Tag Archives: politics

Patricia Robert Harris ~ Women’s History Month



National Museum of African American History and Culture
Lonnie Bunch, museum director, historian, lecturer, and author, is proud to present A Page From Our American Story, a regular on-line series for Museum supporters. It will showcase individuals and events in the African American experience, placing these stories in the context of a larger story — our American story.
A Page From Our American Story
A Higher Standard: Patricia Roberts Harris
Patricia Roberts Harris sworn in as US Ambassador to Luxembourg
Patricia Harris in her swearing in ceremony
to be the U.S. Ambassador to Luxembourg.
Provided by the U.S. State Department.

Black women have always served a critical role in the African American community, from the names we all know — Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, and Rosa Parks — to today’s young mother fighting for educational opportunities for her children. Others have quietly broken barriers to open doors that were once closed to people of color.

Patricia Roberts Harris is one of those quiet warriors whose life stands as a testament to excellence, tenacity, and commitment to change.

She was born on May 31, 1924, the daughter of Hildren and Bert Roberts, in Mattoon, Illinois. A product of Illinois public schools, Harris attended Howard University in Washington, D.C., on scholarship and graduated summa cum laude in 1945. From early in her life as a brilliant scholar at Howard, she went on to become the first African American woman to serve as a United States ambassador and later the first African American woman to serve as a Cabinet Secretary. Harris was a powerful influence in American politics and a major figure during the Civil Rights Movement.

After graduation from Howard, she went back to the mid-west and began graduate work at the University of Chicago in 1946. But the opportunity to become actively involved in working for social justice drew her back to Washington, D.C. She continued her graduate work at American University, and, at the same time, served as assistant director for the American Council of Human Rights. She also served as the first national executive director of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., of which she was a member.

At the encouragement of her husband, William Beasley Harris, a prominent attorney in the District, Harris enrolled in The George Washington University Law School, where she graduated in 1960, first in her class.

During this time, while still active in the fight for civil rights, Harris became increasingly involved in the Democratic Party. Her ability to organize and manage did not go unnoticed. In 1963, President John F. Kennedy selected Harris to co-chair the National Women’s Committee for Civil Rights, described as an “umbrella organization encompassing some 100 women’s groups throughout the nation.”

In October of 1965, President Lyndon Johnson appointed Harris ambassador to Luxembourg, making her the first African American woman to be chosen as a United States envoy. For Harris the historic moment was bittersweet, saying, “I feel deeply proud and grateful this President chose me to knock down this barrier, but also a little sad about being the ‘first Negro woman’ because it implies we were not considered before.”

With the change of administration in 1968, Harris’ diplomatic role ended. She returned to Washington, D.C., and became the first woman to serve as Dean of Howard University’s School of Law.

In the early 1970s, Harris’ involvement in the Democratic Party culminated in her being named chairman of the powerful credentials committee and an at-large-delegate to the Democratic National Convention.

The election of Jimmy Carter in 1976 thrust Harris into the spotlight, again for another “first.” Shortly after taking office in 1977, Carter selected Harris to become Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Again Harris made history, this time by not only becoming the first African American woman to become a Cabinet Secretary, but also the first to be in the line of succession to the Presidency, at number 13.

During her confirmation hearing, Senator William Proxmire challenged her nomination and asked her if she felt capable of representing the interests of the poor and less fortunate in America. By this time in Harris’ life she had established herself as not only a recognized leader for civil rights, but also as a prominent corporate lawyer and businesswoman. Some, including a few black leaders, wondered if Harris had grown out of touch with the very people she was charged with serving.

Harris’ answer silenced her critics and perhaps best explains what motivated her throughout her life:

“Senator, I am one of them. You do not seem to understand who I am. I am a black woman, the daughter of a dining car waiter. …a black woman who could not buy a house eight years ago in parts of the District of Columbia. I didn’t start out as a member of a prestigious law firm, but as a woman who needed a scholarship to go to school. If you think I have forgotten that, you are wrong…if my life has any meaning at all, it is that those who start out as outcasts may end up being part of the system.”

 

US Postal Stamp of Patricia Roberts Harris

During her tenure as HUD Secretary, she helped reshape the focus of the department. A staunch supporter of housing rehabilitation, Harris funneled millions of dollars into upgrading deteriorating neighborhoods rather than wiping them out through slum clearance. She developed a Neighborhood Strategy Program that subsidized the renovation of apartments in deteriorated areas. In addition, she expanded the Urban Homesteading Plan and initiated Urban Development Action Grants to lure businesses into blighted areas. She poured millions of dollars into renovating deteriorating housing projects throughout the nation.

Harris was so effective in her post, that when HUD was split to create two new entities — the Department of Education and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) — Carter moved quickly to name Harris secretary of HHS, a position she held for the remainder of his administration.

In 1982, following an unsuccessful bid to become mayor of Washington, D.C., Harris became a full-time professor at The George Washington University National Law Center. She passed away on March 23, 1985 at the age of 60.

In January, 2000, the U.S. Postal Service honored Ms. Harris with a commemorative postage stamp bearing her likeness. Dignitaries from around the nation attended the unveiling ceremony at Howard University, her alma mater, to pay tribute and recognize her contribution to the nation. In addition, Howard created the Harris Public Service Program in her honor to augment its course offerings in public policy and to encourage students to consider careers in public service.

Patricia Roberts Harris’ life is a powerful chapter in our American story. “I am one of them…,” she said at her 1977 hearing to become HUD Secretary. Those words underscored her commitment to social justice and her sense of responsibility to the African American community and to the nation. Those words serve as testament to her life and legacy: political pioneer, successful businesswoman, educator, and champion for civil and equal rights.

