Happy Father’s Day

Once a year we celebrate our fathers whose role in our lives make such an impression. Today we celebrate all the good that comes from healthy, happy relationships with our fathers and father surrogates. Research shows everyone in the family does better when fathers do well.

In speeches, Clarke/FranklinI’ve talked about the challenges my father faced struggling with alcoholism and how in spite of this debilitating disease and its manifestations in his life and scars it left in mine, he graduated from college at an early age. Somehow he was able to “hold it together” in law school too. When he made the pledge in Alcoholics Anonymous 20 years after his graduation he was able to reclaim a prominent position in Philadelphia’s legal community. Lesson learned: Education matters.

My paternal grandfather had many fewer opportunities but made our lives better through his entrepreneurial efforts as a small businessman. Though poorly educated and barely educated in tough economic times or emergencies, and there were more than a few, Pop was able to support my grandmother, mother and me. He was a father when mine was missing. Lesson learned: Hard work matters. Then there was my uncle, Walter, who stepped in every summer from the first day of the break until the weekend before school started back. He, too, had few educational opportunities in a small Virginia farming community, but he was able to build a small, lucrative upholstery business in Washington, DC. He loved to take my cousins on weekend trips to his family farm in the Shenandoah Mountains. It was there that I learned to feed the hogs and chickens, plant the garden and kneel in prayer before every meal. Lesson learned: Take care of the land and it will take care of you.

Pop and Uncle Veney filled the empty fatherly role when my dad was unable. They are among the men who have loved me, nurtured me and supported me. I did better because of them. Lesson learned: Family matters and extended family matters too.

Today is a good day to celebrate them and their unselfish love for family and community.

This is dedicated to the men who give to those they love and to those who need it. Special recognition to Cabral Franklin and James T. Isom.

 

A super highlight of a super-man in New York Times voter feature

lewsisSCF

At Antonio’s 2010 Lincoln University graduation in Jefferson City, Missouri is Lincoln University SGA President Antonio Lewis and Dr. Carolyn Mahoney, Lincoln University President.

NYTimesThis is a super story about a super young man in the New York Times, Of the People feature. It highlights Antonio Lewis, one of the Mayor’s Youth Program (MYP) students during my term as mayor. He  graduated from Atlanta Public Schools and earned a scholarship to Middle Georgia, which he lost after the first semester. While he was on winter break, he visited me as mayor and asked for my help in attending a local community college. Instead, I called our local Lincoln University-Missouri alumni contact who arranged for a partial scholarship that was matched with MYP funds. Four years later Lewis graduated with honors as Lincoln University student body president. The following year he joined the Obama field team and the rest is history. This happened hundreds of times during the six years of the program at the City. His success is the result of a village of people like, Deborah Lum and the staff at the Atlanta Workforce Development Agency, who supported him. I am happy that we caught him before he fell through the cracks like far too many of our young people, unfortunately, have done.

HBO’s Confirmation Is a Painful Flashback

Beverly Isom

“If men could learn from history, what lessons it might teach us! But passion and party blind our eyes, and the light which experience gives us is a lantern on the stern which shines only on the waves behind.” Samuel Taylor Coleridge (Poet/philosopher)

ahillThis Saturday, April 16 at 8:00 p.m. EST on HBO, “Confirmation”, the story of the 1991 public hearings on the Senate vote for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas with witness Anita Hill will debut on cable television. As a raging progressive and lukewarm loyal Democrat, I admit to watching the hearings hoping that in this real-life saga, the woman would win. And in some small way, I hoped all women would win. But for three days during those crisp Washington, DC October days, I saw an America where men judged women about an issue they had little knowledge of and even less patience for understanding. Four votes could have made the difference in who is sitting on the high court now but maybe “passion and party” blinded their eyes. However, the final floor vote was not strictly along party lines: 41 Republicans and 11 Democrats (Dixon (D-IL), Exon (D-NE), DeConcini (D-AZ), Robb (D-VA), Hollings (D-SC), Fowler (D-GA), Nunn (D-GA), Breaux (D-LA), Johnston (D-LA), Boren (D-OK), and Shelby (D-AL) now (R-AL)) voted to confirm Justice Thomas while 46 Democrats and 2 Republicans (Jeffords (R-VT) and Packwood (R-OR)) voted to reject the nomination.

Television has afforded us the ability to have a piercing and lasting image of how we remember history. Even though Vice President Joe Biden, as chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee voted against Clarence Thomas and authored the Violence Against Women Act, I can’t forget the memory of him presiding and looking down at Hill during those hearings. Though the hearings were conducted to confirm Thomas they were really much more about sexual harassment in the workplace. Hill had the courage to withstand the public aggressive intimidation by a dozen men who were not her peers. Biden among them. He did very little to change the “optics” on what we saw on television. He did not stop the vicious and searing attacks from Senators Orrin Hatch, Alan Simpson, and the late Arlen Spector. Anita Hill’s public humiliation was felt by many women who knew her story firsthand from assembly lines to corporate board rooms. There is no question that while Thomas won the confirmation, nameless women in the workplace have benefited from Hill’s heroic stand.
The Anita Hill story has been written about and a documentary was also done, but this weekend Kerry Washington transforms into Anita Hill to tell the story once again. “If men could learn from history, what lessons it might teach us!”

