Archive for July, 2020

John Lewis in His Story

July 28, 2020

Ambassador Andrew Young and Representative John Lewis organized and  led a history-changing march across Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, March 7, 1965.

Ambassador Young has recently mentioned that, long ago, Jesus and his disciples had led a movement against “the whole Roman empire.”

Inspired my Jesus’ firm adherence to non-violence, Young and Lewis summoned a group of marchers together on March 7, 1965, to march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, en route to the Alabama Capitol in Montgomery, where collectively they would urge the Alabama legislature to enable voter registration for black folk.

“You can overcome evil with good,” says Ambassador Young, in paraphrasing Jesus’ injunction to turn the other cheek in response to violent abuse. 

“…but you can’t overcome evil with evil,” 

And so many early civil rights crusaders did turn the other cheek, back in the day. And they suffered for it, but their willingness to suffer and sacrifice ultimately inspired a groundswell of moral and political support to enact the Voting Rights Act of 1965. 

After that groundbreaking, bridge-crossing . . . John Lewis’ leadership found its full  course: “Lewis was able to shift gears from direct action to reconciliation and progress,” said Andrew Young recently of John Lewis. 

Ambassador Andrew Young recently shared a memory of back in the early days, before the Movement had gathered steam. Black folk would be singing together, while they were gathered in Christian worship and  declaration:

“And before I’d be a slave

I’ll be buried in my grave

And go home to my Lord and be free.”

In commemoration of a great American patriot, John Lewis, I’ll share with you a snippet of history, which is included in my recent novel, King of Soul. In chapter 4, we find a group of believers gathered together in mourning the death of an earlier pioneer of civil rights, Medgar Evers, 1963 . . .

On Sunday morning, Aleen and her husband Bo took their children to Mt. Zion AME church. A shroud of heaviness hung upon the gathered people of God, dampening the joy that their weekly gathering customarily dispensed, and hindering the Spirit’s work of divine healing and reconciliation among them. All across Mississippi and beyond, the murder of Medgar Evers was casting a pall of grief.  Departing from his usual routine, Pastor Reggie asked the choir to ignite their worship in a manner different from their usual jubilation. He requested a song that would draw God’s people, by the Spirit, into a solemn reflection upon the suffering and injustice of this life as exemplified by Jesus on the cross, and the eternal life made possible by his victory over death through Resurrection.

         And so the choir, clad in purple and black robes, began to sway, humming the tune before its words were manifested in  melody, moaning, laboring in the Spirit to bring forth a full expression of God’s grief, and their grief, at the death of the Son of Man, and those who, like Brother Medgar, have entered into his eternal dwelling-place.

Oh, Freedom, Oh, Freedom,

Oh, Freedom over me.

And before I’ll be a slave

I’ll be buried in my grave

And go home to my Lord and be free.

Following in Medgar Evers’ path of martyred dedication to truth and freedom, John Lewis has gone home to freedom, having left a legacy of freedom for his people and all Americans in this troubled world.

John Lewis

He was no slave, being buried in his grave, after that last funereal  procession over the Edmund Pettus Bridge. He was a courageous American pioneer for justice.

Now we should  re-dedicate that bridge in Selma as the John Lewis Bridge.

King of Soul

Rant

July 19, 2020

Although electrons now are streaming froth with disaster and woe-is-us video fortified with blustery putinous warnings of our empire’s downfall and their empire’s upchuck, and

meanwhile back at the middle kingdom ranch, techie-tok wizards collect data like robber barons used to collect cash back in the day, and

although bellicose bullying bee-ss is broadly flung forth through this-twitter and that faceblob as the big cheese strains to trump said putinous bluster and middlekingdom xi-nanigns, and  

although thousands, maybe millions, of our citizens assemble in the streets to demand justice and equality and employment and relief from covid and relief from centuries of oppression and mistreatment, and

although it is all very exciting to see on vid and hear about from the kids, new kids on the block, as we ole boomers just fade away even as the ole soldier’s of greatest generation did all they could to stop the dam nazis and finally defeat the frickin fascists before  taking their exits from earthly existence, and

althought the dam nazis and the frickin fascists are once again comin out of the woodwork like mice when the house is dark,

I’m about ready to put a lid on it all and fuhgedaboudit, hence:

