Saturday, October 31, 2015

An unjust, unequal, impossible standard

"It was the last day of school, and I was walking with my dad, preparing to leave. Suddenly, he paused, looked at me intently and said, 'Son, you're a black male, and that's two strikes against you.' To the general public, anything that I did would be perceived as malicious and deserving of severe punishment, and I had to govern myself accordingly. I was seven years old." — Robert Stephens, age 26, Kansas City, MO

OVER AND OVER and over again, when a black man, woman or child is killed, maimed, beaten or otherwise subjected to physical harm by police, there's a chorus of apologists and excuse-makers for the "law." "He shouldn't have run." "Well, he was resisting arrest." "He had a record." "She didn't obey the officer's command." Or how about these? "He was a really big guy." "Okay but he was wearing a hoodie." 

Trayvon Martin

Is the white privilege, white defensiveness so deep that people who say these things can't hear themselves? 

Let me translate: In order not to be shot, choked, punched, kicked, body-slammed or tased, if you're black, you have to allow yourself to be shot, choked, punched, kicked, body-slammed or tased, because if you weren't guilty of something, you wouldn't run or try to defend yourself from being shot, choked, punched, kicked, body-slammed or tased. 

Do you get how it's completely circular? How it's totally a Hobson's choice in that there is no choice?

If you're black you are presumed guilty. 

If you happen to be guilty of something in the past, you are presumed guilty of all things now and in the futureIf you do commit an infraction or don't obey a command, you are sentenced on the spot to be brutalized or killed. No trial, no judge, no jury. Just bam, bam, bam; you're dead. 

And afterwards, the internal investigation will show that the action was "justified" because the victim once did something wrong, or well, maybe he didn't but he was clearly thinking about doing something wrong. Well okay, but he was big.

I don't want to live in a country where there has to be an advertising campaign with memes and signs and marches and T-shirts in order to try to convince a large segment of the population that certain groups of people are also human beings.

Here's an op-ed piece from The New York Times by Roxanne Gay. She explains it better than I did — or can.

Where Are Black Children Safe?

By Roxane Gay
October 29, 2015

BLACK children are not allowed to be children. They are not allowed to be safe, not at home, not at pool parties, not driving or sitting in cars listening to music, not walking down the street, not in school. For black children, for black people, to exist is to be endangered. Our bodies receive no sanctity or safe harbor.

We can never forget this truth. We are never allowed to forget this truth.

On Monday, in Columbia, S.C., Ben Fields, a sheriff’s deputy assigned to Spring Valley High School, was called to a classroom to exert control over an allegedly disobedient student — a black girl. She wouldn’t give up her cellphone to her teacher, an infraction wholly disproportionate to what came to pass. There are at least three videos of the incident. When Mr. Fields approaches the girl, she is sitting quietly. He quickly muscles her out of her seat and throws her across the room.

The video of this brutality is unbearable in its violence, in what it reminds us, once again, about the value of black life in America, and about the challenges black children, in particular, face.

Schools are not merely sites of education, they are sites of control. In fact, they are sites of control well before they are sites of education. And for certain populations — students of color, working-class students, anyone on the margins — the sites of control in the school system can be incredibly restrictive, suffocating, perilous.

Statistics from a recent study showed that in South Carolina, black students made up 36 percent of the population and accounted for 60 percent of suspensions. It is disheartening, at best, that even school discipline is applied disproportionately. And what took place at Spring Valley High goes well beyond disproportion.

In the wake of such indecency, there has been a vigorous public response — shock and outrage, with many people denouncing Mr. Fields’s actions. There have also been those who questioned what the young girl did to beget such brutality and sought for her to take responsibility. Oh, how we are, as a culture, enamored with this ideal of responsibility when we don’t want to acknowledge the extent of an injustice or when we want to pretend that if we behave well enough, we will find the acceptance we have long been denied.

Sheriff Leon Lott defended some of his deputy’s actions and called for the young girl to accept responsibility, too. The sheriff also revealed that the deputy was dating a black woman, as if through such intimate connection, Mr. Fields might be absolved of any racism or wrongdoing. Nonetheless, Ben Fields has been fired and the Department of Justice has begun an investigation. There is the faintest hope that finally, justice will be done.

And yet, we have these inescapable reminders that no form of justice after the fact can erase trauma, or bring people back to life. There are the precedents of Eric Garner, Walter Scott, Samuel DuBose, Christian Taylor, and this is a list that has no end. When black people commit or are perceived to have committed infractions, the punishment is severe — physical brutality, prison or death without due process.

There are always questions, so many questions that elude both common sense and the heart of the matter at hand. What was the girl doing before the cameras started filming? The CNN anchor Don Lemon asked this question on the air. Why didn’t she comply with white authority? Why didn’t she just behave, fall in line? This question came from Raven-Symoné, a co-host of “The View,” also on the air.

Time and again, in such situations, black people are asked, why don’t we mind our place? To be black in America is to exist with the presumption of guilt, burdened by an implacable demand to prove our innocence. We are asked impossible questions by people who completely ignore a reality where so many of the rules we are supposed to follow are expressly designed to subjugate and work against our best interests. We ignore the reality that we cannot just follow the rules and find our way to acceptance, equality or justice.

Far too little attention is being given to who the young girl is, or that, according to the lawyer representing her, she is in foster care. When that officer saw her, sitting quietly, defiantly, she was not allowed to be human. She was not allowed to have a complex story. She was held to a standard of absolute obedience. She was not given the opportunity to explain the why of her defiance because she was a black body that needed to be disciplined by any means necessary.

Each day, we learn of a new injustice against the black body and in many cases, we now have pictures, videos. We have incontrovertible evidence of flagrant brutalities though, sadly and predictably, this evidence is never enough. At some point, this evidence, these breathtaking, sickening images, will render us numb or they will break our hearts irreparably. There is no respite from the harsh reminder that our black bodies are not safe. The black bodies of those we love are not safe.

Given how pervasive surveillance has become, I would think the black body, black people would be safer. I would think that police officers or assorted racists would think twice before acting, inappropriately, against the black body. It is a horrifying, desperate reality where such people act with impunity, undeterred by the threat of surveillance. They know they might be seen and remain empowered in their racism, their sense of dominion. They realize the nauseating truth — there are some injustices, against certain groups of people, that can be witnessed without consequence.

Roxane Gay is the author of “An Untamed State” and “Bad Feminist” and a contributing opinion writer.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Moraler than thou

"Our children need to be protected, and we are going to do everything we can to protect them." — Dennis Hastert, 2006

BE HONEST. In your heart of hearts, rational brain or some confluence of the two, you know that the liars and cheats aren't on just one side of the aisle.

However, where the Republicans have it all over the Ds in spades, IMHO, is in self-righteous hypocrisy. The incessant disquisitions, inquisitions, accusations, finger-pointing and lecturing on morality from the Rs from atop their self-elevated pedestals are jaw-dropping. 

Here's another fine example as told by ABC News of Republican morality.

Dennis Hastert Pleads Guilty, Could Face 6 Months

By Brian Ross, Rhonda Schwartz and James Hill 

October 28, 2015

Former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert pleaded guilty today to one count related to hush money paid to allegedly cover up sexual misconduct, and could spend up to six months in prison, according to a deal reached with the government.

