Monday, January 30, 2012

Just a Thought

Since the year of our Lord 1619, when people from Africa were first dragged onto the American shores; African Americans have been chastised, criticized, punished, beaten, robbed, and murdered. All while the culprits have enjoyed wealth and prosperity as a result of our never ending allegiance and patriotism. Even today when we have ascended to the White House there are those who castigate much vial abuse upon this uniquely qualified man of African heritage.

We are a unique people, a forgiving people, a steadfast people, and a brave people unlike any known to the world. It was our labor that built this country and is responsible for the great wealth America enjoys to this very today. When you look upon America’s enormous wealth and the power derived from its tremendous control of the resources, think about the sacrifices our families made to make all of this possible. We have looked out for this country for hundreds of years and still doing today, is simply amazing.

Upon our backs, laden with the stripes of punishment for what they believed was for discipline and in spite of our loyalty, diligence and tenacity we loved America. Even when America refused to allow us to even walk in the shadows, we followed, believing that someday we would come to accept and treat like men and women. Our strength in the face of adversity is vastly understated.

Our history is one of unbelievable struggle. We’ve been brave on the battlefield, despite being classified as three-fifths of a man, which was outstanding and beyond the call of duty. While in the states we lived under an Apartheid like system. We have raised America’s children, attended to its sick, and prepared their meals while those forefathers were occupied with the trappings of the good life. Even during the times when they found pleasure in our women and enjoyment in seeing our men lynched, maimed and burned. We continued to watch over America’s soul.

We labored in the hot sun for 12 hours to assist in realizing the dream of wealth, good fortune, and making America great. Others have controlled at least 90 percent of all the resources and wealth of this nation. We were there when it all began, and you are still here today, protecting the system from those Black people who have the temerity to speak out against America’s past transgressions.

It was us who warned about Denmark-Vessey, told you about Gabriel Prosser's plans, called your attention to Nat Turner, Malcolm, and Martin. It was us sounded the alarm when old John Brown came calling on Harper's Ferry and there are still some sounding warnings today. Black Nationalism has died and as result our community brings 95 percent of what it earns to other businesses and keeps little for themselves.

We purchase things like Hilfigers, Karans, Nikes, and all of the other brands that make people feel as if the system is giving back something for their patronage. After all, in the past, the brands and scares placed upon us were worn quite painfully, but those of today can be proudly worn because they gives suppose a false sense of self-esteem. Our community’s super-rich; athletes, entertainers, intellectuals, and business persons, both legal and illegal, exchange most of their money for cars, jewelry, homes, and clothing. The less fortunate among us spend all they have at neighborhood stores, enabling them to open even more stores; this results from our not doing business with each other.

Some say we, as a people, were very successful at it after slavery ended and even as recently as 1960, but you know what happened when you began to build your own communities and do business with one another – you’re destroyed and put out of business. In today's business environment, we do not support each other and just keep doing business with the larger community or in fact any other community.

We dance, sing, fight, get high, go to prison, back bite, envy and distrust and hate one another. Oh, less not forget we pray a lot. We resisted the messages of trouble-making Blacks like Washington, Delaney, Garvey, Bethune, Tubman and Truth, for fighting and dying on the battlefield for us all. Yet, most have forgotten the names and hardly ever considered their sacrifice due to a lack of reciprocity and equity.

This includes our acquiescence to political agendas, abdicating our own economic self-sufficiency, and working so diligently for the economic well-being of other people. Even though the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments were written and many died for the rights described therein, we did not resist when they changed Black rights to civil rights and allowed virtually every other group to take advantage of them as well. This goes beyond the imagination, irrespective of the many promises that have been made and broken. A lass, don’t worry, when you die you will find a place where there is a mansion waiting for you and streets paved with gold.

Finally, we went beyond the pale and allowed our children to be turned over to the American educational system. With what is being taught to them, it's likely they will continue in a mode similar to the one we have followed for the past 45 years. When Mr. Lynch walked the banks of the James River in 1712 and said he would make African’s slave for 300 years, little did he realize the truth in his prediction. Just one more years and his promise will come to fruition. But with two generations of children going through this education system, we can look forward to at least another 50 years of despair.

When you continue to do what you’ve always done; you will get what you always got. I say free your mind and your ass will follow, and that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective.

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Saturday, January 28, 2012

Black Women in America

Last week there was a front page story in the Washington Post written by Krissah Thompson titled Black Women in America. Actually it was article about a survey on the subject. As you know a survey is a sampling of, usually, a small group in order to collect data for the analysis of some aspect or to reflect a view of a particular topic. I found of this article interesting but then I like to read fiction too.

My first thought was could there be a clear representation of the topic when they only asked 800 black women, which means could this be a large enough sample size to pull generalizations from? They said they surveyed “nearly 2,000 randomly selected adults, including the 808 black women we focus on in today's story. To get to this number, we interviewed more black women than we would have with a standard national survey.” The key is randomly!

Rich or poor, educated or not, black women sometimes feel as though myths are stalking them like shadows, their lives are reduced to a string of labels. Such as the angry black woman; the strong black woman; the unfeeling black woman; and true or not the manless black woman. Sophia Nelson Author of “Black Woman Redefined” was quoted in the article saying “Black women haven’t really defined themselves,” going on to urges her fellow sisters to take control of their image. “We were always defined as workhorses, strong. We carry the burdens, we carry the family. We don’t need. We don’t want.
This nationwide survey was conducted by The Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation, which as they say, emerge a complex portrait of black women who feel confident but vulnerable, who have high self-esteem and see physical beauty as important, who find career success more vital to them than marriage. The survey, they said represents the most extensive exploration of the lives and views of African American women in decades. Remember they asked 800 black women!

