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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

For The Patriots Who Love A Country That Won't Protect Them

Just who deserves protection in America?

If you observe the folks this country chooses to protect and chooses to ignore, you may get an answer that doesn’t exactly line up with America’s ideals.

When Wandrea “Shaye” Moss bravely testified before members of the House Select Committee investigating the events of Jan. 6, I was enraged, though I know my rage slips me into the stereotypical category of “angry Black woman.” I refuse to give up a full palette of emotions because of fear of judgment.

When I heard her mother, Ruby Freeman, speak of the horrors she has had to endure, I was sad for her and for America. “Lady Ruby” was the moniker she proudly used to display on her shirt until racist political operatives dragged that earned good name through the mud.

At an age when she should be comfortably enjoying life, lauded for her community service, Lady Ruby’s life has been forever changed. “Do you know how it feels to have the president of the United States target you?” she asked. “The president of the United States is supposed to represent every American.”

She’s right, of course.

But Donald Trump never pretended to be the president of every American. And he has displayed particular animus toward African Americans, from famous athletes to those he stomps on just to get his way. In a call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger before the attack at the Capitol, Trump called Freeman, in reality a small business owner and mother, a “professional vote scammer and hustler,” dredging up hoary labels that apparently still infect his lizard brain and strike a similar chord with his followers.

I can’t help but remember and protect my own mother, the most honest and gentle person you would ever want to meet.

When she was alive and as long as she was able, she worked on Election Day at the polls. In fact, she held a position of authority over several polling places, making sure everything was correct — with Democratic and Republican representation — and making sure everyone knew how to make the voting experience positive.

She happened to be a Republican, back when the party had a “moderate” lane, with folks such as onetime Sen. Charles Mathias Jr. from our home state of Maryland easily driving in it.

I recall how seriously she took her duties, which is one reason I vote in every election and why I know how important it is to exercise the right that was so hard fought for African Americans.

The thought that she would be a ready-made target for a Rudy Giuliani — whose sleazy, bigoted delusions transformed the ginger mint handed between daughter and mom into a thumb drive of votes, passed “like they were vials of heroin or cocaine” — sickens me.

When, at last week’s hearing, Moss spoke of her joy at aiding elderly Americans and the sick to fulfill their right as citizens, she sounded exactly like my mom did.

Americans should be thanking them every day.

Instead, mother and daughter were crushed by lies, and deliberately hunted down by craven folks in “MAGA” world who knew there would be little punishment for cruelty to Black women.

The worst of it is, Moss blamed herself for the attacks on her son, mother and grandmother, who experienced thugs showing up at her home, eager to make a “citizen’s arrest.” That was Klan stuff. And her grandmother was old enough to know how it could have ended. One threat shared by Moss read, “Be glad it’s 2020 and not 1920.”

I wondered, has anyone been arrested? That kind of thing is still a crime, right? If the grandmother had been armed, could she not have used the "Castle Doctrine" to blow unwanted intruders away? Somehow, I doubt she would have been considered the “good guy with a gun.”

Though the government they served seemed to desert them when they most needed its protection, it was quite a different story when Congress sprang into action with special protections for the families of Supreme Court justices. Do they deserve it? Yes. But shouldn’t the election workers who keep the wheels of democracy grinding also expect more than FBI advice to move out of their own homes?

Just this week, in the wake of the court’s controversial decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, Sen. Thom Tillis took the lead on a letter, also signed by Sen. Richard Burr and GOP House members from North Carolina Dan Bishop, Ted Budd, Virginia Foxx, Richard Hudson, Patrick T. McHenry, Greg Murphy and David Rouzer. It asked the Department of Justice to “forcefully condemn the ongoing violence against pro-life and religious groups and prosecute the criminals engaging in these attacks to the fullest extent of the law.” I could admire their outrage, if only it weren’t so selective. The letter didn’t mention the violence visited upon clinics and doctors that perform abortions.

Just last week, during protests of the court decision, off-duty Providence, R.I., Police Officer Jeann Lugo, a Republican running for state office in Rhode Island, reportedly punched his Democratic opponent in the face. “This is what it is to be a Black woman running for office. I won’t give up,” tweeted his opponent, Jennifer Rourke.

After a video surfaced, Lugo dropped out of the race. But I haven’t heard Tillis and company advising their fellow Republicans to cool it. And, as far as I can tell, the North Carolina GOP congressional delegation has not acted as one to express concern for the well-being of folks like Moss and Freeman.

Republicans, for the most part, are ignoring the revelations about an assault on America and the efforts of Trump and his lackeys to set up permanent and unlawful shop in the White House.

Though they can’t have missed the message that fellow Americans risked their lives to shore up institutions that proved more vulnerable to corruption than anyone could have imagined, many in the GOP won’t even admit to peeking at the televised hearings. In this week’s installment, Cassidy Hutchinson testified that Trump was not concerned that some in the crowd could be armed. “They're not here to hurt me,” was his reaction, according to the onetime aide to White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.

It’s the apotheosis of a philosophy that seems to have taken hold — protect the tribe and leave the rest to fend for themselves.

If you’re looking for inspiration, you’d best forget so-called leaders and turn to Moss, who, despite everything, was hopeful and grateful in her message when recently honored by the JFK Library Foundation Profile in Courage Award.

“I want to give a special thank you to all the anonymous election workers out there. The ones that are doing the heavy lifting our democracy depends on,” she said, as reported by CBS. “Tonight, I represent all of them. All of those hard-working people with incredible courage to do the job and do it right.”

Now, that’s a proper message for the Fourth of July.

Reprinted with permission from Roll Call.

What Hate Did To Birmingham Is A Vivid Warning For Us Right Now

In the 1950s, Atlanta and Birmingham were about the same size, with about the same population, problems and promise, John Archibald points out in his book Shaking the Gates of Hell: A Search for Family and Truth in the Wake of the Civil Rights Revolution. But then, Atlanta fashioned itself the city “too busy to hate,” while Birmingham, “as the world would learn, was not that busy.”

I told Archibald I would reference that line, crediting him, of course, after he repeated it in a speech during the recent National Society of Newspaper Columnists conference in that Alabama city, his home base, because it was both ruefully funny and soul-crushingly tragic — and most of all, because it provides a too accurate view of a cycle that continues, one you don’t have to travel to Birmingham to observe.

Those at the conference got a chance to witness the roots and results of what hate did to Birmingham, how it labeled the city and hobbled its progress, during a visit to the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. Unfortunately, those who most need to learn its lessons would never have the sense or the courage to set a foot inside.

The museum certainly does not shy away from the horror, including everything about that Sunday morning, Sept. 15, 1963, when bombs methodically placed by Klansmen murdered Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson and Addie Mae Collins — all 14 years old — and 11-year-old Denise McNair at the 16th Street Baptist Church.

Exhibits and artifacts provide the history that proves the routine ordinariness of what happened that day.

They chronicle the violence woven into the daily lives of the Black residents of the neighborhood that became known as Dynamite Hill. Those pioneers were Black strivers who would go on to make history, but who were resented by the whites who felt they owned the neighborhood, owned humanity itself.

The museum recounts details many may not know, like the stories of Virgil Ware, 13, and Johnny Robinson, 16, two Black boys shot and killed that same day in September, one by a white boy who served probation for his crime and another by law enforcement. Police, often complicit or absent for the violence of whites, were more concerned about the protest of African American citizens than the depredations that made their anger justified and righteous.

Birmingham’s whites were steeped in privilege, painstakingly written into a state Constitution that elevated white supremacy. Some whites planted the bombs, others tacitly supported the violence, and still others realized the unfairness of the written and unwritten rules but stayed silent. The few who spoke up were swiftly punished or ostracized for questioning an oppressive way of life — and, too often, death — for the Black citizens who wanted only to live freely and completely.

I was still thinking about the exhibits, the photos and oral histories, as the country marked the anniversary of white supremacist violence that walked through the door of another Black church, Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C., on June 17, 2015.

It was an event closer to my Charlotte, North Carolina home, and closer still because I had connections to several of the victims — as will all of us as the killings continue. The then-21-year-old white man, who sat and prayed with worshippers at Mother Emanuel before opening fire, was fueled by the racist ideology that blames Black people for everything wrong in his own or any white person’s life. He could not find the will to improve himself, but he wasn’t too busy to hate, and to act on it.

I was thinking of Birmingham as the news reported conspiracies about replacement, with stories like the recent arrests of 31 men in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, foiling, according to law enforcement, a plan to riot at a Pride in the Park gathering. It wasn’t keen investigation that revealed the plot, according to reports, but a tip from a “concerned” citizen and quick action from police who did their jobs, this time.

The men’s faces were obscured with white balaclavas, an almost too perfect metaphor for the white sheets Ku Klux Klan cowards would sometimes use to hide themselves, to avoid responsibility for the things they claimed to be proud of.

Just as then, there are some who would stay silent, or at least downplay just what it means for America when grown men travel from all around the country to rain hate-fueled mayhem on fellow Americans for merely being.

These little men — in Idaho or Buffalo or Charleston — see conspiracies everywhere, and more than anything fear not having all the power in ways so similar to those whites in Alabama, the ones who killed for fear of losing one scrap of it.

