Coming Soon! ~ Killing Trayvons: An Anthology of American Violence

Killing Trayvons

Skin privilege. When you’re black it seems the hardest thing to explain to whites. Even the most conscious or liberal whites sometimes don’t quite get it. Or as Langston Hughes once said, “A liberal is one who complains about segregated railroad cars but rides in the all white section.”

The killing of Trayvon Martin in February 2012 rang yet another alarm about the costs of that privilege. Killing Trayvons: An Anthology of American Violence tracks the case and explores why Trayvon’s name and George Zimmerman’s not guilty verdict symbolized all the grieving, the injustice, the profiling and free passes based on white privilege and police power: the long list of Trayvons known and unknown.

With contributions from Robin D.G. Kelley, Rita Dove, Cornel West and Amy Goodman, Thandisizwe Chimurenga, Alexander Cockburn, Etan Thomas, Tara Skurtu, bell hooks and Quassan Castro, June Jordan, Jesse Jackson, Tim Wise, Patricia Williams, Alexis Pauline Gumbs, Vijay Prashad, Rodolfo Acuna, Jesmyn Ward and more, Killing Trayvons is an essential addition to the literature on race, violence and resistance.

Killing Trayvons: An Anthology of American Violence is set to be released early Summer 2014.

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Editors:

Kevin Alexander Gray is a civil rights organizer in South Carolina and author of Waiting for Lightning to Strike!: The Fundamentals of Black Politics.

Jeffrey St. Clair is the editor of CounterPunch. His books include Whiteout (with Alexander Cockburn), Grand Theft Pentagon, and Born Under a Bad Sky.

JoAnn Wypijewski regularly writes for The Nation and CounterPunch. Her books include Painting by Numbers.

Published by CounterPunch Books.

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The Autobiography of Malcolm X as told to Alex Haley (audiobook)

El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz (May 19, 1925 – February 21, 1965)

El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz
(May 19, 1925 – February 21, 1965)

Malcolm X was born Malcolm Little on May 19, 1925 in Omaha, Nebraska. His mother, Louise Norton Little, was a homemaker occupied with the family’s eight children. His father, Earl Little, was an outspoken Baptist minister and avid supporter of black nationalist leader Marcus Garvey. Earl’s civil rights activism prompted death threats from the white supremacist organization Black Legion, forcing the family to relocate twice before Malcolm’s fourth birthday.

Malcolm’s siblings: (in order of birth) Ella, Earl and Mary (half-siblings from Earl’s previous marriage); Wilfred, Hilda, Philbert, Reginald and Yvonne.

Rev. Little was found dead in 1931 after being beaten and left on the train tracks, where he was run over by a streetcar. Malcolm was 6 at the time. No one was ever convicted of the crime but his death is widely attributed to the Black Legion. Malcolm’s mother spent the next 26 years in a Kalamazoo mental institution because of the uncertainty and paranoia around her husband’s murder, as well as the stress from her failure to provide for her 6 children at the height of the Great Depression.

Malcolm X was with the Nation of Islam during the 1950s and ’60s, where he worked under NOI leader, Elijah Muhammad expanding the group’s membership among black Americans nationwide. Due largely to his efforts, the NOI grew from 400 members at the time he was released from prison in 1952 to 40,000 members by 1960.

Malcolm X became the minister of Temple No. 7 in Harlem and Temple No. 11 in Boston, while also founding temples in Hartford and Philadelphia. In 1960, he established the national newspaper, Muhammad Speaks, in order to further promote the message of the NOI.

In 1963, Malcolm X became disillusioned when he learned that Muhammad had violated his own teachings by carrying on many extramarital affairs. Malcolm’s feelings of betrayal, combined with Muhammad’s anger over Malcolm’s comments regarding the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, led Malcolm leaving the NOI in 1964.

That same year, Malcolm X went on a trip through North Africa and the Middle East. The trip was a turning point in his life. He learned to place the American Civil Rights Movement within the context of a global anti-colonial struggle, embracing socialism and Pan-Africanism. Malcolm X also made the Hajj, the traditional Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, during which he converted to traditional Islam and changed his name to El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz.

Malcolm X announced the establishment of the Organization of Afro-American Unity (OAAU) at a the Audubon Ballroom on June 28, 1964. He had written the group’s charter with John Henrik Clarke, Albert Cleage, Jesse Gray, and Gloria Richardson, among others.

Malcolm X, along with Clarke, wrote the Organization of Afro-American Unity (OAAU) Basic Unity Program:

  • Restoration: “In order to release ourselves from the oppression of our enslavers then, it is absolutely necessary for the Afro-American to restore communication with Africa.”
  • Reorientation: “We can learn much about Africa by reading informative books.”
  • Education: “The Organization of Afro-American Unity will devise original educational methods and procedures which will liberate the minds of our children. We will … encourage qualified Afro-Americans to write and publish the textbooks needed to liberate our minds … educating them [our children] at home.”
  • Economic Security: “After the Emancipation Proclamation … it was realized that the Afro-American constituted the largest homogeneous ethnic group with a common origin and common group experience in the United States and, if allowed to exercise economic or political freedom, would in a short period of time own this country. We must establish a technician bank. We must do this so that the newly independent nations of Africa can turn to us who are their brothers for the technicians they will need now and in the future.”
Taken February 21, 1965, the day Malcolm X was assassinated.

Taken February 21, 1965, the day Malcolm X was assassinated.

At a speaking engagement in the Manhattan’s Audubon Ballroom on February 21, 1965 three gunmen rushed Malcolm onstage. They shot him 15 times at close range. The 39-year-old was pronounced dead on arrival at New York’s Columbia Presbyterian Hospital.

Fifteen hundred people attended Malcolm’s funeral in Harlem on February 27, 1965 at the Faith Temple Church of God in Christ (now Child’s Memorial Temple Church of God in Christ). After the ceremony, friends took the shovels away from the waiting gravediggers and buried Malcolm themselves.

Later that year, Betty gave birth to their twin daughters Malikah & Malaak.

Malcolm’s murderers, Talmadge Hayer, Norman 3X Butler (Muhammad Abdul Aziz) and Thomas 15X Johnson (Khalil Islam) were convicted of first-degree murder in March 1966. The three men were all members of the Nation of Islam.  Aziz was paroled in 1985; Islam was freed in 1987. Hayer (the only murderer that confessed), now known as Thomas Hagan, was freed in 2010. 

The Autobiography of Malcolm X

The Autobiography of Malcolm X

“The Autobiography of Malcolm X was published in 1965, the result of a collaboration between human rights activist Malcolm X and journalist Alex Haley.  Haley coauthored the autobiography based on a series of in-depth interviews he conducted between 1963 and Malcolm X’s 1965 assassination. The Autobiography is a spiritual conversion narrative that outlines Malcolm X’s philosophy of black pride, black nationalism and Pan-Africanism. After the death of his subject Haley authored the book’s epilogue, which describes their collaboration and summarizes the end of Malcolm X’s life.

While Malcolm X and scholars contemporary to the book’s publication regarded Haley as the book’s ghostwriter, modern scholars tend to regard him as an essential collaborator who intentionally muted his authorial voice to allow readers to feel as though Malcolm X were speaking directly to them. Haley also influenced some of Malcolm X’s literary choices; for example, when Malcolm X left the Nation Of Islam during the composition of the book, Haley persuaded him to favor a style of “suspense and drama” rather than rewriting earlier chapters into a polemic against the Nation. Furthermore, Haley’s proactive censorship of the manuscript’s antisemitic material significantly influenced the ideological tone of the Autobiography, increasing its commercial success and popularity although distorting Malcolm X’s public persona.”

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Pardon Gregory Boertje-Obed, Sister Megan Rice, and Michael Walli.

Tuesday, Feb 18, 2014
Pardon anti-nuclear activists Gregory Boertje-Obed, Sister Megan Rice, and Michael Walli.

Pardon anti-nuclear activists Gregory Boertje-Obed, Sister Megan Rice, and Michael Walli.

U.S. District Judge Amul Thapar in Knoxville, Tenn. sentenced 84-year-old Sister Megan Rice, a Catholic nun, to 35 months in prison and three years probation. Rice is a sister in the Society of the Holy Child Jesus. She became a nun when she was 18 and served for 40 years as a missionary in western Africa teaching science. Thapar sentenced 58-year-old Greg Boertje-Obed, an Army veteran who lives at a Catholic Worker House in Minnesota, and Michael Walli, a 64-year-old two-tour Vietnam veteran who lives at the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker house in Washington DC, to five years in prison and three years probation as well.