Of course they hit on the usual topics such as Religion being essential to most black women’s lives adding that being in a romantic relationship is not. The survey showed nearly three-quarters of African American women say now is a good time to be a black woman in America, and yet a similar proportion worry about having enough money to pay their bills. Half of black women surveyed call racism a “big problem” in the country; nearly half worry about being discriminated against. Eighty-five percent say they are satisfied with their own lives, but one-fifth say they are often treated with less respect than other people.

Today we live in a time where one-third of employed black women work in management or professional jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and a record number are attending college. Black women with college degrees earn nearly as much as similarly educated white women. The number of businesses owned by black women has nearly doubled in the past decade to more than 900,000, according to census figures.

Just recently, Wal-Mart named Rosalind Brewer chief executive of Sam’s Club, making her the first African American to be chief executive for a business unit of the world’s largest retailer. Let us remember that there are more profound and amazing images of black women like Oprah Winfrey, Ursula Burns, Beyonce, Condi Rice, and of course the most visible of them all, the first lady, Michelle Obama. All of these women are at the top of the game. I am profoundly impressed and proud of each of them and but there are many more that remain hidden because of unwarranted stereotypes.

According to the stereotype, African American women — educated women — are b------, and they run men out of their lives because they are so mean and they don’t want a man and blah, blah,” says Palmer, an Atlanta lawyer who helped lead protests of rapper Nelly’s controversial “Tip Drill” video when she was a student at Spelman College. “My law firm has no African American female partners. It has to do with how we are seen. And our value is based on what the media shows the world we are.”

The survey went on to say that forty percent of black women say getting married is very important, compared with 55 percent of white women. This finding is among a number of significant differences in the outlooks and experiences of black and white women, according to the poll. Here are others: More than a fifth of black women say being wealthy is very important, compared with one in 20 white women. Sixty-seven percent of black women describe themselves as having high self-esteem, compared with 43 percent of white women. Forty percent of black women say they experience frequent stress, compared with 51 percent of white women. Nearly half of black women fear being a victim of violent crime, compared with about a third of white women.

Black women were once described as the “mules of the world” by Zora Neale Hurston, whose biting literature made her one of the most influential black writers of the early 20th century. Her reference to mules — the workhorses of the American South — pointed to the backbreaking manual labor that black women were expected to perform and the limits placed on their vocations. Throughout history, black women have been overrepresented in the workforce compared with other women and have come to embrace work as an enduring part of their sense of self, says Constance C.R. White.

Career for black women has always been about economic necessity and also a sense of economic destiny. Yet, what images we see are poor black women disparaged as “welfare queens,” a depiction that took root during Ronald Reagan’s unsuccessful 1976 presidential campaign. What is not reflected through are such people as Jennifer Smith, a senior at the University of Maryland, has been accepted into six prestigious medical schools. She is an honors student, a sorority president, an ambassador for the university. Yet she sometimes feels unwitting pressure to prove she belongs.

I found this a very interesting article and I would me suggest you read the article for yourself:

It is a fact that the black woman is the mother of all mankind. Having said that Sisters know there is an institutional system in place that is designed to lower your standard and perception. This is as old as the nation, or dare I say the world itself, that must maintain this misguided principle. So, I say hold your head up, keep looking up, and don’t allow others to define you. Many will have you think differently but know that we love you and the community appreciates you. And that is my THOUGHT PROVOKING PERSPECTIVE!!!

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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Newt’s Big Idea

Well I guest its official!!! Newt Gingrich the hopeful yet doubtful GOP candidate running for president who is sometimes called “the professor” and “the man with the big ideas” has proven it. He has lost his mind! This week he promised to establish a permanent base on the moon by 2020 if he's elected president. Let’s make sure we’re on the same page; he is saying that he will be elected to two (2) terms as president, which is a very scary thought in and of itself. With all the financial problems we have down here on the ground this is what he offers as a big idea.

The former House speaker who was basically ran off told an overflow crowd gathered on Florida's space coast Wednesday that he wants to develop a robust commercial space industry in line with the airline boom of the 1930’s. He went on to say that he wants to expand exploration of Mars. The pronouncements appeared to thrill the crowd of roughly 700 people to which I have to say they are about as insane as the man they came to hear.

This reminds me of something he said some time ago: “For those who see manned space as having no role they would have thought the Wright Brothers were irrelevant in 1903. The human race has a destiny to spread across the solar system and then across the stars. I prefer that destiny be led by free people.” Really!!!

Now, let me add my two cents worth here. Did Newt revert back to dreaming about Buck Rogers? Let’s be clear, if there was anything of value on the moon we would have landed there many times since 1969 to rob it of all it was worth. I might add that’s if they ever really landed there in the first place. When you consider that each time we send the shuttle, for instance, into space it cost the government about a billion dollars. So the real question is; how is he going to pay for it? Also, this is the guy that says with each breath that the government spends too much money.

Moreover, lest not forget there are the 99’ers. You know us who are suffering and struggling to survive; schools and roads crumbling; the country owing trillions and nearly bankrupt; people losing their homes and starving; and the fool is talking about building a base station on the moon. Yeah, this is the man with big ideas! I’ll give it to him that it is a big idea but it the most insane proposal I think I have heard during this entire circus they call the republican debate series.

To top it off he says he wants to offer prizes to help stimulate investment by the private sector. This is about as crazy as the phrase “the job creators”. Maybe this is the result of attending Billy Bob’s school and Garage Training Center. If he becomes president of the United States all I can say is God Bless America. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective.

