Sunday, March 23, 2014

Axel Adams, National Director of 1000 Churches Connected, Honored in Augusta March 22, 2014

Ann Cooper, Dextor Clinkscale, Trina Heathington, Janice L. Mathis, Esq., Tina Jones, Sintonio Hobbs, Senator Gail P. Davenport and Rev. Fred Favors Congratulate Axel Adams (center).


March 31, 2014 is the final day to sign up for the Affordable Care Act without penalty. Blacks and young folks are lagging in enrollment, despite their higher than average online presence. One of the board operators at the radio station where I host part time told me it took three hours to sign up for a subsidized plan covering the basics that will cost her ZERO! My premium went up a bit under the new plan. But I don’t care. I am glad about it. For once, I get to buy something I want with my tax dollars – health care – instead of more clogged asphalt or another F-15. Don’t wait – participate. Visit today.

If I had my way, the US would adopt a single-payer health care plan like most Europeans and Canadians have. It would work like Medicare, or the VA. If you are sick, you go to a health provider and get treated.  You pay your share…taxes takes care of the rest.  If you want special services, you pay out-of-pocket. No stress. No mess. But that is not what Democracy looks like – at least not the US version.

To get ObamaCare, the President had to negotiate his way through for-profit insurers, T-Partiers, Republicans, big city doctors and small town hospitals.  Not to mention SCOTUS.  All these special interests had to be taken care of, less they render the Affordable Care Act “Dead on Arrival.” Does anyone remember Hillary Clinton’s 1993 effort to reduce the number of uninsured Americans?

Even if you don’t want health care, or think you don’t need it, sign up today at  Show President Obama that all the effort was not wasted. When history writes the news, President Obama will get headlines for caring.

Janice L. Mathis, Esq., The Rainbow PUSH Coalition

Friday, February 21, 2014

The Real State of the Union

Lincoln’s great formula for successful government requires the participation of us all.  You can’t have government of the people, and for the people unless there is a healthy contribution by the people.  Too often, we want government of the people, for the people, but we want to skip over the by the people clause. 

I am an optimist and a liberal (which is the same thing, in a way) and so I believe that the American people have the final say about our country’s public policy.  For example, the people spoke and Social Security was not privatized during the Bush administration.  The people spoke against the government shutdown and the GOP voted this year a clean bill to raise the debt limit.  The people spoke and the Voting Rights Act was reauthorized in 2006 and there is bipartisan support for restoring Section IV of the VRA in Congress today.  The people spoke and the crack-powder disparity in criminal sentencing has been ameliorated to some degree.  The people are speaking and marriage equality is becoming the law of the land.  One of America’s great virtues is that when the people’s voices are loud and clear, elected officials respond.   

Elected officials respond to donations, but they also respond to polling results. 

Suppose –

1.     The Census Bureau reported recently that 30.4 percent of people over age 25 nationally hold at least a bachelor’s degree, and 10.9 percent hold a graduate degree, up from 26.2 percent and 8.7 percent 10 years ago. While that's the highest college graduation level ever for American workers, it shows that almost 70% of the workforce doesn't have a degree beyond high school.

Suppose we decided that every high school graduate who wanted further study and was capable of doing the work could receive a public university degree tuition free.  Suppose the lottery scholarships were need-based instead of merit-based only.  Suppose any college grad could discharge his/her student loans by doing national service. 

2.    The health care and social assistance sector is projected to grow at an annual rate of 2.6 percent, adding 5.0 million jobs between 2012 and 2022. This accounts for nearly one-third of the total projected increase in jobs. The growth reflects, in part, the demand for healthcare workers to address the needs of an aging population.   

According to the Census Bureau, five of the top ten best paying jobs that require an associate degree, rather than a four year college degree, are in the allied health sciences.  Web developer, electrician, skincare specialist and plumber, automobile body repairer, bookkeeper, communications equipment mechanic, electrician, glazier, tower technician, air traffic controller all pay better than a living wage, without the requirement of a four-year degree. 

