Monday, June 30, 2008

"The Triple Nickles": 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion

Many years before "black pride" became a popular slogan, a small group of black American soldiers gave life and meaning to those words. Born within an army that had traditionally relegated Blacks to menial jobs and programmed them for failure, the 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion, or "Triple Nickles," succeeded in becoming the nation's first all-Black parachute infantry battalion.

In the frosty Georgia winter of 1943-44, soldiers and officer candidates traveling to and from Fort Benning often saw the sky filled with white parachutes. Most of them assumed that the faces beneath the chutes were also White. The Black soldiers they knew drove their trucks, waited on them in mess halls, or hauled their ammunition; they rode in the back of the bus to and from Columbus; they gathered at their own separate clubs on the fort.

Some of the faces beneath those chutes, however, were Black. As such they were also pioneers, blazing new trails for countless Black soldiers to follow. It wasn't easy. A proud Black lieutenant, sergeant, or private, with polished boots and paratrooper wings, still had to use the "colored" toilets and drinking fountains in the railroad stations, sit in segregated sections of theaters, and go out of his way to avoid confrontations with racist police. Black officers continued to find post officers' club closed to them. But they endured, and proved themselves as airborne troopers.

These Black pioneers were exceptional men, specially selected for the task. They were former university students and professional athletes, top-notch and veteran soldiers. A major element in their success was that, unlike other Black infantry units officered by whites, they were entirely Black, from commanding officer down to the newest private.

The 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion was an all-Black airborne unit of the U.S. Army during World War II. The battalion did not serve overseas during World War II. However, in May 1945 it was sent to the west coast of the United States to combat forest fires ignited by Japanese balloons carrying incendiary bombs. The population of the west coast would have been seriously alarmed by the knowledge that these weapons, launched in Japan, were landing on their shores. This mission was to be known as, “The Fire-Fly Project.” The 555th approached Operation Fire Fly committed to absolute secrecy. They realized that any slip on their part, any breach of security, could bring chaos to the west coast and damage the nation's morale. Fear, hatred, and prejudice had been vented on Japanese-American citizens in the western states by stripping them of their rights and property and placing them in concentration camps. That Americans of German and Italian descent were spared this treatment did not escape these Black GIs attention.

Although this potentially serious threat did not materialize, the 555th fought numerous other forest fires. Stationed at Pendleton Field, Oregon, with a detachment in Chico, California, unit members courageously participated in dangerous fire-fighting missions throughout the Pacific Northwest during the summer and fall of 1945, earning the nickname "Smoke Jumpers" in addition to "Triple Nickles."

Soon after returning to Camp Mackall in October 1945, the 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion was transferred to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, its home for the next two years. During this period the unit was attached to the elite 82d Airborne Division. When the battalion was inactivated on December 15, 1947, most of its personnel were reassigned to the division's organic 3d Battalion, 505th Airborne Infantry Regiment.

On August 22, 1950 the 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion was disbanded. Many of its former members later fought in the Korean War, in other units. Harry Sutton, one of the battalion's former officers, died leading a rearguard action during the Hungnam Evacuation and was decorated posthumously with the Silver Star.

Friday, June 27, 2008

1968 Olympic Protests: Black Medallists Support Civil Rights Movement

It is still the most remembered medal ceremony of all time and one of the most overtly political statements in the 110 year history of the modern Olympic Games. The photographs of two Black American sprinters, Tommie Smith and John Carlos, standing on the medal podium with heads bowed and fists raised at the Mexico City Games in 1968 not only represent one of the most memorable moments in Olympic history but a milestone in America's civil rights movement.

On the the morning of October 16, 1968, Tommie Smith won the 200 metre race race in a then-world-record time of 19.83 seconds, with Australia's Peter Norman second, and John Carlos in third place. After the race was completed, the three went to collect their medals at the podium. The two American athletes received their medals shoeless, but wearing black socks, to represent black poverty. Smith wore a black scarf around his neck to represent black pride. Carlos wore beads which he described "were for those individuals that were lynched, or killed that no-one said a prayer for, that were hung and tarred. It was for those thrown off the side of the boats in the middle passage." All three athletes wore Olympic Project for Human Rights (OPHR) badges, after Norman expressed sympathy with their ideals.

Carlos had forgotten his black gloves, but Norman suggested that they share Smith's pair, with Smith wearing the right glove and Carlos the left. When "The Star-Spangled Banner" played, Smith and Carlos delivered the salute with heads bowed, a gesture which became front page news around the world. As they left the podium they were booed by the crowd. Smith later said "If I win, I am American, not a Black American. But if I did something bad, then they would say I am a Negro. We are Black and we are proud of being Black. Black America will understand what we did tonight."

Teammates at San Jose State University, Smith and Carlos were stirred by the suggestion of a young sociologist friend Harry Edwards, who asked them and all the other Black American athletes to join together and boycott the games. The protest, Edwards hoped, would bring attention to the fact that America's civil rights movement had not gone far enough to eliminate the injustices Black Americans were facing. Edwards' group, the Olympic Project for Human Rights (OPHR), gained support from several world-class athletes and civil rights leaders but the all-out boycott never materialized. Still impassioned by Edwards' words, Smith and Carlos secretly planned a non-violent protest in the manner of Martin Luther King, Jr.

While the protest seems relatively tame by today's standards, the actions of Smith and Carlos were met with such outrage that they and their families received death threats. Those that opposed the protest cried out that the actions were militant and disgraced Americans. Supporters, on the other hand, were moved by the duo's actions and praised them for their bravery.

International Olympic Committee president Avery Brundage deemed a domestic political statement unfit for the so called non-political, international forum the Olympic Games was supposed to be. In an immediate response to their actions, he ordered Smith and Carlos suspended from the U.S. team and banned from the Olympic Village. When the US Olympic Committee refused, Avery threatened to ban the entire U.S. track team. This threat led to the two athletes being expelled from the Games.

Smith and Carlos were largely ostracised by the U.S. sporting establishment in the following years and in addition were subject to criticism of their actions. Time magazine showed the five-ring Olympic logo with the words, "Angrier, Nastier, Uglier", instead of "Faster, Higher, Stronger". Back home they were subject to abuse and they and their families received death threats.

Smith continued in sports, going on to play football with the Cincinnati Bengals, before becoming an assistant professor of Physical Education at Oberlin College. In 1995 he went on to help coach the U.S. team at the World Indoor Championships at Barcelona. In 1999 he was awarded a Sportsman of the Millennium award. He is now a public speaker.

Carlos' career followed a similar path to Smith. He initially continued in sports, equaling the 100m world record the following year. Later he played football with the Philadelphia Eagles before a knee injury prematurely ended his career. He fell upon hard times in the late 1970s and in 1977 his wife committed suicide. In 1982 Carlos was employed by the Organising Committee for the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles to promote the games and act as liaison with the city's Black community. In 1985 he became a track and field coach at a high school in Palm Springs, California a post which he still holds. While at the time of the incident, they were ostracised, their actions are now seen as heroic, and as an important part of the Civil Rights Movement.

