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Member since: Sun Aug 17, 2003, 11:39 PM
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Hillary Campaigns One More Day in Iowa at Fruit Company and Meeting at State Capitol


Hillary Clinton greets workers at Capital City Fruit Company in Norwalk, Iowa - April 15, 2015 (Barbara Kinney for Hillary for America)

Norwalk, Ia. – Owners of Iowa small businesses told Hillary Clinton on Wednesday that problems they face include taxes that are too restrictive, an immigration system that doesn't allow them to hire workers they need, and health insurance expenses that continue to increase too much...

Iowa was Clinton's first destination after she declared her candidacy on Sunday. On the second day of a two-day trip, her campaign organized a roundtable discussion staged in a warehouse at Capital City Fruit, a supply chain manager of fresh fruits and vegetables based in the suburban Des Moines city of Norwalk.

"We need to be, we have to be, No. 1 again," she said. "Slowly over time it's become more difficult — more expensive, more red tape, unnecessary regulations that have really put a damper."

Clinton also expressed concern about the high cost of prescription drugs, especially for those with rare medical conditions.

"We need to drive a harder bargain negotiating with drug companies about the costs of drugs," she said, noting the "height of ironies" that medications developed in the United States are often sold more cheaply overseas.

http://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/elections/presidential/caucus/2015/04/15/clinton-unnecessary-regulations-thwart-business-growth/25837195/



(Barbara Kinney for Hillary for America)

New business owners also talked about how student debt impacts their business and personal finances.

Surrounded by crates of tomatoes, strawberries and oranges, Hillary Clinton stepped into a huge warehouse for a small gathering to talk about how to jump start small businesses.

Bryce Smith owns the Family Fun Center in Adel. He was one of the business owners selected to talk with Clinton. Smith said young people can't start businesses with so much student debt, one of Clinton's big issues.

"That's a real barrier. We need to tackle student debt. I'm grateful to you for your insight no one else has," said Clinton.

read: http://www.kcci.com/news/clinton-wraps-up-iowa-tour-today/32378506



Kelsey Kremer/The Register

Clinton vowed to try “to build on what works in the Affordable Care Act” and said she would look into health care providers competing across states in a free-market system.

“It would be interesting to find out why in Iowa, a well-established company like yours is being asked to pay so much more for a private plan,” she told Brendan Comito, who owns a fruit distributor and complained that his premiums have risen by 13 percent over one year.

“I will defend those important changes in the Affordable Care Act because of somebody like you, Jennifer,” she told Jennifer Hansen, the owner of a small boutique, who revealed she was diagnosed with breast cancer last year.

On immigration , she said, “We are really missing out on economic opportunity because we haven’t been able to agree on comprehensive immigration reform.”

read: http://www.politico.com/story/2015/04/hillary-clinton-iowa-campaign-trail-policy-agenda-117005.html



Kelsey Kremer/The Register

In an hour-long “conversation” with small-business leaders in Norwalk, a suburb of capital city Des Moines, Clinton ticked off several core issues that now ignite liberals. She pledged to take on low wages, unequal pay for women and immigration reform, as well as tackle an economic deck that she said was “still stacked in favor of those at the top” – and even the US supreme court on marriage equality.

Above all, the former secretary of state attached her name firmly to Barack Obama’s signature legislation, the Affordable Care Act, apparently unperturbed that Republicans intend to make Obamacare a major lever of their attack against the eventual Democratic nominee – whomever that will be – in the 2016 presidential election.

“I am committed to building on what works in the Act because 16 million people now have insurance who didn’t have it,” she said.

Clinton delivered her remarks inside a cooling shed at a fruit distribution firm in Norwalk, surrounded by ripening objects – tomatoes on one side of her, members of the American media on the other. She appeared to be relaxing into the new role of a low-key candidate of the left, as high on domestic street cred as diplomatic frequent-flier miles, which Team Clinton has carefully built up around her since a formal campaign launch on Sunday.

read: http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/apr/15/hillary-clinton-iowa-progressive-voters-wage-inequality-gay-marriage-healthcare



Hillary Clinton posing with Iowa House and Senate pages, clerks and a few others at the Iowa Capitol on Wednesday, April 15.(Eric Bakker/Special to the Register)

Hillary Clinton stopped by the Iowa Capitol to meet privately with Democratic lawmakers Wednesday afternoon, but about 150 people were waiting to meet her when she entered the building.

"I think she touched on a lot of good general points of an overall vision for America," said Rep. Bruce Hunter, D-Des Moines. "I know that the speculation was that she didn't really want to come to Iowa eight years ago, but just from her demeanor today I think that she's glad to be here, was listening to what we had to say, and so we'll see where it goes."

Clinton stopped to talk with onlookers only briefly as she entered the building, taking a moment to snap a photo with five-year-old Silas Mueller who was wearing a Raygun t-shirt that said "Iowa: Wave the next time you fly over."

His mom, Carrie Miller of Grimes, said in 20 years they would look back on that photo.

"I'll say that my son took his picture with the first woman president, which is very cool," Miller said. "That's why we came today."

read: http://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/elections/presidential/caucus/2015/04/15/hillary-clinton-iowa-visit/25815175/


Simpson College junior MacKenzie Bills shakes hands with Democrat Hillary Clinton Wednesday, April 15, 2015, as Clinton makes a stop at the Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines, Iowa. (Michael Zamora/The Register)


After her gathering with small-business owners before the cameras, Clinton held a closed-door meeting with Democratic members of the Iowa general assembly at the state capitol. She gave what one attendee described to the Guardian as “a very progressive speech”, re-emphasizing her liberal talking points on immigration reform and getting money out of politics but also “listening a lot and being humble”.

“She was introduced and received more as the nominee” than as a candidate, said the attendee, who asked to remain anonymous – and noted that former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley, seen as Clinton’s most legitimate challenger from the left, did not get the same kind of attention when he spoke to Democratic legislators just a week ago.

read: http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/apr/15/hillary-clinton-iowa-progressive-voters-wage-inequality-gay-marriage-healthcare


(Barbara Kinney for Hillary for America)


related:

Hillary Kicks Off Campaign With Roundtable at Kirkwood Community College
http://www.democraticunderground.com/10026508519

more Hillary campaign photos: https://www.flickr.com/photos/hillaryclinton/



bigtree sidebar:

One thing that I want to make clear about this 'photo essay' (and others) I've put together for this campaign season is that these aren't necessarily an endorsement of what's reported in the articles or approval of statements or remarks of candidates I choose to highlight. In the Obama/Clinton matchup, for instance, while I supported Hillary in that race (my fourth choice in that election), I also posted similar photo/article essays for Barack Obama. In this primary, I'm leaning toward Martin O'Malley, but I hope to share several more of these types of daily news posts featuring other announced candidates.

Hillary Kicks Off Campaign With Roundtable at Kirkwood Community College


Hillary Rodham Clinton, with Kirkwood Community College President Mick Starcevich, participates in a roundtable with educators and students at the Kirkwood Community College's Jones County Regional Center, Tuesday, April 14, 2015, in Monticello, Iowa. Charlie Neibergall/AP


MONTICELLO, Iowa – Democrat Hillary Clinton, at the first official event of her presidential campaign, spelled out the ideas that she said will be at the heart of her campaign.

"I want to be the champion who goes to bat for Americans in four big areas," she told four students and three educators at a roundtable staged in an automotive technology classroom at a community college...

"We need to build the economy of tomorrow, not yesterday," she said, as a handpicked audience of 20 and about 60 reporters looked on. "We need to strengthen families and communities because that's where it all starts.

"And we need to fix the dysfunctional political system and get unaccountable money out of it once and for all, even if that takes a constitutional amendment," she said. "And we need to protect our country from threats that we see and the ones that are on the horizon. So I'm here in Iowa to begin a conversation about how we do that."

“I want my granddaughter to have every opportunity, but I want every child to have every opportunity,” she said. “That’s one of the main reasons that I decided to run — because, believe me, I know that it’s not going to be easy, that I’m going to have to work hard to earn every single vote and get every caucusgoer I can round up to show up next February. But I just felt like I couldn’t walk away from what I see as the challenges we face. I want to build on what we’ve done to get out of the terrible recession and get back on our feet. We have to run the race.”

read more: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/elections/2015/04/14/hillary-clinton-iowa/25777397/



Hillary Clinton smiles after speaking with Kirkwood Community College student Andrew Lorimer in the Auto Tech Lab of the college's satellite campus in Monticello, Iowa. Michael Zamora/The Register


The Democratic presidential hopeful kicked off the roundtable with a few remarks. The upshot? She's a huge fan of Kirkwood's approach to dual enrollment and the opportunities it gives students to get actual workforce skills. "The cooperation between the college and the high school is something I want to see a whole lot more of," Clinton said.

And she talked up her past record on education and children's issues. (Read more about it here.) "I've been fighting for children and families my entire adult life," she said. She talked about her early work with the Children's Defense Fund, going door-to-door and trying to figure out if students with disabilities had access to the kinds of services they needed.

"I do agree ... that we have to do more to open up our education system so that we are meeting individual students where they are and where they could be with the right motivation," she said. "I do think we have to have accountability measures, but not at the expense of individualized learning that has to go on."

And when it comes to the NCLB law (that's right, the law actually came up at this very early campaign event) Clinton said, "We've learned what works and what doesn't work so well." The challenge now: "How we take a system that has so much potential and has produced so many positive outcomes for so many people .. instead of arguing about education."

read more: http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/campaign-k-12/2015/04/hillary_clinton_talks_college-.html



Rick Wilking/Reuters

Democrat Hillary Clinton blasted executive pay and tax rates for hedge-fund managers on Tuesday, using the first stop of her low-key campaign rollout in Iowa to highlight her promise to help Americans struggling toward economic recovery.

"There is something wrong when hedge fund managers pay lower tax rates than nurses or the truckers that I saw on I-80 as I was driving here over the last two days," Clinton said, perched on a stiff metal chair in the automotive shop of a community college.

Clinton also repeated her concerns, first voiced on Sunday, that chief executives make 300 times more than the average worker, and sympathized with students discussing the high cost of a college education.

"People are struggling," Clinton said at Kirkwood Community College. "I want to stand up and fight for people so they can not just get by, but they can get ahead and stay ahead."

read: http://news.yahoo.com/clinton-unfair-fund-managers-pay-lower-tax-rate-212808340.html

watch on c-span: http://www.c-span.org/video/?325353-1/hillary-clinton-education-roundtable-iowa


Tuesday was the first day of organized events for Clinton's campaign. On the way to her community college event, Clinton, her staff and a small number of pooled press stopped for a prearranged visit to Jones St. Java House in Le Claire, Iowa.


Charlie Neibergall/AP

Clinton greeted a few patrons in the coffee shop and spoke about the long, cold winter, according to reports from the small pool of reporters who were allowed by the campaign to attend the event.

She was met by Mayor Robert Scannell of Le Claire, his wife and Jeff Williams, husband of the coffee shop's co-owner and a small business owner.

Clinton ordered two drinks: a masala chai and a caramallow latte, and also asked for a cup of water with lemon.

Clinton, according to an aide, met with three Iowans at the coffee shop: Sara Sedlacek, a Planned Parenthood employee, Austin Bird, a student at St. Ambrose University, and Carter Bell, president of the University of Iowa College Democrats.

The newly minted presidential candidate, who needs to perform well in Iowa to dispense with negative memories of her 2008 campaign, joked with staff that she is going to "drink my way across Iowa."

read: http://www.kcci.com/politics/clintons-iowa-campaign-starts-in-a-coffee-shop/32362268

watch: http://www.reuters.com/video/2015/04/14/hillary-clinton-orders-chai-and-water-wi?videoId=363853581&videoChannel=1003


Michael Zamora/The Register


bigtree sidebar:

This is the first 'photo essay' I've put together for this campaign season. One thing that I want to make clear is that these aren't necessarily an endorsement of what's reported in the articles or approval of statements or remarks of candidates I choose to highlight. In the Obama/Clinton matchup, for instance, while I supported Hillary in that race (my fourth choice in that election), I also posted similar photo/article essays for Barack Obama. In this primary, I'm leaning toward Martin O'Malley, but I hope to share several more of these types of posts featuring other announced candidates.

Definitions and Solutions for White Privilege

I've read several threads which are asking for 'solutions' and suggestions on ways to address the issue of 'white privilege' in America. These are certainly important questions worthy of consideration and debate. I hesitate to express even small criticisms of characterizations of what white privilege means - most often with these definitions coming from white individuals, which isn't something I feel is damning or seriously inappropriate. That said, I do feel it's much more important to listen to the expressions of non-white individuals who feel subject to negative aspects and consequences of disparities in treatment, opportunity, or other realities of our existence in society.

Of course, while correctly pointing to the sometimes condescending or subjugating attitudes of some white people toward black individuals, it should be remembered that there are also stereotypes made and perpetuated against white Americans. The difference, of course, is the consequence in a majority white society in which black people are regularly discriminated against, judged, repressed, or attacked in a disproportionate measure by many in that white majority. Still, we should refrain from assuming these patronizing and subservient attitudes are universal and inherent in all white individuals; just as it's imperative to refrain from stereotyping black individuals.

Many black Americans, myself included, grapple with the way racism is so ingrained in all of our everyday insecurities about ourselves and others; and how its almost impossible for black Americans today to put aside those insecurities when so many perceptions of us and so many actions and attitudes of us are still so negatively skewed in ways which allow whites opportunities to define black lives outside of the boundaries of opportunity, acceptance, and understanding that they afford their own.

I had the opportunity to illustrate this to a former white soldier who had experienced verbal abuse upon his return home. He regularly characterized blacks who had run afoul of the law as 'thugs' and 'criminals' and I asked him to put himself in their place by questioning whether he thought he had served honorably and was a good soldier. When he replied in the affirmative, I pointed out that he was able to remove his uniform and avoid the stereotyping that had motivated the people castigating him for his service; but that blacks had no way of removing their 'uniform' or changing the color of their skin which compels so many to associate them with the worst our society has historically labeled our race with.

Point is, we need to avoid entering into interactions with each other assuming the worst of what we believe or assume about each other. It's, perhaps, naive and disarming, but that's the only way we'll be able to move beyond these barriers of perception; on either side of the racial divide. Easier said, then done, I know - but, we can all do our part to push past these artificial and contrived images of ourselves. Our national history has affirmed this possibility. There's no reason at all to second-guess ourselves or become overly cynical about our respective intentions now.

What I'd really like to express here is that it's not reasonable to expect black Americans to respond to acts of racism directed toward them - or to racism directed toward other black Americans which has been highlighted recently with the increased profile of disproportionate killings of black individuals at the hands of white law enforcement officers - with an analytical focus on solutions; solutions like engendering trust between police and our community. It just seems, to me, strange to expect that black Americans should be expected to generate attitudes like trust, acceptance, understanding, or respect in white individuals harboring the worst of instincts, beliefs, or fears toward their black counterparts.

The reaction which has come from Ferguson residents to the killing of Mike Brown by Officer Darren Wilson, for example, has been more of an expression of anger and frustration, than an overall petition for redress. That's not to say that there aren't specific demands for justice associated with the protests. There are detailed and enumerated demands for justice coming from that very organized community of individuals.

However, there's also a conscious and deliberate effort to make the community uncomfortable in their daily lives and livelihoods in an attempt to transfer some of the angst and frustration black residents feel to the consciousness of white citizens who are not likely subject to the same level of abuses and injustices which have led to far too many killings by authorities and other violence directed disproportionately against the black community. That deliberate transference of angst is what I would consider a natural reaction toward injustice; more than I would expect victims to reflexively concern themselves with persuading white officials and authorities to trust or treat them equitably.

We are, after all, imbued with as much personal pride and self-respect as the next person. We don't necessarily regard ourselves as subservient to anyone else's prerogative or initiative in every interaction. We should expect that we would be treated equitably in our interactions with others; in our interactions with authorities. It's perfectly understandable that we would act defensively when we are not, and we all know that defensiveness isn't always rational or accommodating.

