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Member since: Sun Aug 17, 2003, 10:39 PM
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ONE of the things which disturbs me when tragic violence occurs which is clearly motivated by or associated with racial animus of a white individual toward black individuals is how some observers make calls for reconciliation or togetherness as a solution. While good relationships between racial and ethnic groups are important and essential to the preservation of the fabric of our democracy and society, what's often involved isn't a case of some mutual animosity, prejudice, or discrimination. What's far too often involved is an attitude of bigotry and hatred directed solely from one side of the racial fence toward the other.
As we can see this morning from news reports of the barbaric execution of black men and women in an S.C. church, the issue isn't about whether the black community, represented by members who welcomed the white killer into their prayer circle without reserve before he gunned them down, the issue is with his simmering hatred and fear of our nation's black minority which he reportedly felt was 'taking over' the country.
One of the questions which needs to be answered is where this young white man absorbed the notion that our black community was enough of a threat to him and his way of life that he felt a need to act out with violence against some of us. There's been a resurgence in the past few decades of old racial divisiveness - it's coming to the surface again in America. It is a product of the same fear many in the white majority experienced at the birth of our Union of the potential of black Americans to assume positions of power over them - fear that blacks would act out the same prejudices which had been so arrogantly and wantonly perpetrated against them.
I've expressed a few thoughts on this here, in the past...
There has been a fear of black advancement throughout our American history - fear that blacks would rise up and dish out the same injustice & violence many in the white-dominated had perpetrated against the race of people since slavery and through the years of segregation and state-sanctioned discrimination. Yet, despite our tragic history, blacks have shown great forbearance and benignity in the face of it all.
In the immediate wake of Reconstruction and the election of a handful of black lawyers, ministers, teachers, college presidents to the national legislature, there was a concerted campaign of character assassination by their white counterparts and other detractors in a successful effort to challenge their seats and to construct discriminatory barriers to the election of other blacks which persisted for generations and generations. The 'birther' movement is no stranger to those who recall that 'Jim Crow' past.
American politics has reached a historic milestone which most of my family and peers had been impatiently anticipating all of our lives, yet, would not have predicted it to happen so soon in our lifetimes. It's fair to say that many in the black community (and without) have been inspired to believe that a black man can be elected president, in this day and age, by the audacity and urgency of Barack Obama's bid for the highest office in the land. It's also fair to say that much of that inspiration and belief has come from the mere fact of Obama's success in convincing so many non-blacks to support and elevate his presidency.
However, the ultimate effect of the persistent racism directed against President Obama and his family by public officials and others visible public figures in the media and elsewhere has been a reversion by demagogues to that initial rallying and defensive mode that pushes critical judgements about his actual performance aside in favor of an atmosphere of hatred that envelopes much more than just the target in its wake.
In effect, the racist attacks by some on President Obama and his family reflect on the black community's own aspirations for achievement and advancement. On one hand, there is satisfaction in the realization that the barrier to the highest office in the land has been broken by Americans willing to elect this African-American president. On the other, there's a reflexive need by some in opposition to stand-up against this president with attempts to define him outside of the American mainstream based on the color of his skin. Yet, to allow this president to be diminished on the basis of race diminishes us all. The persistent racism directed against President Obama has not allowed folks to feel secure in this one advancement.
Racism certainly isn't chic anymore; not like it was in the days where slurs, slights, and outright discrimination were allowed to flourish under the umbrella of segregation and Jim Crow. But, it has still been used by some, over the years since the dismantling of that institutionalized racism, to manipulate and control the level of access and acceptability of blacks in a white-dominated political system.
Open racism hasn't been in fashion for decades, but the fear and insecurities which underlie discrimination and prejudice still compel some to draw lines of distinction between black and white aspirations and potential for success. What is often unspoken is the reluctance some Americans have in envisioning blacks in a position to make decisions for a white majority, resulting in attempt to set boundaries and define the roles blacks must assume to achieve success and approval.
The federal advancement of group rights was an important element in securing individual rights for blacks, before and after the abolition of slavery. Government's role has been expanded, mostly in response to needs which had gone unfulfilled by the states; either by lack of will or limited resources. After the passage of the 14th and 15th amendments, the federal government had to assert itself to defend these rights -- albeit with much reluctance and not without much prodding and instigation -- by passing the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. That effort, and others by the federal government were a direct acknowledgment of the burdens and obstacles facing an emerging class of blacks.
Indeed, the efforts in the '60's to bolster and nurture black Americans into the social, economic, and political mainstream of America has meshed perfectly with the needs of our expanding economy and the growing markets which have eagerly absorbed millions of black Americans who were advantaged by the educational opportunities and initiatives which were focused on lifting their communities out of the squalor of indifference and disrespect of the past.
It's a dwindling majority in the workplace, and a dwindling dominance in other institutions which is, ironically, producing a familiar insecurity in some. Overall, black Americans' reaction to a dominating majority has been remarkably gracious, patient, and forgiving over the decades. Some of these dominionists could learn from that as they reconsider their role in a more inclusive society.
In fact, the gains blacks have made in our political institutions have not kept pace with even the incremental gains which have occurred in the workplace. We may well have an abundance of black CEOs, military officers, business owners, doctors, lawyers and other professionals. However, Americans have yet to support and establish blacks in our political institutions with a regularity we could celebrate as 'colorblindness.' And, to be fair, not even many blacks would likely agree that we've moved past a point where race should be highlighted (if not overtly emphasized), in our political deliberations and considerations.
