It has been a year and a half since the fateful night a New Yearâ€™s celebration turned deadly for a 22-year-old Black man in California. He wasnâ€™t engaged in a gang transaction gone wrong, nor was he evading police or hiding somewhere as a fugitive. No, Oscar Grant was handcuffed face down on the ground with a police officerâ€™s knee pinning his neck when another cop decided to draw his weapon and shoot him in the back. The single bullet ended his young life as his friends and a train station full of people watched on in horror. And now, on the heels of a verdict in the trial against the accused officer, Johannes Mehserle, the revulsion only intensifies. Oakland, CA has long endured racial strife, and relations between law enforcement and the community can be described as uneasy at best. But for a handcuffed man to be killed in front of dozens as he lay on a train station platform floor, the calls for justice have taken on new heights. Unfortunately, in our still unequal criminal system, the cards are still largely stacked against Oscar, despite several bystander videotapes clearly depicting officer Mehserle discharging his weapon into Grantâ€™s back. As everyone anxiously awaits the verdict in his trial, I ask, when will the system begin to work for us? When will people of color be respected and granted the same privileges as those who still choose to oppress us? And when will the individuals who are sworn to serve and protect us be held to the same standards they so readily impose on others? Text continues after Pictures of the Week galleryâ€¦ Almost immediately after the 2009 shooting took place, officer Mehserle fled California to Nevada â€“ though his attorney maintains he wasnâ€™t running away and â€˜was not a flight riskâ€™. Once his trial began, it was quickly moved from Oakland where the tragic death occurred, to far away Los Angeles because the defense â€˜didnâ€™t feel they could get a fair case in Oaklandâ€™. In Los Angeles, among the jury of his peers, not a single juror is African American. There are numerous reports of journalists, activists and others being kicked out of the courtroom and in some cases arrested â€“ as was a correspondent from Youth Radio who was in contempt of court â€˜for charging a device that had the ability to recordâ€™. The Judge in Mehserleâ€™s trial, Judge Robert Perry has eliminated first-degree murder charges, and has instructed the jury to consider second-degree murder, manslaughter or an outright acquittal â€“ all of this taking place in the same criminal courthouse where the infamously polarizing OJ Simpson trial occurred years before. And then there are reports that officer Mehserleâ€™s own track record of abusive behavior has been systematically left out of the court proceedings. Just weeks before Oscar Grant lost his life, an individual by the name of Kenneth Carrethers says Mehserle viciously beat him for criticizing BART police officers (which is where Mehserle served). Carrethers was treated at a hospital before Mehserle took him to jail, but following Oscar Grantâ€™s death, the charges against him were dropped. As the jurors in Los Angeles deliberate, will this history of violence at the hands of police play in their minds? Just as victims have their entire lives dissected in courtrooms all across this country, should we not do the same to those with a badge and shield? Why are their lives held to a different standard? It has been a year and half of mourning and immeasurable suffering for the Grant family. And with each passing day, each insulting act of disregard and each violation of their childâ€™s civil rights, the quest for a semblance of justice continues. As we await this juryâ€™s final decision, let us not rest until we do obtain justice in Oscarâ€™s name. We will not take to the streets and riot should a negative outcome occur, but rather march peacefully and plan our next steps in a nonviolent strategic manner as the great Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would have wanted us to. As I always say: justice delayed is justice denied. Justice for Oscar Grant and the many other voiceless victims out there. RELATED: OPINION: Oscar Grant Trial Highlights Importance Of Law & Mutual Respect No Black Jurors Selected For Oscar Grant Murder Trial Video Takes Center Stage In Oscar Grant Trial
July 6, 2010No CommentRead More
From Laurel May @ 944.com: Rap Sessions: Community Dialogues on Hip-Hop has teamed up with Harvard Law-based think tank, The Jamestown Project to present its fifth annual national discussion tour. These townhall-style meetings will bring together a panel of leading hip-hop activists, artists and experts for public dialogue exploring the possible ways hip-hopâ€™s entrepreneurial spirit could dovetail with economic recovery and to inform youth about the various ways the current economic shift affects them personally. Bakari Kitwana, the CEO of Rap Sessions, is co-founder of the 2004 National Hip-Hop Political Convention. He is the author of The Hip-Hop Generation: Young Blacks and the Crisis in African American Culture, which is used as a coursebook at over 100 colleges and universities. Throughout 2010, Rap Sessions are scheduled in ten cities across the United States, with panelists including: M-1 (one-half of the hip-hop duo dead prez); Blitz The Ambassador (Ghanaian hip-hop artist); Toni Blackman (Global Hip-Hop Ambassador, US State Department); Hip-Hop educator Martha Diaz (president of The Hip-Hop Association and Global Hip-Hop Film Festival); Columbia University Associate Professor Marc Lamont Hill (Political contributor to the Fox News Channel and author of Beats, Rhymes and Classroom Life); youth organizer Keisha Senter (Director of Clinton Global Initiative University); Ben Herson (founder of the global hip-hop record label Nomadic Wax); and youth entrepreneur expert Darryl Williams (The Kauffman Foundation). Says Kitwana,â€œNow more than ever, we need our youth to think more broadly about global economics, democracy, diversity, community activism, innovation and new models of leadership.