Reflection on the Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

January 16, 2013

Dr. King, Where For Art Thou Dream?

On January 15, 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia, a boy was born.  His name was  Martin, and he grew up  a highly spiritual man and a brilliant and creative strategist.  Martin Luther King, Jr. was a gifted composer of voice orchestration; his speeches were an auditory overture.  The words he spoke waltzed with spirit and touched my heart.  His words relieved me from the stress of being Black in America; he made me feel proud, enthusiastic and optimistic.  Dr. King’s messages of peace united red, yellow, black and white, and all were equal in his sight.  He spoke of love for the rainbow of humanity.

It is now 2013 and this April 4th will be the 45th anniversary of the day that James Earl Ray shot and killed Dr. King the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. Hotel I wonder if he would be pleased with how close to reality his dream has come.

I wonder what he would say about the deafening silence of the freedom bells from the mountains of New York, the elevating Alleghenies of Pennsylvania, the ice-covered Rockies of Colorado, the geometric curves in California, the Mountain of Stone in Georgia, the Mountain from which you see out in Tennessee or the hills where moles live in Jim Crow’s Mississippi.

I wonder if he would see his dream in the cracks of the derriere of our young boys and men as they do the two-step dance (take two steps and pull up my pants before they fall)?  Would he like the character of our little girls and young women who dress provocatively leaving nothing to the imagination or cover?  What would he say about the words we use to express terms of endearment to each other; words that in our past were negative, degrading and used to control our sense of worth, humanity and pride?

What would Dr. King say about those we idolize?  People we call celebrities that the poor make richer as they dream of having their plastic, superficial and shallow lives?  What would he say about the respect we give to our elders as we discard them and the lessons they have to teach us like recyclable aluminum cans?

Let us reflect on Dr. King and the impact his life had on our lives.  Let us re-dedicate ourselves to his dream and his legacy.  Let us teach our children not only his name but the richness of his legacy in practical terms that they can understand.  Let us educate them about hundreds of other selfless pioneers that were hosed with water, beaten and even killed so that they could sit anywhere on the bus and train;  dine at Red Lobster,  the International House of Pancakes (IHOP), Cracker Barrel and other restaurants and live in the neighborhood of their choice.  Remind them that those civil rights pioneers lived lives that reflected kindness, humanity, character and love for their fellow-man.

Dr. King fought for educational and economic independence for every American. Let us celebrate his life, not only on the day set aside by the government but on every day of our lives.  Let us move forward in 2013 and look to the mountain top.  Let us expect to go back to the way we were a proud, honest, compassionate and united people of integrity.  As we peak over the mountain top let us expect to see the Promised Land Dr. King spoke so eloquently of, and let us live our lives as an example for our children so they can see a land that is full of more promise than disappointment.   I am a dreamer and I believe that in spite of some nightmares along the way Dr. King’s Dream is just over the purple mountain majesty.

On Monday, January 21, 2013, the day America celebrates Dr. King’s birthday as a Federal holiday, I believe he will be smiling when President Obama takes the oath of office for his second term as the first African-American President of the United States of America.  Thank you Dr. King for your contribution to historical reality, we have come a long way since your “I Have a Dream” Speech but we’ve yet a long way to go.  Happy 84th Birthday Dr. King!

President Obama Deserves a Second Chance

October 6, 2012

The story of Barack Obama’s presidency is a historic one.  He is the first President of African American descent elected to the nations’ highest office.  His election four years ago was born out of America’s need for change from politics of the past with a promise of a better tomorrow.  Millions of Americans voted for him because they believed he was the best candidate for the job. Others needed to convince themselves that they had moved beyond the lessons of superiority their parents taught them and could vote for a black man to be their president.  Some of African American decent voted for him simply because he was black and some of each of these groups believed that the 2008 election might be their only opportunity to have the option to vote for a Black man in the White House.

Not only will historians write about  the way  America elected President Obama they must also address how America has treated him.  No other president in history has been so maligned.  No other president in history has been so disrespected and no other president in America has been so strategically and decisively targeted for failure.

