Category Archives: Civil Rights

Van Jones Says Democrats and Progressives need to work on Winning and Not Take Anything for Granted.

Van Jones

CNN commentator and author Van Jones said that for Democrats and Progressives to win elections, they cannot just sit and wait for the people to follow them because the masses agree with them on the issues or because most agree that President Trump is unfit to serve. Instead, they need to speak out and make their views known and remain continually persistent and vigilant for the causes they believe in.

He spoke at the Fifth Annual Lecture Series on Delivering Democracy at the Fourteenth Street Pilgrim Rest Baptist church in Phoenix.

Jones said that Democrats and Progressives also can not take any group for granted. The poor white person in Appalachia wants the same life for their kids like the poor black person in the projects. People who believe in God also believe in helping the needy and oppressed. Democrats and Progressives would be wise to reconnect with these groups they have forgotten. If Democrats and Progressives can do all of these things (and it should not be a heavy lift), Progressives and Democrats will have a lot to celebrate after the next few election cycles as long as they remember that they can never stop being proactive and fight to move the country forward.

The lecture was sponsored by the Arizona State University Center for Race and Democracy and hosted by the congregation of Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church Ministries. Jones is a community and environmental activist, and former White House Aide to President Obama, and he offered his views on bringing different races, classes, and the religious and secular worlds in our country together.

At a packed Church hall, the congregants gathered for the fifth year to hear Van Jones’ views on Race and Democracy. Many still remembered the contributions of their late Pastor, Bishop Alexis Thomas, and progressive (both secular and religious) activists from organizations like the Boys and Girls Club, East Valley NACCP, The Pat Tillman’s Veterans Center, Big Brothers and Big Sisters, Red for Ed, and Outlawing Dirty Money (an irony because one of the sponsors of the event is APS)

After an excellent performance by the church choir and music group, the event started with the pivotal question, broadcast on a video “What is Democracy?” Following several varying answers from respondents on the video, the key message is that Democracy is the “responsibility of the people” to maintain.

Dr. Stanlie James, the Vice Provost for Inclusion and Community Engagement, echoed this sentiment by relaying the current issues our countries citizens’ face such as the incident with two African American patrons at a Philadelphia Starbucks (Mr. Jones would later ask in his presentation why the police did not arrest the person that made the erroneous/false complaint) or the rising mortality rate of African American Mothers in a “First World Country.” Calling the Center on Race and Democracy “an oasis in the desert” where these issues can be discussed, she cited support from the Obamas as proof that this center is doing good works.

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The Worst and the Dumbest in the Trump Administration

David Halberstam once wrote a book about the Kennedy and Johnson men called The Best and the Brightest. The theme of that book was despite the qualifications and acclaim these public servants had earned before and during most of their White House Service, most still offered the Presidents poor advice on how to handle the war in Vietnam.

Now if most of the people regarded as the best and the brightest at that time helped lead this country into one of the worst foreign and military policy periods in our countries history, imagine what the President’s aides, probably some of the worst and dumbest to serve, can do to us.

Saturday Night Live actually captured the problem with a segment (link below) with actor Bryan Cranston, reprising his role of Walter White from “Breaking Bad,” becoming the nominee to head the Drug Enforcement Agency (D.E.A.) illustrating that the Administration’s goal to put people who oppose these departments at the head of them.

It has become so bad with the Trump choices that most sane people are scared if Jeff “I never met an immigrant I liked” Sessions resigns as the Attorney General. Just who are among this cast of incompetents in or headed to the Trump Administration.

Betsy DeVos

This ultra-rightwing fanatic became our Secretary of Education despite promoting policies such as vouchers so religious schools can be partially subsidized with public monies. Since becoming the Secretary of Education (after a less than stellar performance at her confirmation hearings where she thought guns were needed in some schools to fight off grizzlies), she has been a champion for student loan companies who want to make the industry more profitable for them.

DeVos has also turned off people with her inattention to special education and civil rights. Walking out of a question and answer session with the Parkland High Students was not helpful either With no background in any sphere of public education, one has to ask, what is she doing there if not to undermine public education?

Scott Pruitt

Not a week goes by when there is not some controversy involving Scott Pruitt, the former anti-Environmental Protection Agency (E.P.A) Oklahoma Attorney General who, wait for it, became the head of the E.P.A.  Pruitt has fashioned himself as a cross between a Sun King and a mob figure between not allowing scientists to speak their mind about the environment, making environmental rules and regulations more business-friendly and wasting public monies on first-class travel (to avoid contact with the people), installing a new “Bat Phone-Cone of Silence” communication system, and increased security detail that most other cabinet heads do not get.

This is all while he had a very nice residential rental arrangement courtesy of lobbyists whose pipeline expansion he approved. Finally, his arrogant behavior displayed when he asks his motor entourage to blast sirens so he can arrive at events quicker make people wonder if Scottie needs to be beamed out of the E.P.A. at the earliest opportunity.

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Gov. Ducey’s so-called school safety bill advances out of committee

The Senate Committee on Commerce and Public Safety voted 4-3 on April 19 to advance Governor Ducey’s so-called school safety plan, a plan crafted with and endorsed by the NRA. NRA endorses Arizona Gov. Ducey’s plan to prevent school shootings; bill passes committee:

The National Rifle Association, the country’s most powerful gun-rights lobbying organization, has endorsed Gov. Doug Ducey’s plan to prevent mass shootings in schools.