Once second in line to the Presidency, a guilty plea for Hastert would mean he would become the first ex-Speaker to be convicted of a crime since the Civil War, according to Congressional officials.

In late May Hastert was charged with one count each of "structuring currency transactions" and making false statements to the FBI about payments he allegedly made to an unnamed individual to conceal "prior misconduct." Federal officials told ABC News Hastert's alleged wrongdoing involved the sexual abuse of a male student while Hastert was serving as a high school teacher and wrestling coach decades ago. He originally pleaded not guilty.

Today a judge accepted a plea deal in which Hastert pleaded guilty to the structuring charge. The judge still has to determine Hastert's sentence -- structuring can come with a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison -- but the government and defense team have agreed to a guideline sentencing range for Hastert of zero to six months.

Hastert admitted in court to withdrawing money in increments less than $10,000 to avoid reporting obligations, and when asked by the judge if he knew what he was doing was wrong, Hastert said, "Yes, sir."

Days before his initial not guilty plea in June, the sister of a second alleged sexual abuse victim, told ABC News that her brother, Steve Reinboldt, was molested by Hastert while Reinboldt was serving as his high school team's wrestling manager in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

In an emotional interview, Jolene Burdge said she first learned of her late brother’s purported years-long sexual abuse at the hands of the future Speaker of the House back in 1979 when her brother revealed to her that he was gay and had been out of high school for eight years.

“I asked him, when was your first same sex experience. He looked at me and said, ‘It was with Dennis Hastert,’” she said. “I was stunned."

Burdge said she asked her brother why he never told anyone. “And he just turned around and kind of looked at me and said, ‘Who is ever going to believe me?’”

Today Burge said that while she’s glad Hastert was forced to at least partially answer for his alleged actions, the proposed sentencing was “sad and unfair.”

“I think he got a pass because of his power and status. I think he got a backroom deal. His victims didn’t get a pass when he put them through the abuse,” Burge said. “I’m really not surprised… His whole life he’s been able to manipulate the system and cover his tracks.”

In a written statement, Burge said she wanted to ask Hastert, “Now that your illegal and immoral actions have finally come to light, let me ask you Mr. Hastert, how does it feel to be at the mercy of someone else’s power?”

Hastert and his representatives have declined to comment on Burdge’s sexual abuse allegations.

While in Congress, Hastert often spoke about family values, and in sex scandals involving other lawmakers, presented himself as a guardian of children.

"Our children need to be protected and we are going to do everything we can to protect them," he said in 2006.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The genius of Milton Erickson

“Each person is a unique individual. Hence, psychotherapy should be formulated to meet the uniqueness of the individual’s needs, rather than tailoring the person to fit the Procrustean bed of a hypothetical theory of human behavior.” — Milton H. Erickson

In response to a recent Hey Look Something Shiny post, called Homemade Anti-depression Recipe, a reader took me to task for being too blasé about the potentially life-threatening nature of depression. 

It would be hard for me not to be aware of the lethality of depression. 

My mother was one of eight children. Of those eight, five either killed themselves or were hospitalized for extended periods for mental illness. My mother was one of the five. She attempted to take her own life and was institutionalized, where she died. She was 36 at the time of her death; I was six. Their father, my grandfather, was also institutionalized, and in the generation before him, his uncle, killed himself. I think it's safe to say that I'm familiar with the lethality of depression.

I would never presume to judge what works for anyone. We're all so the same, yet so different. What helps one person might be completely ineffectual for the next.

I've long been a fan of the the late Milton Erickson. He was a brilliantly innovative psychiatrist and psychotherapist renown for his ability to find a remedy for intractable cases of depression and mental illness through his groundbreaking approach of seeing each patient as whole, utterly unique individual.

Below is the story of one of his most famous cases told by Bill O'Hanlon, one of Dr. Erickson's students. I encourage you to take the time to watch it. It's a remarkable narrative. 

Below that is Milton's biography from the Milton H. Erickson Foundation.

Milton Hyland Erickson was an American psychiatrist who specialized in medical hypnosis and family therapy. He was founding president of the American Society for Clinical Hypnosis and noted for his approach to the unconscious mind as creative and solution-generating.

Dr. Erickson was plagued with enormous physical handicaps for most of his life. At age 17, he contracted polio and was so severely paralyzed that doctors believed he would die. While recovering in bed, almost entirely lame and unable to speak, he became strongly aware of the significance of nonverbal communication – body language, tone of voice, and the way that these nonverbal expressions often directly contradicted the verbal ones.

He also began to have “body memories” of the muscular activity of his own body. By concentrating on these memories, he slowly began to regain control of parts of his body to the point where he was eventually able to talk and use his arms again. His doctor recommended exercising his upper body only so Milton Erickson planned a 1,000 miles canoe trip to build up the strength to attend college. His adventure was challenging, and although he still did not have full use of his legs at the end, he was able to walk with a cane.

Dr. Erickson’s career spanned more than 50 years. He conducted extensive research on suggestion and hypnosis, first as an undergraduate at the University of Wisconsin, and later throughout his medical training and during his initial professional appointments in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Michigan. By the late 1930s, Dr. Erickson was renowned for his work in hypnosis and eminent in psychiatric circles.

In 1948, Dr. Erickson moved from Michigan to Phoenix. In 1949, he entered into private practice in his home office, a move which was prompted in large part by medical necessity. Despite almost constant, intense physical pain and the progressive loss of mobility which lead to confinement to a wheelchair in his later years, Dr. Erickson was prodigiously active.

In 1957, he and a number of colleagues founded the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis and Dr. Erickson served as the Inaugural President. He also established the American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis and served as editor for 10 years. During the 1950s and ’60s, Dr. Erickson published copiously, traveled and lectured extensively, both domestically and abroad, continued to conduct research, and was in high demand as a practicing psychiatrist.

In the 1970s, restricted to his home by his physical condition, Dr. Erickson still conducted teaching seminars for professionals on an almost daily basis and continued seeing some patients. When he died on March 25th, 1980, at the age of 78, his seminars were booked through the end of that year and requests exceeded another year’s scheduling. Dr. Erickson left a written legacy of more than 140 scholarly articles and five books on hypnosis which he co-authored.

The Ericksonian approach departs from traditional hypnosis in a variety of ways. While the process of hypnosis has customarily been conceptualized as a matter of the therapist issuing standardized instructions to a passive patient, Ericksonian hypnosis stresses the importance of the interactive therapeutic relationship and purposeful engagement of the inner resources and experiential life of the subject. Dr. Erickson revolutionized the practice of hypnotherapy by coalescing numerous original concepts and patterns of communication into the field.

The novel psychotherapeutic strategies which Dr. Erickson employed in his treatment of individuals, couples, and families derived from his hypnotic orientation. Atlhough he was known as the world’s leading hypnotherapist, Dr. Erickson used formal hypnosis in only one-fifth of his cases in clinical practice.

Dr. Erickson affected a fundamental shift in modern psychotherapy. Many elements of the Ericksonian perspective which were once considered extreme are now incorporated into the mainstream of contemporary practice.

