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Thursday, December 17, 2015

Gender of U.S. president needs constitutional amendment update

Neither Hillary Clinton nor any woman can become U.S. president, unless the Constitution is amended. Intellectual Copyright  ©12/17/2015

Although to my knowledge no one has mentioned this before, our Founding Fathers did not intend on Hillary Clinton or any woman, for that matter, to become president of the United States.

According to two personal pronouns used in Article 2, Section 1, 
"The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America. He shall hold his Office during the Term of four Years, and, together with the Vice President, chosen for the same Term, be elected, as follows..."

Although the Constitution talks about the President being a "Person", it never uses the words she or her. At that time the Constitution was written, of course, women also did not have voting rights.

"The President shall, at stated Times, receive for his Services, a Compensation, which shall neither be increased nor diminished during the Period for which he shall have been elected, and he shall not receive within that Period any other Emolument from the United States, or any of them.

"Before he enters on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation:—'I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.' "

In order to amend the Constitution, 
"In the U.S. Congress, both the House of Representatives and the Senate approve by a two-thirds supermajority vote, a joint resolution amending the Constitution. Amendments so approved do not require the signature of the President of the United States and are sent directly to the states for ratification."

Team Hillary, it seems you've got some work to do! Let me know if you have any information on this topic.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Running red light can be first bad accident

Do not use without permission.
Slow down. Be careful.
According to the driver of this upturned car, this is his first major accident. What a bummer. One ambulance was seen speeding away with a victim, while the two drivers walked away. I saw what just happened around 1 p.m. as I was leaving the grocery store.

Do not use without permission.
The woman who walked away from the accident was wearing a small gold cross necklace, and she says she doesn't go anywhere without it!

The woman he hit said he ran the red light, and she's lucky to be alive.  It happened in Cobb County on Highway 92 at a busy QT intersection.

Do not use without permission.
The accident stopped traffic in all directions, and I circled around through a parking lot so I could share these pictures.

One policeman at the scene said it could have ended differently. To God be the glory! A friend of mine was not so lucky last Friday - he died in a motorcycle accident. Stay focused when you're driving, and count your blessings when you get home.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Respect and school discipline have to be discussed.


Do not use without permission.
During my teaching experience, I tried to respect students because I knew classroom learning is a complicated social experiment.


This is a transcript from news anchor Brenda Woods' LAST WORD from Atlanta's Channel 11 whose motto is, "holding the powerful accountable." It's in response to a South Carolina resource officer using excessive force against a 16-year old Algebra student.

"It's the age everybody is recording, so Officer Fields is fired. No question, he was unprofessional. His behavior was absolutely unacceptable. But, don't miss the bigger picture here. The discipline problem in our schools is out of control. Not on the part of resource officers, but the kids. 


"Our outrage collectively over that video is rooted in our naïveté about what actually goes on in schools all the time. Talk to those on the front lines and you'll learn that that video is not as black and white as it may seem. 


"Just about every teacher in a big city public school will tell you their biggest daily issue in the classroom is that kids have no respect for authority, and that when a student gets aggressive, the teacher has no power to do anything about it. And the students know that, so they have no incentive to back down when a teacher asks them to or asks them to follow orders.


"In the video, we just see the reaction; we don't see the action that precipitated it. Note what everybody else is doing in that classroom. Just sitting there, no '0oh, oh no he didn't. You wrong.' No, none of that because the kids know this wasn't one sided. That video gives us only one dimension. 


"Now again, let me be clear. I think the officer abused his power. What he did was not OK. But don't get it twisted. That's not the problem in our schools. 


"Teachers and those students who were truly trying to learn are burdened every single day with the albatross of disrespectful, mouthy, misbehaving kids who have no intention of following the rules and will defy anyone who tries to make them. I challenge you, talk to some teachers. They'll tell you. It's a war out there, and the teachers are losing."
 

First, I have attended both public and private schools and am a graduate of Indiana University in Telecommunications. I am a former educational television producer, college professor, Upward Bound instructor, and substitute and supply teacher in over 15 county schools in one of the largest school districts in Georgia. I also am the mother of three children who all graduated college and have careers in metro Atlanta. I homeschooled my last child for 2 1/2 years of high school, and she graduated magna cum laude with a degree in Business. One reason I ran for the Cobb County Board in 2008 was because I felt that the school system had policies in place to help students, but they were not being followed.
 

Second of all, Brenda's "last words" give neither facts, data, nor personal observations on school discipline and student disrespect, and her remarks are a simple opinion piece prescribed to describe a volatile situation involving a powerful officer and a small child trying to protect her property and reputation. The other students in the classroom did the only thing they could - document the situation, but all violated the "cellphone rule" by having their phones out and pressing record. 

