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Whether youâ€™re blessed with stability or struggling to make ends meet, those of us with a conscience understand that the fight for civil rights continues until all of us can live at ease. Last Saturday, we at the National Action Network (NAN) were joined by tens of thousands as we collectively marched for jobs and justice in Washington, D.C. And on Wednesday evening in New York City, key figures in the arts, entertainment and sports industries gathered with us as we honored their work and commitment to the community. From the streets to the suites, the fight for justice wages on. During a weekend that marked the official Martin Luther King Jr. dedication in the nationâ€™s capital, NAN conducted our annual rally and march for jobs and justice. At a time when millions of Americans are without work, foreclosure rates are through the roof, entire families are finding themselves homeless every day, wealth disparity is expanding, unequal access to education is plaguing impoverished communities and people have all but forgotten about the poor, we assembled to ring our voices in unison. We marched for livable wages, employment equality and a level playing field just as Dr. King did decades earlier. As we recognized our progress from the emancipator to the liberator, we rallied and marched for the injustices that still remain. While some entertainers and power players stay focused on their own advancement, others understand the significance of empowering the next generation and uplifting the people that propelled them to success. At our 2nd annual Triumph Awards, NAN recognized Tyler Perry, Judge Greg Mathis, Chris and Malaak Rock, Marva Smalls of Nickelodeon and Viacom, Californiaâ€™s Attorney General Kamala Harris, Maurice Cox of Pepsi-Cola, Jimmie Lee Solomon of the MLB and Tina Thompson of the LA Sparks. Through their respective fields and lifeâ€™s work, each one of our honorees understands the importance of creating opportunities for the traditionally marginalized and volunteering their time and energy towards helping others. It is through this notion of sacrificing for the common good that these remarkable folks and others like them continue to champion justice. As our society evolves and momentous gains are achieved, we cannot forget to acknowledge inequities that still persist. This past week, I had the honor of addressing both the rally in Washington and our Triumph Awards in NY. As the youngest female national director of NAN, I do not take these tremendous moments lightly â€“ for I know that I have been blessed with a great duty. Standing in unity with all those that grasp the significance of paying homage to our great leaders of the past and recognizing our modern day champions, Iâ€™m proud to watch NAN and our fearless leader Rev. Sharpton continue to take the streets to the suites â€“ and bring everyone along in the process. RELATED: Why We Are Marching For Jobs This Saturday Do Black Women Get What They Deserve?
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is making a cowardly attempt to end Occupy Wall Street, the anchor of a movement that has captured the hearts and minds of the country in just four weeks. Tomorrow at 7 a.m., under Bloomberg’s orders, the NYPD will evict the 99%. Unless we stop that from happening. We have very little time to act. There are at least three things you can do right now: SIGN THIS PETITION now. MoveOn.org has started a major petition drive to tell Mayor Bloomberg: “Respect the protesters’ First Amendment rights. Don’t try to evict Occupy Wall Street.” The petition will be put in the hands of the occupiers TONIGHT, and then delivered to the mayor. A massive stack of signatures will show Occupy Wall Street and Bloomberg that the nation stands with the 99%, not the 1%. Tell everyone you know in the New York area that they should head to Zuccotti Park at 6:00 AM tomorrow (Friday Oct 14) to prevent Bloomberg from evicting the protesters. If enough people literally stand with the protesters, Bloomberg could back down. Call 311 (if you live in New York City) or 212-NEW-YORK (if you live elsewhere in the US) and demand that Bloomberg back down from interfering with the occupiers’ brave stand on behalf of the 99% of us. The mayor’s justification for this eviction is a ruse. Bloomberg says authorities need to “clean” the park. Meanwhile, he refuses to acknowledge that Occupy Wall Street has a functioning sanitation detail, just as they’ve self-organized every other aspect of their dignified, intentional community (including a working library). Bloomberg says the protestors may return after the “cleaning,” but this also is less than honest. Upon returning to the park, occupiers must follow rules that make the occupation impossible: no camping; no sleeping bags; no tents; no lying down; no storage of personal property. Make no mistake — this is an eviction. Winter is coming, and the occupiers cannot continue without the ability to stay safe, warm, and dry. This is about more than just one protest. What’s at stake is the very right we have as Americans to speak out when we’ve been wronged, and to peaceably assemble as a community to seek redress from the government. Occupy Wall Street is resonating with the American people. More than a thousand occupations have sprung up in cities and towns everywhere, following the example set by those in New York City. As Al Gore said, Occupy Wall Street is a “primal scream of American democracy.” This beautiful manifestation of moral clarity and dignified, nonviolent protest must be allowed to continue.