The activists were found guilty on May 8 of sabotaging the plant and damaging federal property at the Y‑12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.  Officials said “there was never any danger of the protesters reaching materials that could be detonated or made into a dirty bomb…”

Protesters were engaged in a symbolic act to bring attention to America’s stockpile of nuclear weapons, which they view as both immoral and illegal …  

Gregory Boertje-Obed, Sister Megan Rice, and Michael Walli

Gregory Boertje-Obed, Sister Megan Rice, and Michael Walli

Boertje-Obed, Sister Megan Rice, and Michael Walli are members of Transform Now Plowshares, “an effort by people of faith to transform weapons into real, life-giving alternatives, to build true peace.”

Sister Megan Rice told the judge: “Please have no leniency with me … To remain in prison for the rest of my life would be the greatest gift you could give me.”

Their attorneys asked the judge to sentence them to time they had already served, about nine months, because of their record of good works throughout their lives.

A sentence of time served is fair.

Please sign both of the petitions asking President Barack Obama to pardon the three activists.

Thanks,

Kevin Alexander Gray

White House ~ https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/pardon-anti-nuclear-activists-gregory-boertje-obed-sister-megan-rice-and-michael-walli/hTh4PRLQ

Change.org ~ http://www.change.org/petitions/president-barack-obama-pardon-anti-nuclear-activists-gregory-boertje-obed-sister-megan-rice-and-michael-walli?recruiter=3098064&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=petition_invitation

NEWS STORIES:

http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/national-international/NATL-Nun-84-Megan-Rice-Sentenced-Almost-3-Years-Prison-Break-In-Nuclear-Plant-Peace-Protest-Uranium-246059071.html

http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2014/02/18-8

http://gazette.com/nun-gets-nearly-3-years-in-prison-for-nuke-protest/article/feed/91065#M8mlktzxz1LpOUOd.01

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February 19, 2014 · 4:53 am

Proud To Be

Watch the #BigGame commercial the NFL would never air. Get involved by contacting the Washington Professional Football Team, the NFL and the Washington Post.

DC Team@redskins
Facebook.com/redskins
http://www.redskins.com/footer/contac…

Roger Goodell & NFL

@NFL
@NFLcommish
https://www.facebook.com/NFL

Washington Post, DC’s hometown paper is still using the R-word in its coverage of the team.

@WashingtonPost
@PostSports
https://www.facebook.com/washingtonpost

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February 2, 2014 · 5:57 pm

Monique Reymond interviews Kevin Alexander Gray

So, I’m sitting on a bench outside the recording studio on Sunset and a woman dressed all in black rolls up on her bike and asks can she interview me… ~

Monique Reymond

Monique Reymond

The woman asking the questions is “Foley Artist” Monique Reymond.  Ms. Reymond is also a comedian.

 | July 13, 2013 ~ Why the Zimmerman Trial Made Me Ill ~ http://progressive.org/zimmerman-trial-made-me-ill

| July 17, 2013 ~ “No Rights That Any White Man is Bound to Respect” - http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/07/17/what-it-feels-like-to-be-black-in-america/

| July 17, 2013 ~ Why the Zimmerman verdict is more important that O.J. ~ http://progressive.org/zimmerman-verdict-more-important-than-oj

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The legal fight to protect white power | By Kevin Alexander Gray

The Voting Rights Act (VRA) signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson in 1965 struck down laws supporting Jim Crow segregation and other measures designed to disenfranchise or disempower black voters.  When Congress enacted the law in 1965, it determined that racial discrimination in voting was prevalent in certain areas of the country, particularly in the South.  It has been renewed four times.  In 2006, Congress voted overwhelmingly to reauthorize Section 5 for another twenty-five years. The vote was 390-33 in the House and 98-0 in the Senate.

Opponents of the Act say it’s outdated and no longer necessary.  That it infringes upon states’ rights or sovereignty, and the South is being unfairly punished for racial discrimination that no longer exists.  They argue that the country now has over 10,500 black elected officials including the president and is in effect – “post-racial” in voting practices.

The case that has the VRA in jeopardy is Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder.  Shelby County, a predominately white suburb of Birmingham, wants the Supreme Court to declare a part of Section 4 and Section 5 of Act unconstitutional.  The Court began hearing the case in March of this year.  They will rule on whether Congress’ decision in 2006 to reauthorize Section 5 under the pre-existing coverage formula of Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act exceeded its authority under the 14th and 15th Amendments and thus violated the 10th Amendment and Article IV of the Constitution.

Shelby County attorneys argue, “The violence, intimidation and subterfuge that led Congress to pass Section 5 and this court to uphold it no longer remains.” “The children of today’s Alabama are not racist and neither is their government,” wrote Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange in USA Today.

Alabama has several supporters of its outlook on the high court.  In 2009, Chief Justice John Roberts said, “Things have changed in the South.”  He wrote: “The evil that Section 5 is meant to address may no longer be concentrated in the jurisdictions singled out for pre-clearance.  The statute’s coverage formula is based on data that is now more than 35 years old, and there is considerable evidence that it fails to account for current political conditions.”  In opening oral arguments on the Shelby County case Justice Antonin Scalia called the Act a “perpetuation of racial entitlement.” 

Yet the law’s intent is to protect against the entitlement of primarily white men calling the shots and legislatively protecting the unchecked ability to so.  It’s about a fair playing field and making sure biased, bigoted or prejudiced lawmakers are not able to fix the rules to empower their group over others.

Make no mistake about it – the fight over the VRA is about “power, access to power and representative.”  It’s about who makes the rules as to who can vote, when and where they vote and who and what they can vote for.  It is a fight about turnout – limiting some, enhancing others.  As civil rights attorney John Brittain puts: “It’s a fight over a defensive procedural tactic that puts the burden on jurisdictions to prove it is not their intent to discriminate.”   

Here’s a quick overview of the VRA:

  • Section 2 prohibits voting discrimination, and any voting practice or procedure that has a discriminatory result.  It prohibits drawing election districts that improperly dilute minorities’ voting power. This section is permanent and does not require renewal.  
  • Section 3 is how jurisdiction come to fall under or “bail in” to federal scrutiny.  It’s the process by which jurisdictions found to have a ‘pocket’ of discrimination may be required to seek pre-clearance under Section 5.   Section 4 provides a formula to identify those areas and sets remedies.  The jurisdictions covered under the Act include Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina and most counties in Texas and Virginia.  Jurisdictions in California, Florida, New Hampshire, North Carolina, South Dakota, Michigan and sections of New York City are also covered under the Act.
  • Section 4 also guarantees the right to register and vote to those with limited English proficiency.  It also addresses the ability of members of language minority groups to get information about the electoral process.
  • Additionally, Section 4 provides “bailout” from coverage under the Act. To qualify a jurisdiction must show that for the past ten years, it has not violated the Act. Exceptions may be made for small, immediately corrected violations.  The bailout applicant must show that it has worked to eliminate discriminatory voting practices and it has improved minority access to the electoral process.
  • Section 5, or “pre-clearance” – the “heart of the VRA,” requires that areas of the country with a history of voter suppression and intimidation determined by Section 4 – must submit any changes in their election laws or attempt to change “any voting qualification or prerequisite to voting, or standard, practice, or procedure with respect to voting…” in any “covered jurisdiction to the Department of Justice or a three-judge panel of the District Court of the District of Columbia for approval. 

VRA supporters oppose shifting the “burden of proof” to the people or “plaintiffs” as opposed to those covered jurisdictions that have shown time and again they will try to slip something unsavory and unfair pass the people.  

If opponents of the Act have their way, plaintiffs – be they private citizens or the United States Department of Justice, will have the burden of proving intent (to discriminate) which for a private citizen will be both costly and discouraging in most cases.

Conservative “post-racialists” pretend that colorblindness is now the order of the day. Yet in 2011 and 2012, 19 states passed more than two-dozen measures that would have made it harder to vote. The Brennan Center for Justice called these schemes “the biggest rollback in voting rights since the Jim Crow era.”  Those measures included voter ID laws, – which some argue, are the “modern day equivalent of poll taxes,” early-voting cutbacks, and curbs on community-based voter registration drives – all of which disproportionately impacted minority and Democratic Party voters.   Moreover, in the last decade or so, lawmakers have broken up majority-minority districts with questionable redistricting practices.  African-American and Latino voters’ names are routinely purged from voter lists under the pretext that “election officials were cleaning them up.”  There’s also been attempts to suppress voting (mostly Democratic) in states like Ohio and Florida that played politics with voting hours in predominately minority precincts.

Most of the states passing restrictive voter ID laws are in the south and covered under Section 5 pre-clearance coverage.  They include states like Texas, South Carolina, Virginia, and Florida in the South, and Pennsylvania and Wisconsin in the North, just to name a few.  Voter ID laws in Texas, South Carolina and Wisconsin were suppressed by the courts prior to the 2012 elections.  A DOJ ruling on the S.C. case, prior to the election, led to a federal court ruling that upheld a modified version of the law. It goes into effect in 2013. Moreover, in Texas a federal court recently refused to pre-clear the state legislature’s redistricting plan, finding “the new lines intentionally discriminated against minorities.”  Because of Section 5, Texas was blocked from racial gerrymandering.

