Category: Prime Politics Written by Denise Stewart
The Selma-to-Montgomery march concluded on the steps of the Alabama State Capitol, but organizers say their fight in the causes for which they have marched will not end.
For six days now, marchers have trekked from Selma, about 54 miles, to Montgomery in hopes of focusing the nation’s attention on voting rights, worker’s rights, immigration rights, labor rights and education.
“The next step is litigation,” said the Rev. Al Sharpton, founder and leader of the National Action Network. “We’re going to start going to these 34 states where they have enacted discriminatory voter identification laws, and we will challenge the laws in court.”
Sharpton made the statement to BlackAmericaweb.com, as a he took a brief break from the march.
In some states, early voting has been eliminated, mostly through the actions of Republican-controlled legislatures. In other states, there have been new requirements for using state-issued identification in order to vote.
The tough voter ID laws in several states could greatly reduce the number of potential voters in upcoming elections, said the Rev. Jesse Jackson.
“More than 5 million African-Americans in this country do not have the photo ids required for voting in some states,” Jackson told BlackAmericaweb.com. “In Texas, students can use a gun license as identification for voting, but they can’t use their student ID cards to meet the voting requirement.”
“We must do two things,” Jackson continued. “We must call on the U.S. Department of Justice to intervene to protect the legacy of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and we must occupy the polls.”
Jackson said an alarming number of African-Americans who could vote are not registered.
“In Alabama, there are 300,000 unregistered potential voters. In Georgia, there are 700,000 unregistered Black voters,” Jackson said.
Nationally, Jackson noted that there are 16 million Black voters, but another 10 million potential voters who are unregistered.
“The ball is in our court. This year we have to register people to vote and we have to show up at the polls,” he said.
In 1965, the young Jackson marched from Selma to Montgomery with leaders such as the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Rev. Joseph Lowery. This time, he’s been on the trail once again.
Thousands started out Sunday on the first leg of the march. A dedicated core of marchers have started the walk each day after spending the night at a central location, then being bused to the starting point each day.
At the front of the march on Monday were three of the nation’s top civil rights leaders – Sharpton, Jackson and Benjamin Jealous of the NAACP. Sharpton and Jackson have marched each day. They have been joined by longtime activists, such as Dick Gregory, as well as some younger activists, incuding actor/singer Tyrese.
It was 47 years ago that a similar historic march took place focusing the nation’s attention on voting rights. When those marchers set out to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, they were beaten back by Alabama State Troopers.
Images of the brutal treatment of non-violent marchers were shown around the world. Soon Congress was prompted to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1965, which was signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson.
Each day of the march has carried a specific theme. Thursday, the focus was on immigration rights. Last year, the Alabama Legislature passed some of the toughest anti-immigration laws in the nation. An estimated 1,200 marchers walked about 10 miles, often singing the familiar anthems of the Civil Rights Movement.
The rallying point for the conclusion of the march was across the street from Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church, the church pastored by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., at the time the Montgomery Bus Boycott started in 1955.
Sharpton predicted that thousands would join in for the final steps of the march that Friday.
“We’ll wrap up the march in Montgomery, but it won’t stop there,” he said.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 14 March 2012 14:06
Category: Prime Politics Written by Stacy Swimp
I’m disappointed and disgusted with elected liberal officials playing the race card in their efforts to justify their assault on the basic logic and intellectual capacity of Americans across this wonderful land of opportunity. One of the lies that liberals officials use to manipulate Black Americans is that forced unionism is constitutional. In the Black community, that is further highlighted by playing the race card and claiming how “good” the unions have been to Black people.
Last month, Wisconsin State Senator Spencer Coggs, in a shameful display of pretzel logic mired in the depths of long-dead racial realities, proclaimed: As a people, we have done well with union jobs. I know the impact that union jobs have on our wages, our health care and our very ability to keep a job. If it werent for unions, we often wouldnt have a hedge to protect us against being the last hired and first fired.
