Thursday, September 5, 2013

$12 Minimum Wage Sought for Montgomery Co., MD; & DC Mayor's $12.50 LRAA Decision

Will our Mayor and Council surrender to Walmart blackmail?  [UNFORTUNATELY, YES]

Final revote -- Alas, the Council was unable to override the Mayor's veto.  In fact Anita Bonds actually dropped her support and voted NOT to override.  Does this indicate a split between her and Marion Barry??  If she runs for At Large again will this cost her support among poorer workers who might have been able to earn enough to barely support their families with $12.50?
Here is a detailed article about the final votes.

In separate but related developments, significant increases in minimum wages are being proposed and fought for throughout the country.  How much thought is being given to a maximum wage?

9/12/13  This just in, as anticipated, the Mayor has indeed vetoed the $12.50 for LRAA.  9/23/13   The Council has been unable to override the veto, and David Catania has introduced a $10.50 minimum wage bill.   His Mayoral opponent, Muriel Bowser (she of the 2 Walmarts in one ward) voted against the $12.50 wage.

In Washington, DC, the proposed law requiring large stores to pay their workers $12.50 is a topic of immediate interest and emotion.  Eight of 13 members in the DC City Council have voted YES on this measure including declared Mayoral candidate Jack Evans.  Unfortunately Mayoral candidates Muriel Bowser (whose Ward 4 has 2 Walmarts already under construction) and Tommy Wells, somehow believe that a wage of $26,000 for a 40 hour, 52 week job is sufficient to raise a family.  Since part time work is often the lot of workers in these kinds of job, they need to consider that the gross wages of someone working 30 hours for 50 weeks is only $18,750.  All this, of course, is before any taxes, Medicare or FICA has been deducted.  Mary Cheh, (Ward 4), who is up for election in 2014, Yvette Alexander (Ward 7) who squeaked into office again with a scant 40% vote, and David Catania (At Large) who is also up for election in 2014 are the remaining NO votes.

Please note that Council members' salaries a year ago ranged from $125 to $128 thousand, and a number also hold well paid outside jobs.  Phil Mendelson, who supports the $12.50 minimum, earns around $190,000.  Most of their staffers earn more than twice $12.50 an hour and some earn more than the Council members. See details below.

Now Mayor Gray, who has not yet declared for Mayor and is facing a $600,000 issue of campaign finance irregularities, has only a few more days to give this measure a YES or NO vote.  It has been reported that he lives near a proposed Walmart store location, but surely there are other retailers who could be motivated to choose this location.  No Mayor or Council should allow themselves to be blackmailed the day before a major vote by a threat by Walmart or any other business, to cancel their planned stores.  Of course, there are many who question why we should want 6 Walmarts in DC, given their questionable labor practices and  bribery conducted in other countries.  One also wonders whether Walmart has behaved here as they have elsewhere.

Charges of corruption and bribery are being investigated in Mexico, India and Brazil.  The New York Times has been following this story and "reveals that Wal-Mart de Mexico was not the reluctant victim of a corrupt culture that insisted on bribes as the cost of doing business. Nor did it pay bribes merely to speed up routine approvals. Rather, Wal-Mart de Mexico was an aggressive and creative corrupter, offering large payoffs to get what the law otherwise prohibited. It used bribes to subvert democratic governance — public votes, open debates, transparent procedures. It used bribes to circumvent regulatory safeguards that protect Mexican citizens from unsafe construction. It used bribes to outflank rivals.   

The above is a quote from, a detailed review of corruption and bribery involving a number of US companies.  Alas, Walmart is not the only company engaging in illegal bribes and corruption, but after reviewing some of the others, it seems to be the biggest wanting to play in our DC sandbox.  Furthermore, as you can see from the information below copied from Walmart's own site:, they definitely envision that they will have closed stores, and that there will also be closed businesses around these stores.  In fact this has been a major complaint--that they undersell other stores, even their own nearby Walmarts, to force neighboring businesses to fail and then buy them for redevelopment.  It seems logical that this is what they are doing in Ward 4, which is poised for economic takeoff, with their two stores.