An interesting side note to the protest was that the 200m silver medallist in 1968, Peter Norman of Australia (who is White), participated in the protest that evening by wearing a OPHR badge and was not banned from the games. Norman, who was sympathetic to his competitors' protest, was reprimanded by his Country's Olympic authorities and ostracized by the Australian media. He was not picked for the 1972 Summer Olympics, despite finishing third in his trials. He kept running, but contracted gangrene in 1985 after tearing his Achilles tendon, which nearly led to his leg being amputated. Depression and heavy drinking followed. He died on October 3, 2006. Tommie Smith and John Carlos were pallbearers at his funeral.

San Jose State University honored former students Smith and Carlos with a twenty foot high statue of their protest in 2005. In January 2007, History San José opened a new exhibit called Speed City: From Civil Rights to Black Power, covering the San Jose State University (the mecca of track in the 1960s and 70s) athletic program "from which many student athletes became globally recognized figures as the Civil Rights and Black Power movements reshaped American society."

On March 3, 2008, in the Detroit Free Press editorial section, an editorial by Orin Starn entitled "Bottom line turns to hollow gold for today's Olympians" lamented the lack of social engagement of modern sports athletes, in contrast to Smith and Carlos.
The Sydney Film Festival in mid-2008 will feature a documentary about the protest. It is called "Salute" and has been directed and produced by Matt Norman, an Australian actor and film-maker and Peter Norman's nephew.

Horace King from Slave to Master Builder

Horace King (aka Horace Godwin) was an architect, engineer, and bridge builder. He is considered the most respected bridge builder of the 19th century Deep South, constructing dozens of bridges in Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi. Born into slavery in the Cheraw District of South Carolina (present-day Chesterfield County) in 1807, King became a prominent bridge architect and construction manager in the Chattahoochee River Valley region of Alabama and Georgia. He went on to construct lattice truss bridges at every major crossing of the Chattahoochee River and over every major river in the Deep South between the Oconee and Tombigbee rivers.

King's father was half Black and half White while his mother was half Black and half Catawba Indian. Records indicate King spent his first 23 years near his birthplace, with his first introduction to bridge construction in 1824. In 1824, bridge architect Ithiel Town came to Cheraw to assist in the construction of a bridge over the Pee Dee River. While it is unknown whether King assisted in the construction of this bridge or its replacement span built in 1828, Town's lattice truss design used in both Pee Dee bridges became a hallmark of King's future work.

When King's first master, Edward King, died around 1830, King was sold to wealthy building contractor John Godwin, who also worked on the Pee Dee bridge. In 1832, Godwin received a contract to construct a 560-foot bridge across the Chattahoochee River from Columbus, Georgia into Girard, Alabama (today Phenix City). He and King moved to Girard that year to work on the project, which was completed in 1833. This bridge was the first known to be built by King, who planned the construction of the bridge and managed the slave laborers who built the span.

Between the completion of the "Godwin-King Bridge" in 1833 and the early 1840s, King and Godwin partnered on at least eight major construction projects throughout the South. The partners constructed some forty cotton warehouses in Apalachicola, Florida in 1834, the courthouses of Muscogee County, Georgia and Russell County, Alabama from 1839-1841, and bridges in West Point, Georgia (1838), Eufaula, Alabama (1838-39), Florence, Georgia (1840), and Columbus (1841), replacing their original span which had been destroyed in a flood in 1838. By 1840, King was being publicly acknowledged as being a "co-builder" along with his master, an uncommon honor for a slave. In the 1840s, King's prominence eclipsed that of his master, and he worked independently as architect and superintendent of major bridge projects in Wetumpka, Alabama and Columbus, Mississippi. While working on the Eufaula bridge, King met Tuscaloosa attorney and entrepreneur Robert Jemison, Jr., who soon began using King on a number of different projects in Lowndes County, Mississippi, including the 420-foot Columbus, Mississippi bridge, and who would remain King's friend and associate for the rest of his life.

Despite his enslavement, King was allowed a significant income from his work and, in 1846, used some of his earnings to purchase his freedom from Godwin. However, under Alabama law of the time, a freed slave was only allowed to remain in the state for a year after manumission. Robert Jemison, who served in the Alabama State Senate, arranged for the state legislature to pass a special law giving King his freedom and exempting him from the manumission law. In 1852, King used this freedom to purchase land near his former master.

In 1849, the Alabama State Capitol burned, and King was hired to construct the framework of the new capitol building, as well as design and build the double spiral entry staircases. King used his knowledge of bridge-building to cantilever the stairs' support beams so that the staircases appeared to "float", without any central support.

Around 1855, King formed a partnership with two other men to construct a bridge, known as "Moore's Bridge" over the Chattahoochee River between Newnan and Carrollton, Georgia, near Whitesburg. Instead of collecting a fee for his work, King took stock instead, gaining a one-third interest in the bridge. King soon moved his family to Carroll County, adjacent to the bridge, though continued to maintain his home in Girard. The income from Moore's bridge allowed King a steady income, though he continued to design and construct major bridge projects through the remainder of the 1850s, including a major bridge in Milledgeville, Georgia and a second Chattahoochee crossing in Columbus, Georgia.

As the U.S. Civil War approached in 1860, King, like many Blacks in the South, opposed secession of the Southern states and was a confirmed Unionist. After the outbreak of hostilities, King attempted to continue his business as an architect and builder, constructing a factory and a mill in Coweta County, Georgia and a bridge in Columbus, Georgia. While working on the Columbus bridge, King was conscripted by Confederate authorities to build obstructions in the Apalachicola River, 200 miles south of Columbus to prevent a naval attack on that city. After completing the obstructions on the Apalachicola, King was tasked to construct defenses on the Alabama River before returning to Columbus in 1863. By this time, Columbus had become a major shipbuilding city for the Confederacy, and King and his men were assigned to assist construction of naval vessels at the Columbus Iron Works and Navy Yard. In 1863-64, King constructed a rolling mill for the Iron Works, providing cladding for Confederate ironclad warships. King's crews also provided lumber and timbers for the Navy Yard, and was at least peripherally involved with the construction of the CSS Muscogee. As the war approached its end in 1864, many of King's bridges were destroyed by Union troops, including Moore's Bridge, which King owned. Raiders under Union general James H. Wilson assaulted Columbus in April of 1865, burning all of King's bridges in the city, including the one he had finished less than two years earlier.

The destruction of the war led to new opportunities for King and made him one of the wealthiest Black men in the South. Within six months after the war's end, King and a partner had constructed a 32,000 square foot cotton warehouse in Columbus and King, for the third time, rebuilt the original Godwin-King bridge. Over the next three years, King would construct three more bridges across the Chattahoochee in Columbus rivers, a major bridge in West Point, Georgia, two large factories, and the Lee County, Alabama courthouse.

When the Reconstruction Acts were implemented in 1867, King became a registrar for voters in Russell County, Alabama. Later that year, he attempted to establish a colony of freedmen in Georgia. While that plan was unsuccessful, King went on to be elected to the Alabama House of Representatives in 1868 as a Republican representing Russell County. King, though, busy in his construction business in Columbus, did not take his seat until over a year later, in November of 1869. King was reelected in 1870. King did not seek reelection in 1872.

