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Letter to the Editor: I WILL Vote

By Mildred Henry

I read the headlines in total disbelief!

A professed leader in the Black Lives Matter  (BLM) movement reportedly said,  “I ain’t voting until Black Lives Matter“.  I cannot believe that any informed,  self-respecting African American will openly proclaim that he or she will not vote! This is a gross indignity because of the sacrifices and lives lost by our predecessors in order to gain the right to vote.  This misguided individual tramples on the graves of Sojourner Truth; Fannie Lou Hamer; the Mississippi Freedom Riders; Barbara Jordan, Dr. Martin Luther King, and the sacred graveyard list goes on and on.

Supporters of the “I ain’t voting” cognitive dissonance trample on the grave of my mother who was told she would lose her teaching job if she joined the NAACP and conducted a voter registration drive. She joined, became a lifetime NAACP member, and the family survived. 

We survived in spite of the racists who burned our family cotton gin (3 times) and general store to the ground.  Our family provided merchandise, and rides for neighbors to go to town, to register, to vote, to shop, and to conduct business. Comradery existed whereby you picked up and provided a ride to someone walking by the side of the road.   

 We survived in spite of the fact that schools for Black children were closed 3 and 4 months of the school year to work in the cotton fields. We survived  in spite of having to walk 10 miles to school while school buses for white children threw dust up in our faces.  We survived many adversities in order to be where we are today.  I WILL vote.  

Black people were castigated, tortured, lynched and suffered terrible deaths for just expressing the desire to vote.  It was through the power of the vote that we defeated segregationists George Wallace of Alabama, and Governors Lester Maddox and Orville Faubus of Arkansas.  If one of the reported leaders of the BLM is an attorney, as reported, he should be well aware of the court battles of Attorney and Chief Supreme Court Justice, Thurgood Marshall. As an Arkansan, I watched Attorney Thurgood Marshall and local attorneys like Attorney George Howard, engage in battle on behalf of the Little Rock Nine students’ effort to get an education at Central High School.  Mrs. Daisy Bates and the State Press Newspaper (distributed by my mother) espoused the power of the vote to change the segregationist structure in Arkansas. These students (and many others)  endured insults, life threats, personal danger, and loss of life to get a competitive education and learn that using the word “Ain’t” was not acceptable in the competitive corporate world.  We fought for a competitive education and the right to vote in order to right the wrongs.  I WILL vote!

Rhetoric is cheap. BLM threatens to give the presidency to Donald Trump. Why? I am amazed at how gullible some people are to the unfounded promises uttered by this individual. He promises jobs but he makes products abroad and sells them to consumers in America. How will providing jobs abroad “make America great”?  He can begin by bringing those jobs to America, and assure that ”Made in America” is on all of his products.  As a businessman, carefully scrutinize his business record and his tax return (which he refuses to release).

He speaks of diversity but uses the terminology “my African-American“ which to me equates to the slogan, “My Nigger,” so frequently used in my youth. 

Donald Trump uses negative slogans, personal insults, and exhibits totally unprofessional, crass behavior, unrepresentative of the values taught us as children.  How could any self-respecting African-American, knowledgeable of our ancestral history, threaten to vote for a self-aggrandizement individual who exhibits such unethical behavior?  We should not jump from the frying pan into the fire.  This is not a game of marbles between children. This is a serious world event which will impact the future of every human being on this earth, especially those of minority ethnic background.

I ask those who thought the Democratic inclusion of mothers of slain Black men was just “political theater”, what did the Republicans do to indicate the importance of this issue?  How did they show the seriousness of the Black Lives Matter movement?  News reports indicate “BLM Threatens to Hand Trump the Presidency”.   Why?  What has he done to earn it? This is not a TV show. This is survival.   I sincerely hope that self-grandiose individuals will not be successful in spewing their venom and preying on the sensibilities of the uninformed.

I WILL vote, and I urge every eligible voter to become adequately informed, VOTE, and Don’t Forget The Bridges That Brought Us Over!

Obituary: Robert Carl Hill, Jr.

Robert Carl Hill, Jr.

Robert Carl Hill, Jr.

Robert Carl Hill, Jr. of Highland passed away on Tuesday, August 2, 2016.  He was employed by the County of San Bernardino for many years.  His next career was spent at Fedco as supervisor of the maintenance crew, something he did while he worked as owner/CEO of Red-Leg Building Maintenance Company.  He retired in 1999.

Robert is survived by his wife, Margaret Hill; children, Jacqueline D. Hill, Anner Minette Hinds and Robert C. Hill, III; sisters Beverly McCabe and Linda Austin; brother Michael Austin; six grandchildren, nine great-grandchildren, Uncle Jimmy Jimmerson, cousins, nieces, nephews, and friends.  He was preceded in death by his parents, Cornelius & Alma Ruth Austin; brothers John Hill, Cornelius Austin, Jr. & Darrell Austin; and granddaughter Najah Hill.

A Night of Reflection will be Friday, August 12, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Community Hospital of San Bernardino, Henderson Auditorium.  A Memorial Service will be held Saturday, August 13, beginning at 2 p.m. at the Norman Feldheym Library.