Suppose we invested in the education or training of any child who wants to study a health related profession, or learn skills associated with health care delivery.  Suppose that anyone who wants to study health sciences or learn a skilled trade  in the U.S. could get a tuition free associate degree?  We could increase the number of health providers, increase wages for lots of workers, improve access to health care for millions of new patients under the affordable care act; remove one objection to the affordable care act. That investment will pay for itself in a decade and lay a solid foundation for economic growth for decades to come.  It will also alleviate poverty, address income inequality with jobs that are not easily outsourced.  

3.    Suppose Georgia and the other GOP states agreed to expand Medicaid to cover the working poor?  57% of Georgians think we should do it.  69% of metro Atlantans think we should.  71% of those earning less than 50k think we should expand Medicaid.  62%of those between 18 and 39 think we should.  

4.    Suppose there was an infrastructure bank making low-interest long-term loans to cities and other areas for infrastructure improvements like commuter rail and a dedicated municipal gas tax to pay for it like Sacramento’s? 

5.    Suppose Atlanta and other densely populated areas had robust regional transportation systems.  During the storm three weeks ago, I received a FB post from a woman who detailed how Alpharetta looked like a skating rink but a Marta driver got her to the train station and the rest of her commute went “without a hitch.” 

6.    Suppose homeowners whose homes are under water, or who lost their homes due to a provable hardship like illness, death of a spouse or loss of a job, could get a portion of the lost equity in their homes from the fines being paid by banks, or the loans restructured to reflect the current value of the homes.  Had we done this years ago, we might have avoided the mass foreclosures, blight and declining tax revenues they caused. 

7.    Charlie Rose interviewed U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Jack Lew Thursday night.  He said China needs more consumer demand and a stronger safety net to keep the economy healthy.  What’s good for China is good for the U.S.  Suppose we finally abandoned the myth of trickle-down economics and embraced demand side economics.  The less money you make, the more likely you are to put most of it back into the economy, demanding cars, refrigerators, houses and tuition. 

8.    Suppose we considered high quality education and health care as elements of U.S. citizenship instead of privileges.   

9.    Suppose there was a national increase in the minimum wage so that anyone who worked full time could support themselves and not live in poverty.   

10.                    Suppose we decided to enact national service so that the military was not a place for youngsters with fewer options or family traditions of military service, but a responsibility shared by all families regardless of income and connections.  Suppose instead of hiring private contractors like Halliburton and Fluor Daniel, all young people had to serve two years in national service as part of being Americans.   Perhaps we would value peace more and romanticize military action less.

11.                    Suppose there was an active and persistent national conversation about budget priorities.  We have ended the War in Iraq and we are winding down the war in Afghanistan.  Suppose we insisted on a peace dividend, with real cuts to military spending, as opposed to merely slowing down the growth of the military industrial complex. 

But good government is not merely a matter of good jobs and sound economic policies.  Economic stability is built on a foundation of shared values and respect for individual liberties. 

12.                     Jimmy Carter once said that he could not monitor U.S. elections in the same way he monitors elections around the world because the U.S. has no central election authority and no uniform national election standards.   

Suppose instead of cutting back polling places and cutting back on early voting we encouraged everyone to vote; made it part of our national responsibility; established same day onsite registration nationally; taught the voting rights movement in civics and history classes using documentaries like the one on Mississippi’s sovereignty commission that aired on PBS the other night. 

13.                      The single biggest threat to one person/one vote in the U.S. is Citizens United.  But polls suggest that 80 percent of the American people oppose Citizens United, including 65 percent who "strongly" oppose it. If citizens are prepared to make this a "make or break" issue for politicians of both political parties, then adoption of a constitutional amendment seems at least plausible.

But what should such a constitutional amendment say? Superficial slogans like "money is not speech" or "corporations are not people" will not suffice. Can the government forbid you from using money to buy books? Can it prohibit the New York Times (a corporation) from publishing? Slogans may be good rallying cries, but they do not make good law.  