I'll attempt some rationality in my response to the issue of institutionalized racism and offer some solution...

One of the remedies I'd suggest in response to advantages (and disadvantages for black individuals) which come with white privilege would be the elevation of more black individuals to positions of authority in businesses and institutions which confer or arbitrate rights which come into question. Since that occurrence is, in and of itself, leveraged and dependent on an equitable system of judgment and opportunity, the problems and neglect in providing those rights is likely to persist.

For centuries, the realities of patronage, wealth, and political power have been impediments to social changes which would level the playing field for minorities and blacks in America. Yet, these are only a part of the privileges afforded white individuals, as blacks often find that even these advantages fail to insulate them from denial of opportunities and protection from discrimination at all levels of interaction with society.

Racism certainly isn't practiced today like it was when slurs, slights, and outright discrimination were allowed to flourish under the umbrella of segregation and Jim Crow. But, it has still been used by some, over the years since the dismantling of that institutionalized racism, to manipulate and control the level of access and acceptability of blacks in a white-dominated political system. Open racism hasn't been in fashion for decades, but the fear and insecurities which underlie discrimination and prejudice still compel some to draw lines of distinction between black and white aspirations and potential for success. What is often unspoken is the reluctance some Americans have in envisioning blacks in a position to make decisions for a white majority, resulting in attempt to set boundaries and define the roles blacks must assume to achieve success and approval.

The gains blacks have made in our political institutions have not kept pace with even the incremental gains which have occurred in the workplace, for example. We may well have an abundance of black CEOs, military officers, business owners, doctors, lawyers and other professionals. However, Americans have yet to support and establish blacks in our political institutions with a regularity we could celebrate as 'colorblindness.' And, to be fair, not even many blacks would likely agree that we've moved past a point where race should be highlighted (if not overtly emphasized), in our political deliberations and considerations.

I watched and listened as the highest official in the country, a black man, responded to the Eric Garner decision against prosecution of the officer involved by raising concerns over 'trust.' Trust in our justice system; trust in police practices; is such a remote and unlikely possibility to me right now that I'm almost ready to just tune the those sentiments out from any public official or officer who purports to speak down to me from their positions of authority and influence.

Yet, there was something refreshingly direct in President Obama's statement which, perhaps, wasn't made as clear in the snippets offered along with news reports of the non-indictment of the cop filmed committing what was ruled a homicide, a murder of Eric Garner, by the city coroner. There was something in his statement which finally connected with my own thoughts and determination. The president used the word, "accountability," to buttress his concern about Americans "being treated equally under the law."

"I'm absolutely committed as president of the United States to making sure that we have a country in which everyone believes in the core principle that we are equal under the law," President Obama said at the White House Tribal Nations Conference.

"We are not going to let up until we see a strengthening of the trust and a strengthening of the accountability that exists between our communities and our law enforcement," he continued.

"When anybody in this country is not being treated equally under the law, that's a problem. It's incumbent on all of us as Americans ...that we recognize that this is an American problem and not just a black problem. It is an American problem when anybody in this country is not being treated equally under the law."

That sentiment, so eloquently expressed, I believe, is directly on point. To me, there is nothing short of accountability from these police officers and police departments which will assuage my concern and commitment. I don't see any way that 'trust' will ever be achieved without a clear avenue for accountability, both within the institutions and from our courts. Standards, training, and even cameras on officers are essentially meaningless without accountability for the actions of these officers and officials of the law. In the case of Eric Garner, strangleholds were already against police policy, and it's clear that filming the killing did little to effect accountability and justice for the assailant.

Moreover, there really isn't any provision of law which mandates 'trust' - or even understanding, or respect for each other - as a condition of our rights to equal treatment under the law. Those are certainly fine aspirations, but our rights are inherent in the Constitution which (improbably, at the time of its inception) asserts that we are all created equal. That's where our rights are drawn from, not from any expectation that we love or respect each other before they are administered fairly.

The only way to ensure proper management of departments and policy is for individuals employed to 'protect and serve' to fear for their own liberty or job security if they violate provisions or laws in their duties. There's far too much comfort in these police departments and impunity in the actions of their officers, creating an authoritarian atmosphere where officers feel safe in using excessive force without repercussions or serious rebuke.

That effort is going to require individuals in positions of power who respect those rights and who are committed to enforcing them. There's really nothing less which will bring about the changes many want to see in the disposition of these rights. The law is where our protests and demands originate and reside; the rest of those aspirations should flow from that demonstrated understanding of equal treatment in any legal reprimand from police or adjudication in court. We begin with our demands and exercise every instigation of democracy (and civil disobedience) to achieve them.

I believe we're long past the point where blacks need to prove their worth to anyone to expect equal justice under the law. We need to force the system to adhere to justice, to respect our rights, no quarter. That effort isn't always going to be rational, accommodating, or solution based. We're only human, and there are consequences which can arise from angering a people or backing them into a corner. I don't expect the black community to stand still or just genuflect in the face of oppression. If the white community is uncomfortable with that, perhaps it's time to consider how they're going to modify the ways they interact with the black community. If not, perhaps they'd better buckle up, it's going to be a bumpy ride.

Official White House Photos from this weekend's Easter Egg Roll

In Pictures: The White House Easter Egg Roll

President Obama and the First Lady welcomed more than 35,000 guests to the South Lawn of the White House for the 137th annual White House Easter Egg Roll. This year’s theme was #GimmeFive to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the First Lady’s Let’s Move! initiative. Take a look at the big day in photos:




President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama take photos at the Instagram #GimmeFive photo booth in the East Room prior to the Easter Egg Roll. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)




The First Lady and the Easter Bunny listen to ID4GiRLS sing the national anthem. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)




Children rush through the open gate in search of eggs. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)




President Obama blows a whistle to begin the Egg Roll. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)




The President and First Lady cheer on Egg Roll participants. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)




President Obama reads “Where the Wild Things Are” to children. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)




The President high-fives children after reading to them. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)




President Obama participates in drills during a basketball clinic. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)




The President talks to a little girl playing with her shadow on the basketball court. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)




The President reacts to a tennis shot. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)




The First Lady reads Dr. Seuss’s “Oh the Things You Can Do That are Good for You!” to children. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)




A young girl listens as the First Lady reads. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)



full set of pics (larger images)

related:

Obamas Celebrate Annual Easter Egg Roll at White House (pics)
http://www.democraticunderground.com/10026466632

Joni Mitchell: My Heart and Soul


____I've been a fan of Joni Mitchell since I was about 11 years old; more so in my teenage years. I used to lie on the hot grey slate by our swimming pool in our suburban neighborhood our family had exiled to a few years after the D.C. riots following the killing of MLK and listen to her and James Taylor croon together on 'You Got a Friend.' I'd listen for hours to our local AM radio station, WINX, with F.Scott Fitzgerald buried in the church next door to their studio, on my transistor radio as they played 'Big Yellow Taxi' over, and over, and over again in between songs by artists like Carole King, Credence Clearwater Revival, and Bill Withers. Almost every song swirled in my adolescent head, feeding my summer daydreams and adding texture and pattern to my childhood crushes.

We had a local alternative radio station at the other end of our town in Bethesda, Md. which was a natural extension of the two head shops, 'Good Stuff' and 'Marco Polo,' where I bought my chamber pipes, strawberry-flavored rolling papers (and the little hand roller), water pipes and bongs, and my first LSD from some stranger in the back of the shop of Marco Polo on a huge waterbed they had on display surrounded by blacklights, lava lamps, and beads hung from the doorways. WHFS featured amazing DJs like Damien (his dad, Jacob Einstein, was general mgr.), Weasel, Cerphe, and others, and broadcasted the D.C. area's first FM station's tunes from 'high atop the Triangle Towers' building directly across the street from the Psyche Dell, a tiny but amazing bar and beer store which featured bands on the weekends like the 'Nighthawks,' 'Evan John and the H-Bombs,' and 'Root Boy Slim' on the weekends.

Damien or Weasel would intersperse all of the great Joni songs throughout their sets and they became a natural part of the fabric of my hippie-wannabe life. I remember one particular night in my room listening to HFS in a half-sleep while tripping on some weak acid and I was dreaming I was in a small church courtyard and saw a young nun in full habit come out of the stone building's massive wooden door with her head down and her hands folded before her. She lifted her head to the sky and began to sing 'Woodstock'...

I came upon a child of God
He was walking along the road
And I asked him, where are you going
And this he told me
I'm going on down to Yasgur's farm
I'm going to join in a rock 'n' roll band
I'm going to camp out on the land
I'm going to try an' get my soul free
We are stardust
We are golden
And we've got to get ourselves
Back to the garden


Now standing in the middle of the small yard littered with gravestones and flowers, she continued...

Then can I walk beside you
I have come here to lose the smog
And I feel to be a cog in something turning
Well maybe it is just the time of year
Or maybe it's the time of man
I don't know who l am
But you know life is for learning
We are stardust
We are golden
And we've got to get ourselves
Back to the garden


At the end of the song (in my acid-addled dreamstate) she folded her head and slowly walked back into the stone church and closed the great door behind her. I woke completely convinced I had witnessed something divine and miraculous and was forever smitten by Joni's beautiful song which she later said she wrote for her then-boyfriend, Graham Nash, as consolation for not being able to attend the historic gathering in NY.. The song still haunts me with the image of that nun and that iron-gated church.

I was something of a JD in my youth; a petty thief, an opportunistic vandal, and an inveterate pothead. Many of my days were spent taking off in someone's car into the countryside, barefoot with our bongs and guitars, to some green field, some crop of rocks, or some comfortable woods to sit in a circle and pass the pipe around. I was a peaceful soul, but I could also be a rouge and a hopelessly misbehaving scamp.

I recall one day when I was out of weed and the only person in sight in our unbearably quiet neighborhood was a quirky, small kid who I had witnessed other more devious and corrupt acquaintances than myself take advantage of when he had weed or money to buy some. I had him all to myself that day and I was determined to have my own way with the unfortunate fellow and convinced him to take me to his house where I hoped to either steal something or get him to give up money for some pot... or anything I could gain.

We went down to a lower room in his house and I noticed a really nice stereo in the corner and I spotted Joni Mitchell's live album, 'Miles of Aisles,' stacked against the wall. I couldn't resist and asked if I could put it on the turntable. Like I said, I had brought this fellow to his house to take full advantage of someone I thought was a rube and beneath me. I had found a bottle of liquor and had it secreted away in my jacket as I put the record on to play. When the record began to play, something incredible happened. I had never heard anything so beautiful in my life and the words and music cut right through my heart and soul.

There I was, posturing as a toughie; a bully, an impossible cad; and this music was stripping away that absurd veneer with every sweet note and every gentle chord. I started to cry...not just cry, but actually weep uncontrollably, right there where I stood. It was all I could do to keep this kid from seeing my tears. I was, all at once, embarrassed and disarmed by the sweetness of the sounds coming from the stereo. I put the bottle of booze back where I found it, apologized to the fellow, and hurried away, completely ashamed of myself and transformed back into my natural state of peace and love that I had obviously gleaned from the gentle music of my time which featured Joni Mitchell as its heart and soul.

I still get a tear thinking back on that day; still recall my utter stupidity and chagrin, vividly, when I put on my own 'Miles of Aisles' album and hear those songs like it was yesterday all over again...

Blue, songs are like tattoos
You know I've been to sea before
Crown and anchor me or let me sail away

Hey blue, there is a song for you
Ink on a pin underneath the skin
An empty space to fill in

Well, there's so many sinking now
You've got to keep thinking
You can make it through these waves

Acid, booze and ass
Needles, guns and grass
Lots of laughs, lots of laughs

Everybody's saying that Hell's the hippest way to go
Well, I don't think so but I'm gonna take a look around it though
Blue, I love you

Blue, here is a shell for you
Inside you'll hear a sigh, a foggy lullaby
There is your song from me

Power Of Mischief - Into War

...from a book I put together in 2004, reposting on this twelfth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq.


Power Of Mischief - Into War

Our nation enters this conflict reluctantly -- yet, our purpose is sure. The people of the United States and our friends and allies will not live at the mercy of an outlaw regime that threatens the peace with weapons of mass murder.
~President Bush officially announces the start of the attack on Iraq, March 19, 2003


More than 140 years ago, Lincoln sought to reassure a gathered group of faithful that he would not take them to war to end the scourge of slavery in declaring that there would be "no bloodshed unless it be forced upon the Government, and then it will be compelled to act in self-defense. "Shortly thereafter, he would nonetheless, lead the country into war to, as he proclaimed, ". . . to maintain the honor, the integrity, and the existence of the National Union, and the perpetuity of popular government; and to redress wrongs (of slavery) already long enough endured."

In his inaugural, President Bush wasted no time, after a quick nod to the "noble" surrender of his rival Gore, to declare that in his view America was, ". . . one of a new world that became a friend and liberator of the old, a story of a slave-holding society that became a servant of freedom, the story of a power that went into the world to protect but not possess, to defend but not to conquer."

In two years however, he would abandon all restraint and warning to zealously persuade an insecure nation to engage in a war with Iraq; admonishing Americans that the "peace of a troubled world and the hopes of an oppressed people" now depended on them. He sought to reassure a skeptical opposition and world community in his declaration that he had no ambition to possess Iraq. He proclaimed: "We come to Iraq with respect for its citizens, for their great civilization and for the religious faiths they practice. We have no ambition in Iraq, except to remove a threat and restore control of that country to its own people."

So dubious was the threat posed by Iraq, so tenuous was the distinction between the enemy and those "oppressed" who were to be liberated, that President Bush was compelled to profess respect "for Iraq's citizens, for their "great civilization" and for the "religious faiths they practice," and at the same time, scorn them as enemies who had "no regard for conventions of war or rules of morality."

Lincoln's justification for war did not require any rhetorical hedge. He insisted that in his opposition to slavery, an adherence to the principles of liberty and individual rights which are embodied in the Declaration of Independence, would more than provide for the preservation of the Union.

"In my hands," he spoke, "is the task of restoring peace to the present distracted condition of the country. It was not the mere matter of the separation of the Colonies from the motherland," he said, "but that sentiment in the Declaration of Independence which gave liberty, not alone to the people of this country, but, I hope, to the world, for all future time."

"It was that," Lincoln continued, "which gave promise that in due time the weight would be lifted from the shoulders of all men."

But, our current president's war was not waged in defense of any lofty ideals of democracy or liberty. This war with Iraq was the invention of a banished ruling class - enriched by the selling of the influence of their positions in government - who had nursed their broken ambitions in exile, and had instinctively constructed their sympathetic webs of wealth to obstruct the remedies of the reformers and hatch the next generation of world capitalists who would inherit the patronage of the next conservative presidency.

The invasion of Iraq was a clumsy attempt by President Bush to usurp the power from a vanquished nation of innocents; a suffering class of people who were already devastated by the bombing of the first war, and by the economic sanctions imposed by the U.N. at the insistence of the U.S., which served to enrich Saddam Hussein and steadily impoverish and starve everyone else.

This administration pulled the nation into war to compensate for, and to draw attention from, their failure to apprehend the ringleader of the attack on the World Trade Center. President Bush made the appeal to the nation in a manner which exploited our deepest fears as he warned the nation about the potential for a future Iraqi assault on our country, or on our allies, of a magnitude that would far exceed the devastation of the horrendous suicide attack in New York.

President Bush claimed that: "Iraq is (was) expanding and improving facilities that were used for the production of biological weapons; Iraq has stockpiled biological and chemical weapons; is rebuilding the facilities used to make more of those weapons; Saddam Hussein recently authorized Iraqi field commanders to use chemical weapons; It is seeking nuclear weapons; Iraq is reconstituting its nuclear weapons program; the regime has produced thousands of tons of chemical agents, including mustard gas, sabin nerve gas, VX nerve gas; Iraq has a growing fleet of manned and unmanned aerial vehicles that could be used to disperse chemical or biological weapons across broad areas; Iraq is exploring ways of using these UAVS for missions targeting the United States; Iraq is rebuilding facilities at sites that have been part of its nuclear program in the past; Iraq has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes for gas centrifuges, used to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons."

"Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised," President Bush warned the nation.

"The regime has a history of reckless aggression in the Middle East," President Bush counseled. "It has a deep hatred of America and our friends and it has aided, trained and harbored terrorists, including operatives of al-Qaida. The danger is clear," he warned. Using chemical, biological, or one day, nuclear weapons obtained with the help of Iraq, the terrorists could fulfill their stated ambitions and kill thousands or hundreds of thousands of innocent people in our country or any other."

The deception in the president's warning was in his knowledge of the nature of the evidence provided, that of which appears to have been cobbled together from dissidents and informers who had little or no contact with the regime, or were motivated by offers of money or asylum, or to satisfy some personal vendetta against the Iraqi government; and used to bolster the administration's preconceived tilt toward war.

Saddam Hussein was, without question, the leader of a brutal dictatorship. As many as 300,000 Iraqis are believed to have been deliberately murdered by the regime in the "Anfal campaign" against the Kurds, and the assaults on the Marsh Arabs and southern Shi`a populations, which resulted in thousands of more dead. Between 1977 and 1987, some 4,500-5,000 Kurdish villages were systematically destroyed, and the survivors were forced into concentration camps. Many of the atrocities took place at a time when the U.S. was actively supporting Hussein in a manufactured revolution against the Iranian government, whose leaders had humiliated Americans in the '70's hostage crisis.

Iraq used chemical weapons in 1983-1984, during the Iran-Iraq war. It has been reported that some 20,000 Iranians were killed by mustard gas, and the nerve agents tabun and sarin.

In 1988, Iraqi soldiers invaded Kurdistan and rounded up more than 100,000 Kurds and executed them. In March 1988, in the town of Halabja, more than 3,000 civilians died from chemical gas attacks by the Iraqi military.

Iraq has been rightly condemned by the U.S. and most of the international community for these and other deadly actions against its citizens and its neighbors. But Iraq did not operate against its enemies alone or without our knowledge, and in many instances, U.S. support. Nightline, in Sept. 1991 reported that the Atlanta branch of an Italian bank, BNL, was able to funnel billions, some of it in U.S. credits, to Iraq's military. The U.S. apparently knew of the transfers and turned a blind eye.

"Sophisticated military technology was illegally transferred from a major U.S. company in Lancaster, Pennsylvania to South Africa and Chile and, from there, on to Iraq. The Iraqi-born designer of a chemical weapon plant in Libya set up shop in Florida, producing and then shipping to Iraq chemical weapon components. The CIA, the FBI and other federal agencies were made aware of the operation and did nothing to prevent it."

The report further states: "During the 1980s and into the '90s, senior officials of both the Reagan and Bush administrations encouraged the privatization of foreign policy, certainly toward Iran and Iraq. They made a mockery of the export control system; they found ways of encouraging foreign governments to do what our laws prohibited. They either knew or, if not, were guilty of the grossest incompetence, that U.S. companies were collaborating with foreign arms merchants in the illegal transfer of American technology that helped Saddam Hussein build his formidable arsenal."

It summarizes that, "Iraq, during much of the 1980's and into the '90s, was able acquire sophisticated U.S. technology, intelligence material, ingredients for chemical weapons, indeed, entire weapon-producing plants, with the knowledge, acquiescence and sometimes even the assistance of the U.S. government."

The New York Times reported in Aug. 2002 that during the Reagan administration, the U.S. military provided Saddam with critical intelligence that was used in Iraq's aggression against Iran, at a time when they were clearly using chemical and biological agents in their prosecution of that war. The United States was an accomplice in the use of these materials at a time when President Reagan's top aides, including then- Secretary of State George P. Shultz, Defense Secretary Frank C. Carlucci and Gen. Colin L. Powell, then national security adviser, were publicly condemning Iraq for its use of poison gas, especially after Iraq attacked Kurds in Halabja.

The classified support reportedly involved more than 60 military advisors from the Defense Intelligence Agency who provided detailed information on Iranian deployments, tactical planning for battles, plans for air strikes and bomb-damage assessments for Iraq. A retired intelligence officer recalled that, in the military's view, "The use of gas on the battlefield by the Iraqis was not a matter of deep strategic concern."

A 1994 Senate Banking Committee report, and a letter from the Centers for Disease Control in 1995, revealed that the U.S. had shipped biological agents to Iraq at a time when Washington knew that Iraq was using chemical weapons to kill thousands of Iranian troops. The reports showed that Iraq was allowed to purchase batches of anthrax, botulism, E. coli, West Nile fever, gas gangrene, dengue fever. The CDC was shipping germ cultures directly to the Iraqi weapons facility in al-Muthanna.

The National Security Archive at George Washington University has a collection of declassified government documents that detail U.S. support of Saddam's regime. This is the collection that contains a photograph of Saddam Hussein shaking hands with Ronald Reagan's Middle East envoy, Donald Rumsfeld, who apparently said nothing to Saddam about his nuclear weapons program or his use of chemical weapons.

Bush I, who ultimately triumphed in making Kuwait safe for future monarchies, said of his own military adventure in Iraq, "We have before us the opportunity to forge for ourselves and for future generations a New World Order, a world where the rule of law, not the law of the jungle, governs the conduct of nations."

That was utter nonsense. The rule of law that was enforced in the ousting of Saddam Hussein from Kuwait was nothing more than the product of a patronage that was forged in the U.N. with U.S. taxpayer-funded payments to Saudi Arabia's King Faud, Egypt's Hosni Mubarak, Jordan's King Hussein, and others. The risk to the world community, as stated by the president then, and by this president today; that an enriched Saddam would align with some radical Muslim theocracy, would be in sharp contrast to the campaigns against those very forces in which Iraq had waged war at our bequest and with our eager assistance.

The Bush I administration's stated objective in their Gulf war was to protect the flow of Mideast oil to the U.S. and to prevent Iraq from obtaining a seaport from which Iraqi shipments would supposedly depress an already sputtering world market. Saddam Hussein had not threatened the American people in his power grab for a greater share of the oil pie. Indeed, the U.S. must have been aware that the overproduction of oil by Kuwait and Saudi Arabia prior to Iraq's invasion was a move to drive the price of oil down, and in the process, weaken Iraq.

Aside from the question of the danger that the expansion of Saddam's dictatorship may have posed to the region, the defense of Kuwait's territorial integrity was a foreign concept to H.W. Bush who had participated in and overseen the ordering of the mining of the Nicaraguan harbor, the invasion of Grenada, the overthrow of the president of Panama and the installation of a U.S. puppet government there, as well as the acquiescence of Britain's invasion of the Falklands in 1982.

The Bush I administration issued a national security directive which listed among its objectives; ". . . the defense of U.S. vital interests in the region, if necessary through the use of military force; and defense against forces that would cause added damage to the U.S. and world economies." More importantly, the security directive declared that access to Persian Gulf oil and the security of key, friendly states in the area were vital to U.S. national security. It was on that basis that President Herbert Walker Bush waged war with Iraq.

More than 250,000 individual bombs and missiles were dropped or fired in 42 days onto Iraq in that first war. Some 244 laser-guided bombs and 88 cruise missiles were reportedly delivered against Baghdad targets. The people of Iraq suffered from power outages and systems failures caused by bombing attacks on their weakened infrastructure. Medicine deteriorated without proper refrigeration. Food spoiled; water stagnated and became dangerously polluted.

The citizens of Iraq, already starving and impoverished as a result of the crippling sanctions imposed on Iraq by the U.N., at the bequest of the U.S., were not 'liberated' by the destruction. Of Iraq's 545,000 troops in the Kuwait Theater of Operations, about 100,000 are believed to have lost their lives.

Before the imposition of sanctions in the '80's, and before the war, Iraq boasted the region's best schools and hospitals, and enjoyed the smallest gap between the rich and poor of any of its neighbors. Also, Iraq's educated class ranked among the region's best. Six weeks of intensive bombing reduced Iraq to what was described as a pre-industrial state. Unemployment soared and the black market flourished, resulting in a widening of the gap between the impoverished majority and those few who managed to cling to wealth.

Before sanctions were imposed, ninety percent of Iraq's income came from oil exports. Once sanctions restricted oil sales, lack of basic food and medicine soon reached catastrophic levels. The country's water, electrical, and oil systems, and other infrastructure were devastated in the bombing campaign. Human Rights Watch documented the effects of the first U.S. aggression against Iraq and found that more than 500 civilian buildings and homes were targeted and destroyed with no apparent connection to any threat to the U.S. or its allies.

Middle East Watch, in a more damning account, tells of some 9,000 homes, housing some 72,000 people, that had been destroyed or badly damaged during the bombing. Some 2,500 of the buildings reported destroyed were in Baghdad and another 1,900 in Basra.

The American death-count from that first Gulf war was 346 total from all causes, out of 511,000 troops deployed from August 1990 to February 1991. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, thirty-six percent of the 581,000 retired veterans serving at the height of the 1991 Gulf War have filed health claims. Of that number, 22 percent of the claims remain pending, or have been denied. More than 11,000 Gulf War veterans, whose average age was 36 when the war began, have since died, many from illnesses their families believed were war-related from exposures to chemical weapons that troops found and destroyed, depleted uranium from U.S. armor-piercing munitions, pollution from oil well fires, experimental vaccines, and anti-nerve agent pretreatment pills, among other toxins.

The nation's reward for the blood and sacrifice of our men and women in the armed forces in that Gulf war was a further decrease in production by the Mideast oil giants under OPEC- the group which controls around half the world's oil trade. That resulted in the doubling of U.S. oil prices from $20 a barrel to $40 (slightly more than we pay now), and the fostering of a crippling recession.
As the National Security Strategy of 1991 stated, "Economies around the world were affected by the volatility of oil prices and the disruption of economic ties to countries in the Gulf. Egypt, Turkey and Jordan were particularly hurt."

Oil profits for industry CEO's and administration shareholders must have soared. No sacrifice there. As a consequence of the U.S. hostile presence in the region, radical Muslim groups were able to portray our military invasion and the positioning of our bases in Saudi Arabia as an affront to the teachings of their religion and were able to convince others of like mind to band against what they viewed as groundless U.S. imperialistic expansion; putting America at an increased risk of retaliatory terrorism.

The Bush's routs of Saddam may have made them appear to be warrior kings. But in the context of their overwhelming domination of the inept Saddam and the hapless Iraqi army, they more resemble Don Quixote. In the classic tale of the ideal vs. the real, Quixote battles windmills that appear to be giants, and sheep that look to him like armies. He believes himself the victor, comes to his senses, only to be trapped by his delusion; forced to play the conquering hero.

"We're making great progress in Iraq, Bush II said recently in Lexington, Kentucky. "I don't care what you read about."

He claimed that schools and hospitals are reopening, children are getting immunizations and water and electricity is coming back. "Life is getting better," he said. But in the same instance Mr. Bush was quick to add, "We must fight this war until the work is done."

Today more than 300- U.S. troops have died in ambushes and accidents in Iraq since Bush II declared an end to "major combat" there May 1, 2003. An average of three to six Americans is being killed each week in Iraq and another 40 are being wounded. U.S. soldiers are facing an average of 15 to 20 attacks a day, including roadside bombs, Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez said. In fact, up to 40 attacks a day are not uncommon.

To date, more than 490 American soldiers have died since the war began March 20, according to Central Command and the Pentagon.

The most definitive total of violent civilian deaths in Baghdad since mid April has been published by Iraq Body Count (IBC), a research group tracking media-reported civilian deaths occurring as a consequence of the US/UK military intervention and occupation.

CNN recently reported that, "Though Bush administration officials say U.S. inspectors have found evidence that Iraq tried to hide equipment to produce banned weapons in the future, none have been found in Iraq since Saddam's ouster."

"It's very simple. Saddam Hussein is no longer in power," national security adviser Condoleezza Rice told NBC. "Saddam Hussein was the problem with weapons of mass destruction," Rice said when asked why Bush was seemingly unconcerned about the inability to locate his main justification for the war.

David Kay, having just returned from the Iraq weapon's hunt, on Oct. 5 told the House and Senate Intelligence committees that Saddam Hussein may have mislead them about his chemical and biological arsenal. Most of his report, however, claimed that the Iraqi dictator had the capabilities, chemicals, and facilities to restart production quickly. Kay was reportedly shown video of Bush saying last September that Iraq "possesses biological and chemical weapons." Kay said, "We have not found specific evidence that would indicate that." At the same time as his report was being released, the Republican controlled House Intelligence Committee was accusing the CIA of using "outdated and piecemeal" data in compiling its assessment of the Iraqi threat.

The Bush administration has requested an additional $600 million to continue the hunt for Saddam's bio or chem weapons. The money would follow an estimated $300 million already spent on the weapons search. Even though the United States has not been able to find any of the alleged weapons of mass destruction that he had cited as a justification for confronting Iraq, President Bush declared that, ". . . investigators had found evidence of a "clandestine network of biological laboratories" and "advanced design work on prohibited longer-range missiles."

In full chemical gear, in the heat of the desert, the men and women of our armed forces were mustered into battle against a ghost of the past; a remnant of our political manipulations, gone bad. The nation was riveted to the military television news as live images of our needlessly bulked warriors advanced on the doomed city of Baghdad. Amid the warnings of a chemical or biological catastrophe, we prayed and hoped that the reports were an exaggeration. We held our anger at a leadership that, we told ourselves, certainly would not manipulate our soldiers for some ghoulish, voyeuristic tv propaganda. But it appears that our military and our government knew full well that any material they had supplied Saddam with had, long ago, been confiscated by weapon's inspectors or had degraded.

The images of the heat-stressed warriors trapped inside of their chemical gear out of a leader-propagandized fear of a nonexistent chemical/biological attack, are enough to break faith with any trust in the words or motives of this administration and its war hawkers. Not that the suits would likely have helped much in the event of such an attack. An inspection of the Army's supply of gas masks and chemical detectors by an Army audit agency found a majority of them to be potentially defective due largely to lax maintenance policies.

"Up to 90 percent of the monitors and 62 percent of the masks were either completely broken or less than fully operational," said the report from the Army Audit Agency, which added, "The actual status, requirements, surpluses or shortfalls, and true costs of Army efforts to defend against aggression through chemical and biological weapons weren't known."

In an address in which President Bush appealed for an additional $87 billion to fund the occupation of Iraq and other military projects, he proclaimed that: "For a generation leading up to September 11, 2001, terrorists and their radical allies attacked innocent people in the Middle East and beyond, without facing a sustained and serious response."

"Since America put out the fires of September 11, mourned our dead, and went to war," President Bush extolled, "history has taken a different turn. We have carried the fight to the enemy. We are rolling back the terrorist threat to civilization, not on the fringes of its influence, but at the heart of its power."

"We will do what is necessary, we will spend what is necessary, to achieve this essential victory in the war on terror, to promote freedom, and to make our own nation more secure," he promised.

In his rhetoric, President Bush effectively used the terrorist attacks to justify his assault against Iraq. But Osama Bin Laden, the alleged ringleader of the 9-11 attacks, was not in Iraq. The rebel leader, in fact shunned and denounced the leadership of Saddam Hussein as a betrayal of fundamental Islam.

The random exercise of our military strength and destructive power will not serve as a deterrent to these rouge, radical terrorist organizations who claim no permanent base of operations. The wanton, collateral bombing and killing has undoubtably alienated any fringe of moderates who might have joined in a unified effort of regime change which respects our own democratic values of justice and due process. Our oppressive posture has pushed the citizens of these sovereign nations to a forced expression of their nationalism in defense of basic prerogatives of liberty and self-determination, which our false authority disregards as threats to our consolidation of power.