Monday, October 26, 2015

99 percent probability

“I have a sense of humor; but over the years that sense has developed one blind spot. I can no longer laugh at ignorance or stupidity. Those are our chief enemies, and it is dangerous to make fun of them.” — Charles Richter, American seismologist 

MOST OF you have probably heard or read about this on the news, but if not, here ya' go. From ABC News

Study: 99 Percent Probability of Los Angeles-Area Quake

By John Antczak, Associated Press
October 21, 2015

There is a 99.9 percent chance of a magnitude-5 or greater earthquake striking within three years in the greater Los Angeles area, where a similar sized temblor caused more than $12 million in damage last year, according to a study by NASA and university researchers.

The study released Tuesday was based on Global Positioning System and airborne radar measurements of how the Earth's crust was deformed by the magnitude-5.1 quake on March 28, 2014, in La Habra, about 20 miles southeast of downtown Los Angeles. The damage included broken water mains and cracked pavement.

By comparison, in 1994 the magnitude-6.7 Northridge earthquake left $25 billion in damage, caused dozens of deaths and injured 9,000 people.

The study looked at a 62-mile radius around the La Habra epicenter. Researchers observed shallow movements of the ground, took into account a deficit in the number of earthquakes expected there and calculated how much strain may remain in deeper faults that are still locked.

While the magnitude-5 quake was found to be extremely likely by April 1, 2018, one of magnitude-6 or higher was pegged at just 35 percent and the largest potential quake was estimated at 6.3.

Study leader Andrea Donnellan, a geophysicist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said the research is not a prediction. "It's a statistical probability that we computed," she said in an interview.

The U.S. Geological Survey took issue with the study, asserting that it was unclear how the study derived its numbers and that the accepted probability is 85 percent.

Responding to the criticism, Donnellan said the study's references to other scientific papers would allow other researchers to reconstruct the process.

According to the most recent Uniform California Earthquake Rupture Forecast, which was published in March and is the basis for the agency's National Seismic Hazard Maps, the Southern California region has a 100 percent chance of one or more magnitude-5 or larger quakes and a 93 percent chance of a 6.7 jolt during the next 30 years.

Thousands of older wood and concrete apartment buildings vulnerable to collapse in a major earthquake would get costly upgrades under sweeping retrofitting rules passed this month by the Los Angeles City Council.

Also participating in the NASA-led study were researchers from the University of California, Irvine; Indiana University, Bloomington; UC Davis; and the University of Nevada, Reno.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Driving while black

“This is not about one officer. This is about a culture, a deeply saturated culture that reflects itself in double standards.” — Rev. Nelson Johnson, Greensboro civil rights leader 

YOU KNOW how there are climate change deniers? There are also racism deniers. I don't mean that they're denying they're racists — although they are doing that — but they're doing something worse: denying that racism is so very alive and well in these United States.

In support of the myth of a post-racial society, all the progress in civil rights is cited. Meanwhile I'm thinking, "Oh goody; it's no longer legal to own human beings. Woohoo, aren't we advanced." That was 152 years ago. What have we accomplished since then?

There was a time when advancements were being made, although it took people being beaten and killed to secure them — basic human rights such as being able to vote or freely choose where to live or receive a first-rate education, but bit by bit those advancements are being surreptitiously chipped and chiseled away.

North Carolina A&T State University students at the whites-only lunch counter at Woolworth’s in Greensboro in 1960. They were, from left, Joseph McNeil, Franklin McCain, Billy Smith and Clarence Henderson.

I refer you to a previous post called Systematic Injustice and Disenfranchisement and urge you to read it if you haven't — and I share with you this New York Times article.

The Disproportionate Risks of Driving While Black

By Sharon LaFraniere and Andrew W. Lehren
October 24, 2015

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Rufus Scales, 26 and black, was driving his younger brother Devin to his hair-cutting class in this genteel, leafy city when they heard the siren’s whoop and saw the blue light in the rearview mirror of their black pickup. Two police officers pulled them over for minor infractions that included expired plates and failing to hang a flag from a load of scrap metal in the pickup’s bed. But what happened next was nothing like a routine traffic stop.

Uncertain whether to get out of the car, Rufus Scales said, he reached to restrain his brother from opening the door. A black officer stunned him with a Taser, he said, and a white officer yanked him from the driver’s seat. Temporarily paralyzed by the shock, he said, he fell face down, and the officer dragged him across the asphalt.

Rufus Scales emerged from the encounter with four traffic tickets; a charge of assaulting an officer, later dismissed; a chipped tooth; and a split upper lip that required five stitches.

That was May 2013. Today, his brother Devin does not leave home without first pocketing a hand-held video camera and a business card with a toll-free number for legal help. Rufus Scales instinctively turns away if a police car approaches.

“Whenever one of them is near, I don’t feel comfortable. I don’t feel safe,” he said.

As most of America now knows, those pervasive doubts about the police mirror those of millions of other African-Americans. More than a year of turmoil over the deaths of unarmed blacks after encounters with the police in Ferguson, Mo., in Baltimore and elsewhere has sparked a national debate over how much racial bias skews law enforcement behavior, even subconsciously.

Documenting racial profiling in police work is devilishly difficult, because a multitude of factors — including elevated violent crime rates in many black neighborhoods — makes it hard to tease out evidence of bias from other influences. But an analysis by The New York Times of tens of thousands of traffic stops and years of arrest data in this racially mixed city of 280,000 uncovered wide racial differences in measure after measure of police conduct.

Those same disparities were found across North Carolina, the state that collects the most detailed data on traffic stops. And at least some of them showed up in the six other states that collect comprehensive traffic-stop statistics.

Here in North Carolina’s third-largest city, officers pulled over African-American drivers for traffic violations at a rate far out of proportion with their share of the local driving population. They used their discretion to search black drivers or their cars more than twice as often as white motorists — even though they found drugs and weapons significantly more often when the driver was white.

Officers were more likely to stop black drivers for no discernible reason. And they were more likely to use force if the driver was black, even when they did not encounter physical resistance.

The routine nature of the stops belies their importance.

As the public’s most common encounter with law enforcement, they largely shape perceptions of the police. Indeed, complaints about traffic-law enforcement are at the root of many accusations that some police departments engage in racial profiling. Since Ferguson erupted in protests in August last year, three of the deaths of African-Americans that have roiled the nation occurred after drivers were pulled over for minor traffic infractions: a broken brake light, a missing front license plate and failure to signal a lane change.

Click on this link to read the entire article.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Nexus of politics and music

“Politics is the entertainment branch of industry.” — Frank Zappa

LAST Sunday, Turner Center Jazz Orchestra, the Big Band that Paul, Richard Early, Andy Classen and I manage, was honored by being presented with a Special Recognition Award from The Community Jazz Center. This accolade is bestowed annually upon "a musician, group of musicians, educator or promoter who is currently making an important contribution to jazz in Des Moines." What's remarkable about being thusly acclaimed is that the band has only existed for five years.

You may remember that Paul was honored as an individual musician last year with an Award of Special Recognition. (Yes, he's the bomb.)

Some TCJO band members were in attendance the night of the CJC award ceremony. 
Left to right: Paul, Clarence Padilla, Steve Charlson, musical director Andy Classen, 
Richard Early, me, Dave Bohl, Scott Davis and John Benoit.

The ever-marvelous Janey Hooper was inducted
into the Hall of Fame the same night.

Dave Rezek, the new director of the Des Moines Big Band, the other
Big Band Paul plays lead trombone in, also received an Award of Special Recognition.