Back in June 2012, in the midst of a Presidential election year, Pennsylvania Republican House Majority Leader Mike Turzai let the “cat out of the bag” when he said at a Republican State Committee meeting that the voter ID law was “going to allow Governor (Mitt) Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania.”  A state judge blocked Pennsylvania from requiring voters to show photo identification in the November ’12 election but also ruled it could be implemented for future elections.

But don’t think its just Republicans who try to get around the Act.  Southern Democrats try to get around the law for pernicious reasons as well.  A couple of years back two white democratic legislators – a Senator and a House member from predominately black Fairfield County, tried to take over their local majority-black school board by successfully passing a measure in the State Legislature that would have given them the power to appoint school board members and gain control of the board’s budget.  The law, had it stood, would have put back in place the same Constitutional setup that existed in the early 1900s.  In those days white supremacy was the order of the day in South Carolina.  It was a time when politicians openly spoke about “fixing” the state’s Constitution after Reconstruction ended to keep black people from power in perpetuity. 

Luckily, the state legislature failed to have their school board takeover scheme pre-cleared by the Justice Department as required by Section 5.  Once a challenge was filed the law was rejected.  One of the legislators, former Representative Boyd Brown, is now a member of the Democratic National Committee.

Unsurprisingly, the two white legislators were educated at a predominately white, private academy set up in response to school desegregation in the 60s.  Coincidentally, Justices Roberts and Scalia’s early education were at private, religious schools.

Additionally, the Act doesn’t just protect African Americans.  It protects alternative political parties. South Carolina is one of only a few states that permit fusion voting, allowing multiple political parties to nominate the same candidate.  Here in South Carolina I was a plaintiff in a 2010 lawsuit against the State Election Commission when it tried to require that political candidates formally notify the state elections commission, in advance of the primary election, of each party that might choose to nominate them and whose nomination they may seek.  The law would have in effect barred electoral fusion because alternative parties, which often choose to cross-nominate the winner of a major political party’s primary, cannot know who the major party candidate in the general election will be before the primaries actually takes place, and cannot put a candidate who hasn’t filed multiple intention forms on its ballot.

A federal court blocked implementation of the state’s requirement after the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit charging that the requirement violated Section 5 and that it “severely impairs alternative political parties’ ability to get their candidates on the ballot in violation of the free speech protections of U.S. Constitution.”

Doubtless, the Voting Rights Act has been a “necessary and effective tool” in safeguarding minority-voting rights.  It is also a double-edge sword because it has helped bolster Republican control of southern state legislatures.  In that regard, some opponents and critics of the Act argue that Section 5 is often interpreted to require “racial gerrymandering” in order to ensure minority representation.  Some critics, black and white, mainly libertarians and white democrats, point out that while there’s been an increase in black representation in state houses and congressional districts across the south that African Americans have seats but no real voting power.  Moreover, southern white democrats say that the cost has been a more racially polarized set up where blacks negotiate with white Republicans when it comes time to draw representational lines which in turn fuels the rise of blue- dog conservative democrats who believe they have to be “republican-lite” to stand a chance of getting elected to any office.  And, in some states, Republicans are now attempting to make party registration law in the South, which will most likely lead to a black party – Democrats, and a white party – Republicans.

Even so, “racial gerrymandering” to perpetuate white entitlement is what a town in Shelby County was accused of doing in 2008, when it drew up a City Council redistricting plan that eliminated the city’s sole majority-black district, which had elected black councilmen for 18 years.  And while Shelby County argues before the Court that widespread discrimination of the Jim Crow era had ended, and that “it is no longer constitutionally justifiable for Congress to arbitrarily impose” on the county and other covered jurisdictions the “disfavored treatment” – over the years the county has had more than 200 discriminatory voting irregularities blocked by Section 5 objections. Just last year Judge John D. Bates of Federal District Court, a George W. Bush appointee, rejected the Shelby County case including in his ruling “anecdotal examples of discrimination from the past 25 years, mentioning openly racist lawmakers and poll officials, (and) an episode in Alabama where the doors to polling places were shut early to keep blacks out in last decade. ”

To their credit Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan stated the obvious to Shelby County attorneys.  Sotomayor offered up,  “You may be the wrong party bringing this,” and “why would we vote in favor of a county whose record is the epitome of what caused the passage of this law to start with?”  Kagan followed  saying, “you’re objecting to a formula, but under any formula that Congress could devise, it would capture Alabama.”

Problems aside, to weaken or invalidate the VRA would be a setback for the protection of voting rights.   In light of recent efforts to restrict minority voters’ rights, more, not less, need to be done to protect and expand the right to vote – to include restoration of voting rights for both ex-felons and those in prison.  The progressive voting rights’ agenda has in times past been “no second-class citizenship.”

There’s ample evidence to validate the need to maintain Sections 4 and 5.  ‘Any formula would capture Alabama.’ And as the NAACP Legal Defense Fund argues; “Comprehensive studies of case by case litigation under Section 2 of the VRA (a section covering all states), which compare jurisdictions that are covered by Section 5 with those that are not, strongly support Congress’s conclusion that certain areas have worse records of voting discrimination than others…”

Scalia has made it clear why this case is before the Court – it’s about race and white “race entitlement.” 

The Voting Rights Act was passed because no group is going to “apportion themselves out of power.” If the Court rules in favor of Shelby County in the face of its racist record, it will be doing nothing more than validating white power and racism.

 

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Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address

Saturday, March 4, 1865

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At this second appearing to take the oath of the Presidential office there is less occasion for an extended address than there was at the first. Then a statement somewhat in detail of a course to be pursued seemed fitting and proper. Now, at the expiration of four years, during which public declarations have been constantly called forth on every point and phase of the great contest which still absorbs the attention and engrosses the energies of the nation, little that is new could be presented. The progress of our arms, upon which all else chiefly depends, is as well known to the public as to myself, and it is, I trust, reasonably satisfactory and encouraging to all. With high hope for the future, no prediction in regard to it is ventured.

On the occasion corresponding to this four years ago all thoughts were anxiously directed to an impending civil war. All dreaded it, all sought to avert it. While the inaugural address was being delivered from this place, devoted altogether to saving the Union without war, insurgent agents were in the city seeking to destroy it without war—seeking to dissolve the Union and divide effects by negotiation. Both parties deprecated war, but one of them would make war rather than let the nation survive, and the other would accept war rather than let it perish, and the war came.

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One-eighth of the whole population were colored slaves, not distributed generally over the Union, but localized in the southern part of it. These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that this interest was somehow the cause of the war. To strengthen, perpetuate, and extend this interest was the object for which the insurgents would rend the Union even by war, while the Government claimed no right to do more than to restrict the territorial enlargement of it. Neither party expected for the war the magnitude or the duration which it has already attained. Neither anticipated that the cause of the conflict might cease with or even before the conflict itself should cease. Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding. Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God’s assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces, but let us judge not, that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes. “Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh.” If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said “the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.”

With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.

President Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address (1865) ~ http://www.ourdocuments.gov/doc.php?doc=38

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Are You Ready? Remembering Alexander Cockburn | June 6, 1941 – July 21, 2012

Alex CockburnRadical journalist and author Alexander Cockburn, who passed away July 21, 2012, was celebrated at a memorial in New York last September attended by (among others) Noam Chomsky, Tariq Ali and the extended Cockburn family. Laura Flanders has put together a very nice tribute video from the memorial.  It includes many of the Kopkind extended family like Kevin Alexander Gray, JoAnn Wypijewski, Najla Said and some great pictures.

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The Sunday Show with Philip Maldari | KPFA 94.1 FM Berkeley

click logo for show link

Kevin Alexander Gray joins Philip Maldari on Sunday December 30th @12 noon to 1:00pm (Eastern) 9:00 to 10:00am (Pacific) to talk about what happened in the year that was, and what can we expect in the year to come? 

Also discussing SC Republican Senator Tim Scott and what may we expect from him.

Gray on Scott on MSNBC’s Up with Chris Hayes ~
http://tv.msnbc.com/2012/12/22/sundays-guests-dec-23-boehners-plan-b-blows-up-south-carolinas-tim-scott-and-the-tea-party-what-gun-control-laws-should-look-like/

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U.S. Gun Ownership & Gun Death Data

(Note: The following data is compiled from a list of sources included at the end of summary.  Please click links for more detailed information.  Does not include deaths from war or other government/state perpetrators to include “crimes” committed in war zones. Both Staff Sgt. Robert Bales and Major Nidal Hasan are cited in the overview. Doubtless, Hasan is included in current domestic crime statistics, Bales crimes are probably not included in domestic homicide stats.  I also encourage readers to check data presented against other sources.)