These modern-day descendants of the racist cowards of the past use labels claiming patriotism and pride and heritage, when true patriots were and are in plain sight, working for equality and liberty and all those ideals written but unfulfilled in America’s founding documents.

One of those civil rights heroes honored in the institute, the Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, co-founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, has his name on the Birmingham airport and a human rights award bestowed by the institute each year. It’s a wonder he lived to 89 years after the close calls, the beatings, the attempts on his life.

There have always been plenty of heroes, which is why a visit to the Institute, or to any museum that offers unvarnished American history, is more triumphant than tragic. There is often that mix when the truth is told, as gains never occur without struggle.

That’s why Juneteenth, celebrated for the second time as a federal holiday this past weekend, is more than symbolic. It’s a holiday for all Americans, part of the story this country must tell about itself, how justice delayed and denied did not stop progress.

This country has gone down this road before, and it was a rough one, with too many Americans not being too busy to hate and others either too busy or distracted or afraid to do anything about it.

That trip to Birmingham was a balm but also a warning, as those who would dismantle a multiracial democracy, with room for all, seem to be gaining volume and ground.

Mary C. Curtis has worked at The New York Times, The Baltimore Sun, The Charlotte Observer, as national correspondent for Politics Daily, and is a senior facilitator with The OpEd Project. Follow her on Twitter @mcurtisnc3.

When Will Congress Call Domestic Terrorism By Its True Name?

I can’t imagine how Garnell Whitfield Jr. did it, how he appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee to demand some sort of action from the country’s leaders on gun violence and on the domestic terrorism wrought by white supremacy. But as I was riveted by his testimony, I realized the strength and courage he must have drawn from the memory of the mother he will never stop grieving.

Ruth Whitfield, at 86, was the oldest victim in a shooting at a Buffalo supermarket that left 10 people, all African Americans, dead. It was May 14, not even a month ago. Yet there have been so many shootings since, it sometimes seems as if the rest of the world has forgotten. An 18-year-old white man is accused of carrying out the racist attack, accused of driving hours to hunt and murder as many Black people as possible.

“I would ask every senator to imagine the faces of your mothers as you look at the face of my mother, Mrs. Ruth Whitfield,” Garnell Whitfield testified on Tuesday.

Would they be able to do that?

“Ask yourself,” he said, “is there nothing we can do?”

The track record isn’t great.

I’m not sure what Whitfield was expecting from lawmakers who have a hard time even naming what happened. How, then, could they put themselves in his shoes?

Garnell Whitfield is far ahead of our elected representatives, many of whom want, have always wanted, to distract and downplay, to accuse others of bad intentions, to look everywhere but into the eyes and the broken heart of a man whose life has been forever changed.

Whitfield’s plainspoken speech must have startled those reluctant to call out “domestic terrorism” and “white supremacy” for the dangers they are, despite the warnings from FBI Director Christopher Wray’s March 2021 testimony before the same committee about the connection between the January 6 attack on the Capitol and right-wing “domestic terrorism.”

They would rather, as Republicans such as Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas have done and continue to do, point to acts of violence by those on the left and accuse Democrats of using any effort to counter domestic threats as an excuse to go after political opponents.

This is the same Cruz who walked back his comments earlier this year describing January 6 as a “terrorist attack,” a sign of how dishonestly hearings by the House Select Committee are going to be received in some partisan quarters.

In Buffalo, the intent was clear. Did the shooter want to terrorize more than the people he is charged with gunning down? Were Black people enjoying weekend shopping human beings in the shooter's eyes? Or were they merely players in his racist conspiracy theories about nonwhites in America usurping the white majority’s rightful place at the top? It is a hateful theory that is taking root, even in the rhetoric of some tasked with governing an increasingly diverse country.

“Be very afraid,” was the clear message in Buffalo to all African Americans. That’s the point of any hate crime, to target a group, especially when the hate is spelled out, chapter and verse.

It was the message of those who murdered Black Americans exercising the right to vote not that many years ago, or in the case of World War II veteran Medgar Evers in 1963, murdering an American hero just for daring to register fellow citizens, for insisting on being treated equally in the country he fought for.

Yet, despite a history with more cases of intimidation and violence than can fit in one or 1,000 columns — a history our leaders in Washington could view at the city’s museums open to all, if truth were the goal — Senate Republicans recently blocked a bill that would have the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice, and the FBI establish offices focused on domestic terrorism. This comes as five members of the far-right Proud Boys have been charged with seditious conspiracy for their role on January 6, with televised hearings promising much more.

Just as any gun violence research by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was prohibited for more than two long decades because of an amendment to a bill that prevented using federal funds to “advocate or promote gun control,” a 2009 effort by the Department of Homeland Security during the Obama administration to report on increasingly radicalized and violent right-wing groups was ended before it began.

Republican members of Congress and right-wing media outlets led the charge then and now to reframe any such attention as an attempt to smear police and the military and shift attention away from the perceived more urgent threat of foreign actors. Echoes of that could be heard in GOP Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky’s recent remarks about the 2022 proposal. “It would be the Democrat plan to name our police as white supremacists and neo-Nazis,” he said. Former President Donald Trump, the man who found “fine people” on both sides in Charlottesville, Va., moved the government away from any investigation of white supremacist groups during his time in office.

Of course, there are legitimate reasons to be skeptical. How do you distinguish between hate speech and free speech? I understand the reluctance, and am reluctant myself, of too many investigations, too much surveillance, and how easily that can turn into the monitoring of “certain” groups. Past federal crackdowns to stop hate too often have been subverted to instead persecute and spy on those fighting for justice.

But there is definitely both smoke and fire when so many law enforcement officers and military veterans were caught attacking the very government they were sworn to protect on January 6, when shooters bond online over lies and hate.

America has a white supremacy problem, despite the reluctance of members of Congress to admit it, with support across the political spectrum for “threatening or acting violently against perceived political opponents,” according to a recent poll from the Southern Poverty Law Center that spares no one.

In that context, Garnell Whitfield doesn’t seem to be asking too much when he tells the senators that his mother’s life mattered, and asks: “Is there nothing that you personally are willing to do to stop the cancer of white supremacy and the domestic terrorism it inspires?”

Mary C. Curtis has worked at The New York Times, The Baltimore Sun, The Charlotte Observer, as national correspondent for Politics Daily, and is a senior facilitator with The OpEd Project. Follow her on Twitter @mcurtisnc3.

When Worries Haunt Jim Clyburn, It's Time To Fear For  America

When I interviewed House Majority Whip James Clyburn in 2014 about his memoir Blessed Experiences: Genuinely Southern, Proudly Black, the South Carolina Democrat was confident in America’s ability to find its way, no matter how extreme the political swings might appear at any given time.

“The country from its inception is like the pendulum on a clock,” the congressman told me. “It goes back and forward. It tops out to the right and starts back to the left — it tops out to the left and starts back to the right.” And remember, he said, it “spends twice as much time in the center.”

I have always appreciated Clyburn’s wisdom, his passion, and his commitment to his constituents. But most of all, I have admired the optimism of this child of the South, who grew up hemmed in by Jim Crow’s separate and unequal grip, yet who believed in the innate goodness of America and its people. Clyburn put his own life on the line to drag the country — kicking and screaming — into a more just future.

He was convinced, I believe, that no matter how off balance America might become, the country would eventually right itself.

A lot has changed since that afternoon, when he sat at a long table, signing books and chatting in the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture in Charlotte, North Carolina, right beside his beloved wife. Emily Clyburn, a passionate civil rights activist, died in 2019, though Clyburn often references her wise words.That optimism, however, has lost its glow.

Clyburn’s worries drove our conversation in July 2021, the second of two times he was a guest on my CQ Roll Call “Equal Time” podcast. The topic was voting rights, and Clyburn had opinions about the Senate procedure that would eventually stall legislation to reform those rights and restore provisions invalidated by a Supreme Court decision in 2013.

“When it comes to the constitutional issues like voting, guaranteed to Blacks by the 15th Amendment to the United States Constitution, that should not be filibustered,” he said. And about restrictive laws being passed in states? “I want you to call it what it is. Use the word: nullification. It is voter nullification.”

“This isn’t about just voting; this is about whether or not we will have a democracy or an autocracy.”

With those remarks in the back of my mind, it was still startling to hear Clyburn last week on MSNBC, talking about his GOP House colleagues, including Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California, and their waffling about complying with subpoenas from the House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, attack.

When asked if the government and Capitol Hill could “be fixed,” Clyburn, known for his philosophical “this too shall pass” mantra, instead replied, “I don’t know.” He talked about threats to undermine democracy and said the country is “teetering on the edge.”

And that was before the shooting in Buffalo that claimed the lives of ten beautiful Americans doing something as routine as Saturday supermarket shopping. African Americans were targeted by an 18-year-old who wore his “white supremacist” label like a badge of honor in a heavily plagiarized racist screed, a man whose stated goal was to “kill as many blacks as possible.”

Is it any wonder Clyburn’s optimism has been waning in these times?

Among Clyburn’s current House colleagues sits Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York, the number three House Republican, whose Facebook ads echoed the “replacement” conspiracy theory swallowed hook, line and sinker by the Buffalo shooter. “Radical Democrats are planning their most aggressive move yet: a PERMANENT ELECTION INSURRECTION,” was one message shared by the once moderate congresswoman, who replaced Wyoming Republican Liz Cheney in House leadership.

Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA) has said many Americans believe “we’re replacing national-born American — native-born Americans — to permanently transform the political landscape of this very nation.”

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), someone you can always count on to say and do the very worst thing, has co-signed the near nightly rantings of a Fox News host, once tweeting, “Tucker Carlson is CORRECT about Replacement Theory as he explains what is happening to America.”

While most Republican House members skirt the edges of the most incendiary claims, you don’t hear them loudly denouncing or disavowing them.

The accused Buffalo shooter was straightforward in his intentions as he found heroes in the racist and conspiracy-driven murderers who have cut a hateful swath through Norway, New Zealand, El Paso, Pittsburgh and Clyburn’s own home state of South Carolina, at places of worship, whether they be church, synagogue, or mosque.

The problem is much deeper than the availability of guns, and it didn’t surface in just the past few years, though the Obama family in the White House woke those uncomfortable with an evolving country and President Donald Trump cannily dug into a “Make America Great Again” slogan that looked back, not forward.

An accurate reading of history might have taught the shooter that scapegoating African Americans for his own emptiness and rot is not new, and that online conspiracies crumble when bombarded with truth. But many of the same people dismissing Saturday’s planned killing spree as the aberrant act of a disaffected and deranged “youth” would replace real history with rose-colored propaganda in the nation’s classrooms. Many Americans could use an education when polls show a third of them — and nearly half of Republicans — buy into the “replacement” lie.

It was the ugly truth, not fantasy, when President Joe Biden on Tuesday became counselor in chief, a role I’m sure he wishes he never had to play. When he and first lady Dr. Jill Biden traveled to Buffalo, the president blessedly took the time to note each individual — beloved wives and husbands, daughters and sons, brothers and sisters — emphasizing the humanity a shooter wanted to erase.

“In America, evil will not win, I promise you. Hate will not prevail. White supremacy will not have the last word,” he proclaimed.

But when it’s stoked by the rhetoric of fear and blame of the other, hate too often finds a way.

Maybe that is what’s haunting Clyburn, hero and longtime fighter, because he has seen so much. Now, when democracy is at stake, where will the pendulum stop?

Reprinted with permission from Roll Call.

Mary C. Curtis has worked at The New York Times, The Baltimore Sun, and The Charlotte Observer, as national correspondent for Politics Daily, and is currently a senior facilitator with The OpEd Project. Follow her on Twitter @mcurtisnc3.

When Did Admitting A Mistake Become 'Weakness' For Republicans?

In 2002, Trent Lott of Mississippi tried, awkwardly, to make amends.

What did the then-Senate majority leader do to merit penance? Waxing poetic and perhaps feeling a bit nostalgic, Lott gave a speech honoring the 100th birthday of fellow Republican Sen. Strom Thurmond of South Carolina, the onetime Dixiecrat who once broke off from the Democratic Party with a group of the like-minded to form the States’ Rights Democratic Party, built on segregation and steeped in white supremacy.

“I want to say this about my state,” said Lott, harking back to Thurmond’s 1948 folly. “When Strom Thurmond ran for president, we voted for him. We’re proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn’t have had all these problems over all these years, either.”

First, Lott backtracked by saying he did not mean what he clearly said, calling the celebration “lighthearted.” Next, the apology, “to anyone who was offended.”

“A poor choice of words conveyed to some that I embraced the discarded policies of the past,” he said in a statement. “Nothing could be further from the truth.”

He resigned as majority leader after receiving criticism mostly from Democrats but also from some Republicans, worried they might lose support of Black conservative voters for whom whistling Dixie was a step too far.I’m not sure if Lott’s motive was genuine moral growth or reading the room. But at the very least, it acknowledged that longing for the bad old days was not a good thing.

For reasons exemplary or political or both, anything that name-checked the divisive and ugly politics of Dixiecrat days of glory was seen as a drag for a politician and his or her party. This was true even when the words honored Thurmond, a longtime senator, one whose hypocrisy moved front and center when his Black daughter, Essie Mae Washington-Williams, in 2003 claimed her truth and her birthright.

Was 2002 really that long ago? In political years, apparently, yes.

Today, Lott’s apology would be seen as “weakness,” in GOP canon a deal-breaker, and his resignation a sign of capitulating to the “woke mob,” whatever that means. The savvy move would be for Lott to double down, make outraged appearances on right-wing news outlets and field as many fundraising pleas as possible.

Or, he could just deny having said the offensive words in the first place, since refusing to admit the provable, recorded truth is not only acceptable but also encouraged.

It’s not that by 2002, or at any time in American history, appeals to racial and cultural grievance — a wish by those on top that everyone else should “know their place” — had lost their ability to work.

But comparing then to now is an eye-opener for those who believe progress and justice move one way, forward. The landscape in 2022 is a reminder that the Southern strategy can morph into the tea party, which can morph into “Make America Great Again,” with hardly a tweak.

The fact of a two-term Black president doesn’t disprove that theory, and could actually be one reason for the politics of fear getting a reboot. After President Barack Obama, America elected President Donald Trump, still president of the Republican Party if not the United States of America, and his critic and slavish supplicant, Kevin McCarthy, a leader without apology, honesty or shame.

It’s become increasingly clear that House Minority Leader McCarthy — longing to change that “Minority” title to “Majority,” and seeing it within his grasp come the midterm elections — has no problem distinguishing right from wrong or truth from lies. We know that for a fact, thanks to the slow drip of tapes and reporting from New York Times reporters Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns in advance of the official release of their book.

McCarthy’s own voice reveals this witness to the January 6, 2021, insurrection at the Capitol not only blaming Trump but also worrying that members of his own caucus would be complicit in undermining democracy and would put “people in jeopardy.”

In audio that contradicts his repeated denials, McCarthy name-checks Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama and others, citing their incendiary rhetoric and verbal attacks on congressional colleagues such as Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the same House member McCarthy would force out of leadership when she stood up to Trump’s lies and castigated his involvement in January 6.

Gaetz, of course, responded this week, using the phrase “weak men” to describe McCarthy and Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the No. 2 House Republican, both of whom had questioned the legality of Gaetz’s posturing.

Back then, McCarthy fretted about the rantings of Alabama Republican Rep. Barry Moore, who added the obligatory racism, with tweets about supposedly fraudulent votes in Atlanta, Philadelphia and Detroit, and comments on the fatal shooting of Ashli Babbitt, on the front line of rioters. “It was a Black police officer who shot the white female veteran.”

McCarthy understood everything, including the implications of members of his party excusing insurrection and violence.

But when the political winds drifted, McCarthy bent the knee to Trump in his Mar-a-Lago Xanadu. No wonder Trump has forgiven him.

McCarthy knew and knows better — and it doesn’t matter. Party, tribe and Trump over country and the Constitution.

If McCarthy gets his wish, he might have a devil of a time keeping his GOP caucus in line, though.

To start, there’s Rep. Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina, who was at the rally before the storming of the Capitol, as he is at Trump’s side whenever possible. Cawthorn is not much good at legislating but great at racking up traffic violations and toting loaded weapons into airports.

And, of course, there’s Georgia’s Marjorie Taylor Greene, so bold in her texts contemplating “Marshall law” to overturn the results of a free and fair presidential election, so timid with “I don’t remember” answers when questioned about the same under oath.

If McCarthy comes out on top in the fall, we’ll get to see how a House majority leader operates without a conscience.

In retrospect, Lott’s 2002 apology seems almost quaint, recalling a brief period when, even if you didn’t mean it, you acted as though you did, as though having character — and a soul — actually counted.

Mary C. Curtis has worked at The New York Times, The Baltimore Sun, The Charlotte Observer, as national correspondent for Politics Daily, and is a senior facilitator with The OpEd Project. Follow her on Twitter @mcurtisnc3. Her Roll Call columns won the 2022 National Headliner Award.

For Republicans, Governing Is Just Another Chance To Incite The Base

With the votes counted, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson is set to become our next Supreme Court justice. But members of the Senate Judiciary Committee who wanted to use her confirmation hearings for everything but the thing they were designed for are also walking away satisfied.

Republican senators like Tom Cotton of Arkansas, Josh Hawley of Missouri, Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, and Ted Cruz of Texas used their time to either talk down to Jackson or talk past her to make political points.

During the hearings, questions that criticized her sentencing philosophy as well as “empathy” were tailor-made for the African American Supreme Court candidate and a slew of negative ads to accuse her and every Democrat of being soft on crime in general and pornographers in particular.

In that, they were merely following the playbook that has become routine and is unfortunate for any American who wants to get anything done, especially, in this instance, for advocates of criminal justice reform. That Jackson had the support of major law enforcement groups and could boast of relatives with more time on the front lines of fighting crime than all those senators combined were facts to be ignored by those looking to set a narrative. That her sentencing record resembled that of Republican judges favored by the disagreeing and disagreeable senators were details to be brushed aside. Cotton, in fact, ramped up his attacks, saying, to the disgust of the Anti-Defamation League, that she would represent “Nazis.”