The next TCJO concert will be Thursday, November 19, and it will be a truly unique performance. The band is bringing in famed conductor Ryan Truesdell from New York City to lead the band in this rare offering of the original Gil Evans score of Miles Davis' ground-breaking album, Miles Ahead. This one is bound to sell out, so get your tickets early.

Tonight is the Democratic Party of Iowa's famous Jefferson Jackson (J J) dinner. It happens every year, but because Iowa is the first-in-the-nation caucus state, every four years it's a really, really, really big deal. Paul and I have gone in the past, and would most likely be attending tonight, but Paul's brother and wife are in town, and hours of political speeches didn't appeal to them. 

Before the dinner, Katy Perry will put on a free concert for Hillary Clinton's supporters. Yup, we get a lot of that in Iowa — stars of various ascendency coming here to help drum up support.

We're spoiled, I admit. All the candidates spend an inordinate amount of time here, and if you don't get your picture taken with a least one of them, you're not half trying. Some of my friends enjoy collecting me-with-the-candidate pictures. One of them will end up being president, after all, making these opportunities the only chance any of us mere mortals will probably ever have to get our picture taken with the president of the United States  so I get it. 

Personally, though, I'm not into it. They didn't know who I was before the photo op, and they won't afterwards. I confess that I did get my picture taken with Carole King last year. In retrospect, I'm a little embarrassed.

Do I think Iowa deserves such a place of prominence? I'll be honest, I don't. Don't get me wrong, I'm proud of Iowa. It's a great place to live, and our reputation for being chocked full of sincerely nice people is well deserved — and lord knows our first-in-the-nation status brings in buckets of money, but I think it should rotate through all the states. I'm nothing if not inclusive and fair.

Instead, Paul and I are going to take Tom and Sally to hear jazz vocalist Cécile McLorin Salvant

Since 2010 when she won the Thelonius Monk International Jazz Competition, she has accumulated these awards:

  • 2015 DownBeat Critics Poll Top Female Vocalist
  • 2014 DownBeat Poll Best Jazz Album
  • 2014 DownBeat Poll Best Female Vocalist
  • 2014 DownBeat Poll Rising Star – Jazz Artist
  • 2014 DownBeat Poll Rising Star – Jazz Album
  • 2014 GRAMMY® Nomination for Best Jazz Album

Below find two articles about J J — the first from The New York Times, and the second from ABC News. The Times got one thing wrong, though: nobody in Iowa refers to the Jefferson Jackson dinner as "the J J." It's just J J.

Democrats’ Iowa Dinner Will Have the Sizzle of a Convention
By Trip Gabriel
October 23, 2015

DES MOINES — Iowa’s annual Democratic fund-raising dinner is just another night on the rubber pork chop circuit, but it has a place in political legend as a pivot point for presidential races.

On Saturday, the Democratic field of candidates will gather here for the fund-raiser, the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner, with new clarity: The race is now effectively a two-person contest, after Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s decision not to run and Hillary Rodham Clinton’s resurgence after a strong debate performance last week.

The dinner will take place amid the hoopla of a mini-nominating convention. There will be bands, parades and orchestrated cheering sections for Mrs. Clinton and her main rival, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont. Bill Clinton, on his first visit to Iowa this year, will appear at a pre-dinner rally for Mrs. Clinton outside the Iowa Events Center in downtown Des Moines that will include a performance by Katy Perry.

As new polls show Mrs. Clinton consolidating a small lead in the state, she is determined not to repeat the mistakes of her 2008 campaign, when the seeds of her upset by Barack Obama in the Iowa caucuses were seen at “the J-J” — common shorthand for the event. Back then, there were empty seats in the Clinton bleachers, and Mr. Obama’s speech critical of partisan politicians raised the roof.

“I suspect this year, the Hillary entourage will be compensating, or overcompensating, for 2007,” said Kurt Meyer, a Democratic county leader in Iowa. “Bringing Bill Clinton in, that’s trump high card. That’s your joker. How do you beat that?”

Street rallies are a big part of the day. Mr. Sanders will have alumni of the bands Guster and MC5 performing. The candidate will be introduced as the Steve Earle song “The Revolution Starts Now,” an anthem used by the Occupy Wall Street movement, plays. He will lead a march over the Des Moines River to the event hall.

Former Gov. Martin O’Malley of Maryland, who is a campaign-trail troubadour, will sing and strum the guitar at his pre-dinner rally. An aide said Mr. O’Malley might be coaxed to play a bit of Taylor Swift, as he did this week on the ABC program “The View.”

The dinner “is always influential in presidential years,” said Andy McGuire, chairwoman of the Iowa Democratic Party. “How you get your people there, how you do the pre-events and how you look like you’re organizing around the state is exemplified by the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner.”

The evening promises a microcosm of the Clinton and Sanders strategies in Iowa, the state with the first nominating contest, where both have invested heavily. Mrs. Clinton is banking on superior organizing, with nearly 125 paid staff members, according to Mr. Meyer — a figure that the campaign, without providing an alternative number, said was not correct. Mr. Sanders, who employs 67, is relying on grass-roots enthusiasm.

Most of the nearly 6,000 attendees, including almost every elected Democratic official in Iowa, will have already made up their minds about who to support. The campaigns’ shows of force are intended to inspire activists, rattle the opposition and influence the narrative spun out by a large press corps.

A poll for The Des Moines Register released on Thursday showed Mrs. Clinton leading Mr. Sanders 48 percent to 41 percent in Iowa, with Mr. O’Malley, who had hoped for momentum after the debate in Las Vegas, far behind at 2 percent. The poll’s margin of sampling error is plus or minus five percentage points.

Sifting Iowans’ responses to issues, the survey’s pollster, Ann Selzer, told The Register, “Sanders has a big problem, and it’s guns, not socialism.” Mrs. Clinton seems likely to raise the gun protection issue during her 15-minute speech at the dinner on Saturday, which will follow Mr. Sanders’s speech.

One consequence of Mrs. Clinton’s erosion of support over the summer, when Mr. Sanders nipped at her heels in Iowa polls, is that lowered expectations now work in her favor, Iowa strategists said: If she wins by five to eight percentage points in the state’s caucuses on Feb. 1, it will be seen as a solid victory. Her campaign could brush off a defeat in New Hampshire the next week as inconsequential because Mr. Sanders is almost a native son there.

Both campaigns know that Iowa is won not in polls, but by organizing to draw supporters to the more than 1,600 precinct caucuses. Mr. Sanders must convert the enthusiasm shown at huge rallies into caucus turnout by supporters, many of them political newcomers. It is a goal that Mr. Obama pulled off spectacularly in 2008, but that eluded other grass-roots favorites like Howard Dean in 2004 and Bill Bradley in 2000.

“Will Bernie Sanders succeed like Obama did or fail like the others?” asked Norm Sterzenbach, a former executive director of the Iowa Democratic Party. “The thing it’s going to come down to is how they organize.”

The Jefferson-Jackson Dinner is an early test of organizing, as well as of the potency of the candidates’ messages. The 2003 dinner (with Mrs. Clinton, then a senator, as M.C.) was a turning point, Mr. Sterzenbach said. The front-runner, Mr. Dean, had begun to fade, and John Kerry, whose slogan “The Real Deal” appeared on signs at the event, emerged en route to winning the caucuses and the nomination.