Since Brenda, who is a "morally correct" 7th Day Adventist and wife of a minister, said we should ask teachers about Classroom Wars, here are some facts and opinions from someone who worked in the trenches as a teacher and observer in the public schools.
 

The bigger picture, in my opinion, is that the school is a place where administrators and teachers are trained and paid to do their jobs and are citizen's employees, not the other way around. Parents and business owners are tax payers who want safe learning environments for their employees and their children. I worked many years as a substitute so I could be home with my kids if they got sick...and believe me, being a substitute is no cakewalk when it comes to classroom discipline. Substitutes are not privy to any student records, so you don't know the backgrounds of students. You've got to be creative to work in this type environment, believe me!!!
 

Brenda describes a "war" going on inside classrooms where a teacher is outnumbered by 4-30 students, but instructors are suppose to have the leadership, academic and psychological training as well as administrative, political (school board) and security (police) power to back them up. So why does Brenda think the teacher is losing the classroom war? Wars are fought with weapons. A student may have disrespect and a cellphone in her pocket, a little like David and Goliath scenario coming against the giant school system with all its policies to secure its power. That's why in many locales parents have banned together to end battles going on in schools. The only war that we should be fighting in the classroom is the war against ignorance.

U.S. Department of Education suggests we rethink school discipline as it related to students.
    Increase their awareness of the prevalence, impact, and legal implications of suspension and expulsion;
    Find basic information and resources on effective alternatives; and
    Join a national conversation on how to effectively create positive school climates.
    http://www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/school-discipline/index.html
 

Yes. Let's take a larger look at this picture as Brenda suggests. A cellphone means a lot to a student and sometimes is the only asset they possess. It is policy in most school districts that if you're caught using a cellphone in class, it is confiscated, you are disciplined and written up, and parents have to be called in to pick it up. A cellphone is a 21st century communication device (sorta like those notes we used to use in class) and often are distractions in school. Cellphones give a person a sense of power - to be connected to the world. If not for cellphones in classrooms, some violent incidents would not have been reported. 

Some kids show such an affinity to this communication tool that they sleep, eat, and bath with it. Adults are also attached to their cellphones. That's why you see corporate executives checking them constantly, even during important conventions and meetings. Just because you don't turn off your cellphone in a movie theater and it rings during the film shouldn't mean you're lifted out of your seat by security!

In my view, if cellphones are a problem in classrooms (I'd like to see the stats on this if school districts would release the data), then cellphone companies need to become involved with this issue. This conversation needs to include why and how cellphones in the classroom can be beneficial to students and used as tools just like laptops. A cellphone is a device, not a threat to learning. Thank God that those brave students capture Officer Fields on video... We learned a lot from Rodney King!!!


As far as respect goes, I learned years ago from my niece that respect is earned, not freely given. Respect has a trust dimension to it and involves good communication. Respect is a mutual endeavor and is not one-sided. The family, classroom, and community are places which breed respect, and if young people are disrespected by poor healthcare, inadequate moral training, poor parenting and job opportunities, disrespect can grow like cancer and invades the classroom.
 

I believe that people who are loved, trusted, and respected don't need to be powerfully prodded into authoritative submission. When rules are clearly mandated and agreed to by both parties, they can easily be followed. Kids, however, like adults are not perfect, but minors are not to be abused, especially by systems of power. Anarchy can result from this type of power struggle in an age when every student has a cellphone. The school to prison pipeline is in force and leads to a stripped community.
 

Officer Fields was a resource officer at Spring Valley High School, and he was wearing a badge and some equipment which may have included a gun. I don't know anything about the student, whether she had a disciplinary record, was from a single parent home, or whether she was an A student. News reports say she was a 16-year old in an Algebra I classroom who didn't want to give up a possession prized by many - a cellphone.
 

If Brenda wants to see what precipitated Officer Fields' encounter, she should suggest that teachers record situations themselves when disrespectful disruptions go down in classrooms.
 

Brenda talks about school discipline being a major issue in big city schools. This school cannot be compared to "a big city public school" because it is a county school in a Columbia, S.C. suburb. The school has just under 2,000 students, and the racial makeup of the school is 50.8% black, 34.1% White, and 6.8% Hispanic, with 35.8% receiving free or discounted lunch. In the U.S., "The largest regular school...was the 7,693-student Vick Early Childhood and Family Center...in the City of Chicago..." ---U.S. Dept. Of Education
 

"Sometimes we forget where many of these students come from and the situations that they deal with on a daily basis. School should be a safe haven and kids should trust all of their administrators, teachers, and staff members." Derrick Meador, Teaching Expert

I must admit, I decided not to continue my assignment at one middle school because after I wrote a student up for class disruption, he came back to my classroom and threatened me. Also, I learned that a student who had major discipline issues was a victim that I couldn't turn around. From talking to the child's grandmother, I found out that discipline at home was difficult because her mother was dead and both her father and brother were incarcerated. She was sexually active, and acting out in the classroom gave her a sense of power in front of peers. 