â€ Learn more and view digital stories from the tour at http://www.rapsessions.org/ RELATED: RAP SESSIONS: Conrad Tillard On Charlie Rangelâ€™s Fight For Congressional Seat Click here to view photos:
April 28, 2010No CommentRead More
Two years ago, residents in much of the Southeast underwent an utter revamping of their lifestyle. Instead of blindly showering water across their lawns and leaving faucets running on end, they were forced to self-ration their own usage, and in many cases eliminate certain activities. In North Carolina, Governor Michael Easley urged his constituents to cease using water for all purposes not essential to public health and safety, while the nearly five million inhabitants of the Atlanta metropolitan area faced fines upwards in the thousands for violating certain water restrictions. For the first time in more than 100 years, the Southeast region of the United States faced the highest level of drought on record as water resources plummeted to dangerously low levels â€¦ and yet the Bush administration continued to turn a blind eye towards a catastrophe looming in virtually everyoneâ€™s future. RELATED: Obama Promises Clean Energy to World Leaders From December 7th-18th , about 75 world leaders will congregate in Copenhagen, Denmark as they undertake the complex and ever urgent dilemma of climate change. Luckily for the United States â€“ and for the world at large â€“ President Obama himself will attend and address the summit on December 9th as he pushes forth his goals to reduce carbon emissions 83% by 2050. As the first sitting U.S. President since George H.W. Bushâ€™s 1992 trip to Rio de Janeiro where a global warming treaty first began this process, Obama will address the annual U.N. conference and finally propose an emissions reduction target that will undeniably save lives and our planet. As hurricanes grow in intensity, floods wash away entire towns, tsunamis erase generations, droughts leave children starving and the number of respiratory diseases around the world continues to exponentially rise, there are those that would still chose to deny the existence of a dire global warming crisis. And the sad reality is that even though developed nations are largely to blame for growing environmental damage, it is poorer, underdeveloped countries which suffer the most repercussions. Many times lacking the appropriate resources and infrastructure to combat natural disasters and emerging catastrophes, these countries almost always experience disproportionate levels of death, starvation and destruction. And a majority of the time, it is children who fall victim to the devastating outcomes of an increasingly volatile environment. RELATED: Climate Change â€œCould Spark African Civil Warsâ€ Despite the mounting evidence and countless examples of global warming, those with their own financial or personal incentives would choose to deny its existence. Following eight years of the Bush administrationâ€™s rejection of the 1997 Kyoto climate accords, and its continued refusal to reduce greenhouse gases, President Obama will finally make a concerted effort to rectify an overly neglected and increasingly troubling situation. For the first time, the American delegation to the climate summit will have a U.S. Center set up at the conference where keynote speakers will address topics ranging from the investment of $80 billion in clean energy via the Recovery Act, to the Presidentâ€™s gas emissions standards for cars and trucks. Obama will also be accompanied by several Cabinet officials, including the head of the Environmental Protection Agency â€“ marking this as the highest profile contingent of U.S. officials to ever partake in international climate discussions. When the majority of Americans elected Obama as the 44th President of our great nation, they did so with the conviction that he would not only alter our stance on the world stage, but that he would finally transform political rhetoric into ardent actions. With real, sustainable goals of reducing emissions that have unfortunately grown at a rate of 3.5% annually since 2000, President Obama is once again defining what true leadership should in fact entail. After decades of abuse and neglect, our planet and all the worldâ€™s inhabitants will take comfort in knowing that we finally have a President that is making a concerted, meaningful and decisive effort to combat an emergency that impacts us all. It is no surprise then that he is leaving Copenhagen to travel to Oslo, Norway to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.
