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Joshua Lederberg Faith Science Discovery and the Coronovirus

Joshua Lederberg, spent his life studying and looking for microscopic bugs and viruses. They haunted him. Bugs so small and microscopic that they threatened “man’s continued domination on the planet.”

I say this is a theological problem because the Bible says that “God created man and woman to have dominion over all things.” Lederberg posits a different thesis. The virus will have the final say on dominion. Of course his premise is that we will have to adjust to the virus, control and destroy it or without an aggressive global offensive it will control or destroy us. Lederberg, a Noble laureate in medicine, was Jewish, therefore he believed in God, and saw no conflict between his belief in God and his use of science to confirm and strengthen his faith and subsequently prepare all of us for an eventuality, a possibility, that could threaten our domination under theological constructs and human government and liberty systems. For Lederberg, just like me, and other scientists who are believers in the faith, there is no splinting and differentiating between science and theology, religion and politics, even though we have no problem with separation of church and state. You cannot separate a man from his faith, nor can you separate a man from his mission to use what God has given him, to provide all of us with a better understanding of God’s creation.

Lederberg took what only God allowed his eyes to see and went to work in his faith to save mankind.

Racism domestically and globally and the politics of blame are allowing the virus to thrive. By pitting people against each other, and politicizing the virus we have allowed the virus to take hold and to take root because we never defined it as a threat to humanity. Trump defines it as a “China problem.” He can’t see the humanity of the Chinese, he only sees trade and transactionalism. This too is a seemingly impenetrable and non-vaccinate-able virus leading some of us to dub the coronavirus, Covid 1619.

Somehow our supremacy as Americans, and white supremacy within our national caste system, and the ideology behind supremacy has separated us from the rest of humanity and therefore we think that we are invincible and not vulnerable to the virus.  https://www.al.com/opinion/2020/03/robert-e-lee-picketts-charge-and-donald-john-trump.html?outputType=amp

According to Wikipedia, Joshua Lederberg, (May 23, 1925 – February 2, 2008) was an American molecular biologist known for his work in microbial genetics, artificial intelligence, and the United States space program. He was 33 years old when he won the 1958 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for discovering that bacteria can mate and exchange genes (bacterial conjugation).[3] He shared the prize with Edward Tatum and George Beadle, who won for their work with genetics.

Donald Trump thinks that he can solve in a few months what took Lederberg a lifetime to understand. By his own admission Trump admitted that the virus is five times more deadly than the flu. Does that mean that the politically expedited, warp speed, vaccine will be five times more potent than a flu shot? What does a vaccine with five times the potency of a flu shot mean for human biology? And who set the arbitrary deadline of late October, before the November 3 American election, for its introduction and injection into the veins of the American people. Why is the rest of the world spraying their streets and engaging a massive disinfectant campaign? And why are the American people waiting and expediting something to shoot into their bodies with potential long term consequences and side effects? Global containment thus far has been without a vaccine. Only America is looking for a drug.

Presidential recommendations and prescriptions of Injecting bleach, swallowing disinfectant, and taking vaccines that avoid the protocols of multiple phase trials, will not work. One would think that such a threat as predicted by Lederberg, would dominate the thinking of our national leadership. International organizations from the United Nations, to the world health organization, the domestic infrastructure of the CDC and the FDA and the national institutes of health NIH are all front lines of defense in a very different war with a microbial enemy. Trump systematically dismantled them.

We have systematically dismantled public education and public trust in these institutions that allow us to build a more perfect union and communicate a single believable message to the American people above politics and without division and the filter of truth. As a system we are supposed to trust the information that we receive and make decisions for our own lives and livelihoods based upon the information. We have failed miserably in this area. And it all started with the truth or absence there of.

We have developed as a nation big bombs and very large battleships and we have flexed our muscle globally for the threats that we can see. We have weaponized biology. We have biological weapons. Our study of these organism has anesthetized us from the serious effects of a less potent, nevertheless deadly, virology like the coronovirus. The coronavirus may not be what we have in storage, like stuff we developed and designed to kill people, without the destruction of property, but we have it, and we were not prepared for the ramifications of a novel coronavirus. We weren’t even looking for a coronavirus, or airborne virus that we couldn’t control. Our focus has been on anthrax and other viruses we developed and can’t pronounce and designed to kill.

Trump even acknowledge to Bob Woodward that he’s developed some kind of nuclear system that the world has never seen before. I assume given our previous and current preeminence and dominance on the question of nuclear weapons and power and our unique capacity to destroy the world 10,000 times over, this must be some kind of global doomsday suicide system. Clearly he authorized its development in secret, of course the great tragedy is it must never be used. The bravado associated with its development is just some kind of profound, insane, sickness that Trump couldn’t even keep to himself.

Donald Trump’s “super duper, super secret, breath taking, human incinerating, logic defying, environment destroying and illegal nuclear system that has the power to blow human flesh off of bones and kill tens of millions of people with a single decision, by one man in the Oval Office who can’t have his way, who can make the unilateral decision, to build it, without authorization from Congress, at a cost of tens of billions, maybe hundreds of billions of unaccountable black op off budget dollars, must never be used and dismantled immediately.”

However for the threat that comes microscopically we have not prepared ourselves. History will tell the story far better than I will ever be able to articulate.

The very infrastructure that Donald Trump dismantled is precisely the infrastructure that will have to be re-established and enforced globally in order to stop the next plague. God is going to make us love our neighbor as ourselves whether we want to or not. For Americans it’s going to be a very hard lesson.

The virus and the plague are going to have the final say. And it is going to have its say on its terms.

The Rittenhouse Effect

Why have we not heard from the Governor of Illinois and the Attorney General of Illinois on the question of one of its “minor” citizens being transported across State lines by his mother, another Illinois citizen, to “police and kill” someone in Wisconsin?

