Did you #BLACKOUTTRUMP last night? Since I’m writing this before the actual speech, I’m sure there will be a number of blogs and news stories about it by Wednesday morning, however I’m going to give you the fun of finding them yourself and talk about something else.
Not everyone loves cats. Since I respect everyone’s freedom to their own preferences, I suggest that if you aren’t a fan of the cat, when reading this diary, every time you see the word “cat”, you insert the name of your favorite animal.
The Village News & Views
Wednesday Get Over the Hump Free for All
With Love from the Land of the Absurd:
It’s all DoReMI’s fault. Tuesday’s post was a wonderful collection of political cartoons, including a very appropriate one from none other than Theodor Seuss Geisel, the one and only Dr. Seuss. I learned to read on Seuss books and always loved the good doctor’s gentle absurdity.
And lo and behold, as I pondered what to do for today’s Hump Day Free For All, my brain churned, coughed and sputtered and produced this. I offer it with love, with all props and respect to the Master, and with the blessing of Eris. And now…
In honor of Lysis’s orginal Hillary News & Views, welcome to
The Village New & Views
Wednesday Get Over the Hump Free for All
This Week In Music:
So, the Grammys… I have the patience of a toddler when it comes to awards shows so I’m not going to try and do anything comprehensive here, but I picked out some tweets that hit things I was interested in. Then there was that lady with the Make America Great Again dress. So that happened. Some other things did also…
There was a lot more, some great, some eh. Among the great, moving tribute to George Michael by Adele, and kick-ass tribute to Prince by Bruno Mars. You either saw them or you can find them. But post below what you thought was significant, that I left out.
And now, a brief jaunt into the land of rainbows and kittens, ’cause the real world is a little stressful right now. Except it isn’t, as you will see. Rather than a lovely escape, this fantasy Twitter account @IfHillaryHad started a little wistful, and has become some awesome satire.
(language warning: Alt-HRC does not mince words cusses like a sailor)
Black History Month – The First Woman I Wanted to be President
Lately I have been thinking about a person who is incredibly significant in American political history, a personal touchstone for me: Barbara Charline Jordan, described in her Wikipedia entry as a lawyer, educator, American politician and leader of the Civil Rights Movement.
I’m not going to give more than a thumbnail sketch of biographical material – you can read her Wikipedia entry for yourself to refresh your memory, or better, read Denise Oliver Velez’s wonderful essay on DKos, Barbara Jordan: ‘She always did sound like God’. Denise writes like an archangel so it makes sense to point you to her writing, it’s certainly better than mine.
What I have to offer is only perspective, and a personal connection, albeit closer in my mind than in ‘real life’. The first thread of connection is her name, Barbara. That is my given name also, and I think there are other Barbaras in our Village group that we know well. It might seem like an insignificant coincidence, but words have power, and names have amazing resonance for some. Names we are born with, names that we choose, can define us, can connect us.
The second thread – Barbara was a native of Houston, my town. Different neighborhoods – I grew up in the suburbs northeast of town outside (then) the city limits and just before the next place up the road, Aldine. Barbara grew up in Fourth Ward. Different, but I could imagine we saw some of the same streets, felt the same rhythm, since city rhythms are unique and defy duplication.
I probably only became aware of her when she became the US Representative from Texas’s 18th Congressional District, a seat held today by Shirley Jackson Lee. The 18th District looks kind of like a fat G and winds from north of town down through the northwest, through the middle of downtown Houston and finally back up to the northeast. It’s one of those funny looking shapes for a district that was probably drawn along racial lines that have subsequently blurred but never completely faded.
Two years after the Watergate break-in scandal the country, including me and my grandmother, found themselves in the summer of 1974 watching the Congressional Impeachment Hearings on live television. It was in a period of personal upheaval and the last summer I was able to spend time just hanging out with my grandmother, who had been an oasis for me for a significant number of years. Together, we watched the hearings and shook our heads, marveling at the utter strangeness of the times – a presidential impeachment, after the scandals, the Vietnam War, the unrest, the turmoil, some of which even reach our Houston suburb.
That’s probably where I heard Barbara Jordan speak for the first time. A member of the House Judiciary Committee, she gave a fifteen minute speech on live television on July 25th which is credited by many as being one of the reasons Richard Nixon finally bowed to the inevitable and resigned. Like every speech this woman gave, it was powerful, smart, clear and rang with an unparalleled understanding and love for the principles embodied in the Constitution. It was, quite frankly, far over my head, as a high school teenager, but her amazing voice and the clarity with which she communicated were more than enough to reach out and ensnare my mind and heart.
I could barely have understood how incredibly unique she was, how groundbreaking and earthshaking. I had lived through race riots in my junior high school years over desegregation and I knew that the promise of our Founding Fathers that all men were created equal was not a realized reality in our land.
But I grew up with Lieutenant Uhura, and Nurse Julia and Barney Collier and while I knew the struggle was real, I thought everyone understood that bigotry and prejudice were the past and had no place in our future.
I graduated high school in 1976, the Bicentennial year. Our class song was Philadelphia Freedom. Our colors were red white and blue, even though the school colors were black and gold. And there was a presidential election coming up that year that we would be old enough to vote in.
There was some talk about Barbara Jordan as a possible running mate for Jimmy Carter and I really wanted that to happen. Instead, she became the first African American woman to be a keynote speaker at the Democratic National Convention. Though she was not a candidate, she actually got one delegate vote for president!