Last week, I asked the all-important question, â€œ When Does Supporting Black Men Become Tiring ?â€ Judging by the slew of comments, itâ€™s clear to see how the mere mention of this subject can set off a firestorm. But to both my female and male readers, I hear you and itâ€™s not a one-sided convo. Yes, women are tired of dealing with nonsense, but what are we bringing to the table ourselves? Some of us are out here holding things down, but letâ€™s be honest, others are, well, tarnishing the image of Black women everywhere. And itâ€™s time we talk about this reality. A few days ago, R&B superstar Rihanna gave a trademark edgy performance on the London leg of her tour. But perhaps this time, even the not-so-shy entertainer pushed the envelope a bit too far when she allegedly placed two of her fingers in her private area while on stage. As people from all age brackets watched her in that arena, and subsequently around the world in videos and pictures, I have to ask what sort of message is being sent to young women? And just as importantly, what are we saying to the world about the role of Black women in society? To be fair, Rihanna isnâ€™t to blame for all of our problems, but when we begin to openly display ourselves in this manner, we simply canâ€™t turn around and then command respect. Just as we are tired of supporting Black men who canâ€™t get it together, many of them who have it together donâ€™t want some of us and rightfully so. Bottom line is, if you want quality, you must also give quality â€“ and that means in every aspect of life. And ladies, maybe we are sometimes passing up on the good men out here. Instead of looking for someone with good credit, a steady job, ambition and education, we are sometimes blinded by money, cars and flashy materialistic things and he better have gangsta sex (stop acting like you donâ€™t know what Iâ€™m talking about). Itâ€™s important to remember that just like Rihannaâ€™s performance is entertainment and not reality, so too are many of the superficial things we value around us. When it comes down to it, itâ€™s all pretty simple: you get what you give priority to. In these tough times, itâ€™s important to figure out precisely whatâ€™s important to us as women so that thereâ€™s no question as to whether or not weâ€™ll be sticking by our men or if they are sticking by us, but that both sides are worthy to be loved! RELATED: Time For Black Journalists To Stop Criticizing Rev. Al Sharpton How The Murder Of My Sonâ€™s Father Inspired Me To Fight
Whenever people champion change or challenge the status quo, distractors will undoubtedly come. They will call you anarchists, extremists, troublemakers and try to paint you as the problem. They will dismiss your grievances and cast doubt on your purpose, but remember that they did the same to some of our greatest leaders that pushed for change. Today, I joined with the demonstrators of Occupy Wall Street as I broadcast my radio show live on location; Saturday I will lead National Action Network’s (NAN) rally for jobs and justice in Washington, DC. As we address issues like corporate greed, an increasing wealth gap, lack of employment and unequal access in society, we will march on for our collective future. Don’t let the train of progress roll right past you. For weeks, the disenfranchised have been gathering in Zuccotti Park in downtown Manhattan to voice their discontent with banks, other financial institutions and corporations that led to our economic downfall while amassing their own wealth. At a time when millions of Americans are without work, and economic disparity is at astronomical levels, we need immediate financial reform, job growth and a level playing field. Earlier, I broadcast my radio show, Keepin’ it Real live from the park in the heart of the Occupy demonstration from 1-4 PM ET because I heard the frustration and anguish in the protesters voices and I am not oblivious to their suffering. In five days, I will be heading to the nation’s capital to lead our annual march for jobs and justice. We at NAN have been advocating for a redistribution of wealth for years that allows the historically marginalized to share in the benefits of