Sunday, June 28, 2020

Democratic Party Elects Joe Biden President in 2020 Election

January 6, 2021 
Washington, DC

On this date in 2021, this could be the possible headline announcing Joe Biden's election as President by the Democratic controlled House of Representatives. Few people really know about the process to elect the President and because of two men who received a minority of the popular vote in the last twenty years but became President,  this is the only possible scenario that concerns people. Because of that, however, there has been a movement that is getting stronger to have the state legislatures change the way their Electoral votes are cast to make the outcome of the election reflect the actual will of the people.

There have been all kinds of arguments about the role of the Electoral College as a fight between large and small states being the reason this system was set up by the Founding Fathers in the first place. Earlier, I posted an article about why the Electoral College was actually founded. To a certain extent it had to do with large and small states, but the main reason this system was set up was to provide a system free of the partisan power struggles between the states trying to get their "favorite sons" elected to this powerful position. At that time political parties did not exist; in fact the Founding Fathers never dreamed that the struggle for power between large and small states would become a partisan struggle between the red and blue states. In fact, George Washington, in his Farewell Address, seeing the beginnings of separation into parties by Federalists and Anti-Federalists warned against the formation of political parties. Therefore, the Electoral College was set up to elect the President.

What few people know, however, is that there is another consideration provided in the Constitution. Should neither candidate receive a majority of Electoral Votes, the House of Representatives then decides who will be President. Why the House of Representatives? Because in 1787 the House of Representatives was the only House of Congress elected by the people. Senators were not elected by popular vote until 1913 when the 17th Amendment was passed. " The Seventeenth Amendment to the Constitution was ratified in 1913, making the election of senators by popular vote. However, presidential elections still operate under the Electoral System. The Electoral College is made up of representatives who are generally selected by the political parties at their state conventions." And it is the state legislators who make the rules about how the votes are cast. By tradition, although this was never part of the design, states follow the winner take all method of assigning Electoral Votes. This is what has allowed the election of two minority Presidents in the last 20 years of American history.

The only President to be elected by the House of Representatives was John Quincy Adams in the election of 1824.,Secretary%20of%20State%20John%20Quincy%20Adams%20as%20President. If you will read this article, you will see that his opponent was Andrew Jackson. Andrew Jackson was a war hero and touted as the hero of the "common man." John Quincy Adams was a Federalist who believed in a strong federal government. It is interesting that John Q. Adams only served one term and in 1824 Andrew Jackson, the founder of the Democratic Party, was elected to the White House, ushering in the age of the common man and "universal suffrage." At this time universal suffrage referred to giving white men over the age of 21 who were uneducated and didn't own property the right to vote.
It is interesting that Andrew Jackson, the old Indian fighter, laid the foundation for ridding the Indian problem east of the Mississippi and by taking away all their lands, he was, indeed, able to help the common man own property. This part of history has been ignored and even the people who promote teaching about the Trail of Tears have little understanding of the importance of that event in the eventual decline of the Indian population under Manifest Destiny. Poor teaching of history combined with students' blatant disregard for history have led to a country that is ignorant, segmented and divided and vulnerable to any myths used by either partisan side in truly understanding the reforms that need to be made in this country to achieve social justice and liberty for all.

There is a movement in almost all the state legislatures to join what is called the National Popular Vote Interstate CompactAct. To date, 16 states have passed this agreement and the vote is being considered by many state legislatures. The purpose of this article is to illustrate the effect on the vote if only those 16 states implemented this system of electing the President - keep the Electoral College but apportion the Electoral votes according to popular vote - not winner take all. This is used for illustration only because the Compact will not go into effect until enough states approve it so that the total number of Electoral Votes reaches 270 - the number of votes needed to elect the President. The article is actually an attempt to debunk the myth that without the Electoral College "California would elect the President." Hopefully, you will read to the end.

The states that have already approved the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact Act  represent 196 Electoral votes and everyone of these states is considered a blue state.  Political experts have put all these states in the blue category meaning it is a Democratic win. The Electoral vote count in these states is 308, meaning that if the Democratic candidate wins in all those states under the current system, the Democrat would win the election. Let's assume for a moment that these states used the popular vote as a method of assigning Electoral votes. That means that Donald Trump would win a share of the Electoral votes in all these states, enough to drop the total to around 210 (this is only guesswork). Now, what happens.

