Category Archives: civil rights

Happy “I’ze Married Now!” Day to All My Black DC Gays and Lesbians

I’m straight, but i’m no hater.  I want to give a congratulations shout out to all of the gay and lesbian folks in Washington, DC who can now get married.  The Washington Post reports that couples lined up beginning at 6 a.m. at the D.C. district courthouse, vying to be among the first same-sex couples to apply for marriage licenses.  Good for them. Whether it’s mixed race couples, couples from different sides of the tracks, or people who get married and everyone knows they shouldn’t…we all deserve to choose who we walk down the isle with.

When we start picking and chosing who gets what rights and who deserves what freedoms, we get onto a slippery slope.  There was a time when African Americans were not free to live where they wanted to live, marry who they loved, or just go have a burger at the local diner just because of the social norms and stereotypes that helped shape American law.  Discrimination was  the law.  Treating one group as lesser than another was the law.  I’m so glad to say that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation when it comes to marriage is no longer the law here in the District.

PS: You better make sure that marriage comes with same-sex divorce too.  I’m just saying.  LOL

Photo: Michael K. Cole & Jamil Smith Cole. The two jumped over the broom Atlanta Georgia in 2009.

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Dr. Gates donates his handcuffs to the Smithsonian

None of the black people I know have ever been given their handcuffs as a “You got arrested” souvenir.  Apparently Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. received more than a beer at the White House after his traumatic arrest…on his front porch.   He’s donated the handcuffs used on him to the Smithsonian Institution’s black history museum.  This makes me wonder…what other items will be on display with these handcuffs?

  • One of the night sticks used on Rodney King
  • Handcuffs used on famous African Americans (MLK, Tupac, Diana Ross, etc)
  • A replica of a Montgomery, Alabama jail cell from the Civil Rights era
  • That horrible neck brace will the bells on it that you sometimes see in illustrations found in books on slavery.

What would happen if black males all over the nation requested that they be given their former chains and handcuffs so that they could be donated to the Smithsonian as a testament  to the record incarceration rates of black men in America.  Surely, 50 years…100 years from our children would marvel at the shear size of the collection of metal bonds.  Would they be amazed and say, “There’s no way that so many people of one race could have been accused of/guilty of that much crime!”.  Or perhaps they will just shake their heads and say, “Nothing has changed.”.

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I had a Black moment at the Lincoln Memorial

It’s interesting enough being a Black woman in city “formerly know as” Chocolate City.  If you live here you know it’s being rapidly gentrified.  No surprise there.  However, there is one place in the city that has never been fully “chocolatized”.  That is the National Mall.  You can thank the tourists for that.  It’s funny, I’ve talked to African Americans who were born here who have never ventured down except for school trips back in the day.

Unless Barack Obama is being elected, there is a Civil Rights march reenactment, or so other event that is highly attractive to black folk, the Mall is very vanilla. Don’t get me wrong…I love white folks too.  I’m happy about the visitors to the Mall from out of town spend here in the District and what not…blah blah.  I just find it funny that when I go to the Smithsonian museums, stroll the mall, or visit the monuments…I see a handful of black people (many of them working security in the buildings).  However I can walk 10 min in any direction (except the direction of Georgetown and George Washington U) and the city is Chocolate and balanced again.  It’s like going to Virginia.  lol

Anyway, I had a “Black moment” at the Lincoln Memorial yesterday.  I walked there from Union Station…don’t ask me why, just wanted to walk.  I saw about 6 other black people during my walk (no lie).  There were hundreds of people out there, mind you (I saw like 6 softball games, lots of people exercising, and tons of tourist groups).  I get to the top of the stairs at Lincoln Memorial and watch for 10 min to see how many people notice the “I HAVE A DREAM” engraving noting Martin Luther King’s name and the date of the march.  It notes the place on the stairs where he gave his historic speech.  Guess how many people noticed it.  2 children.

Now, to their credit it’s not as pronounced as it should be, in my opinion.  Hey, I think Obama should do something about that.

I remember when I first visited the Memorial that spot on the steps was something I looked for.  The image of King standing on those steps looking out at thousands gathered in the name of civil rights is burned into my psyche as an African American.  I wasn’t looking for that engraving, didn’t even know it was there.  I just wanted to stand in the place and look out over the reflecting pool and think about that day.   Why?  Cause I’m black, and moments like that mean a lot to me.

Maybe that’s why not many people noticed the black history upon which they stood yesterday.   Maybe I shouldn’t expect them to care, but I do.  I find that I’m having more and more of these moments in this so-called “post-racial” America.

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Retired Black White House Butler Talks About His Experience, Obama

Eugene Allen, 89, a retired White House butler, tries on his old tuxedo for a photo. Allen, who served eight presidents during a period when America ‘s racial history was being rewritten, is marveling at the election of Barack Obama.