After King left the Alabama legislature in 1872, he moved to LaGrange, Georgia. While in LaGrange, King continued building bridges, but also expanded to include other construction projects, specifically businesses and schools. By the mid-1870s, King had begun to pass his bridge construction activities to his five children, who formed the King Brothers Bridge Company. He died on May 28, 1885 in LaGrange. King received laudatory obituaries in each of Georgia's major newspapers, a rarity for Blacks in the 1880s South. King was posthumously inducted into the Alabama Engineers Hall of Fame at the University of Alabama. The award was accepted on his behalf by his great grandson, Horace H. King Jr. He was remembered both for his engineering skill and for his character and ability to bridge the gap between the races.

Obama and Clinton Appeal Together in Unity

Rivals turned allies, Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton made a display of unity Friday in Unity, New Hampshire in their first joint public appearance since the divisive Democratic primary race ended. "Unity is not only a beautiful place as we can see, it's a wonderful feeling, isn't it? And I know when we start here in this field in Unity, we'll end on the steps of the Capitol when Barack Obama takes the oath of office as our next president," Senator Clinton said just after she and Senator Obama took the stage together. Senator Obama praised both Senator Clinton and her husband, President Clinton, as allies and pillars of the Democratic Party, saying: "We need them. We need them badly. Not just my campaign, but the American people need their service and their vision and their wisdom in the months and years to come because that's how we're going to bring about unity in the Democratic Party. And that's how we're going to bring about unity in America."

The two spoke to some 6,000 people who gathered in a wide-open field and overflowed some bleacher seats in this town of 1,700. It was a carefully chosen venue in a key general election battleground state: Unity awarded exactly 107 votes to each candidate in New Hampshire's primary in January. The joint appearance capped a tense Democratic primary season and post-race transition as the two went from foes to friends (at least publicly). This was the most visible event in a series of gestures the two senators have made over the past week to heal the hard feelings among their backers. Both were mindful of the need for the entire Democratic Party to swing behind Senator Obama as he faces Republican Senator John McCain in the general election.

Senator Clinton encouraged her supporters to join with his "to create an unstoppable force for change we can all believe in." She addressed any of her backers who are considering not voting or voting for McCain instead of Obama: "I strongly urge you to reconsider. I know that he'll work for you. He'll fight for you, and he'll stand up for you every single day in the White House," Clinton said, calling Obama "a leader who invests in our future."

As Senator Clinton spoke from a podium, Senator Obama sat next to her on a stool, coatless with his white shirt sleeves rolled up. His comments were equally warm when it was his turn to speak. "For 16 months, Senator Clinton and I have shared the stage as rivals for the nomination, but today I could not be happier and more honored and more moved that we're sharing this stage as allies to bring about the fundamental changes that this country so desperately needs," Obama said. "Hillary and I may have started with separate goals in this campaign, but we made history together. I’ve admired her as a leader, I've learned from her as a candidate. She rocks. She rocks. That's the point I'm trying to make," Obama said in response to cheers from the crowd.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Edward Waters College

Edward Waters College is a private, historically Black college located in Jacksonville, Florida. Edward Waters College, the oldest private institution of higher education and the oldest historically Black college in Florida, was founded in 1866 specifically to educate newly freed slaves. Located on the Northside of Jacksonville, Florida, Edward Waters College continues to build upon its solid foundation of teaching, research and community outreach. Today, the historically Black college stands as a beacon of hope for many young people who might otherwise not have an opportunity to enter higher education.

The first AME pastor in the state, Reverend William G. Steward, originally named the college Brown Theological Institute. The school went through some financial difficulties and closed for much of the 1870s. It reopened in 1883 with an extended educational program and its current name.

The original Edward Waters College was destroyed by the Great Fire of 1901, but by 1904 new land was obtained and work was started on the new college. Edward Waters was accredited as a junior college in 1955 under President William B. Stewart and 5 years later had a restored four year curriculum. Beginning in 1979 the school was accredited as a four-year institution by Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) and started awarding bachelor's degrees.

Notable alumni include: former Jacksonville sheriff Nat Glover, former Florida State Senator Betty Holzendorf, author and scholar Dr. Fredrick Douglass Harper and Television and Film Personality and former Commissioner Rahman Johnson. The school awarded honorary degrees to U.S. Representative Corrine Brown, Florida State Representative Willye Dennis and John Delaney, former mayor of Jacksonville and current president of the University of North Florida. Brown also served on the school's faculty.

Centennial Hall, which contains the Obi-Scott-Umunna Collection of is the oldest building on campus. Built in 1916, it was added to the United States National Register of Historic Places on May 4, 1976.

The current school president is Claudette Williams. She has served as a vice president of Bennett College for Woman in Greensboro NC, which is one of only two historically Black women’s colleges. The Double E principle Excellence and Ethics (E2) is what promises to lead the school into an even greater future. Current enrollment is 1,206 students -- 51 percent of which are males and 49 percent of which are females. The school colors are orange and purple. The official school website is

The "Velvet Teddy Bear to Marry

Ruben Studdard, the “Velvet Teddy Bear” won the affection of millions of people on "American Idol," and now this weekend, he is giving his heart to one woman. A representative for the former "Idol" confirmed on Tuesday that Ruben, 29, plans a Saturday wedding. He and fiancée Surata Zuri McCants, 30, took out a marriage license on Monday, in Birmingham, Alabama according to court records.

Nicknamed the "Velvet Teddy Bear" on American Idon for his big frame and smooth voice, Ruben Studdard has released three albums since his 2003 win, including the platinum CD "Soulful." He is working on a new album.

Ruben and Surata are planning a big Southern wedding Saturday with at least 20 groomsmen at his side. The American Idol second-season champ will marry at Canterbury United Methodist Church in the tiny Mountainbrook neighborhood of Birmingham, Alabama, according to the source close to the wedding.

If you think Ruben’s fiancee looks a little familiar, then maybe you saw her in Nelly’s infamous “Tip Drill” video.

Monday, June 23, 2008

U.S.A. Olympic Basketball Team Announced

The U.S.A Basketball will be represented by an enormously talented Olympic team this August. NBA Most Valuable Player Kobe Bryant will be heading to his first Olympics, and he’ll have superstars LeBron James and Dwyane Wade with him. They will lead a U.S. Olympic basketball team that was announced Monday and hopes to capture the gold medal in Beijing, China after a third-place showing in Athens, Greece four years ago.

They’ll have plenty of help. They were joined by Carmelo Anthony, Jason Kidd, Tayshaun Prince, Carlos Boozer, Chris Bosh, Dwight Howard, Chris Paul, Michael Redd and Deron Williams. The team was selected without a tryout. It will have a minicamp this week in Las Vegas and meet there July 20-25 to train and play an exhibition against Canada before heading overseas. The Americans open Olympic play against China on Aug. 10.

