Sunday, July 27, 2008

Well done senator, welcome home!

I have blogged about America’s need for a make-over, both nationally and internationally, in the past. It was made oh so evident this past week with Senator Barack Obama’s reception overseas. When I saw the senator nail that three-point shot, I saw that as a metaphor for the whole trip.

Critics claimed the senator’s tour as presumptuous. I am hard pressed to understand the criticism because he simply did the same thing as his Republican rival, yet with more panache. Let’s face it; a presidential campaign is a beauty contest: the contestants are judged on their ability to answer, wisely, pressing questions of the day. They must be agile while showing strength when needed; socially adept in wooing contentious personalities to their side. They must be elegant and comport themselves presidential.

Unfortunately, not everyone was blessed with people skills, intelligence and charisma as Senator Obama. This man is the one the world needs in order to begin setting this country back on track and to regain, at least, some of the respect it has lost.

Senator McCain could never have pulled-off what Senator Obama just did. To be candid, no matter how well the junior senator from Illinois did, it may never be good enough to some who would rather see the future traumatized further by the same old narrow thinking that puts us at peril, than to give the gift that was given to us a chance.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Happy birthday, Madiba....and thank you!

One of the most memorable experiences I have had was watching the 1993 Nobel Prize winner, President Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela’s, historic walk to freedom from Pollsmoor Prison on February 11, 1990 in South Africa.

Like most of the world, I did not know much about the liberation struggles in Africa until the early 1970’s. Kwame Nkrumah, Ahmed Sekou Toure, Steven Biko and Nelson Mandela were the giant liberation leaders on the continent at that time. I had the honor of being a member of a welcoming party to America for the president of Guinea, Ahmed Sekou Toure.

Today, President Mandela is the only survivor of that illustrious and brave group of liberation leaders. On his ninetieth birthday, he still holds true to the values and aspirations he had in prison for South Africa. As a result, during his presidency, shortly after being released from prison, South Africa transitioned relatively smoothly from a social system of aparthied to one of full democracy in less than four years.

After the many atrocities that were committed against black South Africans, along with the inspiration of South African Anglican Bishop, Desmond Tutu, President Mandela commissioned a Truth and Reconciliation forum. This venue allowed the members of the former apartheid regime who were accused of atrocities against black South Africans to come face-to-face with their accusers in hopes of healing all of South Africa. This forum proved to be tremendously successful and has been duplicated in other war-torn areas of the world, as well.

Because of President Mandela’s world-renowned leadership qualities, he has been lifted to the status of one of the greatest leaders, ever. Happy birthday, Madiba! And thank you for your many years of unwavering love and service to South Africa and freedom loving people all over the world.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Jesse Helms

As a progressive minded person and one who had military experience, I write this recognition in respect of a worthy adversary who stood for everything I fought to change in America.

Senator Jesse Alexander Helms, Jr. was an ardent conservative politician. He struggled ruthlessly against social change. He stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the likes of George Wallace in supporting the precept of racial segregation yesterday, segregation today and segregation tomorrow. The senator from North Carolina did a remarkable job, along with his compatriots, in their attempt to thwart social change in this country that would bring equality to all Americans.

Senator Helms saw this country through 18th century spectacles where white women knew their subservient place in society and people of color were no more than chattel to the white-male ruling class. It is people like the senator that makes me very proud of the hard-fought social war that black folks waged for the freedoms that we, now, enjoy.

Fortunately, today, warriors like Helms are only a handful, but their legacy continues. The possibility of conservative revitalization of the likes of a hundred years ago is highly unlikely. However, it is imperative that progressive thinkers continue to struggle for the inclusion of all in this great social experiment called democracy. We must keep America strong through its diverse skills-set, diverse perspectives and talents.

The best recognition of the life of Senator Jesse Helms is to appreciate the unity that the recalcitrant Helms and men of his ilk forced us to create in order to defeat the narrow philosophical view of this country and the world that they forged as policy.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Justice or Just Us?

Recently, Ronnie White, a nineteen year old man allegedly struck and killed a Prince George’s County, Maryland Police Officer, Cpl. Richard S. Findley in a stolen truck. Not much more than a day later, White was found dead in his cell from strangulation. The preliminary investigation suggested that White’s death was not a suicide.

This writer was neither a witness to the crime nor condones the dreadful loss of Cpl. Findley’s life. However, I believe county officials are implicated in the taking of the law in the hands of those sworn to uphold the law in White’s death.

When I first heard of the arrest of Ronnie White, being held in custody in a Prince George’s County jail, I knew he would not survive to see his arraignment because he was deemed a “cop killer”. If murdering the accused before a trial is going to prevail, there will be no difference between our so-called modern, civilized justice system and the vigilantism of old. With the advent of recent atrocities all over the world, can one at least hope that the American legal system on these shores still works fairly?

As the economy worsens, there is a good chance that our legal system will be strained by the funneling of more people through it. Therefore, we need to continue to speak out where injustice sticks its ugly head and assure all people that they can get fair and impartial treatment in our system by holding those entrusted with insuring the law, accountable.

My heart-felt sympathy goes out to the families involved.