That year I was positive that I would live to see Barbara Jordan as President of the United States, some day.
We were never so fortunate.
If you already know her, and have heard her speak, I hope this small recollection does not seem too shabby a tribute.
If you haven’t heard her, do yourself a favor.
Keynote speech, part one. Listen to them cheer her… Listen to how carefully she says, “a Barbara Jordan”.
Part two. Accountability.
Part three. “Whatever differs from this…”
The impeachment speech. Listen to the unerring precision of her fire.
Thank you for your patience. Love and peace, Village! Enjoy your Wednesday gathering.
I recently wrote about the controversy swirling around black female cadets graduating from West Point, in Much ado about raised fists. While researching their story, I grew interested in the history of the first black graduate from West Point, Henry Ossian Flipper.
Henry Ossian Flipper (March 21, 1856 – May 3, 1940) was an American soldier, former slave, and the first African American to graduate from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1877, earning a commission as a 2nd lieutenant in the US Army.
Following Flipper’s commission, he was transferred to one of the all-black regiments serving in the US Army which were historically led by white officers. Assigned to A Troop under the command of Captain Nicholas M. Nolan, he became the first nonwhite officer to lead buffalo soldiers of the 10th Cavalry. Flipper served with competency and distinction during the Apache Wars and the Victorio Campaign, but was haunted by rumors alleging improprieties. At one point, he was court martialed and dismissed from the US Army. After losing his commission in the Army, Flipper worked throughout Mexico and Latin America and as an assistant to the Secretary of the Interior. He retired to Atlanta in 1931 and died of natural causes in 1940.
In 1994, his descendants applied to the US military for a review of Flipper’s court martial and dismissal. A review found the conviction and punishment were “unduly harsh and unjust” and recommended Flipper’s dismissal to be changed to a good conduct discharge. Shortly afterwards, an application for pardon was filed with the Secretary of the Army, which was forwarded to the Department of Justice. President Bill Clinton pardoned Lieutenant Henry O. Flipper on February 19, 1999.
President Obama spoke to the 2016 graduating class at Howard University on Saturday in what will likely be considered one of his most significant speeches. It was a call to not only the Howard graduates but to all young people in America to embrace these times and work to advance small d democracy.
President Obama on effecting change:
… change requires more than just speaking out — it requires listening, as well. In particular, it requires listening to those with whom you disagree, and being prepared to compromise. […]
The point is, you need allies in a democracy. That’s just the way it is. It can be frustrating and it can be slow. But history teaches us that the alternative to democracy is always worse. That’s not just true in this country. It’s not a black or white thing. Go to any country where the give and take of democracy has been repealed by one-party rule, and I will show you a country that does not work.
And democracy requires compromise, even when you are 100 percent right. This is hard to explain sometimes. You can be completely right, and you still are going to have to engage folks who disagree with you. If you think that the only way forward is to be as uncompromising as possible, you will feel good about yourself, you will enjoy a certain moral purity, but you’re not going to get what you want. And if you don’t get what you want long enough, you will eventually think the whole system is rigged. And that will lead to more cynicism, and less participation, and a downward spiral of more injustice and more anger and more despair. And that’s never been the source of our progress. That’s how we cheat ourselves of progress. […]
Change isn’t something that happens every four years or eight years; change is not placing your faith in any particular politician and then just putting your feet up and saying, okay, go. Change is the effort of committed citizens who hitch their wagons to something bigger than themselves and fight for it every single day.
President Obama on voting:
… your plan better include voting — not just some of the time, but all the time. It is absolutely true that 50 years after the Voting Rights Act, there are still too many barriers in this country to vote. There are too many people trying to erect new barriers to voting. This is the only advanced democracy on Earth that goes out of its way to make it difficult for people to vote. And there’s a reason for that. There’s a legacy to that.
But let me say this: Even if we dismantled every barrier to voting, that alone would not change the fact that America has some of the lowest voting rates in the free world. In 2014, only 36 percent of Americans turned out to vote in the midterms — the second lowest participation rate on record. Youth turnout — that would be you — was less than 20 percent. Less than 20 percent. Four out of five did not vote. In 2012, nearly two in three African Americans turned out. And then, in 2014, only two in five turned out. You don’t think that made a difference in terms of the Congress I’ve got to deal with? And then people are wondering, well, how come Obama hasn’t gotten this done? How come he didn’t get that done? You don’t think that made a difference? What would have happened if you had turned out at 50, 60, 70 percent, all across this country? People try to make this political thing really complicated. Like, what kind of reforms do we need? And how do we need to do that? You know what, just vote. It’s math. If you have more votes than the other guy, you get to do what you want. (Laughter.) It’s not that complicated.
And you don’t have excuses. You don’t have to guess the number of jellybeans in a jar or bubbles on a bar of soap to register to vote. You don’t have to risk your life to cast a ballot. Other people already did that for you. (Applause.) Your grandparents, your great grandparents might be here today if they were working on it. What’s your excuse? When we don’t vote, we give away our power, disenfranchise ourselves — right when we need to use the power that we have; right when we need your power to stop others from taking away the vote and rights of those more vulnerable than you are — the elderly and the poor, the formerly incarcerated trying to earn their second chance.
So you got to vote all the time, not just when it’s cool, not just when it’s time to elect a President, not just when you’re inspired.