The butler sees a new White House
Now retired, he started when blacks were in the kitchen.

By Wil Haygood LA Times November 7, 2008

Reporting from Washington — For more than three decades, Eugene Allen worked in the White House, a black man unknown to the headlines. During some of those years, harsh segregation laws lay upon the land.

He trekked home every night to his wife, Helene, who kept him out of her kitchen.

At the White House, he worked closer to the dirty dishes than to the Oval Office. Helene didn’t care; she just beamed with pride.

President Truman called him Gene. President Ford liked to talk golf with him. He saw eight presidential administrations come and go, often working six days a week.

“I never missed a day of work,” Allen said.

He was there while racial history was made: Brown vs. Board of Education, the Little Rock school crisis, the 1963 March on Washington , the cities burning, the civil rights bills, the assassinations.

When he started at the White House in 1952, he couldn’t even use the public restrooms when he ventured back to his native Virginia . “We had never had anything,” Allen, 89, recalled of black America at the time. “I was always hoping things would get better.”

In its long history, the White House — note the name — has had a complex and vexing relationship with black Americans.

“The history is not so uneven at the lower level, in the kitchen,” said Ted Sorensen, who served as counselor to President Kennedy. “In the kitchen, the folks have always been black. Even the folks at the door — black.”

Before Gene Allen landed his White House job, he worked as a waiter at a resort in Hot Springs , Va. , and then at a country club in Washington .

He and wife Helene, 86, were sitting in the living room of their Washington home. Her voice was musical, in a Lena Horne kind of way. She called him “Honey.” They met at a birthday party in 1942. He was too shy to ask for her number, so she tracked his down. They married a year later.

In 1952, a lady told him of a job opening in the White House. “I wasn’t even looking for a job,” he said. “I was happy where I was working, but she told me to go on over there and meet with a guy by the name of Alonzo Fields.” Continue reading

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Don’t Palin, Giuliani know that abolitionists and women’s sufferage leaders were community organizers

“When Giuliani sneered about community organizers on the “South side” of Chicago, it’s pretty clear what he was saying: Barack Obama spent his time rabble-rousing among black people.”Ezra Klien

Both Giuliani and Palin made the profession of community organizer out to be the butt of a joke. Palin said “I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a community organizer – except that you have actual responsibilities”.

Without community organizers, African American Women like me (and countless other religious, LGBTQ, racial, etc…various social segments I could name) would have a hard row to tow trying to “pull ourselves up by our boot straps”. Um…Palin would not be able to vote without the work of community organizers. Hello?

Abolitionists organized to bring an end to slavery

Women’s Sufferage organizers worked to give women the vote

Countless Civil Rights leaders were Community organizers like Martin Luther King, Dr. Dorothy Height, and Malcolm X

Community organizers would not be a group I would come after, if I was on the Republican ticket, or any ticket for that matter. These people know how to mobilize people, real people, on a grassroots level. They know how to raise money. They know how to make change happen, even when hope is gone. They are real workers. That’s not a population that I would want mad at me if I was in the underdog position in the presidential race.

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McCain and Obama on Affirmative Action and Quotas

(CNN) — Both John McCain and Barack Obama say equal opportunity should not be based on quotas, but neither side has said how to reach equality without them.

Obama accused McCain on Sunday of flip-flopping on affirmative action after McCain said he supports a measure in Arizona that would dismantle race- and gender-based preference programs. Obama pointed to McCain’s past opposition to similar proposals, like one in Arizona in 1998 that McCain called “divisive.”

[Wait a min…Didn’t McCain oppose the King holiday in AZ????? Are his views a surprise to anyone??? Hello, Negro is not surprised]

But McCain didn’t say at the time that he opposed the measure.

In an interview broadcast Sunday on ABC’s “This Week,” host George Stephanopoulos asked McCain if he supports a referendum on the ballot in Arizona “that would do away with affirmative action.” McCain said he backed the measure, which is described by supporters as something that will give “the people of Arizona the opportunity to end preferential treatment based on race, sex, ethnicity or national origin by state or local governments.”

McCain said he had not seen the details of the proposal, “but I’ve always opposed quotas.”

Obama on Sunday said equal opportunity can’t be achieved by quotas alone, but must also factor in other variables. Continue reading

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Obama to Accept Nom on 45th Anniversary of King’s “I Have a Dream”

“Barack Obama will accept the Democratic nomination for President on August 28th — the 45th Anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s ‘I Have A Dream’ Speech. In many ways, Senator Obama’s nomination as president is a fulfillment of a dream — a dream long deferred — envisioning a country where people would ‘not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.'”Rev Jesse Jackson Jr. for Huffington Post

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