[hq2600] A Very Humbling Thank You! A Request and a Pre-Kwanzaa Speech!
hq2600 at gmail.com
Mon Dec 24 06:10:36 PST 2007
Some of you are celebrating now or are about to celebrate special days of
religious or cultural remembrance. This is a time for personal and national
reflection as we prepare to usher in a new year. Hopefully, we can reflect
on this year that is about to end and say that we did all within our means
to make our communities and our country better. And we can certainly commit
to doing that in the new year.
Not too long ago, I released a video announcing my political intentions.
Thanks to you and many, many others, that video has now earned three YouTube
honors in the category of News and Politics: Most Viewed, Most Linked, Top
Favorites. This means that you shared the VNR with your friends and posted
its link on websites that you frequent. Help me get the good news out!
Please share this link with all you know:
Recently, I was invited to give remarks at the Chicago-WVON Pre-Kwanzaa
Celebration. I hope you will share these remarks with your friends because
I believe its message is now critical.
Finally, please enjoy these days of celebration, remembrance, and reflection
and I wish you all a Happy New Year if I don't get back with you before this
year is out. Here is my speech:
Chicago Pre-Kwanzaa Celebration
December 16, 2007
I want to thank Chicagoans for the continuous outpouring of love and
understanding that I've been shown throughout my political career. In 1991,
when George Herbert Walker Bush decided to rain bombs down on Baghdad, I
came under severe attack because, from the well of the Georgia House of
Representatives, I said, among other things, that George Bush ought to be
ashamed of himself. My colleagues got up and walked out on me and I was
repudiated in the most vicious ways imaginable. It was the viciousness that
catapulted me into some national notoriety, including here in Chicago.
As I ran for Congress and added my voice to others clamoring for justice,
peace, truth, and accountability, I began to experience the same type of
vilification as had happened while I was in the Georgia Legislature.
But what I began to realize was that it was the very fact of such treatment
that caused people around—at first the state of Georgia, and then later our
country—to begin to pay attention. Because the question soon arose, What's
wrong with a message of justice, peace, truth, and accountability being
delivered by the Representative from Georgia? And just as Dr. King said,
"There can be no great disappointment where there is no great love," more
and more people became disappointed at the public flagellation I was
continuously subjected to.
You recognized the spirit of Kunte in me. You showered me with the love and
the nurturing I needed for political survival. You traveled to Georgia to
prevent the retrenchment of my message and save my presence in the United
States Congress. You sent dollars to my campaigns and fought for the
restoration of my seniority because you knew that I could be counted on to
remain a consistent voice of empowerment.
My voice for the voiceless, my speaking truth to power, has attracted
support from all sectors of the American community. Blacks, whites,
Latinos, Native Americans, and Asians; every faith within our human rainbow
are all represented in my support base. Thank you. And as I contemplated
the breadth of such support, I also wondered why, since the Civil Rights
Movement, black participation rarely seemed to translate into broad policy
strokes needed to transform our community—indeed, our entire country.
I do believe that it is still within our power today to transform public
policy to benefit forgotten communities and restore the lost soul of our
I've decided to do something different in an attempt to have something
I do this because I know that part of the story of human survival resides in
the success of humankind's ability to adapt to its changing environment.
Indeed, the story of evolution is marked by such changes, passed on from
generation to generation, in every form of life from single cells, to
plants, to very complex animals.
It is clear from life's model that a failure to recognize environmental
changes and adapt to them rapidly can mean even the end of life.
Life is the overall purpose of any organism. And so, there are various
functions within an organism that help it to survive. For each of us, our
eyes, our ears, our skin, our hearts are all differentiated organs that
sustain our lives.
Whole fields of science have been constructed to understand the role of
differentiation and evolution. To ensure its survival, the polar bear
evolved into an animal that thrives in cold and ice—an endangered
environment in a global warming world. And therefore, the polar bear's
existence is threatened if it is unable to adapt to the climatic changes
sweeping our planet.
And finally, for longevity, life must be reproduced. Life without
reproduction is death.
Because on the other side of the equation, there is the threat to life that
can come from the environment. In order to survive, an organism, a species,
a specific community, humankind, must understand its environment and adapt
so that it can withstand potentially hostile environmental changes.