After listening to and watching the show along with the rest of us, three Republican senators explained their reasoning for backing the eminently qualified jurist while decrying the partisan grandstanding that has accompanied modern Supreme Court justice hearings. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Susan Collins of Maine and Mitt Romney of Utah, who actually voted against her last time around, had met with Jackson. They apparently saw her as she truly is, not the ridiculous caricature constructed by her interrogators.

What did that get the three? The label of “pro-pedophile” from Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA). Along with that slander, she also tweeted, the proof was, “They just voted for #KBJ,” when the vote had not yet happened. But when has being wrong on fact or intention ever stopped the Georgia Republican?

It all fits in with the spectacle of Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee continuing their snarling and baseless accusations against Jackson this past Monday — the April 4 anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The symbolism speaks for itself and points to a larger problem.

Florida's Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis has added another word to be weaponized, “groomer,” to stick to anyone who dares oppose the state’s vague and restrictive legislation limiting classroom instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity, something I’m pretty sure was not rampant in Florida schools — less likely to happen, I believe, than the bullying of gay kids.

But in Florida, no person — or corporation, in the case of Disney — is safe from hyperbolic attack.

Compromise is out of the question, even though important issues face the American people. The goal is conflict rather than conflict resolution, with everything cast in black and white rather than shades of gray.

In the meantime, expect little progress on everything from criminal justice reform and immigration to the economy and education.

The “soft on crime” label, the red meat some senators questioning Jackson devoured, has everyone scrambling. No one on a ballot wants to be accused of being on the side of criminals, even as our justice system rests on the concept of innocent until proven guilty.

Say goodbye to reality-based reasoned discussion, with give-and-take from every side, and hello to filtering every issue through fear, feelings and optics.

Get used to terms such as “woke,” “socialism,” “critical race theory” and now “pedophile” in outraged statements and already surfacing alarmist election ads.

With violent crime rates rising — though data points to a complex set of causes, including a pandemic — and elections approaching, policymakers are pulling back on advocacy of criminal justice reform. To be sure, it shouldn’t be a crime to examine policies initiated in thoughtfulness and compassion, to make sure a balance is reached that combats crime in ways both effective and fair.

But political expediency, protecting the right flank, can play an oversize role when retreating from needed reform.

In President Joe Biden’s proposed budget, a wish list of political priorities, more funds for law enforcement are prominently placed. It would give police departments the resources they say they need and could also serve to neutralize “defund the police,” a slogan and belief few Democrats embraced but all were tagged with.

The money for local and state police would go to training and different approaches to public safety, and not just more police on street corners, the administration insists. But groups that oppose violence by police as well as toward them have reasons to be skeptical about the details, at least while the problems that reforms were created to erase have not disappeared. Just this week, for example, we learned the Minneapolis police officer who shot and killed Amir Locke during a pre-dawn, no-knock raid will face no charges, though Locke was not the subject of the warrant. Wasn't the shooting of Breonna Taylor in Kentucky supposed to be a wake-up call for these kinds of searches?

The federal bill backed by police groups and developed by a bipartisan group of lawmakers once looked promising, until one of them, Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), turned against it. Now, it doesn’t have a chance.

Is tangled immigration policy the fault of lawmakers of every party? Of course. But nothing will be done as long as the issue can be demagogued, with candidates such as North Carolina Rep. Ted Budd — running with Donald Trump’s blessing in the GOP primary for a U.S. Senate seat from that state — broadcasting a scary ad with migrants breaching a border barrier. It doesn’t matter that the video in the Biden-bashing ad is from Trump’s presidency.

As midterm elections grow closer, expect more posturing for the camera, more setting up that killer sound bite.

As long as name-calling can raise blood pressure and drive voters to the polls, solving complicated problems Americans face will have to wait.

Mary C. Curtis has worked at The New York Times, The Baltimore Sun, The Charlotte Observer, as national correspondent for Politics Daily, and is a senior facilitator with The OpEd Project. Follow her on Twitter @mcurtisnc3.

The Difficult Balancing Act Of Ketanji Brown Jackson

In a brief mention in his State of the Union address on Tuesday, President Joe Biden described his Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson as a “consensus builder” and touted her support from the Fraternal Order of Police, before moving on to other topics.

That was understandable in a time of war and division, overseas and closer to home. But that doesn’t mean that Jackson’s spot is guaranteed. As she makes the rounds this week, visiting with senators from both parties, it’s a reminder of the tightrope she must walk, the challenges she must overcome even as the rules in this high-stakes game keep changing.

As an African-American woman who has achieved much, she’s proved she is up to the task.

Understandably, many Black women in America celebrated when Biden fulfilled his campaign promise and nominated Judge Jackson to the Supreme Court. She would be the first Black woman on the nation’s highest court, though there have been many who were deserving, one of the most obvious being the first Black woman appointed to the federal bench, Constance Baker Motley, whose life and work are chronicled in the new book “Civil Rights Queen.”

Black women formed a strong part of the coalition that put Biden in the Oval Office and have been stalwart citizens throughout American history, on the forefront of human rights, civil rights and voting activism through icons such as Fannie Lou Hamer, Dorothy Height and Shirley Chisholm and so many others who never received the recognition they deserved.

I have a hunch that if former President Barack Obama had nominated Jackson, who reportedly was on his short list, instead of Merrick B. Garland to replace the late Antonin Scalia on the court, her almost-certain dis by Senate Republicans, led by then-Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, would have triggered a groundswell that would have carried Hillary Clinton into the White House.

Jackson, then and now, would have to be prepared for whatever might come her way during confirmation hearings, set to start March 21 before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

She’s already been subjected to a grilling from Texas GOP Sen. John Cornyn. During her hearing last year for her spot on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, Cornyn asked: “What role does race play, Judge Jackson, in the kind of judge you have been and the kind of judge you will be?”

Instead of rolling her eyes and asking if he’d ever asked that of a white judge looking for his approval, Jackson calmly answered, “I don’t think that race plays a role in the kind of judge that I have been and that I would be in the way you asked that question.” She added: “I would say that my different professional background than many of the court of appeals judges, including my district court background, would bring value.”

Cornyn still voted against her.

If past is prologue, Jackson’s interrogation will resemble the treatment of Sonia Sotomayor — who was questioned on her temperament by South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, giving credence to anonymous quotes calling her “excitable” (translation, “hot-blooded”) — and not that of Amy Coney Barrett, who was gushed over as a “role model for little girls” by Sen. Ted Cruz, Republican from Texas.

And then there’s Brett M. Kavanaugh, who — in a performance that launched a thousand memes — did everything short of bursting a vein as he raged his way through his hearing but was never in danger of being labeled an “angry black woman.”

Work hard, study hard, go to an Ivy League school, and good things — like a Supreme Court seat — will come to you. Well, if you’re Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and almost every other judge on the Court.

In the case of Jackson, nominated to fill the seat of Stephen G. Breyer, the justice for whom she clerked, Graham dismisses Harvard and Harvard Law with a snarky comment that the “Harvard-Yale train to the Supreme Court continues to run unabated.” I do believe his votes have contributed to that train running for years.

But as many Black women have learned, those Ivy League bona fides, and more judicial experience than Roberts, Barrett, Clarence Thomas and Elena Kagan had before they joined the court, won’t shield Jackson from the affirmative action label that’s already been tossed around.

What should be an asset — a background as a public defender and criminal defense attorney on a court pledged to treat all fairly — is framed as a liability by Republican lawmakers who should know that our justice system counts on the accused having representation. Is innocent until proven guilty still a thing? That’s something I might ask Sens. Cruz (Harvard Law), Josh Hawley (Yale Law) and John Kennedy (University of Virginia School of Law).

Isn’t following in the footsteps of the late icon Thurgood Marshall something to be admired? Jackson’s perceived balance might add needed perspective and burnish the reputation of a Supreme Court the American public increasingly sees as partisan.

Probably what’s most frustrating to many Black women watching this process play out so predictably is the flattening of Jackson as a complex and complete human being.

Njeri Mathis Rutledge, who, full disclosure, I know and work with, attended Harvard Law School with Jackson, and besides describing her as someone with “a next-level focus and drive” in a column in The Hill, wrote about Jackson as a person. “She had a big, beautiful smile and a joyful laugh. She was kind and down to earth. … Judge Jackson treats people with respect and is a good listener, which are crucial attributes to persuasion.”

All the warm and fuzzies that greeted adoptive mom Barrett during her elevation to the court may not be visited on someone at least as deserving and a role model for girls of all races, as well. I’d love to be proven wrong on that count.

Jackson has worked for justice, whether it’s by serving on a sentencing commission to reduce unfair disparities or being an advocate for those who truly needed her. Her own words, standing near the president who nominated her, give a hint to why she believes all that, and helping raise a lovely family, has been worthwhile.

After honoring Motley, with whom she shares a birthday, for “her steadfast and courageous commitment to equal justice under law,” Jackson said that, if confirmed, “I can only hope that my life and career, my love of this country and the Constitution, and my commitment to upholding the rule of law and the sacred principles upon which this great nation was founded will inspire future generations of Americans.”

While I cannot predict how her hearings will proceed, of one thing I am sure. Jackson will more than live up to the expectations many Americans are placing on her shoulders.

A lot of pressure? Yes. But this accomplished Black woman, relatable to many walking that same tightrope, is used to it.