Welcome To Walmart Realty
Walmart Realty, a division of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., is a real estate company that offers many development opportunities nationwide. Walmart Realty concentrates on commercial real estate located in or around our current and former locations.  Walmart Realty's mission is to find businesses to open in our former stores and clubs and to locate in available property around our stores. At Walmart Realty, we believe we have a responsibility to work with communities to find a use that generates economic growth and opportunity. We work at the local level with local brokers, economic development officials and elected leaders to find partners that best suits the needs of each local community.

In March 2014, I decided to go look at the upper Georgia Av. Walmart and the surrounding businesses. This Walmart is one story with ample parking.  The businesses across the street are also one story.  When asked if Walmart had affected their businesses the reaction was mixed, with some saying a very negative effect.  The biggest complaint was that they used to have parking in front of their stores so customers could park, pop in for a quick purchase and leave.  Now they have lost that parking because the street has been reconfigured to have only two lanes in front of them, but 3 lanes in front of Walmart.  Should they be forced to sell because of business failure, Walmart will have prime real estate where they can put up much taller buildings, and even build on top of themselves.

So I  guess the question is, who are the local elected leaders, development officials and brokers whom they are working with, and what rewards, if any, have been promised or paid to these same persons.  Are these the same people who have voted against a marginally living wage of $12.50 an hour?

A wage of $12.50 an hour may seem like a lot, but given the high price of living and finding housing in DC it is barely adequate.  In fact it has just been reported that Montgomery County is considering a minimum wage of $12.00 an hour for the ENTIRE county, and for ALL businesses, not just the big, high profit/income stores that are specified in DC's bill.  Of course, Walmart's top brass has little empathy for the struggles of their workers.  The top five executives in 2013 earned a total of $62,574,227.  Their leader, Michael Duke is paid $20,693,545.  See this link for more details.

In DC This Large Retailer Accountability Act will apply to stores with revenue over $1 billion, and 75,000 square feet.  This is a relatively small number of businesses who can well afford the $12.50, although they might have to pay upper management slightly less than they do now.

The August 30, 2013 issue of "Washington Hispanic" has a front page article about a law proposed in Maryland this Labor Day.  I will translate and summarize this article by Victor Caycho titled "Minimum Salary of $12 per hour."  "To rise above poverty we must begin with a fair salary", declared council member At-Large, Marc Erlich (D), author of this initiative.  He announced his presentation of a law to increase the minimum wage in Montgomery Co. MD for the entire county which has a growing Hispanic population.  The current $7.25 was placed in effect July 24, 2009.  He will formally present the bill on Sept. 10.

The plan includes salary adjustments based on inflation.  It also establishes that the county Commission of Human Rights will supervise the application of the law.  Erlich pointed out "Persistent poverty is the result of persistently low salaries in our economy."  Furthermore, the law would not just be applied locally, but would extend "to the businesses of the entire county."  He pointed out, "we have many thousands of workers who, in spite of working every day, don't earn enough to rise above the poverty level.  Thus, if they can, they seek help from local government for the necessities of housing, health and nutrition."

After reading the above statement I Googled "Walmart low wages cost taxpayers."  A lot of articles came up, and rather than choose some liberal sites whose names I recognized, I looked at a site for business oriented Forbes.  Even there the author said this was a serious issue that we taxpayers really need to study and know more about.  Then I read the six comments.  Five pointed out many uncomplimentary things about Walmart.  The one focused on the issue of welfare and related cheating and cheaters.

Erlick declared that "This is the time to fix this problem and Labor Day is the right date for us to unite with cities throughout the country which understand that rising above poverty and being self-sufficient begins with a fair and transparent salary."

Let us hope that our Washington, DC is one of those cities, and especially if the neighbor on our northern border is going to have a $12.00 minimum wage for ALL businesses, then surely our largest retailers can afford $12.50.  If Montgomery Co. has this pay scale, the argument that DC business will go over the border because it is cheaper there will be moot.  Please contact the mayor,, or phone his office at  888-264-6154.  Urge him not to veto the LRAA and bow to Walmart Blackmail.