Republican lawmakers in the Arizona Senate announced the NRA’s support Thursday during a committee hearing, where Ducey’s proposal cleared a crucial first vote.

Sen. Steve Smith, R-Maricopa, the committee chairman, said legislation outlining the governor’s plan, Senate Bill 1519, respects Second Amendment rights while taking steps to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous individuals.”

“Arizona is listed by many as the No. 1 Second Amendment state in the country. I want to keep it that way,” Smith, who’s sponsoring the bill, said at the outset of Thursday’s hearing.

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Gov. Ducey’s teacher pay plan is unsustainable, teacher walkout appears likely (Updated)

Calling the governor’s plan not fiscally sustainable, the Arizona PTA has withdrawn its backing for Gov. Doug Ducey’s teacher pay hike plan. PTA group withdraws support from Ducey’s teacher pay hike plan:

Beth Simek, the organization’s president, told Capitol Media Services this afternoon that her own research shows there is no way Ducey can finance both the pay raise and restoration of capital funding without cutting the budget for other needed programs. And Simek said she believes some of what the governor plans to slice could end up hurting the very children her organization is working to protect.

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Simek said that she was not given all the relevant information about how Ducey plans to finance his plan when the governor first asked for support. So, what she did was strike out on her own and gather as much in specifics as she could from various other sources, including other state agencies.

Most crucial, she said, are the cuts being made elsewhere in the budget.

For example, Simek said, Ducey’s plan cuts $2.9 million that had been allocated for skilled nursing services in both the state Medicaid program and the Department of Economic Security. Also gone is $1.8 million aid for “critical access hospitals” and $4 million that the governor had proposed in additional dollars for the developmentally disabled.

“We can’t support that,” Simek said. “That hurts kids and it hurts families.”

The governor’s plan also cuts back $2 million in arts funding, which arts advocates say would decimate grants that fund programs that benefit pupils.

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National School Walkout this Friday on Columbine anniversary

The third student-led protest over gun violence in our nation’s schools, the National School Walkout (link), is scheduled for this Friday. National School Walkout: Everything to know about the upcoming event to end gun violence:

Thousands of students across the country will come together again this week to rally against school gun violence — an event the teenage organizers hope will empower students to continue their momentum in a push for common-sense gun reform.

The event — called the National School Walkout — focuses on high schools and will take place on April 20, the anniversary of the massacre at Columbine High School in Colorado, where two students opened fire in 1999, killing 12 of their fellow students and a teacher.

Who is participating?

The event was organized by 16-year-old Lane Murdock, a sophomore at Ridgefield High School in Connecticut, along with three of her classmates.

More than 2,000 events are registered across the country, with at least one in every state and several globally, according to the organizers.

When will it start?

The walkout begins at 10 a.m. in each local time zone.

When students head outside, they will first take part in 13 seconds of silence to honor the 13 people killed at Columbine High School.

Then the format of the walkout is up to each school. Lane told ABC News she proposes that schools incorporate open mics, guest speakers and voter registration. She said some students plan to write letters to those in communities impacted by school shootings.

But this event differs in one major way from last month’s nationwide school walkout, which was held on March 14, one month after the shooting at Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that killed 17 students and staff.

The March 14 walkout officially lasted for 17 minutes to mark the 17 lives lost. After the 17 minutes, many students returned to their classrooms.

The April 20 walkout, meanwhile, is set to last from 10 a.m. until the end of the school day.

“This is a problem that needs to be addressed longer than 17 minutes,” Lane explained.

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Illinois Senate votes to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment

In 2017, the state of Nevada became the 36th state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. 38 states are required for ratification.

While the Arizona House voted to recess rather than debate the ERA this week, the Illinois Senate voted to ratify the ERA. Illinois Senate approves federal Equal Rights Amendment, more than 35 years after the deadline:

The Illinois Senate on Wednesday voted to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, renewing a push from decades ago amid the #MeToo movement to guarantee that rights can’t be denied because of a person’s sex.

The vote came about 36 years after the amendment appeared to die after just 35 states ratified it, three short of what was needed by the 1982 deadline. That means Illinois’ approval could be largely symbolic. Still, advocates have pushed for a “three-state solution,” contending Congress can extend the deadline and the amendment should go into effect if three additional states vote in favor.

Note: First enacted in 1972 by Congress, the ERA legislation required that the measure be ratified by three-fourths of the states (38) within seven years. That deadline was later extended 10 years to 1982. There was federal court litigation over the deadline extension at the time. But the U.S. Constitution contains no time limit for ratification of constitutional amendments. In fact, subsequent to the ERA the 27th Amendment to the Constitution prohibiting immediate congressional pay raises was ratified 203 years after its introduction. This called into question the soundness of  earlier federal court decisions on the ERA deadline. It is still a contested legal issue. Congress can also vote to remove the deadline language, and a bill has been introduced to do so.

The amendment passed on a vote of 43-12, with no debate on the Senate floor. It now heads to the House, where sponsoring Rep. Lou Lang, D-Skokie, says he is working to build support but warned it’s far from a “slam-dunk.” The House and Senate each have voted in favor in the past, but it has yet to clear both in the same year.

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