Because what you think of Illinois, is not what Illinois is. There is Blue Illinois and there is Red Illinois. The Governor and the Attorney General are elected and are from Cook County, Blue Illinois. When they wake up every morning and they think about their re-election, this is what they see.

The Rittenhouse’ are now very popular in “Red Illinois.” This morning in Evanston a sticker was posted on a parking meter calling for the pardoning of Kyle Rittenhouse, and it said, “white people must be able to defend themselves.” As a result of Rittenhouse’s new cause celeb, Cook County Democrats, are silent as a church mouse on “alt-right and right wing militia members” in its State, that went to another State, and participated in multiple homicides. Kyle Rittenhouse killed two “white activists” who were allied with #BLM but I can almost promise you he was looking for African American #BLM activists, when he left Illinois with his mother. Today he claims self defense in his actions while he traveled with a long gun, a hundred miles from his own home.

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are doing very well in “Blue Illinois,” Trump is doing very well in “Red Illinois.” Both sides are trying to convince people in the Blue and Red areas to come to their side and point of view in November. The victim of this balancing act between Red and Blue is “racial justice.”

“Racial justice” is twixt and between the democrats and the republicans. It is twixt and between the liberals and the conservatives. “Racial justice” is twixt and between right and wrong. The effect of this reality is clear, Cook County democratic party leadership rarely shows leadership on issues of “racial justice” state wide. If they did there would be no state wide democratic lawmakers.

This map is true in every state in the Union. There is no such thing as the Blue or Red State distinctions. That’s too simple an explanation for this very complicated reality. Joe Biden’s greatest chance for victory in many of these states is that he is seen as “a decent person” in the Red areas far more decent than Trump. Joe Biden is not leading because of what he “stands for,” his policy initiatives, he is only leading because he is perceived as decent. But Biden cannot cross the line. He cannot “defund the police.” That goes too far. The Red part of our state isn’t feeling Harris. They are feeling Pence, from neighboring Red State Indiana. The Red part of Illinois rarely comes to visit Chicago, in fact they see through a lens where everything wrong with the State is in Chicago. But the “downstaters” do regularly attend the Indiana State fair. And the “Red rural” areas of Indiana come to the Illinois for our State fair in Springfield Illinois, or “Red Illinois.” So when Trump from the White House says, he will send the “National Guard to Chicago,” this too is what he sees. And it is blood red.

Pritzker and Raoul underestimate Black Chicago’s knowledge of this dynamic and therefore engage in a racial calculation of their own. Including assumptions that Black elected officials and the media from “Blue areas” are incapable of understanding “downstate interests.” Many African Americans for generations know downstate Illinois and its dangers so well. Our ancestors in the great migration, came North to Chicago, through downstate, and their descendants have to chosen to stay in Chicago because of this knowledge. We know downstate!

Depending upon the Governor and the Attorney Generals behavior, to prosecute or not prosecute Kyle Rittenhouse’ mother, this action, or lack there of, constitutes “racial justice crickets,” that will determine how long Illinois remains Blue. Remember, the same people who allowed the covered up, hiding of evidence, and that delayed the video of the murder of LaQuan McDonald, a #BLM case, at the hands of the Chicago Democrat’s because of who it implicated, don’t get to come back and suddenly be tough on the Rittenhouse’s. Racial justice is twixt and between. Blue and Red. Just as slaves were twixt and between the Rebels and the Yankees. Just as the American descendants of slavery, are twixt and between democrats and republicans. Just as African Americans are twixt and between Trump and Biden. We know there is a difference between “equal justice” and “selective justice.” We know it all to well.

This is The Rittenhouse Effect.

Why Martin Luther King Jr. Still Matters:Separating Nonviolent Protestors from Violent and Undisciplined Ones Came from Pre-Protest Training

At the beginning of the protests, the American people overwhelmingly supported the protests with an approval rating of +27% . As the protests turned violent, the idea of protesting is now in the negative, it is at -1%. The protests are losing support because they have turned violent.

During the protests Black Lives Matter had a favorability rating of +33%. While it is still positive, +10%, there has been a significant decline in the marketing and support for Black Lives Matter and their tactics. Whether the tactics are actually from #BLM or not, they are overwhelmingly associated with the movement. As a result they are losing support and Democratic and Republican politicians are taking notice.

Why does Dr. King matter? Because, for Dr. King, he believed that the ends justified the means and that the ends for which we seek, are pre-existent in the means. In other words, the way in which the movement conducts itself determines the outcome in the long run.

Consistency over time is a factor in a successful movement to change public opinion. As long as public opinion and support is on our side we cannot lose. Dr. King said we must always have the symbols of the flag and the Bible on our side. We must do nothing, or allow anything to happen, that compromises the education that the American people are receiving at this moment . The movement is providing millions of people in our country and around the world an understanding that no formal education can provide. When we take the low road, the public no longer identifies with the struggle. At all times Dr. King was conscious of “entering into the living rooms of every American who was observing the moral authority of the nonviolent protesters.” We absorbed the vitriol, we took the blows. Those Americans were disgusted with the behavior of the police and found themselves identifying with John Lewis. They chose decency over indecency. At all times, we must keep them on our side. It was a movement to “harness human divine spirit energy.”

He had a number of choices. To chose violence, looting and disorder, or he could chose non-violence. Active non-violent active resistence. He chose nonviolence active resistence not only because it is morally right, but he didn’t want to lose moral authority, because of the behavior of the protesters. He chose his words carefully and challenged sloganeering that would undermine moral authority.