I'm fortunate to have a long line of outstanding family members and friends of the family to recall with great pride in the recounting of their lives and the review of their accomplishments; many in the face of intense and personal racial adversity. In many ways, their stories are as heroic and inspiring as the ones we've heard of their more notable counterparts. Their life struggles and triumphs provide valuable insights into how a people so oppressed and under siege from institutionalized and personalized racism and bigotry were, nonetheless, able to persevere and excel. Upon close examination of their lives we find a class of Americans who strove and struggled to stake a meaningful claim to their citizenship; not to merely prosper, but to make a determined and selfless contribution to the welfare and progress of their neighbors.
That's the beauty and the tragedy of the entire fight for equal rights, equal access, and for the acceptance among us which can't be legislated into being. It can make you cry to realize that the heart of what most black folks really wanted for themselves in the midst of the oppression they were subject to was to be an integral part of America; to stand, work, worship, fight, bleed, heal, build, repair, grow right alongside their non-black counterparts.
It can also floor you to see just how confident, capable, and determined many black folks were in that dark period in our history as they kept their heads well above the water; making leaps and bounds in their personal and professional lives, then, turning right around and giving it all back to their communities in the gift of their expertise and labor.
Catherine Meeks, Ph.D., wrote in HuffPo that, "The entire discussion is almost beyond comprehension for those of us who are not being blinded by bigotry and hatred."
"Magic Mulatto, Mrs. YoMama, Touching A Tar Baby, Your Boy, Orbameo, Watermelons on the White House Lawn, cartoons with the President Obama's head and a chimpanzee's body, references to monkeys who escaped the zoo being related to the First Lady, and the list goes on with the racial slurs that have been hurled at this President and his family," recalls Meeks. "Along with these is the recent attack of racial slurs against 11-year-old Malia, his youngest daughter."
The attacks in this generation are not to be taken lightly, even though we may assume that the nation is past all of that. The attacks need to be openly and loudly defended against by Democrats and Republicans alike. They can't just be brushed aside as some sort of acceptable standard of discourse. For the most part, they've been responded to with dispatch and sincerity. For the other, there's a glaring silence -- and even a rhetorical encouragement by some in the political arena who are leveraging age-old stereotypes to serve their cynical campaigns for office.
That's the backdrop for this resurgence of racial animosity toward black Americans; something which, for the most part, blacks have little control over. It remains for the white community to lead the way in setting the standard for discourse and relations in this nation. It's that backdrop of acquiescence to the which appears to me to have fueled this recent tragedy in S.C.. There's a cottage industry, driven in great part by petty legislative politics, of divisiveness and racial hatred which has spilled out into the public consciousness and legitimized/encouraged the pitting of groups of Americans against others.
The republican political class, in particular, benefits directly from racial and ethnic hatred and resentment that they fuel with their rhetoric at every opportunity. It's an old game, adopted from our tragic beginnings as a nation, practiced by people who should know better but don't give a damn about our humanity, as long as it provides red meat to throw to their rabid constituency.
It's going to take determination and resolve to fight all of that; resolve from folks like the good people in our internet community here who care about making a difference and changing our politics to include everyone in our progress and advancement. Let's pledge ourselves to reconcile around that determination to effect a change in our discourse and to put all of our deliberate and politically calculated, racist and bigoted divisiveness in the past.
Posted by bigtree | Fri Jun 19, 2015, 08:18 AM (19 replies)
...as a lifelong Democrat from a Democratic family, Martin O'Malley has repeatedly stepped up to challenging elections and has consistently won the support of Democrats through progressive stances and progressive policy achievements. His efforts in office have resulted in significant and concrete progressive changes and improvements in the lives of millions of citizens of my state. My pleasure and pride in seeing him step up to the challenge of running against a Democrat with not only national name recognition, but a built-in support base from a previous run for the presidency, is compounded by the decidedly progressive positions his campaign has put in front of his candidacy.
Whatever the outcome of this election, I think our party will owe Martin O'Malley a debt of gratitude for attempting to steer our party's presidential politics in an aggressively progressive direction - that effort matched, of course, by Bernie Sander's own progressive campaign - both of which have resulted in a national discussion of progressive ideals and initiatives which have already influenced the debate in our national legislature, as well as positively influenced the worthwhile campaign of our party's current front-runner in the polls.
I think O'Malley's bid is a heroic effort, typical of his political career in which he's repeatedly run against adversity and other daunting challenges to advance the causes he believes in. As we debate the issues these candidates present and advocate, let's not lose sight of the valuable and gratifying service our Democratic candidates honor us with in their pursuit of public office. Also, as we reflect on the presidential bids of Martin O'Malley, Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, and the others, let's not diminish that effort by reducing our primary to a mere horse race. There's still a lot of time between now and when the actual voting starts to further the progressive causes these candidates represent in their campaigns. That should be our main focus, not the popularity contest.
Posted by bigtree | Wed Jun 17, 2015, 09:49 AM (14 replies)
Martin O’Malley made a low-key visit to Dover Saturday afternoon during his second stump in the Granite State. The hot afternoon provided the perfect excuse to meet with area Democrats at Orange Leaf on Central Avenue. While eating a blackberry-flavored frozen treat, O’Malley spoke with those interested in learning more about him.