society. Today, as more and more Americans find themselves outside of the small percentage that controls the bulk of our capital, we urge everyone to join us on October 15th as we raise similar concerns and seek solutions to these most egregious injustices of our times. The day following our rally and march in Washington, the official Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. monument unveiling ceremony will take place. There was a time when this most noble civil rights leader in our nation was castigated and dismissed as an anarchist. There was a time when people said he was simply a troublemaker out to create havoc and instability. And there was a time when they did anything and everything to disparage his character and halt his mission. But Dr. King pressed on, just as we must press on today. If you are unable to join an Occupy rally in your city, or you cannot make it to our demonstration in Washington, be sure to actively create change in your immediate surroundings. Support the President’s jobs bill, hold Congress accountable and call out all those that are willing to keep our country hostage for their own political gain. We — the people — cannot be duped, nor can we be bought. Whether it’s Occupy Wall St. or the annual rally for Jobs & Justice, we will continue on until justice prevails. Dr. King didn’t allow the naysayers to deter him; nor should we.
In life, there are some people that simply speak of progress, and then there are the select few that not only practice what they preach, but truly sacrifice personal gain and dedicate their entire being to the cause of justice. The late Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth was one of those rare remarkable beings who not only suffered physical and emotional attacks by those who stood opposed to equality, but he was a man who greatly inspired an entire movement for change. And now, the next generation of thinkers, activists, artists, attorneys, educators, advocates and all those pushing for advancement can once again look to the life of Rev. Shuttlesworth as they continue the good fight. This week, members of Congress took the floor and delivered speeches upon speeches as they commemorated the life and legacy of Rev. Shuttlesworth. Upon news of his passing, President Obama stated in part: “He (Shuttlesworth) was a testament to the strength of the human spirit. And today we stand on his shoulders, and the shoulders of all those who marched and sat and lifted their voices to help perfect our union… America owes Rev. Shuttlesworth a debt of gratitude.” It was during the 1950s in segregated Alabama that Rev. Shuttlesworth began his push for integration on all levels of society. Performing acts of civil disobedience wherever necessary — like purposefully sitting in all-white sections of parks, train stations and more — he faced every form of police intimidation, arrests, beatings and death threats. His home and church were bombed, he was struck with brass knuckles and he routinely faced Klansmen ready to silence him. Rev. Shuttlesworth formed the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights and also established the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. It was Rev. Shuttlesworth who took his battle for equality to the highest levels by seeking federal protection for freedom riders and urged Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to bring the civil rights movement to Birmingham. Several years later, Rev. Shuttlesworth took his fight to Cincinnati as well. His selfless life proved that a single person could in fact help spark a national movement that would galvanize our greatest leaders and our greatest advancement for social change. As the Black community and other historically disenfranchised groups continue to benefit from the sacrifice and actions of Rev. Shuttlesworth, we understand that much work remains. As the next generation picks up the mantel to highlight today’s inequities and injustices, and peacefully advocates for fair housing, employment, education and more, let us look to the will and dedication of Rev. Shuttlesworth. He inspired many decades ago; let his life’s work continue to motivate us to the next level.