November 29, 2009No CommentRead More
Every time a soldier in Iraq or Afghanistan is killed, it makes headlines.Â Whenever a police officer or firefighter dies, we hear about it.Â If thereâ€™s an unfortunate shooting at a prestigious university or small town all-American school, society pauses and grapples with the notion of how this could have happened there, in middle America, far removed from the mires of urban life.Â But what about the countless young children whose lives are cut short daily in cities across this nation?Â Who hears their cries?Â Who listens to the plight of suffering mothers and fathers mourning the dead?Â And who will step in to curb the extreme rise in violence and utter disregard for human life that is so pervasive now in our community? RELATED: Four Charged With Beating Murder Of Chicago Teen The world was recently fixated on a disturbing video clip which captured the brutal, senseless murder of 16-year-old Chicago honor roll student Derrion Albert.Â Apparently caught in between two rival student groups on his way home from Fenger High School, young Derrion was beaten with wooden planks, kicked, stomped upon and beaten some more till his lifeless body was dragged away.Â In what appeared to be an all-out â€˜brawlâ€™ outside of his school, the horrific incident was followed by more incomprehensible unrest at what was supposed to be a peaceful memorial for Derrion a few days later. Watching this graphic video will make anyone shudder at the amount of young people involved, the extent of violence that erupted and the complete lack of respect for humanity on display.Â Because this horrific incident was in fact caught on tape, the media and those who normally turn a blind eye towards the downtrodden had no choice but to take note.Â But what we must keep in mind is that in addition to Derrionâ€™s violent death, over 30 Chicago students lost their lives in 2008 alone, when some 290 shootings took place.Â And this epidemic isnâ€™t unique to Chicago alone.Â The same week that the this brawl occurred, a 15-year-old in Arizona died after being stabbed repeatedly following an argument with another student.Â And all across the country, young children â€“ specifically children of color and those in poorer disenfranchised neighborhoods â€“ may have lost their lives, and we will likely never hear about these young souls because their incident wasnâ€™t captured on tape. Now we must ask ourselves, what are we doing to curb this most pressing issue?Â If children are in fact the bearers of the torch for tomorrow, what are we doing to train, protect and guide them to lead the way?Â Why are more and more of our youth acting out in such vicious, destructive methods?Â Ask any psychologist and he or she will tell you that the first place a child learns behavior is from their parents.Â With more and more broken homes, and parents/grandparents struggling to make ends meet, young people often find friends and the streets as their mentor.Â Turning to music and entertainment that also often times glorifies violence and the superficial, our neglected youth quickly adapt behavior they deem will protect them in neighborhoods where authorities sometimes fail to do so.Â Attending poorly funded and inadequately staffed schools, these children grow up in an environment of hopelessness, anger and frustration which no doubt contributes to the rise in aggression so prevalent around the country. RELATED: Four Charged With Beating Murder Of Chicago Teen The breakdown of a family structure, high incarceration rates and poverty unequivocally leads to violence.Â Easy access to firearms contributes to violence.Â An environment of crime, glorification of negativity and a lack of structure leads to violence.Â Lack of opportunity and proper education sooner or later results in violence.Â Itâ€™s a horrific cycle that must be shattered, and must be addressed immediately.Â We are losing too many of our young â€“ those like honor roll student Derrion who may have gone on to find the cure for AIDS, or created a new life saving vaccine.Â Unfortunately he, like so many of our children, have been robbed of their opportunity. Everyday, parents from around the world come to the United States with the hopes of giving their children better education, and a chance to improve their lives.Â Let us not fail the millions who are already here and in desperate need.Â We all need to take bold action this instant, for the cameras wonâ€™t always be there, but the tears and heartache of grief can be heard everywhere. Just listen. RELATED: Four Charged With Beating Murder Of Chicago Teen
October 6, 2009No CommentRead More