If I were to propose a constitutional amendment, here's what I would suggest:

"In order to ensure a fair and well-functioning electoral process, Congress and the States shall have the authority reasonably to regulate political expenditures and contributions. 

14.                     "In 2005, the United Nations recommended to the United States that it “strengthen its efforts to combat racial profiling at the federal and state levels.”  In 2013, the U.S. State Department finally responded in part by saying, “…the United States recognizes that racial and ethnic disparities continue to exist…Statistics indicate the need …for continued vigilance …in pursuing the goal of equality.”   

Suppose racial profiling was illegal in all 50 states and we kept statistics on who gets stopped and why, to make sure the rules against profiling were not being circumvented.  Police would have a disincentive for making race-based traffic stops, leaving more people with clean records and easier employment options. 

15.                    Suppose in every state, you could vote if you are no longer on probation or parole and after five years of crime-free unsupervised living, your criminal history was wiped clean automatically for purposes of credit and unemployment?  Suppose we permitted teenagers to pre-register to vote while still in high school without the distractions of college or jobs?  FL does and NC did, until the GOP takeover. 

16.                    Suppose the Congress adopted the recommendations in WAND’s letter   supporting ongoing diplomatic efforts between world powers and Iran over Iran’s nuclear program.

17.                    Suppose the U.S. left Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan and joined the world majority of 140 nations including the entire European Union, Turkey, Armenia, Honduras, Iceland and South Africa other nations in outlawing the death penalty.  What signal would it send to young Americans about patriotism? 

Part of being a liberal is a point of view that there is something we can do.  Whatever your political philosophy - whether you believe in Paul’s faith, hope and love; or you prefer Oliver Wendell Holmes’ admonition that the life of the law has not been logic – that the law is more about the felt necessities of the times, or you believe in Dr. King’s moral arc of the universe, what is required for a more just, verdant and peaceful world is action.  Faith without work is dead.  We must make our necessities felt.  The moral arc leans toward justice when people of good conscience bend it to their will. 


Friday, February 7, 2014

Stand Your Ground Against Shoot First, Think Later Laws

More guns means more deaths from guns.  Since Georgia enacted the stand your ground law in 2006, justifiable homicides have doubled in the state, despite an overall decline in all homicides.  SYG encourages vigilantism and makes us less safe. 

Rally to Repeal Stand Your Ground in Georgia - Monday, February 10th 4 p.m. Georgia State Capitol

Monday, January 20, 2014

MLK Day Speech in Elberton, GA

I want to thank Mary Clark for inviting me to be here tonight.  You can tell how much Mary cares about justice and this community by the amount of effort and creativity she puts into this event year after year.  Mary is a great teacher, a wonderful wife and mother and a true community hero.  You are so blessed to have her here.  She is what God calls us to be – faith without work is dead.

Our father’s God to Thee, Author of Liberty.  To thee we sing.  Long may our land be bright with freedom’s holy light.  Protect us by thy might.  Great God our King.

You have heard the expression, It is always darkest just before dawn.   According to one source it means, There is hope, even in the worst of circumstances.  No one seems to know where the proverb came from.  It has been around at least since 1650 when it appeared in a travelogue written by English theologian and historian Thomas Fuller.

There are some examples in history of our people of darkness before dawn.

Suppose Frederick Douglass and the abolitionists had given up when the Dred Scot decision was rendered in 1857, three years before the Civil War?  That was a dark time.   March 1857 Supreme Courts issues Dred Scott Decision which declares unconstitutional the Missouri Compromise of 1820. was a landmark decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in which the Court held that African Americans, whether slave or free, could not be American citizens and therefore had no standing to sue in federal court.

Suppose the women’s suffrage movement had given up.  We just celebrated 100 years of Delta Sigma Theta.  Did you know that all the red and white hoopla got started because 22 young ladies at Howard University wanted the right to vote?  They marched down Pennsylvania Avenue with white women.  It took seven more years for them to get the right to vote.  You can’t let darkness hold you back from doing what is right. Women voted in New Zealand in 1893, in Australia in 1895;  in Russia in 1907 and in Finland in 1913. 