This writer finds the idea of Mitt Romney as the Republican opponent to President Obama foretelling.  It speaks to the hatred of Republicans and others who would rather see anyone in the White House except a black man and his family; honesty and Integrity not required only White Skin.  The Republicans so despise the President that before he took the oath of office they methodically designed a plan to impede his ability be as effective as he had the passion and ability to be.   They have stuck to the game plan in spite of the economic pain and divisiveness it has cost Americans. They are blind to see how citizens in other countries view that hatred. How can we be liberators of women and others abroad countries when those countries have more respect for our leader than we do?  While citizens in other countries saw President Obama’s election as another beacon of light from our lady of equality, justice and equality, John Boehner, Rush Limbaugh, John Sunu as other saw it as an American tragedy.

The idea that Republicans use President Obama’s failure to create jobs as a reason why he should not be re-elected is strabismic dismissing the fact (not fiction) that they are the argument that Americans are not working in record numbers. President Obama presented a jobs bill that was a blueprint of constructing a highway of jobs all across the USA; Republicans put road blocks refusing even to give the plan a permit for construction.  They now have signs on the election highway cautioning Americans that the President took jobs off a cliff and that the only way to survive the highway of unemployment is to take detour Mitt Romney.

The President has kept many of the promises he made to the American people.  He passed the health care reform bill.  He helped Ford, GM and Chrysler (and their mutually dependent suppliers) comes out of the ditch that the previous Republican Administrations drove them into.  The money he loaned the auto manufacturers from America’s bank (The United States Treasury) was paid back with interest to the American people.  His administration implemented laws that protect consumers from exorbitant bank fees on credit cards and other accounts.  He killed Osama Ben Laden and other terrorists who George W. Bush promised to take out but could not.  He helped children brought to this country by parents with illegal status have their dream of becoming an American citizen realized. He helped to prevent the rates of student’s loans from doubling.    He reversed “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” which revered men and women in the military to lie about their sexual orientation. President and Mrs. Obama along with Mrs. Jill Biden have worked to change benefits for military families and to show them how much we appreciate their service and sacrifice.

President Obama does deserve the opportunity to finish the work he started to turn America around.  Middle class Americas owe it to themselves and their children to give our President a second chance. We must tell the new extreme Republican Party born by tea drinking right wingers that we have had enough and we will not be *Mitted around.  Let us loose our hands, those of our Congress and our President this November 6, 2012.

Note: defines the word Mitt as arrest.

Carlene Pierre A Victim of Domestic Violence and Our Weak Laws

October 3, 2012

On Thursday morning, September 28, 2012 Carlene Pierre probably kissed her three daughters goodbye before she left for her job at the Quality Inn hotel on Canada Avenue in Orlando, Florida.  Her co-worker  28-year old Vanessa Gonzales-Orellanes had also perhaps kissed and said goodbye to her children or spouse before leaving for work.  Shortly before 8:00am both women were working behind the registration desk in the hotel lobby when Carlene’s ex-boyfriend Michelet Polynice Carlene appeared and without warning shot both of the women in the head and chest.  Both were pronounced dead at the scene.

Polynice’s violent morning was not over yet.  His rampage would inflict more pain on another female.  Polynice left the bloody reception area where two women lay dying, walked to his Toyota Camry and drove the short distance to the Westgate Resort on Turkey Lane where he shot with intent to kill Carlene’s friend housekeeper, Jean Guerline.  Guerline survived the attack and is recovering from her life threatening injuries.  After following the trail of devastation he left in his path, law enforcement officers headed to the last known address for Polynice where they spotted him in his vehicle.  Upon realizing the police had located him, Polynice is said to have put a gun to his head and pulled the trigger.  After shooting himself he lost control of his vehicle and crashed into a tree.  The impact caused the car to burst into flames, Polynice was trapped inside.