Tribute to Cabral: March 26, 1974 – September 15, 2015

Cabral Franklin March 26, 1974-September 15, 2015

Cabral Franklin
March 26, 1974-September 15, 2015

When we launched this blog in 2011, we collectively shared a politically progressive ideology and found a voice in sharing our views. Our editorial meetings were filled with robust debate and laughter. On far too many occasions Cabral pulled his mom and I off the proverbial political cliff. He was a sound and critical thinker who always knew more than he shared, but was careful to share exactly what he needed to.

There wasn’t a poll or interpretation of a poll that we did not rely on his expertise and insight. Many have called him a numbers man and he was; but he also translated what those numbers meant for everyday people. He will be greatly missed for his intellect, his judgment and his vision. Thank you for being you and I know that your soul is at rest and at peace.

We are sharing a few of his favorite blogs in his honor.  It’s the Message Stupid and No Alternative-Joe Paterno Should Be Fired. Rest well my brother.

http://www.bloggingwhileblue.com/2012/12/its-the-message-stupid-campaign-101.html

http://www.bloggingwhileblue.com/2011/11/no-alternative-joe-paterno-fired.html

 

 

 

A national protest for change … but what does change look like?

A start is revamping our grand jury system!

For the second time in a month, a prosecutor has announced a grand jury indictment would not be forthcoming in the death of a U.S. citizen at the hands of image001local law enforcement officers. Regardless of the circumstances of the deaths of African American males Eric Garner in New York, Tamir Rice in Ohio, and most notably Michael Brown in Missouri, they were all killed at the hands of their local police. A much needed and overdue national debate is currently underway regarding race, the militarization of our local police departments, community policing and the very definition of “equal justice under the law.” National protests have ranged from Congressional staffers walking off the job with their “hands up” to sadly, violent protests in Ferguson, Berkley, California and Atlanta, Georgia.

President Obama has called for body cameras to be issued to every police officer in America. This is a starting point. But, does it get to the root cause of the current protest – distrust in our judicial system? Attorney General Eric Holder, recently in Atlanta, is grabbing the bull by the horns in his final months in office. The AG is to be commended for calling to an end to racial profiling by police – especially where young African American males are immediately assessed a “threat” by law enforcement. Body cameras, an end to racial profiling, a return to community policing and moving from the post 9-11 bunker mentality by police departments are parts to a whole that need to be addressed. Even here in Georgia, the GBI has indicated they will release police shooting investigative materials as quickly as possible. But, still the answer of how we obtain equal justice for all citizens is not being addressed.

In 1992, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Scalia noted in United States vs. Williams, “… neither in this country nor in England has the suspect under investigation by the grand jury ever been thought to have a right to testify or to have exculpatory evidence presented.”[1] This means policemen have been traditionally granted a right to defend their actions before a grand jury that you and I, as regular citizens do not have! This is an inherent troubling issue – police officers are allowed to testify in their defense before a grand jury. The officer, like all of us, might naturally portray their actions in the best possible light. Police may cast dispersions on the perceived guilty party in an effort to justify the use of deadly force. To do otherwise could mean possible indictment.

A starting point for public debate to redefine equal justice under the law might include:

1.) Governors empanelling a board of judges, lawyers, law enforcement, district attorneys and lay people to recommend ways to “fix” our grand jury system.

2.) In the interim, when a citizen dies at the hands of a police officer, prosecutors should consider recusing themselves and bringing in an outside special prosecutor, with no ties to local law enforcement or the court system – we already do this with judges. In New York, State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has requested Governor Andrew Cuomo to allow the AG’s office play the role of “Special Prosecutor” until their state legislature revamps their grand jury system.

3.) Stop calling officers before the grand jury immediately. Their statements should be videotaped (until body cameras are fully implemented), and submit their recorded statements to the grand jury prior to their testimony.

4.) Congress should give immediate and strong consideration for grand jury reform at the national level. Congressman Hank Johnson (D-GA) has received criticism for his legislation but he has publicly acknowledged the system needs to be reformed.

5.) We need to rethink police polices of “shoot to kill” and the use of deadly force.

It is time to revamp our justice system to reflect that no citizen no citizen is above the law. The taking of a citizen’s life without due process should be held to the highest level of legal scrutiny no matter the perpetrator.

Let the Games Begin

The Olympic flame has arrived in Sochi as the Winter Olympic Games are set to open on Friday. The competition will include alpine Sochiskiing, figure skating, snowboarding, bobsledding and new events like women’s ski jumping and the luge team relay. We are told snow conditions are almost perfect for certain sports. Though star American snowboarder Shaun White has withdrawn due to competition conditions, opening the door for other star athletes to take center stage. It appears we are in for an exciting and let’s pray safe Winter Olympic Games.

