July 27, 2014

Am I Not Human? We Are All Born Free and Equal

This blog is going to return to its roots. On the 27th of each month we plan to blog about human rights.
Every person is entitled to certain fundamental rights, simply by the fact of being human. These are called “human rights” rather than a privilege (which can be taken away at someone’s whim).

They are “rights” because they are things you are allowed to be, to do or to have. These rights are there for your protection against people who might want to harm or hurt you. They are also there to help us get along with each other and live in peace.

First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt Reviews UDHR
Born out of the atrocities and enormous loss of life during World War II, the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights was signed in 1948 to provide a common understanding of what everyone’s rights are. It forms the basis for a world built on freedom, justice and peace.  This declaration provided a list of 30 specific human rights

The first of those 30 specific human rights is simple enough...

We are all born Free and Equal!

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

Just because the nations of the world signed a declaration that defined and respected 'human rights' doesn't mean that abuses don't occur.  Human rights abuses are taking place in America and in most other nations of the world.  On the 27th of each month we are going to shine our blogging spotlight on human rights abuse ... and our hope is that other bloggers will do so as well.

Roots of Humanity feels that each of us can fight against human rights abuses in the world. We simply need to do something. Protest. Meditate. Pray. In the case of bloggers ... we want you to blog on the 27th of each month. Just share information on behalf of our human siblings in all suffering areas who are either barred from communication by their governments, or lacking in technology to ask: Am I Not Human?

July 25, 2014

Video Game Innovation Fellowship for Minority Youth

Leaders on Fast Track (LOFT) has partnered with the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) to run the ESA LOFT Video Game Innovation Fellowship. We are asking all villagers to take a close look at this fellowship opportunity.  Your goal is simple: create a video game or application that can inspire social change in your community.
  • Eligible: Minority youth ages 16-24
  • Reward: 20 winners will receive $1,000 grants and a trip to DC
  • Deadline: August 15, 2014.

Barbara Jordan, 'Statement on the Articles of Impeachment'

I think that Barbara Jordan (1936-1976) was one of the most remarkable women in our history. She was the first African American since Reconstruction to serve in the Texas Senate and then the first African American woman from the South to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives.

You don't hear much about her life and accomplishments. As such, I was pleased to see that American Rhetoric included Rep. Jordan more than once on their list of the Top 100 Speeches of the 20th Century. The speech, delivered by Rep. Jordan on July 25, 1974 at a House Judiciary Committee meeting is ranked #13. Many considered it to be the most powerful speech of the hearings.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Chairman, I join my colleague Mr. Rangel in thanking you for giving the junior members of this committee the glorious opportunity of sharing the pain of this inquiry. Mr. Chairman, you are a strong man, and it has not been easy but we have tried as best we can to give you as much assistance as possible.

Earlier today, we heard the beginning of the Preamble to the Constitution of the United States: "We, the people." It's a very eloquent beginning. But when that document was completed on the seventeenth of September in 1787, I was not included in that "We, the people." I felt somehow for many years that George Washington and Alexander Hamilton just left me out by mistake. But through the process of amendment, interpretation, and court decision, I have finally been included in "We, the people."

Today I am an inquisitor. An hyperbole would not be fictional and would not overstate the solemnness that I feel right now. My faith in the Constitution is whole; it is complete; it is total. And I am not going to sit here and be an idle spectator to the diminution, the subversion, the destruction, of the Constitution.

"Who can so properly be the inquisitors for the nation as the representatives of the nation themselves?" "The subjects of its jurisdiction are those offenses which proceed from the misconduct of public men."¹ And that's what we're talking about. In other words, [the jurisdiction comes] from the abuse or violation of some public trust.

It is wrong, I suggest, it is a misreading of the Constitution for any member here to assert that for a member to vote for an article of impeachment means that that member must be convinced that the President should be removed from office. The Constitution doesn't say that. The powers relating to impeachment are an essential check in the hands of the body of the legislature against and upon the encroachments of the executive. The division between the two branches of the legislature, the House and the Senate, assigning to the one the right to accuse and to the other the right to judge, the framers of this Constitution were very astute. They did not make the accusers and the judgers -- and the judges the same person.