Another student dropped a box of condoms in front of me in the hallway and was later transferred to another school when they found razor blades in his book bag. These were all issues that should have been addressed by the school counselor, not a supply teacher who had no access to student files. Also, I noticed that many students with discipline problems were eating only French Fries and downing Cokes at lunch. When I mentioned it to the principal, he said students were free to make their own eating choices. Many of them were on free or reduced fee lunch programs.

I felt helpless to improve their situations. Personally, I was working up to three hours a day after school on lesson plans, grading papers, and designing tests and extra hours on weekends inputting student data into the system. I felt I wasn't being paid enough money and had no benefits, and my own kids increasingly needed me to help them with their homework.

My mind is a camera, but I wish I could have videoed horror stories of power I saw inflected by middle school and elementary teachers. I remember seeing a teacher grading papers during lunch. She was slashing through a color-printed assignment that must have taken the student hours and a lot of expensive ink to generate.  "He didn't follow directions," she said as she slashed through each page with a red X. She gave the student an F. I could imagine that student not wanting to try again least of all respecting himself or the teacher.
 

Then there was the time I saw a special needs student being tackled to the floor for trying to verbally defend another student. There was the time I saw a student in a similar classroom straight jacketed and placed behind a screen. Similarly, a teacher from another classroom came in and seeing a student working quietly on the computer wrestled him to the ground where he embarrassingly peed on himself.

I remember my daughter coming home from kindergarten one day complaining about her face hurting because the teacher had squeezed her cheeks for talking too much. The teacher denied it, of course. My daughter also told me she was bitten in the neck by a teacher walking down the hall from the bathroom, but I had no video to prove it. I don't believe my child made that up!
 

This Officer Fields episode reminds me of a cringing "before cellphone moment" when I saw a nun break her cane over my elementary school comrade's back for not sitting down.

Yes, Virginia, teachers are humans, too... Nothing human is alien to them! But respect comes along with the territory. With the Internet, anyone can take classes and learn, even from Harvard, so the physical classroom isn't the only learning vacuum but is a non-virtual social environment. This is the battlefield Brenda alluded to. Yes, hold the powerful accountable - the community and the school- and don't side with perpetrators!


Wednesday, October 28, 2015

What we're learning about South Carolina

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Tranquil South Carolina before the 2015 flooding tears hit
My maternal great grandparents were from Rock Hill, S.C., so I've always wanted to visit that town but haven't had the opportunity. But now, after much violence being reported and the state being hit with major flooding, I may never visit Rock Hill. Just left South Carolina in August, visited Hilton Head's Harbour Island where I had a terrible dinner at the Crab Shack. My last memory of S.C. is watching an alligator swimming in the resort pond.

What's up with S.C.? As an African American, has it replaced Mississippi as the state I never want to be caught living in?

If you know American History, South Carolina was a major slave state with the black population outnumbering the white population at some point which is probably why white supremacy/racism abounds there - a means of power and control. Even though they've removed the 'ole Confederate Battle Flag from state grounds after Dylann Roof went into a black church bible study and murdered nine people, now comes the fact that cellphones have documented a black man being shot in the back and a 16-year old female student being violently removed from her desk.

Then there's the rain and flooding that continue to impact the state, making it a wasteland.  It could be a beautiful place, but tears are falling there. May God have mercy on its residents.

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South Carolina is a beautiful place with painful memories. (Honey Hill Plantation, Hilton Head Island, S. C.)
To read more news on what's happening in S.C., go to: http://wbt.com/here-is-the-latest-south-carolina-news-from-the-associated-press/


Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Contemplating healing in a technological age

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Instead of preaching to birds, we have to use technology to reach humans who will listen.
As I've gotten older, my ideas have changed but never my basic beliefs and ideals. 

My moral training started out in the all black Christian Methodist Episcopal Church that my parents attended, but I never went to Sunday school there because my parents deemed the one hour daily Catholic Catechism class I was receiving at St. Joseph's School over eight years enough religious indoctrination. 

Now, when I get sick and can't sleep, I revert to my meditative standby: repeating the Lord's Prayer over and over again while listening to soothing music on my IPad and the pronouncements of Dr. Deepak Chopra. When I feel my breathing labored, I pull out my knitting needles and yarn, something I learned as a Girl Scout many years ago, my fingers now concentrating on stitches and how I might give away scarves as Christmas presents.