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Saturday, January 21, 2012

Drum Beats of Yesterday

The drum beat of the Republican Party’s dogma looms large in this political season as the GOP desperately try to find someone to unseat President Barack Obama. We have witnessed endless debates with the kind of political rhetoric unlike any that I’ve ever seen. Wait a minute; let me qualify that by saying not since the last Presidential election. At which time America, because of the republicans, was facing financial Armageddon and now in 2012 we are about to really see Armageddon; if one of these right wing-nuts were to become president.

I read an article recently written by the author Dr. Anthony Asadullah Samad where he said:

“Four years ago, they were predicting terrorist attacks in the first month of his administration if Obama was elected. Of course, it didn’t happen—but the rhetoric sounds good. The Republican’s “Big Three,” which many call the last three, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul sound like the Supremes singing “Baby Love” asking the American People, “where did our love go” for President Obama. Stands to reason it went the same place our love for every incumbent President facing re-election went…in the gutter. Mud-throwing is a professional sport in politics. No matter what the incumbent does, it will never be good enough for the party out of power. Same goes here.
The real question is how far are the Republicans willing to go to get Obama? Will they say anything to get Obama? Will they be, God-forbid, unpatriotic in their attacks of the nation’s Commander-in-Chief, that ended the war they started, soft-landed an economy that was falling fastest than a safe pushed off a roof, and had to fight for every single concession—even perfunctory tasks like debt-ceiling raises and payroll tax extensions. The rhetoric of refusing to compliment Obama, on anything, is not healthy for the national morale. Stands to chance that none of them would have done any better they been in the President’s shoes and the rhetoric toward healing our wounded spirits would be much different.

Under Nixon, Reagan and Bush II, the nation did what it was asked to do for the national good during recovering economies and re-election bids. The opposite party was asked to tone down the rhetoric for the good of the nation’s morale. There has been no such call from the Democrats for this President. In fact, some Democrats have added to the rhetoric. While the President has no party opposition (at this time), some in his party have kind of been getting their “digs in” on the slide… And then there’s the Tea Party rhetoric, an obstructionism that makes no sense.”

I could not have said it better. However, the difference in this election season is that the last crop of pretenders projected their bigotry vaguely in subliminal coded language. This “pool of fools” has no shame in their game. The race card is being displayed so transparently that Ray Charles can see it. One of these pretenders owned a lodge named “N-Word Head” and another had a news letter that espoused racial hatred so vial that one would think he was the Grand Wizard of the Imperial Knights. Another Republican candidate has said that “black children where better off during slavery” than today.

Wait there’s more! One of them has publically talked about succession. Another said, get off welfare and get a check. It was this guy who went on to say if you’re twelve years old you should be cleaning schools. This is not the same candidate who said if you’re black and twelve or thirteen this “buck” should be treated as an adult if he were to be punished in the criminal justice system.

Who are they talking too or speaking for? I seriously doubt these people would say that about an enemy captured in a time of war. Oh sorry, when they were in power they did and brought them to a place Called Gitmo.

This language takes me back to a time I thought had long past. This kind of thinking conjures up images of Bull Connor and Strom Thurmond. Let’s face it because the man duly election to be the Commander in Chief is a man of color. It appears to me from the rhetoric that is being hurled with such distinction that these folks have come from under the hood and taken off the sheets.

Whichever candidate might emerge as the GOP contender to which each of them has used the coded language like “take back our country”. They WILL DO damage under a cloak of cover and not worry about the law coming for them because they will be the law.

So, we are back to the question: How far are the Republicans willing to go to get Obama? Moreover, what will they do to us, if elected! And that’s my THOUGHT PROVOKING PERSPECTIVE…

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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Show us your Damned Return!

In 2009, former Senator Tom Daschle was nominated to head the Department of Health and Human Services. Mr. Daschle’s nomination was derailed, in part, because of issues with his tax returns. You cannot be considered for a position in the President’s cabinet or any other high-level government position without allowing your tax returns to be reviewed.

At last night’s Republican Presidential Debate, Mitt Romney was asked if he intended to release his tax return. After stuttering and rambling around an answer, Mitt implied that he would release his return sometime around April.

I suppose that he wants to give his accountants the opportunity to produce a return that will be more palatable to the American electorate. I mean really, didn’t you file a tax return last year, Mitt? Why won’t you show us that one?

What could Romney’s return possibly show that would turn off the American voter. Could it be that his effective tax rate is 15% or lower? And, how is it possible that us regular working stiffs could be taxed at a higher rate than the uber-rich Mr. Romney. Couldn’t that be considered a “transfer of wealth” from the poor to the rich? Did he pay any taxes at all? Without the release of his returns, these and other questions will never be answered.

It is amazing that a person cannot hold a high-level government position without showing their tax returns to the American people and yet, a man who wants to hold the highest office in the land is, shall we say, reluctant to disclose.

By Jackie (Morganfield) Lambert
Co-Host of "Let's Talk About It"

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Right is Wrong

We all know the Right-wingers are engaged in an ideological battle with the intent to make the rich richer and marginalizing those who are not. This false narrative is being done by using the tried and true method of quoting the Constitution and those good Ol’ Boys, the so-called Founding Fathers, as a convenient way to get the American people or some ill-informed Tea Party types to vote against their own interests.

One of those candidates is Rep. Ron Paul who has lured a lot of these so called “Real American” into that camp by creating a false narrative about America’s Founding, claiming that the drafters of the Constitution wanted a weak central government and one that was equal for all people. But that’s not the real or accurate history.

