Political activist Angela Davis, 72, taught for many years at the University of California, Santa Cruz despite Governor Ronald Reagan’s attempt to ban her. She is a founder of Critical Resistance, an organization formed in 1997 and based in Oakland, California, and dedicated to abolishing the prison-industrial complex. In 1971 a jury acquitted Davis of conspiring in the armed takeover of a Marin County (CA) courtroom and subsequent hostage crisis. Police killed four people, including Judge Harold Haley. The Rolling Stones dedicated “Sweet Black Angel” on “Exile on Main Street” to Angela.
In 2014, Black Lives Matter organized mass demonstrations after the killings of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner in New York City, using slogans “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” and “I Can’t Breathe” based on the victims’ final words. 2015 protests occurred after the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore and in more than a dozen other cities after other incidents of police brutality. In Washington, D.C., organizers rallied to end violence against transgender women. In 2016 BLM protestors have interrupted speeches by 2016 Presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. After a BLM protestor was beaten at a Trump rally, the Republican presumptive nominee said, “Maybe he should have been roughed up because it was absolutely disgusting what he was doing.” Detractors have countered with the slogan “All Lives Matter,” but, as Bill Maher pointed out, “All Lives Matter implies that all lives are equally at risk, and they’re not.”
George Zimmerman has put up for auction the gun he used to kill Trayvon Martin. He called it part of Americana. WF? He promised to use the money to fight Black Lives Matter and Hillary Clinton.
Also in The Nation Dani McClain wrote about Black Lives Matter, described as part of a Racial Justice Movement that in McClain’s words, “demands an end to the disproportionate killing of black people by law enforcement officials and vigilantes, and seeks to root out white supremacy wherever it exists.” Other Racial Justice Movement groups include Dream Defenders in Florida, Truth Out in New York, and Black Youth Project in Chicago. The latter, founded by Charlene Carruthers, has developed (according to McClain) a democratic decision-making process and operates from what Carruthers calls “a young black queer feminist’ perspective.” The Racial Justice Movement encompasses LGBT rights and support for undocumented immigrants and refugees from Syria and other war-torn areas.
Sharing a Huffington Post article, “Our Immigration Police Is Not Only Unjust – It’s Un-American,” Roy Dominguez remarked:
In remembrance of my dearly departed Mexican grandparents who immigrated to this great country in the early 1920's, we say Gracias to ALL of the Brave Souls who stood side by side to defeat the powerful GEO Corp. and their prison-for-profit previously slated to be built in Gary, Indiana. When it comes to standing up for human dignity for all of God's children, an American Hero - Cesar Chavez - said it many times: “¡Si se puede!”
Jim Leach and Ray SmockRay Smock informed me that Shepherd University in West Virginia awarded an honorary degree to Jim Leach, formerly Republican Congressman from Iowa and chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Leach’s commencement address decried the rise of a political-ideological complex that has threatened public civility. Recognizing the need for dissent in a new Gilded Age, “where the gap between the very wealthiest Americans and the less well-off has widened,” Leach called for a new generation of political leadership and the overturning of Citizens United. Leach stated:
Brazenly, Supreme Court employed parallel logic to the syllogism embedded in the most repugnant ruling our highest court ever made, the 1857 Dred Scott decision. To justify slavery, the 19th Century Court defined a class of human beings as private property that could be bought and sold. To magnify corporate power a century and a half later, it defined corporations, which are a class of private property, as human beings vested with rights to infuse unconstrained amounts of money into the political process.
Ironies abound. To advance the sophistic argument that 1st Amendment rights apply to corporations and that more money in politics equates to more democracy, the Court had to employ a linguistic gyration. It presumed that “money” is “speech” and that a “corporation” is an “individual.” But where in any dictionary or in any founding documents are these equivalencies made?
Democracy is on trial. The Court’s twisted linguistics and skewed logic has undercut American values and caused elected representatives to become less in synch with the voters who elect them than the corporatist oligarchy that funds their campaigns. A tragic upshot of money-centered campaigns is that the highest levels of elective office are now open principally to candidates of substantial wealth or candidates willing to commit their elective souls to those who have the greatest financial interest in governmental policies.
Jeff Manes wrote a SALT column on Samuel A. Love (above), active in the GEO fight and prisoners rights, among other things, entitled “Miller man shakes the status quo” (on the Tribune website the title was “Miller man embraces diversity, works for change”). Asked to describe his work as a Gary community organizer, Sam said: “It’s hearing a lot of conversations, trying o get the essential details and then putting them together in a context. It’s getting a group of people to listen to the other guy’s point of view. It’s a lot of emailing and conference calls. It should be more like knocking on doors or speaking publicly.” Wednesday evening Samuel Love spoke at a forum in Hobart about lessons learned from the GEO fight.
Describing Merrillville High School in the mid-1990s, Sam told Manes:
I was in choir. I had Mr. Emig. He was a great teacher. I think he still lives in Miller. He was the choir director. We had such a diverse group. Mr. Emig was the right person to be teaching or leading us at that time because he respected that diversity. We would do things ranging from Balkan folk music to African songs to hip-hop.
We took field trips to Florida and the Bahamas. I remember we had two buses. One bus contained all the preppy, snobby, privileged, white kids and the other was the mixed bus. We had so much (expletive) fun. Always go with the mixed group. It's wonderful. That's what Martin Luther King called the “Beloved Community.” We try to build that here in Miller as much as we can.