Category: Your Voice Written by Rev. Dr. C.T. Vivian
We must take the urgency of now very seriously. Not just because of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, but because the future of America’s people;,especially those who have been long oppressed, depends on right now.
Since the beginning of this country, the one thing that has never been fully decided is who will truly determine this nation’s future? Will it be America’s truly wealthy — the 1 percent who can decide every political and economic move in the richest and mightiest country in the world? And who, with the economic 1 percent of Europe and Asia, could take over every major decision in the world? Would it be them or would it be “We the people”?
It is clear by studying recent events, coupled with patterns of history, that the democratic principle of “We the people” is constantly endangered by plutocratic mindsets, those who are often controlled by greed and quests for power.
Plutocracy, according to Webster, is one, “Government by wealthy people”; two, “A society governed by wealthy people”; or three, “A ruling class whose power is based on their wealth.”
I caution that America could succumb to this social mindset — if we do not continue to stand guard using our democratic powers of “We the people” to the fullest.
Take the last presidential election, for instance. Mitt Romney, in his derogatory comment about the so-called “47 percent” of people who he claimed “are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims” and who “pay no income tax.” appeared to dismiss nearly half of American voters. He even said, “... and so my job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”
These derogatory comments appeared to signal a move to exclude people of a certain social status. Moreover, it appeared as a move to keep the concept of “We the people” alive while denying it in practice. What would have or could have happened had he prevailed?
It is important to note that throughout history, struggles for equality and justice in America have continued to move from victory to setback and from setback to victory. In fact, about every 30 to 35 years, there’s a new movement in this country. The civil rights movement was the last one. The one before that was the labor movement. This time, it’s the continuation of the civil rights movement, which includes the movement on behalf of the poor.
At the blessed age of 88, I recall the degradation of segregation and Jim Crow. I struggled for justice through the freedom rides and alongside Dr. King. I marched on Washington on August 28, 1963 and I was there to ultimately rejoice at the signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. And then we suddenly found ourselves mourning n the assassination of my dear friend and brother, Dr. King, in 1968. He was only in Memphis for the cause of the sanitation workers, the poor, the struggling, and the oppressed who were suffering unequal wages and working conditions.
Fast forward, to see America elect and then re-elect its first Black president nearly 50 years later is reason to rejoice. And yet even President Obama’s inaugural speech called for honest labor wages that “liberate families from the brink of hardship.”
This is a clear reason that we must continue to march to the polls as well as to take up our banners and plead our causes. We must win our battles in the basic old fashioned way that it has historically worked — with non-violent direct action protests, coupled with the vote. In doing so, our movement will continue to grow.
A newsman once asked Dr. King, “How many members do you have?” When Martin answered, the newsman retorted, “Well that doesn’t represent much of Black America.” But then Dr. King said something that is so very relevant in the 21st century. He said, “We don’t operate through membership. We operate knowing that if we’re right, people will follow us.”
The state of equality and justice in America is a continued struggle for the poor despite all of the strides America has made. The urgency of now is to maintain the power and sanctity of the vote, which has become the greatest power held by the poor.
As Dr. King said, if we do what is right, others will follow us. This is the power of “We the people.”
The Rev. C.T. Vivian is national president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). He was also a close friend, lieutenant and advisor to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. This article — the ninth of a 20-part series — is written in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. The Lawyers’ Committee is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to enlist the private bar’s leadership and resources in combating racial discrimination and the resulting inequality of opportunity — work that continues to be vital today. For more information, please visit www.lawyerscommittee.org.
Last Updated on Friday, 15 March 2013 09:14
Category: Your Voice Written by Jesse Jackson
Last week, President Obama sent a small delegation — featuring U.S. Reps. Gregory Meeks and William Delahunt — to attend the funeral of President Hugo Chavez in Venezuela.
In doing so, he wisely ignored both the provocative comments from Venezuela suggesting that the U.S. was implicated in Chavez’s death, and the negative comments of conservatives like Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen who called the effort “weak and irresponsible.”
On the contrary, the gesture was respectful and respected. And it can hopefully open a new page on our relations with Venezuela and the hemisphere. We have every good reason to have good relations with Venezuela. They are our neighbors. They are our trading partners. We share many things, like a love of baseball.
About 190,000 Venezuelans live in the U.S. About 70 major league baseball players are Venezuelan, including Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera.
Venezuela has surpassed Saudi Arabia for the country with the largest oil reserves in the world, and the U.S. is the largest importer of Venezuelan oil. Its oil is four days away, as opposed to four weeks away from the Middle East. Chavez provoked the anger of the Bush administration, but he was a hero to the poor in his country, and to peoples in developing nations across the world. Chavez objected to U.S. policy in the region, leading eventually to a break in relations in 2008 amid accusations of the U.S. aiding anti-government groups in Bolivia. Relations were re-established in 2009 by the Obama administration. Chavez was particularly close to Fidel Castro and the leadership in Cuba, openly scorning America’s five-decade-old embargo and relentless efforts to isolate Cuba.