It is clear that the Black Lives Matter movement and the protests are either not offering training, like that of CT Vivian, Joseph Lowery, John Lewis, James Orange, James Bevel, Bernard Lafeyette, and Andy Young were responsible for in the 60s. Or it remains unclear if #BLM is simply a cattle-call of untrained people who are capable of doing almost anything at marches and protests that initially begin nonviolently, but end up late into the evening with rioters and looters. The rioters and looters have assumed control of the message. For Dr. King this would have been fatal. Dr. King would have not allowed that to happen. Not losing control of the message was extremely important to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. whether his staff or history understood it or not.

I’m sure by now Dr. King would’ve said we are going to march nonviolently from nine in the morning until five. Then we are going to boycott and withdraw our enthusiasm from corporate America that doesn’t cooperate with our nonviolent protest, “until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness of a mighty stream.”

I believe he would have said “anyone marching after our designated time and has not been through our training and is on their own.” Do not identify them with “our movement.” He would separate his message from the behavior of the extremists and the renegades on both sides.

This was his problem with injecting “black power” in the middle of their March for “peace and justice.” Messaging mattered. Stokely Carmichael, was my mother and father’s very good friend and when I was in college, we invited him to speak at North Carolina A&T State University. I debated this issue with him in the auditorium. He held firm to his view. He said “that is young Jesse Jackson Jr. over there.” We laughed and I loved him very much. Rick Bradley, and Mark Anthony Middleton, would remember these exchanges. If he were alive today I would ask him whether or not his “black power” slogan would have been appropriate given that two white men lost their lives in Kenosha Wisconsin, and whether or not a slogan would have alienated them and their families for the cause in which they died.

From George Floyd to Jacob Blake in Kenosha Wisconsin this is a case study in the behavior of a movement. The movement of the human spirit, is not just action it’s “spirit movement.” Many lives where lost in the turbulent 50’s and 60’s but I don’t believe there was a single life lost in a protest organized by Dr. King. I don’t even recall reading about the defacement or destruction of property.

It is the proper harnessing of spirit that has ramifications for movements all across the country and around our world. It is spirit energy. Dr. King was very much concerned about harnessing spirit energy to do Gods will. Some of the protests we are witnessing don’t have anything to do with God. This is the truth.

I also believe the #BLM has to be very careful. If their numbers slip into negative numbers, Democrats and Republicans will turn on them. They will be labeled a terrorist organization. Reactionary forces are already trying to do this. Maintaining the moral high ground is a factor in the longevity of every major organization and movement. SCLC, the NAACP, the Urban League, while their effectiveness may be challenged in these times, they understand the importance of maintaining the moral high ground. It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon.

I had to wait a few months in order to write this post, because had it been written at the beginning of the protests it would have been perceived differently. Now we have to back up our action for justice with our behavior and start training the activists. If the activists just show up as a Motley Crew, nothing good is going to come from untrained, undisciplined and unaccountable actors who show up in a fever pitch. They will knock the movement off of the front pages and the forces of reaction and their message of “law and order” will replace the dream we began in 1963. Many of these actors who knew not our King are agent provocateurs whose ends are inconsistent with the means.

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Crippling the post office for Wall Street The Delegitimization of the Federal Government

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Why White Liberals Misread Lincoln and Trump’s Gettysburg Address 

Why White Liberals Misread Lincoln and Trump’s Gettysburg Address 

Today in the North if you mention “the war,” you need to be specific. Revolutionary, WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Persian Gulf, Afghanistan, or the war on terrorism. Whatever the war, from the Revolutionary war and the Declaration of Independence to the present, if you talk to a Northerner, in 2020, you need to be specific. To the conservative Southerner there is only one war that matters, and it is the Civil War. In fact you need to be clear that when speaking to a conservative Southerner, if you are referencing another conflict you need to be specific and call it by the name of the conflict or the assumption is you are talking about the big one, the Civil War. For the Christian, their entire religion dates from the birth, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. To the Southerner according to Mark Twain, “In the South the war is what A.D. is elsewhere; they date from it.” It too is their modern American religion. 

The Northerners do not get this. They still do not get it. In large part because the reconciliation at the end of the Civil war gave legitimacy to the idea of treason as part of the nation’s reconciliation. The Southerners are not bad people, “the disagreement” can be civil. We can welcome home the prodigal men and women and the ideology that sought to dissolve our union into the halls of our nation federal and state legislatures and resolve our problems not on a battlefield but in political parties that have for more than 160 years of national memory legitimized the losing sides point of view. Henry Charles Carey was the leading 19th century economist of the American School of Capitalism and Chief economic advisor to President Abraham Lincoln had this to say, “ from that date the abandonment of the older state proceeded with a rapidity never before known, and with it grew the domestic slave trade and the pro-slavery feeling.” 

Let me be clear slavery was wrong morally and politically and those who sought to defend it and continue to defend it are still wrong. So, it should come as no surprise that Trump wants to accept the Republican nomination for president in 2020 at Gettysburg. For liberals in the media, it’s just a stunt, for Trump’s hard core base, they appreciate Bannon and Steve Millers efforts to continue this national discord for several more centuries. 

The battle at Gettysburg made places such as Cemetery Hill, Cemetery Ridge, Little Round Top, Big Round Top, and Devil’s Den famous, along with the northern names of Colonel Joshua L. Chamberlain and the Twentieth Maine, the First Minnesota and General Governor K. Warren. For the South, the name of a thirty-eight-year-old general, George Pickett, was forever made infamous when Lee ordered him to conduct “Pickett’s Charge,” an almost suicidal foray against Union troops. It was a great northern victory, but a total of more than fifty thousand men had given of their blood or lives—as many as twenty-three thousand Union casualties and twenty-eight thousand southern men killed, wounded or missing, more than a third of Lee’s army. The combination of victories at Gettysburg and Vicksburg turned out to be the all-important turning point in the war. 

