I begin with a nod to https://elfkat.wordpress.com/ for shining light on this story.
Woody Guthrie’s music epitomized struggles of the working class. The Great Depression, Dust Bowl, farm workers rights, trade unions, civil rights, social injustice – Guthrie became the voice of disenfranchised America. John Steinbeck wrote –
“Woody is just Woody. Thousands of people do not know he has any other name. He is just a voice and a guitar. He sings the songs of a people and I suspect that he is, in a way, that people. Harsh voiced and nasal, his guitar hanging like a tire iron on a rusty rim, there is nothing sweet about Woody, and there is nothing sweet about the songs he sings. But there is something more important for those who still listen. There is the will of a people to endure and fight against oppression. I think we call this the American spirit.” – John Steinbeck
Woody Guthrie’s life waits for a dedicated ponder ( for the curious, linked – a biography from woodyguthrie.org below ) – this ponder focuses on Guthrie and Donald’s father Fred Trump.
I’ll begin with a quote from Donald Trump –
“My legacy has its roots in my father’s legacy.”
Post war America faced a critical affordable housing shortage for scores of returning military. Enter the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) with loans and subsides to construct urban apartment blocks. Fred Trump was one of the first housing “project” developers to profit from free flowing federal financing. Fred Trump dubbed his project Beach Haven. Not only did Trump Sr. begin construction before the project was approved, he rented to veterans six months before he had to start repaying federal loans – pocketing an estimated 1.7 million dollars. He also pocketed a 5% “developers fee” and knowingly borrowed 3.7 million over and above construction costs. In 1954 Fred Trump was investigated by a Senate Committee for “profiteering off of public contracts”.
In 1950 Woody Guthrie signed a two year lease for a Beach Haven apartment in Brooklyn, New York. Within a year Guthrie agonized over residing in what he now referred to as Bitch Haven.He wrote –
I suppose Old Man Trump knows Just how much Racial Hate he stirred up In the bloodpot of human hearts When he drawed That color line Here at his Eighteen hundred family project ....
FHA guidelines included avoiding “inharmonious uses of housing” – translation, keep housing projects racially segregated. In 1979 Village Voice reporter Wayne Barrettt published a two part story on the Trump real estate empire. Included were excerpts from court cases filed against Trump between 1973-1979 by the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. In the story Barrett summarized evidence from Trump employees –
According to court records, four superintendents or rental agents confirmed that applications sent to the central [Trump] office for acceptance or rejection were coded by race. Three doormen were told to discourage blacks who came seeking apartments when the manager was out, either by claiming no vacancies or hiking up the rents. A super said he was instructed to send black applicants to the central office but to accept white applications on site. Another rental agent said that Fred Trump had instructed him not to rent to blacks. Further, the agent said Trump wanted “to decrease the number of black tenants” already in the development “by encouraging them to locate housing elsewhere.”
This is the legacy America’s Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump is proud of?
Beach Haven ain't my home! I just cain't pay this rent! My money's down the drain! And my soul is badly bent! Beach Haven looks like heaven Where no black ones come to roam! No, no, no! Old Man Trump! Old Beach Haven ain't my home!- Woody Guthrie
Between January 20 – February 20, 2016 Mercury, Venus, Saturn, Mars and Jupiter will be visible to the naked eye – five bright planets in a row, for the first time since December 2004.
View larger. | Beginning around January 20 – through mid-February – you can see five bright planets at once in the predawn sky.
Sleep is precious, so too is an opportunity to gaze at over half our planets in the theatre of pre-dawn’s quiet contemplation. Jupiter is first to rise in the early evening, followed by Mars after midnight, then Saturn, Venus and Mercury just before dawn. Those living in North America can click on the link below for precise rise and set time of moon, sun and planets depending on your location.
The rest of you can use the next link. It requires a little patience and navigation to obtain longitude and latitude – but hey, you’ll learn your city’s coordinates along the way.