All the best,
Lonnie Bunch, Director

Lonnie Bunch
Director
The National Museum of African American History and Culture is the newest member of the Smithsonian Institution’s family of extraordinary museums.

The Museum will be far more than a collection of objects.
The Museum will be a powerful, positive force in the national discussion about race and the important role African Americans have played in the American story — a museum that will make all Americans proud.

6 tips …


WordPressDancing-3.

6 tips for putting words to music

 I am not a songwriter musician or lyrist, but I love to read definitely listen and more often than not dance to the spoken word when put to music.

 My personal interest is in the art of movement, specifically dance;  when music is combined with words in innovative patterns can soothe invigorate irritate as well as make you move and feel good.

 They say Music is said to soothe the savage beast least we talk about when done right …  Words can touch our souls and that also awakens our senses. Most of us can agree that the art of dance and or music transcends language barriers.

So, my six tips are below …

 (1) Make it personal because reading experiences about a one night stand love at first sight, first love, lust, a long term love brings a sense of connection folks sometimes look for and set to music can only enhance a good lyric . .Right

2) Be yourself  folks do go out their way to learn the lyrics to a song and will like love and feel  the performer is genuine in their delivery and not trying to be something else,  can actually be heard seen felt 

3) The kind of music that makes an impression also provides imagery and a vision of something the song is about; even if it is abstract, the image is sort of like a coffee table object.  Always up for interpretation depending on who is listening to reading or learning the lyrics … of course, when it comes to love … when someone is singing to you … take time to listen; I heard that once and then again you may have heard the song but weren’t feeling the music

 (4) Rhymes Reason and Rhythm because who doesn’t like the art of movement …and more often than not that is what kind of music makes great artist move up into the stratosphere … in my opinion. I dance because I have to and anything that has a great hook a great bass or syncopation definitely will be played more than once in my house. The rhythm of life

 (5) Always assume a video of your creation is a possibility so … be that visionary

 (6)     🙂  Always believe you were born to make music  (:


So, what makes you get onto the dance floor … 

first posted in 2013, def tweaked

FDR had something to say about voting


votingFranklin D. Roosevelt once said

“Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves and the only way they could do this is by not voting.”

#IAMTROYDAVIS – Black History


NAACPTwo years ago, in the final hours of his life, I sat with Troy Davis and talked with him as we fought to stop his execution. He made me promise then that, no matter the outcome, the NAACP would remain resolute in the fight against the death penalty.
Dedicate your tears to healing this world and your prayers to ending the death penalty. America must do better than this. And your deeds and actions will help get us there.
Friends : We wage this critical fight in Troy’s name. Last year, our work led to Connecticut repealing the death penalty. This year, Maryland became the first state south of the Mason-Dixon Line to do the same. Those two states now join New Jersey, New York, New Mexico, and Illinois as the fifth and sixth states in six years to abolish the death penalty.
Troy Davis’ legacy serves as a reminder that our justice system will remain broken until the death penalty is abolished across the country. Today, our community is uniting to send a powerful message on the anniversary of Troy Davis’ execution, and we want you to be a part of it.
Tweet our message using the hashtag #IamTroyDavis to support ending capital punishment in America.
Or write a message of your own.
Our message is simple: We must bring an end to this immoral, biased, and ineffective practice and the inequalities that plague our justice system.
It is appalling that the barbaric practice of capital punishment still exists in the United States. Even more so when you consider how easily a man was condemned to die in the face of overwhelming evidence pointing to his innocence.
We’re making progress, Carmen.
We must keep this miscarriage of justice in the hearts and minds of the public if we are to continue moving forward. Help by sending a tweet using the hashtag #IamTroyDavis on today’s solemn anniversary:
http://action.naacp.org/i-am-troy

Thank you,
Benjamin Todd Jealous
President and CEO
NAACP
PS: Next week, join Troy’s family on the I Am Troy Davis book tour. Visit the NAACP website for more details.

In the Library … Lillian Walker , by John C. Hughes


OLYMPIA…Bremerton civil rights heroine Lillian Walker

The new book is called “Lillian Walker, Washington Civil Rights Pioneer,” written by John C. Hughes, an author and interviewer with The Legacy Project, an oral history program established by the Office of Secretary of State in 2008. The book is published by the Washington State Heritage Center and printed by Gorham Printing.Joyce.

“The YWCA’s goal is to make Mrs. Walker’s inspirational story available to all school and public libraries in the nation as an example of a young person who not only had the courage to stand up for what is right, but also to continue to stay involved in her community to make it better over a 70-year time period,” Jackson said.

Click here http://www.sos.wa.gov/legacyproject/oralhistories/lillianwalker/ to read The Legacy Project’s oral history on Lillian Walker based on sit-down interviews, as well as photos and other materials.

Lillian Walker helped found the Bremerton branch of the NAACP in 1943 and went on to serve as state NAACP secretary. She was conducting sit-ins and filing civil rights lawsuits when Martin Luther King was in junior high school.

Mrs. Walker and her late husband, James, arrived in the Navy Yard city of Bremerton in 1941 together with thousands of other AfricanAmerican wartime workers who thought they had left racism behind in the South and industrialized cities of Midwest and East. But many Kitsap County businesses, including cafes, taverns, drug stores and barber shops, displayed signs saying, “We Cater to White Trade Only.” In a landmark case, the Walkers took a soda fountain owner to court and won.

Mrs. Walker is a charter member of the YWCA of Kitsap County, former chairman of the Kitsap County Regional Library Board, a 69-year member of Ebenezer African Methodist Episcopal Church, and a founder and former president of Church Women United in Bremerton.

To learn more about The Legacy Project, go to its web site at http://www.sos.wa.gov/heritage/LegacyProject/default.aspx.