In April of 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. intellectually and emphatically asserted that â€˜freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressedâ€™ as he diligently wrote from a rotting prison cell.Â His now infamous Letter from a Birmingham Jail called for a restoration of human rights, liberty and justice for all of humanity.Â Speaking over 2,500 times, arrested upwards of 20 and assaulted at least four times, MLK would likely do it all one more time were he alive today in the cause of another impeding civil rightâ€™s issue:Â lack of adequate health care for our citizenry. Every day, countless children are born into poverty without proper health care that sooner rather than later diminishes his or her chance at succeeding in school, obtaining work, leading productive lives, improving his or her condition and altering a devastating cycle.Â And every day, many children are blessed to be born into middle class homes with health coverage and opportunities for advanced education, but find themselves helpless when they too cannot find work or are struck by the unlucky fortune of a serious illness and their insurance suddenly drops them.Â Each and every day some 14,000 Americans are losing their health coverage as our economy continues to struggle, and as a result, people are literally dying from either lack of insurance, loopholes in coverage or an inability to maintain regular check-ups and screenings that are so vital to staying healthy. Itâ€™s an atrocity that in a country as powerful as the United States, people are falling ill, losing their homes and going bankrupt all because of a corrupt system that only benefits insurance conglomerates and those in their pockets.Â Why is it that the U.S. life expectancy today still lags behind 30 other nations?Â Why does a hard-working factory worker in the Midwest have to choose which finger to amputate because he could not control his diabetes in time?Â Why does a teenager in California have to die because her insurance company gave her the run around when she was seeking treatment for her aggressive cancer?Â And why are so many forced to travel to Mexico, Canada and England to get cheaper medicine and better treatment for their ailments? President Obama recently spoke with a diverse body of religious leaders where he stated that health reform was a â€˜core ethical and moral obligationâ€™.Â If MLK was able to walk and march through our streets today, he too would likely preach for the urgent and dire need for change.Â Now of course neither I nor anyone else can unequivocally say what this great man would definitively do, but as a student of his, I can make a calculated assumption.Â Listening to the cries of babies, watching innocent children suffering and observing the inhumane corporate lobby of our health industry, our nationâ€™s greatest civil rightâ€™s leader would not hesitate to begin a new nonviolent campaign to end this destructive pattern of injustice and abuse. Since our most recent recession began, an additional four million+ Americans have lost their health insurance, and the numbers are undoubtedly going to rise.Â Another 3.2 million+ rely on Medicaid or the SCHIP program to assist them, and yet many on the right would have you believe that health care isnâ€™t an urgent issue for ALL.Â The amount of blatant lies â€“ from â€˜death panelsâ€™ to â€˜government takeoverâ€™ â€“ spewed by those whose financial motives are questionable at best, would make MLK shutter.Â Unfortunately there are some who are busy playing on the fears of people who have lost their jobs, livelihoods and a sense of stability.Â President Obama and Congress must not give in to these scare tactics, for health care is a fundamental human rightâ€™s issue that must be guaranteed to everyone if we are to remain a civil society.Â MLK had urged for young high school and college students, young ministers and religious leaders â€“ and their elders â€“ to â€˜courageously and nonviolently sit in at lunch counters and willingly go to jail for conscienceâ€™ sakeâ€™.Â Perhaps itâ€™s that type of movement that needs to take place, that needs to silence the ridiculous mistruths and that needs to once again deliver equality for all. MLK used to preach that we end poverty through assisting those poorer than ourselves.Â As human beings, we have to make a moral commitment to others, and that moral commitment today encompasses immediate health reform.Â Letâ€™s continue Kingian nonviolence and letâ€™s continue fulfilling this selfless manâ€™s dream:Â for â€˜we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty streamâ€™. READ MORE FROM REVEREND AL SHARPTON: OPINION: Heal The Prison System OPINION: What Gates Will Teach Us OPINION: The Attacks On Obama