We know the nature of impeachment. We've been talking about it awhile now. It is chiefly designed for the President and his high ministers to somehow be called into account. It is designed to "bridle" the executive if he engages in excesses. "It is designed as a method of national inquest into the conduct of public men."² The framers confided in the Congress the power if need be, to remove the President in order to strike a delicate balance between a President swollen with power and grown tyrannical, and preservation of the independence of the executive.

The nature of impeachment: a narrowly channeled exception to the separation-of-powers maxim. The Federal Convention of 1787 said that. It limited impeachment to high crimes and misdemeanors and discounted and opposed the term "maladministration." "It is to be used only for great misdemeanors," so it was said in the North Carolina ratification convention. And in the Virginia ratification convention: "We do not trust our liberty to a particular branch. We need one branch to check the other."

"No one need be afraid" -- the North Carolina ratification convention -- "No one need be afraid that officers who commit oppression will pass with immunity." "Prosecutions of impeachments will seldom fail to agitate the passions of the whole community," said Hamilton in the Federalist Papers, number 65. "We divide into parties more or less friendly or inimical to the accused."³ I do not mean political parties in that sense.

The drawing of political lines goes to the motivation behind impeachment; but impeachment must proceed within the confines of the constitutional term "high crime[s] and misdemeanors." Of the impeachment process, it was Woodrow Wilson who said that "Nothing short of the grossest offenses against the plain law of the land will suffice to give them speed and effectiveness. Indignation so great as to overgrow party interest may secure a conviction; but nothing else can."

Common sense would be revolted if we engaged upon this process for petty reasons. Congress has a lot to do: Appropriations, Tax Reform, Health Insurance, Campaign Finance Reform, Housing, Environmental Protection, Energy Sufficiency, Mass Transportation. Pettiness cannot be allowed to stand in the face of such overwhelming problems. So today we are not being petty. We are trying to be big, because the task we have before us is a big one.

This morning, in a discussion of the evidence, we were told that the evidence which purports to support the allegations of misuse of the CIA by the President is thin. We're told that that evidence is insufficient. What that recital of the evidence this morning did not include is what the President did know on June the 23rd, 1972.

The President did know that it was Republican money, that it was money from the Committee for the Re-Election of the President, which was found in the possession of one of the burglars arrested on June the 17th. What the President did know on the 23rd of June was the prior activities of E. Howard Hunt, which included his participation in the break-in of Daniel Ellsberg's psychiatrist, which included Howard Hunt's participation in the Dita Beard ITT affair, which included Howard Hunt's fabrication of cables designed to discredit the Kennedy Administration.

We were further cautioned today that perhaps these proceedings ought to be delayed because certainly there would be new evidence forthcoming from the President of the United States. There has not even been an obfuscated indication that this committee would receive any additional materials from the President. The committee subpoena is outstanding, and if the President wants to supply that material, the committee sits here. The fact is that on yesterday, the American people waited with great anxiety for eight hours, not knowing whether their President would obey an order of the Supreme Court of the United States.

At this point, I would like to juxtapose a few of the impeachment criteria with some of the actions the President has engaged in. Impeachment criteria: James Madison, from the Virginia ratification convention. "If the President be connected in any suspicious manner with any person and there be grounds to believe that he will shelter him, he may be impeached."

We have heard time and time again that the evidence reflects the payment to defendants money. The President had knowledge that these funds were being paid and these were funds collected for the 1972 presidential campaign. We know that the President met with Mr. Henry Petersen 27 times to discuss matters related to Watergate, and immediately thereafter met with the very persons who were implicated in the information Mr. Petersen was receiving. The words are: "If the President is connected in any suspicious manner with any person and there be grounds to believe that he will shelter that person, he may be impeached."

Justice Story: "Impeachment" is attended -- "is intended for occasional and extraordinary cases where a superior power acting for the whole people is put into operation to protect their rights and rescue their liberties from violations." We know about the Huston plan. We know about the break-in of the psychiatrist's office. We know that there was absolute complete direction on September 3rd when the President indicated that a surreptitious entry had been made in Dr. Fielding's office, after having met with Mr. Ehrlichman and Mr. Young. "Protect their rights." "Rescue their liberties from violation."