Both the Sanders and Clinton campaigns bought the maximum number of tickets available for supporters: about 1,950, mostly bleacher seats at $50 each, and table seating for $120 and up. The O’Malley campaign said it, too, would fill almost all its allotted seats, though tickets were bought by supporters, not by the financially struggling campaign.

In the bleachers, the candidates’ supporters will chant and wave signs keyed to themes in their speeches. A theme for Mr. O’Malley will be “action, not words,” according to Kristin Sosanie, the campaign’s deputy Iowa director.

Before the dinner, Mr. Sanders will lead a march across a bridge over the Des Moines River, with supporters waving signs and placards.

The event is “an opportunity to organize,” said Pete D’Alessandro, coordinator of the Sanders campaign in Iowa, including holding television watch parties around the state to attract new volunteers.

“There is not a lot of conversion going on” at the dinner, Mr. D’Alessandro said. “There will be other things to look for. Were you able to get 2,000 people to an event? Were you able to pull off six watch parties in different regions? When you call me on Monday, how many people did we sign up at those events?”

Democrats Turn to Music to Rally Supporters Before Iowa 2016 Dinner
By Josh Haskell 
October 23, 2015

It's a big weekend in Iowa for the Democratic Party, with the candidates for President addressing 6,000 influential Democrats Saturday night at the Jefferson Jackson Dinner -- and the campaigns hope it ends on a high note.

In an effort to rally supporters and energize volunteers for the final 100 days until the caucus, the candidates are turning to musical acts from a pop-music superstar to a former Governor with his guitar.

"Where else do you go and you’re walking down the street and say, oh, I could go and see Katy Perry in concert tonight and Bill Clinton. Let’s go do that," Iowa Democratic strategist Kevin Geiken told ABC News.

Every four years in Iowa, candidates open their Rolodex not just to raise money, but to give back to those who are making calls and canvassing 7-days a week around the state.

"This weekend will be a lot about politics, but we’re hoping to have some fun as well," said Clinton's Iowa Communications Director Lily Adams.

Clinton's rally will take place in a Des Moines parking lot Saturday afternoon and is free and open to the public. It will be the first time Katy Perry or former President Bill Clinton hits the campaign trail this year.

Bernie Sanders, who is trailing Clinton by seven points in the latest Des Moines Register/Bloomberg Politics Iowa poll, is also putting on a concert, but it will take place in Davenport, IA Friday evening and feature a number of musicians dubbed "Bernie's All-Star Band."

The musicians include Ryan Miller, the lead singer of the band Guster, along with eight other musicians for the #RockintheBern concert.

"Our all-star band idea is to have a few events outside of Des Moines so people can still be part of the weekend that wouldn’t have been able to afford it for family reasons or work reasons," Pete D'Alessandro told ABC News, the Iowa Campaign Coordinator for Sanders.

Although D'Alessandro says Sanders is always the draw at their events and is scheduled to speak for 15 minutes, he said this was their way of thanking supporters.

Trailing Clinton and Sanders in the polls, Martin O'Malley is also speaking at the Jefferson Jackson Dinner and happens to be the only Democratic Presidential candidate who is also a musician. He'll serenade supporters outside Hy-Vee Hall reprising his cover of Taylor Swift's "Bad Blood" which he played on ABC's The View last week.

"Some local folks will join the Governor and play with him," said Kristin Sosanie, Iowa Deputy State Director for the O'Malley campaign. "Iowa isn’t only about big rallies and what celebrities you can bring in, it’s about the big ideas the Governor has put forward."

“It is kind of funny that the three rallies are kind of microcosms of their campaigns," said Geiken.

O'Malley brings his guitar to many of his events and performs so Saturday will be no different. On the Republican side, Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee plays bass and has performed at a few campaign events this year. He's also in a band called "Capitol Offense."

Dr. Andy McGuire, the chair of the Iowa Democratic Party, says the Jefferson Jackson Dinner is their last big event before the caucus. Although it's turned into a weekend celebration for the candidates to motivate their organization in the state, she says it's all about the main event Saturday night.

“If you’re going to win the caucuses and you’re going to win in November, these are the people you really need," said McGuire.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Applied behavior analysis treatment for autism

"I have moments where I have what I would call gratitude attacks." — Karen Siff Exkorn, parent

FROM time to time I've shared articles of interest about the autism spectrum. Here's a hopeful one from NBC News Nightline about an intensive therapy treatment plan producing good results. Following the story, there's a link to a video from Nightline about Jake.

How a Child With Autism Became 'His Own Man' After Treatment

By John Donvan, Caren Zucker, Durrell Dawson and Alexa Valiente

October 6, 2015
When he was 2 years old, Jake Exkorn couldn't talk, make eye contact or follow instructions because he had autism.

But today, Exkorn is a 19-year-old freshman at the University of Michigan and hardly even remembers what it was like to have autism.

"My memories are pretty limited," Exkorn told ABC News' "Nightline." "I don't say, ‘Hi I'm Jake. I used to have autism when I was little.' But if it comes up, if they see an article or something or a segment where I'm in it or ask about it, I'm more than happy to tell them about my past."

It's a remarkable change from when "Nightline" first met Exkorn when he was 4 years old.

In 2001 Exkorn had been recently diagnosed with autism, which many people think of as a lifelong condition. But in some cases, individuals can recover from autism. 

Starting in 1998, two-year-old Exkorn went through an intensive therapy called applied behavior analysis (ABA) treatment, which has become a standard treatment, but it was not well known then.

During these therapy sessions, children are taught in small steps how to wave and how to speak. Month after month, Exkorn sat in a chair for 40 hours a week taking lessons and slowly making progress. Though Exkorn has few memories of his ABA therapy sessions, his parents remember it all.

"I think that part of our lives was so intense and the therapy was so intensive, and it was like we were living in this snow globe," Exkorn's mother Karen Siff Exkorn told "Nightline." "And the rest of the world didn't exist. I mean we barely—I barely left the house during those two years."

His parents still keep the chair that their son had his therapy sessions in because they credit the treatment for his extraordinary transformation.

"Hours and hours and hours and hours in this chair learning, learning how to learn and seeing some of the videos and seeing the little boy in this chair's happy memories for me," Exkorn's father Franklin Exkorn told "Nightline."

However, there is no predicting which children will respond to ABA treatment as dramatically as Jake Exkorn did.

Fifteen years ago, "Nightline" also met 10-year-old Andrew Parles, who was making progress with ABA therapy.

Parles had learned to ride and skate, and though it was clear he was not going to make the same transformation as Exkorn, Parles was learning to communicate by pointing and speaking a few words.

"Nightline" visited Parles again in 2006 when he was 15 years old and attending a basketball game with his family. But today, Parles is a 25-year-old man living with a severe autism.

Parles' parents say when he was 19, things started going wrong after years of progress. He no longer speaks, so his parents are his voice.

"The pain of the regression for me was worse than the pain of diagnosis. Because at diagnosis, there were plans. There was evidence that people move forward," Lisa Parles said. "Maybe for a brief period I thought, ‘Oh, he'll be a lucky one that recovers.' But even when we knew it wasn't that, it was still always moving forward."

Andrew Parles lives at Bancroft, a specialized caregiving setting in New Jersey, where a staff helps him cope with daily life, tasks like eating breakfast to cleaning himself.