This tragic story is not an unusual one.  Statistics show that 1 of every 4 women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime.  Carlene Pierre like many women did not realize the violence temperament of the man she was dating until it was too late, she was pregnant and in love.  When she decided she had enough and that her life was in danger, she did all the right things.  She went to the police and reported the incidence of physical abuse, stalking and threats.  She filed an injunction for him to stay away and she detailed in a 25 page request for protection that she was fearful of her life.  She said “He told me the only way he was going to leave me alone was to kill me, I am fearful of my life”.

I say the system failed Carlene, legal analyst say it did not, this question has been debated repeatedly ad no debate or position will bring back to life the women or men killed by their domestic partners.  The journey to protect women from domestic violence has been a long one.  Like many other laws in the male dominated society that once was America, crimes like rape and domestic violence were long in coming and short in action.  We must work to change the system.  It is difficult to stop hateful and evil men like Polynice, men who are weak and need to control and dominate another human being.  Such minds have no respect for a piece of paper that tells them to stay away. They are determined to inflict the final pain and have the last control.   We must however pay attention to their behavior for often tragedies such this Carlene’s and the other victims are the climax of earlier acts of violence on women.  Polynice had many run-ins with the law and had been charged with aggravated assault and domestic violence in the past.  After this tragedy Polynice’s father said the his son had threatened to kill him over some money earlier in the year and that he believed if his son had been locked up for crimes in the past the women he killed would still be alive.

There will not be another morning when Carlene will kiss her daughters ages 8, 6, and 2 goodbyes.  They will not again feel the comfort of their mother’s hugs or kisses.    She will not be there to tuck them in at night or tell them bedtime stories, or hear what happened at school, she will not be with them on Mother’s Day, their birth or their wedding days.  Carlene’s youngest daughter was fathered by the Polynice, what a legacy this man has left baby girl?

On Saturday evening friends and family gathered in Poinciana, Florida for a memorial vigil for Carlene and the other shooting victims.  Jean Guerline was last reported to be recovering from her wounds at a local hospital.  Funeral services for Carlene Pierre and Vanessa Gonzales-Orellanes are not known at the posting of this blog.

If you are a victim or know someone that is a victim of domestic violence, please contact law enforcement in your community or call the domestic violence at Safe Horizons at 1-800-621-HOPE 4613 or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-SAFE (7233).

Mitt Romney and Abraham Lincoln A Contrast in Historically Profound Words

September 19, 2012

It was November 19, 1863 in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania when President Abraham Lincoln spoke to the nation and with passion and conviction delivered one of the country’s most memorable speeches, The Gettysburg Address.   The speech was one of perspective, reflection and encouragement.  It was a speech of appreciation for the brave men who had served and sacrificed.  It was a speech of promise intended to unite a nation still in its infancy.  It was s speech that spoke of Lady America bursting with the promise of freedom and a dream of a government of the people, by the people and for the people.

It was in May 17, 2012 in Boca Raton Florida at the regal estate of private equity Manager Marc Leder where Republican Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney also spoke some infamous words.  The words he spoke will be written on the black and white pages of American and World History books and discussed in internet blogs and on Facebook and Twitter for years to come.  His words were spoken with comfort and passion they were divisive, egotistical, and reflective of an arrogant and insensitive man.  With each word he spoke he teased America revealing pieces of himself until at the night’s end the Real Mitt Romney stood naked and yelled to America, “Here I am this is what I really think of you!”

He showed the core of America, its middle class that he believes that Lincoln was wrong.  He believes that we are not created equal and that there will be no more births of freedom, or government assistance to provide nutrition, housing, medical care, unemployment assistance or education to us. He shouted loudly to seniors that he does not care of their life-long hard work to cushion the sunset of their lives.   His words imply that unlike Lincoln he devalues the sacrifice of those that fought and died for equality for us all. His failure to even acknowledge them during his speech at the RNC supports that premise.

He told us we lack motivation, perseverance and are therefore of little value to his political aspirations or of consequence to his plans for America.  For those that were unsure of what he looked like all there should be no more doubt.

During the $50,000 per plate fundraising event attended by Romney’s financial peers one of those attending asked Romney the following question:  “For the last three years, all everybody’s been told is, “Don’t worry, we’ll take care of you.” How are you going to do it, in two months before the elections, to convince everybody you’ve got to take care of yourself?”