O’Malley cited his successes during his 15 years of executive experience as a former governor and mayor, stating that the “only way to overcome big challenges is to look them in the eye.”
Labeling himself as having “progressive goals” and “progressive values,” O’Malley said America has strayed from its “true self.”
“An economy is not money,” he said. “It’s people. When we make the investments we can only make as a county…that’s what makes our economy grow.”
Earlier in the day, O’Malley was greeted by several hundred supporters at Market Square Day in Portsmouth and then 75 or so more at a house party that followed in New Castle. His last stump of the day was slated for Manchester, where he met and took questions from New Hampshire ServiceNation volunteers, alumni and board members.
read more: http://www.fosters.com/article/20150613/NEWS/150619628
O'Malley for NH @omalleyfornh
@GovernorOMalley: "our economy is people" #nhpolitics
O'Malley for NH @omalleyfornh
Great questions ranging from student debt to health care costs to creating jobs #newleadership #nhpolitics
Governor O'Malley in Dover --- shaking every hand
Lis Smith @Lis_Smith
"Earlier in the day, @GovernorMalley was greeted by several hundred supporters at Market Square Day in Portsmouth” http://www.fosters.com/article/20150613/NEWS/150619628 …
Matt Sheaff @MattSheaff https://twitter.com/MattSheaff/status/609832469530025985
Jay Surdukowski @Jay1043
@GovernorOMalley clearly enjoys meeting people & the press. Joyful and smart on the trail.
O'Malley for NH @omalleyfornh
A little Celtic music at Portsmouth market square days #nhpolitics
Laurie McCray @McCrayLaurie
Martin O'Malley with Portsmouth Dems at Market Square Day #nhpolitics #fitn
O'Malley for NH @omalleyfornh
Taking questions and meeting voters. The New Hampshire way. #nhpolitics
O'Malley for NH @omalleyfornh
Great day in Portsmouth #newleadership
O'Malley for NH @omalleyfornh
@GovernorOMalley stops by ServiceNation in Manchester to thank members for there service #nhpolitics
O'Malley for NH @omalleyfornh
In Manchester talking about the importance of service #nhpolitics
Shaun Adamec @shaunadamec
"We've got to go bigger, bolder" on #nationalservice - @GovernorOMalley commits to full funding of @americorps #FITN
A supporter snaps a photo on his iPhone while 2016 presidential candidate Martin O'Malley, of Maryland, greets state Rep. Timothy Horrigan. Crystal A. Weyers photo
ioanna raptis @ioannaraptis
from @GovernorOMalley's visit to #PortsmouthNH #MarketSquareDay #nhpolitics @seacoastonline
Posted by bigtree | Sat Jun 13, 2015, 09:14 PM (19 replies)
Jake Oeth @JakeOeth 4h4 hours ago
Great crowd in Marshalltown as @GovernorOMalley arrives! #iacaucus
Lauren Blanchard @LaurenBlanch12 4h4 hours ago
Greeting people who weren't able 2get a spot inside house @GovernorOMalley. Rain is pretty heavy. Living room packed
Martin O'Malley @GovernorOMalley 4h4 hours ago
Packed house in Marshalltown, IA for #OMalley2016—overflow conversation going on the porch! #iacaucus @omalleyforia
O'Malley for Iowa @omalleyforia 3h3 hours ago
Iowans talked w/ @GovernorOMalley about jobs, education & building up rural America in Marshalltown today #iacaucus
Eric Litmer @ericlitmer 4h4 hours ago Marshalltown, IA
Overflow crowd watching through the windows to hear @GovernorOMalley #OMalley2016 #iacaucus
O'Malley for Iowa @omalleyforia 3h3 hours ago
@governoromalley in Marshalltown spoke & took questions from more than 65 Iowans #iacaucus #newleadership
O'Malley for Iowa @omalleyforia 2h2 hours ago
Rep Nate Willems now introducing @GovernorOMalley in Mt Vernon at another packed house in Iowa! #iacaucus
Betsy Klein @betsy_klein 2h2 hours ago
Big crowds for @GovernorOMalley at house parties: ~65 in Marshalltown, ~80 here in Mt. Vernon. #iacaucus #cnnelection
Martin O'Malley @GovernorOMalley 1h1 hour ago
Taking questions in Mt. Vernon, IA at a packed house party! #NewLeadership #OMalley2016 #iacaucus
Jake Oeth @JakeOeth 2h2 hours ago
Was watching Full House re-runs last night & now @ a FULL HOUSE in Mt. Vernon for @GovernorOMalley #iacaucus thx Nate
O'Malley for Iowa @omalleyforia 3h3 hours ago
Thank you to Rep. Smith & his wife Karen for the warm welcome in Marshalltown today with @GovernorOMalley! #iacaucus
O'Malley for Iowa @omalleyforia 24m24 minutes ago
Thanks so much to the Willems Family for hosting @GovernorOMalley & 80+ Iowans in their home tonight! #iacaucus
Kristin Sosanie @ksosanie 31m31 minutes ago
Absolutely adorable-- host's daughter asks about @GovernorOMalley's family...so he pulls out his pics to show her
O'Malley for Iowa @omalleyforia 5h5 hours ago
While her Mom & Dad prepare to host @GovernorOMalley in Marshalltown, Fiona guards the snack table #iacaucus
Ben Kramer @BenKramer9 36m36 minutes ago
THIS is #MOMentum! Overflowing crowd waiting for @GovernorOMalley in IA City! #OMalley2016
Kristin Sosanie @ksosanie 6m6 minutes ago
Campaigning #iacaucus style. @GovernorOMalley standing on a chair to speak bc bar is so packed in Iowa City
O’Malley touts progressive values, experience, results
MOUNT VERNON | Selling himself as a progressive who gets things done, Martin O’Malley engaged in classic Iowa retail politics Thursday afternoon at a Mount Vernon house party.