The Bush league plans to scatter our forces around the globe in order to preempt terrorist groups from attacking. "We must take the battle to the enemy, disrupt his plans, and confront the worst threats before they emerge," President Bush told cadets in June 2002 at a graduation address he gave at the United States Military Academy.

Business Week has reported that "about 50% of the Army's active-duty troops are on foreign soil already, and in many key military specialities, the deployment percentage is much higher." They document over 122,000 Army personnel in Iraq, including more than 3,000 National Guard soldiers and 5,000 reservists. Another 5,000 Guard soldiers and 7,000 reservists are serving in Kuwait. The numbers of those killed by our troops, threatening or innocent, are disregarded by our military and our government. The deaths of our own soldiers are rarely discussed by the president.

The scarcity of active-duty forces and security concerns in Iraq has made it necessary to activate a large number of Guard and Reserve troops. A new order, requiring 12-month tours, means many Guard and Army Reserve troops could have their original year long mobilizations extended for anywhere from one to six months.

The Project on Defense Alternatives finds that the U.S. typically maintains:

-More than 200,000 troops on foreign soil and more than 50,000 personnel afloat in foreign waters; in recent years an average of 35,000 of these personnel have been involved in contingency operations, mostly around Iraq and in the Balkans;
-There are more than 800 foreign U.S. military installations including 60 major ones;
-There is a U.S. military presence in 140 countries including significant deployments (ie. multiple hundreds or thousands of troops) in 25 countries.
-The U.S. has made strong commitments to help defend or support the defense efforts of 31 nations, and has significant defense cooperation commitments with another 29 nations.
-The United States also conducts more than 170 overseas Joint Combined Services Exercise Training exercises annually; about 40 percent of these have a multinational component; such as the JCS program involving special operations forces.

These figures are in addition to the current forces deployed as a result of the ‘war on terrorism' in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere. The United States will spend an estimated $116 billion to this year on its NATO commitment to defend Europe; excluding Bosnia and Herzegovinia with about 1,600 U.S. troops respectively. Japan follows with 43,000 U.S. troops; then South Korea with its 37,000 American troops; Afghanistan- 9000; Egypt- 800; the Phillippines 500. This a full plate for our all-volunteer force; not withstanding the possibility of future missions in hot-spots like North Korea and the uncertainty in Iran. There's even talk from the administration of spreading the ‘war on terrorism’ to the newly-independent Russian provinces.

"We have our best chance since the rise of the nation-state in the 17th century to build a world where the great powers compete in peace instead of prepare for war," Bush said after 9-11. "The United States bears a disproportionate responsibility for security." His position was in sharp contrast to candidate Bush, who had complained for months about former president Clinton's "nation-building."

There are many reasons why Bush's strategy of preemption is misguided and wrong. It is a license to release the aggressor nation from their responsibility to pursue - to the rejection of their last reasonable admonition - a peaceful resolution to any perceived threat. And, with a deft flex of military and political muscle the presumption of innocence, even in the face of a clear absence of proof, is a conquered victim of the tainted consensus of a cabal of purchased adversaries; " either with us or against us."

Lincoln once remarked: "A highwayman holds a pistol to my ear, and mutters through his teeth, "Stand and deliver, or I shall kill you, and then you will be a murderer!"

Preemption is a corrosive example for those countries who may feel threatened enough by their neighbors to move to resolve their fears militarily instead of engaging in the long-established enterprise of diplomacy and negotiation. Indeed, the appointment of Colin Powell as Secretary of State, our nation's top diplomat - the general who's army's killing of Iraqi innocents is rivaled in this century only by the enemy he sought to capture - is a discouraging message for those in the region who had hoped the hunger to divide the region militarily had waned with the end of the first war.

A common mantra coming out of the White House these days was echoed by Vice President Cheney in a speech this October before the Heritage Foundation: "We are fighting this evil in Iraq so that we do not have to fight it in our own cities," he counseled. This is a dangerous misconception which only serves the narrow administration view that Saddam Hussein was a potential orchestrator of a worldwide Muslim terror offensive against the U.S. and its allies. A great deal of the information which the White House used to support the link to the 9-11 terrorists was the product of misinformation provided by the very dissident groups which we were funding here in the United States. The rest of the intelligence, as we have discovered in the aftermath of the invasion, was cobbled together from conflicting sources within the government to reflect the administration's assertions that Saddam posed an immediate threat to the U.S..

Whatever proliferation of weapons that may have occurred in Iraq would have been exacerbated by our invasion, as any WMD's that might have existed would, by now, have been dispersed, perhaps to Syria or Iran. What is the value in using Iraq as a terror magnet? It has resulted in daily attacks on our soldiers by an Iraqi resistance - possibly aided by some outside terror network; likely no more than remnants of the Republican Guard or the like. What is it about our operation in Iraq that would support the argument that we won't have to fight them (terrorists) on our shores? Most observers predict another devastating attack in the U.S. is inevitable if not imminent.

Further, by likening Iraq to the worldwide Muslim terror offensive the president does what Hussein could not; he binds Iraqis to the Muslim extremists. He practically invites them to join the battle there and ally with the forces that threaten our soldiers daily. This will not create a democratic wedge against Muslim extremism in the region. Democracy cannot be imposed. If they don't understand that, they don't understand democracy.

Sadly, American soldiers serve as targets in Iraq, and their lives are no less important than ours here in the states. Inviting attacks on Americans overseas is an amazing retreat from the peaceful influence of a great nation of justice; humbled by bloody, devastating wars; and witnessed to the power of liberty, and to the freedom inherent in the constitution we wisely defend with our peaceful acts of mercy, charity, and tolerance.

"Peace," Herman Wouk wrote, "if it ever exists, will not be based on the fear of war, but on the love of peace. It will not be the abstaining from an act but the coming of a state of mind." All else that we pursue should be a means to that peace; and a wholesale rejection of violent postures which just invite more violence.

"There are some who feel like that conditions are such that they can attack us there. My answer is 'bring them on'," Bush spoke to reporters in the White House Roosevelt Room in July. How then should the American people judge the alarm and outrage that subsequent administrations have expressed about Saddam's murderous aggression against others outside of Iran that he considered a threat to his regime; Or against those who we would regard as enemies of the United States?

Is it moral to support another country's genocide of a people that our own leaders would, if given free reign, commit to slaughter at the whim of their supposedly clean hands, in the name of liberation and justice? Is it moral for the U.S. to commit slaughter by proxy, and then condemn our accomplices as incarnations of intolerable evil? Does morality manifest itself in our ambitions or in our actions?

This nation will have to make that determination with their votes and with their participation in our political system, in matters that relate to the conduct of America's foreign affairs, by involving themselves in deliberations that intend to determine which course will make our nation most secure; to decide: Whether it is best to arm ourselves, and the world to follow, with the hollow reasoning of keeping up with perceived threats to our ‘security’; or is it more reasonable and more practical to reach out to the world diplomatically, to lessen the animosity toward America that our military interventions have engendered.

Our aggression resigns the nation to a perpetual global threat against the United States and our interests. Diplomacy provides hope that the killing among all countries would end, by the force of our collective resolve; not at the point of a weapon.


http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=104x1393396

'Family' feeling at Ferguson PD last night, to near calamity - Protestor's perspective on shootings

____Deray McKesson is a teacher who hails from Baltimore (my neck of the woods) who has been in Ferguson since the beginning of the protests. He's immediately recognizable in his blue down vest and well-known to anyone who's been following events in Ferguson on Twitter. Deray was, characteristically, in fron of the Ferguson PD last night participating in a peaceful, but determined protest when, later in the evening, the two officers were shot. He's provided a vivid and typically insightful account of events before and after the shootings on his twitter page which I recorded last night as events unfolded. Deray has offered his tweets and vines to the 'media', with proper attribution...

deray mckesson @deray · 4h 4 hours ago
Media, you can use any content of tweets/vines. Just give credit. Tell the truth.


I think he'd be fine with sharing them here at DU, so...read all the way through (vine videos are linked in the tweets on this page on the hour (9h hours ago, etc.)) and gain a bit of insight into the evening's events from the perspective of a very engaging and caring person who deserves all of the respect we can manage for his dedication and commitment to the protest efforts there and elsewhere, like his appearance in Selma this past weekend. We are very fortunate to have Deray as a witness to events in Ferguson, and as a participant in numerous demonstrations, reporting, and many other forums, as well.



deray mckesson @deray · Mar 8
Selma. #Selma50


The evening begins like so many other eventful and tragic ones throughout these 215 days of protest...


deray mckesson @deray · 10h 10 hours ago
Y'all, it feels like October out here. So many protestors. So much family. The movement lives. Ferguson.


deray mckesson @deray · 10h 10 hours ago
Ferguson PD. Protest.


deray mckesson @deray · 10h 10 hours ago
It's incredible out here. It feels like the old days of protest. This will be a long summer. Ferguson.


deray mckesson @deray · 10h 10 hours ago
And the Ferguson PD is nowhere to be found. You know, they shouldn't even exist.


deray mckesson @deray · 10h 10 hours ago
It's wild just walking on the Ferguson PD lot like this. Months ago, they would've had 100 riot police out here. How times have changed.


deray mckesson @deray · 10h 10 hours ago
Apparently the police are coming down the street. Ferguson PD.


deray mckesson @deray · 10h 10 hours ago
And one Ferguson PD car arrives. Protest.


deray mckesson @deray · 10h 10 hours ago
And yes, someone is playing Boosie. This is just like the old days. Yes, yes, and yes. Ferguson PD.


deray mckesson @deray · 10h 10 hours ago
And the police helicopter is out. Here we go. Ferguson PD


deray mckesson @deray · 10h 10 hours ago
And the riot gear is here. Ferguson PD.


deray mckesson @deray · 10h 10 hours ago
And the police attempt to move us. Ferguson PD.


deray mckesson @deray · 10h 10 hours ago
I haven't seen this few officers try to manage us...ever. Ferguson PD.


deray mckesson @deray · 10h 10 hours ago
Ferguson PD. We protest.




deray mckesson @deray · 10h 10 hours ago
Protest. Ferguson PD.


deray mckesson @deray · 10h 10 hours ago
It's crazy to be out here and think about all those nights from August - November. It's crazy to remember how it once was. Ferguson PD.


deray mckesson @deray · 9h 9 hours ago
There is NO Ferguson PD officer out here. That's fascinating.


deray mckesson @deray · 9h 9 hours ago
Officers from everywhere but Ferguson. Ferguson PD.




deray mckesson @deray · 9h 9 hours ago
Officers from across STL. Ferguson PD.


deray mckesson @deray · 9h 9 hours ago
These officers are shaky out here. They are new to the protests. Whew. They just sent any officer out here tonight. Ferguson.


deray mckesson @deray · 9h 9 hours ago
And the first arrest. Ferguson PD.


deray mckesson @deray · 9h 9 hours ago
LOOK AT THE POLICE MANHANDLE HIM.


deray mckesson @deray · 9h 9 hours ago
This is wild. The police are out of control. Disband the PD


deray mckesson @deray · 9h 9 hours ago
I can't even describe how wild this is. The police are terrible.


deray mckesson @deray · 9h 9 hours ago
And apparently the police arrested a 10 year old tonight. I didn't see it though. But it has the crowd tense. Ferguson.


deray mckesson @deray · 9h 9 hours ago
The guy was arrested for just being in the street. It was a random arrest. The police are awful. Ferguson PD.


deray mckesson @deray · 9h 9 hours ago
And two arrests later, we are still blocking the street. And the police are blocking the lot to the PD.


deray mckesson @deray · 9h 9 hours ago
The street is blocked. She's crying. And won't back up. Standstill. Ferguson PD.


deray mckesson @deray · 9h 9 hours ago
Standstill. Ferguson PD. https://vine.co/v/O9ejp57XiDj


deray mckesson @deray · 9h 9 hours ago
There are more officers out here now. Perhaps about 40 officers. Ferguson PD.


deray mckesson @deray · 9h 9 hours ago
There's also a lot of media out here too. Ferguson PD.


deray mckesson @deray · 9h 9 hours ago
Look. At. The. Police. https://vine.co/v/O9eFJzxDOvE


deray mckesson @deray · 9h 9 hours ago
This. https://vine.co/v/O9eFH0Z22LM


deray mckesson @deray · 9h 9 hours ago
It's tense out here now. Ferguson. https://vine.co/v/O9eUOeLB0LI


deray mckesson @deray · 9h 9 hours ago
The police retreat. Ferguson PD


deray mckesson @deray · 9h 9 hours ago
We've officially gone back to August. Here we go. Ferguson PD.


deray mckesson @deray · 9h 9 hours ago
This officer from Edmundson was choking @rikrik__. M. Anton.




deray mckesson @deray · 9h 9 hours ago
Apparently Mike Brown Sr. is coming down the street, so we've opened the street temporarily. Ferguson PD.


deray mckesson @deray · 9h 9 hours ago
Mike Brown Sr. just drove by the protest. That hasn't happened before. Ferguson PD.


deray mckesson @deray · 9h 9 hours ago
And a drummer just arrived. Ferguson PD.


deray mckesson @deray · 9h 9 hours ago
Protest, to the beat. Ferguson PD.


deray mckesson @deray · 9h 9 hours ago
Tonight. Y'all.


deray mckesson @deray · 9h 9 hours ago
Tonight is spinning out of control. Aye.


deray mckesson @deray · 8h 8 hours ago

Here we go. https://vine.co/v/O9iM5wqEX5I


deray mckesson @deray · 8h 8 hours ago
And now the police have blocked off the street. Standstill. Ferguson PD.


deray mckesson @deray · 8h 8 hours ago
The street is now open. It's cat and mouse w/ the police at this point.


deray mckesson @deray · 8h 8 hours ago
No tweet or vine will help you understand how intensely the police protect this street. It's wild. And it's been wild since August.


deray mckesson @deray · 8h 8 hours ago
We're all looking forward to the day that the Ferguson PR is disbanded. They are a mockery of justice.


deray mckesson @deray · 7h 7 hours ago
.@KWRose and @RE_invent_ED were allowed to cross the police line to go to post bond for those arrested tonight. Ferguson PD.


deray mckesson @deray · 8h 8 hours ago
And this guy is really grilling. Chicken and errything. Like, the grill is full.


deray mckesson @deray · 7h 7 hours ago

Somebody just shot the police! https://vine.co/v/O9iUVEBv2rq



deray mckesson @deray · 7h 7 hours ago

Holy shit. There were just like 4 shots. It seems like an officer was shot. Shit



deray mckesson @deray · 7h 7 hours ago
Guns drawn. Ferguson PD.




deray mckesson @deray · 7h 7 hours ago
The officers just called for an ambulance. I don't know if someone got hit. This is now crazy. Ferguson PD.


deray mckesson @deray · 7h 7 hours ago
Protestors are starting to leave. I'm in the car and was in the car when the shots were fired. Wild. Ferguson PD.


deray mckesson @deray · 7h 7 hours ago
The officers are on 10,000 right now. I can't even explain it. Ferguson PD.


deray mckesson @deray · 7h 7 hours ago
Guns drawn. Ferguson PD.




deray mckesson @deray · 7h 7 hours ago
The shooter was at the top of the hill. Ferguson PD.


deray mckesson @deray · 7h 7 hours ago
Officers with guns drawn. Ferguson PD.




deray mckesson @deray · 7h 7 hours ago
Current scene. It's wild. Ferguson PD https://vine.co/v/O9ixUQm7LK1


deray mckesson @deray · 7h 7 hours ago
It's like a ton of officers out here now. I'm still in the car. It just got more intense than any night we've ever had. Ferguson PD.


deray mckesson @deray · 7h 7 hours ago
They are about to storm the hill. It's crazy intense out here. Wow. #Ferguson PD.


deray mckesson @deray · 7h 7 hours ago
There are too many police for me to exit the parking lot right now. Street completely blocked. This is wild. Ferguson PD


deray mckesson @deray · 7h 7 hours ago
Shotguns out. They are advancing. Crazy. Ferguson PD.