Donald Trump's Electoral vote count in red states is only 167. If he picks up a share of the Democratic votes his total might even come close to the Democratic total. There is one set of Electoral votes that has been left out of the equation. Those are the swing states, those states that have voted for both Democrats and Republicans at one time or another and this is really where the candidates focus their attention. These states are Iowa, Wisconsin, Ohio, Virginia, Florida, North Carolina and possibly Nevada. The Electoral vote total is 91. Capturing these states becomes critically important to both candidates even more so to the Democrats if they lose some of their Electoral votes to Trump. Again, this is hypothetical to make a point. Attention has always been focused on these states and that is why it is important to know that they are the key in electing any President. So, what if neither of the candidates win enough Electoral votes to hit the magic 270? Then, in January of 2021, the Democratic controlled House of Representatives would choose Joe Biden as President. Again, this is just hypothetical in order to make a point. Big states such as California, Illinois and New York have always had an impact on the election, but the point being made is that if the vote is determined by the Popular Vote this will not happen. It can only help everyone make sure their vote is counted when it comes to electing the President of the United States no matter where they live. The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact will be on the ballot this year. Please consider voting for it and get rid of a system that no longer serves its purpose. 

 * Just a side note. Why is it that Donald Trump has suddenly held a briefing on the status of the Corona virus and his Administration's success at flattening the curve for the first time in two months? Vice President Pence's claims about the curve being flattened are only partially true and many of the states experiencing a surge as serious as the one in New York are badly needed by Trump in the upcoming election - two swing states - Arizona and Florida- and the traditionally Republican state of Texas with 34 Electoral Votes. Both sides are playing politics and the American people are caught in the middle.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Why Juneteenth is a Big Deal

Imagine it is mid May, 1945 and you are a reporter standing in front of Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland recording release of prisoners from the Concentration Camp. You watch as emaciated forms walk under the sign Arbeit Macht Frei, some wobbling alone or on crutches, others walking being supported by one another. As they walk past you hear their conversations. How long were you here? Where did you come from? What do you know about prisoners from other concentration camps? Do you know the names Anne and Margot Frank or Peter Van Daan? It seems to you that the most important thing on these former prisoners' mind is finding out about loved ones lost to them during this terrible period known as The Holocaust, a time in history that will never be forgotten and now taught in all the history books - lest we forget.

Now imagine you are a reporter covering the day on June 19, 1865 when federal soldiers marched into Houston ordering that all people held as slaves in the state of Texas are now and forever free.
You go to a nearby plantation and watch as slaves hear about Emancipation for the first time and begin to understand what that means to them. They are now free to pack up their belongings and leave the plantation to which they have been bound since they were born. They are now able to put any family units back together and go freely to look for other relatives that were sold to other plantations or who ran away. Imagine the joy! This is what freedom means - to travel and go about freely and live in family units just like their masters!

You notice that there is someone in the crowd telling the freed slaves about a gathering in a place in Houston called Freedom Park. The freed slaves look at him in astonishment - you mean we can gather in a public place!  "Yes, so long as you do it peacefully," comes the reply. Freedom - this is what emancipation means.

You get to the park and you notice there are Black people who can read and write who are reading the Emancipation Proclamation and explaining it to the crowd without being hauled away or beaten. A revelation occurs to some - I can learn to read and write.  Freedom! People are coming with food and mingling and talking to one another about relatives and friends. You even see some of your own! Freedom!

There are tables full of traditional foods prepared by female members of the community and set onto tables for the freed slaves to eat - not masters. Freedom! Everyone is singing and dancing for their own enjoyment not for the masters- Freedom!

When the day ends these slaves return to the plantation as free people, they begin to absorb what this freedom means and then start to build a new life, but they do not forget this day. They mark the date June 19, 1865 on a calendar so that no matter where they are in the following years, they will come together with family and friends to mark the day they received their freedom from tyranny the way their white masters did on the 4th of July, but this observance is a little different from that celebration.

In order to understand how the Juneteeth celebration is observed, I attended many celebrations in and around the state of Kentucky from 2015-2019 when I moved from my home state. I also did presentations at the Portland Library on the history of Juneteenth and the long struggle to get the day declared a federal holiday not just an observance day. As I started learning how the day was observed, I decided to write a short story about an adolescent growing up in the Portland Neighborhood of Louisville, Ky. The story is about his coming of age on this day, but it also creates a picture of the Black community in this neighborhood with its roots in slavery and how they celebrate the day. The story is entitled Juneteenth and it is found in my collections of short stories Finding New Pangaea available at It is also available in kindle format.