Now, as America winds down its longest wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, perhaps there will be more opportunity to focus on our neighbors in this hemisphere.
What is apparent is that the old policies — focused on the Cuban embargo that dates from the height of the Cold War and a “Washington consensus” on conservative economics that much of the hemisphere has turned against — aren’t working. We are isolating ourselves, not the Cubans or the Venezuelans. At the Organization of American States meeting in 2012, only two nations — the U.S. and Canada — voted for continuing to exclude Cuba. The remaining 30 nations put the U.S. on notice that Cuba will be invited to the next meetings. The Chavez-backed Community of Latin America and Caribbean States, which excludes only the U.S. and Canada, could well rival OAS in the future. In a pointed statement, it recently elected Cuba’s Raul Castro as its head for the year.
At Chavez’s funeral, leaders of the new populist politics in Latin America gathered — including the presidents of Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Bolivia, Ecuador and Nicaragua.
Some have used anti-American postures to consolidate their legitimacy at home. All search for building greater economic and political independence from the U.S.
A year ago, at the April Summit of the Americas, President Obama listened patiently to many provocative comments and called for a new start. “I am not somebody who brings to the table here a lot of baggage from the past,” he said, “and I want to look at all these problems in a new and fresh way.”
Surely it is time now to move on that promise. America should engage its neighbors, not isolate itself trying to isolate them. We should end our failed embargo of Cuba. We do far better trying to talk through our disagreements than trying to punish our neighbors. Across the hemisphere, peoples are struggling to find a way to make economies work for working people. This nation is no exception. We would be wise to join in that search, rather than to split apart.
Keep up with Rev. Jackson and the work of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition at www.rainbowpush.org.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 13 March 2013 09:04
Category: Your Voice Written by Eddie Connor
So the song goes, “If you liked it, then you should’ve put a ring on it.” The “Single Ladies” anthem seems to be more than just a pop culture catch phrase, echoing melodiously from Beyoncé Knowles. Now if you’ve seen the video you would be distracted by the calisthenics and gyrations, yet there is a message amidst the madness. If I asked the single ladies across America to raise their hands, 51% of the women would acknowledge their unmarried status.
There was a popular saying in the 1990s, “You go, girl!” which was used as a term of endearment and encouragement. These days the saying can be arguably rephrased to, “You go girl...and get married.” A recent Yale study indicates that fewer women are walking down the aisle, as 23 percent of white women and 42 percent of AfricanAmerican women have yet to be married. The wise saying in Proverbs 18:22 declares, “He that ﬁndeth a wife ﬁndeth a good thing, and obtaineth favor from the Lord”. So, are men not looking or are they not ﬁnding?
According to Time Magazine’s November 2010 issue “Who Needs Marriage?” in the year of 1960, nearly 70% of American adults were married; now only about half are. Back then, two-thirds of 20-somethings were married; in 2008 just 26% were.
Is marriage becoming obsolete? Well, according to the Pew Research Center Survey, 4 in 10 say, “Yes.” It is no secret that approximately 60% of marriages end in divorce. The troubled state of our unions indicate that marriage is becoming less popular in America. Why are 60% of marriages ending in divorce? For a myriad of reasons as we
have heard on talk shows like Dr. Phil, Oprah, and a host of other programs.
Did Tyler Perry get the question correct in his 2007 ﬁlm asking, “Why Did I Get Married?” The question now days is not “Why Did I Get Married?", but America is asking why would I get married? As 60% of marriages end in divorce, 40% of the people feel there is no need for marriage. Our country is at a crossroads. What has brought our nation to this point? Is the institution of marriage under attack and in the crosshairs within our country?
If we turn the hands of time back 50 years, it’s amazing to see how popular culture mirrors society. We have transitioned from the wholesome households of The Cleavers (“Leave it to Beaver”) to “The Brady Bunch”, and “The Cosby’s”. Now we're in a false sense of Reality TV age, with a “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” style of living and
Going back 50 years some women had a degree in domestic engineering. Now it’s the norm for women to specialize in fatherless home child rearing, in which Mothers are told “Happy Father's Day Mom” from 80% of black children, who grow up in single parent homes.
Last Updated on Monday, 04 March 2013 09:06
Category: Your Voice Written by Benny Napoleon, Wayne County Sheriff
These are trying times in Detroit. A general mood of hopelessness and helplessness has slowly given way to a sense of distress and despair.
Reports of unprecedented levels of crime have left Detroiters on edge, some afraid to venture into their own community, others afraid even behind their own closed doors.
Every morning, our day begins with countless stories of violence being reported on the news. By the time we make it home, the morning’s stories have changed into new violent encounters the stations can’t wait to share with us.
And as if the countless stories of violence were not enough, the pundits have come to the unanimous decision that the city’s financial crisis is ready to deliver a final knockout blow to Detroit and its people.