The burial of the Gettysburg dead was originally planned for October 23 but rescheduled to November 19 because the principal orator, Edward Everett of Massachusetts, could not be ready before then. Lincoln, by comparison, was casually invited to attend and make a few remarks. “No insult was intended. Federal responsibility or participation was not assumed, then, in state activities. And Lincoln took no offense. Though specifically invited to deliver only ‘a few appropriate remarks’ to open the cemetery, he meant to use this opportunity. The partly mythical victory of Gettysburg was important to his 

administration’s war propaganda,” according to Garry Wills, Lincoln at Gettysburg. There are mythical accounts that Lincoln wrote his Gettysburg Address on the back of an envelope. Even though the 272-word speech probably took less than three minutes to deliver—interrupted with applause five times by the twenty thousand in attendance—such cavalier preparation would have been totally uncharacteristic of Lincoln, who took such opportunities very seriously. 

Lincoln intended to use this occasion and speech to lift the nation’s eyes above the death and carnage at Gettysburg “to a level of abstraction that purges it of grosser matter…. Lincoln did for the whole Civil War what he accomplished for the single battlefield,” said Wills. He transformed its meaning and in so doing transformed what it meant to be an American. 

Lincoln mentioned neither slavery nor Gettysburg. He drained his speech of all particulars in order to lift up an ideal. Lincoln intended to create something good and new out of this tragic and bloody episode. Both North and South strove to interpret Gettysburg to further their own war interests. Lincoln was after an even bigger victory—winning the ideological as well as the military war. And he succeeded. “The Civil War is, to most Americans, what Lincoln wanted it to mean. Words had to complete the work of the guns,” Wills continued. When we wave the flag and celebrate on July 4, Independence Day, we are not so much celebrating our American-ness in terms of our independence from England. We are celebrating the meaning of the flag and America as Lincoln interpreted them in his Gettysburg Address. At Gettysburg, Lincoln reinterpreted the Constitution. Looking past slavery in the Constitution, he appealed to the Declaration of Independence and its claim that “all men are created equal.” Conservative political “heirs to this outrage still attack Lincoln for subverting the Constitution at Gettysburg.” Wills admonished. 

Lincoln is here not only to sweeten the air at Gettysburg, but to clear the infected atmosphere of American history itself, tainted with official sins and inherited guilt. He would cleanse the Constitution—not, as William Lloyd Garrison had, by burning an instrument that countenanced slavery. He altered the document from within, by appeal from its letter to the spirit, subtly changing the recalcitrant stuff of that legal compromise, bringing it to its own indictment. By implicitly doing this, he performed one of the most daring acts of open-air sleight-of-hand ever witnessed by the unsuspecting. Everyone in that vast throng of thousands was having his or her intellectual pocket picked. The crowd departed with a new thing in its ideological luggage, that new Constitution Lincoln had substituted for the one they brought there with them. They walked off, from those curving graves on the hillside, under a changed sky, into a different America. Lincoln had revolutionized the Revolution, giving people a new past to live with that would change their future indefinitely.43 

Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address was transforming the United States from a plural to a singular noun—from the United States are into the United States is a free government. According to Garry Wills, Lincoln, by his words and actions, converted the Union from a mystical hope into a constitutional reality. 

Current scholars and politicians call the Gettysburg Address just as authoritative a statement of the American spirit as the Declaration of Independence, perhaps more so because it determines how we read the latter. Because the Gettysburg address is “the lens” by which we read the Declaration of Independence, Trump’s acceptance seeks to re-interpret for many Americans who lack this understanding a new definition of freedom going forward. Wills argues that for most people, the 

Declaration means what Lincoln told us it means, correcting the Constitution in the process without overthrowing it. This spiritual correction and intellectual revolution make attempts to go back beyond Lincoln virtually impossible. “The proponents of states’ rights may have arguments, but they have lost their force, in courts as well as in the popular mind. By accepting the Gettysburg Address, its concept of a single people dedicated to a proposition, we have been changed. Because of it, we live in a different America,” concluded Wills. 

Aside from the illegality of using federal land and property for a campaign event, from his appointment of more than 200 federal jurists many of whom are unqualified, Trump seeks to provide for them a new foundation, a foundation and view of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution so that they too might find legitimacy in spreading Trumpism for centuries. From Mount Rushmore to Gettysburg, Trump at the direction of Steve Bannon and Steven Miller want to be remembered not for building a More Perfect Union, at mask less biker rallies in SD and as sources of legitimacy for armed resistance movements at state capitals and legislatures, for an exceptionally long time. After all, President Trump legitimized their behavior and the liberals from the North did nothing about it.

The images below are former Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. with Harold Holtzer , Abraham Lincoln historian, celebrating the 200th anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg where Congressman Jackson was the guest speaker.

How to Live and How to Die:  A Reflection on the Decent and Eternal Life of Representative John Lewis  by Jesse Jackson Jr.

How to live and How to die 

A reflection on the decent and eternal life of Representative John Lewis 

by Jesse Jackson Jr.

John Lewis lived a life of courage and decency that we have not seen in modern man. I decided to write this article based on a lifetime of observation. I was born March 11, 1965 in the middle of the three Selma to Montgomery marches, held in 1965, along the 54 mile highway from Selma Alabama to the state capital in Montgomery Alabama. On Sunday, March 7, a nonviolent peaceful march led by Lewis was met by state troopers, who had everything but non-violence on their minds as they sought to enforce the Alabama policy of “Law and Order,”  at the Edmund Pettus Bridge. My father was a student at Chicago Theological Seminary when he joined the second March. He called Greenville South Carolina and found out that I had just been born, and he was so overwhelmed by the history of the moment that he wanted to name me Selma. My mothers better judgment prevailed, my father and my oldest sister to this day still call me Selma. My classmate Cameron Moody from college still calls me Selma. When I served in Congress with John Lewis for 17 years he too called me Selma.