Wall Street has long been the home of the biggest threat to American Democracy. Now it has become home to what may be our best hope for rescuing it. For everyone who loves this country, for everyone whose heart is breaking for the growing ranks of the poor, for everyone who is seething at the unopposed demolition of America’s working and middle class: the time has come to get off the fence. A new generation has gone to the scene of the crimes committed against our future. The time has come for all people of good will to give our full-throated backing to the young people of the Occupy Wall Street movement. The young heroes on Wall Street today baffle the world because they have issued no demands. The villains of Wall Street had their demands — insisting upon a massive bailout for themselves in 2008, while they pocketed million dollar bonuses. The Wall Street protesters are not seeking a bailout for themselves; they are working to bail out democracy. The American experiment in self-governance is at a moment of crisis. The political system thus far has proven itself incapable of responding to a once in a lifetime economic calamity. With income inequality and unemployment at the highest rates since the Great Depression, it’s no wonder that almost 80 percent of the country thinks we’re on the wrong track. But the crisis of American Democracy did not start with the financial collapse. For at least 30 years, the system has been rigged by the wealthy and privileged to acquire more wealth and privilege. At this point, 400 families control more wealth than 180 million Americans. This great wealth divergence has resulted in an unjust and dangerous concentration of economic and political power in the hands of the few. It has pushed millions — especially the rising generation and communities of color — into the shadows of our society. The middle class continues to shrink, and the ranks of the poor have swelled. The political elite has failed to take the necessary steps to provide opportunity to the majority of Americans. A movement was born after Madison, Wisconsin, to oppose these injustices. It has now spread to every Congressional District. We call ourselves the American Dream Movement. We engaged 130,000 people to crowd-source our own jobs agenda — the Contract for the American Dream . In August, tens of thousands demonstrated for jobs in rallies across the nation. Next week in DC, we host our first national gathering: the Take Back The American Dream conference . The Occupation of Wall Street — and the occupations throughout the country — are expressions of the same spirit and dynamic. And these particular demonstrations, perhaps uniquely, contain the spark to grow into a movement that can be transformative. They are the first, small step in the creation of a movement that can restore American Democracy, and renew the American Dream. The hundreds of young people from all five boroughs that camp out every night, in the heart of the financial district, in the rain and the cold, at risk of arrest, are providing the inspiration to draw more and more out of the shadows and into the bright light of the public square. The occupation grows larger and more diverse every day. Young people, the majority of whom are under 25 and have never before engaged in activism, are managing the arduous task of a consensus rules meeting with no sound system. The nightly general assemblies are attracting crowds in the thousands to stand amongst a group of their peers and debate our path forward as a people. The occupation is a revival of a proud tradition of authentic, people-powered movements that have been dormant — and that we need now more than ever. It is building into the kind of massive public demonstrations — like those in Egypt, Madison, and Santiago — that can shake the foundation of a system of power that has lost sight of the public good. Now is our time to choose. Will we keep rewarding those whose financial manipulations have brought us to ruin? Or will we stand with those whose democratic innovations are breathing life into our finest ideals? Both groups are within blocks of each other in downtown Manhattan. For the past 30 years, the country has stood behind the titans on Wall Street and their values. We listened when they said that their banks were too big too fail. Today, there is only one thing that’s too big to fail: the dreams of this new generation, finding its voice in Liberty Park. All of America should now stand with them. Authored by Van Jones, President of Rebuild The Dream , and Max Berger, a youth organizer with the American Dream Movement.