Because of his severe autism, Parles strikes himself frequently, but also has days when he's calm and relaxed. He's damaged his ears and had to be hospitalized three times in the past year to save his vision after he detached his own retinas.

Still, Parle's parents said they are certain he understands them and they spend as much time with him as possible, though they can't care for him on their own.

"It's so hard to admit that you can't do it, because you can't imagine that anyone will love your child the way you love them and do it the way that you do it," Lisa Parles said. "But the truth was that we weren't serving him well because we were so exhausted it was hard to follow the plan."

Jake Exkorn and Andrew Parles' lives ended up with very different outcomes. Exkorn's parents recognize that his outcome is rare and feel incredibly blessed that ABA therapy allowed them to be as fortunate as they are.

"I have moments where I have what I would call gratitude attacks," Siff Exkorn said. "Gratitude attacks where [I watched] him get his diploma at graduation, [and] people talked about living beyond their wildest dreams. Things like that or watching him put on his tux and get ready for prom."

"He's grown up to be his own man," Franklin Exkorn said.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Who was Fannie Lou Hamer

"Five mens in this room while I was one Negro woman, being beaten, and at no time did I attempt to do anything but scream and call on God. I don’t know how long this lasted, but after a while I must have passed out." — Fannie Lou Hamer, American voting and women's rights activist, community organizer and leader in the civil rights movement, September 1964

I'M LUCKY to live in my virtual village — lucky to be surrounded by people who are often smarter, kinder and more stalwart than I am. 

One of my fellow residents, Cynthia Anne, commented on yesterday's Hey Look Something Shiny post with words spoken by Fannie Lou Hamer. It was an apt response, and I enjoyed the saliency of it. The only problem was that I had no idea who she was talking about. 

And there, boys and girls, is another example of how steeped in racism we are, whether we know it or not. . . that I had never even heard of such a remarkably courageous woman.

Fannie Lou was an African-American woman from Mississippi who was a fierce, outspoken leader in the fight for racial equality in the 1960s and 70s. Having been born into severe poverty, put to work in the field at age six and deprived of all but the most minimal education, she risked her life to secure the opportunity for people of color to vote.

But I will let Fannie Lou tell her own story. I hope that you'll watch the video or read the text of Fannie's speech below the video. They've been provided by the Voices of Democracy: The U.S. Oratory Project. I did, and shed tears.

Fannie Lou Hamer, “WE’RE ON OUR WAY,” speech before a mass meeting held at the Negro Baptist school in Indianola, Mississippi (September 1964) 

Thank you very much. Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. I am very glad to be here for the first time in Indianola, Mississippi, to speak in a mass meeting. And you just don’t have a idea what a pleasure this is to me. Because we been working across—for the past two years—and Mr. Charles McLaurin worked very hard trying to get a place here during the time that I was campaigning and he failed to get a place. But it’s good to see people waking up to the fact— something that you should’ve been awaken years ago. 

First, I would like to tell you about myself. As McLaurin say, my name is Mrs. Fannie Lou Hamer and I live at 626 East Lafayette Street in Ruleville, Mississippi. It was in 1962, the thirty-first of August that eighteen of us traveled twenty-six miles to this place, to the county courthouse, to try to register to become first-class citizens. When we got here to Indianola, to the court-house, that was the day I saw more policemens with guns than I’d ever seen in my life at one time. They was standing around and I never will forget that day. One of the men called the police department in Cleveland, Mississippi, and told him to bring some type of big book back over there. But, anyway, we stayed in the registrar’s office—I’m not sure how long because it wasn’t but two allowed in the room at the same time. After we got out from the registrar’s office, I was one of the first persons to complete, as far as I knew how to complete, on my registration form. And I went and got back on the bus. 

During the time that we was on the bus, the policemens kept watching the car—the bus—and I noticed a highway patrolman watching the bus. After everybody had completed their forms, and after we started back to Ruleville, Mississippi, we were stopped by the highway patrolman and the policeman, and was ordered back to come to Indianola, Mississippi. When we got back to Indianola, the bus driver was charged with driving a bus the wrong color! This is the gospel truth, but this bus had been used for years for cotton chopping, cotton picking, and to carry people to Florida, to work to make enough to live on in the wintertime to get back here to the cotton fields the next spring and summer. But that day the bus had the wrong color. 

After we got to Ruleville, about five o’clock, Reverend Jeff Sunny drove me out into the rural area where I had been working as a timekeeper and a share-cropper for eighteen years. When I got there I was already fired. My children met me and told me, said, “Momma,” said, “this man is hot!” Said, “He said you will have to go back and withdraw, or you will have to leave.”  During the time he was talking, it wasn’t too long before my husband came and he said the same thing. I walked in the house, set down on the side of my little daughter’s bed and then this white man walked over and said, “Pap, did you tell Fannie Lou what I said?” 

He said, “Yes, sir,” and I walked out. 

And he said, “Fannie Lou, did Pap tell you what I said?” 

I said, “He did.” He said, “Well, Fannie Lou,” said, “you will have to go down and withdraw or you will have to leave.” 

And I addressed and told him, as we have always had to say, “Mister,” I say, “I didn’t register for you,” I say, “I was trying to register for myself.” He said, “We’re not ready for that in Mississippi.” 

He wasn’t ready, but I been ready a long time. I had to leave that same night. On the tenth of September in 1962, sixteen bullets was fired into the home of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Tucker for me. That same night, two girls was shot at Mr. Herman Sisson’s in Ruleville. They also shot in Mr. Joe McDonald’s house that same night. Now, the question I raise: is this America, the land of the free and the home of the brave? Where people are being murdered, lynched, and killed, because we want to register and vote? 

When my family and I decided to move back in Sunflower County in December, the car that we had been paying on for the last three years, it was taken. We didn’t have many things and part of them had been stolen. But just to show you that God want people to stand up—so, we began at this address, 626 East Lafayette Street. 

Last February, my husband was arrested because I said, “I don’t believe that I’ve used nine thousand gallons of water.” And don’t have a bathtub or running water in the house. Can’t you see justice in disguise? Can’t you see justice in disguise? One morning about five o’clock, my husband got up to use the washroom. There was a knock on our door; he said, “Come in.”  That was two policemens. “What are you doing up at this time of night?” Five o’clock in the morning. Can you see how justice is working in Mississippi? 

You see the point is about this, and you can’t deny it, not either one of you here in this room—not Negroes—we have prayed for a change in the state of Mississippi for years. And God made it so plain He sent Moses down in Egypt-land to tell Pharaoh to let my people go. And He made it so plain here in Mississippi the man that heads the project is named Moses, Bob Moses. And He sent Bob Moses down in Mississippi, to tell all of these hate groups to let his people go. 

You see, in this struggle, some people say that, “Well, she doesn’t talk too good.” The type of education that we get here, years to come you won’t talk too good. The type of education that we get in the state of Mississippi will make our minds so narrow it won’t coordinate with our big bodies. 