According to a 2007 Small Arms Survey by the Geneva-based Graduate Institute of International Studies, about 4.5 million of the 8 million new guns manufactured worldwide each year are purchased in the United States and the nation has about “90 guns for every 100 citizens.”   The US is it the most heavily armed nation in the world with its citizens “owning 270 million of the world’s 875 million known firearms.” 

The 2007 report estimated there were 650 million civilian firearms worldwide, and 225 million held by law enforcement and military forces.

Although the AR-15 assault-type weapon – the civilian adaptation of the standard military issue M-16  - is the most popular “sportsman’s weapon” in the US, some estimates are that during the last 60 years well over 100 million Kalashnikov AK-47-style assault rifles – famously referred to as “the people’s gun” - have been put into circulation around the world.

The FBI also estimates that there are 250-270 million registered privately owned firearms in the US – 100 million handguns, 150-170 million shotguns and rifles. Others estimate 350,000,000, as there’s no way to know the number of unregistered, illegal foreign-made weapons in the country.  Add those owned by the military, law enforcement agencies and museums and that’s 1 weapon for every man, woman and child.

There are 129,817 federally licensed firearms dealers, 51,438 of which are retail gun stores. That compares with 10,787 Starbucks stores, and 143,839 gas stations across the country. And that doesn’t count gun shows. About 40 percent of guns are sold in unlicensed private sales.

The majority of guns are owned by whites.

Based upon surveys, the following are estimates of private firearm ownership in the U.S. as of 2010:

    Households With a Gun  Adults Owning a Gun  Adults Owning a Handgun
Percentage

 40-45%

 30-34%

 17-19%

Number

 47-53 million

 70-80 million

 40-45 million

A 2005 nationwide Gallup poll of 1,012 adults found the following levels of firearm ownership: 

Category

 Percentage Owning

a Firearm

Households

 42%

Individuals

 30%

Male

 47%

Female

 13%

White

 33%

Nonwhite

 18%

Republican

 41%

Independent

 27%

Democrat

 23%

In the same poll, gun owners stated they own firearms for the following reasons:

 Protection Against Crime  67%
Target Shooting  66%
Hunting  41%

The most current polls report that among those who own handguns, 75 percent reported in a national survey that self-protection is the primary reason for owning a firearm. A 2000 study published in the Journal of Quantitative Criminology (link is to pdf for 2009 study) reported that US civilians used guns to defend themselves and others from crime at least 989,883 times per year. (Is a Gun an Effective Means of Self-Defense?) 

Other cite or argue:

  • The 2nd Amendment & constitutionally protected rights – “…the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
  • The 2nd Amendment is “the rebellion clause” in the Constitution (“No Prior Restraint [1st Amendment]”Doctrine of Prior Restraint),
  • “The 2nd Amendment is there to defend the 1st.”
  • The government – to include the police and the military, shouldn’t have more guns than the people least we’d have a police-state,
  • The police can’t be around to protect one all the time.
  • Prevention from foreign invasion
  • Laurence Tribe on the 2nd Amendment Tribe, well-known as a liberal scholar, concludes that the right to bear arms was conceived as an important political right that should not be dismissed as “wholly irrelevant.” Rather, Tribe thinks the Second Amendment assures that “the federal government may not disarm individual citizens without some unusually strong justification.” Tribe posits that it includes an individual right, “admittedly of uncertain scope,” to “possess and use firearms in the defense of themselves and their homes.””
  • Laurence Henry Tribe (bio)  |   Harvard Law School bio

[So You Think You Know the Second Amendment? By Jeffrey Toobin - http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/comment/2012/12/jeffrey-toobin-second-amendment.html#ixzz2FSy4HiRc]

The Real And Racist Origins of the Second Amendment By Bruce Dixon http://blackagendareport.com/content/american-history-black-history-and-right-bear-arms

United States — Gun Facts, Figures and the Law – GunPolicy.org – http://www.gunpolicy.org/firearms/region/united-states

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PROTEST AT SC STATEHOUSE TO CALL FOR CEASEFIRE IN GAZA

Emergency Gaza Protest!

SATURDAY Nov. 17th @4pm

There will be an emergency Gaza protest on Saturday November 17th at 4pm at the South Carolina Statehouse.

Demonstrators call on President Obama, Israel, Hamas to end escalating violence & a ceasefire in Gaza!  

Escalating violence in Gaza between Israel and Palestinian militants took a decided turn for the worse on Wednesday as Israel broke a tenuous truce and assassinated Hamas military commander Ahmed Jabari in a string of airstrikes in Gaza.  Hamas and Palestinian militant groups have retaliated by firing rockets deep into Israel, including at Tel Aviv.  Over twenty Palestinians including children have been killed in the ensuing Israeli airstrikes and; three Israeli civilians were killed when rockets launched by Palestinian militants struck an apartment in Israel, the first Israeli civilian fatalities from rocket attacks this year.  Israeli troops are massing on the border with Gaza and a ground invasion. 

“It is well-known that Israel’s targeted killings of Palestinian militants in Gaza provoke rocket attacks in retaliation,” says President David Matos, who has traveled to Israel/Palestine twice on peace missions.  “Israel deliberately escalated the violence by carrying out  this targeted assassination .”  At the same time, Matos notes that “an all out war in Gaza will be literal murder on both Israeli and Palestinian civilians caught in the cross-fire; it will take de-escalation on both sides to avoid that disaster.”

While the parties on the ground must de-escalate to avert further bloodshed, the US has considerable influence over Israel via the over $3 billion in military aid the US furnishes Israel every year.

“We call on President Obama to pressure Israel to stop its escalations and step back from the brink of war,” says Matos.  “If President Obama goes along with more violence, blood will be on his hands.”

Institute for Middle East Understanding Timeline of Escalating Violence~

http://imeu.net/news/article0023227.shtml

Web: www.carolinapeace.org

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“Kick-a-Nigger” Politics ~ Race, the Poor and the Working Poor | By Kevin Alexander Gray

“There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what…. These are people who pay no income tax.”

– Mitt Romney

Welfare is back as the handiest weapon in the racist rhetorical arsenal. It’s back in the speeches of Republican candidates and surrogates, on right wing radio, and even in the language of those young “individualists” who see themselves as politically hip because of their perceived proximity to anarchist types. They believe the poor are poor because they want to be poor. Or are failed individuals. Or have grown so used to poverty that they are satisfied waiting for a check, that they like making the often humiliating trek to the local Department of Social Services office. ‘Welfare’ is back, which is to say ‘kick-a-nigger’ politics is in full swing.

(Click Counterpunch logo for full story)

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Racial Profiling 101 | “Black-on-Black” crime | Select passages from: “A Call for a new anti-war Movement” | By Kevin Alexander Gray

How to Legalize Drugs

Published in How to Legalize Drugs – Jefferson M. Fish (Editor), 1998 | reprinted in Waiting for Lightning to Strike:The Fundamentals of Black Politics, 2008

 

| “Black-on-Black” Crime ~  

… The targets of the war are [also] seduced into believing the negative things said or written about them.  This makes easier their surrender to the war against them.  Slogans, such as “black-on-black crime,” when used by black leaders, insinuate that black inter-racial crime is more insidious than black intra-racial crime.  It implies that black criminals should spare their brothers (that is, a criminal should choose their victims on the basis of race).  In contrast, crimes committed by whites against other whites are seldom referred to as “white on white crimes.”  It is commonly known that whites commit crimes against other whites, and blacks commit crimes against other blacks, at roughly the same rate of occurrence.  Most crimes are neighborhood crimes.  Moreover, victims and perpetrators are generally known to one another.  To categorize neighborhood crime as differing racially is an attempt to portray black crime as more insidious and violent.  Furthermore, the notion of the black perpetrator preying on whites is not only unfounded, but, it is deliberately used to stir the fears and passions of whites.  Political scientists James Lynch and William Sabol assert that the black underclass poses less of a threat to whites than the white underclass because it (the black underclass) is segregated residentially and therefore is less proximate to the working and middle classes than is the white underclass.   Many black politicians and community leaders have been manipulated or seduced into adopting racist arguments and stereotypes that support the lie that blacks are more violent than whites.  The back sliding by black elite leadership has taken place partly because many white liberals have changed their positions and beliefs about social justice.  Liberalism was in vogue during the sixties and seventies.  At that time, there was a greater willingness on the part of white officials to look at the causes of crime.  Liberalism involved believing that doing something about the human condition was part of the solution.  Today, it seems that liberals have apparently abandoned this mode of thinking to one of inherent racial pathologies.  Taking their cues from the white liberals, along with a lack of consistent focus on cause, often puts black leadership at odds with itself.  Case in point — calling drug laws’ racist but telling kids “to turn those suspected of dealing into the authorities.”  Such a request is fraught with obvious contradictions.  It says that although the system is unjust, there are some who are unworthy of justice. Black leadership has been unable to find a cogent vision, language and message to strike at dispossession created by white supremacy.  So they have followed the liberal lead and capitulated to the dominant [conservative] ideology of the time.  Consequently, some often promote the vision, language and message of the forces that historically have been arrayed against them.  The promotion of a majoritarian ideology can be conscious or inadvertent.  Still, the consequence of such promotion generally impacts on the poor and dispossessed in a negative way.   In 1994, civil rights activist Jesse Jackson, made what seems to be an inadvertent “off the record” comment that was widely reported during the crime debates.  The comment was indicative of the dehumanization, promotion of the dominant ideology and lapse in focus on the central problem of dispossession.  Jackson stated, “There is nothing more painful to me at this stage in my life than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery and then see somebody white and feel relieved.”