Ron Paul, the libertarian congressman from Texas who has topped 20 percent in the first two Republican contests, is fond of claiming that the U.S. Constitution was written “to protect your liberty and to restrain the federal government,” thus making modern laws, from Social Security, to civil rights statutes, to health-care reform, unconstitutional. But that isn’t true either.

While the framers of the Constitution in 1787 undeniably cared about liberty, at least for white men, they were also practical individuals who wanted a vibrant central government that would enable the new nation to protect itself both militarily and economically, especially against European rivals.

The broad powers that the Constitution granted Congress were designed to let this central government address national problems that existed then as well as any that would arise in the future. For instance, the Constitution gave control over interstate commerce to Congress in order to counter economic advantages enjoyed by foreign competitors.

Far from Paul’s assertions that the Founders wanted a weak central government, the Founders, at least those at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, understood that a great danger came from having a national authority that was too weak, what they had experienced under the Articles of Confederation, which governed the nation from 1777 to 1787.

The Articles of Confederation embraced the concept of state “sovereignty” and called the United States not a government or even a nation, but “a firm league of friendship” among the states. In the Confederation’s Article II declared: “Each state retains its sovereignty, freedom, and independence, and every power, jurisdiction, and right, which is not by this Confederation expressly delegated.” And very few powers were delegated to the federal government.

So, in 1787, the framers of the Constitution led by Gen. George Washington, James Madison and others in the Virginia delegation scrapped the Articles and put forward a very different plan, eliminating state sovereignty and creating a strong central government with broad powers, including control over “interstate commerce.”

The Commerce Clause wasn’t some afterthought it was part of the original proposal outlined on the Constitutional Convention’s first day of substantive business on May 29, 1787. The Virginia delegation had one of its members, Edmund Randolph, include it in his opening presentation.

Virginia’s plan laid out the framework that would later become the U.S. Constitution, transferring sovereignty from the 13 original states to “we the people of the United States” as represented by a new national Republic.

Where Rep. Paul claims the Constitution was designed to let the American people do what they want using the word liberty as his reference point. This is just not true! Unless, of course, he is referring to the people that represent the privilege class of Americans, who happen to be wealthy and white. We needed a government that could co-ordinate commerce in order to compete effectively with other nations. So, from that first day of substantive debate at the Constitutional Convention, the Founders recognized that a legitimate role of Congress was to ensure that the nation could match up against other countries economically.

Many conservatives to include Ron Paul have worked hard in recent decades at constructing an alternative narrative. Claiming that the Founders envisioned a weak national government and were big supporters of states’ rights happen to be a storyline that is simply not supported by facts. Key framers of the Constitution even objected to adding a Bill of Rights to the original document, accepting the first 10 amendments only later as part of negotiations over ratification.

The other thing they cry about is Obamacare. This speaks to Congress’s power to address difficult national problems, like the tens of millions of Americans who lack health insurance but whose eventual use of medical services would inevitably shift billions of dollars in costs onto Americans who must pay higher insurance rates as a result, what courts have described as “substantial effects.”

Paul claims: It certainly is an encroachment on individual liberty, but it is no more so than a command that restaurants or hotels are obliged to serve all customers regardless of race, that gravely ill individuals cannot use a substance their doctors described as the only effective palliative for excruciating pain, or that a farmer cannot grow enough wheat to support his own family. They also pray for fewer regulations to the benefit of the rich.

There are some conservative legal scholars examining the Constitution and precedents who could not find a convincing argument to overturn “Obamacare” and that is because the Founders intentionally empowered Congress to address national economic problems. It was, as the Virginian delegation understood, one of the key reasons for the Constitutional Convention.

Now I say the larger goal of the right-wing is not to uphold the ideals of the Founders, who wanted a vibrant central government, but to reverse government policies dating back to President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal. The plan is to return the United States to a pre-Depression “gilded age” of a society divided into a few haves and many have-nots.


Friday, January 13, 2012

The Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King

Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. the most revered leader of our time, was born January 15, 1929 and murdered on April 4, 1968. Dr. King’s most notable accomplishments were the Montgomery Bus Boycott, being the founder and first President of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the famed March on Washington, and being the youngest person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.

His main legacy was to secure progress in civil rights for the American Negro and poor people in the United States, and for this reason he has become a human rights icon recognized as a martyr. He was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Congressional Gold Medal, a National Holiday, and will be honored with a monument on the Washington Mall in DC.

He was born in Atlanta, Georgia, the son of the Reverend Martin Luther King, Sr. who was born "Michael King." Few people know that Martin Luther King, Jr. was originally named "Michael King, Jr." until the family traveled to Europe in 1934 and visited Germany. His father soon changed both of their names to Martin Luther in honor of the German Protestant leader Martin Luther. King sang with his church choir at the 1939 Atlanta premiere of the movie Gone with the Wind.

King married Coretta Scott, on June 18, 1953, on the lawn of her parents' house in her hometown of Heiberger, Alabama; they had four children. At the age of twenty-five he became Pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama, where his trajectory to greatness was launched in 1954. He skipped both the ninth and the twelfth grade and entered Morehouse College at age fifteen without formally graduating from high school. In 1948, he graduated from Morehouse with a Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology, and enrolled in Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester, Pennsylvania, from which he graduated with a Bachelor of Divinity degree in 1951. King then began doctoral studies in systematic theology at Boston University and received his Doctor of Philosophy on June 5, 1955, with a dissertation on "A Comparison of the Conceptions of God in the Thinking of Paul Tillich and Henry Nelson Wieman."