Romney answered in a voice and tone that was missing in his speech at the Republican Convention and in most speeches he has given.  He said, “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 that 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. And I mean, the president starts off with 48, 49, 48—he starts off with a huge number. These are people who pay no income tax. Forty-seven percent of Americans pay no income tax. So our message of low taxes doesn’t connect. And he’ll be out there talking about tax cuts for the rich. I mean that’s what they sell every four years. And so my job is not to worry about those people—I’ll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives. What I have to do is convince the 5 to 10 percent in the center that are independents that are thoughtful, that look at voting one way or the other depending upon in some cases emotion, whether they like the guy or not, what it looks like. I mean, when you ask those people…we do all these polls—I find it amazing—we poll all these people, see where you stand on the polls, but 45 percent of the people will go with a Republican, and 48 or 4…”.

This writer has never believed that Mitt Romney cared about me, my family or the rest of Middle Class America.  I believed that he is only running for president because it is the one thing in this country that he cannot buy.  I challenge you to look at the naked Mitt Romney, really listen to his words and tell him on November 6, 2012 that the American Presidency is not for sale and that the government of the people by the people and for the people will prevail.

Flashbacks of A Nightmare, An Eleven Year Reflection of September 11, 2001

September 10, 2012

Like most Americans, I was devastated by the images of the mutilation of a dream, as I watched the symbols of America come tumbling down.  Like most Americans, I cried that day.  I wanted the reality of that day to be a nightmare from which I would awaken.  Instead, the reality became more vivid with each movement of the clock that signaled the passing of seconds, minutes and hours on that day.

In my dreams, the nightmare was often in replay like it was on CBS, NBC, ABC and FOX.  In my head, I heard the voices of more than three thousand people praying for their God and calling for their loved ones.  The screams of their excruciating pain and the anticipation of death just moments away plays in high definition in my mind.  I cover my ears and yet I cannot silence their screams; eleven years later it still echoes in my ears.

As long as I live, I will remember where I was on September 11, 2001, the day that hatred and greed gave birth to a new America.  It was the day that the freedom and calm we took forever was replaced with the reality that our our freedom and security are at risk.

It was a beautiful Tuesday morning and I had debated with myself if I was going to work that day. The suburban area in which I lived was about thirty miles south of Washington, D.C. and is has traffic second only to the traffic in Los Angeles, California.  Interstate 95 was the most expedient route to my office but it is also one of the busiest corridors for travel between the South and the Northeast part of the United States.

As always I turned my radio between my two most favorite stations in the Washington, DC area; Howard University’s music Station WHUR and local talk radio station WTOP.   I heard the announcer on WTOP say that there was a report that a plane had hit Tower of the World Trade Center.  I thought to myself “what a horrible accident, some inexperienced pilot really lost his bearings and hit the tower”.  I imagined only that he had knocked down the antenna, never considering that it was a commercial jet that had hit the top floors with dozens of passengers onboard.

After hearing the news of the first plane, I turned from WTOP TO WHUR and heard that a second plane had hit the second tower.  I then realized thenthat the plane crashes were not accidental and this day was going to be an extraordinary one.

As I approached the sign that said Seminary Road Exit ¾ miles, I saw black transforming the sky several exits ahead.  It appeared to be billowing close to the exit I would take near the Pentagon.  I was an exit that would take me to Route 110 through Rosslyn, Virginia to Clarendon where my office was located on Wilson Blvd.    I called my office and told them I would not be coming to work, and my manager suggested that I just go home “something terrible was going on and the office would likely be closing” he said.   I pressed my foot to the petal hard to drive myself home as fast I could; I just wanted to get home;  I wanted to see my son.   I thought to myself “If I am going to die,  I want to die at home”.

I drove down 395 so fast that I do not recall passing the usual landmarks, I remember turning off at my exit only because the warning light for low fuel caught my attention with its ding.  As I stopped at the traffic signals after exiting near Potomac Mills where I lived, I looked over at the cars on each side of me.  I wondered if the drivers in those cars knew that our we were under attack. I wondered if they knew that people were trapped in the burning planes and buildings in New York and in Washington, DC.   I wanted to tell them, I wanted to get out of my car and hug them and I wanted to tell them to hurry home to their loved ones.