Waiting for Lightning to Strike: The Fundamentals of Black Politics

Jackson, who has traditionally criticized stereotypical characterizations, provided succor to those harboring racist attitudes and beliefs.  Perhaps it was “painful” to Jackson because he realized that he too had been seduced by the stereotypes of war.  Regardless of the reason, the message in effect tells whites that he can understand and does not blame whites for being racist because he is relieved that the person walking behind him is not black!  This suggests that any white person is justified for fearing black people.  There are those who insist that we cannot fault Jackson for his fear of the stranger behind because it is not unreasonable for people to make a risk assessment for the likelihood of being victimized by crime.  However, Jackson’s comments were made in the context of the crime debate.  Several things come to mind when one considers Jackson’s public pronouncement of fear.  Jackson often mentions the 319 death threats he received during his bids for the presidency.   It would be revealing to know the number of blacks issuing threats.  The answer would no doubt prove his fear misplaced.  Jackson is a public figure.  His comments were made in the middle of a policy debate and it can be assumed that he was addressing public policy.  His comments were supportive of policies that result in discriminatory treatment for those other than “somebody white.”  Curfews, random searches and other such policies, are often justified by the use of such statements.  Thus, there appeared to be no risk assessment of personal danger, only a political assessment.  The comment helped Jackson remain politically visible by not appearing soft on crime and provided him with “credibility” in the prevailing conservative political order.   This example is offered because while Jackson is not the only black leader with a conservative tone on crime, he is just the most well known.  Consequently, Jackson’s comments give conservatives and would-be moralists such as William Bennett and Patrick Buchanan, a place to hide on the issues of racism, crime, poverty and dispossession.

In fairness to Jackson, as the consequences and pressures on the black community due to the drug war  increased, he sought to mobilize the black church community around the increased incarceration rate.  Jackson  encouraged ministers to set up bail funds for non-violent drug offenders as well as church-based mentoring programs.  He also criticized the government’s focus on the building of prison at a rate twice that of public housing or school construction.  Jackson also condemned the sentencing disparity and, was openly critical black ministers’ support of the 1994 Crime Bill with its 62 death penalty provisions…

##

White-on-White Crime: It Goes Against the False Media Narrativehttp://www.theroot.com/views/why-don-t-we-talk-about-white-white-crime

##

[1].James P. Lynch and William J. Sabol, “The Use of Coercive Social Control and Changes in the Race and Class Composition of U.S. Prison Population,” paper presented at the meeting of the American Society of Criminology, Miami, Florida, November 9,1994: p.23.

[2].Howard Fineman, “An Older, Grimmer Jesse,” Newsweek, Vol. 123, Issue 2, January 10, 1994: p.24.

[3].Roger D. Hatch, Beyond Opportunity: Jesse Jackson’s Vision for America (Philadelphia: Fortress Press) 1988: p. 109.

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Racial Profiling 101 | Select passages from: “A Call for a new anti-war Movement” | By Kevin Alexander Gray

How to Legalize Drugs

Published in How to Legalize Drugs – Jefferson M. Fish (Editor), 1998 | reprinted in Waiting for Lightning to Strike:The Fundamentals of Black Politics, 2008

|Profiling 101 | i.e. “the war on drugs” (or ‘on blacks’ – whichever you prefer) – once the word “drug” or “drug-related” (or “gang-related” or “thug”) is uttered in policing, public discourse (to include media) – the person whom its applied is presumed “to have no rights that any man (or law) is bound to respect.”

“… The racists, that are usually very influential in the society, don’t make their move without first going to get public opinion on their side.  So they use the press to get public opinion on their side.  When they want to suppress and oppress the Black community, what do they do?  They take the statistics, and through the press, they feed them to the public.  They make it appear that the role of crime in the Black community is higher than it is anywhere else.

What does this do?  This message ‑‑ this is a skillful message used by racists to make the whites who aren’t racist think that the rate of crime in the Black community is so high.  This keeps the Black community in the image of a criminal.  It makes it appear that anyone in the Black community is a criminal.  And as soon as this impression is given, then it makes it possible, or paves the way to set up a police‑type state in the Black community, getting the full approval of the white public when the police , use all kinds of brutal measures to suppress Black people, crush their skulls, sic dogs on them, and things of that type.  And the whites go along with it.  Because they think that everybody over there’s a criminal anyway…”

 Malcolm X

The “war on drugs” particularly affects how children are viewed, valued and treated by society.  The perception created by the war is that youth are abnormally violent.  The dehumanizing portrayal of the current  youth subculture as being more violent than past generations has resulted in a corresponding erosion of the rights of minors.  Warrantless searches of lockers, drug sniffing dogs and urine testing for athletes have become commonplace in the public schools.  Many state and federal laws now allow minors as young as thirteen to be tried as adults.  Punishment is one of the few areas that society grants minors equal (or more) value to adults.  Ordinarily, minors do not receive the same rights’ protections, or value, as adults.  It might be assumed that since many in the black community have a child, relative or friend under some type of penal supervision, they would eschew any attempts at dehumanization.  However, it seems that tacit acceptance of the portrayal of youth as abnormally violent has taken place.  Since the fear of youth is promoted, solving the drug abuse problem takes a back seat to control and containment.  This promotion of fear gives irresponsible adults an escape from facing their responsibility for the problem of so-called incorrigible youth.  Instead of dealing with the problems of youth one often hears stereotyping comments such as, “If you look at them [youth] hard they will cuss you out or shoot you.”   Fear also creates irresponsible parents.  Fear lowers resistance to dehumanization and parental responsibility is surrendered to the state.  The surrender takes the form of more police with an over-abundance of power, the proliferation of  boot camps, regressive “youth-oriented” legislation such as curfew and noise ordinances, and schools that are more reminiscent of penal facilities than educational institutions.  Consequently, lack of parental responsibility coupled with the increased reliance on control and containment has caused children to become resentful and lose respect for adults and institutions, especially in the face of the erosion and disrespect for their equal protection and due process rights.  Worse, there is a diminution in value that the child places on all life.  These are the dynamics that make for a more violent society.”

###

Waiting for Lightning to Strike:The Fundamentals of Black Politics

You cannot have war without an enemy.  The first act of the drug warriors was to claim that they were  protecting citizens from an evil enemy.  After identifying the enemy, war supporters peppered the air with cries of national unity and war metaphors.  The metaphors helped create a militaristic environment.  Criminologists’ Peter B. Kraska and Victor E. Kappeler write:

Metaphors play a central role in the construction of and reaction to social problems: they act to organize our thoughts, shape our discourse, and clarify our values (Ibarra and Kitsuse 1993; Spector and Kitsuse 1987).  Sociologists have documented the spread of the medical metaphor — defining social problems as “illnesses” to be treated by medical professionals — as an important trend in twentieth-century social control (Conrad and Schneider 1992; Conrad 1992)…  The ideological filter encased within the war metaphor is “militarism,” defined as a set of beliefs and values that stress the use of force and domination as appropriate means to solve problems and gain political power, while glorifying the tools to accomplish this — military power, hardware, and technology (Berghahn 1982; Eide and Thee 1980; Kraska 1993).

When the enemy is a targeted group of people, they face immediate dehumanization.  Martin Luther King, Jr. often referred to dehumanization as “thingification.”  Public acceptance of the growing incarceration rate is due in large part to the continuing thingification of blacks.  Rather than picturing the black and Latino fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters that are being jailed, politicians and demagogues dismiss them as criminals — the “enemy.”   The obvious consequence of dehumanization is an erosion of respect for human rights and the constitutional protection of those rights.  