King was originally skeptical of many of Christianity's claims. Most striking perhaps was his denial of the bodily resurrection of Jesus during Sunday school at the age of thirteen. From this point he stated, "doubts began to spring forth unrelentingly.” However, throughout his career of service, he wrote and spoke frequently, drawing on his experience as a preacher, which he understood to be his purpose. For example, in his “letter from Birmingham Jail,” written in 1963, is a passionate statement of his crusade for justice. It was confirmed when he became the youngest recipient to receive the coveted Nobel Peace Prize for leading non-violent resistance to racial prejudice in the United States.  

We have been taught to believe that Mrs. Parks’ refusal to give up her seat that day was an anomaly. Many Blacks refused, at one time or another, to give up their seats in the white only section usually resulting in being run out of town. There was a committee silently waiting for an instance where they could take it through the legal system to put an end to this unholy system. For example, in March 1955 a fifteen-year-old school girl, Claudette Colvin refused to give up her bus seat to a white man in compliance with the Jim Crow Laws.  King was on the committee from the Birmingham African American community that looked into the case; the committee decided to wait for a better case to pursue.

On December 1, 1955, the case that they were waiting for appeared. Mrs. Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat. The Montgomery Bus Boycott planned by E. D. Nixon and led by King emerged. The boycott lasted for 385 days crippling the city economically. The situation became so tense that King's house was bombed and he was arrested during this campaign. The case ultimately ended with a United States District Court ruling in Browder v. Gayle that ended racial segregation on all Montgomery public buses and throughout the south.

In 1957, Dr. King, Ralph Abernathy, and other civil rights activists founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), a group created to harness the moral authority and organizing power of black churches to conduct non-violent protests in the service of civil rights reform. King led the SCLC until his death. Over his career Dr. King narrowly escaped death as his life was in constant danger, but he remained faithful to a non-violent philosophy modeled by Gandhi's non-violent techniques. Dr. King believed that organized non-violent protest against the system of southern segregation known as Jim Crow would lead to extensive media coverage of the struggle for black equality and voting rights.

It is my opinion that this was the single most powerful tool in the arsenal of the civil rights movement. This explosive media coverage, both journalistic and television footage of the daily deprivation and indignities suffered by southern blacks, and of segregationist violence and harassment of civil rights marchers produced a wave of sympathetic public opinion. This was in large part what convinced the majority of Americans that the civil rights movement was the most important issue in American politics in the early 1960’s. King organized and led marches for the right to vote, desegregation, labor rights and other basic civil rights. Most of these rights were successfully enacted into law with the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Dr. King was sought out for assistance all over the nation to improve the state of the deprived Negro in campaigns like the Albany Movement, Birmingham, Selma, Augustine, and the famed March on Washington. After the campaign ran low on adult volunteers, SCLC's strategist, James Bevel, initiated the recruitment of children for what became known as the "Children's Crusade."  During the protests, the Birmingham Police Department led by Bull Connor, used high pressure water jets and police dogs to control protesters including the little children. King and the SCLC were criticized by many for putting children in harm's way but by the end of the campaign it was a resounding success. Connor lost his job, the "Jim Crow" signs in Birmingham came down, and public places became open to blacks.

History will most remember Dr. King for his famous “I have a dream speech” during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom that took place on August 28, 1963. Dr. King, representing SCLC, was among the leaders of the so-called "Big Six" civil rights organizations who were instrumental in the organization of this massive event. The other leaders and organizations comprising the Big Six were Roy Williams from the NAACP, Whitney Young of the Urban League, A. Philip Randolph of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, John Lewis of SNCC, and James Farmer of the Congress of Racial Equality with King's colleague Bayard Rustin the primary logistical and strategic organizer.

The march originally was conceived as an event to dramatize the desperate condition of blacks and a very public opportunity to place their grievances squarely before the seat of power in the nation's capital. King’s leadership role was another which caused controversy because he was one of the key figures who acceded to the wishes of President Kennedy in changing the focus of the march. It is a fact that Kennedy initially opposed the march outright, because he was concerned it would negatively impact the drive for passage of civil rights legislation, but the organizers stood their ground concerning the march. Organizers firmly intended to challenge the federal government for its failure to safeguard the civil rights of the Negro.

However, the group acquiesced to presidential pressure and the event ultimately took on a far less strident tone. As a result, some civil rights activists felt it presented a sanitized representation of racial harmony. Malcolm X called it the "Farce on Washington" and members of the Nation of Islam were not permitted to attend the march. In spite of that, the march did make specific demands that were important to the movement. The demands were an end to racial segregation in public schools, meaningful civil rights legislation, a law prohibiting racial discrimination in employment, protection of civil rights workers from police brutality, a two dollar minimum wage for all workers, and self government for Washington, DC, which was controlled by the Dixiecrats.

Despite tensions, the march was a resounding success. More than a quarter million people of diverse ethnicities attended the event sprawling from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall and around the reflecting pool. At the time, it was the largest gathering of protesters in Washington's history. Martin Luther King Jr. expressed a view that black Americans, as well as other disadvantaged Americans, should be compensated for historical wrongs. In an interview conducted for Playboy in 1965, he said that granting black Americans only equality could not realistically close the economic gap between them and whites. He stated, "It should benefit the disadvantaged of all races."

What disturbs me about the movement was the “fact” that Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, who was supposed to be a friend of the Negro, warned King to discontinue his suspect associations. It was Kennedy who felt compelled to issue the written directive authorizing the FBI to wiretap King and other leaders of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.  J. Edgar Hoover used the bureau over the next five years in attempts to force King out of the preeminent leadership position. This led Hoover to imply that King was a Communist and aggressively dog him for the rest of his life. He was concerned that allegations of Communists in the SCLC would derail the Administration's civil rights initiatives.