Reprinted with permission from Roll Call

Yes, Mitch, Black Women Are Americans Too

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was shocked and, indeed, insulted that anyone would ascribe even a hint of racist intent to his recent statement that divided the electorate into African Americans and Americans: “If you look at the statistics, African American voters are voting in just as high a percentage as Americans.”

On the one hand, that outrage was pretty rich coming from the man who treated the first Black president of the United States as an annoyance to be dismissed or ignored, especially when that president attempted to appoint a Supreme Court justice, one of the duties of — the president of the United States.

On the other hand, the Republican senator from Kentucky was just doing what a whole lot of Americans do: Treat “white” as the default and everyone else as someone or something “other,” and, by statement or inference, someone or something “less.”

Of course, McConnell being McConnell, he “misspoke” while explaining his stand against the shrinking voting rights of Americans who only began to fully share in the franchise after a law passed by Congress in 1965 — one that came only after fierce debate and the bloody sacrifice of civil rights workers.

It’s Black History Month, Senate minority leader. Read a book, watch “Eyes on the Prize,” examine your own party’s Southern strategy. And do it before bills that would ban teachers from talking about race in a way that could make anyone uncomfortable make their way through the legislature in your home state of Kentucky.

It could be any month, though, as the pending appointment of the next Supreme Court justice by President Joe Biden has ushered in yet another round of “Let’s pretend that all those white, male judges were perfect and perfectly qualified and these Black women on the short list with long résumés and years of experience could never measure up.”

Only white men on the Supreme Court, well, that was the way it was. If merit and good character were criteria, Black women — and representatives of Americans of every race and gender and creed whose fate has been decided by the highest court in the land — would have been appointed to the court long ago. But in those days, years, decades and centuries, the “white” was silent, and understood.

As it played out, the intentionally excluded were mere observers when the injustice the court sometimes meted out was cruel, and turned out to be so very wrong.

In one of the worst examples, the Court found 7-2 in the 1857 Dred Scott case, in the words of the majority decision written by Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, that Scott, as a Black man, “had no rights which the white man was bound to respect.” And using a states’ rights rationale so favored by succession advocates then and supporters of restrictive voting bills being passed in states across the country now, the Taney-led court ruled Congress could not prohibit slavery in the territories.

Nearly a century later, in Korematsu v. United States in 1944, in a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court upheld the conviction of Fred Korematsu — a son of Japanese immigrants and an American citizen who was born in Oakland, Calif. — for having violated an order to report to be relocated to an internment camp during World War II. Korematsu lived long enough for his courage to be rewarded with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, awarded by President Bill Clinton.

There is no guarantee that a fairly assembled court would have rendered fair judgments. But who wouldn’t at least admit that a more representative Supreme Court, one that expands rather than excludes the list of eminently qualified candidates, is a good thing?

Well, that would be several Republicans looking to enrage a base that is threatened by any act that hints at racial progress and eager to weigh in on someone who has yet to be named. That is the point, really, as these premature commenters obviously see this “Black woman” not as an individual person but rather a vaguely threatening symbol.

I admit it can be tiring to those of us called to constantly prove or perform American-ness (or expertise, for that matter), defined by whomever is doing the asking, but it’s a ritual that’s as American as apple pie.

Unsurprisingly, count on Senate Judiciary Committee members Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz, playing down to the crowd sizing them up as 2024 presidential material, to jump to the front of the ignominious line.

Hawley mumbled something about a “woke activist,” stringing together buzzwords sure to hit a nerve. I’m not sure why he would think Biden would use Hawley’s own strict litmus test when naming a justice, though the Republican from Missouri does think quite highly of himself.

Cruz, who also falls into that category, has managed to offend even some Republicans with his comment that Biden’s promise is “offensive.” And since the Texan never knows when to stop, he had to add that it’s “an insult to Black women.”

Of all the things Cruz has been called, I don’t believe “spokesman for Black women” has ever been one of them.

GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina sounded quite reasonable as he endorsed a representative Supreme Court, and judged one of the women on the list, South Carolina federal District Judge J. Michelle Childs, as “fair-minded, highly gifted” and “one of the most decent people I’ve ever met.” That doesn’t mean she or any candidate would get his vote. But the fact that his calm and common sense made headlines shows how far the base sentiment of his party has fallen.

Maybe Graham remembers that there was no such hand-wringing when the GOP’s secular saint Ronald Reagan promised during his 1980 campaign to appoint a woman to the high court and followed through. Reagan, of course, did not have to say she would be white.

The fulfillment of Reagan’s pledge, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, said she learned much from the court's first African American justice, Thurgood Marshall, with whom she served. Though they were far from politically aligned, when Marshall retired from the court in 1991, O’Connor said: “His was the eye of a lawyer who saw the deepest wounds in the social fabric and used law to help heal them. … His was the mouth of a man who knew the anguish of the silenced and gave them a voice.”

Amplifying rather than silencing a voice that might bring a different perspective to the highest court in the land is as American as it gets.

Reprinted with permission from Roll Call

Careless Adults Take Note: 'Children Will Listen, Children Will See'

Careful the things you say

Children will listen

Careful the things you do

Children will see

And learn.”

At his death late last month at the age of 91, composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim was praised for writing for character rather than the hit parade. Playwright Arthur Laurents, who worked with him on several productions, once said that Sondheim “writes a lyric that could only be sung by the character for which it was designed.”

However, the audience for his work is everyone.

At this moment, the words of “Children Will Listen” from Into the Woods sadly resonate in a country where children are learning the wrong lessons from adults who should know better.

In Michigan, family, friends and classmates are mourning Madisyn Baldwin, Tate Myre, Hana St. Juliana and Justin Shilling, killed in an attack in a place that should be safe — high school. A 15-year-old was charged in the murders at Oxford High School, and in a rarity, his parents were charged with involuntary manslaughter for what prosecutors said was behavior that made them complicit.

Guide them along the way

Children will glisten

Children will look to you

For which way to turn.”

According to Oakland County prosecutor Karen McDonald and authorities, the parents bought a gun that their son called “my new beauty.” Mom spent time testing it out with him and texted him, “LOL I’m not mad at you … you have to learn not to get caught,” when teachers found him searching online for ammunition. Perhaps realizing too late the seriousness of the tragedy her son is charged with unleashing, she allegedly texted him, “Don’t do it.”

When the shooting started, Dad called authorities to tell them it could be his missing gun — and his son.

Both parents met with school officials the morning of the shooting and were advised that his behavior warranted counseling within 48 hours. But they apparently resisted taking him home or getting him the “help” the accused asked for in a disturbing note.

The teenage Kyle Rittenhouse was judged not guilty in Wisconsin and walked free after killing two men and seriously wounding a third. His mother, Wendy, was never charged and has said she didn’t really know what he was doing the night he traveled to Kenosha to patrol the streets holding a weapon. But where was the judgment of a parent who, according to prosecutors, accompanied her teen son to a bar where he and Proud Boys drank and celebrated? Come to think of it, where were the voices chanting “What about the culture?” and “Where is the father?” — questions always posed when a youth of color does far less than shoot and kill two people?

New Normal

For years, because of pressure from the NRA, gun rights groups and lawmakers, federal money for gun research at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to “advocate or promote gun control” pretty much dried up. Now, some research funding has been reinstated, just when studies are showing that the COVID-19 pandemic has intensified the impact of the U.S. gun violence crisis.

Very few Americans are denying anyone’s right to own a gun — for protection, for hunting, for target practice. But is common sense too much to expect?

Where indeed was the sense or the empathy when, just days after the Oxford High shooting, Rep. Thomas Massie posted a holiday photo on Twitter, with family members of all ages smiling while displaying guns. The caption: “Merry Christmas! ps. Santa, please bring ammo.”

The Kentucky Republican’s tweet got some support but also criticism, including from Fred Guttenberg, a gun control activist whose 14-year-old daughter, Jaime, was killed in the 2018 Parkland high school shooting in Florida. In response to Massie’s message, Guttenberg tweeted a photo he took of his smiling child and another image of her gravesite.

Bad Choices

One lawmaker moved to outrage by the Michigan school shooting was Connecticut Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy, whose speech just after he learned the news was certainly informed by his passion for stricter gun control laws and the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in his own state that killed 26 people, including 20 little children. “It happens here, in America,” he said, “because we choose to let it happen.”

Will more parents and lawmakers be as outraged over school shootings that are becoming shockingly routine as they seem to be about teaching children anything about America’s sometimes violent history and teaching Americans to do and be better?

Acknowledging facts, it is charged, could ruin a child’s innocence.

These are children for whom active shooter drills have become as much a part of the curriculum as English, math and chemistry.

At Oxford High in Michigan, as a classroom of terrified students hid, there was a knock on the door, and from the other side came a voice indicating that he was a friend, not a foe. The suspicious students did not believe him and decided to take their chances by escaping out of a window instead.

It turns out it really was law enforcement knocking. But who could blame the high schoolers for their lack of trust in people who are supposed to know best, who have promised and failed to protect them?

These children — and to me they are children — lost their innocence a long time ago, if they ever had it.

“Careful the spell you cast

Not just on children

Sometimes the spell may last

Past what you can see

And turn against you.”