Although the Americans captured the gold at the Sydney Games in 2000, they no longer dominate international play as they once did. The talent gap has narrowed and many top NBA players have chosen to not play for the national team in recent years. Now, the U.S. team appears loaded. Then again, the U.S. went 5-3 in Athens and lost for the first time since NBA players started competing in 1992 even though they had James, Anthony, Wade and Tim Duncan. That group got routed by Puerto Rico before losing to Lithuania and Argentina, but this one is confident it will take the gold. It is a deep team that includes one of the best shooters (Redd) and defensive players (Prince). There are role players and scorers, including the two biggest (Bryant and James). Kobi Bryant just won his first MVP and led the Los Angeles Lakers to the finals. LeBron James averaged 30.0 points, just enough to beat Bryant for the scoring title. Those two along with Carmelo Anthony, Jason Kidd and Dwight Howard started for a team that went unbeaten in the Olympic qualifying tournament last year. Eight of the 12 players headed to Beijing played on that team and six played in the 2006 world championships.

The team is lead by Mike Krzyzewski, who warns that “unless we show the respect to the rest of the world that it is the world’s game” there will be no gold medal. “We’re a team already,” Krzyzewski said. “The thing that this program has done is … provide continuity and relationships. … We’ll hit the ground running. Selecting a group of 12 out of the many stars in the NBA is obviously going to leave out a number of outstanding people.”

Phoenix forward Amare Stoudemire withdrew from Olympic consideration, apparently concerned about pushing his body too hard after knee surgery in 2005 and 2006. So did Detroit’s Chauncey Billups, who would have had a tough time making the team given the depth in the backcourt. I personally would have loved to see three point specialist Ray Allen and versatile forward Kevin Garnett on the team.

Dwyane Wade’s season ended in March because of a sore left knee that had been bothering him since surgery in 2007. He started working out in his hometown Chicago in May, and James and Chris Paul joined him to help sharpen his game. Team officials visited recently to see how far along he had come in his rehab and left convinced the 6-foot-4 guard was healthy. They saw him do a few things in terms of explosiveness that showed that he was pretty much back. Trainer Tim Grover assured officials that the Miami Heat star will be completely ready when the team gathers in Las Vegas next month.

“I feel great,” Wade said. And he will feel even better with a gold medal dangling from his neck.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Whole World is Watching

The level of interest in the upcoming U.S. presidential election is greater than at any time in post-Cold War history. This is due to the rapid decline of America's reputation overseas during the Bu$h administration and to the hope that Democratic candidate Senator Barack Obama will restore America's image both at home and abroad. In countries all over the world U.S. embassy staff relate of a record number of foreign journalist who have requested travel to the U.S. to cover the elections. Business and government leaders want to know in detail what a Barack Obama presidency might mean.

In Syria, students at the elite public policy school at Damascus University are fascinated to learn that Barack Obama's middle name is Hussein, and that his mother's second husband was a Muslim who took young Barack to live for years in Indonesia. These young Syrians are amazed that the United States which many in the region see as the Great Satan would actually nominate such a person to be president, and the thought that he might be the next president of the U.S. was almost beyond belief. For many a sense of hope and optimism seemed to prevail; most Syrians feel that Barack Obama might bring a new beginning to U.S.-Syrian relations, and perhaps usher in a genuine and wider Middle East peace.

In Peru and Bolivia, people want to know if Barack Obama would pay greater attention to Latin America, maybe rekindling the spirit of President Kennedy and the Alliance for Progress. Government officials ask tougher questions about Obama and the Democratic Party's commitment to the global trading system, and whether U.S. special interests might force Barack Obama to close U.S. markets to foreign goods. They also wanted to know what a President Obama might do about drugs in Latin America, and about the danger that some states, perhaps even Bolivia, might come to be dominated by narco politics and anti-democratic groups. Of course, they are curious about Obama's offer to meet with Venezuela's leader Hugo Chavez, and about how U.S.-Cuban relations might change under Barack Obama.

Students at Occidental College, inspired by Obama's success, recently completed a memo for the next president entitled Rebranding America ( and copies were sent to Obama and his team, as well as to John McCain and his. Many students seem intrigued about how they could "rebrand" their own nations.

There are significant differences between Senator McCain and Senator Obama on the two most important issues of the campaign: the economy and the war in Iraq. If Obama becomes president, he will first focus on responsibly removing American troops from Iraq -- one of his key campaign promises and a signature commitment of his political career. He will also have to manage eliminate the economic distress of the American people. On both these key issues, Obama and McCain are light years apart.

The world beyond Iraq cannot be ignored. Obama will be able to multi-task because he will have a reservoir of talent on call. All of his foreign policy advisors -- notably Anthony Lake, Susan Rice, and Greg Craig -- are experienced hands from the Bill Clinton administration. One of the secrets of the campaign is that all of Obama's people are Clinton people -- and this is a good thing. Under the leadership of Tony Lake, the Obama campaign has a assembled a top notch group of professionals. On the Middle East, there are pros such as Dennis Ross, Martin Indyk, and Robert Malley, among others, to call on. They are among our most experienced negotiators. On Latin America, there are not only the usual advisors from the Council on Foreign Relations, but also younger scholars such as Russell Crandall from Davidson College, a leading expert on drug wars in the region. As President, Obama would have an impressive stable of very senior officials whose services he can engage. For Secretary of State or Secretary of Defense, think Senators Biden, Kerry, Dodd or Mitchell, and former General Wesley Clark. Think former President Bill Clinton as special envoy to the Middle East (perhaps in tandem with former British PM Tony Blair). Think Nobel Prize winner Al Gore as special envoy to renewed global warming talks. Think former Senator Sam Nunn as special emissary to Putin's Russia, or former Centcom commander Admiral William Fallon as special emissary to Iran. And still on the bench to be deployed would be Richard Holbrooke, Madeleine Albright, and Strobe Talbott. The point is that President Obama would have a wealth of talented and experienced Americans at his disposal -- an arsenal of "smart power", the envy of any nation and any leader.

People all over the world believe that Barack Obama comes in peace and brings fraternal greetings from progressive Americans. Barack Obama seems to embody this message, and carries with him the hopes not only of Americans, but of citizens in almost every country of the world. It is a heavy responsibility, and not to be taken lightly. If Senator Obama can prevail, and can govern with strength, compassion and political wisdom, then he might turn out to be the first truly global president.

The whole world will be watching.

Michelle Obama Rocks 'The View'

Michelle Obama co-hosted on ABC’s “The View” and wowed the live audience and well as millions watching in TV land. Unpatriotic - as some critics would portray Michelle Obama? Not on yesterday's "The View," which was something of a coming-out party for the wife of the presumptive Democratic nominee, Senator Barack Obama.

She fist-bumped, joked, talked about the kids, life, love, fashion and (of course) her deep and sincere love of country.

Mostly, she was happy and comfortable, and with conservative Republican Elisabeth Hasselbeck flanking her left and a Whoopi Goldberg (who spilled her coffee) to the right, that's not as easy as it sounds. She came across as an intelligent and very likable First Lady.

Political handlers call such high-profile appearances on shows like "The View" "makeovers," but Michelle Obama acted like someone who had nothing to make over. She was poised and prepared, and improved her image and helped her husband.
In sum, a slam dunk.

How did she feel about all the assaults on her presumed patriotism? "I take them in stride. It's part of the process. Of course I'm proud of my country." Did Hillary Clinton experience sexism? "Oh yes ... and [we have to] keep pushing ... so that when my girls come along they won't have to feel it as badly." Would her husband consider Clinton as running mate? "My answer, and people have asked me this before, is that the one thing that a nominee earns is a right to pick the vice president that they think will best reflect their vision for the country. And I'm just glad I will have nothing to do with it."

