Tuesday is Election Day. You know the mantra: Our ancestors died for the right to die. It’s your civic responsibility. It could be a lot worse. Vote for the lesser of two evils. This is the most important election since [fill in the blank].
If you’re unsure of the location of your polling place, hours of operation or who’s on the ballot, there’s an app for that -- Get to the Polls.
While I’m a voting rights activist, I understand why many are skeptical about the efficacy of voting. It seems like little ever changes for the better. Yes, your vote is your voice. But the change you want doesn’t just happen. You have to make it happen.
Turning out to vote is the first step. But civic engagement is a process, not an event. Truth be told, elected officials want you to go away after you vote for them. To make a difference, you must stay engaged after Election Day.
You also must hold those for whom you vote accountable. No elected official should be given a pass simply because he or she looks like you.
I first wrote about illegal immigration in 2005. I’m passionate about a lot of issues but nothing makes my blood boil more than calls for amnesty for the millions of illegal immigrants who either sneaked across the border or overstayed their visa.
I’m a policy wonk so I can cite report after report about the high cost of illegal immigration. But I don’t have to go there. For me, it’s real simple: What part of illegal don’t you understand?
Like a lot of Americans, I’m paying a lot of attention to the mess in Texas. If President Obama had listened, he would have known that Americans want to send the so-called “border children” back to Central America. They’re still here so now Obama is paying a high cost.
Immigration has emerged as perhaps President Obama’s worst issue -- definitely for today, and maybe of his entire presidency -- when it comes to public perception.
A new poll from AP-GfK shows more than two-thirds of Americans (68 percent) disapprove of Obama’s handling of the immigration issue in general. Just 31 percent approve -- down from 38 percent two months ago.
Count me among those Americans who want to #SendThemBack. It may sound “mean-spirited” but my give a damn gave out 11 million illegal immigrants ago.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s address before the 1st Berlin Jazz Festival. In his opening remarks, Dr. King reflected on the importance of jazz:
Jazz speaks for life. The blues tell the story of life’s difficulties, and if you think for a moment, you will realize that they take the hardest realities of life and put them into music, only to come out with some new hope or sense of triumph.
This is triumphant music.
Modern jazz has continued in this tradition, singing the songs of a more complicated urban existence. When life itself offers no order and meaning, the musician creates an order and meaning from the sounds of the earth which flow through his instrument.
It is no wonder that so much of the search for identity among American Negroes was championed by jazz musicians. Long before the modern essayists and scholars wrote of racial identity as a problem for a multiracial world, musicians were returning to their roots to affirm that which was stirring within their souls.
Much of the power of our Freedom Movement in the United States has come from this music. It has strengthened us with its sweet rhythms when courage began to fail. It has calmed us with its rich harmonies when spirits were down.
On Sunday, Jan. 12, 2014, the Pennsylvania State Chapter National Action Network (PA NAN) will return to its roots and present the 3rd Annual Jazz for Justice Fundraiser.
I hope you will join us as we party for a cause and kick off PA NAN’s 2014 advocacy in action. Tickets are $20.00 and include live jazz (the Unity Band) and a fish platter.
Proceeds from the event will help fund PA NAN’s social justice initiatives, including voter protection and voter mobilization for the midterm election.
Tickets may be purchased on PA NAN’s secure website (please click this link).
Three weeks ago, 12-year-old Laporshia Massey suffered an asthma attack while at school. That should be the end of the story. Sadly, it isn’t. There was no school nurse on duty that day. Laporshia was sent home. Within hours, the sixth grader from West Philly was dead.
While the family and the School District of Philadelphia dispute the circumstances leading up to her death, the fact is we’ll never know whether a school nurse would have recognized the severity of her condition.
It’s also a fact that more than 30 percent of children between the ages of 5 to 12 in West Philly have been diagnosed with asthma. So it’s reasonable to expect another child will suffer an asthma attack or otherwise get sick while at school. If there’s no nurse on duty, will school officials rely on a child’s own diagnosis of her condition to determine whether to call 911?
Later today, the Philadelphia School District Nurses will hold a silent candlelight vigil for Laporshia.
Justice for Laporshia Massey dictates that we remain vigilant lest her tragic death is swept under the rug.
It’s Week Four of Philadelphia’s school funding crisis. The fight for equitable funding of traditional public schools is rooted in the Pennsylvania state constitution which provides for a “thorough and efficient system of public education.”
The fight for full funding is being waged online (hashtag #phillyeducation) and offline.
Students at Roxborough High School “got the eye of a tiger.” They created video to express their concern about the state’s failure to provide a “thorough and efficient system of public education.” Since 2001, Philadelphia’s public schools have been run by the School Reform Commission, which is controlled by the governor.
At last weekend’s conference at the Church of the Advocate, Bishop Dwayne D. Royster, executive director of P.O.W.E.R., said he’s raring to go. P.O.W.E.R., Philadelphia’s largest faith-based organization, is an interfaith movement that uses prophetic voices to “fight for the least, the last and the lost.”
He said “interposition and nullification are dripping from the lips of political leaders in Philadelphia and Harrisburg. It’s time to hold them accountable:
We must be the source of their nervousness; make them tremble when they see us coming.
Bishop Royster added:
We have to do something that’s going to be transformational.