Today, January 18, 2016 is Martin Luther King Day in America. A federal holiday falling on the Monday closest to January 15, the day MLK was born in 1929. MLK was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee on April 4, 1968. Establishing MLK Day wasn’t easy – a 1979 vote by the House of Representatives – defeated by 5 votes. In 1980/81, six million signatures supporting MLK Day were collected on a petition to Congress – deemed “the largest petition in favor of an issue in U.S. history”. Republican Senators Jesse Helms and John Porter East from North Carolina led the opposition. Helms orchestrated a filibuster against the bill in 1983, producing a 300 page document alleging King associated with communists. New York Senator Patrick Moynihan threw it on the Senate floor, declaring it a “packet of filth” as he stomped on it. On November 2, 1983 president Ronald Reagan set aside initial opposition, signing a bill which passed in the House of Representatives by a vote of 338 to 90. The first official MLK Day was January 20, 1986. Not all States jumped on board, see link below.
As a little girl I remember chanting “eeny meeny miney mo, catch a n****r by the toe”, it was the early sixties, I was 3 or 4 and hadn’t the slightest concept of what it meant. Somewhere along the way the “N” word became “Tiger” – I can’t recall an explanation, all I knew was we had to decide whose turn it was to go first, so tiger it was. There wasn’t a hateful bone in my body; my family – decent hard working people who never spoke ill of anyone. It wasn’t the deep south, this was rural Canada in 1963 – parents passing along rhymes they learned as children – nary a thought to meaning.
I believe that “Tiger” was Martin Luther King Jr. August 28, 1963, close to a quarter million people marched on Washington, D.C. Gathered at the Washington Monument, Martin Luther King delivered his iconic I Have a Dream speech. Powerful, articulate, compelling, pivotal – I can’t think of words that do justice to this moment in history.
MLK was a proud American; a man who asked only that people uphold the American constitution, the promise of emancipation, the pursuit of life, liberty and freedom for all citizens. He calls for tolerance, understanding, and peace. He asks that the black community forgive white America and proceed in a spirit of understanding. If you do nothing else today – take a few minutes – click below, listen to the words of Martin Luther King Jr.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”
Listen, then ask yourself what you’re afraid of. Ask yourself what good it does to sabotage every move the Obama administration makes. Ask yourself if a “tiger” is just as capable of settling things. Ask yourself why you’re filled with contempt, ask yourself to snap out of the past, think for yourselves. Stop being afraid. Ask yourself if America is worth fighting for.
As Bernie Sanders campaign for Democratic presidential candidate builds steam, I find myself pondering why America needs a social democrat president. America is at a crossroads, one littered with flotsam of contentious bickering and abysmal direction. Realities of twice elected Barrack Obama falling victim to obliterating waves of right wing propaganda, can’t eradicate a simple truth. Convoluted as the American political system may be, a majority of citizens voted to elect a Democrat for president. Not once but twice – in my mind that speaks volumes.
Obama failed to smarten America up because right wing alarmists had a field day with trivial diversions. Substance mattered less than hysterical fear mongering accusations. Despite majority’s voice, Obama didn’t stand a chance. Right wing media convinced scores of citizens their president was actually Muslim, a man with secret agendas aimed at introducing Sharia law. Propaganda convinced lunk-heads to dig trenches, to bluster asinine anti Obama rhetoric – for no other reason than he was black, with Hussein as his middle name.
That same majority faces a critical decision – Hillary or Bernie? Majority must consider repercussions of screwing up, majority means squat if the outcome ignites a replay of Obama’s fate. Electing Hillary guarantees a presidential term clouded by frivolous controversy. Right wing hot heads are poised for a repeat performance of diversionary tactics. A majority vote for Clinton, amounts to handing good intentions to nincompoops on a silver platter. Already they’re calling for impeachment of Clinton (if elected ) based on the email scandal and Benghazi.
Democrats can elect the next president, but it has to be one without baggage. It isn’t enough to vote Democrat. America is in serious trouble, majority recognized this by twice electing Obama. Time has come for majority to retake a floundering nation, to stand up and say I want change, a majority willing to radically alter right wing ideology by daring to embrace unfamiliar territory. What’s wrong with socialized policies, what harm comes from breaking free of antiquated shackles? Be fearless, take a leap of faith and nominate Bernie Sanders.
Come on now – sing along, I know you want to.