Suppose we had given up trying to get the King Holiday.  When I was a student at UGA we marched around the law school every year from 1977 to 1980, protesting for the King Holiday.  It finally became a holiday in 1983 when Ronald Reagan signed the bill.  But that was after 6 million Americans signed a petition in favor of the holiday.  South Carolina was the last state to make it an official holiday – in 2000.  Thousands of people marched in Greenville – making Greenville County the last county in the last state.  And we had to cross over and vote in the Republican primary to defeat anti-King Holiday county commissioners. 

And there is plenty of darkness in our world today.  John Conyers, Congressman from Michigan, is still fighting for same day onsite voter registration.  He started the fight back in the 1980’s.  And if he doesn’t finish it, then one of you will have to pick up the baton and run your leg of the race.  Adjusted for inflation, the average Georgia family in effect makes $6000 less than the average family did ten years ago. That’s a real pay cut.”

According to a recent report by the U.S. Census Bureau, Georgia has the sixth highest poverty rate in the country. More than one in four Georgia families with children under the age of five live below the poverty line. Rural Georgians have been hit particularly hard – twenty-seven percent live below the poverty line.

On Deal’s watch, classroom sizes have swelled as a result of 9,000 teachers losing their jobs. Eighty percent of Georgia’s school districts have now exceeded class-size caps. Eighty percent of Georgia school districts will furlough teachers this year due to cuts in state funding. Thirty-eight percent of districts have been forced to make cuts on programs that help low-performing students. Seventy-one percent of Georgia’s school districts have cut their school calendar to fewer than 180 days. Before Nathan Deal took office, Ninety percent of students in Georgia attended school 180 days or more.

Some of you know that my father was a hall of fame high school football coach during the days of segregation in Greenville, SC.  We grew up with football.  We had x’s and o’s at the dinner table.  We had the portable tv in the dining room for Sunday dinner so he could watch the nfl game of the week.  He had a favorite saying.  Don’t get in the give up formation.  Get in the Shotgun formation.  Get in the I.  But don’t get in the give up formation. 

Don’t give up on fighting poverty.

Don’t give up on expanding Medicaid.

Don’t give up on a high quality public education for all children.

Don’t give up on the right to vote.

Because if you think you are beaten you are.

GEORGIA IS CHANGING.  Georgia's 16 electoral votes will be in play over the next decade according to demographers.  In 2012, Georgia was the second most competitive state carried by Mitt Romney (+7.8 percent Romney) -- behind only North Carolina (+2.0 percent Romney).  In 2000, Georgia's population was 63 percent white; as of the 2010 Census the state's population is 56 percent white.  Of the state's 1.5 million new residents between 2000 and 2010, more than 80 percent (1.2 million, or 81 percent) were non-white.  Demographics are destiny" is a political cliché largely because it's true.  But change is not automatic.  We must organize, register and vote.  And we must be prepared to lead.  A steady diet of twerking and marijuana does not leaders make.  Leaders need to think, compute, write standard English.

            And some things are more important than winning.  Rev. Jackson likes to say, leave some footprints on the door.  If you can’t get in….leave some footprints on the door.

I want to say a word about Medicaid.  Some of you can’t remember 1988 and the Democratic National Convention in Atlanta.  Jesse Jackson was running for President for the second time.  Michael Dukakis was the frontrunner and the Democratic Party’s nominee.  Jackson won Michigan and South Carolina – so he had a significant number of electoral votes going into the convention.  And the convention was in Atlanta. It was electric. It was the first time that a black man was seriously considered for the Presidency of the United States.  In Atlanta he said something like this…


Most poor people are not lazy. Most poor people are not on welfare.

hey catch the early bus. They work every day.

They raise other people's children. They work every day.

They clean the streets. They work every day. They change the beds you slept in in these hotels last night and can't get a union contract. They work every day.