It’s hard to believe that it’s been over two years since the world first mourned the loss of the King of Pop. While some of his fans expressed remorse on June 25, 2009, many knew that the cost of Michael Jackson’s death went far beyond his impeccable music. Although entertainment remains severely devoid of Michael’s unmatched talent, perhaps even more profoundly, many charities and innocents around the planet no longer have the ability to benefit from his overwhelming generosity. And for his children and family, Michael’s departure was and is felt on the deepest level as the daily battle to carry on without him continues. This week, as the involuntary manslaughter trial for Dr. Conrad Murray (his doctor at the time) gets underway, it’s important to keep in mind precisely who the accused criminal is — and who the victim was. During my teenage years, I had the pleasure of first being introduced to Michael. Both blessed to have received mentorship and guidance from the late great Godfather of soul, James Brown, we quickly formed a kinship and bond that was virtually like family. Even though I focused on advocacy/activism and he on creating incredible music, we were on the same social and political page and worked through our respective fields to bring light to inequality wherever and whenever we viewed it. Our friendship lasted through the decades, through all of the ridiculous false accusations and through a media frenzy that tried its hardest to paint him as somehow odd or peculiar when he was only highlighting our own abnormality as a society. In 1984, during Michael’s Victory Tour, I took on the role of his community relations director. Working in such a capacity, I again witnessed the unprecedented reaction people from all walks of life had towards this man, his music and impact in the world. And whether it was openly reminding all of us to ‘heal the world’ or quietly giving away hundreds of millions of his own wealth to the impoverished, Michael’s imprint everywhere was remarkable. And yet, many still attempted to portray him as somehow peculiar. Dr. Conrad Murray is on trial this week. Accused of violating standards of medical care by leaving Michael unattended and failing to call 911, his defense will do whatever they can to keep him from serving jail time. They’ll argue his innocence, his years of service and most importantly, they will attempt to put Michael on trial yet again. Already this week, we heard the defense argue that Michael died from a combination of tranquilizers and a surgical anesthetic he took without Murray’s knowledge. Defense attorney Ed Chernoff even stated that Michael took enough prescription drugs to ‘put six of you to sleep’ and then somehow he self-administered Propofol (anesthetic usually used in hospitals). It is an outrageous statement compounded by the fact that it is Dr. Murray himself that stands accused of administering Propofol in excessive quantities and then leaving Michael unattended. Great talent comes with great consequences. As an artist, when you are so intricately in touch with emotions, and think and feel on a deeper level than most, you are often viewed as an outsider when you don’t conform to conventional norms. That is the double-edged sword Michael dealt with throughout his lifetime. I had the unique pleasure of getting to know him for years and working with him on a host of issues. In 2002, Michael came to our National Action Network headquarters in Harlem as we marched together to Sony Music along with hundreds of supporters to demand his right to ownership of the very masterpieces he created. And I watched as many often tried — and of course failed — to vilify him over and over again. As I told Michael’s children during his funeral in ’09, there was nothing strange about your daddy, it was strange what your daddy had to deal with. As the strangeness unfortunately plays out yet again in another court drama over two years after Michael’s passing, let’s be sure to remember precisely who is on trial here.
As I stood in the courtyard of Jackson State Prison in Georgia yesterday holding a prayer vigil for Troy Anthony Davis, I, like so many others held out hope for some sort of miracle. In the exact location where I joined Troy’s mother in 2008 when we received such a miracle 90 minutes before his scheduled execution, perhaps I was too optimistic in believing that similar action could take place and justice would prevail. Despite the fact that there was a last minute delay in Troy’s execution last night that sent jubilation throughout the crowd, all of us collectively watched as he was eventually put to death. This time, even with an expansive global movement to save his life, the miracle unfortunately never arrived. Ever since I was first introduced to the Troy Davis case several years ago, I have been perplexed as to how a man was convicted based solely on eyewitness statements and without any physical evidence. No weapon, no DNA and no proof other than the fact that some people stated he committed the alleged crime. But what makes Troy’s case an utter travesty in our legal system is the fact that 7 out of these 9 witnesses have since recanted their testimony and many said that they were coerced or pressured into pointing the finger at Troy. And yet, he was still executed last night. One of the two remaining witnesses who did not recant his/her testimony was a man by the name of Sylvester ‘Redd’ Coles — another suspect in this case. And yet, Troy was still executed last night. A female witness even stated that she was threatened by Coles if she came forward, and yet Troy was still executed last night. Everyone from former President Jimmy Carter and Archbishop Desmond Tutu to former prison wardens and conservatives who are pro-death penalty pushed for a stay in this man’s death penalty, and yet Troy was still executed last night. I will be traveling to Washington, D.C. to meet with the Justice Department to push for a federal law that prohibits any state from prosecuting a capital case based solely on eyewitness testimony. Nowhere in America should an individual be executed again without any concrete physical evidence. And at this time, as we mourn the loss of Troy, we must continue to move as well — to mourn without moving only compounds this most egregious injustice. Although it may be very