The observance of Juneteenth follows closely the observance of the original Juneteenth celebration. It is a celebration of family and oftentimes there are large family reunions at state parks in the area. Traditional foods are served and it is just a big family picnic with tables spread with traditional foods and children laughing and playing and reuniting with distant family members or meeting new ones. Education is also a component. Some of the observances of the day are marked by original plays that tell the story of slavery and freedom. For the most part, it is just people having fun enjoying the same freedoms that the white Anglo-Saxon males attained on July 4, 1776. That day is marked by ringing of bells and fireworks displays along with national celebrations in Washington, D.C. with spectacular entertainment by national choruses and the singing of patriotic songs as well as a lot of flag waving and red, white and blue. Just like July 4th Juneteenth is, indeed, a big deal because this day marks the day on which they received all the freedoms listed in the Constitution  just as July 4th marks the day Anglo-Saxon men and other Black freedmen attained the right to self-government and their freedom from absolute monarchies that denied them their rights as English citizens. July 4th was also a landmark day for oppressed people in other countries. It is unfortunate that these Founding Fathers did not include all American citizens at this time. So Juneteeth is a big deal to the African-American communities and just like July 4th the day needs to be at last declared a federal holiday. *

Just like the struggle to get Juneteenth declared a federal holiday, the journey of not only African-Americans, Native Americans, women and other people of color has been long and difficult. In 2020, all of these groups are still held in bondage and prisons and still struggling to get the freedoms listed in the Bill of Rights so the country can live up to the words of the preamble to the Constitution:

          We the People of the United States in order to form a more perfect union,
establish justice. 
provide for the common defense
promote the general welfare,
and secure the blessings of liberty for ourselves and our posterity,
do ordain and establish this Constitution of the United States of America.

Monday, June 15, 2020

Why All Lives Matter Landmark Supreme Court Decision

The Civil Rights Act of 1964, which ended segregation in public places and banned employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin, is considered one of the crowning legislative achievements of the civil rights movement. Although the movement began to end segregation and discrimination against Blacks in the South, when the Act was passed it was all inclusive - the language was not specific to one group of people; it banned discrimination in public places or in the work place based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin. Today, that all inclusive language resulted in a victory for the LGBTQ community in a decision handed down by the Supreme Court and delivered by a conservative Trump appointee Justice Neil Gorsuch. Justice Gorsuch was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and the four liberal justices making this a 6-3 decision. 

Two members of the LGBTQ community who had been fired from their jobs for entering into same sex relationships took their case to court and it ended up in the Supreme Court which today upheld their right to keep their jobs regardless of sexual orientation. For the two conservatives on the court, the decision was made based on the wording of the text of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act which mentioned the word sex. If the Civil Rights Act had been specific only to the rights of Blacks, this protection would have been denied the LGBTQ community which has suffered from discrimination as long as any other group in this country. That's why it is important to keep in mind that George Floyd, a Black man, is more than a Black man. He is the representative of all of us who have suffered from police brutality, injustice and discrimination. The leadership of Black Lives Matter has the opportunity to make important changes in our system for the betterment of all. I hope when dialogues begin and things start to change that the leadership will remember it's not just about Black people; please include all those groups that have suffered from injustice and discrimination for too many years. They are standing in solidarity with you because they know too well themselves the brutal consequences of hate and injustice. 


Thursday, June 11, 2020

For Those Touting Juneteenth Celebration In Tulsa a Little Historical Context

Juneteenth – The Road to Freedom
Kentucky’s observance of Juneteenth was ordered by proclamation in 2005. Here is the text of the proclamation The following is a history of the story of emancipation and freedom from slavery. 

One of the biggest misconceptions in American history is that the Union fought the Civil War to free the slaves and that Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation was issued to free the slaves. This perception has resulted from the failure of education to teach anything but White man’s political history for over a Century in this country.  I wrote my first novel (The Peacemaker) in retirement from 25 years of teaching American history in public schools all over the country in an effort to dispel these myths. This is why I continue writing and teaching and making presentations such as this all over the country in retirement.

What were the real issues in regard to the fighting of the American Civil War? The Civil War was an economic war between two powerful entities that controlled the American economy from the time of the establishment of the United States in 1787. These two entities were the industrial magnets of the North and the plantation owners of the South.  Neither of these entities represented the common man or even those bound by slavery or forced removal from their ancestral lands in order to make room for one of these two economies and thus control the great wealth available for only a few of the ruling members controlling each region.