Liberals would have Black Americans to believe that unions are the only hope for overcoming the victimhood assigned to Black Americans and perpetuated by liberal politicians who are intent on profiting from this farce. I, for one, have grown tired of this intentional refusal to acknowledge the importance and significance of what Black America brings to the table on a daily basis. We, as do all Americans, determine our own place in our history, and certainly don’t need special treatment from unions or government in order to shine brilliantly in our individual pursuit of happiness.
Unions, furthermore, in their blatant desire to perpetuate an ugly and untrue picture to curry favor among Black Americans, continue to discriminate against Black workers. If most Black Americans knew the facts, I am convinced that there would be a resounding renouncing and en masse opting out of unions.
The Center for Union Facts (http://www.unionfacts.com/crime-corruption/discrimination-by-unions) published a report obtained through the Freedom of Information Act which demonstrates, in large part, union discrimination against Blacks. The report stated that Between 2000 and 2011, labor unions faced 13,815 complaints of discrimination filed with the government’s Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. These included 4,248 complaints of race discrimination. That amounts to at least one formal complaint per day for racial discrimination.
Unions also discriminate against Blacks in labor, particularly in construction, through the Davis Bacon Act of 1931. The Davis Bacon Act was created for the purpose of keeping non-union Blacks workers from competing with white-only unions for construction jobs that were partially or fully funded by the Federal government. It was a “Jim Crow” Law. Most Blacks today do not know that this Jim Crow law is not only still on the books, but continues to have the same intended consequence.
Another way that unions discriminate against Blacks is through what is known as Project Labor Agreements (PLAs). The National Black Chamber of Commerce recently released the following statement, regarding PLAs: “African-American workers are significantly underrepresented in all crafts of construction union shops … this problem has been persistent during past decades and there appears to be no type of improvement coming … PLAs are anti-free-market, non-competitive, and, most of all, discriminatory.” (See http://www.plawatch.com/discrimiate)
Studies upon studies have confirmed that PLAs serve as major barriers for Black owned businesses seeking to bid on public and private projects. Nevertheless, unions continue to lobby for government to sustain public policies that have negative outcomes for Black business owners and workers, while promoting racial equality and social justice through false propaganda.
Regarding forced unionism, Black Americans should be outraged. No American should be forced to join a union, against their will, and pay dues in order to work. The Black unemployment rate is almost 17 percent. That Black Americans would face being terminated from their jobs, harassment or discrimination, if they don’t want to join a union, is a form of economic slavery. Slavery, by any name, is still slavery.
Are unions really good to Blacks? Not unless freedom deprived, in any way, can ever be defined as “good.”
Last Updated on Monday, 12 March 2012 11:44
Category: Prime Politics Written by Stacy Swimp
Frederick Douglass was considered a founding father of freedom, an orator, author and statesman as evidenced by President Abraham Lincoln’s bestowing Douglass with unprecedented “open door” access to the White House, making Douglass the first African American to receive such an honor. He also served as minister-resident and consul-general to the Republic of Haiti (1889–1891) and was considered a highly- successful entrepreneur.
As a result of his many accomplishments, Douglass stands as a leader among leaders and remains a shining example of the power of abiding love, faith, hope and determination.
Douglass, a Republican, was not born in a conservative household nor fed from an elitist table. In order to understand his ardent support of the Republican Party platform, you have to understand his roots.
Although functionally illiterate at the age of eight, Douglass credited abolitionists with spurring his education and literacy and opening the gateway to his subsequent prosperity.
He reported years of bondage as a slave left him feeling broken in body, soul and spirit. His 1838 escape from slavery led him to New York where he became familiar with William Lloyd Garrison’s weekly journal The Liberator.
He eventually met Garrison personally and became his protégée, as well as an abolitionist speaker of the American Antislavery Society, which Garrison founded.
Like many political leaders, the two had differences of opinions, and in 1851 parted over Douglass’ belief that the Constitution represented a document which might liberate enslaved Blacks — a belief that Garrison fiercely opposed.