This is one of the next things that I don’t like: every church door in the state of Mississippi should be open for these meetings; but preachers have preached for years what he didn’t believe himself. And if he’s willing to trust God, if he’s willing to trust God, he won’t mind opening the church door. Because the first words of Jesus’s public ministry was: “The spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim and bring relief to the captive.” And you know we are living in a captivated society today. And we know the things we doing is right. The thirty-seventh of Psalms said, “Fret not thouselves because of evildoers, neither be thy envious against the workers of iniquity for they shall be cut down like the green grass and wither away as the green herb. Delight thouselves in the Lord and verily thou shalt be filled.” And we are determined to be filled in Mississippi today. 

Some of the white people will tell us, “Well, I just don’t believe in integration.” But he been integrating at night a long time! If he hadn’t been, it wouldn’t be as many light-skinned Negroes as it is in here. The seventeenth chapter of Acts and the twenty-sixth verse said: “Has made of one blood all nations.” So whether you black as a skillet or white as a sheet, we are made from the same blood and we are on our way! 

We know, we know we have a long fight because the leaders like the preachers and the teachers, they are failing to stand up today. But we know some of the reasons for that. This brainwashed education that the teachers have got, he know that if he had to get a job as a janitor in this missile base that they are be building he’d probably turn something over and blow up the place because he wouldn’t know what it was. 

Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people. Sin is beginning to reproach America today and we want what is rightfully ours. And it’s no need of running and no need of saying, “Honey, I’m not going to get in the mess,” because if you were born in America with a black face, you were born in the mess. 

Do you think, do you think anybody that would stand out in the dark to shoot me and to shoot other people, would you call that a brave person? It’s a shame before God that people will let hate not only destroy us, but it will destroy them. Because a house divided against itself cannot stand and today America is divided against itself because they don’t want us to have even the ballot here in Mississippi. If we had been treated right all these years, they wouldn’t be afraid for us to get the ballot. 

People will go different places and say, “The Negroes, until the outside agitators came in, was satisfied.” But I’ve been dissatisfied ever since I was six years old. I remember my mother has worked for one measly dollar and a quarter a day. And you couldn’t say that was satisfaction. But to be truthful to you tonight, I first wished I was white. Some of you’ve wished the same thing. The reason I wished that was they was the only people that wasn’t doing nothing, but still had money and clothes. We was working year in and year out and wouldn’t get to go to school but four months out of the year because two of the months we didn’t have nothing. 

Now you can’t tell me you trust God and come out to a church every Sunday with a bunch of stupid hats on seeing what the other one have on and paving the preacher’s way to hell and yours too. Preachers is really shocking to find them out. You know they like to rear back in the corners and over the rostrum and said, “What God has done for Meshach, Shadrach, and Abednego.” But what he didn’t know, God has done the same thing for Fannie Lou Hamer, Annell Ponder, and Lawrence Guyot. 

And I can tell you now how this happened. After I had been working for eight or ten months, I attended a voter educational workshop in Charleston, South Carolina. On the ninth of June in 1963, we was returning from the workshop. We arrived in Winona, Mississippi, about eleven o’clock. Four of the people got off of the bus to use the restaurant; two of the people got off of the bus to use the washroom. At this time, I was still on the bus. And I saw the four people rush out and I got off of the bus. And I said, “What’s wrong?” 

And Miss Ponder, Southwide supervisor for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference said, “It was the chief of police and a state highway patrol- man ordered us to come out.”  And I said, “This is Mississippi for you.” 

She said, “Well, I think I’ll get the tag number and we can file it in our report.” And I got back in the bus. One of the girls that had used the washroom got back on the bus and that left five on our outside. When I looked through the window, they was getting those people in the car. And I stepped off of the bus again. And somebody screamed from that car and said, “Get that one there,” and a man said, “You are under arrest.” When he opened the door, and as I started to get in, he kicked me and I was carried to the county jail. 

When I got to the county jail, with the two white fellows that drove me to jail, they was calling me all kinds of names. And they was asking me questions and as I would try to answer they would cut me off. And as we got to the county jail there, when we walked into the booking room, one of the policemans walked over to one of the young men and jumped up with all of his weight on one of the Negro’s feet. And then they began to place us in cells. I was placed in a cell with Miss Euvester Simpson from Itta Bena, Mississippi. And during that time they left some in the booking room. And I began to hear screams. And I began to hear howls. And I began to hear somebody say, “Can’t you say ‘yes, sir,’ nigger?” 

And I could hear Miss Ponder’s voice said, “Yes, I can say ‘yes, sir.'”  “So, well, say it.” 

She said, “I don’t know you well enough.” And I would hear when she would hit the floor again. And during the time they was beating Miss Ponder, I heard her when she began to pray. And she asked God to have mercy on those people because they didn’t know what they was doing. I don’t know how long this lasted. But after a while, Miss Ponder passed my cell. She didn’t recognize me when she passed my cell. One of her eyes looked like blood, and her mouth was swollen, and she was holding up by propping against the back of the brick cell. 

And then three men came to my cell: a state highway patrolman, and a police, and a plain-dressed man. The state highway patrolman said, “Where you from?”

I said, “Ruleville, Mississippi.” 

He said, “I’m going to check.” And it wasn’t too long before he was back. And he used a curse word and he said, “You are from Ruleville, all right.” He said, “We is going to make you wish you was dead.” 

I was led out of that cell and to another cell where they had two Negro prisoners. Three white men in that room and two Negroes. The state highway patrolman ordered the first Negro to take the blackjack; it was a long leather blackjack and it was loaded with something heavy. And they ordered me to lay down on my face on a bunk bed. And the first Negro beat me. He had to beat me until the state highway patrolman give him orders to quit. Because he had already told him, said, “If you don’t beat her,” said, “you know what I’ll do to you.” And he beat me I don’t know how long. And after a while, he was exhausted and I was too. And it was a horrible experience. 

And the state highway patrolman told the second Negro to take the blackjack. And I asked at this time, I said, “How can you treat a human being like this?” The second prisoner said: “Move your hand, lady. I don’t want to hit you in your hand.” But I was holding my hand behind on the left side to shield some of the licks, because I suffered from polio when I was six years old and this kind of beating, I know I couldn’t take it. So I held my hands behind me, and after the second Negro began to beat me, the state highway patrolman ordered the first Negro that had beat me to set on my feet to keep me from working my feet. And I was screaming, and I couldn’t help but scream, and one of the white men began to beat me in my head and told me to “stop screaming.” And the only way that I could stop screaming was to take my hand and hug it around the tip to muffle out the sound. My dress worked up from this hard blackjack and I pulled my dress down, taking my hands behind and pulled my dress down. And one of the city policemens walked over and pulled my dress as high as he could.  

Five mens in this room while I was one Negro woman, being beaten, and at no time did I attempt to do anything but scream and call on God. I don’t know how long this lasted, but after a while I must have passed out. And when I did raise my head up, the state highway patrolman said, “Get up from there, fatso.” But I couldn’t get up. I don’t know how long, but I kept trying, and you know God is always able. And after a while I did get up, and I went back to my cell. 

That Tuesday when they had our trial, the same policemen that had participated in the beatings was on the jury seat, people. And I was charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. And I want to say tonight, we can no longer ignore the fact, America is not the land of the free and the home of the brave. When just because people want to register and vote and be treated like human beings, Chaney, Schwerner, and Goodman is dead today. A house divided against itself cannot stand; America is divided against itself and without their considering us human beings, one day America will crumble. Because God is not pleased. God is not pleased at all the murdering, and all of the brutality, and all the killings for no reason at all. God is not pleased at the Negro children in the state of Mississippi suffering from malnutrition. God is not pleased because we have to go raggedy each day. God is not pleased because we have to go to the field and work from ten to eleven hours for three lousy dollars. 