The rich plantation owners of the Confederacy (10% of the population) were able to convince the poor whites living in the area that their cause to protect their “way of life” was important enough to die to the last man. The industrialists of the North did not succeed in doing so causing great resistance to the War to preserve the Union after two years of nothing but a blood bath with nothing in return. In fact, the Irish-immigrants in the Northern centers soon began to call this War a “rich man’s war, but a poor man’s fight.” They had lost the will to fight and even began to resent the large numbers of African-Americans filling the contraband camps in the North who were not taking part in the fight. Lincoln was running out of both men and materials by September of 1862 as the Union armies fought the invading forces of the South at Antietam Creek outside of Maryland. This one day battle was the bloodiest battle of the Civil War with the Union losses at 12,000 and the Confederate losses at 13,000. The Southern forces were loyal to the last man, but Union troops were not willing to suffer such terrible losses. The Union desperately needed a victory to keep support for the War and Congress was talking about passing a Conscription Act (draft) in order to supply more “cannon fodder.” 

 When the Battle of Antietam ended in a draw with the Confederates simply moving back instead of surrendering, Lincoln decided this was the time for an act that would turn the tide of war with a Confederate surrender, or keep the British and French from coming into the War on the side of the Confederacy and give him the power to conscript Black soldiers into the conflict – thus preventing a Conscription Act.  The failure of the Emancipation Act to stop the War led to the passage of the Conscription Act in March of 1863 resulting in three days of Draft Riots in New York City (described in The Peacemaker) during which the African-American population suffered great loss.  The document issued by Abraham Lincoln in September of 1862 was the Act Lincoln chose to accomplish the afore mentioned. That document became known as the Emancipation Proclamation and was the basis of the now nationwide observance of Freedom Day more commonly called Juneteenth.

The Emancipation Proclamation was not an act of Congress; it was an Executive Order. In 1862 the Presidential use of Executive Orders was far more limited than it is today. The power to issue an Executive Order was supposed to be restricted to times of national emergencies when the President had to act swiftly as Commander-in-Chief to protect national security because there was no time for Congress to debate a law. Read the full text of the Proclamation at this link:  The text lists the 10 states covered by the Proclamation.

The actions of these 10 states after the issuing of the Proclamation is what led to freedom of the slaves in those states. The governments of these states kept fighting, therefore the slaves were free but emancipation did not happen until federal troops marched into the states and took control. If the South had surrendered, the slaves would not have been freed there. Lincoln realized after issuing the Proclamation that Congress needed to act to end slavery all together in this country because the slaves in the five Border States as well as the slaves in the District of Columbia were not affected by the Proclamation. Congress had passed the Compensated Emancipation Act in April of 1862. This Act freed all the slaves living in the District of Columbia. Therefore, April 16th is a state holiday celebrated each year in the District of Columbia. Other celebrations commemorating Freedom Day take place in Florida on May 20th, and Puerto Rico on March 22nd. The most common nationwide celebration of freedom is the celebration known as Juneteenth.

The celebration known as Juneteenth is a corruption of the words June and nineteenth. June 19th is the day in 1865 when General Granger marched his federal forces into Galveston, Texas and declared that the slaves were free under the conditions of the Emancipation Proclamation. As the news reached the slave communities, a free Black man who owned property in Galveston donated the property and declared that it be named Emancipation Park where June 19th would be celebrated each year with reading of the documents of freedom (Emancipation Proclamation and eventually the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments), picnics and family reunions. There were street fairs, rodeos and singing of traditional songs of freedom such as “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot”- one of the spirituals sung by slaves to pass along information about when a guide for the Underground Railroad such as Harriet Tubman was in the area.