When the Republican party (led by abolitionists and ex-Whigs) was founded in 1854, Douglass became one of its fiercest champions declaring: “I am a Republican, a Black, dyed in the wool Republican, and I never intend to belong to any other party than the party of freedom and progress.”
Douglass supported Abraham Lincoln’s Presidential race in 1860, only to be crushed by the newly elected President’s election-day declaration of his promise to uphold fugitive slave laws and not interfere with slavery in the states where it was already established.
Rather than attempt to defeat the newly-elected leader, Douglass continued to press President Lincoln to be true to his values and his opposition to slavery.
The act helped the two men to rise above their personal expectations and, later, the President’s objection to Blacks fighting in the union army.
Two of Douglass’ sons served in the civil war as a result and Frederick Douglass remained resolutely committed to freedom and progress.
In a society where we have a profound leadership vacuum and little knowledge or our African American heroes, Frederick Douglass’ example is desperately needed. We can only imagine what our leader might say about our condition today:
“People might not get all they work for in this world, but they must certainly work for all they get.”
Forty-five years after Lyndon B. Johnson’s “Great Society Utopia”, two generations of Americans are trapped in bondage. Today’s society has within it a welfare dependent culture. Thus, millions are yet in bondage to a mentality of entitlement.
Unlike Frederick Douglass, they have yet to determine that personal responsibility and free enterprise is the only option. Moreover, many do not understand that freedom is not free.
Frederick Douglass also advocated desegregation of schools. He fought for inclusion within the educational system. Today, many blacks naively cooperate with union agendas to restore, in principle and practice, separate but equal school districts, in that they oppose expanding choices in education.
“I expose slavery in this country, because to expose it is to kill it. Slavery is one of those monsters of darkness to whom the light of truth is death.”
Slavery is alive and well in America, via debt bondage, sex slavery and forced labor. It is called: “Human Trafficking”. It is a little known crisis in America that is being resisted by the great, great, great Grandson of Frederick Douglass, Kenneth Morris, Jr., who is indeed a model of Frederick Douglass’ legacy of leadership.
“To suppress free speech is a double wrong. It violates the rights of the hearer as well as those of the speaker.”
Freedom loving Americans today face vicious and relentless attacks from progressives for exercising freedom of speech in resisting the liberal agenda to destroy the sanctity of marriage and the sanctity of life in America.
Additionally, American workers’ freedom of expression is oppressed by labor and teachers’ unions when workers opt out of union representation, refusing to support the political activities of unions. Douglass’ message clearly opposes these practices.
There are far too few role models providing navigation to move us from the modern bondage which suppresses our freedom today. Far too few leaders have the courage to go against popular culture to preserve the values which make our Republic great.
If Frederick Douglass were alive today he would remain steadfast in his beliefs: “I prefer to be true to myself, even at the hazard of incurring the ridicule of others, rather than to be false, and to incur my own abhorrence,” he would remind us.
And now it’s up to us to take hold.
Editor’s note: Stacy Swimp is a national conservative commentator.
Last Updated on Friday, 24 February 2012 17:00
Category: Prime Politics Written by Amy Lane
Harvey Hollins III is the director of the Michigan Office of Urban and Metropolitan Initiatives and is a principal adviser to Gov. Rick Snyder on urban economic development. He is a loaned executive through the Council of Michigan Foundations, and his salary is supported by individual foundations through the council.
Michigan Chronicle editorial alliance partner, Bridge magazine reporter Amy Lane, spoke with Hollins in the wake of Snyder’s budget proposal for fiscal 2013 and as a new report, commissioned by statewide CEO group Business Leaders for Michigan and prepared by Public Sector Consultants Inc. and the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program, was to be issued on urban and metropolitan strategies for Michigan.
Q: How do you view the goals and strategies in the report commissioned by Business Leaders for Michigan?
A: Generally speaking, the goals I think are good objectives, but we need to figure out a way as a state to tactically land those in a community.
Q: Can this report provide a blueprint that will be a game-changer for Michigan and its cities and metropolitan areas?