Mary C. Curtis has worked at The New York Times, The Baltimore Sun and The Charlotte Observer, and as national correspondent for Politics Daily. She is a senior facilitator with The OpEd Project and host of the Equal Time podcast. Follow her on Twitter @mcurtisnc3.

The Demeaning Of ‘Woke’ -- And The Decline Of Decency In America

Endesha Ida Mae Holland smiled as she recounted the events of the Mississippi voter registration movement for the 1994 documentary Freedom on My Mind. That movement, from 1961 to 1964, was marked by the bravery of activists and the violence meted out by those who felt threatened by the very idea of Black citizens exercising their fundamental rights.

Holland's upbringing as a young African American in Mississippi, her work in the struggle and the retaliation that followed had left her unprepared for her first encounter at a Southern lunch counter following the passage of civil rights laws she fought so hard for. She said that when the clerk politely greeted her, it was so overwhelming and appreciated, she ordered everything on the menu, just to experience the balm of kind words covering her again and again.

At the close of Freedom Summer — only a few years after a Black farmer who tried to register to vote was shot and killed by a Mississippi state representative, who got away with it — respect seemed a triumph to someone whose humanity had been denied for so long.

Remember the phrase "political correctness"? It's not so in vogue these days, mostly because it has outlived its usefulness.

I remember when it was all the rage, an effort to reframe any rude and insensitive lout as a bold rule-breaker. My feelings about all the fuss? Despite protests to the contrary, there was never a prohibition against making rude remarks, no law that punished anyone who chucked racist or misogynistic or homophobic comments toward acquaintances or perfect strangers or who viewed the world through a lens of hardened stereotypes.

Not The First Time

During the heyday of outrage over "political correctness," everyone could — and did — say anything, make any joke, pass ridicule off at wit. And they could feel quite pleased with themselves.

What they couldn't do was escape pushback. The targets spoke up, demanded accountability, sometimes at great danger to themselves.

That was the problem for those who had lived a life without consequences, and wanted that status quo to continue.

I always wondered why anyone would have a desire to offend, would insist on it as a right. To me, it wasn't about being politically correct but about being a decent human being, following the Golden Rule, treating others as you would like to be treated, with consideration.I was happy when the phrase began to vanish, though unfortunately it took a while, until politicians and hucksters (sometimes one and the same) had managed to drain every drop of advantage from it.

But alas, it has been replaced with a word that has come to mean, well, whatever its users want it to mean. Unless you've been asleep, you know what word I'm talking about.

When you break down "woke," it literally means "the past tense of wake." But it also means being aware. When blues singer Lead Belly used the phrase "stay woke" in a 1938 protest song about nine African Americans, the falsely accused "Scottsboro Boys," it was advice to Black Americans who wanted to avoid a similar fate.

It has, however, been, as they say, weaponized. To mean, well, excessive sensitivity, I suppose.

How much attention to injustice is too much?

Again, I wonder about motivation, the need to, for example, join a stadium full of Atlanta Braves baseball fans performing a "tomahawk chop" when many Native American organizations have objected to appropriating rituals and using people as mascots.

In Gaston County, North Carolina, protesters at a high school have told school officials they could keep the "Red Raider" nickname if they just get rid of the red-painted "Indian head" symbol. So far, not a step in that modest direction.

A White House proclamation marking November as national Native American History Month read, in part: "Even as they shouldered a disproportionate burden throughout the pandemic, Tribal Nations have been paragons of resilience, determination, and patriotism." It went on to praise Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, the first Native American to serve in a presidential Cabinet.

Where were former President Donald Trump and Melania Trump? Standing up to join Atlanta fans in "the chop."

'Own' Your Enemies

The leader of the Republican Party still sets the tone, and the tone is anything goes if it allows you to "own" your perceived enemies, and those enemies are everywhere. They could even be your colleagues.

Take Arizona GOP Rep. Paul Gosar, who faced the consequences this week for tweeting an altered anime video that showed him killing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), and swinging two swords at the president of the United States.

The Democratic-led censure resolution that passed Wednesday read, in part, "Violence against women in politics is a global phenomenon meant to silence women and discourage them from seeking positions of authority and participating in public life, with women of color disproportionately impacted."

That may be the point for those who view Gosar as a right-wing hero and his tweet as clever and edgy. Of course, he's doubled down and most of his fellow Republicans haven't had much to say. Why would they, at a time when transgressions are praised and the Golden Rule is deemed a sucker's game.

Endesha Ida Mae Holland is the true hero. She died in 2006 as a celebrated scholar and author; she eventually had a documentary made about her. But as I sat riveted by Freedom on My Mind in a recent late-night showing on TV, it was that look on her face and her giddy smile — of someone who had been given a gift from a simple act of kindness — that stayed with me.

Sadly, it also struck me that recognizing the power of kindness — for the giver and receiver — is fading as surely as "woke" will, when another word rises to divide us.

Mary C. Curtis has worked at The New York Times, The Baltimore Sun, The Charlotte Observer, as national correspondent for Politics Daily, and is a senior facilitator with The OpEd Project. Follow her on Twitter @mcurtisnc3.

In Confronting Hate, A Short Memory Is Dangerous

Reprinted with permission from RollCall

June 17, 2015.

Though it wasn't that long ago, far too many Americans only dimly recall what happened on that date, when a racist murderer sat down to pray with parishioners at the historically Black Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C., then pulled out a .45-caliber handgun and started shooting.

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When Leaders Do Justice, America Should Celebrate

Reprinted with permission from RollCall

It was an example of leadership and justice. California Gov. Gavin Newsom, fresh off surviving a recall vote, was not laying low but standing in front of cameras, signing a bill that would return prime property in Manhattan Beach — known as Bruce's Beach — to descendants of the Black couple who had been run off the land they owned close to a century ago.

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Why So-Called Tough Guys Are Always Punching Down

Reprinted with permission from Roll Call

The late great stand-up, actor and occasional philosopher George Carlin was known to cross the lines of what polite society would call good taste, but he himself drew a few lines when it came to his theory of funny.

Asked by Larry King in 1990 about popular bad-boy comedian Andrew Dice Clay, Carlin, while defending Clay's right to say whatever, said, "His targets are underdogs. And comedy has traditionally picked on people in power, people who abuse their power." Clay's core audience, Carlin said, were "young white males" threatened by Clay's targets, assertive women and immigrants among them.

Rule-breaker Eddie Murphy came to look back on his younger self, the brash young man dressed in leather, and cringe, especially at his jokes about women and relationships, he told The New York Times in 2019. "I was a young guy processing a broken heart, you know, kind of an …" — well, you get the idea.

In today's cruel world, it's not just comedians punching down, reaching for the "easy" joke, setting new and low standards, though a few still revel in their ability to shock (see Michael Che and his approving nods to vile remarks about the sexual abuse of young female athletes).

Many who should know better have given up seeking a more perfect union, one that welcomes all. They see advantage in aggression and, unlike Murphy, don't feel one bit embarrassed when reflecting on their words and actions.

In fact, the "punching" is the point, and it's always aimed squarely at those perceived as less powerful, from poor and disabled Americans who want to vote without jumping through unnecessary hoops and facing intimidation from poll watchers to transgender children eager to play sports to Black and brown students who would like their role in the country's history to be taught without accommodation for those too fragile to hear the truth.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's recent, threatening words involved actual hitting, in this case the speaker of the House and third in line for the presidency, Nancy Pelosi. At a Republican fundraiser in Nashville, Tennessee over the weekend, when presented with an oversize gavel, McCarthy said: "I want you to watch Nancy Pelosi hand me that gavel. It will be hard not to hit her with it." According to audio, the crowd of about 1,400 laughed.

McCarthy can almost taste the speakership, with voting restrictions in the states and new gerrymandered districts being teed up, and the Supreme Court and a Senate stalled on voting legislation helping to clear the way. He's already referring to Pelosi as a lame duck. For him and his followers, the angry rhetoric isn't something to be ashamed of; it's dessert, a way to rile up the base and rake in the cash.

While not approving of the violent January 6 insurrectionists who stormed the Capitol, McCarthy tried to block an investigation of the attack and said he ignored the testimony of brutalized police officers before the select committee that's proceeding without him. McCarthy seems to have forgotten his reported initial pleas to then-President Donald Trump to rein in his supporters that day.

Does he remember or care, as he's piling on, that the rioters particularly targeted Pelosi, defiled her office and called out "Where's Nancy?" in their best impression of Jack Nicholson's demented howl in The Shining?

The trickle-down effect that Republican politicians are so fond of when it comes to justifying tax cuts for the wealthy is certainly true when it comes to this style of "tough guy" posturing, as January 6 proved, though you can bet those rioters would not have been so free employing their weaponized flagpoles and bear spray if they were confronting each officer one-on-one.

The same goes for the bullies who don't need masks, but want to fight businesses trying to safely staff and operate their shops and restaurants, or the anti-vaxxers who show little concern for children too young to get vaccinated or neighbors who because of age or medical complications are at risk.

It's predictable that the tough guys and gals, so anxious to pick a fight — verbal and otherwise — offer a tsunami of excuses when called to account. That's usually the case with bullies.

The January 6 lawbreakers are blaming Trump, QAnon and the heat of the moment; some Republicans unbelievably blame Pelosi herself for the violence that targeted her. Professional comic Che says he was hacked, and amateur comic McCarthy claims he was "obviously joking" when he taunted the speaker.