The Carolina ratification convention impeachment criteria: those are impeachable "who behave amiss or betray their public trust."4 Beginning shortly after the Watergate break-in and continuing to the present time, the President has engaged in a series of public statements and actions designed to thwart the lawful investigation by government prosecutors. Moreover, the President has made public announcements and assertions bearing on the Watergate case, which the evidence will show he knew to be false. These assertions, false assertions, impeachable, those who misbehave. Those who "behave amiss or betray the public trust."

James Madison again at the Constitutional Convention: "A President is impeachable if he attempts to subvert the Constitution." The Constitution charges the President with the task of taking care that the laws be faithfully executed, and yet the President has counseled his aides to commit perjury, willfully disregard the secrecy of grand jury proceedings, conceal surreptitious entry, attempt to compromise a federal judge, while publicly displaying his cooperation with the processes of criminal justice. "A President is impeachable if he attempts to subvert the Constitution."

If the impeachment provision in the Constitution of the United States will not reach the offenses charged here, then perhaps that 18th-century Constitution should be abandoned to a 20th-century paper shredder.

Has the President committed offenses, and planned, and directed, and acquiesced in a course of conduct which the Constitution will not tolerate? That's the question. We know that. We know the question. We should now forthwith proceed to answer the question. It is reason, and not passion, which must guide our deliberations, guide our debate, and guide our decision.

I yield back the balance of my time, Mr. Chairman.

July 24, 2014

36th Annual BDPA Technology Conference (Indianapolis, August 5-9, 2014)

Learn more about the 36th annual BDPA Technology Conference being held August 5-9, 2014 in Indianapolis.  Here is a brief video clip with some of the details of this remarkable STEM-based event.

Call BDPA on (301) 584-3135 to learn more about connecting with the organization's programs, scholarships and services on a local, regional or national level.

Rest In Peace: Sherman Hemsley (1928-2012)

Sherman Hemsley was an actor that we didn't appreciate as much as we should. I suspect that we will end up appreciating him more in death than we did in life. He died at the age of 74. He had no wife or children.

He made a good living as an actor after spending four years in the Air Force and eight years working at the post office. Hemsley made a name for himself as George Jefferson, carrying the iconic sitcom for a decade and earning a 1984 Emmy nomination for his work as lead actor in a comedy series. He also starred as Deacon Ernest Frye on the NBC series "Amen" for several years.

Sherman Hemsley created his own future with the energy and creativity that he gave to his supporting character on 'All In The Family'. He was a great foil to 'Archie Bunker's white supremacist attitude as the Black neighbor. Hemsley's brilliance led to a spin-off situation comedy called 'The Jefferson'.

His bodacious portrayal of a successful Black entrepreneur trying to 'move on up' hit home for many of us ... he had a successful marriage in that show and he raised a good son in a tradition nuclear family. His comedic genius was evident in each episode ... and he showed a different side of Black America that hadn't been seen before on prime-time television.

I suspect that there never would have been a Huxtable family in the 'Cosby Show' if George Jefferson hadn't been so great in 'The Jeffersons'.

Rest In Peace Mr. Hemsley!

July 18, 2014

Happy Birthday Nelson Mandela (1918 - 2013)

Today is Mandela Day. On this date in 1918 Nelson Mandela was born. I think that Mr. Mandela has been rewarded with long-life to compensate for the remarkable sacrifice that he made for his people.

Nelson Mandela is the South African leader who sparked a series of events that led to the end of apartheid. He also served as the first Black president of South Africa and won the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize.

Born in Umtata, South Africa, in what is now Eastern Cape Province, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was the son of a Xhosa-speaking Thembu chief. He attended the University of Fort Hare in Alice where he became involved in the political struggle against the racial discrimination practiced in South Africa. He was expelled in 1940 for participating in a student demonstration. After moving to Johannesburg, he completed his course work by correspondence through the University of South Africa and received a bachelor’s degree in 1942. Mandela then studied law at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg.

He became increasingly involved with the African National Congress (ANC), a multiracial nationalist movement which sought to bring about democratic political change in South Africa. Mandela helped establish the ANC’s Youth League in 1944 and became its president in 1951. The National Party (NP) came to power in South Africa in 1948 on a political platform of white supremacy. The official policy of apartheid, or forced segregation of the races, began to be implemented under NP rule. In 1952, the ANC staged a campaign known as the Defiance Campaign, when protesters across the country refused to obey apartheid laws. That same year Mandela became one of the ANC’s four deputy presidents.