deray mckesson @deray · 7h 7 hours ago
Police advance. https://vine.co/v/O9i2LPKMiWt


deray mckesson @deray · 7h 7 hours ago
Officers told us to put our hands up. Intense. Ferguson PD. https://vine.co/v/O9i0mOYKTne


deray mckesson @deray · 7h 7 hours ago
There's a car parked at the top of the street. And they are surrounding it. They're asking if they saw anything. Ferguson PD.


deray mckesson @deray · 7h 7 hours ago
Huge rifles out now. Every officer crouching. Tonight has been crazy from start to finish. Ferguson PD.


deray mckesson @deray · 7h 7 hours ago
I can hear the officers yelling atop the hill. Can't see any of the officers though. Ferguson PD.


deray mckesson @deray · 7h 7 hours ago
There's a whole set of protestors on the other side of the parking lot. They're stuck on that side. Ferguson PD.


deray mckesson @deray · 6h 6 hours ago
The officers waited a long time to go up the hill. They're still up there. It seems unlikely that the shooter is up there now. FergusonPD.


deray mckesson @deray · 6h 6 hours ago
The ambulance just left the scene. Ferguson PD.


deray mckesson retweeted
Keith Rose @KWRose · 7h 7 hours ago
.@RE_invent_ED, Lawyer @javadesq, & I were forced to go into #Ferguson PD for our safety. Officers running around with assault rifles.


deray mckesson retweeted
Keith Rose @KWRose · 8h 8 hours ago
.@RE_invent_ED and I are safe. We are outside hiding behind the concrete. Officer is bleeding badly. But I'm not posting unedited video.


deray mckesson @deray · 7h 7 hours ago
Another set of officers just arrived. Guns drawn. And police dog. All went up the hill. Ferguson PD.


deray mckesson @deray · 7h 7 hours ago

I feel safer just sitting in the car than moving at all at this point. Ferguson PD.


deray mckesson @deray · 7h 7 hours ago
Rifles drawn. Ferguson PD.




deray mckesson @deray · 7h 7 hours ago
Current scene. Ferguson PD. https://vine.co/v/O9illHDUw3z


deray mckesson @deray · 6h 6 hours ago
They've now put officers on the lot. And these officers are really emotional right now. Not a good combo at all. Ferguson PD.


deray mckesson @deray · 6h 6 hours ago
Police are walking protestors to the other side of the street, across the police tape, now. Ferguson PD.


deray mckesson @deray · 7h 7 hours ago
I do not condone the killing of police officers. I do not condone the killing of the unarmed. I do not condone killing.


deray mckesson @deray · 7h 7 hours ago
This has been a long 215 days


deray mckesson @deray · 6h 6 hours ago
Now, I was here. I saw the officer fall. The shot came from at least 500 feet away from the officers. Ferguson PD.


deray mckesson retweeted
Loctavia Butler @LovnMyLocs · 6h 6 hours ago
That was no regular shooter. It’s impossible. It was HELLAS ppl and aoace between where the shots came from and those cops.


deray mckesson retweeted
KayRay @RE_invent_ED · 6h 6 hours ago
The shots came from behind the protestors. Bullets don't have names. It literally could've been anyone


deray mckesson retweeted
KayRay @RE_invent_ED · 6h 6 hours ago
215 days and no officer was ever injured by a protestor. That didn't change tonight.


ShordeeDooWhop ‏@Nettaaaaaaaa
The media better not start that shit and the police better not lie. Those shots did not come from the lot were the protesters were at.


deray mckesson @deray · 6h 6 hours ago
The shots did not come from any lot with protestors. Ferguson.


deray mckesson @deray · 6h 6 hours ago
The police know that protestors weren't the shooter. That's why they didn't detain us. They went for the hill where none of us were.


deray mckesson retweeted
ShordeeDooWhop @Nettaaaaaaaa · 6h 6 hours ago
It's no way on earth if it was protestors they would've let everyone leave and drive off the lot. No way


deray mckesson @deray · 6h 6 hours ago
It's eerily calm out here right now. Tense because the officers have weapons drawn. But eerily calm nonetheless. Ferguson.


deray mckesson retweeted
Dr. Cornel Fresh @WyzeChef · 6h 6 hours ago
The officer shot (in the face) is conscious. It couldn't have been something heavy. It definitely sounded like a pistol.


deray mckesson retweeted
Christine Byers ‏@ChristineDByers
Belmar says both officers conscious but have "very serious" injuries


deray mckesson retweeted
McBlondeLand @McBlondeLand · 6h 6 hours ago
@deray #Belmar just said he was sure the shooter was in midst of protestors & shot cops point blank although he hadn't talked to witnesses


deray mckesson @deray · 6h 6 hours ago
The police wouldn't let a few of us leave this lot because they wanted statements from us because we were close to the hill, not suspects.


deray mckesson @deray · 6h 6 hours ago
The police just said the last of us can leave the lot now. Ferguson.


deray mckesson @deray · 6h 6 hours ago
It is disgusting that Belmar is saying the shooter was "embedded in" the protestor group w/o speaking to any witnesses or seeing evidence.


deray mckesson @deray · 6h 6 hours ago
And about 30 more officers just went up the hill. Ferguson.


deray mckesson @deray · 6h 6 hours ago
I'm heading home now.


deray mckesson @deray · 5h 5 hours ago
And on the way home I get stopped by the police. Apparently I was going 43 mph and the speed limit is 30 mph. I just want to go home.


deray mckesson @deray · 5h 5 hours ago
No ticket. He recognized me from Twitter and told me to have a good night and to slow down. Homebound.


deray mckesson @deray · 5h 5 hours ago
The officer also said that contrary to reports, no officer was shot in the face tonight. He said chest and shoulder only.


deray mckesson @deray · 5h 5 hours ago
The officer also let me know that the two officers shot will be okay, that the bulletproof vest of one of them saved his life.


deray mckesson @deray · 5h 5 hours ago
For what it's worth, the officer that pulled me over completely understood the nature of the unrest. He got why we're protesting.


deray mckesson @deray · 5h 5 hours ago
If Mike Brown were still alive, we wouldn't be protesting. We all would've been home tonight.


deray mckesson @deray · 5h 5 hours ago
I asked him why he became an officer. And he said that a loved one was killed in a senseless murder. That made him join the force.


deray mckesson @deray · 5h 5 hours ago
The officer that pulled me over also noted that he'd be leaving the police force soon to pursue another career path. I encouraged that.


deray mckesson @deray · 5h 5 hours ago
Sleep well, y'all. Remember to dream.






ron fullwood @ronfullwood (bigtree)

Dad and Equal Employment Opportunity in Black History



(self-obliging re-post from earlier years. This forum gives this story the relevance and stature that GD's political focus often ignores. Hope it's still welcome here. )


SOME of the most important and relevant aspects of our Black History Month celebrations have been our highlighting and honoring of our country's African American heroes whose efforts helped our nation advance and grow beyond our challenging, and often, tragic beginnings. Although most would be loath to call themselves 'heroes' or volunteer themselves for any special recognition at all for their deeds, there is certainly a benefit in framing and promoting these brave citizens' struggles and triumphs as a guide to future generations as they navigate their own inter-ethnic/inter-racial relationships among our increasingly diverse population. Their work and sacrifices form the foundation for the actions we took to reject and defend against discrimination, racism, and other abuses and injustices; as well as provide sustaining inspiration for the conduct of our own lives.

The most enduring and important legacy of these societal pioneers has been the uplifting of a people, and the promises gained, of opportunity and justice for black Americans (and, subsequently, other minorities, women, and the disabled) to be realized through the affirmative action of our federal government.

It was only through the tireless activism and advocacy of notables like Martin Luther King Jr. and others in the civil rights movement in the 1960's, who were protesting and demanding equal opportunity and access for African Americans, that politicians like John F. Kennedy and his political predecessors saw fit to introduce and advance legislation which would bring the federal government into compliance with the aim of equal employment opportunity and require contractors who were hired by government agencies to form 'affirmative action' programs within their own companies as a prerequisite for getting tax dollars from Uncle Sam.

Although President Kennedy didn't live to see the passage of the Civil Rights Act, he did manage to accommodate the lobbied demands of Dr. King in both, his Executive Order 10925, introduced. in 1961, establishing a 'Committee On Equal Employment Opportunity' (providing for the first time, enforcement of anti-discrimination provisions) ; and in his introduction of the Civil Rights Act to Congress on 19 June 1963.

Almost a year after President Kennedy's assassination, Lyndon Johnson pushed the Civil Rights Act through Congress and signed it into law. One of its major provisions was the creation of the 'Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.' The law provided for a defense by the federal government against objectionable private conduct, like discrimination in public accommodations; authorized the Attorney General to file lawsuits to defend access to public facilities and schools, to extend the Commission on Civil Rights, and to outlaw and defend against discrimination in federal programs.

So, Dr. King and others in the civil rights effort, had done their part in agitating and promoting through demonstrations, the notion and the ideal of advancing equal opportunity into action and law. The passage of the Civil Rights Act was, by no means, the end of advocacy by black leaders. Neither was it the end of the political effort by Johnson and others committed to advancing and enhancing black employment and establishing anti-discrimination as the law of the land.

On September 24, 1965, President Johnson originated and signed Executive Order 11246 which established new guidelines for businesses who contracted with the Federal government agencies, and required those with $10,000 or more of business with Uncle Sam to take 'affirmative action' to increase the number of minorities in their workplaces and keep a record of their efforts available on demand. It also set 'goals and timetables' for the realization of those minority positions.

As far as the activists and politicians' abilities went, they had stepped up to the plate and hit the ball into the outfield. Now, the challenge was to bring the jobs home; to protect and defend the new employment provisions in the federal government, as well as, around the nation in the myriad of public facilities and other amenities which were connected to the federal government through funding. Enforcement was the key.

That would require reliance on a newly formed bureaucracy and its government managers and directors; some appointed by the president, most others brought into government on a less auspicious level.

One of those 'managers and directors' who was present and accountable in government at the time of these important changes in our employment law was my father, Charles James Fullwood.


Charles James Fullwood

In a bit of a self-indulgent look back at his almost 40 years in government -- in relation to some of the changes in the federal government's evolving embrace of its responsibility to defend and promote the remedies and benefits of the equal protection clauses in the Constitution -- we can see a tenuous, but, determined fight beyond the protests; beyond the political arena; to press on with the implementation and realization of some of the promises of the Civil Rights movement.

In Charles Fullwood's personal development and advancement in the military and in government, we can also see many of the dynamics of inclusion and adjustment in play which marked his coming of age in the midst of poverty and oppression, and also, the period beyond the bold actions and bold choices our nation subsequently undertook through their elected representatives.

As humble beginnings go, it's hard to get more quaint than his first home near an Indian reservation in the mountains of Black Hills, North Carolina. He said his daddy used to run a speakeasy with a still in the cellar which he liked to nip at a little when he fetched and filled the jugs for the blues-loving customers partying upstairs. A run-in by my grandfather with a local sheriff was said to have sent the Fullwoods packing and making their way up North in a hurry. The family of eleven settled down in Reading, Pennsylvania, and, but for a few exceptions, like Dad, lived most of the rest of their entire lives there.


On the Sidewalk Outside of 4th Street Address

Reading was a hard-scrabble, mostly poor community which was mostly known, as my father liked to say, for it's 'pretzels, prostitutes, and beer.' In his neighborhood, at least, he described a people who were laid low by poverty and discrimination, and advantaged more by the 'mob' than by the government or its industry. Their burly representatives were said to bring food and clothing to some of the needy families in the neighborhood, once, as Dad described it, looking in the door and seeing all of the children running around, remarked, 'Look at all the hungry little bastards! Little bastards gotta eat.'

Dad said that they would come by occasionally with items like underwear that folks had discarded, and, they'd take them -- happily, because it might be their only opportunity. It's not as if their father hadn't worked to provide for his large family. In fact, James Beulo Fullwood, who immediately applied for 'Relief', upon arrival in town, refused to send his children to school unless the local government provided all nine of them with new clothes. I'm told he got the clothes.





Somehow, Dad and his sister Olivia (who was a young, tragic casualty of the seedy side of the town) managed to gain admission to a Quaker grade school nearby and enjoyed the benefits of educational integration well before most of the rest of the nation. He also worked with the conscientious objectors in the Quaker community as a member of the local Civilian Conservation Corps.


Dad and the Reading Civilian Conservation Corps

Like most endeavors in his life, Dad was on the cusp of a revolution of societal changes which would both advance his careers, and bring his life experiences to bear as he took advantage of the opportunities that the political community's (and the nation's) determination to implement the 'Great Society' ideals expressed and advanced by King, Kennedy, and Johnson into action or law afforded him.

Charles completed three years of high school (vocational school) without a degree and worked as a machinist apprentice operating a drill press. As far as opportunity went in that town, he had the best of it at the machine shop.

He joined the U.S. Army, in 1942, during WWII. He'd had enough of life in Reading and the world was beckoning. That summer as he trained in munitions handling and other military tasks, U.S. troops had landed on Guadalcanal. A year later, as Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin met together for the first time, Dad was aboard a Navy carrier bound for New Guinea (the time of his life).



He was attached to the 628th Ordinance Company and their mission was to establish an ammo dump near Brisbane, Australia. The voyage was 'uneventful;' touching once at Wellington, New Zealand and eventually docking at Sydney, Australia.


Members of the 628th Ordinance Company

"Today is cruel:" he wrote, in a brief, but compelling journal of his first voyage and his first trip abroad. "the sky is cold. not a particle of cheery blue is seen. Nature has sketched a lifeless and deadly scene whose background is obscurity . . The elements are warring."


New Guinea -- Cadre and Locals

Dad gained a field promotion in New Guinea to Staff Sargent after his superiors recognized him as a leader among his unit of black soldiers. He had an experienced ability to relate with and communicate effectively with the majority of white commanders and superiors in the military and that also served to elevate his profile among the military leadership.

Dad returned from his voyage and two-month deployment to New Guinea and Australia, newly energized and ambitious. On the way home from the West, he had to repeatedly switch trains to ride on the 'colored' cars through the segregated states and towns. He arrived home to Reading and immediately threw his abusive, deadbeat father to the curb. He didn't plan to stay there long, though.


Dad and Sister

Charles received an honorable discharge in 1946. Four years later, he was a graduate student on the GI Bill at West Virginia State College. Dad met my mother there and married her after graduation. He received a degree there in Psychology and went on to further his education at Princess Anne College in Maryland, where he described living in a rundown, segregated, barrack-like dorm.





At WVa. State College, Dad became a member of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity and joined the ROTC.


W.Va, College President, John W. Davis Presents the ROTC Unit's Colors to Senior Cadet, Lt. Charles Fullwood

He subsequently enlisted in the USAR in 1950 where he was assigned to work on civil affairs, recruiting, and personnel. Years after that, in 1963, Charles became a military policeman in the National Guard of the District of Columbia.


Public Safety Officer With D.C. National Guard

Back in his community, Mr Fullwood had also organized a civic association in his home named the Raritan Valley Association which was founded to further the goal of racial equality and for "greater awareness among Negroes of their own responsibility to the community."





It was also at this time -- right at the point in 1963 where President Kennedy is introducing the Dr. King-inspired Civil Rights bill of his to a divided Congress -- that Charles Fullwood was hired as an Employee/Management Relations Specialist in the Office of Undersecretary of the Army overseeing and processing complaints that passed through the Army Policy and Grievance Board.

When the Civil Rights Act passed in 1964, Mr. Fullwood had been promoted to a Personnel Staffing Specialist, Chief of Employee Services Section, at NASA, with responsibility for managing equal employment, mentally ill, and affirmative action programs; along with responsibility for recruiting and outreach. By 1966, he was NASA's 'principle action,' Equal Opportunity Employment Specialist for the Federal Government, and assisted in the implementation of Kennedy and Johnson's 'affirmative' action-based Executive Orders, 10925 and 11246.