Good non-answer. Effective too. Somewhere, her handlers were smiling.

In South Africa, Chinese is the New Black

A high court in South Africa ruled on Wednesday that Chinese-South Africans in the country will be reclassified as ‘Black,’ a term that includes Black Africans, Indians and others who were subject to discrimination under apartheid. As a result of this ruling, Chinese will be able to benefit from government affirmative action policies aimed at undoing the effects of apartheid. In 2006, the Chinese Association of South Africa sued the government, claiming that its members were being discriminated against because they were being treated as Whites and thus failed to qualify for business contracts and job promotions reserved for victims of apartheid. The association successfully argued that, since Chinese-South Africans had been treated unequally under apartheid, they should be reclassified in order to redress wrongs of the past. The Chinese have thrown a lot of money into all parts of Africa in the past few years and are becoming an economic force throughout the world. Looks like in South Africa their money has out done Michael Jackson. They didn’t have to dye themselves to change color. And since Tiger Wood’s mom is Taiwanese, he can move to South Africa and become all-Black.

This is not the first time the ethnic status of Chinese in South Africa has changed. In fact, the racial classification of Chinese-South Africans has often shifted with the nation’s political climate and its international relations. The first significant group of Chinese came to South Africa in the early 20th century, before a formal system of apartheid existed, to work in the gold mines. They were not encouraged to settle permanently and by 1910 almost all the mine workers had been repatriated. Those who remained struggled with racism and lived in separate communities based on language, culture and socio-economic status.

As apartheid took hold with the ascendancy of the Afrikaner government in the late 1940s, the Chinese were classified as ‘colored,’ forced to live apart from Whites, and were denied educational and business opportunities along with the right to vote. But after South Africa established an economic alliance with Taiwan in the 1970s, Taiwanese immigrants were welcomed as “honorary Whites,” and other Chinese in South Africa began to be treated more like Whites. Although they never attained the formal “honorary White” status of Taiwanese, Koreans and Japanese in South Africa and couldn’t vote, Chinese-South Africans were no longer required to use segregated facilities, and in the early 1980s they were exempted from some of the discriminatory laws that applied to other non-Whites.

Since the apartheid ended in the early 1990s, the ethnic status of Chinese has remained in a gray area, though they’ve generally been lumped together with Whites and denied the post-apartheid benefits available to other non-White ethnic groups. Since 1994, South Africa has seen waves of immigrants and investment from China, and today there are as many as 300,000 Chinese living in the South Africa. But the new court decision is unlikely to benefit most of them or trigger another mass migration– it applies only to ethnic Chinese who were South African citizens before 1994 (and their descendants), a much smaller number of around 10,000 to 12,000.

After World War II, Asian babies with Black G.I. dads were shipped off to South America and South Africa, now…Wow, everyone wants to be Black!

Someday, we will all just be people.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Tiger on the Prowl Again

Tiger Woods won the 108th U.S. Open golf championship after making birdie on the last hole of an 18-hole playoff to force sudden death and then beat Rocco Mediate on the first hole. He won his 14th major and stayed perfect, 14-for-14, when he has held at least a share of the lead after 54 holes. Woods moved one step closer to Jack Nicklaus's record of 18 major titles.

Woods had forced the 18-hole playoff for the crown with a birdie at the 72nd hole on Sunday evening, worked the magic again on Monday to claim his third US Open title and the 14th major championship of his career. "I think this is probably the best ever," said Woods, who willed himself to the victory despite debilitating pain in his surgically repaired left knee. "All things considered, I don't know how I ended up in this position," added Woods, who hadn't even walked 18 holes since the Masters until Thursday. "It was a long week. A lot of doubt, a lot of questions going into the week. And here we are, 91 holes later."

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Delaware State University: Fourth in the Series about HBCU Schools

Delaware State University (DSU), the second-largest university in the state of Delaware, is a historically black university. The school was established in 1891 and over the last 116 years, it has evolved into a fully accredited, comprehensive university with the 400-acre main campus located in Dover, Delaware and satellite sites in Wilmington and Georgetown, Delaware. It encompasses six colleges and a diverse population of undergraduate and advanced degree students. The graduating class of 2008 is the largest in the University's history, consisting of over 500 seniors and graduate students. It is two hours away from Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C., and three hours away from New York City. DSU also has satellite sites in Wilmington and Georgetown. The main campus in Dover contains 30 buildings.

The university was established by the Delaware General Assembly on May 15, 1891 as "The State College for Colored Students" in response to the 1890 Amendments to the Morrill Act, which required that states either open their land-grant colleges to all races or else establish a separate land-grant educational facilities for blacks. The first class graduated in May 1898. In addition to four-year bachelors programs, the university offered a 3-year normal course leading to a teaching certificate. In 1893, the university added a Preparatory Department for students who were not qualified for college work upon admission. In 1916, this program was converted to a Model Grade School and in 1923, a Junior College Division was added. The High School Division was discontinued at the end of the 1951–52 school year.

In 1944, the university received provisional accreditation by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools. In 1947, its name was changed to "Delaware State College." In November 1949, Middle States revoked its accreditation. However, full accreditation was restored in April 1957 and has been maintained since. On July 1, 1993, the college was renamed "Delaware State University."

The school has an enrollment of 3,722 students (340 are graduate students), who come from 28 states and 31 countries. The faculty consists of 168 members in 20 academic departments. The university consists of six colleges: College of Mathematics, Natural Sciences and Technology; School of Business; College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences; College of Health and Public Policy; College of Education; and College of Agriculture and Related Sciences. The University offers PhD programs in Applied Mathematics/Mathematical Physics and Neuroscience, doctoral program in education and Master's programs in various fields of sciences, nursing, social work, education, MBA program, and natural resources. The university offers 66 undergraduate degrees, 20 graduate degrees, and two doctoral degrees. Degree options include the disciplines of mathematics, natural and social sciences, education, airway sciences, visual and performing arts, management, accounting and finance, agriculture, natural resources, nursing, social work and others.

The University has over 20 formal international partnerships with institutions in countries such as Egypt, Nigeria, Serbia, Mexico, China, Cuba and many others, which facilitate student exchanges and research and conference collaborations.

Delaware State University's athletic programs participate in NCAA's Division I (I-AA for football). The university's nickname is the Hornets. The university fields teams in football, men's and women's basketball, baseball, softball, track and field, tennis, wrestling, volleyball, soccer, and bowling. The Delaware State men's basketball team won the 2005 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) championship and earned a berth in the 2005 NCAA tournament. Playing as a 16-seed, the Hornets lost 57-46 in the opening round to 1-seed Duke. The Hornets made back to back NIT appearances in 2006 and 2007. The Delaware State women's basketball team won the 2006 MEAC championship and earned a berth in the 2006 NCAA tournament. The Delaware State Football team won the 2007 MEAC football championship with a win over Norfolk State into the playoffs.