###

Dehumanization has a variety of elements, nonetheless, in the drug war racism is the most obvious element.  The war’s propaganda re-enforces the notion that the enemy possesses an inherent or genetic predisposition to violence.  This validates disproportionate state action and control.   As long as the object of scorn has no humanity, they are not worthy of justice or even life.  During World War II, the Japanese were labeled “Japs” and assigned a variety of stereotypes.  This made the decision to drop atomic bombs on them seem somewhat less barbaric.  During the Vietnam War, the North Vietnamese became “Charlie” or “gooks,” which partly explains why the United States could not envision losing a war to a group of ‘pajama clad commies.”  When Africans were enslaved for their labor and North American aborigines were exterminated for land, they were respectively referred to as “dumb savages” and “noble savages.”  In the war, black men labeled are “predatory,” in an attempt to reinforce dehumanization.  Labeling black youth as “predatory” arose from attacks against foreign tourists in Florida in the early nineties.  It was also used to describe incorrigible youth in New York City (along with the term “wilding”).  In 1993, during the heat of the crime debate, news programs, such as NBC’s Meet the Press, revived and popularized the D.W. Griffith  Birth of a Nation stereotype of the black male “predator.”   Needless to say, all crimes are predatory in nature.  Milwaukee serial killer and cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer was surely predatory, however, he was not a black or a teen when he committed his crimes.  Furthermore, neither Dahmer or Colin Ferguson –the Long Island Train killer, had any arrests prior to their murderous acts.  To apply the term “predatory” on the basis of age reinforces the perception of the youthful offender being more violent than the adult offenders.  To add race simply implies that black youth offenders are more violent than all others.

###

The drug warriors target the “enemy”  by use of a “profile.”  The profile allows police to make cursory assumptions as to whom they suspect is apt to engage in criminal activities.  How one “fits the profile” can depend on a number of things.  It can be something as obvious as gender, race and age.  It can be the area one drives through or lives.  It can be the time of day that one drives down a highway or the fact that one drives on a certain  road at all.  Profiling encompasses one’s car and its “gold” accessories.  Those driving with tinted car windows, any type of neon lights and, chopped or hydraulic suspensions are always suspect.  It can be a haircut — dreads locks (hairstyle associated with Rastifarians) mean reefer smoker.  A style of dress — baggy pants and oversized jacket mean gangbanger.  In addition, “colors” are a dead give-away.  It can be “eye balling” a police officer or, looking away.   It can be traveling with a crowd or traveling alone.  Profiling can entail anything, everything and nothing.  The most often used profile is that of being a young black and there is an increase in the number of these “profiled” individuals from targeted areas going to jail.  To this extent, the drug warriors’ battle plan is a success…. 

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A Peoples’ Primer on U.S.-Iran Relations

U.S. military bases in the Middle East

 

POLITICAL HISTORY OF IRAN

  • 1908: Oil is discovered in Persia.
  • 1914: Russian, British, and German troops occupy the country during WWI.
  • 1935: Reza Shah had the official name of the country changed from Persia to Iran.
  • 1941: During WWII, Reza Shah is forced by the Allies to grant the throne to his son, Mohammad Rezā Shāh Pahlavi due to his alleged pro-German sentiments.
  • 1951, the Majlis (Parliament of Iran) named Mohammad Mossadegh as new prime minister by a vote of 79–12, who shortly after nationalized the British-owned oil industry (see Abadan Crisis). Mossadegh was opposed by the Shah who feared a resulting oil embargo imposed by the West would leave Iran in economic ruin. The Shah flees Iran.
  • 1951: Prime Minister Mosadegh nationalizes Iran’s oil industry.
  • 1953: With British and U.S.  help, Mohammad Rezā Shāh Pahlavi returns to Iran via CIA’s  Operation Ajax.
  • 1953-1979: Mohammad Rezā Shāh Pahlavi makes Iran a rentier state (economy based on the selling of some commodity) based on oil and import substitution industrialization (focus on capital-intensive industry) which led to the neglect of agriculture and small-scale production.

The 1953 Iranian coup d’état was the first time the U.S. used the CIA to overthrow a democratically elected, civil government. President Dwight D. Eisenhower, encouraged by his Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, a defender of transnational corporate power, agreed to send the Central Intelligence Agency in to depose Mossadegh ending democracy in Iran.

Click Link for “History of Iran & USA in 10 min”

The operation – code name “Operation Ajax” – took less than a month in the summer of 1953. Continue reading

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Unconditional, unrequited love? | By Kevin Alexander Gray

(Note: edited version, “Obama and Black America: Who Has Whose Back?”’ published in August 2011 edition of The Progressive | updated data -WashPost/ABC News Poll: Big Drop In Black Support For President Obama )

“I’ve said to you on many occasions that each of us is something of a schizophrenic personality. We’re split up and divided against ourselves. And there is something of a civil war going on within all of our lives. There is a recalcitrant South of our soul revolting against the North of our soul.”

—Martin Luther King, “Loving Your Enemies,” November 17, 1957

I ran into Congressman Jim Clyburn at Brookland Baptist Church, here in Columbia, during the 2010 midterm election season while campaigning with South Carolina Green Party senate candidate Tom Clements. As we all exchanged pleasantries, I jokingly mentioned to Jim that I had gotten his campaign mail with the picture of him and President Barack Obama on it. He seemed genuinely pleased, so much so that he walked me over to check out the special poster he had at his campaign material table. The poster was also of Clyburn with the commander-in-chief. Clyburn appears to be making a point in the President’s ear. Obama looks and leans as though he’s listening. The U.S. flag is in the background. At the bottom of the poster read the caption: “JIM HAS THE PRESIDENT’S EAR, AND WE MUST HAVE THEIR BACKS!!!”

Clyburn didn’t really need Obama’s help in getting reelected in his safe district, which is 57 percent African American. And he’s never had any serious opposition to his seat. But it would have taken some help from Obama for him to keep his spot as the second-ranking Democrat in the House after the drubbing their party took in the midterm elections. That help was not forthcoming. When the dust settled, Clyburn wasn’t even offered the minority whip job, which went to Steny Hoyer of Maryland. Clyburn was given the new title of assistant Democratic leader. Clyburn has fewer staff than before, he is no longer involved in vote-counting, nor is he a key party messenger. Clyburn’s demotion has not sat well with the Congressional Black Caucus, which he used to chair. But it typifies Obama’s indifference to African Americans across the board.

Last December, when he was polling in the mid-nineties among blacks, during a White House press conference a black reporter asked Obama about grumblings among the black leadership. He replied: “I think if you look at the polling, in terms of the attitudes of the African-American community, there’s overwhelming support for what we’ve tried to do.”

Yet even as he boasted, that same month the black unemployment rose from 15.7 percent to 16 percent, almost double the Dec. 9% national rate (Aug 2011- 9.1%). Black male unemployment rose from 16.3 percent to 16.7 percent as 1.3 million black men were out of work. For black women it jumped from 12.7 percent to 13.1, or roughly 1.2 million unemployed black women. And the unemployment rate for black teens stood at a staggering 46.5 percent (by contrast, the rate for white teenagers was 23.6 percent).

When Obama entered office, the black unemployment rate was 12.6 percent. But rising unemployment still didn’t dampen black optimism going into his second year. According to a Washington Post/Kaiser Family Foundation/Harvard University poll conducted Jan. 27-Feb. 9 of this year, 85 percent of blacks said they were optimistic about the future course of the economy while 72 percent of white held that view. Eighty-four percent of blacks felt hopeful about their personal financial situation, compared with 73 percent of whites.

Obama and Black AmericaObama is right that the African American community gives him overwhelming support, but it’s not as overwhelming as it used to be. In the most recent polls blacks see “the economy” or unemployment as the nation’s top problem with one in seven or 2.9 million African Americans out of work — the highest number in nearly a quarter century. And some economists argue that 16%+ rate isn’t the “real” or accurate rate. They say that if one takes into account those people who want work and cannot get it and have stopped looking, those not counted such as the 900,000 incarcerated black men and women, and those recently released from the military– the “real” underemployment rate may be 25% or higher.

Back in 2008, nearly all (95 percent) black voters cast their ballot for Obama. Presently, they give him approval ratings just above 80 percent although there are polls with higher numbers.

Blacks still seem to have Obama’s back, but does he have theirs? Continue reading

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Footnotes to the book of the setback | By Nizar Qabbani

Friend,
The ancient word is dead.
The ancient books are dead.
Our speech with holes like worn-out shoes is dead.
Dead is the mind that led to defeat.

Our poems have gone sour.
Women’s hair, nights, curtains and sofas
Have gone sour.
Everything has gone sour.

My grieved country,
In a flash
You changed me from a poet who wrote love poems
To a poet who writes with a knife.

What we feel is beyond words:
We should be ashamed of our poems.

Stirred
By Oriental bombast,
By Antartic
(Antar, pre-Islamic poet & hero that was a symbol of an uneaten knight) swaggering that never killed a fly,
By the fiddle and the drum,
We went to war
And lost.

Our shouting is louder than our actions,
Our swords are taller than us,
This is our tragedy.

In short
We wear the cape of civilization
But our souls live in the stone age.

You don’t win a war
With a reed and a flute.