Because Africa is so rich in resources upon which civilization as we know it
has grown to depend, because Africans were so resilient in what might have
been harsh environments for others, because black people could be used to
satisfy the needs and wants of others, our very survival has had to overcome
internal and external threats to our very existence. Our survival as a
distinct group worthy of self-determination and not just as the source of
other people's gratification depends on our ability to understand our
environment, test it for its hostility, fashion strategies to survive in the
face of such hostility, and when that environment changes, adapt our
strategy to the new circumstances.
And it is to the political environment of African Americans that I must now
Those of you accustomed to hearing my messages know that I will recite the
statistics that inform us of the state of black America. You know that I
will remind us all of the dire conditions facing our country as well as our
A 2003 Harvard University study found that even when minorities have health
insurance, they tend to receive less than adequate care. Black infant and
maternal mortality rates are 2 and 3.5 times higher than for whites. Dr.
David Satcher found in 2005 that 83,750 black people died premature deaths
for no other reason than that they were black.
The New York Times wrote that by 2003 nearly one half of all black men
between the ages of 16 and 64, living in New York City, were unemployed.
The 2006 National Urban League Report informed us that the overall quality
of life in the U.S. enjoyed by black people is only 73% that of white
Americans and that the economic conditions faced by blacks in the United
States is 56% that of whites in this country.
I read the Hull House-Loyola University Report, "Minding the Gap," which
stated that were there to be no changes whatsoever in policy, that it would
take black Chicagoans 200 years to catch up to the quality of life enjoyed
by those who are white and live in Chicago. Referencing the report, the
Chicago Sun-Times wrote, "Page by page, paragraph by paragraph, and line by
line the report describes two completely different cities, documenting
disparities in income, education, housing transportation, health care, and
The Report itself points out: "Whites are 125 percent more likely to use
marijuana than blacks; 181 percent more likely to use cocaine; 431 percent
more likely to use inhalants; 516 percent more likely to use LSD. And yet
blacks account for 79 percent of all drug arrests."
Even in reading about Chicago politics, it became perfectly clear that
before there was a Colonel Karpinski and Abu Ghraib, there was a Burge and a
Daley responsible for the Chicago Police Department's Area 2.
And finally, in its 2005 report, among other things, United for a Fair
Economy told us that it would take 1,664 years to close the home ownership
gap and that on some indices the racial disparities are worse now than at
the time of the murder of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In their 2006 Report,
United for a Fair Economy told us that blacks and Latinos lost ground, and
in order to close the racial wealth divide in our country, it would take the
equivalent of a "G.I. Bill for Everyone" that would include comprehensive
federal investment in low-income families and communities, with an emphasis
on people of color. They recommended, I believe, what very few in this room
would disagree with: progressive taxes on wealthy individuals and
profitable corporations to fund a real Ownership Society, not the phony
proposals being put forward by the Bush Administration.
And unfortunately, in their 2007 State of the Dream Report, United for a
Fair Economy wrote that people of color support Democrats in the voting
booth, but are still waiting for policies and programs that close the
economic gap between them and whites. They wrote that African Americans
should expect more from Democrats than what was received in the
Congressional Democratic majority's first 100 hours. They wrote that people
of color vote blue, but stay in the red.
So where's the outrage? And where's the agenda for change?
According to the statistics, staying in the red means that our college
graduates will continue to earn on the average half as much as the overall
population of college graduates over their lifetimes;
Staying in the red means continued astronomical incarceration rates for our
children and their continued criminalization even in schools where
administrative remedies exist—like in the Jena 6 and the Palmdale 4 cases;
Staying in the red means that more and more of our families will be
displaced in what some have called "Hurricane America" wherein
gentrification is displacing millions of families of color—not nearly as
violently—but the result is practically the same as has happened with
Hurricanes Katrina and Rita;
Staying in the red means that merely increasing the minimum wage is
insufficient because even if the minimum wage were to be increased every
year at 70 cents per year, a minimum wage worker supporting a family of
three still would not rise above the poverty level until 2013.
Without specific funds for affirmative action programs that close the gaps
in health, education, employment, incarceration, and other indices on which
our country fails to perform, staying in the red means continuing to put up
with the same inequalities that in some cases are worsening and hoping
somehow to escape from the consequences of the numbers.