Traveler’s Rest

Glass half-Full

Rant

July 19, 2020

Although electrons now are streaming froth with disaster and woe-is-us video fortified with blustery putinous warnings of our empire’s downfall and their empire’s upchuck, and

meanwhile back at the middle kingdom ranch, techie-tok wizards collect data like robber barons used to collect cash back in the day, and

although bellicose bullying bee-ss is broadly flung forth through this-twitter and that faceblob as the big cheese strains to trump said putinous bluster and middlekingdom xi-nanigns, and  

although thousands, maybe millions, of our citizens assemble in the streets to demand justice and equality and employment and relief from covid and relief from centuries of oppression and mistreatment, and

although it is all very exciting to see on vid and hear about from the kids, new kids on the block, as we ole boomers just fade away even as the ole soldiers of greatest generation did all they could to stop them dam nazis and finally defeat the frickin fascists before  taking their exits from earthly existence, and

althought the dam nazis and the frickin fascists are once again comin out of the woodwork like mice when the house is dark,

I’m about ready to put a lid on it all and fuhgedaboudit, hence:

  Traveler’s Rest

Bethlehem

Glass half-Full

COVID Culpability

July 8, 2020

Our strains of virile enmity

manipulate this dread contagion 

as strains of lethal Covidity

mount a viral invasion.

Politicians fling out accusations

of who’s and so’n’so’s to blame

when really the Covid causation

slumbers in risky scientific games.

Big Cheese says China this and Wuhan that;

but we were partners in that venture

when yankee NIAID and Wuhan bats

concocted crowned-up Wuhan misadventure.

DNA mutates into many versions

through nucleotides of A and T and C and G;

but how does a 12-tide insertion

show up so improbably?

So if Covid critters escaped some batty Wuhan woohoo

surely our ecohealth and yankee dollars shared

some culpability in that gain-of-function yoohoo

as Covid strains through danger games were paired.  

Now when potus flings forth some virile tweets

of Wuhan woe and Chinese blame

let us not overlook our own laboratory feats

in Ecohealth and NIAID gain-of-function games.

Just sayin’.

Glass Chimera

Schools and the Covid Decisions

July 7, 2020

So now the bombshell Covid controversy that looms on our distant American horizon is: What are we going to do about sending the kids to school next fall?

It’s a very big question because there are in these United States a lot of schools, and a lot of students. Millions and millions of them.

It’s a thorny pandemic problem. 

But we need not get all hot and bothered about it. 

Trump says he wants to open all the schools next fall. That’s a nice idea but it won’t work, because the way this Covid virus is spreading its unseen contagion, kids bunched up in close-quartered classrooms next fall will comprise a Covid kettle of disaster, if not closely initiated and managed on a local level. 

A national blanket decision would not be in the best interests of all those kids and their parents.

To find a fix for this problem, take a gander at this flag:

AmFlag

Notice, this flag has 50 stars, which means there are fifty ways to solve this problem.

Think of it this way. There’s a good reason we have fifty states instead of one big one. Think of  each state as a star, fully enabled to shine. . .  on its own course, especially with a little resourceful  backup from mama.fed. Each state is capable of   setting its own course through these treacherous coronavirus waters, or vapors.

Now each state has a governor. 

Each governor has a close  understanding of her/his people, demographics, travel patterns, socio-economic factors, infrastructure, availability of state/local infrastructure, social and religious values.

Each governor has no need of bully trump thrusting some imperial pronouncement about schools or any other institutions upon that state’s dutiful response to the Covid conundrum. 

Furthermore, if any governor is inclined to delegate some educational decisions further down the state .gov institutional framework—the city and county school boards— that is her/his strategic decision to implement, for the good of his/her state’s people and their schoolchildren, interpreted and worked out on a local level if need be. 

We don’t need the bully pulpit spewing orders at us about school or any other institution when it’s our own children whose lives and education are at stake.

Bottom line: Allow (We) the people to coordinate closely with our school boards, our local governments and state .gov services, to assure safety and good education for our kids next fall.

Glass half-Full

Eldridge Cleaver Words

July 4, 2020

Pertinent to what is now happening in our United States, I have selected these passages for your consideration.

Cleaver

From pages in Eldridge Cleaver’s 1978 book, Soul on Fire:

25

“Ever since the Watts uprising of 1965, in which scores of black people had been killed, a rising tide had been growing against what had every appearance of the indiscriminate killing of citizens by the police. Everyone talked about it but no one was doing anything about it. The Black Panther Party was called into being by this, strongly dedicated to organizing resistance to the repression from the occupying army of police that patrolled the black community like foreign troops.”