August 21, 2009No CommentRead More
New Muslim Cool comes at a time when daily we observe in our national culture old-guard gatekeepers (can you say Dick Cheney?) who work tirelessly to impose on the younger generation a shared American identity that is dated, simple, and in white and black. The magic of Jennifer Maytorena Taylorâ€™s important new film, which recently aired on PBS, is found in its ability to provide a birdâ€™s eye view of a freshly minted generation of Americans. Fighting against being defined by Americaâ€™s bygone eras, New Muslim Cool points us toward a more complicated future. Itâ€™s a journey full of collisions-mainly because the very act of shining a spotlight on the ways race, politics, religion and generational rifts have evolved, something that Taylor does quite well, is a process that slowly gleans viewers from the self-identity America has for decades projected as status quo to the world. Welcome to a nation at the crossroads between old and new. Thank goodness, this is the story of the new America that is unfolding-the one that young Americans across traditional divides are claiming everyday as their own. Enter Hamza Perez. The film traces the ups and downs in the life of this northeastern seaboard urban native who is transplanted to post-industrial Pittsburgh for a new start, just as the US is on the verge of the most significant economic decline since the Great Depression. Perez, a Puerto Rican American hip-hop artist, is also Muslim. His conversion from Catholicism brings him face-to-face with what freedom of religion looks like in the throes of the war on terror. (One of the filmâ€™s high points is an unprovoked and unjustified FBI raid on Perezâ€™s mosque). Absent of his other identities, Perezâ€™s story is incomplete: A street hustler turned anti-drug counselor; a father embarking on a second marriage; a young man struggling to find a workable definition of masculinity; an unsigned hip-hop artist for whom hip-hop culture provides both the foundation for his anti-drug advocacy and a medium through which he projects his new faith. The film is most powerful when it meets all of these varying and sometimes overlapping identities head-on. It does this best when embracing the complexities of the three-part axis on which New Muslim Cool turns. First, we are presented a vivid portrait of hip-hop through the eyes of an independent hip-hop artist (one-half of the rap duo Mujahideen Team) for whom a commercial industry record deal isnâ€™t an end goal. And despite hip-hopâ€™s decline as a cash cow for the record industry, the culture is revealed as an asset that enhances Perezâ€™s life choices-just as it does for countless young Americans. In a similar way, the film hones in on the intricacies behind the scenes of Latino America culture. Latino in this case, but not always, means Puerto Rican. And part of Perezâ€™s personal and political struggle is a firm but nebulous connection to his island roots. As a second generation immigrant, Perez is at times at odds with his eldersâ€™ perspective (both his mom and grandmother), from his marriage to an African-American woman to his choice of religion. Finally, the filmâ€™s treatment of Islam as an actual religion that guides practitioners on a spiritual path forces viewers to grapple with the last eight years of U.S. propaganda that portrays Islam as a religion of hate. That American homegrown Muslims, of Puerto Rican rather than Middle Eastern descent, are central in the film makes this crash course even more jarring. U.S. anti-Muslim propaganda and religious profiling stands in sharp contrast to the more positive ideas of freedom of religion, free speech and other civil liberties that America once represented to the world. This is a significant part of the filmâ€™s message. Considering the Pew Research Center survey released yesterday, which found that the generation gap between young and old Americans is the largest itâ€™s been in the last 40 years, a film with such a message could be easily lost on either young or old. But New Muslim Cool is no ordinary film. In the tradition of Byron Hurtâ€™s Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes (another PBS hit), this is a film that makes you want to do something. To that end, New Muslim Cool will certainly speak directly to the heart of hip-hop audiences. As a result, across the nation young people will likely view it widely and dissect its strengths and weaknesses. And if Taylor and Perez are correct about the nationâ€™s future, babyboomers and World War II generationers must not only tune in, but they too should find it impossible to remain on the sidelines of a discussion so crucial to the future of our nation.