[April 2014]  The Primary Election has come and gone.  An impressively small number of voters decided with a non majority vote to promote Muriel Bowser to the Democrat Mayoral candidacy.  Now she is challenged by David Catania, Independent.  Recently in Seattle, a progressive candidate won, much to the consternation of the 1% who are now licking their wounds and fighting back.  The winning candidate campaigned on a $15 minimum wage.  We can learn much from studying her successful campaign.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

INDEX of all Posts, Recent to Oldest, Dates, Titles

As a convenience to my readers here is an index of all Posts with Dates, Titles and Subject (where the title is not clear), and guest authors.  At first most posts were about DC issues, but once I was running for Congress, I also added national issues.  Tax and income issue articles have dates printed RED. Environmental posts are GREEN.  Health and wellness issues are BLUE.  Political posts are PURPLE.  My political information and original ideas are highlighted.  Just click the blue lined titles to go directly to the blog post.  Otherwise go to the year and month to your left.  I would love to see more comments.

For the November 2014 & 2016 General Elections I ran for DC Council Chairman as a member of the DC Statehood Green Party.  If you wish to support my future candidacy or this blog, please send a check marked ELECT G. LEE AIKIN, to 1754 Swann St., NW, Washington, DC 20009.  My current biggest issue is saving McMillan Park from a NO-BID developer.

Year 2015:

11/25/15 DC Government Fails to Use $Millions of HUD Money, In Apparent Effort to Speed Up Gentrification (guest post Angela White Narain)
11/19/15 Excelon/PEPCO takeover, PSC Hearing Nov. 17 & 18, 2015.  They Desperately Need Our Ratepayers.  Testimony from anti-Exelon Witnesses
11/19/15 DC PSC Community Hearing Witness List for 11-17 & 18, 2015 Hearing (condensed)
9/28/15   Hajj: Muslim Tragedy in Mecca - Mass Casualties in 2015 Hajj, Cause & Prevention?
8/14/15   Chinese Disasters - Environment and Social Problems of Rapid Development
4/15/15   DC Taxes - 2015 Update: GOOD and BAD News, This Could Save YOU Money
2/19/15   A Solar Energy Revolution in Washington, DC Could Inspire the World (guest post Don Wharton)
1/21/15   Exelon/PEPCO Merger--Is It Good for DC Residents?

Year 2014:
11/12/14 McMillan Park, an Opportunity for DC Council to Serve the People Not Developers (guest additions from Daniel Wolkoff and Kirby Vining)
10/21/14 Shipping Containers Homes, Can Creative Use Help Solve the Low Cost Housing Crisis?
10/6/14   HOW MANY EBOLA VICTIMS COULD BIG PHARMA KILL?  If They and the Medical Establishment Don't Try Low Cost Available Treatments
10/3/14   DC Taxes to come down in 2019?, or NOT, as DC Council Approves 2 Tax Revision Commission Recommendations to FINALLY Put $85 million Annually in Our Pockets!
9/22/14   Free DC:  The US Capital is the Last Plantation (guest post Scott McLarty)
9/20/14   G. Lee Aikin answers DC Alliance of Youth Advocates, Candidate Questionnaire
9/12/14   DC Mayoral race, 2014, Catania and Schwartz Views on Small Entrepreneurs/Street Vendors (1998)
9/9/14     G. Lee Aikin, Experience, Goals & Hopes, as Candidate, Chairman, DC Council, 2014
8/14/14   DC Elections Heat Up:  Out to See the Action at DC for Democracy
3/18/14   DC Council Approval of 2 Tax Revision Commission Recommendations Will Put $85 Million     Annually in Our Pockets
3/10/14 - League of Women Voters Questionnaire--Tax Revision Comm., Affordable Housing, Electoral Reform, Charter/Public Schools
3/4/14     We Must Implement DC Marijuana Laws--Decriminalization & Legalization
1/17/14   Pres. Obama, "Save the Middle Class;" Sen. McCain, "Put an End to Greed!"
1/11/14   Congress Illustrates DC's Need for Statehood Once Again: Prohibits Using Our Tax $$