Last night and way until the morning hours, after taking antibiotics for an infection, I watched a video on the life and death of St. Francis of Assisi. Born into wealth and luxury, he had everything in life going for him until he was imprisoned after a Civil War. Languishing in a dark, damp dungeon for a year until a ransom could be paid, St. Francis contracted malaria. 

After returning to his family and visiting a dilapidated church, he felt called to serve the poor. Despite all odds, he wanted to become a preacher and was granted his wish of becoming a friar by Pope Innocent. He first began preaching to birds depicted as the poor in medieval iconography. He cared for lepers and contacted the dreaded disease. He left the religious ministry he founded because of organization disputes. He died poor and ill at age 44, reciting Psalms with only his closest friends around. 

Such a life could have been lived differently, and many thought he had thrown his life away, but he felt called by God. May God have mercy on us and lead us to a greater understanding of His Will.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Separation/racism symbolism first in Bible

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What do you think of this idea of racism leading the biblical Creation Story in Genesis on which Jewish and Christian belief systems are based?

Black people (darkness) were first on the Earth but were considered to be living in a void (uncivilized, chaotic people without culture or sense of community).

Then came light (white people with knowledge) which was heavenly and supreme (good) when compared to darkness.

Dark and Light were then separated by God (the Creator) into Night and Day. (Segregation)

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Breaking news: Freddie Gray settlement offer

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2015/09/08/city-says-it-has-reached-64m-wrongful-death-settlement-with-family-freddie-gray/

Friday, August 28, 2015

Blacks in mainstream media: disasters from a personal perspective

I was a 24 year old TV journalist (like Alison Parker) working with KET's Leonard Press.
"My heart is broken, and my soul has been crushed." 
 ---Andy Parker, father of slain journalist Alison Parker 
 
Here's my perspective in response to the tragic murders of two TV personalities by another TV personality.

I once was a black female TV journalist. After graduating from Indiana University with a degree in Telecommunications  (Radio and Television) at age 21, I became an associate producer at Kentucky Educational Television in Lexington, Ky. Although I completed my education at a Big Ten university, I was placed in a two-year training program at KET, and half my $7,700 yearly salary was paid for by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting for those two years.
I started out floor directing and knew nobody in my new hometown except for my KET crew mates and station personnel. We had a lot of fun in the studio and control room, and I felt we were one big, happy family!
At age 24, I wrote a proposal and began producing a speech series, interviewing Maya Angelou, Julian Bond, Jesse Jackson, Louis Gossett, Jr., Haki Madhubuti, Alice Walker, Toni Cade Bambara, and other high profile African Americans as well as reporting on a statewide magazine-formatted television show. I also was instrumental in getting more blacks hired at our station where I was only one of three black television professionals.

Things started turning sour when my reporting on Corbin, Ky. , formerly a "sundown town," got some negative calls from the town's Chamber of Commerce. My story was updating the events of a 1919 incident which resulted in 99% of the black residents being shipped out of Corbin. Little did I realize that my investigative reporting collided with town leaders who didn't want negative pr affecting a newly approved industrial park. My story was heavily edited.

I traveled often and met with other black and female TV producers from around the country.
Then I found out my office mate, who didn't have a background in television but was hired part-time to type scripts, was making more money than me.  When I took a part-time job teaching Communications courses at a nearby black university (another state agency) to make extra money, my white female manager told me it was considered a conflict of interest, even though others at the station were doing the same thing.  I found an "Application for Niggers" in my company mailbox, and nothing was done about it.
 
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I was told my part-time teaching job was a conflict of interest. My students were Upward Bound and college-level Communications students.
When I was offered a job in corporate America, I took it, and listening to the advice of my friend who was in human resources, I filed a complaint against my former employer for past discrimination. I felt that I had been wronged and had to do something about it through the system to send a message. I tried to hire an attorney first before filing the complaint. A Louisville attorney told me, "I have no doubt that you were discriminated against, but I charge $5,000 to open your file." At the time, my salary was only $14,000 a year, and I had very little savings to fight state government in court. I was also informed that it is almost impossible to sue a state agency and win. 
 
"As a result of the overwhelming media focus on crime, drug use, gang violence, and other forms of anti-social behavior among African-Americans, the media have fostered a distorted and pernicious public perception of African-Americans."
---Ronald L. Taylor

I gave a $100 retainer to a black attorney, Shirley Cunningham, who was later convicted in a major fraud case spotlighted on the TV show "American Greed." Cunningham, who now resides in a federal prison, didn't even show up for the hearing and didn't return my $100. Of course, I was told by the EEOC my complaint had no merit.