O’Malley, who later had a campaign rally at Sanctuary Pub in Iowa City, emphasized his experience and record of getting things done as Baltimore mayor and two terms as Maryland governor.
“I am the only candidate in this race with 15 years of elected executive experience.” O’Malley said more than once during a 13-minute stump speech and about 20 minutes of question-and-answer...
“It matters not only for the accomplishment of the task at hand, it matters for restoring the public trust necessary to build the deeper and larger consensus so we can start acting like Americans again,” O’Malley said.
The 52-year-old O’Malley also drew a generational distinction between himself and the “very honorable and good people” – Hillary Clinton, 67, and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, 73, -- who also are seeking the democratic presidential nomination.
Posted by bigtree | Thu Jun 11, 2015, 08:11 PM (59 replies)
Most of us today properly think of war in terms of the conflicts that involve our own generation, and the ones closely preceding us. Those military conflicts - many of them wars of opportunity, expansionism, and patronage - have rightly soured many of us who opposed them on military observances and recognition. There are, nonetheless, many noble and heroic sacrifices by members of our armed forces made in defense of worthy ideals and understandable causes which deserve recognition and honor. Certainly, for those of us who have family members who have sacrificed life and limb in service in our nation's military, Memorial Day has profound significance and meaning. I would hope that even those who are solidly opposed to warring will recognize, and perhaps, appreciate that service this weekend.
One such cause worthy of enduring respect and admiration for those who served in our military is our nation's civil war. It was both a fight for freedom, for some, and a battle to preserve a fragile union of our United States. Those ideals and aspirations compelled our imperfect humanity to take up arms against each other in a devastating, but decisive manner which should always remind us of the perils of divisiveness and the promise of unity.
More than 140 years ago, Lincoln sought to reassure a gathered group of faithful that he would not take them to war to end the scourge of slavery in declaring that there would be "no bloodshed unless it be forced upon the Government, and then it will be compelled to act in self-defense. "Shortly thereafter, he would nonetheless, lead the country into war to, as he proclaimed, ". . . to maintain the honor, the integrity, and the existence of the National Union, and the perpetuity of popular government; and to redress wrongs (of slavery) already long enough endured."
Lincoln's justification for war did not require any rhetorical hedge. He insisted that in his opposition to slavery, an adherence to the principles of liberty and individual rights which are embodied in the Declaration of Independence, would more than provide for the preservation of the Union.
"In my hands," he spoke, "is the task of restoring peace to the present distracted condition of the country. It was not the mere matter of the separation of the Colonies from the motherland," he said, "but that sentiment in the Declaration of Independence which gave liberty, not alone to the people of this country, but, I hope, to the world, for all future time."
"It was that," Lincoln continued, "which gave promise that in due time the weight would be lifted from the shoulders of all men."
I have an old book called the Campfires of the Afro American which recounted the deeds of a black soldier named Sergeant William Carney.
____The 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment was recruited in the spring of 1863 by Governor John Andrew, who had secured the reluctant permission of the War Department to create a regiment of African-American soldiers. Like all Massachusetts Civil War soldiers, the 54th's men were enlisted in the Massachusetts Volunteer Militia. These Guardsmen would serve as a test case for many skeptical whites who believed that blacks could not be good soldiers. The battle that proved they could was fought on Morris Island, at the mouth of Charleston Harbor. Following three days of skirmishes and forced marches with little rest, and 24 hours with no food, the regimental commander, Colonel Robert Gould Shaw, requested the perilous honor of leading the attack of Fort Wagner, a sand and palmetto log bastion. As night fell, 600 men of the 54th advanced with bayonets fixed. Despite withering cannon and rifle fire, the men sustained their charge until they reached the top of the rampart. There, Colonel Shaw was mortally wounded.
There, also, Sergeant William Carney, who had earlier taken up the National Colors when the color sergeant had been shot, planted the flag and fought off numerous attempts by the Confederates to capture it. Without support, and faced with superior numbers and firepower, the 54th was forced to pull back. Despite two severe wounds, Sergeant Carney carried the colors to the rear. When praised for his bravery, he modestly replied, "I only did my duty; the old flag never touched the ground."
Carney was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions, the first African-American to receive the award. The 54th Massachusetts suffered 270 casualties in the failed assault, but the greater message was not lost: some 180,000 African-American soldiers followed in the footsteps of these gallant Guardsmen, and proved that African-American soldiers could, indeed, fight heroically if given the opportunity.
In 1870, he returned to New Bedford and became one of the four men employed as letter carriers. After 31 years in the postal service, he retired in 1901, then spend his last years as an employee at the state capitol in Boston.