Year 2013:
12/8/13   Keystone XL Pipeline, Prevent Future Tragedy Now: Qingdao Pipeline Explosion Kills 62
11/18/13 Can Our Middle Class be Saved by DC Tax Revision Commission?
9/5/13     $12 Minimum Wage Sought for Montgomery Co., MD; and DC Mayor's $12.50 LRAA Decision
9/1/13     50th Anniversary MLK March - Statehood Dreams, Personal Memories
8/13/13   The LOWV questionnaire from 3/27/12 was jumped to this date??
8/1013    DC $12.50 Living Wage, & Walmart Blackmail (and Perry Redd)
4/22/13   DC Special Election, At Large Candidates, April 23, 2013
4/15/13   Boston Marathon Bombing, Summary & Updates
4/4/13     DC Emancipation Day, and Martin Luther King, Jr.
4/1/13     Straw Bale Buildings & Solar for a Sustainable Earth
2/8/13     DC At Large Council Vote 4-23-13, Perry Redd DCSGP Candidate
2/8/13     Perry Redd, At Large, DC Statehood Green Party Candidate
1/6/13     New Congress has more Women, Especially Women (guest post Jo Freeman)

Year 2012:
11/5/12   Unemployment Crisis, 5th post - A New National Lifestyle, (a 6 part series)
11/4/12   Unemployment Crisis, 4th post - A New National Lifestyle
11/2/12   Unemployment Crisis, 3rd post - A New National Lifestyle
10/27/12 Unemployment Crisis, 2nd post - A New National Lifestyle
10/26/12 Unemployment Crisis, 1st post - A New National Lifestyle
10/21/12 Worldwide Unemployment Crisis:  Work, has it Changed Permanently (intro to above 5 Posts)
10/21/12 Saving Social Security, Wage Cap, Marriage Penalty, Failure to Index
10/17/12 Council/Mayor Expulsion for Felony on Nov. Ballot
9/29/12   DC Sacrifice, Blood & Lives, Merit Statehood
9/13/12   Chicago School/Conservative Views of Economy (guest post Don Wharton)
9/4/12     Are You Better Off Today vs 4 Years Ago: "Better" Defined
8/26/12   Rape & Republicans:  Their Rape Ideology & Tod Akin Ignorance
8/6/12     Obesity Epidemic, Diabetes, Sugar, Fat and "Obamacare"
7/25/12   Spam Scams from Craigslist and Elsewhere, Buying, Selling, Renting, Responding
6/29/12   Obama/Roberts Empower Health Care - Now Our Duty Begins
6/16/12   A Solar Energy Revolution (guest post Don Wharton)
6/12/12   The Supreme Court, Anniversary of Another Big Mistake
6/12/12   DC Statehood Green "Shadow" Candidates' Declarations Accepted at BOEE, also                 Chairmanship vote announced
5/14/12   DC Tax Rates Hurt Working Poor & Middle Class, also Loss of Federal Payment
5/11/12   Harry Thomas Inspired Council Act Received by BOEE (and 10/7/12 update comment)
5/3/12     Ballot Access Update:  More DC BOEE Fun and Games
4/30/12   DC 2013 Budget:  Cut the Poor, Collect More Fines
4/22/12   Bd. of Elections & Ethics, Unethical Games??
4/22/12   McMillan Park Reservoir Development Planning
4/9/12     Let's Promote STATEHOOD and a GREEN City (11 ideas)
4/3/12     ARE YOU A FROG?  Jump out, call DC Council (major tax inequities)
3/31/12   Saving Lower Income DC Taxpayers & Businesses
3/27/12   League of Women Voters Questionnaire (for G. Lee Aikin At Large, (repositioned at 8/13/13)
3/26/12   A Family History of Labor Activism (my biography with labor emphasis)
3/26/12   DC People Overtaxed & Underserves:  or Rip Van Winkle Sleeps On
2/12/12   DC People Overpay for Years as Council Neglects Inflation Fixes (on DC taxes)
2/12/12   G. Lee Aikin, Experience, Goals, Hopes (my resume for At Large Council race)

Sunday, September 1, 2013

50th Anniversary MLK March--DC Statehood Dreams, Personal Memories

Fifty years ago, my late husband and I were on the Mall in DC when Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his world famous "I have a dream" speech.  Fifty years later I was there again, at both well attended marches--one on Saturday, Aug. 24th, and the other the actual anniversary date, Aug. 28th.  In the interest of speed I will send out an alert on this post when it is written.  Then I will embed photos and send word again when that is accomplished.]