In 1952, he and his friend Oliver Tambo were the first Blacks to open a law practice in South Africa. In the face of government harassment and with the prospect of the ANC being officially banned, Mandela and others devised a plan. Called the "M" plan after Mandela, it organized the ANC into small units of people who could then encourage grassroots participation in anti-apartheid struggles.

By the late 1950s, Mandela, with Oliver Tambo and others, moved the ANC in a more militant direction against the increasingly discriminatory policies of the government. He was charged with treason in 1956 because of the ANC’s increased activity, particularly in the Defiance Campaign, but he was acquitted after a five-year trial. In 1957, Mandela divorced his first wife, Evelyn Mase; in 1958, he married Nkosikazi Nomzamo Madikizela, a social worker, who became known as Winnie Mandela. In March 1960, the ANC and its rival, the Pan-Africanist Congress (PAC), called for a nationwide demonstration against South Africa’s pass laws, which controlled the movement and employment of Blacks and forced them to carry identity papers.

When police massacred 69 Blacks demonstrating in Sharpeville, both the ANC and the PAC were banned. After Sharpeville, the ANC abandoned the strategy of nonviolence, which until that time had been an important part of its philosophy. Mandela helped to establish the ANC’s military wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe (Spear of the Nation), in December 1961. He was named its commander-in-chief and went to Algeria for military training.

Back in South Africa, he was arrested in August 1962 and sentenced to prison for incitement and for leaving the country illegally. In response to both international and domestic pressure, the South African government, under the leadership of President F. W. de Klerk, lifted the ban against the ANC and released Mandela in February 1990 after 28 years in prison.

Soon after his release from prison he became estranged from Winnie Mandela, who had played a key leadership role in the anti apartheid movement during his incarceration. Although Winnie had won international recognition for her defiance of the government, immediately before Mandela’s release she had come into conflict with the ANC over a controversial kidnapping and murder trial that involved her young bodyguards. The Mandelas were divorced in 1996. Mandela, who enjoyed enormous popularity, assumed the leadership of the ANC and led negotiations with the government for an end to apartheid. While white South Africans considered sharing power a big step, Black South Africans wanted nothing less than a complete transfer of power. Mandela played a crucial role in resolving differences. For their efforts, he and de Klerk were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993. The following year South Africa held its first multiracial elections, and Mandela became president. Mandela sought to calm the fears of white South Africans and of potential international investors by trying to balance plans for reconstruction and development with financial caution. His Reconstruction and Development Plan allotted large amounts of money to the creation of jobs and housing and to the development of basic health care. In December 1996, Mandela signed into law a new South African constitution. The constitution established a federal system with a strong central government based on majority rule, and it contained guarantees of the rights of minorities and of freedom of expression. Mandela became the oldest elected President of South Africa when he took office at the age of 77 in 1994. He retired in 1999, to be succeeded by Thabo Mbeki as party leader of the ANC. After his retirement as President, Mandela went on to become an advocate for a variety of social and human rights organizations. He has expressed his support for the international Make Poverty History movement of which the ONE Campaign is a part. Since his retirement, one of Mandela's primary commitments has been to the fight against AIDS. Mandela's 90th birthday was marked across the country on July 18, 2008, with the main celebrations held at his home town of Qunu. A concert in his honor was also held in Hyde Park, London. In a speech to mark his birthday, Mandela called for the rich people to help poor people across the world.   My Mandela Memory: Nelson Mandela went on a worldwide tour after his release from prison in 1990. Stevie Wonder joined him on the tour when it came to the United States. I was living in Detroit when the Mandela tour came to Tigers Stadium. I recall the sense of pride and awe that I felt in realizing that this stoic African sacrificed his youth during 28-years in prison. He stood like a rock in his belief. All of us should aspire to have Mandela's strength of character. What 'Mandela Memory' can you share with us?

July 5, 2014

Taser Lawsuit: Doug Boucher (Mason, OH)

The Indiana family of an unarmed, mentally ill Ohio man who died after police tortured him seven times with a Taser stun gun has settled its wrongful-death lawsuit in the case. The city of Mason, Ohio and two police officers settled lawsuit for $375,000.