The school received national headlines when two students were shot on the campus on the morning of September 21, 2007. The students were shot near Memorial Hall around 1 a.m. One student was hospitalized in stable condition, and another student, a 17 year-old freshman, was hospitalized with serious injuries and later died. The campus was "locked down" with students confined to their dormitories and traffic blocked at the campus gate, through September 23. Classes resumed on Monday, September 24. On that day, a freshman student was arrested for attempted murder in connection with the incident, and has been expelled from the University. The episode is significant because it marks the first test of a university in handling a campus shooting following the Virginia Tech shootings.

Some notable alumni include: Clyde Bishop, ambassador to the Marshall Islands; Wayne Gilchrest, U.S. Representative for Maryland; John Taylor, wide receiver for the San Francisco 49ers 1987-1995;

Obama Fights Smears

In an effort to expose false Internet rumors about him and his wife, Senator Barack Obama's campaign launched a Web site Thursday to set the record straight in recognition that refusing to address rumors only perpetuates them. The most recent lie floating on internet is that Michelle Obama used the word "whitey" in a speech from the church pulpit.

The rumor that Michelle Obama railed against "whitey" in a rant at Chicago's Trinity United Church of Christ has circulated on conservative Republican blogs for weeks and was repeated by a radio talk show host. I will not even mention his name. When I was young I was taught that if you can’t say anything good about a person don’t say anything. The rumor included claims of a videotape of the speech that would be used to bring down Senator Obama's candidacy this fall.

"No such tape exists," the campaign responds on the site, "Michelle Obama has not spoken from the pulpit at Trinity and has not used that word." The site is a response to the realities that information travels 24 hours a day on blogs and voters are increasingly turning to the Internet for information. It's a particular problem for Senator Obama, who has been the target of persistent misinformation (lies) campaigns online.

E-mails about Barack Obama rank No. 2 on the list of "Hottest Urban Legends" on, an Internet rumor-debunking site, behind e-mail greeting cards that could expose computers to viruses. Michelle Obama has often been the target of conservative attacks, to the point of a Tennessee Republican Party Web video questioning her patriotism (an old and tired political means of attacking your opponent); prompting Senator Obama to demand his rivals "lay off my wife."

There also have been more insulting attacks, and not limited to the Internet. Fox News Channel referred to Michelle Obama as "Obama's baby mama" in a graphic on Wednesday, using the slang description of a woman who has a baby outside of a romantic relationship or marriage. Fox anchor E.D. Hill also referred to it as a "terrorist fist jab" when the Obamas bumped knuckles on the night he clinched the nomination. Fox is building a reputation for racist remarks to the point that all conscious people should boycott Fox and their advertisers.

Other false claims about the Illinois senator — that he's secretly a Muslim who refuses to say the Pledge of Allegiance and is intent on destroying America — spread widely during the primary campaign, and Senator Obama made it a habit of telling audiences to respond to e-mail rumors to set the record straight. Barack Obama bristled when he was asked about the "whitey" rumor on his campaign plane last week, saying it was nonsense that shouldn't be repeated in questioning by a mainstream reporter. "It is a destructive aspect of our politics right now," Obama told his traveling press corps. "And simply because something appears in an e-mail, that should lend it no more credence than if you heard it on the corner. And you know, presumably the job of the press is to not go around and spread scurrilous (insulting) rumors like this until there's actually anything, one iota of substance or evidence that would substantiate it."

The site explains that Senator Obama is "a committed Christian" who never attended a radical madrassa during his childhood in Indonesia. Debunking chain e-mails falsely claiming he was sworn into the Senate on the Quran, the holy book of Islam, the Web site includes a photo of him taking his oath of office on the family bible. It shows C-SPAN video of Senator Obama leading the Pledge of Allegiance with his hand over his heart as he presided over the Senate on June 21, 2007. It encourages people to send e-mail to friends and "spread the truth.” "The Obama campaign isn't going to let dishonest smears spread across the Internet unanswered," said spokesman Tommy Vietor. "It's not enough to just know the truth, we have to be proactive and fight back."

Oprah No. 1 on List of the World's Most Powerful Celebrities

Oprah Winfrey remains No. 1 on Forbes’ list of the Celebrity 100, a power ranking based on both earnings and fame. Despite weakening television ratings and magazine circulation, Ms. Winfrey earned $275 million before taxes in the past 12 months, and she remains one of the most famous faces in the world. Ratings for the self-made billionaire's flagship production, The Oprah Winfrey Show, may have diminished, but her earning power appears bulletproof. She will debut the Oprah Winfrey Network in partnership with Discovery Communications next year. She also has a three-year, $55 million deal with XM Satellite Radio. Her Harpo production company helped create Dr. Phil and The Rachael Ray Show.

The Celebrity 100 is Forbes' list of the world's most powerful -- and best-paid -- celebrities. To generate the list, Forbes estimates celebrity earnings, then factors in media hype like Google hits, press mentions, TV/radio mentions and the number of times an A-lister appears on the cover of more than 50 consumer magazines. Earnings estimates are for June 2007 to June 2008 and consist of dollars earned solely from entertainment-related income.

Golf star Tiger Woods retained the No. 2 spot on the list, raking in $115 million. Tiger chalked up another monster year on and off the course in 2007. He won his ninth PGA Player of the Year award and a seventh Vardon Trophy (given to the PGA Tour's leader in scoring average) and was the top money winner for an eighth time. He added $10 million by winning the inaugural FedEx Cup. Off the links he parted ways with American Express after a decade together. He still has big contracts with Nike, Accenture, Buick and Gillette. His latest endorsement: a five-year agreement for his own line of Gatorade drinks.

Beyonce Knowles was No. 4 and husband Jay-Z was No. 7. Beyonce had a monster year, pulling in $80 million ($50 million in tickets sales alone) between a highly successful concert tour, private shows, a fashion line, endorsement deals with L'Oréal, American Express and others. Jay-Z left Def Jam Records to sign a $150 million deal with concert promoter Live Nation. The deal provides the rapper and entrepreneur with money for recording, tours and other entertainment endeavors for the next decade. He also released a second platinum comeback CD, American Gangster.

Will Smith, ranked 11th, is the highest paid actor in Hollywood, bringing home $80 million, including an estimated $20 million for his role in the upcoming anti-superhero flick "Hancock."

Hip-hop star 50 Cent was the third-highest earner on the list (he ranked 26th overall), taking in $150 million before taxes. Last summer Coca-Cola paid $4.1 billion for Glaceau, the beverage company that owns Vitamin Water. Fifty owned a small stake in the company.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Chicago Tribune and Fox Upset Over Show of Affection

Amid the cheers of supporters, blue signs waving "A Change We Can Believe In" Senator Barack Obama bumped fists with his wife, Michelle, and ... maybe patted her on the butt. It is hardly newsworthy, but it was sweet. I don't know if he patted her butt or not, but I think the "dap" (fist bump) was great. It emphasized their youthfulness and how comfortable they truly are as a couple. I love it! Go Barack & Michelle! My goodness . . . if people are finding this offensive . . . this country is in worse shape than the political scene. Lighten up people and maybe there would not be so many unhappy people and divorces.