Carney was in great demand as a leader of Memorial Day parades and as a speaker at patriotic events. In 1904, he was the Memorial Day orator at the Shaw Monument on Boston Common. (http://vc.bridgew.edu/hoba/36/ )
Included on the pages I've scanned below is a poem under the heading, Preface, A Colored Veteran's Reverie.
Again the fires of soldier-life are kindled to my view,
. . . and, so it goes.
I hope folks will take some time this Memorial weekend and read the poems, remembering the bravery and honor of the soldiers who served in our nation's past, and the soldiers who are serving and sacrificing today.
I hope you enjoy these poems from this fascinating book as much as I do.
Posted by bigtree | Sun May 24, 2015, 11:51 AM (9 replies)
...I've been reading this commencement speech delivered by First lady Michelle Obama at Tuskegee University on May 9, over and over...it's both devastating in what Mrs. Obama relates about the awful reception she and her family received from some quarters of the country, and gratifying in the courage and optimism she, nonetheless, imparts to the graduating students.
We may never be witness to anything so profoundly defining of the dearth of progress America has made along the lines of race, as a whole; or made witness to such grace and beneficence under pressure from the highest office in the land as we have been gifted by this remarkable couple's examples of forbearance and comity.
...an excerpt from this magnificent speech by Michelle Obama:
AP Photo/Brynn Anderson
____ I’d like to begin today by reflecting on that history -- starting back at the time when the Army chose Tuskegee as the site of its airfield and flight school for black pilots.
Back then, black soldiers faced all kinds of obstacles. There were the so-called scientific studies that said that black men’s brains were smaller than white men’s. Official Army reports stated that black soldiers were “childlike,” “shiftless,” “unmoral and untruthful,” and as one quote stated, “if fed, loyal and compliant.”
So while the Airmen selected for this program were actually highly educated -- many already had college degrees and pilots licenses -- they were presumed to be inferior. During training, they were often assigned to menial tasks like housekeeping or landscaping. Many suffered verbal abuse at the hands of their instructors. When they ventured off base, the white sheriff here in town called them “boy” and ticketed them for the most minor offenses. And when they finally deployed overseas, white soldiers often wouldn’t even return their salutes.
Just think about what that must have been like for those young men. Here they were, trained to operate some of the most complicated, high-tech machines of their day -- flying at hundreds of miles an hour, with the tips of their wings just six inches apart. Yet when they hit the ground, folks treated them like they were nobody -- as if their very existence meant nothing.
Now, those Airmen could easily have let that experience clip their wings. But as you all know, instead of being defined by the discrimination and the doubts of those around them, they became one of the most successful pursuit squadrons in our military. They went on to show the world that if black folks and white folks could fight together, and fly together, then surely -- surely -- they could eat at a lunch counter together. Surely their kids could go to school together.
You see, those Airmen always understood that they had a “double duty” -- one to their country and another to all the black folks who were counting on them to pave the way forward. So for those Airmen, the act of flying itself was a symbol of liberation for themselves and for all African Americans.
One of those first pilots, a man named Charles DeBow, put it this way. He said that a takeoff was -- in his words -- “a never-failing miracle” where all “the bumps would smooth off… you’re in the air… out of this world… free.”
And when he was up in the sky, Charles sometimes looked down to see black folks out in the cotton fields not far from here -- the same fields where decades before, their ancestors as slaves. And he knew that he was taking to the skies for them -- to give them and their children something more to hope for, something to aspire to.
And in so many ways, that never-failing miracle -- the constant work to rise above the bumps in our path to greater freedom for our brothers and sisters -- that has always been the story of African Americans here at Tuskegee.
Just think about the arc of this university’s history. Back in the late 1800s, the school needed a new dormitory, but there was no money to pay for it. So Booker T. Washington pawned his pocket watch to buy a kiln, and students used their bare hands to make bricks to build that dorm -- and a few other buildings along the way.
A few years later, when George Washington Carver first came here for his research, there was no laboratory. So he dug through trash piles and collected old bottles, and tea cups, and fruit jars to use in his first experiments.
Generation after generation, students here have shown that same grit, that same resilience to soar past obstacles and outrages -- past the threat of countryside lynchings; past the humiliation of Jim Crow; past the turmoil of the Civil Rights era. And then they went on to become scientists, engineers, nurses and teachers in communities all across the country -- and continued to lift others up along the way.
And while the history of this campus isn’t perfect, the defining story of Tuskegee is the story of rising hopes and fortunes for all African Americans.
And now, graduates, it’s your turn to take up that cause. And let me tell you, you should feel so proud of making it to this day. And I hope that you’re excited to get started on that next chapter. But I also imagine that you might think about all that history, all those heroes who came before you -- you might also feel a little pressure, you know -- pressure to live up to the legacy of those who came before you; pressure to meet the expectations of others.
And believe me, I understand that kind of pressure. I’ve experienced a little bit of it myself. You see, graduates, I didn’t start out as the fully-formed First Lady who stands before you today. No, no, I had my share of bumps along the way.
Maybe it feels like you’re supposed to go to law school -- but what you really want to do is to teach little kids. Maybe your parents are expecting you to come back home after you graduate -- but you’re feeling a pull to travel the world. I want you to listen to those thoughts. I want you to act with both your mind, but also your heart. And no matter what path you choose, I want you to make sure it’s you choosing it, and not someone else.