And then how can they say, “In ten years’ time, we will have forced every Negro out of the state of Mississippi?” But I want these people to take a good look at themselves, and after they’ve sent the Chinese back to China, the Jews back to Jerusalem, and give the Indians their land back, and they take the Mayflower from which they came, the Negro will still be in.

We don’t have anything to be ashamed of here in Mississippi. And actually we don’t carry guns because we don’t have anything to. When you see people packing guns and is afraid for people to talk to you, he is afraid that something is going to be brought out into the open and on him. But I want the people to know in Mississippi today, the cover has been pulled back off of you. And you don’t have any place to hide. And we’re on our way now; we’re on our way and we won’t turn around. 

We don’t have anything to fear. I don’t know today, I don’t know tonight whether I’ll actually get back to Ruleville, but all that they can destroy is the Fannie Lou that you meet tonight, but it’s the Fannie Lou that God hold will keep on living, day after day. 

“Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.” The beatitude of the Bible, the fifth chapter of Matthew said: “Blessed are they that moan, for they shall be comforted.” We have moaned a long time in Mississippi. And he said, “The meek shall inherit the earth.” And there’s no race in America that’s no meeker than the Negro. We’re the only race in America that has had babies sold from our breast, which was slavery time. And had mothers sold from their babes. And we’re the only race in America that had one man had to march through a mob crew just to go to school, which was James H. Meredith. We don’t have anything to be ashamed of. All we have to do is trust God and launch out into the deep. You can pray until you faint, but if you don’t get up and try to do something, God is not going to put it in.

It’s very plain today, some of the things that you have read in the Bible. When this man looked out and saw the number and said, “These are they from every nation.” Can’t you see these things coming to pass today? When you see all of these students coming here to help America to be a real democracy and make democracy a reality in the state of Mississippi. Can’t you see the fulfilling of God’s word? 

He said, “A city that’s set on a hill cannot be hid. Let your light so shine that men would see your good works and glorify the father, which is in Heaven.” He said, “Blessed are ye when men shall revile you and shall persecute you and shall set almighty evil against you falsely for my sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in Heaven. For so they persecuted the prophets which were before you.” That’s why I tell you tonight that you have a responsibility and if you plan to walk in Christ’s footstep and keep his commandments you are willing to launch out into the deep and go to the courthouse—not come here tonight to see what I look like, but to do something about the system here. 

We are not fighting against these people because we hate them, but we are fighting these people because we love them and we’re the only thing can save them now. We are fighting to save these people from their hate and from all the things that would be so bad against them. We want them to see the right way. Every night of my life that I lay down before I go to sleep, I pray for these people that despitefully use me. And Christ said, “The meek shall inherit the earth.” And He said before one-tenth—one jot—of his word would fail, heaven and earth would pass away. But His word would stand forever. And I believe tonight, that one day in Mississippi—if I have to die for this—we

We shall overcome means something to me tonight. We shall overcome mean as much to me tonight as “Amazing Grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me.” Because if grace have saved a wretch like me, then we shall overcome. Because He said, “Seek and ye shall find, knock and the door would be opened, ask and it shall be given.” It was a long time, but now we see. We can see, we can discern the new day. And one day the little Negro children—the little Negro boys and the little Negro girls—won’t be afraid to walk down the street because of so much hate that would make a police jump on the kid. And one day, by standing up going to the courthouse to try to register and vote, we can get people that’s concerned about us—because anytime you see a Negro policeman now, you can rest assured he’s a Tom. Because if he wasn’t a Tom, if he wasn’t a Tom, he would be elected by the people, not just a handful of folk. And he’ll get out on the street and beat your brains out and 

We want people, we want people over us that’s concerned about the people because we are human beings. Regardless of how they have abused us for all these years, we always cared what was going on. We have prayed and we have hoped for God to bring about a change. And now the time have come for people to stand up. And there’s something real, real peculiar but still it’s great: there used to be a time when you would hit a Negro—a white man would hit a Negro—the others would go and hide. But there’s a new day now, when you hit a Negro, you likely to see a thousand there. Because God care. God care and we care. And we can no longer ignore the fact that we can’t sit down and wait for things to change because as long as they can keep their feet on our neck, they will always do it. But it’s time for us to stand up and be women and men. Because actually, I’m tired of being called “Aunty.” I wondered in life what actually time would they allow for me to be a woman? Because until I was thirty-six I was a girl: “Girl this.” And now I’m forty-six and it’s “Aunty.” But I want you to know tonight: I don’t have one white niece or nephew. And if you don’t want to call me Mrs. Hamer, just call me plain “Fannie” because I’m not your aunt. 

You know, people had said for years and years, “The Negroes can’t do anything.” That’s the report that they was sending out about the people of 

I heard a preacher say one night, I heard a preacher say one night that people could look at the cloud and say it was going to rain and it would rain. And still now they can’t discern the signs of time. We can see the signs, people, the signs of time. And the time now is to stand up. Stand up for your constitutional right. And one day, if we keep on standing up, we won’t have to take this literacy test—to copy a section of the constitution of Mississippi that we had never seen, and interpret it too. When if he had the same test, he couldn’t. One day we won’t have all of this to do. We’ll keep right on walking, and we’ll keep right on talking, and we’ll keep right on marching. And when your minister say, “Well, it’s all right to stand up, but don’t march . . . [tape break] 

I don’t like bringing politics into the church.” And when he says this it make me sick because he’s telling a big lie because every dollar bill got a politician on it and the preacher love it. And if this man, and if this man don’t choose to be a shepherd, he can be a sheep and follow the shepherd. 

You know, actually, I used to have so much respect for teachers and preachers, I would be nervous when I’d be around them, but since I found out that that’s the scariest two things we got in Mississippi—how, how, how can you actually trust a man and have respect for him, he’ll tell you to trust God, but he doesn’t trust Him himself? We want leaders in our community. And what people will say, say, “Well, if we can get rid of Fannie Lou,” said, “we can get rid of the trouble.” But what they don’t know, freedom is like an eating cancer, if you kill me, it will break out all over the place. 

We want ours and we want ours now. I question sometime, actually, has any of these people that hate so—which is the white—read anything about the Constitution? Eighteen hundred and seventy, the Fifteenth Amendment was added on to the Constitution of the United States that gave every man a chance to vote for what he think to be the right way. And now this is ’64 and they still trying to keep us away from the ballot. But we are determined today, we are determined that one day we’ll have the power of the ballot. And the sooner you go to the courthouse, the sooner we’ll have it. It’s one thing, it’s one thing I don’t want you to say tonight after I finish—and it won’t be long—I don’t want to hear you say, “Honey, I’m behind you.” Well, move, I don’t want you back there. Because you could be two hundred miles behind. I want you to say, “I’m with you.” And we’ll go up this freedom road together. 

Before I leave you, I would like to quote from an old hymn my mother used to sing: “Should earth against my soul engage, and fiery darts be hurled, when I can smile at Satan’s rage and face this frowning world.” Thank you. 

 The text of this edition has been thoroughly checked and proofread.