Dad at NASA

By 1967, Charles had advanced to the U.S Civil Services Commission, assisting in developing general and special inspection plans for employer compliance with affirmative action laws and participating in EEO reviews.


Graduating Class at Judge Advocate General's School

In 1968, after being a rare bird in the Judge Advocate General's School and completing its International Law course, he was, simultaneously appointed Deputy Chief, Placement at the Office of Economic Opportunity Personnel and Job Corps. The remnants of the OEO that were reorganized into the Department of Health and Human Services. were the last vestiges of Sargent Shriver's hopes and dreams which Nixon had dismantled and tried to underfund and eliminate.

The next year, Charles Fullwood was moved to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission as a senior consultant top legislative officers of state, local governments, and private industry in providing ways to implement Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.



By 1970, he was promoted to a position as Deputy EEO Officer, responsible for implementing and evaluating a program of equal employment opportunity for employees of the Public Health Service hospitals, clinics, and major health services divisions.

Later, as Deputy Director of OEEO and HSMHA in 1972, Mr. Fullwood would direct the implementation and administration of affirmative action, upward mobility programs, and the processing of the Federal Women's and the Spanish-Speaking Program which had also been folded under EEO's mantle. This was the period where EEO had been granted actual authority to file lawsuits against violators. In the past, those cases were processed and prosecuted by the Labor Dept., with EEO merely providing friend-of-the-court briefs in support or opposition.

Dad took advantage of this period to play 'Lawrence of Arabia' and leave his paperwork-laden office and go out in the field to bonk some heads. He'd take a sheaf full of the new regs and new authority and put on his best angry administrator face for the code violators and abusers he encountered along the way. Not to diminish the effect of the enforcement ability afforded EEO, there were several landmark cases which were quickly prosecuted by the government and won.

____ It was also during this period that my father had become frustrated over being ignored, yet again, for a promotion in his membership as a major in the Army Reserve. He had been with the Reserve for over 20 years at that point, attending to that career at the same time he was submerged in his government one. Three times he had achieved the required service for consideration for advancement, and twice he had been passed-up.

Anxious that this third bid was destined to be rejected, he wrote then- Brigadier General Benjamin L. Hunton, USAR Minority Affairs Officer, and complained about a process where there were never enough blacks available in the pool to ever stand a chance of any minority gaining the promotion.



"There are a total of 61 officers in the unit," he wrote. "Two are minority group members; a total of 67 officers in another -- two are minority group members . . . a total of 63 in yet another unit with three minority members. The first cited has seven officer vacancies."

"The normal promotional procedure has been to select company and field-grade officers from the companies to fill headquarters vacancies. The procedure of promoting from within is as it should be. My only reservation," he wrote, "is that there are too few black officers at the company grade level available for consideration -- and when available, not selected for promotion."



450th - First Year With Unit

After little more than lip service from the general, Major Fullwood wrote then-Major General Kenneth Johnson:

"I am concerned that, despite the rhetoric and regulations, the Army Reserve and Command, have not now, nor in the past, initiated programs designed to seek and encourage blacks and other minorities to enlist in the Reserve forces . . ."

"Where they do exist, implementation of programs designed to recruit and maintain minority members has been delegated to local commanders with authority to implement according to local needs, but, without specific guidance or compliance review. Herein lies the problem; historically, the Reserve program, as you know, has been a haven for white boys. It has not changed . . . "



450th - Two Years Later

"I have approximately 22 years of combined service in the National Guard and Reserve Corps and am now being denied the opportunity for advancement. If local commanders can capriciously and unilaterally make the decision to deny me, an officer, opportunities that have been offered in abundance to whites, it doesn't require a great deal of imagination to realize the treatment black applicants to the reserve are being subjected to . . . The Reserve recruiting proedures and the Reserve program are, in the main, designed for whites, and consequently, mitigate against recruiting career-minded blacks," he wrote.



Dad's in the far back row, third from the left, behind a soldier

Major Fullwood recieved his commission to Lieutenant Colonel almost 3 years after he had lodged his complaints, and he retired from the Reserve at that rank in 1981.

Ironically, one year after that promotion, LTC Fullwood was assigned by the U.S. Army as an Education and Training Officer, providing support and assistance to U.S. Army Race Relations/Equal Opportunity Staff in preparation and presentation of the Unit RR Discussion Leader Course.



In a validating, but dumbfounding review by his commander, of his new promotion and new 'race relations' assignment, LTC Fullwood was described as 'diligent' and 'exemplary' in the performance of his duties. "His background as Director of Equal Opportunity for the Department of Health, Education and Welfare enabled him to greatly assist First U.S. Army in establishing the Unit Race Relations Discussion Leaders Course," the recommendation read.

No kidding.

Charles Fullwood would serve as Acting Director of OEEO and the Health Services Administration from August 1973 to September 1974. Next, he would serve as Special Assistant to the Administrator for Civil Rights, and then, as Director of the Office of Equal Employment Opportunity.



"The HSA Administrator is responsible for the administration of the EEO and Civil Rights programs," Mr. Fullwood told the 'Health Services World' magazine in 1976, after gaining his appointment, "And Dr. Hellman, HSA Administrator, has appointed me to implement them. I intend to do just that, with the help of all of the HSA employees," he said.

That's the long and short of Dad's military and public service. He advanced in the military and the government -- almost Gump-like in his relative obscurity; an uncomfortable aberration in the images capturing the racial make-up of his peer groups -- working to elevate and implement so many of the ideals and initiatives contained in the civil rights legislation that Martin Luther King Jr. and others fought for; working to implement the orders and initiatives from two successive presidents determined to make the 'Great Society' programs a reality (and Nixon, curiously providing the first actual governmental language), and serving as administrator for the inevitable outgrowths and expansions of those initiatives into the federal workforce and beyond; recruiting countless African Americans into the federal workforce, in his time, and providing some of the early backbone for the nation's new impetus in the hiring and advancement of blacks in government.

Most interesting to me, is that image after image shows the extent that, in those early days, Mr. Fullwood was usually, either the only black official in the rooms where important decisions were made concerning equal employment and other vestiges of the Civil Rights Act; or he was one of just a few. It's remarkable how steadfast he appeared over the years as he navigated his way to the senior positions he held in government and in the military.




Office of Equal Employment Opportunity Moves to HSA

In our nation's democracy, social, economic, and legal changes are advanced by a combination of activism, political initiative, and administrative implementation and interpretation. We are advantaged in the realization of our individual and collective ideals by activists, politicians, and bureaucrats. They all contribute.

It's wise to avoid getting too sentimental about the role of government in carrying out our ideals and addressing our concerns in the form of legislation or Executive actions. We, correctly, continue to press our concerns, even after we've passed our legislative remedies and tasked them to administrators and managers to implement. However, it doesn't hurt to recognize the tenacious, principled individuals inside of government who are driven by a determination to make it all work for as many Americans as possible to carry out our political mandates.

I think my father (with the help of countless others assuming the same responsibilities of implementing the dream) fulfilled that role with a characteristic routineness that mirrored the disciplined, principled personal life this African American sought to lead against so many obviously threatening odds; mirroring the unflagging commitment to the nation's advancement that countless generations of black Americans have repeatedly demonstrated, against all odds.

With all of the controversies today about corruption and greed influencing our political and governmental leaders, it's nice to know that there was a sober and trustworthy individual working on these issues behind the scenes. Charles Fullwood was transparently, if nothing more, a decent and principled man. That seems to be a rarity in government these days. It's certainly worth celebrating.

We're left to wonder just what we'd do without them; these good guys in government . . . I look optimistically to the future for more Chuck Fullwoods to run the bases after we've hit our political balls deep into the nation's outfield. How have we ever managed without him?



Remnants, Remembrances, and Legacies of Black History



If you can spare it, take some time out this month to look at any of the retrospectives, remembrances, and celebrations of the lives, achievements, and contributions of African Americans throughout our nation's history that folks are offering. Their remarkable and notable stories will be revealed and told to us through the rare photos; the rare anecdotes; through the recounting of the histories of famous and important persons in our communities and in our personal lives. The memories are preserved in fragments of time and place, held in fragile care and often degraded beyond recognition; or just gone for good.

With every year's observance of Black History Month, we take yet another step away from the often tragic and perpetually challenging beginnings of those Americans who often found themselves at desperate odds with a society determined to relegate their livelihoods and their rights to separate and often unequal consideration -- usually for no reason other than the color of their skin or their ethnic origin.

The month provides us with a 'teachable moment,' to recall, not only the institutionalized and personalized discrimination; not just revisit the violence; not solely focus on the insults and indifference perpetrated by some against black Americans, but, to recognize the depth and breadth of the motivations and determination of a people so convinced of their rightful place in a country so bent on their oppression to continue to reach out their hands to help the larger society as they helped themselves progress.

I've been aware of the contributions of women to African American history since 1965 when the occasion was called 'Negro History Week,' and I stood, terrified, before a huge assembly in our large Washington, D.C. elementary school auditorium and read the several paragraphs my father had written for me the night before (and I had partially memorized) on life of the black, contralto opera singer, Marion Anderson.

Of course, we all learned of the brave and heroic efforts of black women like Harriet Tubman and her 'Underground Railroad' shepherding fleeing slaves from capture. Sojourner Truth, an African-American abolitionist and women's rights activist, provides and early example of a courageous commitment to the betterment of a people and the larger community. We also learned of people like Bessie Coleman who became the first black woman to earn a pilot’s license and first American of any race or gender to earn an international license.

We can also see the contributions of those black American women gifted with artistic and musical ability to develop and fashion the texture and flavor of our culture, from the theater; to the gallery; to the runway; and beyond. We are encouraged and energized by the passion and diversity of African-American women's expression throughout our nation's history. The icons and favorites of our time join their brothers and sisters from the past in their timeless constructions and performances of their inner visions and activism. Many a song; many a performance; many an artwork; sparked or gave encouragement or comfort to changes in our nation -- provided positive reinforcement of progress; or offered stark denouncements of objectionable national behavior or attitudes. Others gave us comfort or provided introspection into the harmony or discord in our own souls and psyches.

There is yet another set of black women 'heroes' and achievers who aren't as readily or frequently recognized for their accomplishments and contributions. There are the folks who made it their mission to advance the causes of equality and integration for themselves, even as they worked to serve the needs and advancement of the public welfare of those outside of their own, mostly-segregated communities. Elected women officials are rare in our nation's early history, but there are countless examples of public and civic activists and advocates who helped form the organizations and commissions which held our nation accountable for its promises of equality and justice before the nation's voters saw fit to elect more women to our legislatures and our public offices.

Rebecca Lee Crumpler became the first black woman to receive an M.D. degree. She graduated from the New England Female Medical College in 1864. Phillis Wheatley became the first known African-American woman to publish a book in 1773. Sarah Jane Woodson Early was the first African-American female college instructor (Wilberforce College). Mary Jane Patterson was the first African-American woman to earn a B.A (Oberlin College). Cathay Williams was the first African-American woman enlistee in the U.S. Army . . .

We see the obvious contributions and legacies of these courageous and ambitious women in almost every aspect of our modern lives. Generations of women and men draw inspiration and heed the lessons of these African-American histories in their own pursuits of achievement and greatness. We can track the attitudes of service and commitment to country and community that these black women imbued in their everyday struggles, right up to the present attitudes and efforts of their offspring and the lessons they preserved and are sharing with the young leaders of the future.


____(In a re-post from 2013) A journey back through my scrapbooks took me on a trip beyond my own mother's past; beyond her mother's -- to the amazing history of an enterprising African-American lady whose ambitions and accomplishments helped provide the impetus and underpinning for the success and progress of countless black women in America as they worked tirelessly to navigate and overcome the many obstacles placed in their path.



Annie Turnbo-Malone

At the turn of the last century, Annie Turnbo Malone, the tenth of eleven children, began working on the hair of family members after she was unable to complete high school because of an illness. Looking for another method to straighten their hair, other than the popular (but injurious) method of pressing it with an flat iron heated on the stove or the fire, Ms. Malone developed her own formula which she named 'Wonderful Hair Grower.' Along with her own brand and style of hot comb, she created an entire arsenal of products to aid in the styling of African women's hair.

In 1902, Annie Malone moved her hair care enterprise from her shack of a headquarters in Illinois to St. Louis, Missouri, in anticipation of generating business at the upcoming World's Fair. In addition to her booth, Mrs. Malone recruited assistants to sell her formula and on-the-spot hair treatment door-to-door. It was such a success that she was able to tour the South the next year and begin to build her fortune. The proceeds enabled her to open a salon in St Louis and she began to market her hair care products under the name of 'Poro.'

By 1910, she had expanded her St. Louis operation to several offices, and in 1917, she opened 'Poro College,' the first hair and cosmetology training facility for the care of African American women's hair. Poro College was a new construction which stretched a full block, and boasted an auditorium, an ice cream parlor and bakery, a theater, a rooftop garden, as well as an entire marketing, manufacturing, and distribution center for her products which provided rare and important employment for hundreds in the community.

The neighborhood surrounding the "Ville" went from 8% black to 86%. Some called it 'white flight,' but it was actually a progression of an oppressed people toward the opportunity and elevation the enterprise provided. The college was also a hub of activity for black entertainers, and several African American organizations located their headquarters in the building. By the 1920s the Poro business, reportedly, employed 175 people in St. Louis and claimed to have as many as 75,000 agents in the United States and elsewhere. Annie Turnbo was said to have amassed as much as $14 million at the height of her operation. She was a proliferate giver and hosted at least two students in each of the scarce black colleges throughout the country.

Although the school offered no formal degree, it provided the teaching and foundation for black women to start and maintain their own businesses; as well as an etiquette training center and springboard for African American women agent/recruiters who prospered by promoting the 'Poro' brand and related services around the country -- and eventually, around the globe.


"Poro" College contract
from the Fullwood Family Collection

Mostly unrecognized for years, or dismissed or ignored, is the fact of the more famous and more celebrated "Madame Walker's" advantageous beginnings as an actual student at Annie Turnbo Malone's 'Poro' beauty school.

Sarah Breedlove, also know as, 'Madam C. J. Walker,' became one of Ms. Malone's sales agents during 1903. Two years later, however, Ms. Breedlove had developed her own brand of hair care products and moved her new operation, successfully, to Denver. She expanded that operation into hundreds of salons around the country and made a famous fortune selling her hair care solutions to black women.

Another enterprising African American woman, Marjorie Stewart Joyner, also achieved her own expansive legacy of accomplishment and influence in the sunshine and light generated from Poro's beginnings and successes.

Ms. Joyner jump-started her expansive career working for Ms. Walker (Breedlove) in the 1920's, supervising several of her offices and salons. She had been enrolled in the A.B. Molar Beauty School, and in 1916 had become the first black women to graduate from there. She opened her own salon which catered to mostly white clients. She was encouraged to get more training by relatives and she chose the Walker school, which, in turn, recruited her into their business enterprise.

Frustrated that the hair treatments she was providing women seemed to fall apart the next day, Ms. Joyner later invented a contraption, similar to a German one, which would electrify the hairstyle into a hold that would last for days. She patented her invention in 1928 and called it the "Permanent Waving Machine." It's a crazy-looking contraption which hangs from above and connects a single current to several points in a hood from a tangle of wires.

Women were more than satisfied with the long-lasting effects of the treatment to overcome any fear of process. Despite the success of the invention it was considered to be developed using Madame Walker's facilities and resources, so Ms. Joyner never profited directly from Waving Machine. It soon became commonplace in many salons around the country.

“I just wanted to improve the whole process and make it better for both the beauty operator and the client, and to help Black women hold their style for longer periods of time. Who benefited from it wasn’t as important to me as the purpose for which I created it,” she had said.