Actually his pat was on the small of her back. It was a beautiful gesture of intimacy on a great night for this backwards country. But if he did, who cares!!! If signs of affection between two married people are going to affect the way people vote then the United States is in deeper trouble than I thought. After all, she is HIS wife!!! If a man can't display his feelings about his wife, then he may as well be a dried-up old conservative who treats his wife as if she is a Barbie doll on display.

Wow, we could actually have a couple in the White House who not only seems to really love each other, but actually like each other. How embarrassing; married people showing genuine affection... in public! Oh, I forgot, Washington is used to sex scandals and men who clearly have little interest in their wives, unless the wife is running for office. Gee, it looks like two married people who actually like each other. Imagine that!!!! I guess we're just not used to seeing anything positive any more. Well, there's one more reason for Senator Obama to become president. Maybe he can restore more than hope in this country. Maybe he can restore our humanity.

This is his wife! This is not a White House intern in a blue dress. Wow, you would think they lied their way into a war or something. The Obama’s show of affection is preferable over what John McBush has called his wife with the checkbook in the presence of others. It was a sweet, wonderful moment that spoke volumes about this couple: They love, respect and enjoy one another! And the Tribune has to ask "What WAS this??????" Give me a break - this is news? You would expect this kind of journalism from Fox.

I noticed that fist bump and smiled. It appeared to be a quick glimpse into their relationship and definitely validated my hope that they are in this together. I WANT someone with that kind of healthy relationship running this country! Go Obamas! What a breath of fresh air you will bring to the White House!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Senator Obama Names a Kennedy to Help Pick Veep

Democratic nominee Senator Barack Obama turned in earnest to the general election and the hunt for a running mate Wednesday, as he was embraced by Democratic leaders who signaled forcefully and sometimes impatiently to Senator Hillary Clinton that her marathon duel with him was over. Senator Obama picked a three person team including President John F. Kennedy's daughter Caroline to help him choose a vice president. The other two were former Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder, No. 2 job at the Justice Department under President Clinton; and longtime Washington insider Jim Johnson. Johnson is widely known among Democrats for having helped previous candidates, including John Kerry four years ago, sift through vice presidential possibilities. He is a former chief executive officer for the mortgage lender Fannie Mae. Kennedy's name came as a surprise, although she endorsed Senator Obama at a critical time last winter, saying he could be an inspirational leader like her father. She also campaigned for him.

Senator Clinton has told lawmakers privately that she would be interested in the vice presidential nomination. Senator Obama was noncommittal after his chat with her behind the scenes at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee today. "We're going to be having a conversation in coming weeks, and I'm very confident how unified the Democratic Party's going to be to win in November," he told reporters after a vote in the Senate where he received congratulations from all sides.

While Senator Clinton still wasn't conceding, even after Tuesday's primaries and a flood of "superdelegate" endorsements of Senator Obama sealed the nomination, there were many signs that she was closing shop. She began bidding campaign staff members farewell, and a number were told not to come to work after Friday. Last paychecks were expected to go out June 15. Senator Obama showed patience, but other Democrats urged her to get out of the way. "I don't see why we don't get on with it and endorse" Obama, said Representative Charles Rangel, a strong Clinton supporter and congressman from her home state of New York. He said it was only a matter of time before he and other Clinton supporters formally back Obama.

Meanwhile, the dam holding back endorsements broke from coast to coast on the day after the primary elections concluded. Seven senators who had stayed out of the matter said they were giving Senator Obama their commitment and would work toward uniting Democrats for the election, now exactly five months away. Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen was joined by two other superdelegates to say they hoped to bring the party behind Senator Obama even though Senator Clinton won their state. Former Vice President Walter Mondale, who had been a Clinton supporter, announced he was backing Obama. It hardly mattered in terms of delegate math now; Senator Obama had more than enough to prevail at the party convention in Denver in August. But Senator Obama's new backers were also sending a message to Senator Clinton that her race was over.

Bob Johnson, the founder of Black Entertainment Television, was lobbying members of the Congressional Black Caucus to urge Senator Obama to place Senator Clinton on the ticket. He said he was doing so with her blessing. Rangel, a founding member of the caucus, expressed doubts that Johnson's approach would work. "I don't really think that the way to get Obama to (choose) Clinton would be to put pressure on him. I think it would have the opposite effect," Rangel said. Uncle Tom, er Bob Johnson is still trying to get his massa back in the White House. If Senator Obama chooses Senator Clinton he had better double his security force and hire a food taster.

In related news Senator Clinton is scheduled to endorse Senator Obama on Saturday.

Claflin University

Claflin University is third in our series on historically Black colleges and universities (HBCU). Claflin University was founded in 1869. The 43-acre campus is located in Orangeburg, South Carolina. It is the oldest historically black college or university in the state of South Carolina. Orangeburg, South Carolina, a city of 15,000 people, is about forty miles south of Columbia.

Claflin was founded Methodist missionaries to prepare freed slaves to take their rightful places as full American citizens. The University takes its name from two Methodist churchmen, Massachusetts Governor William Claflin and his father, Boston philanthropist Lee Claflin, who provided a large part of the funds to purchase the campus.

Dr. Alonzo Webster, a minister and educator from Vermont and a member of Claflin’s Board of Trustees, secured Claflin’s charter in 1869. The charter forbids discrimination of any sort among faculty, staff and students, making Claflin the first South Carolina university open to all students regardless of race, class or gender.

Claflin opened its doors with Dr. Webster as its first president. He came to South Carolina to teach at the Baker Biblical Institute in Charleston, an institution established by the South Carolina Mission Conference of 1866 of the Methodist Episcopal Church for the education of Black ministers. In 1870 the Baker Biblical Institute merged with Claflin University. An act by the South Carolina General Assembly on March 12, 1872, designated the South Carolina State Agricultural and Mechanical Institute as a part of Claflin University. In 1896 the S.C. General Assembly passed an act of separation which severed the State Agricultural and Mechanical Institute from Claflin University and established a separate institution which eventually became South Carolina State University. During the administration of Claflin second president, Dr. Edward Cooke, a disastrous fire destroyed the Fisk Building, a proud monument designed by Robert Bates, recognized as the first certified Black Architect in the United States. In 1879 the first college class was graduated.

Claflin University is an independent, four year liberal arts, co-educational, historically black institution that is affiliated with the United Methodist Church. It is dedicated to educational excellence and to preparing students without regard to gender, race, religion or ethnic origin. It is committed to offering quality undergraduate programs, select graduate programs, and viable continuing education opportunities. Well known artist and educator Leo Twiggs graduated from Claflin University.

Claflin has an enrollment of about 1,800 students. 32% are male and 68% are female. they represent 45 South Carolina counties, 24 States, and 18 countries. The University currently offers a Master of Business Administration degree (MBA), a Master of Science in Biotechnology and 33 undergraduate majors.

The school has a cross enrollment agreement with South Carolina State University in the R.O.T.C program. Graduates of the program are commissioned as second lieutenants in the U.S. Army.