The celebration grew as former slaves moved from the South into urban centers of the North during the 1920’s and 30’s taking the celebration with them. One interesting celebration of Juneteenth takes place in Coahuila, Mexico. The mascogos or Black Seminoles fled to Mexico after the forced removal to the Indian Territory in 1832. Runaway slaves fled to Florida and had married into the Seminole population so after the removal of the Indian population to Oklahoma in 1832, this mixed population fled to Mexico to avoid being put into slavery.
Since the slaves of the Border States were not freed by the Emancipation Proclamation, Abraham Lincoln realized that the passage of an Amendment to the Constitution would be needed to put an end to slavery the United States once and for all. In January, 1865 the surrender of the South appeared eminent, so Lincoln decided to push Congress into proposing the 13th Amendment to the Constitution that would end slavery. The Amendment did not become law until December of 1865 when the 30 of 36 states ratified the Amendment ending slavery. Lincoln did not live to see that. In another paradox of history, Kentucky did not ratify the 13th Amendment. The main reason the amendment passed was because one of the requirements for reentry into the Union for the Confederate States was ratification of the 13th Amendment. Since the slaves in Kentucky had not been freed by the Emancipation Proclamation, it would be 140 years before the celebration became recognized in Kentucky.
The movement for a national celebration of Juneteenth began after the Poor People’s March on Washington in August of 1963 when the story of Juneteenth was shared with people from all over the country who converged upon Washington, D.C. The marchers took the celebrations back to their home states and in 1994 Christian leaders from all over the country met in New Orleans , LA to lobby Congress to pass a law to declare Juneteenth as National Independence Day for African-Americans similar to July 4th to allow for time off from work. Congress never enacted such a law, but state lawmakers encouraged their states to either establish Juneteenth as a state holiday or at least a state observance. As of 2012, 41 states and the District of Columbia passed legislation to officially recognize Juneteenth National Independence Day. Kentucky passed a resolution on June 20, 2005 to set the 19th of June of each year to be observed as Juneteenth National Freedom Day.”
Further reading on the historical context in which the Emancipation Proclamation was written can be found in “The Peacemaker,” by Brenda Duffey at  A short story entitled “Juneteenth” that is part of a collection of short stories by Brenda Duffey can be found in “Finding New Pangaea” available on  

Saturday, June 6, 2020

Don't Kill the Mockingbirds - Mockingbirds Matter

A glass of water, that piece of bread, an item of clothing, that visit… these little things, my friend, are what the Lord asks of you. Love manifested for the hungry one, the thirsty, the naked, the sick, the one in prison, the broken one, the one who suffers, who’s alone, as the Bible tells us in Matthew 25:35-40.
“‘For I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink’ […] ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink?’ […] ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’

We are seeing this denial played out in the streets of every major city across the nation. People are hungry and thirsty, people are dying because of social injustice. Now is the time for all of us Christians to think about these words from Jesus Christ. He came into the world to teach about how to live to create a Kingdom of God. His words during the short time that he lived are written down for all to see. He sacrificed his life that we could have a better life, but I am afraid many people are so caught up in religious differences that we fail to really understand these words and how they play out in the larger society.

Huge populations of Christians all over the world carry the Bible and pound the religious teachings of Jesus to make the world a better place - for humans anyway. How many of us really take these words to our hearts and live our lives accordingly? I aspire to do this, but I am not perfect. I think when I live these words I am compassionate and can look beyond religion and politics and relate to all humans from this perspective. This works for me. I try to understand all groups and "walk a mile in their moccasins" to be able to really hear what they are saying and use my freedom of choice and vote to walk with them in support as Jesus did when he walked among the lepers of his time. I am certainly not perfect and fall down a lot - my ego gets in the way many times and I revert to my superior knowledge instead of thinking about my wisdom and "what would Jesus do?" That being said, I must take a stand for a group that has never been included in the dialogue of this nation since the beginning of our nation and I see this as a major problem in working to settle the suffering that fills our nation today - Mother Earth and all her sentient beings.

Without going into all the scientific discussions about climate change, I want to discuss how our lives are being ruined by industrialism and division based on what I need as opposed to what others need. What does our planet need? I watched as police released tear gas upon a crowd of protesters and the nation condemned and judged with no mention about the damage to the air and earth and all the wildlife living there. It is my thought that when we include Mother Earth and all sentient life that we share the earth with and that not only provides our sustenance but pure joy, we will move forward in a better way as a nation.

I have been thinking a lot about the great writers of classic literature that have made an impact on our society as we examine social injustice and change. I have written a lot about the black writers of the Harlem Renaissance but most recently I have been thinking about Harper Lee and "To Kill a Mockingbird." I think the theme of this novel closely aligns with not only the words of Jesus but my thoughts about our relationship to "the least of us - the mockingbird." The title of the book comes from a speech given by Atticus Finch near the end of Tom Robinson's trial. Atticus reminds the jury that "we should not kill mockingbirds because all they do is sing and make people feel good." Let's try to look at what we are doing to Mother Earth in this long struggle for civil rights and include her in the mix as well.