I never worked in television again after that, and have always had low paying jobs. Perhaps what hurt even more, however, was my old college professor telling me,"You had such promise... What happened to you?" Perhaps complaining about how I was treated in television led to me being blackballed in a profession that I loved. 


"The societal and economic factors of racism have become more than just a bias. They are also a profitable industry, in which the elite will continue to suppress the lower class in order to maximize profits."
---Stephen Balkaran

My mother is probably turning over in her grave because as a single mother (my father died when I was 16 and she was 39), she paid out- of-state fees for me to matriculate to a prestigious university. Graduating #3 in my high school class, I had also been accepted at Smith and Spelman but chose IU. My Mother never took a dime in financial assistance to pay for my college education. For spending money, I worked at the college television station, WTIU.

Although I'm saddened by what happened to those two journalists that were killed in Virginia, I also am saddened by thousands of good journalists, especially black journalists, who are not successful in media which is an elite profession closed to many. Recently, the profession is turning from journalism into entertainment and increasingly competing with social media and YouTube posts.

Could things have turned out differently for me? Yes.
Am I angry about my short-lived TV career? Maybe, but it was not meant to be.
Did it ever cross my mind to kill somebody over my circumstances or perceived slights? Never.

"In the event you willfully and deliberately put to death any Racist (s), and/or and suspected Racist (s), you should then eliminate yourself before being forced to commit any act of violence and/or bodily harm against any people who are not Racist(s) or suspected Racist(s), but who are directly or indirectly sent by Racists to maim, kill, or put you in greater confinement." 
---Neely Fuller, Jr.

Sharing my story isn't easy, but all truth comes to light. Going forward, we must discuss why anger is leading to increasing violence all over the globe and murder is being played out "live" before our eyes. With cameras everywhere, we are playing deadly games of reality, and our children are watching.

"We're communicators, and we can't be silent...share." 
---Chris Hurst, partner of Alison Parker

If I was on local or national television today, I would be asking these questions:
  • What is the racial makeup of the staff at WDBJ7 and the other station where the murderer previously worked?
  • Were mentors available for Williams to talk to about his problems?
  • How many EEOC complaints have been filed against TV news stations, and what were the outcomes? If placed on an employment improvement plan, how many people improve or are retained, especially in "Right to Work" states?
  • Once you're on a downward spiral at a station, how do you improve or change the situation? How many employees are blackballed and their careers ruined after filing discrimination complaints?
  • What did Alison Parker say to Bryce Williams that made him want to kill her, or was he just a mentally ill person that needed an excuse to blow up?
  • What do black journalists think about this story, and how are black journalists advised to navigate in a predominately white workplace where racism may be rampant?
  • Should blacks not choose mass communications as a career option?
  • Lester Holt and Tavis Smiley (who attended IU but didn't graduate) can be considered successful media types...how do their work experiences compare with those of Williams? How do they navigate being journalists in a racist environment?

Monday, August 17, 2015

Leo Frank, only Jew lynched in U.S. - 100 years later

"Leo-frank-at-trial" by Via http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Leo-frank-at-trial.jpg. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons
Even after the governor intervened, Leo Frank, a pencil manufacturing manager, was hung in Marietta, Ga. Frank was the only Jew lynched in the United States that we know about. Frank's throat was slashed by another Milledgeville Prison inmate. Then he was taken from his cell by an angry mob to where an audience of men, women, and children stood ready to watch the spectacle. He then was hung with a superior court judge standing by, and his body and face were smashed after he was cut down. None of the lynching accounts said whether Frank was castrated or burned.

A stain was left in Cobb County, Ga. after the Knights of Mary Phagen (the KKK) killed Frank by hanging.  Frank was lynched at midnight on August 17, 1915 for allegedly raping and killing a 13 year old girl employed at the factory. After the Frank lynching, it was reported that around half of Georgia's 3,000 Jews left the state. With the Klan vowing to rise again, one wonders whether there are enough Jews or law enforcement to prevent this type of thing happening again.

People have also been spotted wearing confederate clothing in Europe this week.
Side note: Saturday, on a Cobb County Street, I passed a road construction worker wearing a confederate flag scarf around his neck which I felt was highly inappropriate to wear to work. I saw a restaurant employee last week wearing a stars and bars t-shirt which I also felt was inappropriate. Walking into a local package store, I passed by the entrance display featuring "Dixie" liquor which soured my stomach.

I definitely feel that there is a resurgence of the KKK movement, and nothing is being done about it because politicians feel that they are prohibited from doing anything against one's free speech, although others feel that the confederate flag is a terrorist symbol.