Between my birth and my election to Congress I saw Representative Lewis who I affectionately call “Uncle John” at various conventions, Congressional Black Caucus weekends, protests, social events with my father, always with a reverence and respect of a young respectable man who was not only in the presence of greatness, but in the presence of divinity, a holy figure complete with halo.

My election to Congress in 1995 only added the term colleague and friend, a line only crossed by profession, for he was divinity. He wasn’t a minister, but he was. He wasn’t a preacher, but he could, he wasn’t a politician but he served. The English language doesn’t have a term that can describe the spirit of John Lewis.  I think ultimately the American people will erect statues, monuments, name buildings, rooms and programs after him. For we the living want to multiply and expand his spirit energy to future generations.  Jim Clyburn, the majority whip from South Carolina, said it best “John Lewis lived the life of a sermon.” I agree. The living are going to write his gospel and testament. So I want to offer my thoughts in the deification of his spirit. 

First John, ( I like that term First John),  had a sense of himself in history. He was unique in his “knowing of the role he played” in changing the course of human events. President Lyndon Baines Johnson in his special message to Congress in 1965 titled, “And We Shall Overcome,” said, “At times history and fate meet at a single time, in a single place, to shape a turning point in man’s unending search for freedom. So it was at Lexington and Concord. So it was a century ago at Appomattox. So it was last week in Selma Alabama.”

The former senator and segregationist and then President of the United States was referring to the event of John Lewis and the marchers non-violent confrontation with Alabama State Police on the other side of the Edmund Pettus Bridge. The consciousness of mankind had been challenged by the fact that the protestors did not return hate for hate but returned the hate of the officers with love and compassion, an authentic christian moment. It was a strange moment, in  that we had not seen, nor heard, nor witnessed the incomplete ministry of Jesus of Nazareth, tragically interrupted by crucifixion, taken to its logical  conclusion, but we could only imagine that this was his intention. It was an experiment in faith and we all observed it. The brutality was such that the public opinion of planet earth was formed against the behemoth, the goliath,  of American hatred toward people of color and it required a global reassessment and an identification with David. John Lewis changed Johnson. Johnson had earlier signed the Civil Rights act of 1964, would sign the Voting Rights Act of 1965, due to Lewis efforts, and would sign Fair Housing Legislation in 1968, the crux of the Civil rights era and its accomplishment in law.  From segregationist to advocate for human and civil rights, Jesse Jackson would later call Johnson the greatest President of the 20th century. Lewis changed Johnson!

Secondly, Lewis’ legislative accomplishments, in addition to the words that he spoke, and entered into the Congressional Record, will stand the test of the nation’s most comprehensive and complete documenting of the events that moved his spirit to action. There is no record more eternal in the life of this nation than the Congressional Record and John Lewis was a master of it. His spirit is contained in his words and action. A perfect say:do ratio. He bragged about being arrested for “Good Trouble” more than 40 times before his election to congress, and 4 more times once elected. He intended to get our attention.

Thirdly, Lewis’ graphic novel written and illustrated for K through 12 and beyond tells the story of civil and human rights available for the youngest to the oldest of our citizens. For Lewis it was really more than struggle, or commitment to the moment, Lewis was committed to the narrative and the movement of the spirit of his life. There was no higher priority than the establishment of a beloved community, “on earth as it is in heaven.” The beloved community that he and Martin Luther King Jr. gave the last full measure of their devotion too. In the graphic novel he wrote  so that all Americans, indeed all of us could recognize our role and responsibility to the “World House ” we all live in. Lewis insured that we would be present at the events that led to “a new American Founding,” forever.  A new reality for all of us.

Fourth, his lying in state at the Alabama State Capitol, the Georgia State Capitol, the United States Capitol speaks to the nation’s highest honor and the nation’s debt of gratitude to Lewis for he had lived a life of “Good Trouble” and conducted his life as a sermon of justice and mercy and hope. Good trouble, a trouble that troubled the waters of conscience and brought about results by changing the minds of his political opposition and ultimately an opposition that joined him in passing legislation to improve the “Soul of America.” He believed that deeply within every person existed the capacity to change, for Lewis, even the most staunch segregationist could enter a community of love and mutual respect. Lewis understood that generations of Southern white Americans and many liberal northerners had been told a lie and they needed to confront their truth and that they would act out until they came to terms with a new truth. What Lewis controlled was the response to the reaction, it would be loving and nonviolent. His capacity to endure suffering made him great.

Fifth, John Lewis was a Founding Father of this Democracy. It is hard to imagine that James Madison, Alexander Hamilton and the other architects, had not added the fundamental affirmative right to vote to the Constitution of the United States. The task before Lewis wasn’t just consistently renewing and extending  the Voting Rights of 1965, but the elevation of the affirmative right to vote to the Constitution itself, an oversight at the Founding. How can we be a democracy when the right to vote is protected by 50 different states and so called separate and unequal states rights in voting and not the constitution? Such an amendment would be more important to Lewis and the future of a free people in a representative government than any statue or memorial.

And lastly his courage surpassed our understanding. He even confronted his own mortality and decided to seize the moment by writing and immortalizing his final thoughts to us in a New York Times op Ed read by the voice of God, Morgan Freeman and he insured, even in death, John Lewis planned to be with us forever in spirit and he will be just that.

I think because of John Lewis and Martin Luther King Jr.,  and yes Jesus of Nazareth to whom they followed, love is going to have the final word of our existence. It is painful to get there.  There are competing philosophies and theologies on this point but King and Lewis were from a primitive authentic Christian understanding. Robert E Lee High School in Virginia is now the John Robert Lewis High School. Edmund Pettus Bridge named after a Ku Klux Klan man will be renamed John Robert Lewis. Fisk University is naming it’s social justice institute after John Robert Lewis. Streets will be named after John Robert Lewis, from Sea to Shining Sea. John Robert Lewis and his spirit will have the final say on defeating treason and the confederacy, because of the way he lived.