Our impatience
Cost us fifty thousand new tents.

Don’t curse heaven
If it abandons you,
Don’t curse circumstances.
God gives victory to whom He wishes.
God is not a blacksmith to beat swords.

It’s painful to listen to the news in the morning.
It’s painful to listen to the barking of dogs.

Our enemies did not cross the border
They crept through our weakness like ants.

Five thousand years
Growing beards
In our caves.
Our currency is unknown,
Our eyes are a haven for flies.
Friends,
Smash the doors,
Wash your brains,
Wash your clothes.
Friends,
Read a book,
Write a book,
Grow words, pomegranates and grapes,
Sail to the country of fog and snow.
Nobody knows you exist in caves.
People take you for a breed of mongrels.

We are thick-skinned people
With empty souls.
We spend our days practicing witchcraft,
Playing chess and sleeping.
And we the ‘Nation by which God blessed mankind’?

Our desert oil could have become
Daggers of flame and fire.
We’re a disgrace to our noble ancestors:
We let our oil flow through the toes of whores.

We run wildly through streets
Dragging people with ropes,
Smashing windows and locks.
We praise like frogs,
Swear like frogs,
Turn midgets into heroes,
And heroes into scum:
We never stop and think.
In mosques
We crouch idly,
Write poems,
Proverbs
And beg God for victory
Over our enemy.

If I knew I’d come to no harm,
And could see the Sultan,
I’d tell him:
‘Sultan,
Your wild dogs have torn my clothes
Your spies hound me
Their eyes hound me
Their noses hound me
Their feet hound me
They hound me like Fate
Interrogate my wife
And take down the names of my friends,
Sultan,
When I came close to your walls
And talked about my pains,
Your soldiers beat me with their boots,
Forced me to eat my shoes.
Sultan,
You lost two wars.
Sultan,
Half of our people are without tongues,
What’s the use of people without tongues?
Half of our people
Are trapped like ants and rats
Between walls´.
If I knew I’d come to no harm
I’d tell him:
‘You lost two wars
You lost touch with children’

If we hadn’t buried our unity
If we hadn’t ripped its young body with bayonets
If it had stayed in our eyes
The dogs wouldn’t have savaged our flesh.

We want an angry generation
To plough the sky
To blow up history
To blow up our thoughts.
We want a new generation
That does not forgive mistakes
That does not bend.
We want a generation
Of giants.

Arab children,
Corn ears of the future,
You will break out chains.
Kill the opium in our heads,
Kill the illusions.
Arab children,
Don’t read about our windowless generation,
We are a hopeless case.
We are as worthless as water-melon rind.
Don’t read about us,
Don’t ape us,
Don’t accept us,
Don’t accept our ideas,
We are a nation of crooks and jugglers.
Arab children,
Spring rain,
Corn ears of the future,
You are a generation
That will overcome defeat.

(Translated by Abdullah al-Udhari) Continue reading

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The Soul Will Find a Way | By Kevin Alexander Gray


The Life and Times of James Brown

 At the start of the 1960s, my father Paul moved my mom Geneva, three older brothers, younger sister and me from Boston to rural Spartanburg County in upstate South Carolina. He’d fled the South in the 1940s, enlisting in the Navy. Twenty years later, he returned to an inheritance of eleven shotgun houses and a juke joint at the foot of a hill in a tiny, segregated, one way in – one way out community called Freyline.

Gray’s Grocery was on the sign over the front door between the two round, red  Coca Cola logos, but everyone called the gathering spot “the store”. Gray’s Grocery was where all the maids, janitors, textile mill workers, field laborers, wannabe slicksters, young and old, sinners and saints met on weekends to dance, drink, gamble, talk, cuss, have an occasional scuffle, fist, gun or knife fight, and generally let it all hang out.  

[For more click Counterpunch logo]

Kevin Gray on James Brown – Part 1

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Famous South Carolinians | Harry Shuler Dent, Sr. | By Kevin Alexander Gray

Republican strategist | “The Architect” of the “Southern Strategy” & neo-con movement

St Mathews , SC ( Feb. 21, 1930-Sept. 28, 2007)

Harry Shuler Dent – “The Architect”

Most noted for devising the “Southern strategy” that was crucial to Richard M. Nixon’s winning the White House.  Dent was “the architect” and Lee Atwater “the practitioner.”

Dent was born in St. Matthews the son of Hampton N. and Sallie P Dent. He had four brothers.  He attended high school in St. Matthews and, graduated cum laude from Presbyterian College in Clinton in 1951.  He was as eagle Scout and a member of Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternnity.

He was a lieutenant in the Army infantry during the Korean War and was a Washington correspondent for several South Carolina newspapers (including columnist for The Orangeburg Times and Democrat) and radio stations before joining the staff of US Senator Strom Thurmond.

In the 1950s, Dent joined Thurmond’s staff (1955-65).  Thurmond was then a Democrat and had run for president as a segregationist Dixiecrat in 1948.

Dent went to law school at night, receiving a bachelor of laws degree from George Washington University (1957) and a master of laws from Georgetown University (1959).

When President Lyndon B. Johnson championed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, some Republican strategists saw a voter windfall in the South with the belief that their party could reap the votes of white people uneasy with Democrats, or downright hostile to them, for advancing the cause of black people. Continue reading

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Jesse Jackson Speech to 1988 DNC Convention

My right and my privilege to stand here before you has been won, won in my lifetime, by the blood and the sweat of the innocent.

Twenty-four years ago, the late Fannie Lou Hamer and Aaron Henry — who sits here tonight from Mississippi — were locked out onto the streets in Atlantic City; the head of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party.

But tonight, a Black and White delegation from Mississippi is headed by Ed Cole, a Black man from Mississippi; twenty-four years later.

Many were lost in the struggle for the right to vote: Jimmy Lee Jackson, a young student, gave his life; Viola Liuzzo, a White mother from Detroit, called “nigger lover,” and brains blown out at point blank range; [Michael] Schwerner, [Andrew] Goodman and [James] Chaney — two Jews and a Black — found in a common grave, bodies riddled with bullets in Mississippi; the four darling little girls in a church in Birmingham, Alabama. They died that we might have a right to live.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. lies only a few miles from us tonight. Tonight he must feel good as he looks down upon us. We sit here together, a rainbow, a coalition — the sons and daughters of slavemasters and the sons and daughters of slaves, sitting together around a common table, to decide the direction of our party and our country. His heart would be full tonight…

C-Span Video – http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/3504-1

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/jesse/speeches/index.html

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Attica! Attica! Attica! | By Kevin Alexander Gray

Attica! Attica!

On September 10, 1971, more than 1,000 inmates took over the Attica Correctional Facility, a maximum security prison located in western New York.

Attica The prisoners broke windows and burned beds and furniture after overtaking 32 guards and civilian employees.

Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller giving inmates finger

Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller giving inmates finger

It took over 1,500 state troopers and sheriff deputies to regain control.

By September 13th 1971, 42 people had been killed and the uprising was over.

BlackPast.org -   There were many causes of the riot. Tensions were already high “as the prison was extremely overcrowded and inmates were being denied basic sanitation needs. They were usually limited to one shower a week and one roll of toilet paper per month. Additionally there were allegations of racism by the prison’s all white guards against the 54% black population and a significant Puerto Rican minority.

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/rockefellers/peopleevents/e_attica.html

William Kunstler @ Attica

William Kunstler @ Attica

Using pipes, chains, and baseball bats, the inmates quickly overcame the guards in the area.  Suddenly they were in command of the prison and had taken 40 staff members hostage. Their demands were: federal takeover of the prison, better conditions, amnesty for the crimes committed during the revolt, and the removal of the prison’s superintendent.

Attica aftermathThe authorities and prisoners remained at a stalemate for four days until New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller approved an operation to reclaim the prison. Tear gas was dropped by helicopter into the prison yard and law enforcement officers opened fire into the smoke. In six minutes more than two thousand rounds had been discharged. The prison was retaken but at the cost of thirty nine inmates and ten guards lives.

AtticaThe nine member commission put together by Governor Rockefeller to sort out this tragedy had a number of criticisms about the handling of this situation. The media was allowed access and this attention gave the prisoners a national spotlight that they were unwilling to give up. Governor Rockefeller, despite numerous requests from the Corrections Commissioner Russell Oswald to come to the prison, had refused and then ordered the state’s armed forces into action without ever appraising the situation himself.  Also the negotiations were hampered by the fact that they took place with 1,200 rioters looking on.

The assault itself was poorly planned and inmates and hostages alike were wounded and killed as a result. The use of shotguns after the tear gas was dropped in particular was criticized as the potential for unintentional injuries was enormous.  Additionally no adequate medical care was arranged for those injured in the assault and rushing to find help for the wounded put lives needlessly in danger.”