I will cover 3 main aspects in this article--the presentation and politics of this event (especially as reflected locally), participation and impressions of DC Statehood Green Party members and the FreeDC group, and personal life experiences that led to my being at all three events.  The two main marches were sponsored by National Action Network run by Rev. Al Sharpton and the King Center headed by the King family.  They had the permits.  The early Saturday event at the DC WWI War Memorial had DC control, which is to say control by local Democrats.

A comprehensive report with a progressive perspective was posted by Dave Zirin on 8/24/13 at The, about, "Seeing new Jim Crow placards seized by Police"

I am condensing his post and including some additional comments of my own in [ ].
     Spending 8 hours there saw the number one face on T-shirts, etc. was Trayvon Martin.  Others called for jobs programs [LiUNA], protested school closures, and overseas victims of US militarism. They showed resistance to MLK's "evil triplets of militarism, materialism and racism."
     Main speakers failed to match the politics and urgency of those present, few even tried.  Julian Bond got 2 minutes, Rev. Jesse Jackson got less than a pop song.  Rev. Lennox Yearwood, whose HipHop Caucus is doing some of the most important work in US connecting climate change to racism, 90 seconds.  Only heard one speaker at 8 am pre-rally mention the word "drones", total discussion of US foreign policy for the day.  It appears that MLK probably would not even been allowed to speak.  Too many speakers paid homage to the narrowest possible liberal agenda in broad abstractions.  None of MLK's searing truths.
     Eric Holder who has taken 5 years to acknowledge mass incarceration [of black people mostly due to low level drug/marijuana convictions] had 30 minutes.  This gathering totally ignored Bayard Rustin's decree 50 years ago that no politicians or political appointees be allowed to speak.
     Most shocking was seeing DC Park police seize 200 professionally printed placards from activists distributing them for free, which said "Stop Mass Incarceration.  Stop the new Jim Crow."  Police said it was "unlawful solicitation," even though given free.  Those objecting to this seizure were threatened with fines or arrest.  One DC police officer said, "Hey, you can get them back at the end of the day.  On second thought, given your attitude you cannot."  [Is there a law suit possible here?]  This was a first, but the demonstration was unusually thickly monitored, with Park Police, Homeland Security, and Military everywhere.
     King's "triplets of evil" still strangle this country.  If we are not talking about the New Jim Crow, Wall Street and militarism, then what are we doing?

This was Dave Zirin's summary of the Aug. 24 event.  When I also went to the Aug. 28 event, it was even more tightly monitored probably because 3 past and present Presidents were going to speak.  It was not even permitted to take signs or banners inside the security cordon.  Everyone entering the area that ran from the far end of the reflecting pool up to the Lincoln Memorial  went through a security check that included placing personal items and bags on a table to be examined--a slow process.  I, my signs, and many others stayed outside on the grassy area running back to the Washington Monument.  Although there were loudspeakers, it was hard to hear the speakers, I and a large number of others returned home after President Obama spoke.

Several of the major speakers raised our DC Statehood issue.  Former President Jimmy Carter pointed out that without MLK it is unlikely that he, Clinton or Obama would have served in the White House.  He called attention to MLK's statement "The crucial question of our time is how to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to oppression and violence."  He also raised the issue of the recent Supreme Court ruling reducing voting rights protections, and the fact that over 835,000 African-American men are in prison.  The enthusiastically applauded statement that "I think we all know how Dr. King would have reacted for the people of DC still not having full citizenship rights," says it all for those of us who live here.