I'd respect them all a lot more if they'd just own their perfidy. Instead, they do their damage with a wink before backing off, managing to look both mean and weak.

When I spoke with House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn last week on my Equal Time podcast, he didn't have the time or desire to insult anyone. As someone who in the 1960s was in the middle of the fight for the Voting Rights Act, he would rather talk about the current battle to protect the rights promised in that landmark legislation — and to save democracy itself.

Convincing those who don't believe it's their fight won't be easy. But Clyburn has the optimism of someone who, in the face of real danger, helped take on the segregated South. In "punching up" at a system designed to hold "powerless" Americans down, he and all those who changed history showed a toughness that a gavel-toting McCarthy and company can only dream about.

Mary C. Curtis has worked at The New York Times, The Baltimore Sun and The Charlotte Observer, and was national correspondent for Politics Daily. She is a senior facilitator with The OpEd Project. Follow her on Twitter @mcurtisnc3.

Statues Come Down While Barriers To Truth Are Erected

Reprinted with permission from Roll Call

In Charlottesville, Va., where a Unite the Right gathering of neo-Nazis, white supremacists, Lost Cause devotees and other angry history deniers left destruction and death in their path in 2017, there was a different scene this past weekend.

The city removed statues of Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson, memorials to those who fought on the losing side of a Civil War to maintain the brutal and murderous institution of slavery. They were erected as monuments to white supremacy, not in the 1860s but the 1920s, a Jim Crow threat to Black citizens to "know their place."

Now, as then, there are those opposed to this bit of progress, with arguments that removing the stone idols would mean erasing history, which is ridiculous since that history will never disappear from books, museums and tall tales handed down by the "never forget" brigade.

Ironically, many of these same folks would be only too glad to forget what really happened, during that bloody Civil War and in the 100 years after — the ingenious laws and policies that continue to reverberate through everything from health care to housing.

As part of the plan, they've come up with a fear-based campaign to, you got it, erase any part of American history that deals with racism and the ways it was intentionally embedded in American institutions. And predictably, this battle in a war that has never ended is actually gaining momentum that Republican politicians hope to ride to electoral victory.

The Ultimate Snowflakes

They could not do it without the cooperation of aggrieved parents fighting against something they haven't even tried to understand.

I really wish that instead of tying themselves into contradictory knots, these troops standing in the way of the truth — the ultimate snowflakes trying to "cancel" facts — would come clean and just admit that it's not history they're opposed to, it's any reckoning that gets in the way of their myths.

The version of history they love is what's been spoon-fed to many generations until fairly recently — propaganda in the name of patriotism. The concern "for the children" expressed in tear-stained testimony at school board meetings from Loudoun County, Va., to Chandler, Ariz., only extends to certain kids, their own. It leaves out the Black, brown, Asian American and Native American children who have suffered through and been traumatized by a white-washed tableau that either villainizes or disappears American heroes who always have been stalwart fighters for an inclusive and welcoming society, also known as America as it supposedly aspires to be.

There is no more absurd example than in Tennessee, where parents from "Moms for Liberty" don't want children to learn about what six-year-old Ruby Bridges endured when she integrated her New Orleans elementary school in 1960. The image of young Ruby immortalized by quintessential American artist Norman Rockwell depicts her daily walk surrounded by federal marshals. To get an education, her body and soul had to survive angry white parents, faces twisted, who greeted her with jeers, who threatened to poison her, who, when a child her age should have been playing with baby dolls, held up a coffin carrying a Black one so Ruby could get the message.

So, white children of today are too fragile to merely read about the dangerous racism a 6-year-old faced not that long ago? Do their parents realize they are still trying to bar Ruby Bridges from school?

A complaint is that Ruby's story needs more whites in shining armor.

Well, there were a few, including Barbara Henry, a white teacher from Massachusetts, who did the job she was paid to do for the year Ruby was in a class all her own. And there are the parents who eventually sent their children back to get an education, in more ways than one.

The star of her story, though, is Ruby, someone any child should admire. She never cried or whimpered, said federal marshal Charles Burks. "She just marched along like a little soldier." A former first lady, Eleanor Roosevelt, wrote her a letter.

An argument brought up again and again in these curriculum fights is that teaching stories like Ruby's causes children of color to think of themselves as victims. The opposite is true. Ruby, at 66, is still an activist, as well as a wife and mother. Ruby Bridges Goes to School: My True Story, her book that parents are so afraid of, teaches lessons of resilience and strength that transcend color. The message she continues to share: "I tell children to be kind to each other."

Oh, the horror!

Beyond The Classroom

Children wrongly taught that America was and has always been perfect, presumably grow into the fragile flowers that Sen. Tom Cotton believes need protecting when they enter the military. In the manner of the thought police in Russia or China, the Arkansas Republican is trying to get an instructor at the U.S. Air Force Academy fired for teaching about systemic racism that shaped all-American institutions, like the military.

Does Cotton not know that African Americans fought for the right to fight and die for a country that enslaved them, discriminated against them, segregated them into separate units until 1948?

Was Cotton not taught of the Japanese Americans who fought in World War II — including in one of the most decorated regiments in the country's history — while family members back home were herded into internment camps, suspect only because of their race and ethnicity?

That made their sacrifice more patriotic, with their numbers in service still strong. Though they lack representation at the top, about 43 percent of the 1.3 million men and women on active duty in the United States military are people of color.

People of color in America know, have always known about, injustice, just as six-year-old Ruby learned. Being clear-eyed about how the country falls short of its ideals only hardens the determination to right those wrongs.

And, in truth, it's not just students of color whose lives continue to be affected by systemic racism. In a Texas school, a white teacher gave white students permission to use the "N-word." In California, a high school basketball team had its title taken away for throwing tortillas at members of the opposing, predominantly Latino team at a postgame "celebration."

All children, as well as adults who should know better, have learned only too well lessons about the country's power divide, about who counts and who does not.

When you hide history, a price will be paid. Esther Bejarano knew. The Auschwitz survivor, who used the power of music to fight anti-Semitism and racism in postwar Germany, died recently at the age of 96. She used to tell the young people: "You're not guilty of what happened back then. But you become guilty if you refuse to listen to what happened."

When I study the pictures of those everyday Americans spewing hate at a 6-year-old and then the faces of angry parents and politicians, so insistent on burying the truth, my wish is that they listen, then look in a mirror.

Mary C. Curtis has worked at The New York Times, The Baltimore Sun, The Charlotte Observer, as national correspondent for Politics Daily, and is a senior facilitator with The OpEd Project. Follow her on Twitter @mcurtisnc3.

Why America’s Cultural Education Needs A Truth Upgrade

Reprinted with permission from Roll Call

When I visited Monticello, the home of America's third president, Thomas Jefferson, it was certainly impressive. But there was so much information shared by the friendly tour guide about the great man's genius that a lot was left out about just who was making the Virginia plantation turn a profit. Who was building the furniture and brewing the beer? Who was doing the planting?

When I asked the kindly woman for more details on the lived experiences of the enslaved men, women, and children at Monticello, her attitude grew decidedly chilly. And when I asked about Sally Hemings, who bore Jefferson's children, beginning when she was a young teen and Jefferson was in his 40s, well, the docent's face lost what little color it had and her rehearsed spiel descended into an unintelligible word salad. Then she changed the subject.

Blessedly, if I were to visit Monticello today, there is an exhibit devoted to Hemings, acknowledging the woman, known in Jefferson's time but disappeared or downplayed by histories, at least until historian Annette Gordon-Reed's books and other scholarship fueled conversations that DNA testing confirmed.

It wasn't just embarrassed guides at Monticello that misled for so long. Anyone relying on other cultural interpretations would have been clueless. In 2000, I wrote about a CBS offering, Sally Hemings: An American Scandal, which portrayed the relationship between a man of power and privilege and the woman he owned as straight out of a romance novel, complete with swelling chords and actor Sam Neill as Jefferson in a Fabio-style wig, locks blowing in a wind machine-generated breeze.

Disturbing, if a ratings grabber.

History, what is taught in the classroom, is vital if we are to understand the present. Right now, the country is embroiled in a contentious discussion over how much truth about systemic racism to allow in classrooms, with, unfortunately, little consideration of how and why promoting "fairy tale" history can damage schoolchildren of all ages and races.

But education extends past hours sitting at a school-room desk. Let's face it, a lot of folks absorb what we see on TV or in the movies as kind of true. We half-listen to a museum guide without questioning the motives of the people who crafted monuments and museums that shape memories of the dead.

Whitewashed images

There is a reason why many Americans believed that only "white guys" with crew cuts had the "right stuff" before "Hidden Figures" told the story of the Black women who fueled the space race. Though that film took some liberties, mathematician Katherine Johnson was able to get her flowers in public and in person before she died last year. She no doubt provided inspiration for African American schoolchildren previously discouraged from pursuing science and math careers, children who never saw themselves represented in whitewashed celluloid images.

I employ cultural references in my columns because a classic film or a summer song that everyone can hum is shorthand for shared community when so much else is polarized.