I had stopped buying gas from Shell during Apartheid but on this day  I stopped to a Shell Gas station to purchase gas and as I pumped my gas, a white man who was refueling his car in the island next to me and I at a simultaneous moment said” How could this happen?”  We both just wanted to get home.  We wished each other safe travel and got in our cars and drove away.  I felt a tremendous bond to that stranger, a person who on any other day would likely never have spoken to me or me to him.

I arrived in front of my home, got out of my car and expelled a sigh of relief as I turned the key to open my front door.  I turned on the television and watched in disbelief the horror that continued to unfold during my commute home.  I heard reports of a third plane that went down in a field in Pennsylvania with dozens of passengers onboard.  I called my mother, my sisters and brother, other family members and friends to ask if they were okay.

I prepared myself for the worst. I prayed for those in the Twin Towers, at the Pentagon and in the field in Pennsylvania.  I prayed for America.  I have tried to imagine what those in the planes and in the building at the Pentagon must have gone through before they died. Some called loved ones to say goodbye and others comforted each other as they took their last breaths.  They did not think of color, ethnicity, social status, religion or political persuasion in those moments;  they were all people with a horrible common fate.   I pray that on this eleventh anniversary of their deaths, we remember their sacrifice.  I hope that we have learned that life is short and fragile and that freedom has not been free.  I hope that we do not wait until we are faced with a similar fate to realize that hate is not a respecter of persons or countries, we should focus our vision and our minds and see our fellow Americans and other world citizens as human….. is that not more than enough to unite us all?

Did Josey Wales (Clint Eastwood) Still Mitt Romney’s Dream?

September 1, 2012

On Thursday night, Mitt Romney accepted the GOP nomination for president.  It was the night Romney had anticipated most of his adult life and it had finally arrived.  His perfectly aligned teeth showed the world how pleased he was to be one step closer to the second part of his political dream.   Media hype about the night was high.  Speculation about the messages of scheduled speakers and the mystery surrounding a surprise one, dominated many social media websites.   Political analysts predicted historical consequences, network bosses hoped for high ratings.

My television was programmed to turn to MSNBC at 10:00 sharp.  I focused my eyes on the 52-in screen and had expected to see Mr. Romney standing on the platform.  Instead, I saw an aging actor who portrayed one of America’s most famous fictional cowboys. The mystery guest had been unveiled; it was actor and director Clint Eastwood.  My first impression of Eastwood was that he was old and thin.   Each strand of his thinning white hair was going in a different direction.  He looked tired and a bit nervous.  His voice was weak and wavering. As I listened and watched I realized Eastwood was talking to an empty chair, a chair in which an invisible President Obama was seated.  My thoughts reflected on another night on which a similar vision of Eastwood was clear.  It was during the Kennedy Honors Awards in December 2008.  Eastwood  rambled and talked overtime that evening while there to honor  his close friend and fellow actor, the Oscar-winner Morgan Freeman.  (Freeman is a supporter of President Obama and in  July 2012 he donated a million dollars to his presidential campaign).

What does the choice of Eastwood as a speaker and the order of his appearance on the program of his political prom say about Romney?  How can a man who could neither manage, strategize nor consult with a campaign team to present himself in a strong authoritative light manage, strategize, plan, consult or lead a country?  Why should we entrust him with our destiny that is economically precarious (because of years of political posturing on both sides) when he could not master the fate of his own political destiny so long in the making?

Why did he think that the mere celebrity of Clint Eastwood did not call for a conversation with the actor about the content or duration of his message?  Why did he not question the content of material from speakers Rubio, Christi and others who boasted more of their own political achievement than of his attributes and measurable accomplishments?