If we continue to do what we've always done, we'll continue to get what
we've always been given. That means staying in the red.
And clearly, if black people fail to demand a discussion, an agenda, solid
policy proposals that redress these circumstances, in my opinion, the black
body politic could go the way of the polar bear.
I refuse to have my community—or any community in this country--stay in the
red and I refuse to see those statistics go one more day without being
Earlier this year, on my birthday, I declared my independence from the
leadership that voted its complicity in war crimes, crimes against humanity,
torture, and crimes against the peace. I set as a marker repeal of the
Patriot Acts, the Secret Evidence Act, the Military Tribunals Act. I asked
for enactment of a national living wage, not just an increase in the minimum
wage. And I asked why is impeachment off the table. I decried the
Pentagon's missing 2.3 trillion dollars and asked for that money back—for
jobs, for health care, for education, and for our veterans. I asked for
repeal of the Bush tax cuts.
And so, today on my mother's birthday, and in the spirit of Umoja and of
Kujichagulia, I have decided to do something I've never done before so that
we all can have something we've never had before.
In celebration of dedicated service to my community instilled in me by my
parents, and in the spirit of Ujima, Ujamaa, and Nia, I am ready to assert
that the black community cannot and should not be forced to live in the red
not one day longer without an action plan for remedy. I am ready to put my
entire body against the gears and the levers and the wheels of the machine
and I'm willing to do whatever it is that I can to stop it.
And finally, in the spirit of service without expectation of reward, and in
the spirit of Kuumba and Imani, I will rely on our ancestors and our culture
to see us through this journey. My very first campaign theme was "warriors
don't wear medals, they wear scars." I have felt the scars, you have seen
my scars; but I also have weathered the storm.
But there are some principles that must be addressed and they are more
important than me.
How will we engage the political process and reverse those statistics
revealing an unacceptable level of pain inside our community?
How do we inject a dose of radical common sense into the political process
and resolve our problems?
Just this past week, reflecting a political impotence heretofore unknown
since we acquired the right to vote, public housing in New Orleans was
demolished despite being habitable enough for displaced residents to return.
I was awakened yesterday morning by the melodic voice of William Bell
singing Trying to Love Two. At the time, that song seemed to me a
revelation because perhaps our failure to negotiate an agenda that addresses
those statistics could simply be that in the course of trying to satisfy
others, we lost sight of our own needs, our own agenda, our own solutions.
Bell concluded that loving two women wasn't easy to do. He said it started
out just for fun, but now he's the one that's on the run. Now, he's
trapped, not getting anywhere. And it's messing with his head. Also sounds
like what can happen to a community that fails to respond to severe threats
lurking within its environment.
Finally, and this is a big one. Electioneering this season will be a
billion-dollar business. How much of that money is going to minority
printers, minority banks, minority pollsters, minority media and political
consultants; minority newspapers, radio and internet outlets?
Malcolm X said, the black vote can determine who goes to the White House and
who stays in the doghouse. In 2000, an estimated one million black people
went to the polls and voted their dreams, their hopes, and their aspirations
and the votes of those one million black people were not even counted. Who
fought for them?
In 2004, it was the black vote again that was targeted for nullification in
an election drive-by shooting.
How much more will we take?
And yet, we still wait. For justice. For peace. And for truth.
I shudder to think what our country might become if we fail to turn these
numbers around. Join me. Dare to be different. Dare to demand. Our
survival could very well depend on it.
"It is the absolute responsibility of everybody in uniform to disobey an
order that is either illegal or immoral." General Pace, Chairman of the
Joint Chiefs of Staff, National Press Club, February 17, 2006
"My brother need not be idealized . . . beyond what he was in life. To be
remembered simply as a good and decent man who saw wrong and tried to right
it, saw suffering and tried to heal it, saw war and tried to stop it.
Eulogy of Bobby Kennedy by Teddy Kennedy, June 18, 1968
"Certain material weaknesses in financial reporting and other limitations on
the scope of our work resulted in conditions that, for the 10th consecutive
year, prevented us from expressing an opinion on the federal government's
consolidated financial statements." David Walker, Comptroller General of
the United States, December 15, 2006
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
More information about the Updates