But there are dangers when you rely on those touchstones. In the phrase "based on a true story" tagged on to all those fictionalized tales, "based on" is doing a lot of heavy lifting. And predictably, just as in our history books, people of color are too often left out.

To be clear, no creator is compelled to cover all the bases when embarking on a project. The saying that people who are dissatisfied should stop complaining and make their own is fair, up to a point, since access and funds are definitely not available to everyone with an innovative idea.

But with gag orders being placed on teachers trying to lead students toward a complete and nuanced conversation about American history, the stories we tell — on big and small screens, in exhibitions — gain in importance.

Sometimes, the distortion is frivolous, as when the fractured timeline of "Back to the Future" had Michael J. Fox's Marty McFly inspiring Chuck Berry's signature rock and roll guitar riff. I laughed and cringed. It was a comedy.

Sometimes, though, it's serious, as in the case of 1988's "Mississippi Burning." Director Alan Parker used the excuse of creative license when he made heroes out of agents in J. Edgar Hoover's FBI, charged with investigating racist violence in the South in the 1960s, and relegated Black civil rights heroes and their allies to background characters. In reality, Hoover seemed more interested in snooping on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s private life than racial justice. But Parker's vision won prizes.

Why does it matter?

Think of the enduring view of the post-Civil War West, set for generations by a public raised on the films of John Wayne, who is so revered he has an airport that bears his name. (And if you worship "The Duke," check out his 1971 Playboy interview laced with bigoted stereotypes about Black folks and Native Americans; his steadfast belief in "white supremacy" is pretty terrible.) For years, with a few notable exceptions, Westerns erased the tales of Blacks, Hispanics, Asians and Native Americans, except in stereotypical roles. Only in recent years have more folks learned, often through Hollywood, of the exploits of Nat (or Nate) Love, also known as Deadwood Dick, rodeo pioneer and actor Bill Pickett, and law enforcement officer Bass Reeves, whose stories had more drama than most.

America just commemorated the 100th anniversary of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, which many only learned of when HBO's "Watchmen" recreated it. Life became art became life.

Changing The Narrative

Because the stories we tell become the world we live in, a diverse group of creators is building a new and necessary legacy, with expected pushback and criticism from those who think the discredited versions of history and the art that reinforced it were just fine.

Politicians already know how much culture shapes the narrative of America that people hold in their heads and hearts, which is why it's called a culture "war." In Texas — of course, Texas — there's a new battle of the Alamo, actually a law designed to entrench in education and at landmarks a sanitized myth epitomized by Wayne's 1960 "The Alamo," a myth that omits the role that protecting slavery played in the battle and the state's history.

In Washington, D.C., post-pandemic visitors may experience a new view of who deserves honors. The House voted this week to remove from display in the Capitol the bust of the late Chief Justice Roger B. Taney — who authored the infamous Dred Scott decision that held Black people were not U.S. citizens — along with statues and busts of Confederates and white supremacists. Taney would be replaced by Thurgood Marshall, the first Black Supreme Court justice. We'll see how the proposal fares in the Senate.

And when, years after my Monticello experience, I visited Montpelier, the plantation home of James Madison, the fourth U.S. president and Jefferson's slave-holding neighbor, archaeologists and volunteers were excavating bones, beads, shards of pottery, anything to discover a fuller picture of life there. It's been reported that found near a slave dwelling was a pipe bowl, ironically bearing the word "Liberty."

No "fairy tale" could be more poignant for Americans hooked on a good story.

Mary C. Curtis has worked at The New York Times, The Baltimore Sun, The Charlotte Observer, as national correspondent for Politics Daily, and is a senior facilitator with The OpEd Project. Follow her on Twitter @mcurtisnc3.

Churches Are Challenged As Political Polarization Deepens

Reprinted with permission from Roll Call

Most religious traditions follow a set of commandments, perhaps written down in a holy book. They differ in the particulars, but the sentiment can be boiled down to what's called the "Golden Rule" — treat others as one would want to be treated.

You don't need to subscribe to any faith; just strive to live with honor in a civilized society. But apparently, even that's too much for some folks who have other priorities.

This week, the welcome mat was out at the Southern Baptist Convention's annual meeting. "Join us at the Nashville Music City Center for four full days of equipping, and inspiration," the invitation read. But that cheery message, and the words of Ronnie Floyd, president of the SBC Executive Committee, that it's "a time for Southern Baptists to come together and celebrate how God is moving in and through our convention and churches," belied internal turmoil.

The SBC surprised some Tuesday when it elected Ed Litton as its president. In a close vote, Litton, who is seen as someone more interested in reconciliation than retribution, defeated Mike Stone, the candidate of those wanting to move the organization even further to the right. But in some ways, Litton's selection is only buying time for a denomination that is still divided over issues of racism and sexism.

Several of the SBC's signature leaders are walking to the exit doors, and they are not going quietly.

In a leaked letter, Russell Moore, who left his position as head of the denomination's public policy arm, accused leaders of disparaging and bullying victims of sexual abuse and failing to properly investigate their claims. Moore, who is white, had also described racist behavior he witnessed within the convention, followed by, he says, threats.

Beth Moore, the popular Bible study teacher and author (no relation to Russell), had long been at odds with many in the SBC over her criticism of Donald Trump's comments about women. The organization's handling of abuse accusations and its pattern of not listening to the women and girls who made them led her to declare this year that she was "no longer a Southern Baptist."

Two Black pastors ended their church's affiliation with the convention late last year after the leaders of six SBC seminaries released a statement that said"affirmation of Critical Race Theory, Intersectionality and any version of Critical Theory is incompatible with the Baptist Faith & Message."

One of the two pastors, Charlie Edward Dates, the senior pastor at Chicago's Progressive Baptist Church, wrote in an op-ed for Religion News Service: "When did the theological architects of American slavery develop the moral character to tell the church how it should discuss and discern racism? … How did they, who in 2020 still don't have a single Black denominational entity head, reject once and for all a theory that helps to frame the real race problems we face?"

Though it is the nation's largest Protestant denomination, the SBC has been losing members, so perhaps the election of Litton was an attempt to slow the debate and the exodus. If only many of its members had thought long and hard before throwing their lot in with Trump, who demands absolute devotion. Isn't there something in the Ten Commandments about that?

A Catholic Chasm

My own Catholic faith also is facing a headline-making reckoning.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, in its virtual meeting this week, had scheduled a vote on whether to permit its Committee on Doctrine to draft a document "to help Catholics understand the beauty and mystery of the Eucharist as the center of their Christian lives." Those spiritual words, from Los Angeles Archbishop José Gomez, the USCCB president, couch the intentions of a leading figure among the conservative cohort that would deny the second Catholic president, Joe Biden, the sacrament of the Eucharist because of his support for abortion rights.

The right to an abortion may be legal in the U.S., for now, but it is also a sin for Catholics.

That, of course, is true for Pope Francis. But he has warned conservative American bishops to avoid prioritizing an issue that has become a political litmus test. For Francis, it's complicated, though many U.S. bishops disagree. So much for all Catholics being controlled by this pope, with whom conservative Catholics have been feuding since he arrived at the Vatican.

A recent petition, organized by Faithful America and signed by 21,000 people, accused the bishops of weaponizing the Eucharist, and in a letter the group thanked the more than 60 bishops who opposed the USCCB vote. Cardinal Wilton Gregory, who is archbishop of Washington, was one of them. So the president is in no danger of being turned away at a D.C. altar.

It's not a new debate, though John F. Kennedy, the first Catholic president, had to prove with words and actions that he would not let faith dictate his politics. Another famous Catholic politician, Mario Cuomo, had much to say on the subject, as he did on most everything.

In 1984, at the University of Notre Dame, no less, Cuomo, who died in 2015, said: "Better than any law or rule or threat of punishment would be the moving strength of our own good example, demonstrating our lack of hypocrisy, proving the beauty and worth of our instruction. We must work to find ways to avoid abortions without otherwise violating our faith. We should provide funds and opportunity for young women to bring their child to term, knowing both of them will be taken care of if that is necessary; we should teach our young men better than we do now their responsibilities in creating and caring for human life."

That would satisfy few today. As places of worship have reopened post-pandemic, the political divide in America has followed worshippers through the doors.

Misplaced Priorities

Would now be the time to act on other items on Pope Francis' agenda — climate change, migrants, poverty, racial justice and how to ease the grief of those who lost someone or something in this harrowing year?

What about the voting restrictions proposed in Texas that take special aim at Black churchgoers, with limits on Sunday voting, and seniors, who depend on these organized voting drives? And this is in a state that plunged its residents into endless crises during a freeze.

What about disabled voters, who worry these laws being enacted across the country limit access, preventing them from exercising their rights as Americans?

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., whose faith informed and inspired civil rights activism, once chided fellow ministers for failing to see the injustices in front of them. He might have a few relevant words.

As would the Rev. Dr. William Barber, who this week traveled to West Virginia to deliver a message to that state's Democratic senator, Joe Manchin — about voting rights and the minimum wage, poverty and power.

It was personal and political, and delivered with passion, as if on command.

Mary C. Curtis has worked at The New York Times, The Baltimore Sun, The Charlotte Observer, as national correspondent for Politics Daily, and is a senior facilitator with The OpEd Project. Follow her on Twitter @mcurtisnc3.