18b

“We Panthers had expected a military coup to take management of “American democracy,” that being the only apporpriate response of the people in charge to the revolutionary war exploding all over North America.

21

“Across America, black people were at the end of their patience with the empty promises and fulfilled threats of a government which now seemed prepared to wage war in the ghetto with the same mindlessness that it continued to kill Vietnamese.”

22

“In response to the outpouring of rage and destruction by the black community, LBJ called out the troops to get Washington back under control. The Panthers were right—we were in a state of seige.”

23

“As I limped forward, one cop called me a name and told me to run to the paddy wagon. . . I was sure this man wanted to kill me, that he had already sentenced me to death in his heart. He wanted me to run to give him a pretext for shooting, the oldest and dirtiest cop trick of all, the use of which turns some guardians of the law into wanton murderers . . .”

80

“There was a poison wind blowing throughout the wilderness of Babylon, pouring out of the manholes of Wall Street, Madison Avenue, the Pentagon, the White House, the Congress, the Supreme Court, the churches, the universities, colleges, and even the campuses of high schools, and out of every home—a noxious poison oozing out of every porous institution of American life.”

89

“The merger of the SNCC organization into the Black Panthers was a natural but not easy hookup. Racial conflagrations in the American cities had shut down the future of the nonviolent speech makers. . .

“So when the gunfire started and the plastic bombs were going off smartly, and people like Martin King getting shot down in Southern motels . . .”

“The severity of the times made the merger necessary, and the presence of the Black Panthers made it possible. For we were not the Bible belt but the gun belt. . .”

142

“On the very last afternoon in San Francisco prior to being hauled away to San Quentin . . .

. . . I went out the rear door and over the back fence into a waiting car that took me to where I prepared for stage two of my goodbye to America . . .”

. . . the Mime Troopers made me up to look like a sick old man . . .Past security, past any questions or detention, this little old wheezing nigger was led by a young woman in white who urged the flight crew to give me special attention. . .

. . . After my connecting plane to Montreal and then a Cuban freighter ride—in a closet—to Castroland, I was to live six months in a wretched and restless existence—sort of a San Quention with palm trees . . .

108

“In 1969 I had sent a cassette recording back to friends in the United States warning how insidious and dangerous was the white racism of the Castro dictatorship in Cuba.”

121

. . . the four years that I headed the International Section of the Black Panther Party in Algiers, conference and speaking assignments took me into China, North Korea, North Vietnam, and much of the Third World.”

98

Pig power in America was infuriating—but pig power in the Communist framework was awesome and unaccountable. No protection by outbursts in the press and electronic media—the Reds owned it. No shelter under the benevolent protection of a historic constitution—the Marxists held the book and they tore out the pages that sheltered you. No counterweight from religious and church organizations—they were invisible and silent.”

“The longer I stayed in these foreign enclaves, the more I realized that America could not be instructed, by them, in anything that had to do with individual rights or personal liberty. The inner recesses of my being, the secret soul of my most honest self was developing a searing resentment against the ridiculous claims of communism. If they couldn’t convince me, I thought, how are they going to ever sell the rest of the world . . .”

97

“ I had lived defiantly so long and in such seething hatred of all governments, people in power, people in charge, that when I came under the shelter of Communist powers, I sadly discovered that their corruption was as violent and inhuman as the people they ‘victoriously’ replaced. ‘Up against the wall’ was a trendy slogan of the underground movements around the world—but I later learned that without inner control, a moral perspective, and a spiritual balance that flowed out of Christian love, justice, and caring, the Communist promises were to become the largest fraud of all.

211

“It was a beautiful Mediterranean night. . . I was brooding, downcast, at the end of my rope. I looked up at the moon and saw certain shadows . . . and the shadows became a man in the moon, and I saw a profile of myself . . .

. . . As I stared at this image, it changed, and I saw my former heroes paraded before my eyes. Here was Fidel Castro, Mao Tse-tung, Karl Marx, Frederick Engels, passing in review—each one appearing for a moment, and then dropping out of sight, like fallen heroes. Finally, at the end of the procession, in dazzling shimmering light, the image of Jesus Christ . . .”

all quotes from: Eldridge Cleaver, Soul on Fire, 1978, Word Books

King of Soul