For his part, King adamantly denied having any connections to Communism, stating in the 1965 Playboy interview that "there are as many Communists in this freedom movement as there are Eskimos in Florida," while claiming that Hoover was "following the path of appeasement of political powers in the South."  He went on to say that his concern for communist infiltration of the civil rights movement was meant to "aid and abet the salacious claims of southern racists and the extreme right-wing elements." Hoover did not believe his pledge of innocence and replied by saying that King was "the most notorious liar in the country."

After King gave his "I Have a Dream" speech during the March on Washington on August 28, 1963, the FBI described King as "the most dangerous and effective Negro leader in the country."  In December 1963, FBI officials were gathered for a special conference and alleged that King was "knowingly, willingly and regularly cooperating with and taking guidance from communists" whose long-term strategy was to create a "Negro-labor" coalition detrimental to American security.

The attempt to prove that King was a Communist was related to the feeling of many segregationists that blacks in the South were happy with their lot but had been stirred up by "communists" and "outside agitators."  The civil rights movement arose from activism within the black community dating back to before World War I.  In response to the FBI's comments regarding communists directing the civil rights movement, King said that "the Negro revolution is a genuine revolution, born from the same womb that produces all massive social upheavals, the womb of intolerable conditions and unendurable situations."

Starting in 1965, King began to express doubts about the United States' role in the Vietnam War.  In an April 4, 1967 appearance at the Riverside Church in New York, exactly one year before his death, King delivered a speech titled "Beyond Vietnam."  In the speech, he spoke strongly against the United States' role in the war, insisting that the U.S. was in Vietnam "to occupy it as an American colony" and calling the U.S. government "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today." King also was opposed to the war on the grounds that the war took money and resources that could have been spent on social welfare services like the War on Poverty.

Many white southern segregationists vilified King and this speech soured his relationship with many members of the mainstream media. Life Magazine called the speech "demagogic slander that sounded like a script for Radio Hanoi," and the Washington Post declared that King had "diminished his usefulness to his cause, his country, his people.”  King stated that North Vietnam "did not begin to send in any large number of supplies or men until American forces had arrived in the tens of thousands." King also criticized the United States' resistance to North Vietnam's land reforms.  He accused the United States of having killed a million Vietnamese, "mostly children."

In 1968, King and the SCLC organized his last campaign, the "Poor People's Campaign," to address issues of economic justice. The campaign culminated in a march on Washington, DC, demanding economic aid to the poorest communities of the United States.  King traveled the country to assemble "a multiracial army of the poor" that would march on Washington to engage in non-violent civil disobedience at the Capitol until Congress created a bill of rights for poor Americans. However, the campaign was not unanimously supported by other leaders of the civil rights movement.  Rustin resigned from the march stating that the goals of the campaign were too broad, the demands unrealizable, and thought these campaigns would accelerate the backlash and repression on the poor and the black.

Unfortunately, before the march was realized Dr. King went to Memphis, Tennessee, in support of black sanitary public works employees who had been on strike for higher wages and better treatment. In one incident, black street repairmen received pay for two hours when they were sent home because of bad weather, but white employees were paid for the full day. On April 3, King addressed a rally and delivered his "I’ve Been to the Mountaintop" address at Mason Temple, the world headquarters of the Church of God in Christ.  King's flight to Memphis had been delayed by a bomb threat against his plane.

In the close of the last speech of his career, in reference to the bomb threat, King said the following: “And then I got to Memphis. And some began to say the threats, or talk about the threats that were out. What would happen to me from some of our sick white brothers? Well, I don't know what will happen now. We've got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn't matter with me now. Because I've been to the mountaintop. And I don't mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land. And I'm happy, tonight. I'm not worried about anything. I'm not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.”

The next evening at 6:01 p.m., April 4, 1968, a shot rang out as King stood on the motel's second floor balcony. The bullet entered through his right cheek, smashing his jaw, then traveled down his spinal cord before lodging in his shoulder. Abernathy heard the shot from inside the motel room and ran to the balcony to find King on the floor. After emergency chest surgery, King was pronounced dead at St. Joseph’s Hospital at 7:05 p.m. According to biographer Taylor Branch, King's autopsy revealed that though only thirty-nine years old, he had the heart of a sixty-year-old man, perhaps a result of the stress of thirteen years in the civil rights movement. The assassination led to a nationwide wave of riots in more than 100 cities. Presidential candidate Robert Kennedy was on his way to Indianapolis for a campaign rally when he was informed of King's death. He gave a short speech to the gathering of supporters informing them of the tragedy and asking them to continue King's idea of non-violence.

President Lyndon B. Johnson declared April 7 a national day of mourning for the civil rights leader. Vice-President Hubert Humphrey attended King's funeral on behalf of Lyndon B. Johnson, as there were fears that Johnson's presence might incite protests and perhaps violence. At his widow's request, King's last sermon at Ebenezer Baptist Church was played at the funeral. It was a recording of his "Drum Major" sermon, given on February 4, 1968. In that sermon, King made a request that at his funeral no mention of his awards and honors be made, but that it be said that he tried to "feed the hungry," "clothe the naked," "be right on the Vietnam war question," and "love and serve humanity."  His good friend Mahalia Jackson sang his favorite hymn, "Take My Hand, Precious Lord," at the funeral. The city of Memphis quickly settled the strike on terms favorable to the sanitation workers.