John Lewis showed us how to live, he showed us with dignity how to die, and he showed us the power of the resurrection of the human spirit and the divine entitlement of freedom.

Book Review Begin Again James Baldwin’s America and its urgent lessons for our own by Dr. Eddie Glaude

“Glaude sets out upon a journey to excavate from the rubble, the spirit and the mission of James Baldwin and he does just that. In Begin Again, I could close my eyes and enter into a commune with Baldwin’s spirit. Upon their opening, I asked myself the question do the theoretical ideals of Freedom and liberty articulated by Jefferson, Madison, Hamilton, Adams and Franklin live up to the reality that Baldwin lived through and saw? History has yielded a different result from the eyes and vantage point of Baldwin. After reading “Begin Again,” I said to myself, Baldwin, King, Malcolm, Carmichael, Lewis, and many others should have been there, there at the founding, with a vote. Would there be a different future, our present? Maybe. But we would be assured that dissenting points of view were not dismissed and may have even gained support as “original intent.” From the rubble of Baldwin’s life, emerges a different series of essays than the theories advanced in the federalist papers. Baldwin was not ahead of his time, he was in his time, his star. Baldwin counted on someone to dig through the rubble and ruin of his contribution and find something valuable to the future. Glaude did that, and he spared the present no quarter from shirking her responsibility in bringing forward a new earth, for it is in the new earth that a new vision of heaven is possible.

Glaude’s conclusion was so moving that I can only encourage the reader to experience it for themselves.”

A tribute to Congressman John Lewis

Larger than life. Free at last.

I had the pleasure of serving with John Lewis in Congress for 17 years. It was the high honor of my life, in public service. He was the nations foremost authority and consistent Civil Rights activist. From the Edmund Pettis, to the Atlanta City Council, to the Congress of the United States, “Equal Justice under the law” was his life passion and work. Changing unjust laws and Championing fairness, equality and global human Rights was his mission and objective. Without changing the law the country could back slide into authoritarianism and tyranny. He was a leader who truly understood that the movement was about changing law, and with changed law, a changed collective behavior could result.

I salute and honor a man whose life’s work took into account my life and your life, all of our lives. He not only fought for our “right to vote,” the vote he fought for, expanded our right to education opportunity, our right to desegregated middle class home ownership, our right to medical coverage and workplace fairness, including equal pay for equal work, the opposite of chattel slavery, he expanded our life options by giving us the tool, to participate in the process that secured our rights and liberty. He slowed, altered and changed the course of our judicial system and saved scores of us, thousands of us, from public and private lynchings. Those are just some of the things that come from the right to vote, that he secured on the Edmund Pettis Bridge in 1965.

The events of the Edmund Pettis Bridge were so profound that the President of the United States Lyndon Johnson, initially a segregationist from Texas, had this to say, “At times history and fate meet at a single time in a single place to shape a turning point in man’s unending search for freedom. So it was at Lexington and Concord. So it was a century ago at Appomattox. So it was last week in Selma, Alabama.” 

John Lewis was a modern Founding Father. It is hard to date reality in the modern world without the Edmund Pettis Bridge being a turning point in modern thinking. In fact for today’s generation it is impossible to even imagine the world that existed before the Edmund Pettis Bridge.

God was with us, God was in our midst, Providence provided us an Edmund Pettis Bridge and guided us across the Red Sea that day. Did you expect a different response from Pharoahs army?

Pancreatic cancer attacked his body, but he remained strong in mind, body, and spirit. A perfect unity. No splitting, no differentiating. He was an angel of destiny.

He rose to the highest heights of human dignity and human respect all over the world a giant of humility and human spirit.

Words Spirit & Statues

Every word that we can muster is the embodiment of the Spirit endowed to each of us by our Creator. For deep within every breath that we breathe, mindfully or not, is a spiritual journey. In my body, there is respiration, aspiration, inspiration, perspiration, expiration all embody and contain spirit and spirit energy. Dr. James Forbes, one of the most prolific and profound preachers in the United States, shared with me recently that in the words respiration, aspiration, inspiration, perspiration, expiration is the word spirit, in each human breath is a person’s spirit. Spirit is not completely definable, for it defies definition, but we use words and symbols, as best we can, in multiple languages, and different forms to define, “indescribable spirit.” 

When in Italy I looked and stared at David by Michelangelo Buonarroti for hours. I had been in Italy for a meeting with the Pope. Michelangelo said, “I had a vision of David and I carved away everything in my mind that was not David.” “First I saw the Angel then I carved away everything that was not the Angel and set him free.” Even the work of the great masters cannot deny or completely define spirit, but they try to capture it.

Between 1996 and 2001, I took 3 tours with members of my staff, and I visited more than 2 dozen Civil War Battlefields and sites, from Pennsylvania to Texas more than a dozen states. Each moving and memorable, but the time I spent in Andersonville was among the most. Between Camp Douglass, in the North, and Andersonville in the South, it is difficult to determine which side inflicted the greatest cruelty on their fellow countrymen who were prisoners of civil war. Modern Civil War enthusiasts have debated these issues for longer than the conflict itself lasted. But while in Andersonville, I was particularly moved. The Park Service Ranger took me to a headstone at the National Cemetery, and he asked me to read a letter. The Letter was from Cpl. James Henry Gooding, USCT. 54th Massachusetts. It was addressed to Abraham Lincoln.

Camp of the 54th Mass. Colored Regiment. Morris Island, S.C.