We who have worked consistently to gain Statehood for DC, specifically the DC Statehood Green Party and Free DC, had no representation at the 2 main events at the Lincoln Memorial.  Only Anise Jenkins (Free DC) was even allowed to say a few words at the DC sponsored early rally at the DC WWI War Memorial, even though Statehood was the theme of this DC rally.
     Scott McLarty (DCSGP) reports that this was despite repeated requests.  He also heard no mention of Julius Hobson, Hilda Mason, Jo Butler, or any other leaders in the movement for DC democracy who founded the DC Statehood Party in 1970.  This is now part of the DC Statehood Green Party, part of the Green Party of the US, the only party that calls for DC statehood in its national platform.  While some Democrats including Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton have called for "DC Voting Rights," a single "House" vote [no Senators], they fail to emphasize that this is not an acceptable substitute for self-determination, self-government, and full representation in Congress.
     Statehood for DC was left out of the Democrat Campaign Platform in 04, 08, and 2012.  If Ms. Norton thought that this would persuade Congress to give us 1 vote along with Utah, she was mistaken.  Recently local Republicans have even been trying to encourage DC residents to work with Congressional Republicans to achieve "territorial" status which would eliminate our three precious electoral votes.  Republicans would love that!!

I was glad to see that so many DC supporters had gathered at the 8:30 am Saturday rally at the DC WWI War Memorial.  I was happy to see that Anise Jenkins, at least, could say a few words, but was disappointed but not surprised that the DC Democrat planners iced out any DCSGP participation.
     In our DCSGP group we had two of our banners displayed and one large poster sign.  Taking turns carrying the two polls for each banner, or otherwise marching with our group, were David Bosserman and Olivia Cadaval, Perry Redd and Barbara Patterson and grandchildren, Don Wharton and G. Lee Aikin, Scott McLarty, and Ming Lowe.  We marched from the DC WWI site back toward 17th St. and along the south side of the WWII War Memorial until we and many others were blocked by a barricade.  We later heard it was erected to allow speakers and celebrities to go to the Lincoln Memorial.  It was later removed. After sitting down for rest, conversation, and food, we had not decided on a united course of action and dispersed in different directions.
     Ingrid Monkiewica and Barbara Patterson then carried one banner from the DC rally to the WWII Memorial.  Then Ingrid made her way to the Lincoln Memorial, where the entire plateau was fenced off for VIPs and Press.  No "normal" people were anywhere near the speakers, even those who had camped there all night.  Later she saw a few single-issue campaigners holding their own rallies on Independence.
     Ming Lowe reports that the Montgomery Co. Green Party was also in the 'house', led by Tim Willard.  He especially praises Anise Jenkins for being a volunteer for the Mayor's committee since its inception.  He ventured closer to the Lincoln Memorial and saw on the (one) jumbo-tron several good speakers, and one great one--the Honorable John Lewis (who at age 23 was the youngest speaker 50 years ago).  "Some of his proposed remarks in 1963 were cut, for being too radical.  Guess what?   Not a lot has changed,  Let's use this moment, this week, this lifetime to keep the movement progressing.  My small part will be to engage young people more, and more young people.  (Don't worry, I won't tell them not to 'trust anyone over 30...after all, that applies to me as well!!)"  [I understand there is a move afoot to get more of our DC University students involved in DC politics, let's sign them up for DCSGP.]
     Ann Wilcox reports that she and Kristin Hedges carried one of the "old" DCSGP banners.  She also saw Linda Leakes, John Hanrahan and other DCSGP folks in the crowd.  "Overall, I thought the DC presence was good--one shout-out from the podium by Nancy Pelosi for DC Statehood was not sufficient, though!"

Keith Ivey took a number of photos.  One of Anise Jenkins is here.  And the whole set.

Regarding national Green Party solidarity, Scott McLarty submitted a Green Party statement, and a statement by George Paz Martin, Peace Ambassador in the Green Shadow Cabinet