To learn more about Leo Frank, go to:
http://observer.com/2015/08/100-year-anniversary-of-the-hanging-of-leo-frank/
and
http://www.newrepublic.com/article/122542/distant-mirror-leo-frank-lynching
and
http://www.haaretz.com/jewish-world/jewish-world-features/1.671478
and
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leo_Frank

St. Joseph's School: a lesson in reverse integration

Asian nun with pupil, Joan Moses, at St. Joseph's School
The Salvatorian Sisters, Society of the Divine Savior, opened the first Saint Joseph School on September 4, 1956 in two rooms of the mission house in Huntsville, Al. St. Joseph’s Mission was founded to serve the African American community of Madison County..

Merry-go-round on school playground before integration
St. Joseph's School holds the distinction of being the first elementary school to integrate in the state of Alabama quietly and peacefully on September 3, 1963 when twelve white students submitted applications and were accepted for admission. The event is noted not only for the initial integration of elementary schools in Alabama but also for its “reverse” integration nature. In 1965, St. Joseph's Mission was fully integrated in all classrooms. 

Here are some photos I took with my Girl Scout camera while a student at St. Joseph's before and after integration and a bio of the priest behind the historical integration.

Some of my closest friends, classmates, and neighbors
Father Mark Sterbenz, S.D.S., pastor and priest of St. Joseph’s Mission from 1961 – 1967, said the "reverse integration" set a precedent for others to follow. "All we're doing is teaching religion to whites, to Negroes, to anyone who comes," said Father Mark who was sued for integrating St. Joseph's School. "Religion along with education... that’s the reason it works.”

Father Mark outside school with two pupils in uniforms
According to the Society of the Divine Savior Obituatries website, Father Mark Sterbenz (John LeRoy) was born on October 1, 1913, in Baraga, Mich. After the first year of high school in his hometown, he transferred to Salvatorian Seminary in St. Nazianz, Wisconsin, where he completed his high school studies and the first two years of college. He entered the Novitiate there in 1933, and he made his profession of vows on September 8, 1934. After completing college in St. Nazianz, he went to Catholic University in Washington, DC, where he finished his studies for the priesthood. He was ordained on May 30, 1939, in the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. 

Fr. Mark ministered in the Publishing Department in St. Nazianz, learning the procedures and skills of fund-raising. He was one of the founding members of Mother Mary Mission in Phenix City, Alabama. He later worked in the Salvatorian Mission House in Elkton, Maryland, where he also served as Superior of the community and procurator. 

In 1961, he returned to Alabama, this time to St. Joseph’s Parish in Huntsville, as pastor of the parish and Superior of the community. The school was integrated in 1963. 

Photo of boys in my class...Jose, Kirk, David, Condredge, and Earnest I remember distinctly.
He became pastor of St. Catherine’s Parish in McMinnville, Tennessee; and later of St. Benedict’s Parish in Columbus, Georgia, where he also served as chaplain in the local regional hospital, the state correctional institution, and Fort Benning Army Base. 

Fr. Mark semi-retired in 1985, and remained in the Columbus area, serving as chaplain in two local hospitals, until a few months before his death. Having been diagnosed with terminal cancer, he was admitted to the hospice of St. Joseph’s Hospital in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where he died on August 26, 1993. He was buried in the community cemetery in St. Nazianz. 

Fr. Mark is remembered as a caring priest with genial good humor, great energy and vitality, and selfless dedication to his ministries, which many times began with almost nothing, and grew steady and strong through his skills in fund-raising and development.

Julian Bond: goodbye to a smart, beautiful soul who dabbled in politics


2012 photo of Bond by Eduardo Montes-Bradley
I first saw and heard Julian Bond speak at Oakwood College in Huntsville, Al. in the late 1960's, soon after his name was placed in nomination for Vice President at the 1968 Democratic Convention. I interviewed him for a public television speaker's series in the late 1970's. I became his Facebook friend in 2011.

What I loved most about him were his jokes. He referred to politics as being second only to the world's oldest profession - prostitution. He could tell jokes dryly without breaking a smile.

Here's one of my favorites from my book "Word to the Mother" which gives a hint at his political humor taken from his speech at the University of Kentucky in the late 1970's. 

"I live in Atlanta, Georgia which, as you may know, is a large, sophisticated, cosmopolitan city. But many years ago when I was just a boy, I lived in a small town in rural Georgia. This was really a teeny, tiny place. I guess many of you would call it a 'plain' place. It's a little town called Fort Valley.

"Now, when I lived in Fort Valley, it was distinguished as the home of two institutions. One was the Blue Bird Bus Manufacturing Plant. They manufactured Blue Bird bus bodies. The other was a little four-year college, which when I lived there was called the Fort Valley State College for Negroes. Georgia, like Kentucky, has undergone tremendous progress in the last few years, so much so that this college is not called Fort Valley State College. It's still pretty much for Negroes, however.