difficult, especially for those that knew Troy and those that fought on his behalf for years, we all must push forward and ensure that his death was not in vain. A federal law is absolutely necessary, and whether one is pro-death penalty or anti-death penalty like myself, we need to set the bar to where concrete evidence must be required before taking a person’s life. For those of us who were pushing for a stay in Troy’s execution, do not let anyone paint you as against the family of the slain police officer in this case, Mark MacPhail — for that is the furthest thing from the truth. Our deepest sympathies go out to the MacPhail family, and because they too deserve justice, a re-examination of this case was essential in order to truly determine who was culpable. That’s all Troy Davis asked for; a chance to halt his execution and receive a fair day in court. But tragically, that opportunity was diminished last night. As I left Georgia yesterday to return to NY, I was consumed in the irony that so many heads of state were gathered at the UN and heard the U.S. stress the importance of human rights while we simultaneously executed this man. What did they think as they turned on the news, read the papers and watched how we behaved? In order to preach and advocate for rule of law and civil/human rights, we must first rectify our own miscarriages of justice at home. Troy Davis died at the age of 42, after spending 22 years behind bars. As we know all too well, those with money and the ability to hire high-powered attorneys receive the best defense and fighting chance in court. Imagine if one day you woke up and someone accused you of murder and you were then sentenced to death for it. That’s pretty much what happened to Troy. Based solely on eyewitness testimony that is almost unanimously recanted, a man’s life was cut short last night. If laws are designed to protect us and establish a humane society, we must rectify them so that this sort of injustice never happens again. Mourn we must, but we must continue to move. Carry on the fighting spirit of Troy Davis who till his last breath, proclaimed his innocence.
During the first Republican debate last week, the loudest applause of the night rang after Brian Williams questioned Gov. Rick Perry on Texas’ execution of an alarming 234 death row inmates. As predicted, his response included the following: ‘If you come into our state and you kill one of our children, you kill a police officer… you will face the ultimate justice in the state of Texas, and that is you will be executed’. What Perry and the bloodthirsty crowd glanced over however is the fact that countless innocent people are wrongly executed and many more continue to sit on death row today. And then there are some that just want an opportunity to have a fair day in court to allow the system to truly decipher their guilt or innocence. One such individual is a man by the name of Troy Davis. In 1991, Davis was convicted — based solely on witness testimony — of murdering a Georgia police officer. Despite prevalent inconsistencies even at that time, he remains on death row till this day. In the years since the trial, seven out of nine witnesses have recanted their statements and many assert that they were pressured into fingering Davis as the killer by overly-eager police trying to solve a case involving one of their own. One witness even stated that he never saw Davis shoot or kill anyone. And to add insult to injury, one of the only people not recanting his testimony is Sylvester ‘Red’ Coles — a person who was once also considered a suspect. There is new evidence pointing towards Coles as the gunman, and nine people have signed affidavits accusing him of committing the murder. So with all of these remarkable developments, why is Troy Davis still scheduled to be executed on September 21st? Yesterday evening on my MSNBC Politics Nation broadcast, I was joined by former Republican Congressman Bob Barr for a segment on this troubling situation. Although Barr and I are often on opposing ends of the spectrum and he supports the death penalty overall, the former representative highlighted the serious flaws within this case and the need for us to halt Davis’ execution. During the time of his conviction, there was no DNA or physical evidence and no recovery of a weapon. An entire case that was constructed solely on the basis of witness testimony that has now fallen apart requires immediate action. It’s why people like former President Jimmy Carter are supporting Davis in his quest for justice and why I have also visited him on death row. National Action Network has been pushing for a fair trial for Davis for several years and there is absolutely no time left to wait. Troy Davis has exhausted all of his appeals and without clemency or some other drastic action, he will be executed next week. A man, who in his two decades or more (spent two years just awaiting trial) behind bars, lost his own father during that time and missed out on a tremendous chunk of his prime years, faces imminent death. An Anti-terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act passed by Congress in 1996 made it more difficult for Davis to attempt to prove his innocence, while the lack of DNA evidence prevalent in older cases like his should be reason enough for Davis to receive a new court date. I, like numerous other voices out there, am not asking you to judge whether or not Davis is innocent or guilty. We are instead advocating for an end to his execution and an opportunity to finally receive a just trial where evidence can be introduced and witnesses will not be coerced or pressured into lying. If we truly believe in the notion of law and order, then we owe it to this man who has spent over 20 years behind bars based off of questionable witness statements. That is not the way our courts should work and that is not the way justice is served. It is simply unconscionable. If we allow Davis to die on the 21st, then a piece of our legal system and rule of law will perish with him. To all those who chant and champion the taking of another man’s life, just think how you’ll sleep at night knowing that this person may have been innocent after all. It’s time to put aside preconceptions and instead look at the facts — for facts don’t lie. Stop the execution of Troy Davis today; give him due process.