Intercollegiate Sports: Claflin is a member of SIAC Conference of the NCAA (Division II level). Programs for men: basketball, baseball, tennis, and track and field. Programs for women: basketball, softball, volleyball, tennis, and track and field.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Zora Neale Hurston

Zora Neale Hurston was an author during the time of the Harlem Renaissance, best known for the 1937 novel Their Eyes Were Watching God which was adapted for a 2005 film of the same title by Oprah Winfrey's Harpo Productions, starring Halle Berry with a teleplay by Suzan-Lori Parks. She grew up in Eatonville, Florida located six miles north of Orlando. It was one of the first all-Black towns to be formed after the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 and, on August 15, 1887, was the first such town to be incorporated. Hurston's parents were Lucy Ann Potts Hurston, a schoolteacher, and John Hurston, a carpenter and Baptist preacher. Her father was also a three-term mayor who helped establish the laws of the town. In 1904, her mother died and her father sent her to a private school in Jacksonville, Florida. She graduated from Morgan Academy, the high school division of Morgan College, (Morgan State University), formerly Centenary Biblical Institute, a historically black college. She did undergraduate studies at another HBCU school, Howard University. While at Howard, Hurston became one of the earliest members of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority and co-founded The Hilltop, the University's student newspaper. Hurston left Howard in 1924, unable to support herself. Hurston was offered a scholarship to Barnard College where she received her B.A. in anthropology in 1927. While at Barnard, she conducted ethnographic (Ethnography is the genre of writing that presents varying degrees of character and number descriptions of human social phenomena, based on fieldwork).

In 1925, shortly before entering Barnard, she became one of the leaders of the literary renaissance happening in Harlem, producing the literary magazine Fire!! along with Langston Hughes, Wallace Thurman, Aaron Douglas, John P. Davis, Richard Bruce Nugent and Gwendolyn Bennett. (Fire!! is a Black literary magazine published in 1926. This literary movement became the center of the Harlem Renaissance. Hurston applied her ethnographic training to document Black folklore in her critically acclaimed book Mules and Men (1935) along with fiction Their Eyes Were Watching God and dance, assembling a folk-based performance group that recreated her Southern up bring, with one performance on Broadway. Hurston was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship to travel to Haiti and conduct research on Haitian spiritual magic in 1937. Her work was significant because she was able to break into the secret societies and expose their use of drugs to create the voodoo trance, also a subject of study for fellow dancer/anthropologist Katherine Dunham.

In 1954 Hurston was unable to sell her fiction but was assigned by the Pittsburgh Courier to cover the small-town murder trial of Ruby McCollum, the rich Black wife of a local racketeer, who had killed a racist white doctor. Hurston also contributed to Woman in the Suwanee County Jail, a book by journalist and civil rights advocate William Bradford Huie. Hurston spent her last 10 years as a freelance writer for magazines and newspapers. She worked in a library in Cape Canaveral, Florida, and as a substitute teacher in Fort Pierce, where she died of a stroke. The publication of Alice Walker's article "In Search of Zora Neale Hurston" in the March 1975 issue of Ms. Magazine revived interest in her work and helped spark a Hurston renaissance. Hurston's house in Fort Pierce is a National Historic Landmark. Fort Pierce celebrates Hurston annually through various events such as Hattitudes, birthday parties, and a several-day festival at the end of April, Zora Fest. Her life and legacy are also celebrated every year in Eatonville, the town that inspired her, at the Zora Neale Hurston Festival of the Arts and Humanities.

During her prime, Hurston was a bootstrap Republican and fan of Booker T. Washington's self-help politics. She was opposed to the visions (including communism) professed by many of her colleagues in the Harlem Renaissance. Hurston thus became the leading Black figure on the conservative Old Right, and in 1952 she actively promoted the presidential candidacy of Robert Taft, who was, like Hurston, opposed to forced integration. She opposed the Supreme Court ruling in the Brown v. Board of Education case of 1954. She felt the physical closeness of Blacks to Whites was not going to be the salvation her people hoped for, as she herself had had many experiences to the contrary. In addition, she worried about the demise of Black schools and Black teachers as a way to pass on cultural tradition to future generations of Black Americans. She voiced this opposition in a letter, Court Order Can't Make the Races Mix, which was published in the Orlando Sentinel in August 1955.

Hurston's work slid into obscurity for decades, for a number of reasons, both cultural and political. Many readers objected to the representation of Southern Black dialect in Hurston's novels. Her stylistic choices in terms of dialogue were influenced by her academic experiences. Thinking like a folklorist, Hurston strove to represent speech patterns of the period which she documented through ethnographic research. Some critics during her time felt that Hurston's decision to render language in this way caricatured black culture. In more recent times, however, critics have praised Hurston for her artful capture of the actual spoken idiom of the day.

With the publication of the ambitious novel Seraph on the Suwanee in 1948, Hurston burst through the tight bounds of contemporary Black writing in another way. This is a tale of poor Whites struggling in rural Florida's citrus industry. Black characters recede to the background. Neither the Black intelligentsia nor the White mainstream of the late 1940s could accept the notion of a Black writer speaking through White characters. Seraph ended up being Hurston's last major literary effort as she retreated to small-town Florida for the rest of her life. The text stands out, as she remarked herself, as a testimony to her own self-definition as a regional as much as a Black writer. The re-discovery of Hurston's work coincided with the popularity and critical acclaim of authors such as Toni Morrison, Maya Angelou, and Walker herself, whose works are centered on Black experiences which include, but do not necessarily focus upon, racial struggle.

Senator Barack Obama Wins Nomination

June 3, 2008 Senator Barack Obama becomes the first Black person to win the nomination of a major political party for president of the United States. And it’s on to the general election in November.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Bu$h Donors Back Obama

President Bu$h’s approval rating is so bad that even people who donated to his campaign are not only jumping ship, but are not donating time and support to the campaign of Senator Barack Obama. A McClatchy computer analysis report found that hundreds of people who gave at least $200 to President Bu$h 2004 campaign have donated to Senator Obama’s campaign. Among them are Julie Nixon Eisenhower, the former Republican President Richard Nixon and wife of former Republican President Dwight Eisenhower’s grandson; Connie Ballmer, wife of Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer; Ritchie Scaife, the estranged wife of tycoon Richard Mellon Scaife; and boxing promoter Don King.

Many of the donors are moderate Republicans or independents who are dissatisfied with the direction of the country and are looking for change.

“There is a large block of Republicans who just feel that the Republican Party has completely let them down by failing to control spending and address other problems,” said a professor at Colby College, who specializes in campaign finance.

A lawyer from Massachusetts contributed $2000 to President Bu$h’s 2004 reelection campaign, but said he gave Senator Obama the maximum $2300 in hopes he can use his skills to rebuild fractured foreign alliances. He said that Bu$h promised to bring people together and has failed to do so, while Senator Obama has demonstrated in his campaign that he has the ability to connect in ways that no other candidate can. A Detroit attorney who backed President Bu$h with $3000 in 2004 said he donated to a Democratic candidate for the first time this year because Senator Obama offers the greatest hope for healing divisions at home and abroad.

The switching donors have various motives for their shifts from the president’s policy with the Iraq War to the economic policies that have added $3 trillion to the U.S. national debt to the Republican Party propaganda and selling of the war. An 84-year-old New England woman who gave Bu$h $2000 in 1999 and 2004 said that she can not get over her name being in there for sending money to that miserable president. She also said, “I think Obama is something we all need badly, really badly…”