"In this town, among the couple hundred people living there, there lived a minister and a politician. The two men were close friends, but despite their friendship, they argued almost constantly about which of them performed the greatest service for humankind. The minister used to say, 'It is I because I take care of problems in the hereafter.' The politician would say, 'No, it's I because I take care of problems right here on Earth.'

"Well, this argument between them just went on and on, and it probably would be still going on today except one morning, the minister got up early and looked out his front window, and to his great shock and chagrin saw a dead jackass in his driveway. He called the politician on the phone and said, 'See here, there's a dead jackass in my driveway. I want you to have it hauled away.' The politician said, 'I don't know why you're calling me. You're suppose to bury the dead.' The minister said, 'Yeah, but I'm also suppose to notify the next of kin!' "

That was Bond, Julian Bond, at his best. He will be missed.

(I will post pictures of our 1970's interview after I find them in my personal archives.)

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Agriculture base for any economy---why are food prices so high?

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Agriculture, food shortages, and climate change affecting the economy should be major political topics. A good diet is key to having a healthy and thriving populace.
One of the most important topics that none of the 2016 presidential political candidates are focused on is the condition of global agriculture in a world which must feed 7.4 billion humans. Why is that?

According to Fred Magdoff and Brian Tokara in their book, Agriculture and Food in Crisis, "significant amount of the world’s population continues to suffer from hunger or food insecurity on a daily basis...approximately a billion people-close to one-sixty of humanity-suffer from continual and sever hunger." http://monthlyreview.org/2009/07/01/an-overview-of-the-food-and-agriculture-crisis/

In his 1994 Senate campaign, Mitt Romney wanted to eliminate the federal Department of Agriculture and reduce farm subsidies. In 2007, a Romney campaign spokesman said, "Governor Romney believes that investing in agriculture is key to our economy and families." 

On www.barackobama.come, the closest policy explanation on agriculture deals with climate change. "If we don't act to curb current global emissions, they could lead...to a global catastrophe, contributing to extreme weather, food and water shortage, and global instability." 

Agriculture has been the foundation of economies since ancient times. Let's make it a priority now!

Political hyperbole or terroristic threats... you decide!

Streets of Ferguson look like war games being played out in front of our eyes.
It's getting hotter, with Farrakhan battling the Oath Keepers...no telling what will happen next, but it doesn't appear to be pretty!

http://mobile.wnd.com/2015/08/farrakhans-call-to-kill-white-cops-is-it-legal/#6fQ67Sgpv7XJKX6D.03
and
http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2015/08/11/who-are-the-oath-keepers-and-why-has-the-armed-group-returned-to-ferguson/

What do you think will be the outcome of these maneuvers?

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Religious and political gatherings focus on morals/manners opposite angry promises

I covered two meetings today which were totally antithetical to one another. 

One was entitled "Our Season for Grace and Mercy: A 20th Annual Prayer Breakfast" of the Ladies Auxiliary of the Knights of Peter Claver, Our Lady of Lourdes Court 300, held at the Loudermilk Conference Center in downtown Atlanta, Ga.

The other was the RedState Gathering hosted by members of the Republican Party held at the Intercontinental Hotel in Buckhead, Ga.  

Each one spouted a different message. 

The first was prayerful, respectful, and inspirational. The other was unpatriotic, misleading, bombastic, and audacious.
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The Prayer Breakfast was attended mostly by black women.
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The RedState Gathering was attended mostly by white men and women.

One had a predominately black audience. The other was predominately white.

One featured a prize winning writer and playwright, Pearl Cleage, daughter of a civil rights and religious leader, the late Albert Cleage (Jaramogi Abebe Agyeman), who founded the Shrine of the Black Madonna in both Atlanta and Detroit.  

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I got up close to Cleage who was lovingly referred to as "Ms. Pearl" at the Prayer Breakfast.

The other event featured Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush who is running for president. Jeb Bush is the son of Former U.S. President George Herbert Walker Bush and brother of Former President George W. Bush.

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 Bush, who was protected by heavy security, appeared live and on jumbo video screens in an Intercontinental Hotel ballroom.
I was invited to the first event, but not to the second one. Each gathering had its own message.

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The program was dedicated to the late Lady Barbara Neely.
At the Prayer Breakfast, Cleage called on spirits in a grace poem centered in a wonderland of possibilities.

"Fall and stay in love," Cleage said. "We are searching for the person who can activate the best in us... and can instigate forward momentum. ..Don't be limited by machines and media."