June 30, 2009No CommentRead More
With the national euphoria of inauguration, the multi-billion dollar corporate bailouts, and even the historic economic stimulus all recent memories, one untold story of the early days of Barack Obamaâ€™s presidency remains-the advent of a concise, bold and fearless new racial politics. â€œSubverting race,â€ Jabari Asim, editor of the Crisis magazine, calls it in his important new book What Obama Means . And President Obamaâ€™s uncanny knack for it takes on even greater significance post election-not simply avoiding the predicable knee-jerk behavior of traditional politics that for too long has governed race business, but advancing a more enlightened, informed and balanced racial outlook that shifts the debate at the same time. Itâ€™s a new racial politics for a US president that, if maintained and amplified in the days ahead, will fly in the face of Barack Obamaâ€™s predecessors. Although there have been other sightings (Attorney General Eric Holderâ€™s statement in February that when it comes to race, America â€œis a nation of cowards,â€ for example), mostly this new racial politics has come in the form of Obamaâ€™s foreign policy overtures: toward European leaders as partners we actually respect, and the recognition of Iran, Korea, Cuba and others as sovereign nations with their own national interests. Of course there was also President Obamaâ€™s strike back at the handshake backlash: â€œItâ€™s unlikely that as a consequence of me shaking hands or having a polite conversation with Mr. Chavez that we are endangering the strategic interests of the United States.â€ A New York Times/ CBS poll released last week hints that something is afoot. Its chief finding was that Americans across race since the election of Barack Obama were more optimistic about race relations. 66 percent surveyed last month said race relations are good, compared to 53 percent who said the same nearly a year ago. The right, which has long advocated the old racial politics at home and abroad, especially when dealing with non-Western (read: black and brown) leaders, has spent much of the last three months struggling for a response. This has meant rifling through their well-worn playbook and hurling literal sticks and stones like â€œdictators,â€ â€œnational security,â€ and â€œanti-Americanism.â€ All seem desperate attempts to maintain a global racial politics perfected during the Bush years, especially when one of the â€œdictatorsâ€ in question is the democratically elected leader of his country. What else could have pushed former Vice President Dick Cheney to make more prominently positioned media appearances in a week than during most of the last eight years? â€œHe has gone to Europe, for example, and seemed to apologize profusely,â€ Cheney said expressing his disdain for the new presidentâ€™s way of engaging world leaders , â€œand then to Mexico, and apologized thereâ€¦Both our friends and our foes will be quick to take advantage of a situation if they think theyâ€™re dealing with a weak president or one who is not going to stand up and aggressively defend Americaâ€™s interests.â€ Newt Gingrich, the Republican presidential hopeful in-waiting, added to this in his April 21st appearance on Fox News : â€œIf the president recently bowed to the Saudi King, he has been friendly to the Iranians . . . he basically backed off his threat to the North Koreans, he has made life easier for the Castro dictatorship in Cuba, why not be friendly with Hugo Chavez? It sends a terrible signal . . . to how the administration regards dictators.â€ From Cheney and Gingrich right on down the food chain, these proclamations parallel the stuff of the slave codes of the 18th and 19th centuries, those laws enacted to govern behavior between whites and blacks in order to ensure that white supremacy wouldnâ€™t be a matter of chance. If both are as fixated on symbols as their comments suggest, are these metaphoric calls for the return to the good old days? Luckily for the future of the country, Americans across the board arenâ€™t buying in. The same New York Times / CBS poll referenced above found Barack Obamaâ€™s job approval rating (68 percent) to be higher than any recent US President. Such support is fortunate, as President Obama attempts to swing the pendulum on race. It turns out that the â€œchange we can believe inâ€ includes a change in racial politics after all. Who knew? To be sure, as is the case of any social transformation, real progress is going to take the effort of everyday people. And that will require organizations like the NAACP, Urban League, and emerging activists of the younger generation to get out of the proverbial deer-in-the-headlights awe of having elected the first Black president. Instead, now is the time to begin to supplement these new day efforts.
May 6, 2009No CommentRead More
From HuffingtonPost.com: Dr. John Hope Franklin , the wildly accomplished historian who documented Blacksâ€™ place in the great American story, firmly believed in reparations â€” the idea that the descendants of slaves in the United States should be compensated for the centuries of free labor that enriched slaveowners and their descendants and the American empire. It is a fact overlooked by the recent flurry of mainstream media coverage commemorating his life work. (He died at the age of 94 late last month.) But it is no small detail. Consider his response in 2007 to state legislators in North Carolina and Virginia who balked at apologies for slavery introduced by their peers. For him a mere verbal apology wasnâ€™t enough. Click here to read more. CLICK HERE for JHF: By The Numbers!