While we refuse to ignore the reality of our challenges, we also refuse to give up. Detroiters are not in need of constant reminders of those challenges. We are in need of a reminder that all is not lost.
That is why I am convening a gathering of the area’s community, labor and religious leaders, and their congregations, who will come together to rededicate ourselves to “One Prayer, One Purpose, One City.”
This event will take place on Thursday, Feb, 28, 6 p.m., at Mt. Zion Baptist Church, 3600 Van Dyke on the city’s east side.
Though our communities have long been beset by challenges of all types, they have always found strength in the guidance and support of the church. These institutions, as well as their clergy and leaders, have often proven themselves to be valuable beacons of reason in a dark world that sometimes makes little sense.
As the son of a Baptist preacher, I believe church leaders are anointed to help guide the city of Detroit and it’s people to prosperity once again. I also join them in prayer on behalf of our most vulnerable citizens — our children and the elderly — who suffer the most from these distressing circumstances.
In the coming days, I will convene dozens of these church leaders to unite Detroit in prayer, as we pray for our elected leaders, our citizens, and for the strength to once again make Detroit the city it is meant to be.
Last Updated on Monday, 04 March 2013 09:31
Category: Your Voice Written by Armstrong Williams
Dr. Ben Carson, Presidential Medal of Freedom winner and legendary neurosurgeon, is now in the spotlight for his keynote address to the National Prayer Breakfast on Feb. 7.
Most notable was his criticism of Obamacare, one of the worst federal laws in decades, and one which, before its complete implementation, is already destroying our economy on a massive scale.
Dr. Carson, relying on decades of medical experience, proposed health savings accounts for every American, which would fix two enormous problems in our system today: (1) regressive intergenerational transfers of wealth, and (2) half of our country not having a skin in the game, not having invested in their own futures. HSAs would incentivize efficiency, which is completely lacking in today’s broken health care system. Our country is being bankrupted by the health care industry, and Dr. Carson has a solution that needs to be taken seriously.
Dr. Carson came under fire for these remarks; people called them political, or partisan. What is wrong with a physician sharing his perspective on health policy? Is it partisan just because this is President Barack Obama we’re dealing with, whom the media has seemingly vowed to protect at any cost? Dr. Carson’s wisdom should be heeded by policymakers in Washington on both sides of the aisle.
Rush Limbaugh, in his typically bombastic style, warned afterward, as interest grew in Dr. Carson’s ideas,that “The Obama campaign team is gonna get into gear if this guy keeps talking, and they’re gonna try to find ways to smear him and ruin his life and do to him what they did to Romney. That’s all they can do. They can’t beat him in the arena of ideas and superior intellect.”
It is a shame that Dr. Carson’s speech was considered only for its public policy content. The speech is full of wisdom on other topics, such as education, speech codes,and the importance of tithing.
I was intrigued by his discussion of tithing, and its relation to our 70,000-page tax code. Tithing is such a fair way to tax people is because it’s proportional. As soon as you move away from proportional taxing, ideology takes over. As a result, ideology is arbitrary and depends upon the latest trendy or fashionable prejudices. A growing number of people seriously think that the rich should pay more, while some feel they should pay less. One could legitimately make the argument that if the top one percent pay 37% of the income taxes and the top 5% pay 59%, this clearly demonstrates their tax base should be lower. The top 5% don’t make 59% of the income and yet they pay 59% of the taxes. Therefore, it is simple and fair to make the argument that they are being over taxed. Simplification is the only true and fair solution.
If you pay God 10% of your wealth, why should you pay the government more than that? Unlike our tax code, tithing is simple, and it is fair.
Tithing represents 10% of one’s increase. A proportional tax system does not have to reside at 10%. It can be higher or lower depending on the needs of the government. Because it would be applied proportionally to the entire population, the government would be unlikely to raise taxes to a very high level, for it would effect everyone and not just a small group of voters. This is a clear advantage of a proportional tax rate, that everyone participates. A country where half of the population pay no income taxes, but are allowed to vote to make the other people pay more taxes, makes absolutely no sense.
When everybody has skin in the game, then everyone will be responsible: imagine if when you ate ice cream, somebody else got fat! That’s how our tax and spend government works: 51% of the people vote for spending paid for by the other 49%.
Dr. Carson says that he has not ruled out a run for office “if the Lord grabbed him by the collar and made him do it.” Whether or not he does, I think that our leaders in Washington need to listen to this man, and at least take half an hour to listen to his National Prayer Breakfast speech. It is a large dose of common sense, something that has been lacking in Washington for many years.
I am proud to call Dr. Carson my friend, and, like just about everyone else, I hope to hear more such speeches from him in the future. I also strongly encourage you to read more about Dr. Ben Carson, especially his latest New York Times bestselling book, “America the Beautiful,” which he wrote with his wife, Candy, and which details the scholarship program that they have been running for 15 years.
I’m hoping that we’ll get a sequel sometime soon.
Last Updated on Monday, 04 March 2013 09:01
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