A: I don’t look at this report being the silver bullet report. I think this report, in combination with other efforts in the state, and if we can piece this thing together right, will certainly contribute to a game-changing environment in the state. I think for example, the current initiatives on the ground right now, that are occurring right now in the state, are beneficial. When you add this report to that, I think you can accelerate opportunity.
This report helps us to really understand our state much better. It gives us a clear indication where opportunities in terms of sector might lie, and it helps us to bring focus on strategic initiatives that will address those sectors, for example, like advanced manufacturing.
Q: What initiatives are your top priority? What are you working on right now?
A: This office was designed to use the Brookings Institution report as a guiding document for the state’s approach to urban centers.
To achieve that, there are three things that we will do.
One, we’ll have satellite offices in Grand Rapids, in Flint and in Kalamazoo. The top priority is to get the satellite operations up and running for the governor. We’ve got to get the infrastructure in place.
The second priority is to get the advisory group up and operating – an advisory group that involves foundations, chamber organizations, some business leaders and key stakeholders around the state, to help advise this office on the direction of how we engage the locals.
The third priority is to develop an urban agenda/strategy for the state’s approach to how it will engage the cities based on the goals defined in the Brookings report.
Once we have that defined, that strategy will be driven in part by where we currently have resources, and a resource map on how we can move or better align our investments to achieve better outcomes in our urban centers.
I want to see on a map, where the state has been putting its money. Either direct state money, or pass-through from the feds. That’s what’s in play right now with departments, a request to provide address mapping for funds.
Q: And the overall goal of that?
A: It’s just to get a snapshot where the state has been playing in our cities. If I have foundations and businesses putting millions of dollars of resources in this particular area, and the state is playing over here on the other side of the fence. We want to maximize impact alongside with others who are investing in our cities.
Q: What do Michigan cities need to become more prosperous and reinvent themselves?
A: That’s a good question. I’m going to segment it in two sections.
Internally, a city needs to have a guiding master plan. That is critical. The other internal thing they need is transparency and trust in how they dialogue. So, for example, you have Grand Rapids that’s doing a lot of this kind of investment. Government is talking to private, private is talking to philanthropic, they’re all talking. You go to other communities, you don’t have that conversation at all. And you have groups of interested organizations taking it upon themselves to move the needle somewhere, and it’s not a comprehensive approach, it’s a spot-check approach.
The external part involves the state. If we are going to play a role in this, then the state has to be a lot more strategic in how it allocates dollars comprehensively.
Comprehensively means, for example, not just where (the Michigan State Housing Development Authority) puts their funding, but where MSHDA and the (Michigan Economic Development Corp.) jointly put funding. Or where MEDC, Agriculture and Human Services (departments) put funding.
So there needs to be multiple agencies engaged. We have to think more comprehensively outside of the silos, in terms of how the monies are being invested, and where. It has to have a benefit not only to business in the downtown, but it has to have benefit to neighborhoods.
Q: How do you define economic impact?
A: On one hand, jobs are critical to simulate an economy. But when you talk about impact to an urban center, that impact is not going to be felt unless the individuals who are working in these centers are also spending more time in those urban environments. If they’re not living in the urban centers, are they shopping there, are they spending time in museums, how is that time being used?
How do we create opportunity for an employee or for a person to spend more time in that city. And where is the state’s role in that. That’s one of the questions that I’m going to put before my advisory board.
Q: Revenue sharing — and the decline of it — is a major issue that cities cite. So what do you say when it comes up in conversation?
A: The state has had to do things and restructure itself. As a result, the cities will have to do the same thing. We just don’t have the revenues that were coming in, in the heyday of the auto industry, and we just can’t do the same thing and expect different results.
For the first time in years we’re not running a (projected) deficit. And the reforms that the governor led in 2011 manifested itself in a stable budget that’s in the black, and now we have something to build on. There is a 2 percent constitutional increase to revenue sharing in the budget.
One factor of revenue sharing is funding that has been used by locals for public safety. There is an increase in the budget of $15 million for law enforcement; that’s in addition to the increase in statutory revenue sharing programs.
