Happy Birthday, MLK, Jr.!

January 14, 2017, Hastings Ranch Library, Pasadena Public Library System, 12:26 pm, PST

And yet, Black folk in the United States of America are not united and seemingly in no real hurry to be united. The Chinese are united in their lifetimes of contempt for the Koreans and the Japanese. The Russians, most notably including the soon-to-be First Lady, herself a daughter of the U.S.S.R. (Slovenia, by way of now-defunct Yugoslavia), are united in their lifetimes of jealousy and enmity towards the USA. The British are united in their anti-immigrant and anti-EU (Brexit) ideas and behaviors. The Israelis are united in their Post- WWII years of jealousy and contempt for the Palestinians. Most of the African continent united in its suffering after generations of exploitation by the rest of the planet. Straights and breeders versus the LBGTQ community. Armed Police united against (mostly) unarmed Black men. 53 % of Caucasian women united in their support of Donald John Trump (PEOTUS). A Republican-Controlled US Senate and Congress is united in expediting PEOTUS’s cabinet picks and its’ raison d’etre is to undo the achievements of the best POTUS I have ever known in my life thus far–simply because of the color of his skin.

I submit to the readers that the counterbalance to the apparently overwhelming negative circumstances as described above is the life and times of our Current POTUS and FLOTUS. Barack and Michelle Obama.
Here are some of my theme songs from their 12 years in the People’s House- The White House:

We can be kind – Nancy Lamott

It’s In Every One Of Us – David Pomerantz
But what is needed is more detail. That detail can be found in POTUS’s Farewell Address:

Parts of the Solution!
Wiley College Acapella Choir “I Couldn’t Hear Nobody Pray”

Wiley College in Marshall, Texas, is the first African-American college established in the Lone Star State. The institution was founded in 1873 by Bishop Isaac Wiley of Methodist Episcopal Church and chartered by the Freedman’s Aid Society in 1882. Isaac Wiley grew up with dreams of becoming a minister but instead turned to medicine. In 1850 he was given the opportunity to go to China on a medical missionary trip. Following his return to the United States he entered the ministry and rose through the ranks before becoming a Bishop in 1872. In 1873 he founded Wiley College. The college is now affiliated with the United Methodist Church and is dedicated to the idea of social responsibility and seeks to contribute and revitalize the community, which it serves.

Wiley College was established to provide an education to newly freed men and women and to prepare them for a new life. It was also established to train teachers for careers at black elementary and secondary schools in Texas and other states and territories.

One of the most notable alumni of Wiley College is James L. Farmer Jr., the son of a long-time Wiley professor. James L. Farmer, Jr. was a distinguished civil rights leader who was one of the founders of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) in 1942. He was the National director for CORE from 1961 to 1966 and served as the Assistant Secretary for the US Department of Health, Education, and Welfare in the Nixon Administration for one year. Heman Marion Sweatt, the plaintiff in the U.S. Supreme Court Case in 1950 which desegregated the University of Texas Law School, was also a graduate of the institution.

Wiley now offers Associate and Bachelor’s Degrees in 17 areas including: English, biology, business, computer science, and social sciences, along with many more. The college is located on 63 acres of land west of Marshall, Texas between Dallas to the west and Shreveport, Louisiana to the east. The campus is comprised of seventeen buildings that are used for teaching, learning, and research, as well as residence halls for the students. The college also provides opportunities in higher education to non-traditional students through the Wiley Management Institute Program.

Wiley College is an open-admissions college meaning that one just needs a high school diploma to gain admission. Wiley adopted the open admissions program in the 1970s to allow more students access to a college education.

– See more at: http://www.blackpast.org/aaw/wiley-college-1873#sthash.obtHAoei.dpuf




What America Means to Me, Part III

September 7, 1787
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

President Abraham Lincoln, 1864
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth, upon this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived, and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting-place for those who here gave their lives, that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate – we can not hallow – this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.

It is for us, the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here, have, thus far, so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us – that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they here gave the last full measure of devotion – that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain – that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom – and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
Continue reading

What America Means to Me, Part II

Does anyone from Lincoln School #9, Paterson, New Jersey, Class of 1973 remember singing the last five lines from Emma Lazarus’ “The New Colossus”?

“The New Colossus” by Emma Lazarus (1883) 
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

December, 2016

We can no more afford to exclude anyone who makes their way to our “Golden Door” than we could ever give racism a voting seat at the United Nations.

What America Means to Me

Flashback to August 1892:
I pledge allegiance
To the flag, of the United States of America
And to the Republic, For Which it stands
One Nation,
Under God,
With liberty and justice for all

December, 2016:

All of this talk about who’s in, who’s out needs to stop. I need a rest from all the backbiters and throwers of shade (to use the current popular code). This is why I start each week by reciting this pledge with over 100 K-6 students, teachers, parents, and guardians. This is also why I have come to the conclusion that we should all read and or say aloud the Pledge of Allegiance. We need to be constantly reminded that this country is for all of its residents.

Tending to the Youngest Person in the Room in 2016

The First Week of Winter Break

Duarte, CA

Tonight, I am somewhat sad. Last Friday, the sixth-grade student I serve and I joined millions of children and public education professionals in the United States and left our respective schools for a well-deserved Winter Break. I will miss every one of the 29 amazingly brilliant students it is my pleasure to live amongst as a Behavioral Interventionist assigned to one of the 29. Tomorrow I will meet some of the parents of these children, and this is what I hope to share.

My wish for each of you this holiday season is to draw your children in close for some tender loving care. Always let them know that you love and care for them, unconditionally. Observe them at play with their siblings, cousins and classmates. Listen to them as they share their 6th-grade adventures. Encourage them to share their hopes and dreams.  Find ways to appreciate them for the responsible young adults they are becoming.  Be at peace with your children, your neighbors, and the community-at-large. If you are not doing it already, journal about each child.  Challenge yourself to answer the following question: If I was the only thing standing between me and the public-school system’s continuing existence, could I advocate efficiently and loudly about my child’s educational needs?

What would those of you whose children have IEP’s do if there were no free public schools and the remaining for-profit institutions refused to enroll your child? Can your child afford four years of an as-yet-un-discussed initiative to replace public schools with for-profit educational corporations?  To those of you employed by businesses, can you imagine leaving your child in the hands of your firms’ senior management?  What do we gain after we replace local control and neighborhood public schools with corporate control and private educational institutions that can cherry-pick the brightest and best subject them to an experiment (charter schools) with yet-to-be-proven outcomes superior to the best public schools? Finally, why would we knowingly subject any child to an educational institution with a pro-Christian, openly proselytizing agenda to the exclusion of other modalities of spirituality?

“Have you considered that what is missing in the ideological embrace of choice for choice’s sake is any suggestion of the public school as a public good—as a centering locus for a community and as a shared pillar of the Commonweal, in which all citizens have an investment?” (Rebecca Mead, BETSY DEVOS AND THE PLAN TO BREAK PUBLIC SCHOOLS, The New Yorker Magazine, 12-14-16.

Will we ever evolve into an America that works for everyone after the public elementary and secondary education system is replaced by a for-profit educational corporation that works best only for those wealthy enough to afford it?