Because here’s the thing -- the road ahead is not going to be easy. It never is, especially for folks like you and me. Because while we’ve come so far, the truth is that those age-old problems are stubborn and they haven’t fully gone away. So there will be times, just like for those Airmen, when you feel like folks look right past you, or they see just a fraction of who you really are.
The world won’t always see you in those caps and gowns. They won’t know how hard you worked and how much you sacrificed to make it to this day -- the countless hours you spent studying to get this diploma, the multiple jobs you worked to pay for school, the times you had to drive home and take care of your grandma, the evenings you gave up to volunteer at a food bank or organize a campus fundraiser. They don't know that part of you.
Instead they will make assumptions about who they think you are based on their limited notion of the world. And my husband and I know how frustrating that experience can be. We’ve both felt the sting of those daily slights throughout our entire lives -- the folks who crossed the street in fear of their safety; the clerks who kept a close eye on us in all those department stores; the people at formal events who assumed we were the “help” -- and those who have questioned our intelligence, our honesty, even our love of this country.
And I know that these little indignities are obviously nothing compared to what folks across the country are dealing with every single day -- those nagging worries that you’re going to get stopped or pulled over for absolutely no reason; the fear that your job application will be overlooked because of the way your name sounds; the agony of sending your kids to schools that may no longer be separate, but are far from equal; the realization that no matter how far you rise in life, how hard you work to be a good person, a good parent, a good citizen -- for some folks, it will never be enough.
And all of that is going to be a heavy burden to carry. It can feel isolating. It can make you feel like your life somehow doesn’t matter -- that you’re like the invisible man that Tuskegee grad Ralph Ellison wrote about all those years ago. And as we’ve seen over the past few years, those feelings are real. They’re rooted in decades of structural challenges that have made too many folks feel frustrated and invisible. And those feelings are playing out in communities like Baltimore and Ferguson and so many others across this country.
But, graduates, today, I want to be very clear that those feelings are not an excuse to just throw up our hands and give up. Not an excuse. They are not an excuse to lose hope. To succumb to feelings of despair and anger only means that in the end, we lose.
But here’s the thing -- our history provides us with a better story, a better blueprint for how we can win. It teaches us that when we pull ourselves out of those lowest emotional depths, and we channel our frustrations into studying and organizing and banding together -- then we can build ourselves and our communities up. We can take on those deep-rooted problems, and together -- together -- we can overcome anything that stands in our way...
read the full address: https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/05/09/remarks-first-lady-tuskegee-university-commencement-address
watch (fixed link):
Posted by bigtree | Wed May 13, 2015, 07:28 AM (46 replies)
Martin O'Malley was taking action on behalf of immigrant children before Hillary thought it was cool
Lis Smith @Lis_Smith retweeted Fin Gomez
GovernorOMalley took heat from the left & right for standing up for #borderkids. But he stood up when it mattered
from July 11, 2014:
Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley broke publicly with President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Friday, calling for a more humane policy toward the tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors who have illegally crossed into the United States.
“It is contrary to everything we stand for to try to summarily send children back to death,” the Democratic lawmaker told reporters. O’Malley also criticized the “kennels” in which those who have been detained are being kept and calling for the children to be placed in “the least restrictive” locations, including foster homes or with family members in the U.S.
“Through all of the great world religions we are told that hospitality to strangers is an essential human dignity,” O’Malley said. “It is a belief that unites all of us. And I have watched the pictures of young kids who have traveled for thousands of miles. I can only imagine, as a father of four, the heartbreak that those parents must have felt in sending their children across a desert where they can be muled and trafficked or used or killed or tortured. But with the hope, the hope, that they would reach the United States and that their children would be protected from what they were facing at home, which was the likelihood of being recruited into gangs and dying a violent death.”
Hillary Clinton told CNN last month that most of those detained should be sent back. “They should be sent back as soon as it can be determined who responsible adults in their families are,” she said. President Barack Obama said Wednesday that the parents of the migrants need to know that “it is unlikely that their children will be able to stay.”
O’Malley went so far as to call the children “refugees,” a term with legal weight that would allow most of them to remain in the U.S. He called on Congress and the President to avoid modifying the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008. That measure requires that children who are not from Canada or Mexico who have crossed the border to be given an opportunity to see an immigration judge to make their case for amnesty. Lawmakers on both sides, as well as the White House, are reviewing ways to amend that law to ease deportations of the tens of thousands of migrant children, who are largely from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.
O’Malley said “the whole world is watching” how the U.S. responds to the humanitarian crisis.
CASA Applauds Gov O’Malley’s Unwaveringly Moral Response to the Humanitarian Crisis on the Border
statement released by CASA (MD. Immigrants Rights Org.) Executive Director, Gustavo Torres:
“I applaud Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley for stressing that children fleeing violence and abandonment in Central America should be treated as children that deserve our support. In stark contrast to other public figures that have called for their quick deportation, Governor O’Malley has urged that arriving migrant children receive fair, humane treatment and, above all, a fair legal review of whether they should be allowed to stay. We have heard from our colleagues across the country that they are relieved to hear the Governor become an indispensable voice for the immigrant community. We have let these colleagues know that this is hardly the first time the Governor has served as a hero for immigrant communities. Across his governorship, he has been a true friend of New Marylanders and addressing the abominable treatment of children at the border is only the most recent example of his leadership.
