Born in the USA…two of a mind

President Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen will release a joint book, Renegades: Born in the U.S.A., on October 26th globally via Higher Ground/Penguin Random House.

…”A collection of candid, intimate, and entertaining conversations,” which began in Spotify’s co-produced podcast of the same name. Published in an oversized, fully illustrated format, the book will also feature rare and exclusive photographs from the authors’ personal collections and never-before-seen archival material, including Springsteen’s handwritten lyrics and Obama’s annotated speeches.

“Over the years, what we’ve found is that we’ve got a shared sensibility,” Obama writes in the book’s opening pages. “About work, about family, and about America. In our own ways, Bruce and I have been on parallel journeys trying to understand this country that’s given us both so much. Trying to chronicle the stories of its people. Looking for a way to connect our own individual searches for meaning and truth and community with the larger story of America.”

Springsteen adds, in the book’s introduction: “There were serious conversations about the fate of the country, the fortune of its citizens, and the destructive, ugly, corrupt forces at play that would like to take it all down. This is a time of vigilance when who we are is being seriously tested. Hard conversations about who we are and who we want to become can perhaps serve as a small guiding map for some of our fellow citizens.”

They are what they say they are. “Renegades” compared to the average American stuck into the two-party carousel. Pretty much straight down the middle of any road I ever marched on.

I started a few years before either. It’s been 61 years since my first sit-in in a drugstore in Virginia. But, then I’m older than either of them, as well. My heart, my understanding of class and history stands to the Left of either. But, unlike some of those partaking of political struggle in this benighted land, it ain’t a sect or religion. It’s just what needs to be done to find justice for all.

We can march together.

Synagogue shooting victims win right to sue gunmaker

A California judge decided that victims of the 2019 synagogue shooting near San Diego that killed one worshiper and wounded three can sue the manufacturer of the semiautomatic rifle used in the attack and the gun shop that sold the weapon.

San Diego County Superior Court Judge Kenneth J. Medel said Wednesday that victims and families in the Poway synagogue shooting have adequately alleged that Smith & Wesson, the nation’s largest gun maker, knew its AR-15-style rifle could be easily modified into a machine-gun-like or assault weapon in violation of state law, according to a newspaper report.

The judge also said the shop, San Diego Guns, could be sued for selling the weapon to the shooting suspect, John Earnest, who was 19 and lacked a hunting license that would have exempted him from California’s minimum age of 21 for owning long guns.

Prosecutors say Earnest, a nursing student, opened fire with a semiautomatic rifle during the last day of Passover services in April 2019. The attack killed 60-year-old Lori Gilbert-Kaye and wounded three others, including an 8-year-old girl and the rabbi, who lost a finger.

I’ll give you an idea how long overdue this is. I learned how to “rewatt” machines guns around 1955. And, no, it wasn’t from one of the gunsmiths in my family. It was the “gun-guy” in the street-racing gang I ran with.

Transgender woman wins place to compete for Miss USA

A transgender woman who won the Miss Nevada USA pageant will soon become the first openly transgender Miss USA contestant…

Donning a rainbow sequined gown she designed herself, Kataluna Enriquez accepted the crown toward the end of Pride Month, and will compete in the Miss USA pageant in November.

The Filipina-American is a fashion designer and healthcare administrator. A biography on the Miss Silver State USA’s Instagram mentions Enriquez is a survivor of physical and sexual abuse who “aims to break barriers and represent those who aren’t always represented and continues to support numerous non-profit organizations and LGBTQ+ youth.”…

Enriquez began competing in transgender pageants in 2016, and began competing in cisgender pageants in 2020. In an interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal after her win, Enriquez said she wasn’t allowed to use either boys’ or girls’ restrooms, and faced bullying by her classmates over her gender identity.

“Growing up, I was often told that I was not allowed to be myself, or to be in spaces that I was not welcome,” she said. “Today I am a proud transgender woman of color. Personally, I’ve learned that my differences do not make me less than, it makes me more than.”

Bravo! A victory for a strong-willed human being. A victory for organizations ready to join the 21st Century.

Ireland will be reunited

BELFAST, Northern Ireland — It was meant to be a year of celebration.

But Northern Ireland, created in 1921 when Britain carved six counties out of Ireland’s northeast, is not enjoying its centenary. Its most ardent upholders, the unionists who believe that the place they call “our wee country” is and must forever remain an intrinsic part of the United Kingdom, are in utter disarray. Their largest party has ousted two leaders within a matter of weeks, while an angry minority has taken to the streets waving flags and threatening violence. And the British government, in resolving Brexit, placed a new border in the Irish Sea.