Two months after King's death, escaped convict James Earl Ray was captured at London Heathrow Airport while trying to leave the United Kingdom on a false Canadian passport in the name of Ramon George Sneyd on his way to white ruled Rhodesia. Ray was quickly extradited to Tennessee and charged with King's murder. He confessed to the assassination on March 10, 1969, though he recanted this confession three days later. On the advice of his attorney Percy Foreman, Ray pleaded guilty to avoid a trial conviction and thus the possibility of receiving the death penalty. Ray was sentenced to a 99-year prison term.

Ray fired Foreman as his attorney, from then on derisively calling him "Percy Fourflusher."  He claimed a man he met in Montreal, Quebec with the alias "Raoul" was involved and that the assassination was the result of a conspiracy. He spent the remainder of his life attempting, unsuccessfully, to withdraw his guilty plea and secure the trial he never had. On June 10, 1977, shortly after Ray had testified to the House Select Committee on Assassinations that he did not shoot King, he and six other convicts escaped from Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary in Petos, Tennessee. They were recaptured on June 13 and returned to prison.

Ray's lawyers, as do I, maintained Ray was a scapegoat similar to the alleged John F. Kennedy assassin Lee Harvey Oswald.  As seen by conspiracy theorists, Ray was a thief and burglar, but he had no record of committing violent crimes with a weapon. Those suspecting a conspiracy in the assassination point out the two separate ballistics tests conducted on the Remington Gamemaster recovered by police had neither conclusively proved that Ray had been the killer nor that it had even been the murder weapon. Moreover, witnesses surrounding King at the moment of his death say the shot came from another location, from behind thick shrubbery near the rooming house, which had been inexplicably cut away in the days following the assassination, and not from the rooming house window.

In 1997, King's son Dexter Scott King met with Ray, and publicly supported Ray's efforts to obtain a new trial. Two years later, Corretta Scott King, along with the rest of King's family, won a wrongful death claim against Loyd Jowers and "other unknown co-conspirators."  Jowers claimed to have received $100,000 to arrange King's assassination. The jury of six whites and six blacks found Jowers guilty and that government agencies were party to the assassination. William F. Pepper represented the King family in the trial.

In 2000, the United States Department of Justice completed the investigation about Jowers' claims but did not find evidence to support allegations about conspiracy. The investigation report recommended no further investigation unless some new reliable facts are presented. The New York Times reported a church minister, Rev. Ronald Denton Wilson, claimed his father, Henry Clay Wilson, not James Earl Ray, assassinated Martin Luther King, Jr.  He stated, "It wasn't a racist thing; he thought Martin Luther King was connected with communism, and he wanted to get him out of the way."

In my opinion, the argument that Ray acted alone is simply fantasy. How can we be expected to believe a two bit crook could develop a plan to kill King and travel the world broke? In 2004, Jesse Jackson, who was with King at the time of his death said, “The fact is there were saboteurs to disrupt the march. And within our own organization, we found a very key person who was on the government payroll. So infiltration within, saboteurs from without and the press attacks. ...I will never believe that James Earl Ray had the motive, the money and the mobility to have done it himself. Our government was very involved in setting the stage for, and I think the escape route for James Earl Ray.”          

On the international scene, King's legacy included influences on the Black Consciousness Movement and Civil Rights Movement in South Africa. King's wife, Coretta Scott King, followed her husband's footsteps and was active in matters of social justice and civil rights until her death in 2006. The same year that Martin Luther King was assassinated, she established the King Center in Atlanta, Georgia, dedicated to preserving his legacy and the work of championing non-violent conflict resolution and tolerance worldwide. We are blessed that Dr. King was allowed to walk among us and change the world.

In His Own Words

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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Myth of Meritocracy

On December 3rd, Willard Mitt Romney told a crowd of supporters that the United States of America is a “meritocracy”. Webster’s dictionary defines a meritocracy as a system in which the talented are chosen and moved ahead on the basis of their achievement. This word - meritocracy - implies that we all operate on a level playing field. It implies that the rules are the same for everyone and that excellence and hard work are rewarded without bias of any kind.

Mr. Romney also said that President Obama seeks to punish success by placing undue burdens on the most successful and productive members of our society, in other words, rich people. John F. Kennedy said, “If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.” Apparently, this sentiment is not shared by the Republican candidates because, in a meritocracy if you are poor, it’s due to your own shortcomings, therefore, you don’t deserve help.

John F. Kennedy also said, “The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie, deliberate, contrived and dishonest, but the myth, persistent, persuasive and unrealistic.”

While I believe that our society does aspire to meritocracy, we aren’t there yet. The belief that a meritocracy already exists in our society is nothing more than myth. Perhaps that is why Mitt Romney and his Republican colleagues seem so out of touch with the experience of most Americans. And, that is why not one of them is qualified to be President of the United States because the American people need a leader capable of governance in the true America - not the mythical one.

By Jackie (Morganfield) Lambert
Co-Host of "Let's Talk About It"

The Myth of Meritocracy

On December 3rd, Willard Mitt Romney told a crowd of supporters that the United States of America is a “meritocracy”. Webster’s dictionary defines a meritocracy as a system in which the talented are chosen and moved ahead on the basis of their achievement. This word - meritocracy - implies that we all operate on a level playing field. It implies that the rules are the same for everyone and that excellence and hard work are rewarded without bias of any kind.

Mr. Romney also said that President Obama seeks to punish success by placing undue burdens on the most successful and productive members of our society, in other words, rich people. John F. Kennedy said, “If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.” Apparently, this sentiment is not shared by the Republican candidates because, in a meritocracy if you are poor, it’s due to your own shortcomings, therefore, you don’t deserve help.