CASA de Maryland and CASA de Virginia are their state’s largest immigrant rights organizations. Our almost 60,000 members work with CASA to create a more just society by building power and improving the quality of life in low-income immigrant communities.
CASA de Maryland, supported O'Malley's decision to question the Carroll County site (a position distorted and mischaracterized by CNN, Politico, and by WH leaks to selected news orgs.).
"When we heard about the proposed Westminster site, our immediate thought was that the only place in Maryland less hospitable to children fleeing violence in Central America would be inside the Frederick County Sheriff's Department building," said Kimberly Propeack, an attorney with the group.
Lis Smith @Lis_Smith (July 2014)
Good look at what @GovernorOMalley is doing to find housing for #borderchildren http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/md-politics/maryland-solicits-foster-parents-for-migrant-youths-as-omalley-meets-with-faith-leaders/2014/07/28/6a489d5a-1672-11e4-9e3b-7f2f110c6265_story.html …
The state of Maryland stepped up its efforts Monday to recruit foster parents and solicit other assistance from the public to help with the flood of unaccompanied migrant children coming into the country from Central America.
An appeal for help was posted on the state Web site as Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) met in Annapolis with a group of religious leaders for the second time in as many weeks to talk about ways to assist the federal government with the crisis.
O’Malley administration officials also indicated they had passed along several potential temporary housing sites to the federal government and that Montgomery County was among the possibilities for hosting a facility.
The action came as O’Malley has continued to speak out on the issue, urging the Obama administration to show compassion and resist sending the children back to dangerous situations in their home countries.
During a political stop in Nebraska on Saturday night, O’Malley, who is weighing a 2016 White House bid, told a Democratic dinner audience that he believes “in American generosity and the compassion of our people.”
“We do not turn our back on innocent children who arrive at our doorstep fleeing death,” he said.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports more than 2,000 children have been relocated to Maryland in the first six months of this year.
Martin O'Malley @GovernorOMalley
The greatest power we have is power of our principles. We're not a country that should send children away & send them back to certain death
Posted by bigtree | Wed May 6, 2015, 07:34 AM (10 replies)
From articles predicting the death of his nascent campaign; to former officials and past community leaders (some disgraced, some convicted); to fictional television personalities and pundits; O'Malley faced an aggressive push to envelop him in a myriad of mishaps and missteps from his past terms as mayor of Baltimore and governor of Maryland.
O'Malley responded to the wave of orchestrated (and manufactured) controversy by traveling to his old governing ground in Baltimore and facing critics, hecklers, and questions head-on. He managed it all with his characteristically unflappable, appealing, and engaging style.
On Tuesday, O'Malley walked into a West Baltimore community meeting and mingled and marched outside afterward with protesters. In the process he was able to connect with some of the familiar elements of his former community in which he had played a prominent role in aiding and providing a positive influence.
Peter Crispino @PeterCrispino
O'Malley in prayer circle outside Simmons Memorial Baptist
Katie Wall @NBCKatie
O'Malley comforting church members at the burned down senior center in East Baltimore.
On Wednesday, O'Malley went to a food giveaway at the St. Peter Claver parish hall in northwest Baltimore's Sandtown neighborhood, lifting pallets of food and water, and packaged food to be collected by people whose local Save-A-Lot and CVS has been looted in the midst of the Baltimore uprising.
Throughout it all, O'Malley conducted almost a dozen prominent interviews in which he confronted and answered the questions swirling around his visit about his past performance in office and produced some extremely eloquent commentary about the present demonstration for justice in Baltimore, even as he defiantly pushed back criticism of his efforts to reduce crime as mayor of the troubled community from 1999 to 2006.
Several reports also highlighted his presence in Baltimore and praised him for his efforts. He was, after all, the ONLY potential presidential candidate to bother to visit the community.
lapared @lapared · Apr 29
Martin O'Malley takes a walk through Baltimore and shows real leadership via Daily Kos - http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/04/29/1381092/-O-Malley-Takes-A-Walk-Through-Baltimore …
Lis Smith @Lis_Smith · Apr 29
Imagine what politics would look like if more pols showed the chops that @GovernorOMalley did yesterday http://www.nytimes.com/politics/first-draft/2015/04/28/martin-omalley-takes-a-walking-tour-of-an-angry-baltimore/ …
Boyd Brown @HBoydBrown · Apr 29
Great read on "Citizen O'Malley" volunteering and leading in his hometown. http://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2015-04-29/martin-o-malley-baltimore-s-prodigal-mayor-gets-to-work …
Patrick Mellody @OneMellody · 11h 11 hours ago
...A must read from a true Baltimorer. GovernorOMalley: We Are Capable of More http://www.huffingtonpost.com/gov-martin-omalley/we-are-capable-of-more_b_7179780.html …”
Theodore M. Jamison @tmj4ever · 10h 10 hours ago
This is why I like Martin O'Malley: He tells it like it is. http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/politics/blog/bal-omalley-its-not-just-policing-20150430-story.html …
Jake Tapper @jaketapper · 5h 5 hours ago
Exclusive: @GovernorOMalley defends #Baltimore record in an interview http://cnn.it/1JEyiRM #TheLead
...despite all of the attempts to put a negative spin on this week for Martin O'Malley, the controversy provided him widespread exposure, and an excellent opportunity for him to demonstrate his character under fire. I think he came through it all (still ongoing?) actually elevating his stature and going a long way in establishing his unique, people-oriented brand of politics and calm, steady leadership in a fantastic preview of his expected campaign.