Q: The governor has talked about shared sacrifice, but some will say what about shared commitment — How can or should the state reinvest in its communities?
A: This year the governor’s focus is to build the fiscal year 2013 budget by investing in four priority areas: education, human services, public safety and roads. And that’s how we begin to reinvest in our state. This is what government does extremely well.
Q: Are you promoting regionalism, and if so, how?
A: Absolutely. The satellite offices, for example, are not necessarily offices that will focus on the city that they are located in, but they will be a regional focus. So, for example, the Flint office will also work with the cities of Saginaw, Bay City and Midland. Grand Rapids will have a secondary focus on Muskegon and also Holland. And Kalamazoo will have a secondary focus on Battle Creek and Benton Harbor.
Q: So what does that mean?
A: The meaning of it is that the effort of the state in doing what we need to do in the city of Flint, for example, should have spillover to other big cities in that area. We would like to see if best practices in any of these cities, can work in the other. We’re trying to cast a broader net.
Editor’s Note: Amy Lane is a contributor to the Michigan Chronicle’s editorial alliance partner, Bridge magazine, and a former reporter for Crain’s Detroit Business, where she covered utilities, state government and state business for many years.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 29 February 2012 16:57
Category: Prime Politics Written by Joe Conason
What is most striking about the showdown over contraceptive freedom is not the political victory that President Obama earned by standing up for women’s reproductive rights, although his Republican adversaries are certainly helping him to make the most of it. Those adversaries don’t seem to realize they have fallen into a trap, whether the White House set them up intentionally or not.
While the Catholic bishops and their allies on the religious right insist that this is an argument over the First Amendment, their true, longstanding purpose now stands revealed to the public. They would begin by imposing their dogma on every woman unlucky enough to work for an employer who shares it -- an agenda that is deeply unpopular even among the Catholic faithful, let alone the rest of the American electorate. Then they would impose it on everyone, as the theorists of the religious right suggest every time they deny the separation of church and state.
The bishops have nothing to lose except their flock, whose respect for the hierarchy has plunged anyway over its resistance to reform and its failure to punish abuses far graver and more sinful than contraception. If they had to stand for election, not many of them would be left standing. And if they had to face a referendum on this current matter, they would lose resoundingly to the president, according to the latest survey data.
In a poll taken last Friday for the Coalition to Protect Women’s Health Care, Public Policy Polling found that 57 percent of Catholic voters endorse the Obama “compromise” that would ensure continued prescription birth control for women working in religious institutions, without requiring those institutions to pay directly for that coverage. Only 29 percent sided with the bishops, the religious right and the Republicans , while 5 percent actually think the religious institutions should pay for contraceptive coverage regardless of their doctrine. The cross-tabs of the PPP poll show that Latino Catholics, Catholic independent voters and Catholic women support the Obama solution by wide margins. (The most recent poll by Fox News Channel shows the same overwhelming approval for the president’s position among the general public.)
Those statistics are no threat to the bishops, of course, but represent a profound problem for the Republican leaders and candidates who have signed up for this male geriatric crusade against modernity. Mitt Romney, for instance, seems to believe that by stoking evangelical paranoia about a supposed “war on religion” by Obama, he will subdue evangelical paranoia about his Mormonism (which, by the way, expressly permits birth control). His pandering commenced when he announced his 2012 candidacy, but grew still more intense this week when he accused the president of perpetrating an “assault” on religion.
Such tactics are unlikely to placate the prejudices arrayed against Romney -- and even if they did, he will pay a very high price next fall for joining the angriest and most extreme culture warriors on this issue. Congressional Republicans will be courting the same danger if, as promised, they propose legislation that would overturn the Obama compromise and deprive women working for religious institutions of equal rights to contraceptive services.
The president should hold fast. He has proved that it is possible to uphold the principle of full access to birth control, which has been the pro-family social policy of the American majority for half a century, while respecting the religious convictions of all Americans. The wild ranting of his enemies is only helping him now — and may yet ruin them in November.
Last Updated on Friday, 24 February 2012 04:19
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