Marjorie S. Joyner was promoted to manage the Madame C.J. Walker Beauty Colleges as national supervisor after Ms. Breedlove's untimely death in 1919. She oversaw more than 200 schools.

In 1945 Joyner co-founded the United Beauty School Owners and Teachers Association with Mary Bethune McLeod. They co-founded the Alpha Chi Pi Omega Sorority and Fraternity to help raise professional standards for beauticians and direct their energy and efforts for the good of the broader community. In 1973, at the age of 77, Ms. Joyner achieved her bachelor's degree in psychology from Bethune-Cookman College. In fact, one of the first and most enduring efforts of the sorority was/is to raise funds for the preservation of the Bethune College.

“Poro College is consecrated to the uplift of humanity—Race women in particular,” Annie Turnbo Malone once said of her enterprise.

"Uplift" them, it certainly did. My grandmother was among that fortunate progression of African American women who were uplifted by Annie Malone's vision and determination. My grandfather's sister was also directly uplifted by Poro College.


Poro College graduates in 1921
from the Fullwood Family Collection

My grandmother, Rochelle Knight Searcy (pictured above, at the top left), and my aunt, Mary S. Thomas, were both early Poro College graduates. Rochelle got her first diploma in 1921 and Mary received her diploma in 1922, with her baby girl in tow.

Rochelle was an African American woman with very light skin. She was the tenth of 26* children born to Jacob Knight in Molena, Ga., in 1902. Knight was said to have, literally, populated an entire town that he had built up on the 200, or so, acres of land he owned. In 1917, Mrs. Searcy graduated from the Seminar English Preparatory School of the Morris Brown University of Atlanta, Ga..


Rochelle and Henry Searcy
from the Fullwood Family Collection

In 1919, she married Mr. Henry K. Searcy (listed in certificates as a 'farmer') and they soon moved to Charleston, W.Va. -- sister Mary and her husband had already moved there from Georgia. Mr. Thomas had found work as the first Negro bricklayer called to work at the South Charleston Naval Ordinance Plant.

Charleston, in a state which was founded on its resistance to slavery and its allegiance to the Union in 1863, was adapting to the changing demographics of its refuge and opportunity for migrating blacks.

"Between 1919 and 1921 T. G. Nutter, Harry Capehart, and T. J. Coleman, three African-American legislators, were responsible for the creation of several state-funded institutions for blacks. The West Virginia Industrial Home for Colored Girls in Huntington and the West Virginia Industrial Home for Colored Boys in Lakin, the West Virginia Colored Deaf and Blind School at Institute, and the West Virginia Hospital for Colored Insane at Lakin were all given state funding. The institutions were to be run by African Americans. Other publicly funded institutions for African Americans included the West Virginia Home for the Aged and (Infirmed) Colored Men and Women in Huntington, the West Virginia Colored Orphans Home in Huntington, and the West Virginia Colored Tuberculosis Sanitarium at Denmar." Source: Posey, The Negro Citizen of West Virginia, 58-62; Acts of the West Virginia Legislature.

Charleston wasn't exactly a progressive town, but it was one of those regions which contained a sufficiently large black population to facilitate and require a proportionally adequate number of institutions, facilities, and amenities to satisfy the African Americans community's needs, wants, and concerns. Those would require a workforce able and adequate to the tasks, as well. The Searcys had the right mix of skills and education to make them integral to the success of their new community.


Rochelle Knight Searcy
from the Fullwood Family Collection

Records obtained from W.Va. indicate that Rochelle was pregnant at the time she attended and graduated from Poro College, but sadly, the baby (Mattie J.) was born 'Immature', at home (5 months from the time she received her 'Poro' degree) and the newborn died within hours. Mrs. Searcy successfully bore my mother, three years later. Although there was the certain stress over the shock that the infant, 'Annie Maude', was born blind, her sight was quickly and adequately restored by a new surgical procedure.

It bears reminding that, although my mother was born with skin that was indistinguishable from most white Americans (and with beautiful blond hair and hazel eyes as a compliment), she was still considered and designated on her birth record as 'Negro' and was not allowed to advantage herself of any of the non-black medical facilities.

Fortunately, Charleston was an able town. It eventually produced a man, Dr. John C. Norman (a schoolmate of my mothers' at the all-black Garnet High School), who became a surgeon key in a new procedure in which a pigs' bladder was used to draw off toxins in liver operations. They took good care of their citizens.

The town also produced a couple of African American beauty salon owners. Within the time-frame of my mother's birth, Rochelle had opened her own beauty salon -- 'Rochelle Beauty Shop' on Morris St.. Mrs. Searcy would own and operate that salon for over 37 years. She looked to be at the height of her confidence and ability in this early street scene:


Rochelle in Downtown Charleston
from the Fullwood Family Collection

Rochelle raised Annie Maude (my mother) and included her in almost every aspect of society, enrolling her in the Girl Scouts and Camp Fire Girls Clubs in which she became a leader. Annie Maude also became a Sunday School teacher at the First Baptist Church in Charleston. She became a member in the Delta Kappa Gamma Society International and a member of the Ivy Leaf Club.

Annie Maude Searcy took a decidedly more personal approach to the furtherance of the prospects of Charleston's youth; mainly in her own social and educational development.


Annie Maude Searcy
from the Fullwood Family Collection

A graduate from the the all-black Garnet High School, which closed in 1955 due to integration, Ms. Searcy went on to become a teacher, attending and obtaining degrees from West Virginia State College; Atlanta University; UDC; Catholic University; and Trinity College. At West Virginia State, she was secretary to the Dean of Women.



After graduating Garnet High School, Anne (as she later referred to herself), became a supervisor at the West Virginia Industrial Home for Colored Girls in Huntington, W.Va..


Anne Searcy
from the Fullwood Family Collection

Anne was a medical secretary at Community General Hospital in Reading, Pa.. She worked for the federal government in Metuchen N.J. for 10 years. She became an elementary school teacher with the Washington, D.C. public schools for 20 years and volunteered as a substitute teacher and teacher's aide for over 20 more years at a nearby Shepherd Elementary school.

____ Sister-in-law, Mary Thomas, also opened a beauty shop in 1924. Mary had twins, a boy and girl, in Charleston, in 1919. The boy died from spinal meningitis when he was 18 months old. She maintained ownership and operation of that salon for nearly 36 years.

In addition to her course at the Poro College, Mrs. Thomas had also obtained a degree in 1909 from Fort Valley State College in Georgia. After two years, and a growing cadre of young women eager to learn the trade -- and Mary eager and Poro-qualified to teach them -- she opened what is considered to be the first beauty/culture school for black women in the state of West Virginia.


Graduates of Mary Thomas' Beauty/Culture School (Mary, at far left)
from the Fullwood Family Collection

She later said she had a love for "doing hair' and a long line of women wanting her to 'do their hair." Mary maintained the shop on Jacob St. for about 35 years and helped many, many women all along the way, reportedly, often putting in twelve-hour days.

Mrs. Thomas also traveled to as many as twenty different states during her career, attending beautician meetings and conventions. Her first visit was to New York.


(Mary Thomas, lower left - Rochelle Searcy, second up from bottom left)
from the Fullwood Family Collection

Mary later helped organize a sorority of beauticians in the Charleston area under the banner of Ms. Bethune's and Ms. Joyner's Alpha Chi Pi Omega group. Later in life, Mrs. Thomas and Mrs. Bethune met and became friends.

In this article, Marjorie Stewart Joyner is seen (sitting, second from the left) in a photograph of a gathering of sorors at a Piano recital.



and here, in the original, with my grandmother, Rochelle, and Aunt Mary in attendance:


Alpha Chi Pi Omega Sorority Recital
from the Fullwood Family Collection

Here they are at another gathering; no doubt, organizing some civic mission or raising funds for some public endeavor (Rochelle, seated, on the far right - Mary, standing, second from the right) :


Alpha Chi Pi Omega Sorority Members
from the Fullwood Family Collection

After 1940, Charleston became a hub of activity in opposition to segregation of public facilities, stores, transportation, and other public accommodations. There were also intensified efforts by local residents to get businesses to hire more blacks. Although there were citizens from every corner of the community who gradually rose in support of integration and non-discrimination (in in tune with the emerging legal prohibitions on such acts) there were notable figures who stepped in front of the crowd and waged their own civil-disobedient battles in leading sit-ins and other gradually successful protests in Charleston and the surrounding areas.

"Segregation, making a person an inferior citizen, is a bad thing, an evil thing. I think the majority of white people would gladly see the end of it if it could be done in a way that would not involve them personally," said Elizabeth Harden Gilmore, a local activist and family friend, in 1960. "I think the majority would welcome, if put to a popular vote, an ordinance that would say "we will have no more of this.'"

Mrs. Gilmore, a co-founder of the first CORE chapter in West Virginia, explained: "The greater portion of our ills can be laid to the lack of employment opportunities. If we had good jobs, we could have better educations, decent homes, better medical care, all the things that money can buy to enhance a good life . . . "Yet, we're not getting those things, most of us, because of a sociological condition rather than an intrinsic failing. It isn't fair, and our young people, particularly students, are struck by the unfairness it represents," she said.

Certainly, Mary Thomas' and Rochelle Searcy's children were to be the beneficiaries of the society that these impressive women were building and molding with their steady and dignified lives and efforts.


Mary Thomas' Daughter, Helmar Washington
from the Fullwood Family Collection

Mary's daughter, who she had toted along on her many trips around the country in support of beauticians and in furtherance of her own trade, grew to become a public advocate and activist in her own right. Her efforts were waged inside of the political system after being hired by the newly emerging Social Security administration which she joined in 1955 as a field representative and continued for almost 30 years, retiring as an operations supervisor. Thomas often worked closely with Sen. Jay Rockefeller, in his younger days as a legislator.

Here she is in a newspaper clip on one of her many outreach visits, working to enroll citizens (all races) to advantage them of the newly enacted provisions of the social and retirement law:



Helmar Thomas-Washington was also involved in local politics as league secretary for the Young Negro Democratic Voters League of West Virginia, seen here with her cadre of black and white male associates and legislators:



Mary Thomas, aided by the almost constant companionship of her daughter, went on to live to be 103 years-old.



I see all of those ads for wrinkle cream," she joked, "so I'm thinking I might get me some.

"I just wish - just once - that I could see all of the people I came up with," Mary said in a 1987 interview at 102 years, I wish we could talk about old times. But, they're gone."



Rochelle Searcy went back to St. Louis in 1930 and obtained another degree from Turnbo-Malone's Poro College in 'Fancy Hairdressing.'


Poro College Degree
from the Fullwood Family Collection

Rochelle continued her education as a beautician through the 1950's, enrolling in the beauty school established by Marjorie S. Joyner and Mary Bethune, the United Beauty School Owners and Teacher's Institute. She obtained two more certificate degrees in Advanced Study in Beauty Culture, Methods of Teaching, and Hair Styling; one from New York and another from Detroit, Michigan.


from the Fullwood Family Collection


from the Fullwood Family Collection

Anne Searcy married Charles Fullwood in Reading, Pa. in 1957.



She had 2 children, a boy; Ronald, and a girl; Maria, who passed away at age 48.


from the Fullwood Family Collection

Shortly before the arrival of her son, Mrs. Fullwood was said to have expressed misgivings about her young marriage and asked her mother, Rochelle, to visit and help straighten things out. In 1961, both Aunt Mary and Rochelle boarded a plane and came to Metuchen in support of their girl. Unfortunately, Charles (Dad) sent them packing back to Charleston, almost as quickly as they had arrived. Rochelle, who had been ill for over three years, died of an infection, at age 59, shortly after her return.


Rochelle, Mary, and Anne
from the Fullwood Family Collection

From these few remnants, recollections, and images from this relatively small community in Charleston W.Va., we can see both the outline and the reality of the sustaining influence of African American women, like Annie Turnbo-Malone, 'Madame Walker', Marjorie Stewart Joyner, and the rest, whose efforts stood out and stood tall against the backdrop of our nation's divided past as they actively and aggressively sought to transform their successes into actual gains for the black women (and men) in their community and for the broader public, as well.

Look at them. Look at their faces. There's almost no trace of the struggle and of the oppression and discrimination raging around their young lives. There's little trace of any of the certain insecurity they must have felt as they pressed forward. On the contrary, there's every evidence that their own individual and collective strengths, intelligence, and abilities enabled them to achieve these remarkable accomplishments against the faltering, but omnipresent, resistance with grace and dignity.

More importantly, these few stories illustrate the profound ignorance and short-sightedness of those who sought to keep these folks down or relegate them to a sub-standard, unequal existence. The more the African American community was forced to rely on themselves, the more they prospered; not in any small part due to the myriad of dynamic women who found a way to learn, develop, build, and prosper; reaching back for every outreaching hand they could grab a hold of -- pulling them up and pushing them forward.

Down to the small kitchens in Charleston, West Virginia -- where the overpowering smell of burning hair being treated and processed with ointments, and hot combs heated on the stove fire lingers in our longing memories for that communal past -- the impact of Annie Turnbo-Malone and the other African American women who stepped out ahead of the racism and bigotry which sought to define their young lives is still being felt and reflected in almost every feminine expression of independence and responsibility in our black communities.


from the Fullwood Family Collection

For my mother, that spirit of advocacy and activism didn't stop at Charleston's border. Anne Searcy Fullwood became more involved in the associations and groups which continue to dedicate themselves to the furthering of their efforts against segregation, discrimination, and the like, into the present day.



She achieved a position on the membership committee of the Xi Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha (her joy). Mrs. Fullwood was also a member of the NAACP and a lifetime member of the National Council of Negro Women.

In fact, after marrying and moving to Metuchen, New Jersey, Anne Fullwood joined the local Auxiliary Memorial VFRW Post and took a secretarial position at the local Raritan Arsenal.



Charles Fullwood also assumed the responsibilities of citizenship and community as he organized a civic group dedicated to the needs of the entire community, all races, which met in their home, "as a watchdog over human rights and a goad to improvement in Negro community consciousness"





Racism was on the way out of public view and on the way out of our public institutions as this young couple started their new lives. But, there were still remnants of discrimination persisting which echoed the past struggles in Charleston; much like the strikes white students held in the town in an attempt to resist integration of blacks into the public schools.



The above article appeared in a local paper in 1962, along with a front-page explanation of the article by the editors of the paper apologizing to readers for being compelled enough by the seriousness of the conflict described to bother to run such story. A local aid squad had rejected the membership of an African American couple with longstanding ties to the community, based solely on their race. Eventually, under public pressure, the offending members on the board resigned and those remaining relented on the memberships and allowed the black couple to serve.

Mom saw the article and responded (much like her son does today) with a sarcastic and scalding letter to the editor; calling the report 'exasperating.'



"How brainy can this borough be?" she wrote. "A new family establishes residency in a new area; for two years a happy Metuchen family, thinking of a way they might make a worthy contribution to the community; and, one day the thought is real -- the Metuchen Aid Squad -- and another day the idea is ended-gone, without brainy reason or fact why the application was returned."

"Congratulations to the members of the squad who were working whole-heartedly, for the purposes of the squad, rather than the 'Color of the Squad'.

How positively 'brainy'. How positively inspiring.


from the Fullwood Family Collection




Addendum:

Several relatives of the Knight family posted responses which fleshed out more of grandmother Rochelle's history...

bjknight
Great grand mother sister

I too am related thru my grandmother. Sisters, ROCHELLE AND ESTELLE. 2 of 26 kids and different mothers. Estelle my great grandmother was born in 1878 , went to school in the area and taught at Knight s academy in 1899.


bjknight
SISTERS

Jacob Knight son of a white man , John Knight and black mixed slave named Violet . John Knight s father was also white ,


bjknight
SISTERS

This beginning for us started in Harris /Pike county Georgia. it has been wonderful reading your info and I still looking for more family info. our history is also like the Kennedies , the black Kennedies that is. John knight, a lawyer justice of peace and plantation owner/farmer. He had a son John Knight who had Jacob. Apparently Jacob was fond of family. He had 3 wives and 26 kids. He like his father was a great farmer back in the day and had great respect from everyone as he was one of the richest men in the area. So our beginning started off as grandchildren of a white man. My grandmother had violet eyes very light of could pass for white. She almost look like your mother, We have a picture of Stella as she was called.