39-year-old Doug Boucher died in December 2009 after a confrontation with two officers outside a Mason convenience store. Mason police said at the time that Boucher had died after being tortured by taser gun.

No wonder.

Boucher had been stunned seven times, and he was immobile and face-down on the ground for five of them.

I don't track taser deaths as much as I once did ... but, this killing happened in my hometown. I'm very sorry for the loss experienced by the Boucher family.

July 4, 2014

Happy Birthday: Malia Obama -- A Teenager Lives at the White House

Malia Obama, the eldest of President Barack Obama's two daughters, turned 16 today. I wonder how cool it must be to celebrate a birthday in the White House?

National Anthem Stylings of Marvin Gaye and Whitney Houston

Villagers, we had cause to be perturbed about Independence Day back in the day.

And we should be proud that Lift Every Voice and Sing is a remarkable anthem for African Americans.

However, there really isn't any reason to substitute one anthem for the other ... especially on this special day -- July 4, 2014. Today is our nation's 238th birthday!

Truth to tell, I'm proud of my country for the growth that has occurred since I was born over half-century ago. In fact, there are times when I get the chills listening to the National Anthem. Two times that are seared into my memory occurred in 1983 (Marvin Gaye) and 1991 (Whitney Houston).

National Anthem - USA-Whitney Houston (Star... by EINSTEINXP

If you don't know, you better ask somebody!

July 3, 2014

White High School Dropout Has Same Chances of Getting a Job as Black College Graduate

Some have claimed that America is in a post-racial, color-blind era since the election of President Barack Obama. They tell us that the need for race-based affirmative action policies is long-gone. However, those of us in this 'village' beg to differ.

For example, when it comes to employment, a white high school drop-out has the same chance of getting a job as a Black college graduate. That fact alone highlights the level of bias still present in the U.S., but it doesn’t end there.

According to ThinkProgress, the Bureau of Labor Statistics and Census researched how race impacts education and employment and the result should disabuse anyone of the notion that the U.S. is even close to becoming a post-racial society. The study found that a Black man with an associates degree has the same chance of getting a job as a white man with only a high school diploma.  That is wrong on so many levels.

At every level of education, race impacts a person’s chance of getting a job,” researcher Tom Allison told ThinkProgress.

This fact is evidenced not only by the overall unemployment rate, but the unemployment rate for Black millennials, which was 16.6 percent in May, as compared to 7.1 percent for white millennials.

What are all the factors contributing to a high unemployment rate for Blacks?

The study attributes the employment gap mainly to hiring discrimination, high incarceration rates for Black people, and African Americans’ lack of inherited wealth from past generations due to a long history of discrimination. Less inherited wealth results in low homeownership rates and high deficits among African Americans: While a college-educated white American has an average net worth of $75,000, a college-educated Black American has a net worth of less than $17,500.

There is a bright light though, considering that, according to Rory O’Sullivan of the Young Invincibles’, Blacks do much better when they obtain advanced degrees. As an example, “a professional degree gives a Black male a 146 percent larger increase in employment opportunities than his white counterparts.”

'Post-racial' my ass!

Rest in Peace: Andy Griffith (1926-2012)

Andy Griffith will be remembered as a remarkable television star for his work on television series such as 'Mayberry, RFD', 'Andy Griffith Show' and 'Matlock'. Griffith died at the age of 86 on this day in 2012 .

America was so much more innocent when Sheriff Andy, Opie, Aunt Bea and Deputy Barney Fife were creating memories on our black-and-white television sets. Later in his life Griffith created a memorable character, 'Matlock', who kicked butt with the regularity of Perry Mason. I remember liking Matlock because the show had strong Black male supporting characters throughout its run.

However, my favorite television image of Andy Griffith occurred early in his career when he played Lonesome Rhodes in the movie, 'A Face in the Crowd'. That is a movie that you should add to your Netflix queue if you haven't seen it yet. I think it must have been a favorite movie of disgraced presidential candidate John Edwards ... but, that is another story.

Rest In Peace Andy Griffith -- your legacy is secure in our 'village'.