In lieu of flowers, please make donations to the Robert Carl Hill, Jr. Diabetic Scholarship Fund, c/o Maggie’s Kids Foundation, P.O. Box 705, Patton, CA   92369-0705.

Elections 2016: Can the Power of the Black Vote Make Black Lives Matter?

Activists Debate Boycotting Clinton, Police Violence and the Possibility of a Trump Presidency

By Manny Otiko/ California Black Media

Democrats attending their party’s  convention last week in Philadelphia were moved to tears, rounds of applause and a standing ovation when nine mothers of Black men slain by police brutality and racially motivated attacks took the stage. 

“The majority of police officers are good people doing a good job,” said Lucia McBath, the mother of 17-year-old Jordan Davis, who was killed by Michael Dunn, a 45-year-old White male in Jacksonville, Fla.,  after a tense argument at a gas station.

“We’re going to keep using our voices and our votes to support leaders like Hillary Clinton, who will help us protect one another so that this club of heartbroken mothers stops growing,” said  Mcbath.   The mothers of Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland, Michael Brown and other men and women who were killed by police or died from gun violence joined McBath  on stage.

Many who attended the convention or watched that heartfelt moment around the country at home viewed the inclusion of “the mothers of the movement” as a signal that the Democratic party is taking the concerns of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement seriously.

But for some that emotional moment on television was just political theater – too simple a gesture with little or no real or lasting impact.  

Hank Newsome, a New York-based attorney and self-described “Black Lives Matter Activist,” is threatening to boycott the presidential elections, unless the Democratic Party takes more and immediate action on police violence.

He and other activists recently  launched the “I Ain’t Voting” campaign to express their anger at the Democratic Party, threatening to persuade Blacks to not vote in 2016.

Black Americans, he says, have a rare chance right now  to collectively demand action from the  Democratic Party –  or at least insist that some of their priorities be included in the party’s 2016 platform  or future policy plans.

“Hey, if you don’t give us criminal justice reform, we’ll give the country to Donald Trump. That’ll send the Democrats into a frenzy. Black lives will matter then, I guarantee you,” said Newsome in an interview with the BBC.

Newsome and a group of other African-American activists protested at both the Democratic National Convention this week and the Republican National Convention before that in Cleveland.

Newsome is not the first to call for African Americans to withhold their votes. Political pundit Tavis Smiley has suggested numerous times that Black Americans should sit out an election to get the Democrats’ attention.

Other activists view the idea of Blacks not voting – or boycotting the 2016 elections in particular – differently.

Dr. Melina Abdullah, for example, who is one of the founders of Black Lives Matter, admits she supports neither Clinton nor Trump. She describes the standard bearers of the two major parties as “corporate candidates” whose positions on issues can be influenced by powerful meg- donors.

She says the BLM movement does not plan to endorse either candidate. If Clinton is the eventual winner of the presidential election, though, she says BLM will continue to demand she pushes for  police reforms.

Unlike Newsome, Abdullah is urging African Americans to get out and vote in November.

“A lot of Black folk say people died for this,” said Abdullah, who is also  professor of Pan-African studies at California State University Los Angeles. “It (voting) is a way of honoring my ancestors.”

Although Abdullah says she respects the right of people who chose to sit out, she plans to cast her vote in November and says she also votes in every election.

For Earl Ofari Hutchinson, a Los Angeles-based political analyst and writer, Newsome’s “I Ain’t Voting “campaign is “unrealistic.”

“It’s the height of political naivety,” said Hutchinson. “The stakes are far too high for that kind of pox-on-both-of-your-houses attitude.”

Black Americans vote overwhelmingly for Democratic candidates. If many of them don’t turn out on Election Day – especially in states that have a tendency to vote either Republican or Democrat  like Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio and North Carolina – that could greatly affect Clinton’s chance of winning.

Hutchinson said that instead of sitting out the election, Black voters should get engaged and lobby politicians to take action.

“The better strategy is to organize, educate, and mobilize among young persons about the importance of political engagement to pressure the Dems, local elected officials, and others for police and criminal justice reform,” Hutchinson said. “That can’t happen if you disengage from the process.”

Whether they support the possibility of an African-American boycott of the 2016 elections or not, most Black political activists are extremely critical of Trump and at least ambivalent about a Clinton presidency.

Abdullah calls the billionaire businessman “oppressive on every level.”

“He’s a raving lunatic, fascist and a blatant racist,” she describe Trump.

But she is no fan of Clinton’s either. She described the first female nominee of a major political party in the United States a “war hawk” and pointed out that  Clinton supported domestic policies that expanded the criminalization of Black men and spurred the growth of  the prison industrial complex.

Hutchison says there are more than enough valid criticisms of both candidates to go around, but sitting out the 2016 election is not a beneficial move.

He warned BLM activists about the dangers of boycotting the 2016 election and handing victory to Trump.

“A Trump win will mean stepped up repression of BLM by police forces emboldened by a Trump win, fewer protests, more arrests and convictions,” Hutchinson said. “However, remember BLM is hardly the only or first to organize, mobilize, and make demands for police reform and accountability. That fight has been waged by civil rights groups from the NAACP to my group and civil rights activists for years and will continue.”