Sherell09

Wow

This was very interesting.... Because this is my great-great-great Aunt! And who ever shared this information. Deserves a around of applause. I am so happy too see this kind of information for the first time. It brings tears too my eyes. To know my "family" is part of black history.

Rochelle knight is my great great grand mother sister. Which makes Rochelle knigh Searcy my aunt.


bjknight
SISTERS

Jacob Knight died in Molena, Ga in 1934 and is buried in Mt Olive. Based on family, Hattie and Delphia , negro wives to Jacob were sisters. Delphia died shortly after giving birth. She birthed Ulyses , Eratus ,Electra, General Sheridan and Rochelle. She was born in 1867 and died in 1897.Shortly thereafter he married Hattie who was born in 1877 and died in 1927. She was as old as some of Jacob s children. We have been unable to secure a picture of Delphia or Annie the first wife or Stella's mother. It is said that there were 26 kids or my great grandma Stella. Annie had 2, Delphia had 5 AND Hattie had 19 . I t looks as though there was a another Rochelle but she didn't make it , most likely died as a baby and another named Cora who was born in 1900. Looking forward to getting more insight from you and other family Fullwoods members too. I need to get your perspectives about my blogs and pictures of Rochelle when was young with her parents and Rochelle s brothers and sisters, Even picture of Jacob. Some say Delphia was named after the city of Philadelphia. Don't know. A s this family could have been a football baseball and basketball team. Could you image famous sports figures in the Knight family back in the 1800s. I will do my best to transmit and sometimes may require the aid of daughter, Jataun. Looking forward to hearing from the family. We have so many gaps of history and hopefully we can piece our history together.


bjknight
SIsters

Just realized that Stella was first one at top of the family and Rochelle is one at the other end as being new baby in 1897. Delphia died around that time and a new wife needed to care for kids and new baby. The things you learn while researching family,


bjknight

SISTERS

John 1 Knight and wife were born in Maryland according to the 1880 census in Pike county, when asked where the parents were born.

John 2 Knight was born in Pike county. H e was a lawyer, plantation owner/ farmer and military man. With the civil war approaching, John 2 relisted with his commission of major in the confederate army in March 1862. John 2 believed in the southern man's right of ideology and right to defend slavery. He served in the war and was injured and retired and was enlisted in the Regiment U S Veteran Corp in 1864. a unit reserved for the injured and incapacitated , that is where soldiers went for light duty if physically possible after the war.

Based on American history, southern lands were given to the former slaves but was short lived and the land was returned back to the original white owners. Based on family lore no Knight land was given nor taken as John 2 had a slave wife or mulatto woman at home with a son named Jake who was born in 1850 and other kids , Alice and Elle . Farming continued. No outsiders touched this family. No one encroached upon Knight land or they would have to answer to John 2. It looks like God was on their side in my opinion with no lives loss because of the civil war in the Knight family.

After the war John 2 returned home with a war injury and lived on his farm with his wife Violet, kids Elle and Alice per the 1880 U S census. Jacob was 30 years of age living in his own home and his 13/15 year old sisters at home with parent(s) in 1880.

When looking at census , did notice something unique in 1880, Violet a mulatto married with no mention of husband. A couple of doors down John 2 married , white with no mention of wife, Violet. But the family and I supposed friends and neighbors knew and was an inside secret that the government or enumerator didn't know.

original post: http://www.democraticunderground.com/1187585

BHM: 'Mrs. Gilmore's Defining Black History'

THE theme for Black History Month 2015 is, 'A Century of Black Life, History, and Culture'. Some have expressed their opinion that black history should not be restricted to just one month of recognition, and I agree. Yet, this month, nonetheless, provides us with an unique opportunity to highlight and celebrate black lives and share those recollections and remembrances with others who may not have access to those histories.

The volume of remarkable and celebrated subjects who have enriched and enhanced our lives here in America over centuries of our nation's growth is vast and wide. Many of the giants in the black American experience have earned prominent positions in our recitation of that history of our development as a country and as individuals. However, there is an endless resource of black Americans in our nation's history whose accomplishments aren't as widely known and recognized.

I'm fortunate to have a long line of outstanding family members and friends of the family to recall with great pride in the recounting of their lives and the review of their accomplishments; many in the face of intense and personal racial adversity. In many ways, their stories are as heroic and inspiring as the ones we've heard of their more notable counterparts. Their life struggles and triumphs provide valuable insights into how a people so oppressed and under siege from institutionalized and personalized racism and bigotry were, nonetheless, able to persevere and excel. Upon close examination of their lives we find a class of Americans who strove and struggled to stake a meaningful claim to their citizenship; not to merely prosper, but to make a determined and selfless contribution to the welfare and progress of their neighbors.

That's the beauty and the tragedy of the entire fight for equal rights, equal access, and for the acceptance among us which can't be legislated into being. It can make you cry to realize that the heart of what most black folks really wanted for themselves in the midst of the oppression they were subject to was to be an integral part of America; to stand, work, worship, fight, bleed, heal, build, repair, grow right alongside their non-black counterparts.

It can also floor you to see just how confident, capable, and determined many black folks were in that dark period in our history as they kept their heads well above the water; making leaps and bounds in their personal and professional lives, then, turning right around and giving it all back to their communities in the gift of their expertise and labor.

One outstanding African American woman who is associated with my family deserves to have her story highlighted a bit in this period where we're striving to elevate and establish the history of blacks in America to an appropriate level of focus. (This is a repeat of an earlier post. I hope it isn't too familiar...yet)




Elizabeth Harden Gilmore went to school with my mother, living and growing up in the same working-class black community of Charleston, West Virginia. Mrs, Gilmore had the distinction of being the first female black funeral director in the state. She was the owner and funeral director of Harden and Harden Funeral Home.

Before she was widely recognized as a civil rights leader, we used to visit her spooky, classical, revival style mansion in the center of Charleston (now a historical landmark) which had the funeral parlor in the basement. Mrs. Gilmore lived in that house from 1947 until her death.



Recognized today as a civil rights leader in her state and community, Mrs. Gilmore co-founded the local chapter of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) in 1958 (the first in West Virginia), leading CORE in a successful 1 1/2 year-long sit-in campaign at a local department store called The Diamond. She also served on the Kanawha Valley Council of Human Relations which advanced measures related to housing, transportation, access to other public accommodations.

Mrs. Gilmore also earned a place on the all-white Board of Regents after a successful fight to amend the 1961 state civil rights law. She was also a charter member and Executive Secretary of the Council of Racial Equality.

She was always warm, gracious, and unfailingly generous. Mrs. Gilmore had a gentle, light cadence. She had unusually long fingernails which she would use to gesture toward you as she spoke. Mrs. Gilmore was well-traveled and would talk with my mother for hours about her experiences abroad and in the community while I fiddled with the expensive crystal she had brought back from Russia and squirmed in my seat.

I came upon a few old articles in my family scrapbooks featuring Mrs. Gilmore in the period of her ambitious work and efforts to serve and elevate her town and its residents. I've transcribed them for a remembrance, and for this year's celebration of black history. I hope you enjoy her enlightened and remarkable perspective on her life and work. First, an article from 1960 highlighting Mrs. Gilmore's impressions of the struggle for civil rights, six years after the Supreme Court ruled on school segregation:


Negro Says Action The Way To Get Integration

Mrs. Gilmore remembers the first time she decided to actively demonstrate against segregation.

"It must have been 25 years ago," she said. "Lady Baden-Powell, whose husband started the Boy Scouts, was in Charleston and a program was arranged for her at old Garnet High School."

"My Girl Scouts were invited to take part. We found that they had been placed off stage, hidden in the corner, and were supposed to sing spirituals."

"Now I have nothing against spirituals. They're a part of American music, but the whole idea upset me so much, the hurt of those passed-over little girls, that I decided to do something about it."

"I implied that unless new arrangements were made, I would take my little brown-skinned girls and march out right in the middle of the program. Well, something was done about it. They sat on the stage and they held up their heads."

" I guess I've always been something of a protester. My daughter calls me 'Mrs. Ant'iony and Carrie Nation. But my grand mother taught us not to be ashamed because we were Negroes. She said to look people in the eye when we talked to them. She told us we were as good as anybody else, no better, but as good."

Mrs. Gilmore's protest against racial segregation resulted in her helping to organize a Charleston chapter of the Congress of Racial Equality, the first and only CORE chapter in West Virginia at the time.

CORE, a national organization, is pledged to direct non-violent action against segregation. Such action has included sitting in restaurants and refusing to leave until receiving service (sit-ins), picket-lines, and boycotting.

Activity of the Charleston group, so far, has been limited to lunch counters of variety stores. Eventually, each of the targets changed from a segregated to an integrated policy.

There were 14 active members of CORE there, and about 400 associate ones. Active members pledge to take part in demonstrations when they are asked.

"I am convinced of the efficiency of direct action," Mrs. Gilmore said. "If our people had used it a generation or two ago, we wouldn't be witnessing the things today that shock and sadden people of all races."

"Many people feel as I do. That's why we're opposed to the idea that if we keep our places and wait patiently these things will come to us. We've been waiting for almost a hundred years and whatever we've got, we've had to fight for. It wasn't given to us. That's why we believe in direct action."

"Segregation, making a person an inferior citizen, is a bad thing, an evil thing. I think the majority of white people would gladly see the end of it if it could be done in a way that would not involve them personally. I think the majority would welcome, if put to a popular vote, an ordinance that would say "we will have no more of this.'"

"I think people would welcome a way of life where man could walk with dignity and live his life to the extent of his potentialities, as a Christian, as a human, as a brother in a free society."

Mrs. Gilmore, as many other observers, thinks that Charleston residents are tolerant toward minority groups. But she adds, tolerance or sympathy is not enough; specific improvements are the things needed.

Restaurants and hotels, she thinks, will end their policy of refusing service to Negroes in the near future; not because they felt it was the proper thing to do, but because pressure was brought against them.

"There are other things when you talk about how tolerant Charleston is," she said, "employment for one. We desperately need some semblance of fair employment. It is the most important thing of all."

"The greater portion of our ills can be laid to the lack of employment opportunities. If we had good jobs, we could have better educations, decent homes, better medical care, all the things that money can buy to enhance a good life."

"If that were so, you wouldn't need to live six to eight to a room and pay $60 a month for a hovel. You could buy good decent clothes for your children; you could buy good books; you could have music in your home. How can you do that on $45 every two weeks? You can't do it! And yet, people criticize these people. They say we don't open our doors to Negroes because we're afraid that type of person will come in."

Mrs. Gilmore thinks that critics of CORE, those who do not believe in protest action, do not understand what it is to be a Negro."

" They can't realize the slights, the rebuffs, the humiliation," she said. "They don't see the tears in their children's eyes. They don't know the sadness, the frustration."

"And it's all so silly. I remember one day I heard one white girl ask another where she had gotten her beautiful tan, and the girl said she had spent two weeks in Florida. I couldn't help thinking that on her it was a beautiful tan; to me, it was a stigma."

"We want what everyone wants: a decent home, records perhaps, the chance to go to a museum or to a theater or to an art galley. We're no different in our hopes and aspirations than anyone else."

"Yet, we're not getting those things, most of us, because of a sociological condition rather than an intrinsic failing. It isn't fair, and our young people, particularly students, are struck by the unfairness it represents."

"My people came over the Appalachians from Virginia before the Civil War because they wanted to find a better place to live," she said.

She said the demonstrations which she helped plan and execute are, to her, the best way to dramatize both the inequality that Negroes face and the inequities of segregation.

"This isn't a go-it-alone battle that we're in," she said. "People of good faith here and throughout the world sympathize with our aims."

"I've been fortunate enough to meet a few of them. I think the greatest thing to happen to Charleston was the Haseldens. (Rev. Haselden was the pastor of the Baptist Temple; his wife was a leader of the Kanawha County Council on Human Relations.)"

"Elizabeth Haselden, with her beauty, grace and dignity, brought to the women of Charleston a graphic story. Albert Schweitzer said, "Example is not the greatest thing; it is the only thing.'"

" She showed them that this battle for human rights was not a brawl of just a rabble's action but it was something that could be done without loss of the things that culture and education bring."

"These women in Charleston have taken their cues from Elizabeth Haselden. They can in good faith, without destroying any of the things that makes a lady, fight this battle and maintain these things -- not only maintain them, but enhance them to make this a better world."

Elizabeth Harden Gilmore, I daresay, provided many, many of the cues for the women of Charleston, and everywhere this great lady's influence was felt and experienced.




One more article featuring Mrs. Gilmore from 1969:



"I'm very honored and pleased," says Mrs. Virgil Gilmore of her appointment to the new state board of regents.

The sole Negro and only woman member on the board, which will supervise eight state colleges and two universities, was asked how she would feel as the lone female in an all-male group. "That doesn't bother me," she says. "I'm an old woman and I've been married twice. I'm not afraid of men or in awe of them."

She's used to the situation anyway, because she's also the sole woman member of the Charleston Area Chamber of Commerce. As a member of the chamber's education task force, she works with the tutorial program in the Board of education's 'Keep a Child in School' project.

A graduate of West Virginia State College and a licensed funeral director, Mrs. Gilmore has one daughter who is an aerodynamics programmer with General Electric in Cincinnati.

"That's the brains in my family," she says of her daughter. "She received a BS degree in chemistry and math from WV State. I always said nobody could accuse me of pulling her along, because in subjects like that, I could only pull her down."

To her new post as board member, Mrs, Gilmore will take the philosophy: "Our salvation lies in education." She believes most of our ills can be attributed to a lack of knowledge of ourselves, of how to live with others, of how to get the most out of our lives and all the beautiful things that exist . . . There is an adventure about living,: she adds. "It's all here. We're just so sophisticated, or hardened, I guess, that we fail to find the things that make life good."

That personal concept, she says, has paid off. Although she has only one daughter, Mrs. Gilmore says she has "lots of children," including the Girl Scouts, some she has had from the time they were ten years-old on through college.

"And I don't have a single child who can't walk freely and with dignity with kings and princesses," she explains. "They know how to support themselves, they know how to be gentle and kind and decent -- those are the only things you really need."

She says, "those Girl Scouts are more than just Scouts to me. They're my children. I taught them to eat and sleep and walk and talk and I can safely say that two-thirds of them are now business women and degreed women. I've got librarians and school teachers and beauticians -- all kinds of young'uns."

Her Scouts were the first Negro girls to attend Camp Anne Bailey and she recalls the bitter struggle involved in actually getting them admitted and the sales they held to finance the trip. "You don't reach into the average Negro's pocket, at least not then, and pull out things like health cards and swimsuits," she explained.

Mrs, Gilmore was a pioneer of the civil rights movement in West Virginia. Of the progress in integration, she tells her youngsters that "the doors are open now. If you don't go through, it's nobody's fault but your own. I remind them we have the government on our side now. If you have a grievance, you don't have to fight it out on your own anymore."

Of her own involvement in the cause of the Negro, she says, "I'm a persistent cuss -- and a mother. My daughter would look up at me with her big brown eyes and ask to have a tall soda at Scott's Drug Store. I would tell her she couldn't and she would say, 'Well, why, mother, why can't I?" That's all it took to get me started.

Mrs. Gilmore refers to herself as a Negro, not black. "I'm old-fashioned," she explains, "My maternal grandmother was from England and my maternal grandfather was from Spain, so, I figure I'm just as much as anything as I am black."

"My great-grandmother came over the mountains to the Kanawha Valley four generations ago looking for a better life. She had six children and only the supplies her master had given her. I tell youngsters today that if one woman could face that alone, that's all the more reason today to seek successful lives for themselves."


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