No, no, they are not lazy! They work in hospitals. I know they do. They wipe the bodies of those who are sick with fever and pain. They empty their bedpans. They clean out their commodes. No job is beneath them, and yet when they get sick they cannot lie in the bed they made up every day.


Now, 25 years later, we are about to make it possible for them to lie in the bed they make up every day.  Call Nathan Deal at 404 656 1776.  Tell him to expand Medicaid.  Join Moral Monday.

Sometimes dawn takes a long time coming.  Sometimes the darkness lasts a long time. Tyrone Brooks fought to change the Georgia flag for more than ten years before it happened.  Don’t give up the fight.  Don’t get in the give up formation. When it is dark, that is when you have to let your little light shine.

Let it shine

Let it shine

Let it shine

Don’t give up the fight.  The race does not go to the swiftest or to the strong, but to those who endure…until the sun comes up.

The Bible says we have a great cloud of witnesses watching us and cheering us on.  By Faith, Abraham.  By Faith, Moses, By Faith, sarah.  But also, By Faith Martin Luther King.  By Faith, Harriet Tubman.   Who do you think sent the bol weevil to destroy the cotton and the cotton gin to destroy slavery?  Are these any less miracles than the red sea and the manna from heaven because we don’t teach them to our children that way and because these miracles happened only a little less than two hundred years ago.  Do you believe that God is still acting in the affairs of men?

Well, if you believe in a miracle working God, I will tell you something.

If we believe that God is the author of liberty.  Then we should pray that our  land be bright with freedom’s holy light.  And that He will protect us by his might. 

I saw Toyota sign  a 7.8 billion dollar deal to do business with blacks.

I saw Kentucky Fried Chicken commit 20 million dollars to open black franchises.  They did not want to do it, but by the power of the Holy Spirit they did.

I saw the Greenville County Council adopt the King Holiday.  They didn’t want to do it but they did.

I have seen miracles in my life.  I saw George Bush sign the extension of the voting rights act.  He did not want to do it, but he did.  I have seen a lot of things in my life.  You can’t tell me that God is not good, or that miracles don’t exist. I have been punting on the Thames and seen the fjords of Norway.  I saw my mother take her last breath and my grandson take his first step.  I have seen a lot. I flew in airplanes all day on September 10th and got home just before day and just in time to avoid 911.

I have seen a lot.

But I have never seen the righteous forsaken…or their seed begging bread.

May God continue to bless and keep you.



Friday, January 10, 2014

Kendrick Johnson Probe Expands

December 21, 2013

Subpoena issued in KJ case

Hard drives for school surveillance videos sought by U.S. Attorney

VALDOSTA — U.S. Attorney Michael Moore has issued a subpoena for the hard drives containing the original Jan. 10-11 surveillance videos of the old gym in Lowndes High School where Kendrick Johnson was found lifeless in a rolled-up exercise mat.

Moore began his investigation into 17-year-old Johnson’s death in October after his family and others questioned the conclusion of the sheriff’s office and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation that Kendrick died when he became trapped upside down in the rolled, upright gym mat while reaching for an athletic shoe.

The Johnson family said it suspects he was the victim of foul play and that they do not intend to rest until the complete truth of what happened comes out.

Moore has been reviewing evidence collected at the time of Johnson’s death, including copies of videos from cameras showing the youth entering the old gym at mid-day on Jan. 10, jogging briefly inside the gym afterwards and then no other video of him until 24 hours later when he was carted out of the gym in a body bag.

There were questions about gaps in the copied videos that likely caused Moore to issue the subpoena for the original hard drives from the high school’s surveillance cameras.

The Johnson family had sought access to the hard drives through an open records request, but the school system said it could not release them without a judge’s order because they contained identifying information of students protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.

The legal question was pending in court when Moore issued the grand jury subpoena for the hard drives.

Warren Turner, legal counsel for Lowndes County Schools, told The Valdosta Daily Times in a conversation that took place in November that the school system “has always thought it was best for the federal government to take control of the servers instead of providing it to a third party, family, the press or anyone (else).”