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There was no visible media coverage at the Prayer Breakfast.
Cleage said we are still living in a time requiring blood sacrifices, creative language to tell the truth, and possibilities of our own magic.

With a soft, melodious but commanding voice, this great Ms. Pearl took me into a possible reality that looks more promising than the negative reports pointed to in breaking news reports.

"Good things can happen if we call on the spirits and act on our higher, moral selves," Cleage said.

Cleage long poem cantered, "And now, this is the moment when there will be wars and rumors of wars. There will be plagues and persecutions, saints and sinners. There will be spirit dancers whirling in the moonlight and slave owners searching for salvation and finding only history...

"These are the times that try our souls and our patience, and our resources and our sanity, and our resolve and our commitment to whatever or whoever we believe in."
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At the RedState event, I was one of two members of the media who happened to be black...race can determine what the general populace learns about politics.  I wondered whether Donald Trump was "dis-invited" to the meeting because of allegedly saying unkind remarks about a female journalist or did he bow out because the group could not give him the appearance fee he desired. I didn't get the chance to see Chris Cristie, Ted Cruz, Rick Perry, Bobby Jindal, Marco Rubio, Carly Fiorina, Scott Walker or Mike Huckabee, (there are 38 declared Republican candidates, but all were not there), but I sat in on Jeb Bush's address to the group.
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There was heavy media coverage of the RedState event.
Bush was introduced as Florida's governor, not the former governor of Florida.

Bush's wish list included the following:
1. Change the Washington culture by shrinking the government workforce.
2. Implement lobbying reform.
3. Have a new normal conversation about economic growth.
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Man in money suit outside RedState Gathering
Bush also believes we need to increase business startups, hone in regulatory costs, and decrease burdens on new businesses. 

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Donald Trump was allegedly "dis-invited" from the Gathering, but his supporters held signs on the sidewalk outside the Intercontinental Hotel.
If Jeb becomes president, he promises to undue all executive orders made by President Obama, give more power back to states, pass the Reins Act, release the animal spirits of our country, simplify the tax code and lower rates, and be "all in" on the energy revolution. "You have got to lead, just not make great speeches," Bush said. He said leaders need to have "spine and backbone," be principled and servant oriented.

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I don't favor Republicans even though I was born on Ronald Reagan's birthday!
I don't believe Bush can deliver on his promises and was very embarrassed by his brother's presidency. 

After the RedState Gathering, I was told by friends, "Why did you go down there to report on crazy people?" and "You can't reason with crazy people."

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Should "The South" rise again?

If "The South rising again" means economic prosperity and respect for every Southerner, I'm all for it.

If it relates to white dominance and denial of my human and civil rights, I'm against it.

If it means turning to violence, intimidation, and fraud at the voting booth, I'm against it.

If "rising" deals with me feeling persecuted, paranoid, impoverished, and powerless, I'm against it.

If it means putting me in a certain place, hamstringing my opportunities, or living in fear from day to day, on into the future, I'm against it.


Homeland Security, FBI investigating hateful emails sent to Ebenezer

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Photo taken on I75 South headed towards Atlanta

According to Channel 11 News in Atlanta, federal authorities, Homeland Security and the FBI, have been called in to investigate emails sent to Ebenezer Baptist Church, some which "included language that were too offensive to include" on television newscasts. The emails were sent one week after two white males placed Confederate flags on the grounds of the church and the King Center.

Ebenezer Baptist Church was the home church of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee in 1968.

According to several news sources, here are some comments contained in these emails:
“…how many black people have whites killed? I’ll tell you, 0, none, Nada. In fact, whites commit so few crimes that the powers that be have to put the Hispanic community in with the white community to prove that whites commit crime. Whites don’t, and have never committed serious crimes, or any crimes against blacks."

"However, blacks are 9 times more likely to commit a violent crime against whites then whites against blacks, and blacks, at an average rape 100 white women a day in the U.S. so why should you worry about a little thing like the Confederate flag.”

“Martin (Michael) Luther King is right now in the Lake of Fire. What you need to do is to stop your communism (which is a Jewish government system, and Martin (Michael) Luther King was a communist), and just face facts. God’s people Israel which are the white Caucasian, Anglo-Saxon, Germanic, Scandinavian, are going to be victorious. Their kinsman redeemer Jesus Christ is coming to restore all things, and lead his people to victory."

"The Confederate flag will rise again, and you can’t prevent it.”


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Sign at historic Ebenezer on Auburn Avenue in downtown Atlanta
For more information on this story, go to: http://www.11alive.com/story/news/local/old-fourth-ward/2015/08/04/historic-ebenezer-baptist-church-targeted-racist-emails/31139711/