Tag Archives: activist

National Women’s Day: Bree Newsome

The confederate battle flag was not just the banner flown by an army fighting for the right to own black people, it was also the banner that was revived and waved by those who opposed desegregation and civil rights.Bree

In honor of the centennial celebration of the Civil War in 1961, South Carolina decided to raise the confederate battle flag over the state house. No black people were on the commission that made that decision.

Not only were they not on that commission, but South Carolina did not allow any black people to participate in their hosting of the national festivities. JFK tried to force the South Carolinians by moving the festivities to an integrated Navy base in Charleston, but the white people led a walk out and held their own official celebration in a segregated hotel. In that celebration Strom Thurmond gave a speech saying integration was evil and that the US Constitution never promised racial equality.

That is when that flag went up on the South Carolina capitol building. Black people (and some allies) have been asking for that flag to come down ever since. Those in authority continually refused.

On June 17th, 2015 a white supremacist murdered 9 black worshipers in a Charleston church. In the subsequent outcry against violent racism, there was some talk of the flag coming down. Those in authority thought they might allow it.

On June 27, 2015 a full 54 years after that flag went up, a black woman named Bree Newsome climbed the 30 foot flag pole and tore the flag down in defiance of the police who waited below to arrest her. She refused to wait for some democratic action to recognize her humanity when God had granted it from birth.

She was of course arrested when she came back down.

On July 9th the SC House of Representatives voted to remove the confederate battle flag in some seemingly gracious act of conciliation. It was an act that came not only 23 days too late, but 54 years overdue.

Bree, in her act of theater, gave America a symbol illustrating  bravery and self determination in blackness.

Here is my nod to you Bree Newsome.2

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In the Studio: Nina Simone

Sometimes things don’t work out on the first try.IMG_8235

 

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Meh…IMG_0211

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Better.

finished

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Corey Booker: meeting the NJ Senator in LA

Back in 2005 I watched a documentary called Street Fight. It followed this young guy getting his figurative nose bloody in a race to be mayor of Newark New Jersey. He lost.IMG_4306

Of course that race was back 2002 and today no one remembers who the mayor of Newark was back then. A lot more people know Corey Booker.

In 2012 Mr. Booker, who by this time was mayor, made national news by running into a burning building to save a woman. The cynics thought it quite the stunt. I didn’t. This guy has been living in this sort of stunt since 1998.

You see, back in ’98 this guy had just graduated Yale Law. This after getting his BA in Poly Sci from Stanford (where he played football and was elected student body president)and studying as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford. With this resume he skipped the penthouse and moved into the projects. He lived in the now demolished brick towers, Newark’s projects. How is that for downward mobility?IMG_4207

I didn’t meet Corey in the projects, I met him at a fund raiser in a home that another attendee joked could be purchased for a measly 1/4 of our countries national debt.

There were maybe 100 folks there in total. I knew none of them.IMG_4215

In the hour or two preceding Corey’s remarks I met a couple real estate investors, a wealth manager, a VP of a very well known online entertainment provider, a couple professors, a stay at home mom, and a guy in a yarmulke spent twenty minutes teaching me Yiddish words that I have regrettably since forgotten.IMG_4203

We ate caviar. They drank wine. At one point the man with whom I was chatting and I accepted some delicious looking sliders from the hors d’ouvre tray. before digging in my companion noticed a strip of bacon beneath the burger. he twisted his lips and looked disappointed. We looked around for a trash can, a utilitarian item that apparently didn’t fit the decor, and being the stand-up guy that I am, I volunteered to “dispose” of the offending food item. He thanked me and promised to return the favor should I find myself in possession of a glass of wine.

Senator Booker talked for about an hour and then answered questions.IMG_4204

In his remarks he covered his desire to have more people in elected positions coming out of the business world because they have had to “run something”. He talked about the need to make data driven decisions. He spoke of collaborating with all parties in order to solve problems. He recounted parables from the Talmud. He talked about reforming education and debt reduction.

He did not demonize. I have been to other political events that were nothing but demonizing and this was not that. Now make no mistake there was plenty of asking for money. Very direct requests for money. It was open, urgent, and in this place, location, and crowd that oozed privilege and dollars, there was a remarkable lack of sleaze.IMG_4208

Passionately rational and moral. That is how I would sum him up.

I won’t be voting for him. at least not any time soon. I won’t be donating either. Not because I don’t want to, I am simply unable on both counts. But should you be in New Jersey, or in possession of disposable income, I would encourage you to do either or both.

 

That slider was fantastic.IMG_4205

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