How did he not imagine that the video created by his campaign team to show America his compassionate, emotional and loving side would impact Americans with the compelling effect it was intended to do?   The video was the perfect way for Mitt Romney to say “So America who want to know the real Mitt Romney, well here I am”!  Imagine the impact if after Rubio’s speech the Romney video had been shown and then the man; the Romney in the video had simply walked out on stage; that would have been creative genius.

Consequences of decisions made for the Republican National Convention  2012’s big night remain to be seen and may not be revealed until Election Day 2012.   Conversations of Eastwood’s ramblings will transition and go from loud laughter to silent unspoken thoughts.   Like the invincible character Josey Wales, Eastwood is still standing unscathed.  Unlike the character Josey Wales who fought for the underdog, the abused and tortured, Mitt Romney stands only for his ego, and his foreign bank accounts. There were many significant issues missing in action in Romney’s speech.   Absent was expression of gratitude for the sacrifices our troops have and are making for our country.  Romney did not mention the current war but even a forgetful Eastwood did.

This writer’s impression of Romney has been reaffirmed; the only thing that Romney can control is his hairbrush and the marching of his millions of dollars into foreign bank accounts.  I predict that one of America’s most favorite fictional characters, Josey Wales may have cost Mitt Romney his dream. No Clint you may not have made Romney’s day on Thursday evening, but you sure did make mine.

Play Christi For Me, The New Jersey Governors’s Speech at the RNC

August 29, 2012

As I listened to Governor Chris Christie deliver the keynote address at the Republican Convention Tuesday evening in Tampa, Florida I wondered if his speech was intended to help Mitt Romney or if it was Christi’s first speech of his 2016 Presidential Campaign.  The beginning and middle of his speech was a résumé for his own political accomplishments.  Like many speeches by those in the party of elephants, his message was full of untruths; it is almost as though the Republican reality and American  reality are in two different worlds.  Christi spoke of the deep cuts he made in the New Jersey budget, how he stood up against the teachers union and how the teachers and seniors in his state were selfless and accepted the sacrifices necessary to save New Jersey.  He left out the details of those sacrifices and how services, salaries and programs in the schools and to seniors was terminated and or cutback.

There is something about Republicans that allows them to tell a lie with a straight face.  There is something about Republicans that motivates them to pour their hatred of President Obama above their love of country or the Democratic process.   They dislike President Obama not because of his policies several of them such as healthcare are based on policies implemented by members of their own party (including their current president nominee Mitt Romney).  They dislike him simply because of the melanin in his caramel skin.  They hate him because he is the first person of color in the white house and because he is intelligent, confident and accomplished.   They dislike him so much that they would offer the backbone of America (the middle class) as sacrificial lambs for their own political appetite.   They hate him so much that they would rather destroy the union and not allow the legacy of his presidency to align with presidents Lincoln, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Clinton.

They dislike him so much that they give the President no credit for keeping his campaign promises of passing health care reform, sending the troops home from Iraq, making changes in our educational structure and putting the banking system on a short leash.  Like the residue of bitterness from the Bush Administration in the form of a frail and demented Dick Cheney, everything the Obama administration has accomplished is insignificant; those things they claim as successes are the result of ground work and road maps left by George W. Bush according to Cheney and other Republicans.   Republicans are no longer a party of leaders; they are the puppets of the Tea Party who dangle their strings and their Pinocchio lips to dance the “No Second Term Obama Slide”.  The political slide dance require dancers to  move from the left to the right as the fluctuating political polls require.

Just as was the divide between north and south that led to the Civil War was about economics and slavery so is this presidential campaign. The Republicans want to give the rich not cotton fields and human chattel but rather huge tax cuts and cheap labor.  They want to take medicine and food from the mouths of children and seniors so that big companies can make big profits (many abroad).

I will be listening and watching to see how many more truths the Romney campaigns disregards and manufacture;  I will be watching the rich spoiled boy who has like most spoiled brats been given or bought for himself everything he has ever wanted.  Now he is drooling political saliva because he believes he tastes the victory of the white house on Pennsylvania Avenue.   Like the fan in Clint Eastwood’s movie, you can ‘Play Christi for Me” all you want but as you in the White House, Mr. Romney, I don’t think so!