Chris Dickens reads Martin O'Malley, the former governor of Maryland and the former mayor of Baltimore, the names of people Mr. Dickens said had been brutalized by the police. photo/ Jason Horowitz
Posted by bigtree | Thu Apr 30, 2015, 10:10 PM (12 replies)
One important element is the quest for justice and reform which motivates the vast majority of demonstrators. The apparent police killing of Freddie Gray in Baltimore, for example has sparked organized and sporadic protests from a majority of peaceful residents and individuals with the aim of galvanizing attention and action from the local government and federal officials.
There is also an element of anger and frustration which has compelled some residents to take to the streets and there have been violent confrontations with the massive array of police force which has responded to the protests with intimidating tactics, and, in some cases, with their own brand of oppressive violence against demonstrators. There have also been several recorded incidents of confrontations with non-protesters which have involved threats, physical attacks, and racist verbal attacks.
The other element which is often conflated with the other two mostly understandable and defensible reactions to police violence, is the human element of opportunism in which we find individuals taking advantage of the unrest in the community and the relative chaos surrounding the demonstrations by looting and vandalizing. These are certainly not attempts to address police violence. They are lawless and reprehensible acts which do nothing more than exacerbate an already volatile situation. They are not orchestrated by the protesters seeking justice and police reform and accountability, and they are regularly denounced by those demonstrators as antithetical to their efforts. Conflating them with the protest actions is a mistake; a cynical deflection, at worst.
One thing that I think should be remembered is that these communities which experience unprovoked killings and violent attacks by police of unarmed and disproportionately black residents live with these injustices almost every day. When those communities rise up in protest, there is going to be a myriad of reaction which reflects all of these elements of resistance and opportunism.
Highlighting or focusing solely on the more egregious elements of these uprisings doesn't negate or assuage the root causes of the unrest. These communities are forced to endure what amounts to decades of injustice, indifference, and abuse. Expecting a completely rational and methodical reaction from residents to a chaotic and oppressive system of governance and law enforcement is unrealistic and unreasonable. What I would hope is that, as we take time to correctly denounce the violence and criminality from some in the community, we also expend the same, or more, energy in addressing the systematic and persistent abuses directed toward residents from those charged to protect and serve.
The Real Segun Idowu @RevrendDoctor · Apr 26
If ever a photo should exist to explain how we feel every day, from the moment we arise til we fall asleep.
ron fullwood @ronfullwood
Posted by bigtree | Mon Apr 27, 2015, 05:12 PM (12 replies)
The trade promotion authority that President Obama is asking Congress to grant him is an outrageous subversion of the democratic process. The trade deal under consideration involves a third of the world economy; as opposed to the 10% that NAFTA covered. It's a major undertaking which will govern concerns raging from the environment, workers' rights, currency, and employment.
The “trade promotion authority” bill, or TPA, would allow the White House to cut new trade deals with Asian and European nations, and then pass them through Congress using expedited procedures. Under these rules, the deals cannot be amended or obstructed, and they get a simple up-or-down vote.
I agree with Sen. Chuck Schumer, the man most observers expect to lead the Senate Democrats when Harry Reid resigns; and Sen. Sherwood Brown; that the fast track authority the WH wants is a 'abdication' of Congress' responsibilities.
“This process is not good...We are supposed to vote on TPA, tie our hands and not vote on amendments, before we’ve seen what the Trans-Pacific Partnership is. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
If passed, the agreement between Senate republicans and Democrats on granting TPA, would permit President Obama to expedite the process of authorizing trade deals such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) – currently being drafted by the US and 11 other Pacific nations – and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) with the European Union.
Yes, the TPA would allow two months before the President signs the trade pacts; four months before Congress votes on it...
If the agreement, negotiated by the United States trade representative, fails to meet the objectives laid out by Congress — on labor, environmental and human rights standards — a 60-vote majority in the Senate could shut off “fast-track” trade rules and open the deal to amendment.
The supermajority required to shut down fast track is a non-starter for the Democratic minority. Even though no one expects a majority of Democrats will vote for the trade pact, there appears to be sufficient amount of republican votes, coupled with a handful of Democratic supporters of the TTP which makes that olive branch to critics in Congress an insincere and obviously compromised one.
In effect, this fast track authority isn't some device which is designed to keep the republicans from thwarting an initiative from our Democratic president (they very clearly support this corporate-crafted trade agreement); it's a tactic designed to keep members of President Obama's own party from altering the trade pact with their decidedly progressive interests and concerns. That makes President Obama's complaints of betrayal from Democrats over their vocal opposition to reported provisions in the pact self-serving, cynical, and knowingly insincere.
Make no mistake about it, the President knows full well that he has as many votes as he needs to ram an already signed trade pact through Congress. All that's left for him now is to, somehow, get Democrats to knuckle under and pipe down so his victory party won't appear to be, mainly, a republican-sponsored affair.
Posted by bigtree | Sat Apr 25, 2015, 07:58 AM (5 replies)