As much as President Obama worked to keep his jobs plan and Congressional address from being juxtaposed with the Republican debate, the last two evenings proved remarkable for anyone concerned about the state of the nation. On one side, you had a president outlining methods of kick starting job creation, while on the other, you had a flock of candidates who received the biggest applause after a comment regarding high numbers of executions in the state of Texas. The president once again urged his opposition to put petty differences aside and pass his bill quickly, meanwhile GOP presidential hopefuls were busy attacking Social Security and each other instead of providing us with solutions to our jobs crisis. To the voting public, these two nights portrayed everything we need to know about the next election: keep progressing forward, or revert backwards to a place where our intelligence is insulted and the rich keep rewarding themselves. “The purpose of the American Jobs Act is simple: to put more people back to work and more money in the pockets of those who are working,” stated the president in his address in front of a joint session of Congress on Thursday evening. Calling for tax incentives for small businesses and $1500 tax cuts for working Americans, he pushed for job creation in many industries while providing additional tax credits for those companies that hire the long-term unemployed. But perhaps most noteworthy from his speech was the tone that this president set; it was firm, to the point, conciliatory and yet forceful all at the same time. It was, in effect, brilliant. Although the devil will be in the details that are scheduled to be released a week from this Monday, the president has literally checkmated John Boehner. In this highly anticipated jobs speech, our commander-in-chief urged every member gathered in the room to put their differences aside and pass the plan immediately. Again rising above partisan politics, he appealed to a new level of patriotism thereby leaving his opponents as nothing but petty if they were to challenge his job creation ideas. Addressing workers’ rights and collective bargaining rights, the president acknowledged the importance and relevance of unions and labor in our society. Highlighting the need to have the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations pay their fair share in taxes, he stressed the importance of assisting those hurting the most by doing things like extending unemployment insurance for another year. There will be those that will continue to criticize the president no matter what he says or does, but after Thursday night, nobody can deny that he has the nation’s best interest at heart. While he spoke of saving schools and encouraging future engineers, GOP candidates continued to pander to their base and avoid any real discussion of any real solutions the evening before. While some folks like Rick Perry and Mitt Romney appeared the clear frontrunners, none of the Republican candidates gave any substantive answers in terms of job creation. As they touted death penalties, attacks on Social Security and of course attacks on one another, they failed to address the real issues Americans lose sleep over. With unemployment remaining painfully stagnant, their non-existent ideas will keep them non-existent at the polls. The depth of our current economic crisis is so complex that there are no easy answers. But if we are to maintain our strong standing in the world, we must begin to follow through on the president’s suggestions as quickly as possible. The work starts now, and it will take all of us to dig ourselves out of the trenches and push forward. This week of debates and speeches has left one thing clear: we can either continue bickering with one another much like candidates did on Wednesday evening, or we can create and work towards sustainable resolutions as our president now calls each and every one of us to do.