John F. Kennedy also said, “The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie, deliberate, contrived and dishonest, but the myth, persistent, persuasive and unrealistic.”

While I believe that our society does aspire to meritocracy, we aren’t there yet. The belief that a meritocracy already exists in our society is nothing more than myth. Perhaps that is why Mitt Romney and his Republican colleagues seem so out of touch with the experience of most Americans. And, that is why not one of them is qualified to be President of the United States because the American people need a leader capable of governance in the true America - not the mythical one.

By Jackie (Morganfield) Lambert
Co-Host of "Let's Talk About It"

Friday, January 6, 2012

Pool of Fools

We all know that the “Pool of Fools” who call themselves the Republican candidates vying to replace President Obama are distasteful, insulting, pitiful, and a sad commentary to what I know as human. You know who they are - the Klan that wants to make Obama a one term president and take back their country!

If not, here’s a quick recap: Stone cold Rick Samtorum with his view of the “Real America”; Flipper Mitt Romney who they call “Him” who just received weak endorsement from John McCain; Newt Gingrich who wants blacks to get off welfare and get a real check; Rick Perry who is sorta, kinda still in the race – hmmm; Ron Paul who is still standing despite his senseless let the people of the same hue do what they want; and there is John Huntsman who they hardly mention. I can’t leave out the latest departure, Michele Bauchmann, who could not win the Iowa town she claims to be from and I will just mention that poor excuse Herman Cain because he insulted everyone who looks like him.

Not only are these wingnuts, oh sorry, these republican candidates, a sad commentary but so is Reince Preibus, RNC Chair and many of the other Republicans in the party, who I will call un-American to include the lately silent teabagging faction. They have taken disgrace to a whole new level. For example, Kansas House Speaker Mike O’Neal today relented and apologized for an e-mail he forwarded to fellow Republican lawmakers calling first lady Michelle Obama “Mrs. YoMama.” Patriotic right!

Then there was Marilyn Davenport, an elected member of the Orange County, Calif., Republican Central Committee, who forwarded an email picturing President Barack Obama's face on the body of a baby chimpanzee in April. She was censured by the committee and apologized, but refused to resign for it..."

The latest insults is the outrageously racist depiction of Michelle on the right-wing website Gateway Pundit as a grotesquely muscular armed Marie Antoinette. The racist caricature was based on a 1775 portrait by 18th Century French painter Jean-Baptiste André Gautier-Dagoty. The painting hangs in the Palace of Versailles outside Paris and this depiction is surely disrespectful and tasteless.

The racist comparison of Michelle to Antoinette is another in the endless knocks that Michelle lives an imperious and luxury lifestyle all supposedly at taxpayer expense. This is code language for an African-American that’s “uppity.” I might add that the First Lady happens to be, ah black. So the fury level soars and the slanders against her fly even hotter and heavier.

It is clear that there are two relentless constants in the manic drive by GOP ultra conservatives, tea party leaders and followers, and unreconstructed bigots to, at all cost, make President Obama a one term president with not just a singular drumbeat, non-stop barrage of racist depictions, slurs, digs and vilification of Obama. The other is their drumbeat, non-stop barrage of racist depictions, slurs, digs, and vilification of First Lady Michelle Obama. Shameful!!!

The GOP will use its endless back door channel surrogates of bloggers, right wing talk show gabbers, and tea party operatives to slur and slander Michelle to sow even more doubt and discord about President Obama’s policies and, by extension, him.

In the past the rules of political engagement have been clear. Presidents were fair game for any and every type of fair or gutter attack. Their wives and families, though, were off limits. But as the wife of the most politically assailed president in modern times by racial bigots, the rules of the political game have been smashed. Michelle will continue to be an inviting target of racial slander simply because she is who she is a fine and model First Lady, who is certainly no Marie Antoinette.

And the call themselves AMERICANS – what a transparent attempt to disguise or revive the memories of what I remember as the “Citizens Counsel” of a day I had hope was long past. And that’s my THOUGHT PROVOKING PERSPECTIVE!!!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Law of Unintended Consequences

The incomparable Jackie (Morganfield) Lambert the great niece of the legendary blues man Muddy Waters has done it again. Jackie offers her powerful commentaries on "LET'S TALK ABOUT IT" every Tuesday night at 9:00 PM (est) on with me and the Wild & Wonderful Brenda White. You must join us on the fastest growing political talk show on the air where we talk about the political news of the day. Oh, and all the crazy goings-on in our country. It’s a blast!!!

The Law of Unintended Consequences

In January 2010 the Supreme Court held that the First Amendment prohibits the government from placing limits on independent spending for political purposes by corporations and unions. This case is commonly known as Citizens United. In plain English, it means that the gloves are off and moneyed interests are free to buy elections through their Political Action Committees. Let’s not forget that they have been free to use their mega bucks to buy favorable legislation for years.

Now, fast forward to January 3rd, 2012. Tonight, in Iowa, the Republican Presidential caucus is being held. One notable candidate in the field has been complaining loudly and bitterly about how outside groups have tanked his campaign through a barrage of negative ads. That candidate would be Newt Gingrich.

What I find so remarkable about this is that Mr. Gingrich is one of the founders of scorched earth politics – even going so far as to draft a memorandum to his Republican colleagues in the house of representatives to give them the most incendiary words to use in order to vilify their Democratic opponents. Mr. Gingrich was also a stalwart supporter of the Citizens United decision.

I am sure that Mr. Gingrich never envisioned that his toxic political tactics coupled with unlimited corporate contributions would combine to bite him right in the uh… Well, you know.