses of two hundred and eighty negroes.” The Colfax Massacre had the highest fatalities of any incident of racial violence during Reconstruction.

Shortly after, in United States v. Cruikshank (1875), the Supreme Court ruled that the few convictions achieved after the Colfax Massacre were faulty. It ruled that the Force Act of 1870 did not give the Federal government power to regulate private actions, but only those by state governments. The result was that as the century went on, African Americans were at the mercy of hostile state governments to intervene against private violence and paramilitary groups.

In 1882, long after the Klan was destroyed, the Supreme Court ruled in United States v. Harris that the Klan Act was partially unconstitutional. It ruled that Congress’s power under the Fourteenth Amendment did not extend to regulate against private conspiracies.

As 20th century Supreme Court rulings extended Federal enforcement of citizens’ civil rights, the Force Act and the Klan Act were used by 20th c. Federal prosecutors as the basis for investigation and indictments in the 1964 murders of Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner; and the 1965 murder of Viola Liuzzo. They were also the basis of prosecution in 1991 in Bray v. Alexandria Women’s Health Clinic.

The nadir of American race relations is often placed from the end of reconstruction to the 1910s, especially in the South. Once white Democrats regained political power in state legislatures in the 1870s, they passed bills directed at restricting voter registration by blacks and poor whites. Continued low cotton prices, agricultural depression and labor shortages in the South contributed to social tensions. According to Tuskegee Institute, the 1890s was also the peak decade for lynchings, with most of them directed against African Americans in the South. The lynchings were a byproduct of political tensions as white Democrats tried to strip blacks from voter rolls and suppress voting. Some of the violence was directed at trying to break up interracial coalitions that came to power in state legislatures in 1894, with alliances of Populist and Republican parties. In 1896 the Democrats used fraud, violence and intimidation to suppress voting by poor classes, and regained power.

From 1890 to 1908, ten of eleven southern states ratified new constitutions or amendments that completed disfranchisement of most African Americans and many poor whites. The constitutions had provisions making voter registration more complicated: such as poll taxes, residency requirements, recordkeeping and literacy tests, which were often subjectively applied. In addition, in voting sometimes multiple ballot boxes were used. The result was that blacks and poor whites in most southern states were deprived of suffrage, representation at any level of government, local elected offices, and the right to serve on juries (usually restricted to voters). In most of the South, sweeping disfranchisement and white one-party government lasted until African Americans’ leadership and activism in the Civil Rights Movement gained passage of Federal civil rights legislation in 1964 and 1965.

Beginning in 1910 and going through 1940, tens of thousands of African Americans decided to leave the South and its violence and segregation, in a movement known as the Great Migration. They went to northern and Midwestern cities for jobs, better education for their children, a chance to vote, and the hopes of living with less violence. Northern industry recruited black workers because of a shortage of labor for expanding industries: for instance, the Pennsylvania Railroad hired 12,000 men, all but 2,000 of them from Florida and Georgia

Special Request to Town Called Dobson Fans: The San Francisco Chronicle is pondering the addition of new cartoons for their paper – a process that seems to be initiated by Darren Bell, creator of Candorville (one of my daily reads – highly recommended). You can read the Chronicle article here and please add your thoughts to the comments if you wish. If anything, put in a good word for Darren and Candorville.

I am submitting Town Called Dobson to the paper for their consideration. They seem to have given great weight to receiving 200 messages considering Candorville. I am asking TCD fans to try to surpass that amount. (I get more than that many hate mails a day, surely fans can do better?)

This is not a race between Darren and I, it is a hope that more progressive strips can be represented in the printed press of America.

So if you read the San Francisco Chronicle or live in the Bay Area (Google Analytics tell me there are a lot of you), please send your kind comments (or naked, straining outrage) to David Wiegand at his published addresses below. If you are a subscriber, cut out your mailing label and staple it to a TCD strip and include it in your letter.

candorcomment@sfchronicle.com

or

David Wiegand

Executive Datebook Editor

The San Francisco Chronicle

901 Mission St.

San Francisco, CA 94103

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