AtticaIn the end there were conflicting calls for tougher prisons on one side, and for prison reform to correct the abuses that had contributed to the riot on the other. In the immediate aftermath of the riot, the prisoners’ rights movement flourished for a brief bit and a number of reforms were instituted.  But in the years since, politicians have opted to be “tougher on crime by incarcerating many more people, thus Attica 1971overcrowding many facilities; reducing any service that might be seen as “coddling” prisoners; reducing or eliminating prison education programs” and generally creating a permanent criminal underclass.

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Bobby Seale: The Black Panther Party’s Ten Point Program

October 1966 Black Panther Party
Platform and Program

What We Want
What We Believe

1. We want freedom. We want power to determine the destiny of our Black Community.

We believe that black people will not be free until we are able to determine our destiny.

2. We want full employment for our people.

We believe that the federal government is responsible and obligated to give every man employment or a guaranteed income. We believe that if the white American businessmen will not give full employment, then the means of production should be taken from the businessmen and placed in the community so that the people of the community can organize and employ all of its people and give a high standard of living.

3. We want an end to the robbery by the white man of our Black Community.

We believe that this racist government has robbed us and now we are demanding the overdue debt of forty acres and two mules. Forty acres and two mules was promised 100 years ago as restitution for slave labor and mass murder of black people. We will accept the payment as currency which will be distributed to our many communities. The Germans are now aiding the Jews in Israel for the genocide of the Jewish people. The Germans murdered six million Jews. The American racist has taken part in the slaughter of over twenty million black people; therefore, we feel that this is a modest demand that we make.

4. We want decent housing, fit for shelter of human beings.

We believe that if the white landlords will not give decent housing to our black community, then the housing and the land should be made into cooperatives so that our community, with government aid, can build and make decent housing for its people.

5. We want education for our people that exposes the true nature of this decadent American society. We want education that teaches us our true history and our role in the present-day society.

We believe in an educational system that will give to our people a knowledge of self. If a man does not have knowledge of himself and his position in society and the world, then he has little chance to relate to anything else.

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Obama, Gates & Crowley | By Kevin Alexander Gray

The ProgressiveCitizens have the right to talk back to the police


President Barack Obama reached the wrong conclusion on the controversy between the police officer and the professor.

He said both people overreacted, and by bringing them to the White House for beers, he sought to make the controversy go away.

Instead, as someone who has sworn an oath to uphold the Constitution, he should have taken an unequivocal stand for free speech.

Citizens in this United States have the right to talk back to the police. The cops are not the Gestapo. We should not conclude from this incident that we need to be more servile. Instead, we should conclude that police abuse their authority when they slap a “disturbing the peace” or “disorderly conduct” charge on someone who is standing up for his rights.

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Desmond Tutu | Speaking out against Israel’s apartheid policies against Palestinians

End the Occupation

Join the Olive Branch Club and Get a Poster Signed by Desmond Tutu

At the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, we are extremely proud to have developed a strong connection with South African Nobel Peace Prize-winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu. This giant in the struggle against apartheid in South Africa has been a clear and consistent voice of conscience speaking out against Israel’s apartheid policies against Palestinians.

Archbishop Tutu endorsing our national anti-apartheid speaking tour, “Separate Is Never Equal: Stories of Apartheid from South Africa and Palestine,” held last year.

Nobel Peace Prize-winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Nobel Peace Prize-winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu

We would like to send one lucky supporter an autographed copy of this poster. What’s the catch? You guessed it…to be eligible to win this poster we are asking for your financial support so that we can continue doing our important work of educating the public about Israeli apartheid; organizing campaigns of boycott, divestment, and sanctions against companies that profit from Israeli occupation; challenging U.S. military aid to Israel, and much, much more.

Here’s how it works. Join our Olive Branch Club, our regular monthly giving program. It’s safe and easy to set up-just decide the tax-deductible amount that you would like to contribute to us on a monthly basis and your credit or debit card will automatically be charged that amount once a month.

It’s a great way for you to make an ongoing contribution to sustaining our work and a great way for us to get a dedicated steady stream of donations in each month.  

Join the Olive Branch Club

Join the Olive Branch Club

For each $5 donation you commit to each month, we will enter you once in a raffle to win the autographed Desmond Tutu poster. In other words, donate $10 per month to us, and we’ll enter you twice in the competition. Donate $50 per month to us and we’ll enter you ten times. You get the idea. Now, just decide upon the level that is right for you and join the Olive Branch Club today by clicking on the Olive Branch.  Continue reading

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Tariq Ali | Obama, Pakistan and the US empire

http://www.counterfire.org

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Curtis Mayfield | We Got To Have Peace

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Waiting for Lightning to Strike: The Fundamentals of Black Politics

 

Waiting For Lightning To Strike: The Fundamentals of Black Politics

Waiting For Lightning To Strike: The Fundamentals of Black Politics

There are many challenges facing African Americans. Yet many seem to lack a working, everyday understanding of the goals and dynamics of black politics. By that I mean what it does or what it is suppose to do, what is the purpose and definition of it. Or even, what, if anything, changes when a black is the head of government at any level – local, state or national, in regards to black politics.

Theoretically, black politics denotes the advocacy of African­-Americ­an political and economic rights. Accordingly, advancement of these rights impacts the social and psychological well being of blacks. Political scientist Rickey Hill gives the best operating definition of black politics as “…the purposeful activities of black people to acquire, use, and maintain power. The dimensions of black politics are internal and external. They characterize a struggle for power, that is, the realization and defense of black people’s interests and volition. This struggle for power reflects historical tensions and constraints between and among black people and white people. These tensions and constraints, concerning optimum strategies for control and liberation, are grounded in the dominant-dominated relationship of the two groups.” Black politics seeks to change how whites think and respond to supremacy and dispossession.

[Publisher’s Comments] : 2008 saw an African-American run for the presidency as the nominee of the Democratic Party for the first time in U.S. history also witnessed a truly remarkable silence—one that was scarcely coincidental. In all the millions of words written about a political ascent of one black man, there was virtually nothing about the descent of black leadership into well nigh total ineffectiveness. Barack Obama’s personal itinerary was mapped in minutest detail. The larger itinerary of African Americans was mostly ignored.

Gray’s take is radical and so his focus is always ample and humane. In these passionate pages he takes his readers into areas of darkness—South Carolina’s heritage of slavery, for example—and into the vibrancy and heat of James Brown and Richard Pryor. Gray’s intellectual footwork is as sure as Muhammad Ali’s in his prime, and the k.o. is as deadly.

No one should venture a mile into the rough terrain of black politics and culture in America today without reading Gray’s Waiting for Lightning to Strike. There’s no keener mind, no sharper eye focused on the condition of black politics.

 

http://www.akpress.org/2008/items/waitingforlightningtostrikeakpress

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The Surrender of America’s Liberals | Moyers & Company | BillMoyers.com

The Surrender of America’s Liberals | Moyers & Company | BillMoyers.com.

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NUCLEAR DISARMAMENT: Summaries of the statements made by the Transform Now Plowshares

Originally posted on PAX CHRISTI USA:

Below is a summary of each pre-sentencing statement delivered by the Transform Now Plowshares (courtesy of Art Laffin of the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker in Washington, D.C.)

Transform-Now-Plowshares

Summary Notes of Michael Walli’s Pre-Sentencing Statement

  • Stated that he was offended by the fact that the Nazi regime had a legal right to exist and that either by silence or overt support Catholics consented to it.
  • Quoted St. Thomas Aquinas: “Laws that do not serve the common good are unjust.”
  • Quoted St. Augustine: “An unjust law is no law at all.”
  • Stated that he acted in accordance with Jesus. Jesus’ declaration, “Blessed are the peacemakers,” was a call to action.
  • Stated that his actions at Y-12 did not constitute a violation of law, but rather his obedience to God’s law. “I am a citizen of heaven. We engaged in our lawful, missionary work at Y-12. I committed no crime. I have no…

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COMMUNITY MEETING ON COLUMBIA STRONG MAYOR REFERENDUM

Correct flyer

Community Members

As you know, there is a Special Referendum on Dec. 3 to decide whether the City of Columbia will retain a council-manager form of government or change to a mayor-council form.  I am hosting a community meeting next Thursday, Nov 21 at 6:30pm at Bishop’s Memorial AME Church on Washington St to discuss the ballot measure.

The proponents of the change will spend A LOT of money over the next 2 weeks trying to convince you that we need to change but I would like to make sure you are armed with the practical realities of what may or may not change under a different form of government.  Please share this invitation with your communities and invite anyone interested to come out and find out what this change really means for us as a community.

There are already meetings scheduled for Districts 3 & 4, but if you know of anyone in those districts who would like to attend, please feel free to invite them.

Tameika Isaac Devine

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Kevin Alexander Gray Explains How a Strong Mayor System Would Hurt Minority Communities

Presser 2013

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