September 28, 1863

Your Excellency, Abraham Lincoln:

Your Excellency will pardon the presumption of a humble individual like myself, in addressing you, but the earnest solicitation of my comrades in arms beside the genuine interest felt by myself in the matter is my excuse, for placing before the Executive head of the Nation our Common Grievance.

On the 6th of the last Month, the Paymaster of the Department informed us, that if we would decide to receive the sum of $10 (ten dollars) per month, he would come and pay us that sum, but that, on the sitting of Congress, the Regt. [regiment] would, in his opinion, be allowed the other 3 (three). He did not give us any guarantee that this would be, as he hoped; certainly, he had no authority for making any such guarantee, and we cannot suppose him acting in any way interested.

Now the main question is, are we Soldiers, or are we Laborers? We are fully armed and equipped, have done all the various duties pertaining to a Soldier’s life, have conducted ourselves to the complete satisfaction of General Officers, who were, if anything, prejudiced against us, but who now accord us all the encouragement and honors due us; have shared the perils and labor of reducing the first stronghold that flaunted a Traitor Flag; and more, Mr. President, today the Anglo Saxon Mother, Wife, or Sister are not alone in tears for departed Sons, Husbands, and Brothers. The patient, trusting descendants of Africa’s Clime have dyed the ground with blood, in defense of the Union, and Democracy. Men, too, your Excellency, who know in a measure the cruelties of the iron heel of oppression, which in years gone by, the very power their blood is now being spilled to maintain, ever ground them in the dust.

But when the war trumpet sounded o’er the land when men knew not the Friend from the Traitor, the black man laid his life at the altar of the Nation, —and he was refused. When the arms of the Union were beaten, in the first year of the war, and the Executive called for more food for its ravenous maw, again the black man begged the privilege of aiding his country in her need, to be again refused.

And now he is in the War, and how has he conducted himself? Let their dusky forms rise up, out [of] the mires of James Island, and give the answer. Let the rich muddle around Wagner’s parapet be upturned, and there will be found an eloquent answer. Obedient and patient and solid as a wall are they. All we lack is a paler hue and a better acquaintance with the alphabet.

Now, your Excellency, we have done a Soldier’s duty. Why can’t we have a Soldier’s pay? You caution the Rebel Chieftain, that the United States knows no distinction in her soldiers. She insists on having all her soldiers of whatever creed or color, to be treated according to the usages of War. Now if the United States exacts uniformity of treatment of her soldiers from the insurgents, would it not be well and consistent to set the example herself by paying all her soldiers alike?

We of this Regt. were not enlisted under any “contraband” act. But we do not wish to be understood as rating our service of more value to the Government than the service of the ex-slave. Their service is undoubtedly worth much to the Nation, but Congress made express provision touching their case, as slaves freed by military necessity, and assuming the Government to be their temporary Guardian. Not so with us. Freemen by birth and consequently having the advantage of thinking and acting for ourselves so far as the Laws would allow us, we do not consider ourselves fit subjects for the Contraband act.

We appeal to you, Sir, as the Executive of the Nation, to have us justly dealt with. The Regt. do pray that they are assured their service will be fairly appreciated by paying them as American Soldiers, not as menial hirelings. Black men, you may well know, are poor; three dollars per month, for a year, will supply their needy wives and little ones with fuel. If you, as Chief Magistrate of the Nation, will assure us of our whole pay, we are content. Our Patriotism, our enthusiasm will have a new impetus, to exert our energy more and more to aid our Country. Not that our hearts ever flagged in devotion, spite the evident apathy displayed on our behalf, but we feel as though our country spurned us, now we are sworn to serve her. Please give this a moment’s attention.

Corporal James Henry Gooding. USCT

The Park Ranger had not shared with me that I was standing at the tombstone of Cpl. Gooding. I broke down in tears. The Stone, that marked the head of his mortal remains, and his final resting place, contained spirit and I was moved. As a sitting United States Congressman, how could I not go back to Washington and not fight for equal pay for equal work and health benefits for all including those who served and had served?

When I sat for hours looking at monuments and statues in our Nation’s Capital, and in our state legislatures, that I visited, I was looking for more than craftsmanship. I was looking for spirit, meaning, and the message that they conveyed of the past, to present, and to the future. I sat out on a unique journey. Shortly after Rosa Parks death, I offered legislation to put Rosa Parks Statue in Statuary hall right next to Robert E. Lee, Confederate general, and Alexander Hamilton Stevens the Vice President of the Confederacy. I could not remove nor did I have the authority to do so, but I could change the narrative and “the spirit of Statuary Hall” by her inclusion. Rosa Parks’ addition to the collection, meant that the tour guides of Capitol Hill could no longer ignore the presence, 150 years after the civil war, of her unique “spirit” and contribution and the “nonviolent spirit” movement that it started. Along with Congressman Zach Wamp of Tennessee, we fought as a “bipartisan team, Democrat and Republican, black and white” to name the newest largest Hall, the visitors center, Emancipation Hall. The beginning of all tours of Capitol Hill begins with the story of Spirit Emancipation and human freedom as a result.

The most important part of the discovery I had made was not just the presence of the Statues, and or their existence, but the existence of Spirit. The stone and statues represent the permanent embodiment of the politic (spirit), that has compromised the principles of equality and fairness for the American people at every phase of the legislative process, since the nation’s inception and equally and even more devastating and tragic, is the advent of the modern Democratic and Republican parties and their roles after the civil war (BIPARTISANSHIP). Both parties represent two sides of a tragic statutory discourse that has “compromised” its way out of addressing equality for all its citizens, from admitting slave states and free states to the union, 1 free state 1 slave state (Missouri Compromise), like animals in Noah’s ark, to every appropriations bill, to every budget bill, to education, healthcare, and housing, as well as the environment and voting. Since the American Civil War not a single piece of legislation has escaped this “compromise” including the admission of the statues to the halls of the Congress itself. In fact, this is the beginning of the most notable use of the legislative term “COMPROMISE.” Whenever Democrats and Republicans celebrate a “compromise or a legislative milestone,” you might as well ask yourself the question, who did you all leave out this time? I already know.