April 7, 2009No CommentRead More
HARTFORD, CT â€œI wanted to dwell over the line I drew to help the electronic scanner read my vote for Obama. That black line burst not only with history, but mainly for what it will mean for us: an opportunity to build a new kind of covenant within America and between America and the world. Today was the day when the â€˜still small voiceâ€™ vibrated, allowing the heart to pant, life to glow, and struggles to envelop us, not saying â€˜noâ€™ alone but also â€˜this way forward.â€™ -Vijay Prashad, Director of International Studies at Trinity College and author of The Darker Nations: A Peoples History of The Third World KINGSTON, NY â€œI was really anxious yesterday until I spoke to my Mom and little brother. My brother reminded me that no matter what happens tonight weâ€™ve already won when you consider that black people couldnâ€™t vote 50 years ago. My Mom advised me to tune out the polls, the media, and the emails and feel the spirit of this time weâ€™re in. â€˜When have you ever known a candidate to be internationally lifted up by so much goodwill and prayer, she asked. Stopped thinking of this as an election, and see it for the movement of sheer will and Spirit it is.â€™ I took my son and a picture of my deceased Dad in the booth with me today when my son and I pulled the lever. We wanted to share the glory of this day with our Ancestors so humbled and grateful, am I for the sacrifices theyâ€™ve made to bring us here. And that, my brother, is where I am. The curry goat deh a fire. The champagne is chilling in the fridge. I am confident, grateful and peaceful. Congratulations Barack Hussein Obama. Let the work and the healing begin.â€ -Joan Morgan Journalist and author of When Chickenheads Come Home to Roost MILWAUKEE, WI â€œToday I traveled from my solidly blue Illinois to the nearby swing state (and my native state) of Wisconsin to work the Obama campaignâ€™s Get Out the Vote effort. After having spent the last few weekends canvassing in less than sympathetic white suburbs of Milwaukee, I was thrilled today to instead be in the cityâ€™s black neighborhoods where I grew up. We hit the block of my high school sweetheartâ€™s house, over to the park where I learned how to swim, and up to the North Lawn projects-where a passing woman asked â€˜Is your name Maryâ€™ and we realized we had gone to high school together. Tiffany was on her way to vote. Today, I felt like after months of fooling with the â€˜undecidedâ€™ voters, it was OUR turn to bring it on home and we were bringing our A-game. Passing the long lines of black folks at polling places and the vans full of volunteers fanning out to bring more people to vote, and chatting it up with a man sporting his â€˜I voted todayâ€™ sticker while drinking his morning beer, I thought of one of Obamaâ€™s stump lines and smiled: We are the people weâ€™ve been waiting for!â€ – Mary Pattillo , author of Black on the Block: The Politics of Race and Class in the City and Professor of Sociology and African American Studies at Northwestern University SAN JOSE, CA â€œBy all accountâ€™s what we are witnessing today is a historic turn in all of American history. While one should never make predictions in politics, by all accounts it looks like the people are speaking primarily on Barack Obamaâ€™s behalf and, in particular youth and people of color. After today, in many ways we will live in a different America and in many ways our struggles will remain the same, if not more intense. Itâ€™s a sight to behold, and it is powerful contemplating the possibilities of such a new future with such a chaotic and unknowable backdrop helping to direct the course: the economy, the war, global warming, health care and a slew of other critical issues confronting our country and a new administration, party and president to confront them.â€ – Shamako Noble aka The Sword of the West, Executive Director-Hip Hop Congress ATLANTA, GA â€œItâ€™s a crisp, perfect fall night in Atlanta and you can feel that current of excitement. I just drove past the King Center. The streets are choked with traffic, helicopters buzz overhead and people are jammed along the sidewalks waiting for word of the returns. It reminds me of watch parties Black people held on the eve of emancipation. The polls close here in six minutes and all the talk is of projections and returns. Across town a security guard was struggling to maintain order at one of the dozens of watch parties in the commercial district. I asked him if he thought heâ€™d live to see this. â€˜I never contemplated it,â€™ he told me. â€˜But itâ€™s going to happen because they canâ€™t stop that brother now.â€™â€ – Jelani Cobb , author of The Devil and Dave Chappelle and Professor of History at Spelman College CLEVELAND, OH â€œI left my state of Texas to help Ohio for we all know what happen in 2004 and can afford to allow that to happen again in this great state. It is too historic to miss this opportunity. We need Ohio; America needs Ohio to put the Senator Obama in the White House to Change America for the better.â€ – Congresswoman Shelia Jackson Lee, to those in line waiting to go in to early vote Sunday night outside from the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections in Cleveland, Ohio.
November 5, 2008No CommentRead More
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