The writing is on the wall. While the process by which Ireland could become unified is complicated and fraught, one thing seems certain: There isn’t going to be a second centenary for Northern Ireland. It might not even last another decade.

One can only hope. And hope it is for a peaceful transition. Sith gun robh so!

Black WW2 vet finally gets his Purple Heart

Seventy-six years ago, an Army private named Ozzie Fletcher fought in the bloody Battle of Normandy. A crane operator, he barely escaped with his life when a German missile came screaming down, killing his driver. But since Fletcher was Black, he wasn’t awarded the Purple Heart — until now.

The chief of staff of the U.S. Army, Gen. James McConville awarded Fletcher — now 99 years old — the long-overdue medal at the Fort Hamilton Community Club in Brooklyn on June 18.

“It was an honor and privilege to pin a long overdue Purple Heart on a great Soldier and member of the Greatest Generation, Mr. Ozzie Fletcher,” McConville told the Washington Post. “This week, we were able to pay tribute to Ozzie for the sacrifices he made in service to our great Nation during World War II.”

This is a man who understands service to the community as well as his nation. He went on to serve in the NYPD for 26 years…Founded the Guardians Association for Black law enforcement professionals. Then he taught high school for another 24 years until retirement. The man deserves a bushel basket of medals.

Juneteenth – here’s what it celebrates

The United States has a new federal holiday. On Thursday, U.S. President Joe Biden signed a bill into law that officially designates Juneteenth—observed each year on June 19—as an American holiday…Known to some as the country’s “second Independence Day,” Juneteenth celebrates the freedom of enslaved people in the United States at the end of the Civil War. For more than 150 years, African American communities across the country have observed this holiday.

At the stroke of midnight on January 1, 1863, the Emancipation Proclamation came into effect and declared enslaved people in the Confederacy free—on the condition that the Union won the war. The proclamation turned the war into a fight for freedom and by the end of the war 200,000 Black soldiers had joined the fight, spreading news of freedom as they fought their way through the South.

Since Texas was one of the last strongholds of the South, emancipation would be a long-time coming for enslaved people in the state. Even after the last battle of the Civil War was fought in 1865—a full two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed—it is believed that many enslaved people still did not know they were free. As the story goes, some 250,000 enslaved people only learned of their freedom after Union General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865, and announced that the president had issued a proclamation freeing them…

With Granger’s announcement, June 19—which would eventually come to be known as Juneteenth—became a day to celebrate the end of slavery in Texas. As newly freed Texans began moving to neighboring states, Juneteenth celebrations spread across the South and beyond.

“Say, Amen!”

Darnella Frazier Wins An Honorary Pulitzer


Minneapolis Police Department/AP
Police body cam shows bystanders incl. Darnella Frazier (3rd from R)

Darnella Frazier, who was 17 when she recorded George Floyd’s murder in Minneapolis last year, was awarded a special citation by the Pulitzer Board on Friday.

The video played a major role in igniting a global protest movement against police violence, and was used as evidence in the trial of Floyd’s killer.

Committee officials who give out the prestigious prize in journalism and the arts said Frazier’s recording highlighted “the crucial role of citizens in journalists’ quests for truth and justice.”…

There is no case without her,” journalist Ann Marie Lipinski tweeted during Chauvin’s trial. “The video record she made is one of the most important civil rights documents in a generation.”

An act of responsibility that all should admire and praise.

Most inspiring event I ever saw on TV

Four weeks later, I was co-chairman of a newly-chartered chapter of C.O.R.E., the Congress Of Racial Equality. The other co-chair, a Black man named Frank, was a machine operator in an aircraft engine factory. I was working in a warehouse. We both lived and worked in a factory town in Southern New England.

We marched forward. Never looked back.

John Salter, a social science professor at Tougaloo College, sat with his students Anne Moody, Pearlena Lewis and Memphis Norman–a white man and three black students–at the “Whites Only” counter in Woolworth’s store lunch counter. Nobody would serve them. Behind them was a growing crowd of frenzied onlookers, police officers and news people. It was 11:15 a.m. on May 28, 1963.

#Bill Minor, then a reporter for the New Orleans Times-Picayune, was there that day. He was the Mississippi correspondent covering civil rights events in Jackson and the state. Minor, tipped off by Medgar Evers, gathered with the other news people at the planned sit-in and watched the scene unfold.

Please read the article. Learn something about American history. This was not an isolated incident. Fightback had been going on since the first slave escaped. The racism that was part and parcel of justifying slavery lasted decades and centuries beyond the inhumane economics that justified the lies.