In the Congress of the United States, racism is not just tolerable in the “symbolism” it is also tolerable in congresses’ “substance.” The primary focus of the congress is compromised by this behavior. And rarely do we get to the conversation of why certain congressional districts get everything and other congressional districts get nothing and even more tragically some members of Congress from the neediest districts are so used to the behavior, they “ask” for nothing.

Not a single statue came down, nor did the politics change even with the election and 8-year service of the first African American president. In fact, his supporters spent more time trying to have his image carved on Mount Rushmore, than addressing institutional racism.  Joe Biden served in the United States Senate for several decades and as Vice President for 8 years, not a single statue was removed anywhere in the United States!  He walked by them every day. Even more tragically than their failure to remove the “symbol of the statues,” together, they did nothing to remove the spirit within the words, stone, bronze, marble, and few changes within the law” and unfortunately, it strengthened the argument for birther-ism (a spirit). After living nearly 8 decades, Biden is “new to fighting institutional injustice” in the very workplace that he served, and he will still get my vote. Of course, that is the paradox. The politics (spirit) leaves African Americans and many progressives with not only the lesser of two evils but the ever-present spirit of two evils, a real, not imaginary, demon.

After the Civil War, the confederacy was diminished by treason but elevated to legitimacy by redemption and inclusion. Lincoln, Johnson, and Grant chose reconciliation with the enemy over the rights and protection of the newly freedmen. And in that elevation, equality through “compromise and bipartisanship,” that ignores all interests central to African American progress and underserved poor white communities, racial, social, and economic progress, too. 

And the compromises continue. Charles Schumer for example has allowed Mitch McConnell to advance conservative judicial appointments, as a compromise for budget deals, and other requests that Democrats deemed more important or even worse out of expediency to recess the Senate so that his members can campaign for re-election. Of course, the very judicial appointments that Mitch McConnell has been successful in advancing are devastating to the interests of Black and poor white people. From the prison industrial complex, too desperate sentencing, the ending of the second reconstruction, this is the agenda of these federal jurists advanced by McConnell. For Democrats it is just “politics” until black and brown, poor people, people who have inadequate assistance of counsel, end up facing one of these judges. The flag of the confederacy conveys a troubling legislative spirit, with no white flag hoisted for surrender.

Chuck Schumer and Joe Biden are not present when this part of their benign and sublime, “racially unconscious decision making” and “bipartisan compromises and deals” go down.

Still, other Democrats in Congress who are a permanent part of the fixture and centuries-old behavior of Congress, today will not object to removing statues, but it is their behavior, and support of “moderate legislation” and the obsession with recruiting “moderate candidates for office” (Blue Dogs) that has a deleterious effect on communities of color, that they still do not fundamentally understand. The legitimization of the statues is more reflective of the legitimization of their behavior statutorily, that is most problematic and is an even more enduring, injurious, and dangerous legacy and threatens the survival of the union.

In Defense of the Emancipation Memorial Moral Authority vs Military Authority

In defense of the Emancipation Memorial paid for and dedicated by newly freed slaves with pennies that they gathered amongst themselves for the remembrance of the Emancipator. The only book my ancestors ever were allowed to read on occasion was the Bible. They paralleled the story of freedom to the story of Moses. They saw Abraham Lincoln as Moses

In A More Perfect Union, I write on page 158 and 159: 

“In the meantime, Grants Army had forced itself on Richmond on Sunday, April 1, as President Davis rushed from a church service to escape.  The Confederate government evacuated it on April 2. 

Lincoln visited Richmond on April 4, went to the Confederate White House, and sat in the president’s chair. As he walked the streets of Richmond crowds gathered around, including former slaves, who proclaimed him, among other things, “the great Messiah.“ Overwhelmed by rare emotions, Lincoln said to one Black man who fell on his knees in front of him: “Don’t kneel to me. That’s not right. You must kneel to God only, and thank Him for the liberty you will enjoy hereafter. “ “Describing these events in Richmond from a desk in the Confederate capital was the Philadelphia Press reporter T Morris Chester, a Black man.”

Enthusiastic for police reform and overly fervent for political correctness regarding statues – but ignorant of the importance of a statue in the District of Columbia and Civil War history – mostly white liberal protesters went to Lincoln Park in the nation’s Capitol where a statue of Abraham Lincoln and Mary McCloud Bethune bookmark the park and demanded that the Lincoln Statue be torn down.  They found offensive the image of a black man on his knees looking up at Lincoln.  The protestors argued that such an image was humiliating to black people.  But they apparently didn’t know the history and meaning of the statue.  In gratitude for what Lincoln had done in ending slavery, the statue was the result of black people literally contributing their pennies so the statue could be constructed.  It seems likely that they were unaware of the history and meaning of this statue.  Would they have found a statue depicting the event that T. Morris Chester recorded in Richmond, Virginia offensive?  Without the historical context they might have.

You see we were not there. But the newly freed men had lived through 15 Presidents. They had prayed to a God that they had never seen, and they imagined through the story of Moses an emancipator and a liberator would come and set them free. 

Martin Luther King’s father, Affectionately known as “Daddy King” was a “Lincoln Republican” out of respect for this event.

We can morally defend the Emancipation memorial. Our confederate sympathizers can only militarily defend the behavior of treason. I inserted language in an interior appropriations bill for broader interpretation at all of the historic sites in an effort to preserve all of the histories with its broadest interpretation to protect ALL historical remembrances.