     At 16 years of age on the morning of Aug.28, 1963, I woke up to a new day in our country.  We felt so alone driving through the dark night from Milwaukee to Washington.  That bright morning we were joining with hundreds of thousands of people for the Great March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.  This day was my "Coming of Age."  I was a teenager consumed with studies, work, sport and friends.  That day I felt beyond myself--that I was part of a great movement, a mass of beautiful, friendly people, of all races and ages wanting freedom and equality for all.
     Becoming separated from his group he reports:  The crowd became focused on Dr. King and his every word as he read his prepared speech.  I was about ten feet from him when Mahalia Jackson, the great gospel singer, shouted to him, "Martin, tell us about the dream."  He set his papers down, rose up and began to preach giving his memorable "I have a Dream" speech--words that inspired us all and generations to come.
     That day was the turning point in the Civil Rights Movement.  It resulted in Congress passing the monumental "Civil Rights Act" later that year....the problem today is that much of America is still dreaming.
* Back then, we marched against job discrimination, and today it still exists not only regarding race but also sex and age.  Man jobs have been exported overseas for greater global corporate profits.
* Back then, we marched for fair housing, and now we have mortgage foreclosures and homelessness.
* He also highlighted the issues of education, voting rights, corporate money and lobbying, fair immigration laws, gay rights, support for whistle blowers and truth tellers, attempted corporate takeover of the world with so-called trade agreements such as the Trans Pacific Partnership.
     In the words of Dr. Cornel West, "Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. was unbossed and unbought."  If still alive today, Dr. King would be more likely to serve in the Green Shadow Cabinet than in the cabinet of the current White House.


As a white person, my first conscious awareness of race was in Kindergarten.  Earlier I had been cared for by black women while my mother worked but have only a vague feeling of comfortableness when near black women today.  Our school janitor, Mr. Barnes, organized and produced The Kindergarten Circus each year.  I still remember him patiently trying to teach me how to bounce a ball, and later conversations in the school halls.  Only years later did I realize how unfair it was that a man of that talent, drive, and creativity was so limited, but still worked so hard to rise above his circumstances.

A lot of homes were being built in my neighborhood to house WWII veterans.  I used to spend hours watching the black masons building these brick houses.  I was about 8.  When the weather was cold I had the idea to sell them hot coffee which my mother fixed.  They invited me into their heated trailer where we would talk, and they would even bring me Marvel Comic books at times.  I had a real appreciation of these hard working family men, and think it is deplorable that we do not teach such valuable trades in DC.

The few black families in my town in New Jersey lived on the side of the main street bordering the Jersey marshes and the railroad tracks.  When there would be a marsh fire, I would worry as I saw flames approaching their homes as the fire department fought to save them.

One year when my father came home from a union conference in Atlantic City he was pacing up and down the kitchen declaiming his outrage.  "When we went to our hotel they wouldn't take our 2 black delegates.  I urged our members to cross the street to the hotel that would take them and they refused to do so.  And these guys call themselves TRADE UNIONISTS!!!  They ought to be ashamed!!"  I was 10 or 11 and had never seen my father so angry except when he hit his thumb with a hammer.

At college in Iowa City (where this year's National Green Party Convention was held), I was impressed with the leadership of  our black female precinct captain as we worked to elect John F. Kennedy.  I arrived in DC the day after he was elected, and subsequently married my husband who had left Iowa City a few months earlier to accept a scholarship at AU to study international labor relations..
     Years later we were amazed to discover that we each had ancestors who had stations on the Underground Railroad.  His family's was in southern Illinois near Kentucky, and mine was in Detroit, the jump-off point for Windsor, Canada.  After the Civil War began one of my ancestors took wagon trains of supplies to Union troops in the South but was captured 2 years in a row by General Johnston's troops, and each time had is arms broken so he could not drive a wagon.

Thus, when the great Civil Rights March of 1963 was announced, we just had to be there.  Because there had been a lot of hype about potential dangers of civil disobedience I was a little nervous when we started out.  It was a typical very hot August day (this year we were luck, it was only very warm), and we were under the trees  midway on the north side of the Reflecting Pool.  The crowd was very mixed race and friendly.  I mainly remember Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s great speech.  The great lines about little black children and little white children joining hands sent shivers down my spine.  I can almost feel it today, 50 years later, and have never experience that with any other speaker, ever.

Although my husband is now gone, I will continue my efforts on behalf of all people who need and deserve the great American dream as long as I possibly can!!

Remember the fighting words of A Philip Randolph:  "At the banquet table of nature there are no reserved seats.  You get what you can take, and you keep what you can hold. If you can't take anything you won't keep anything.  And you can't take anything without organization."  So, ORGANIZE.