Tuesday, June 2, 2009

It Had to be a Woman of Color!

President Obama has shown commendable vision and plain ole good sense in nominating Sonia Sotomayor, Federal Judge in the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, for the United States Supreme Court. I will spare us all the details of enumerating her impeccable judiciary career to simply say I am overjoyed that a Puerto Rican woman from a housing project in the Bronx who believed in herself and dreamed of the limitless sky will be the first woman of color to ascend to the highest court of the land.

Undoubtedly, Sotomayor will face a dicey labyrynth of political powermoves and attacks on her lived experiences at the intersections of race, class and gender and the issues of civil rights, free speech and of course, abortion. Sotomayor's identity is "icing" on the cake; however, her credentials and judicial body of work speaks for itself. Just like we thought the day would never come for a Black American/person of color to become leader of the free world, now it is our obligation to ensure that Sonia Sotomayor becomes the first Latina/woman of color to serve on the United States Supreme Court.

President Obama said, "When Sonia Sotomayor ascends those marble steps to assume her seat on the highest court of the land, America will have taken another important step towards realizing the ideal that is etched above its entrance - Equal Justice Under the Law." We should all claim this reality today as Sotomayor represents the hope and change and progress in the Age of Obama that has become a baseline expectation for those who believe in "Equal Justice Under the Law."

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

ULYP of Greater Pittsburgh Celebrates Election Night 2008

Congratulations to the Urban League Young Professionals of Greater Pittsburgh and our collaborating partners for a successful Presidential Elections 2008 Watch Party. Indeed, it is an historical occassion!

We were featured in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article, African American Pittsburghers celebrate historic presidential vote. Thank you to Deborah M. Todd for attending our event and writing this noteworthy story.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Today, We Vote to CHANGE the World!

"Basically there are people left out / from living comfortably can we figure it out / I've been waiting patiently for the words to a song - CHANGE IT ALL."
- Goapele

Today, we vote for the 106 year old Black woman, Ann Nixon Cooper, whose father was a slave and who has seen America falter on its promises of freedom and equality. Today, we vote for our ancestors and our progeny who will watch what we do here at this watershed moment in time. Today, we vote for the dream deeply rooted in the American Dream of peace and prosperity. Today, we vote to bend the moral arc of the Universe towards justice and away from racism, sexism, classism, homophobia, ableism and xenophobia. Today, we vote to change the course of humanity and our lives.

I am overjoyed and carry courageous hope in my heart for Barack Hussein Obama to become the President of the United State of America. I am SO glad to be alive at this time in human existence. There are those who dare to dream and because they passionately envision and imagine a world that is full of possibilities versus problems, our generation will manifest all that has been inspired by Barack Obama. I am SuperVoter. Yes, I am. I vote in every single election as it is the most radical thing you can do to powerfully assert one's citizenship. I went to my polling location and unlike anytime in the past, there was a line. The line was not long and it moved rather quickly; however, I have never experienced the concept of the "melting pot."

There we stood from all races, ages, levels of ability, veterans, parents, occupations and so much more - together. So I stood in line in my Highland Park neighborhood of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and I watched people come out of the poll smiling and believing that this act makes a difference and is paramount in our civic duty. I saw neighbors help other neighbors voting for the first time. I saw Black poll workers representing the Majority and Minority Party. I saw friends and neighbors who greeted me and asked about my work on this Presidential Election. As I got closer to the voting machine, I began to well up and could barely say my name to the poll worker. I knew in that moment that our lives would never be the same. There is hope. Yes, we can. There is change.

I think about my life and what is in store for it. My Mother said last night my Uncle and Brother asked if I was running [for office] this time and she said, "She's not running, but I know she is getting out the vote." I am just so grateful for a family that understands my commitment to making this part of the world a better place. I would be nowhere without my Mother and Brother - in spite of it all. I commiserate with Barack Obama and the loss of his Grandmother who was instrumental in shaping his life for this moment and her vote will count. As Patti LaBelle sings, I believe our Grandmothers will walk around heaven all day. I am watching ABC and Barack Obama and his family are casting their vote - from Kenya to Indonesia to Hawaii to now. It will be a triumphant day as trumpets blare ushering a new sociopolitical age for this nation.

Election Day, November 4 - it is no longer a dream. Today, the dream becomes reality.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Remembering Shirley Chisholm: A Legacy for Obama and Clinton

Throngs of people as diverse as the people living in these United States flock to hear the powerful words and unifying presence of a dynamic leader whom they believe will become the next President of this nation. Traveling across the country, the "Change" candidate asserts the right to be present in the election. War, the economy, healthcare, education and taxes are the issues of the day and stepping into the historical moment, American politics is faced with its own reflection and legacy of race and gender.

This was 1972. The "Change" candidate was Shirley Chisholm. And while much has changed in 2008, more has remained the same. Senator Obama and Senator Clinton owe the mere possibility and the unprecedented success of both their campaigns to Shirley Anita St. Hill Chisholm, the first Black woman to serve in the U.S. Congress representing the 12th Congressional District of New York and the first Black person and the first woman to run a serious campaign for a major party's nomination for the U.S. Presidency.

As I reflect on the reality that Senator Barack Obama will be the presumptive nominee for the Democratic Party, it compelled me to revisit again the life of Shirley Chisholm in the documentary, Chisholm '72: Unbought and Unbossed by filmmaker, Shola Lynch. Because she was, he is...and here are her words that send chills through my being knowing so palpably that her existence and her radically progressive political thoughts were lite years ahead of her time. "The hour has come in America that all of us in this room can no longer be the passive recipients of whatever the politics of a nation may decree for us as citizens within this realm. But if we have the courage of our convictions, if we desire to make a contribution to make this nation to bring about the fulfilment of the American Dream so that it is meaningful for every segment in America, we will forget what the world will say whether we were in our place or out of our place."

Shirley Chisholm ran on a similar platform as both Obama and Clinton and it was she who exposed the racism amongst White men and women and she exposed the sexism amongst Black men and sexism internalized by all women imbued in the fabric of American politics and society. Shirley Chisholm bore the immense weight of an American culture in no way "ready" or "prepared" to accept that a woman, Black person or Black woman could ever lead this country. So great a woman was she that a song written during her campaign articulated the hope invested in her historical bid for the Presidency.

"If you're looking for a road to freedom
Take the Chisholm Trail

Of peace and equality
Take the Chisholm Trail

Proposition coalition
Students, brothers, black and white
She will get us out of Vietnam
She will set our women free
Reach out to the minority..."

The Chisholm Campaign amassed a powerful grassroots coalition unprecedented for the time but representative of the unity and change that so many Americans desired. Shirley Chisholm understood the grave challenges her campaign faced including lack of money, lack of support from the Black political structure in Congress - the Congressional Black Caucus - and leading civil rights organization, lack of support from feminist women political leaders particularly in the National Organization for Women (NOW) and the lack of attention from the media. Ultimately, Chisholm wanted to educate Black Americans about the power of our vote in each and every Presidential Election and that we must never "fear to negotiate" for what we are endowed as human beings.

Although Shirley Chisholm did not successfully win her bid for the Presidency in 1972, she was and continues to be a catalyst for change and she served this country as a U.S. Representative from 1969-1983. Shirley Chisholm embodied progressive political reform, political representation of all the American people and political savvy unmatched by any contemporary of her time. The physical life of Shirley Chisholm has ended; however, her soul, her courage, her integrity, her power and her indefatigable spirit continues to inspire to this day for which Obama and Clinton must remember and be eternally grateful.

"I want to be remembered as a woman who fought for change in the 20th Century."
- Shirley Chisholm