The parallel of the Games to Georgia political competition beginning in March is not lost on some of us. Like Sochi, the conditions here in Georgia are almost perfect for the right candidate to upset the incumbent governor who, according to recent polls, has an approval rating well under 50%. Governor Nathan Deal faces serious political challenges including the botching of the recent snowstorm and charges that he influenced the state ethics board investigation into his 2010 campaign.

Even though Georgians overwhelmingly support expanding Medicaid, Governor Deal has refused to consider it leaving Georgia with the sixth highest number of uninsured residents in the United States. Ebenezer Baptist Church’s Reverend Warnock chose the 85th birthday celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr. to highlight the Medicaid disparity and income inequality in his comments.  Georgia State Senator and Gubernatorial candidate Jason Carter recently made the point that Georgia families today make $6,000 less than they did 10 years ago. PolitiFact deemed the statement true.

Today, the Georgia graduation rate is below the national average and the per capita spent on education is below the national average. The governor has appointed a task force to assess emergency response and let’s hope they start with reading the current plan (which if my memory doesn’t fail me is submitted to FEMA annually or quarterly) and talking to experts in the field beyond meteorologists. More importantly, Atlanta has a wealth of experts at colleges and universities like Morehouse, Spelman, Georgia Tech and Georgia State who have decades of experience in educating, evaluating and teaching leadership, they should be invited to the table as well

Time for Huckabee to Talk About Something He Knows

Reuters photo credit

Reuters photo credit

The GOP’s “War on Women” took a turn for the worst, again. At a recent Republican National Committee meeting, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee apparently forgot that women could hear him. His controversial remarks had diehard Republicans backing away from him. The Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus led the backup chorus that included former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum and House Speaker John Boehner and others.

It is rumored that there have been communication trainings designed to help Republicans talk about and talk to women. I imagine Huckabee missed those meetings.  Last week in Washington DC he said, “If the Democrats want to insult the women of America by making them believe that they are helpless without Uncle Sugar coming in and providing for them a prescription each month for birth control, because they cannot control their libido or their reproductive system without the help of the government, then so be it.”

While this isn’t the first time Huckabee has gone off the ranch, these comments were especially shocking for so many reasons.  First, similar comments sparked so much controversy in recent elections like Missouri Representative Todd Akin’s “legitimate rape” comment or 2012 Indiana US Senate nominee Richard Mourdock who said, “Life is that gift from God that I think even if life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.” The assumption that women are so easily manipulated that they can be told what to do about their own bodies—is insulting. Uncle Sugar–Really?  If the federal government is Sugar Daddy then what does that make American women?  Finally, that women can’t control their libido or reproductive system without government’s help is another version of Huckabee’s varied attempts to dictate if women employees should have birth control prescriptions included in their health plans like any other preventive health prescription. And while birth control is definitely one use for birth control pills there are other medical reasons that doctors prescribe them—but that shouldn’t really matter since women are fully capable of making their own health choices.

Huckabee’s defenders say Democrats are distorting his comments, which is pretty darn difficult to do when you consider his strong support of Todd Akin after his comments or his current defense of his latest comments.  Yes, Huckabee really believes what he says and he insults women again.

As the GOP gears up to solicit women voters, remember insulting them isn’t an appealing or winning strategy.

Seahawks Derrick Coleman: An inspiring story of will

DCMPIn three years we have written about the challenges so many Americans face  from unemployment to child  exploitation and abuse.  Sometimes the issues strike a cord with our readers and other times we have sparked lively debate. In a few days millions of Americans will celebrate the clash of sports in the football playoffs. One story rises above many to inspire each of us to never give up on our dreams, to challenge discrimination and to represent the dreams of others in our lives. It is  the story of Seahawks Derrick Coleman. See for yourself in the poignant commercial that tells his story.

 

Seven Reasons Why Men Rule Politics

In recent years more women have made the choice to run for public office. What may be surprising to many is that there is still a substantial gender gap in political ambition. A recent study, “Men Rule: The Continued Under Representation of Women in U.S. Politics” virtually confirms that women are gravely under represented in politics.

In spite of the evidence that when women run for office, they perform just as well as their male counterparts. In spite of the women who have held high profile public offices like Speaker of the House, in spite of women who have run for president and vice president, the study suggest that the gender gap in political ambition is virtually the same as it was a decade ago.

The evidence also supports the conclusion that there is no major difference in fundraising receipts, vote totals, or electoral success between women and men. So why the gap? Professors Jennifer L. Lawless and Richard L. Fox have identified some interesting factors for the unlikely differences.

1. Women are substantially more likely than men to perceive the electoral environment as highly competitive and biased against female candidates.
2. Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin’s candidacies aggravated women’s perceptions of gender bias in the electoral arena.
3. Women are much less likely than men to think they are qualified to run for office.
4. Female potential candidates are less competitive, less confidant, and more risk averse than their male counterparts.
5. Women react more negatively than men to many aspects of modern campaigns.
6. Women are less likely than men to receive the suggestion to run for office – from anyone.
7. Women are still responsible for the majority of childcare and household tasks.

[Read more…]