02-19-2017  10:52 am      •     
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Shirley Chisholm: Breaking the White Mold

Shirley Anita St. Hill Chisholm (1924 –2005) was the first African American, and the first woman, to seek a major party nomination for president of the United States. Using her trademark slogan 'Unbought and Unbossed,'  Chisholm ran for the Democratic party nomination in 1972.
It wasn't the first time Chisholm had blazed a new trail. Chisholm was the first Black woman elected to Congress in 1968. She went on to represent the Bedford-Stuyvesant area of Brooklyn in New York City  for seven terms, from 1969-1983.
For her first term in the U.S House of Representatives, Chisholm was assigned to the House Agriculture Committee. In an unheard of move, she demanded reassignment and was transferred to the Veterans Affairs Committee. But by the time she left the House, Chisholm was a high ranking member of two influenial committees: Rules and Education and Labor.
The daughter of Caribean immigrant parents, she attended Brooklyn College of the city of New York University as an undergraduate, and earned her master's from Columbia University.  She was an early education teacher and director of a child care center before moving into politics.
Chisholm helped found the Congressional Black Caucus in 1969 as one of its founding members. During her presidential run, Chisholm won 152 delegate votes, but she lost the nomination to South Dakota Sen. George McGovern. Chisholm's base of support was ethnically diverse and included the National Organization for Women.
A vocal opponent of the draft, she supported spending increases for education, health care and other social services, and reductions in military spending.  Her book "Unbought and Unbossed"  tells the story of her presidential campaign.

Jesse Jackson: From SCLC to World Leader

From a young age, Jackson was always  a leader. In his late 20s, he directed the Southern Christian Leadership's Operation Breadbasket in Chicago and later on a national level, after being promoted by Martin Luther King Jr. After King's assassination, for which Jackson was witness, he clashed with SCLC's leadership, forcing him to form Operation PUSH in 1971. His official political life began in 1984 when he made a bid for the White House, the second African American after Shirley Chisholm to have done so. He won 18.2 percent of the national primary vote and five state contests. In 1988, the results were better. He won 11 state contests and was briefly considered the front runner before Michael Dukakis took the lead. He also served as Washington, D.C.'s "Shadow Senator" – a nonvoting position used to lobby for the District of Columbia.
He is the founder of the Rainbow Coalition, which merged with Operation PUSH to create the RainbowPUSH Coalition. Jackson has been involved in numerous other civil rights activities and international areas of focus, too numerous to list.

Al Sharpton: A Controversial Preacher

Al Sharpton in 2008? No, Rev. Sharpton is not running this year, but you can find Sharpton '08 T-shirts and buttons for sale online. The New York City-based Baptist minister and activist did run for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2004, but never received enough support to be a serious contender. He dropped out and endorsed John Kerry. 
Often a controversial figure, Sharpton grew up poor after his father left his mother and lived in housing projects as a child. Yet Sharpton was drawn to the limelight. He preached his first sermon at the age of four and toured with Mahalia Jackson. He was first licensed as a Pentecostal preacher when he was 9 years old, then again as a Baptist in 1994. He worked as a tour manager for James Brown and in 1980 married backup singer Kathy Jordan.
His civil rights work has included raising money for low-income youth, protesting against police brutality and miscarriages of justice and campaigning in the African American community for gay rights. Rev. Sharpton has never won political office athough he has run for mayor of New York as well as president. Winning is not what it is all about, he says. "Maybe I ran for political office to change the debate, or to raise the social justice question."

Carol Mosely Braun: Renaissance Woman

Last election cycle, in 2004, Carole Mosely Braun was hitting the campaign trail in a  bid to win the Democratic presidential nomination. Now she has a new career as chief executive of her own company, Ambassador Organics. a company that specializes in organic foods from biodynamic farms.
"Biodynamic farming is the most sustainable farming model in the world,"  Mosely-Braun told the online environmental magazine Grist, and we are the first company in America to market a line of biodynamic organic products."
From the start Mosely –Braun was a history maker. In 1992 she became the first African American woman elected as a U.S. Senator and only the second African American since Reconstruction to be elected as a senator. A Democrat from Illinois, she earned a law degree from the University of Chicago and worked in the U.S. Attorney's Office, where she won the Special Achievement Award. The n in 1978 she went into national politics and was elected to the Illinois House of Representatives. She was voted Best Legislator each of the 10 years she served. From 1999 – 2001 she served as U.S. Ambassador to New Zealand.
To read Grist's interview with former Sen. Carol Mosely-Braun go to www.grist.org and search for "Shake Rattle and Carol" by Amanda Griscom Little.

Barack Obama: A Serious White House Contender

Obama. In less than four years since delivering the keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, he has risen from an legislator from Illinois to the most serious African American contender for president yet. Born in Honolulu, Hawaii to a Black Kenyan father and White mother from Kansas, Obama spent his early years in Indonesia and Hawaii, before returning to the lower 48 to pursue his higher education. He has worked as a community organizer in Chicago and was the first Black president of the Harvard Law Review while attending Harvard Law School. He served as an Illinois state senator from 1996 to 2004, and currently represents Illinois in the U.S. Senate.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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  • WASHINGTON (AP) — One month after the inauguration, the stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue in front of Donald Trump's White House still is a hard-hat zone. Skeletal remains of the inaugural reviewing stands poke skyward. Random piles of plywood and cables are heaped on the ground inside crooked lines of metal fencing. The disarray outside the president's front door, though not his fault, serves as a metaphor for the tumult still unfolding inside. Four weeks in, the man who says he inherited "a mess" at home and abroad is presiding over a White House that is widely described as itself being a mess. At a stunning pace, Trump has riled world leaders and frustrated allies. He was dealt a bruising legal blow on one of his signature policies. He lost his national security adviser and his pick for labor secretary to scandal. He's seen forces within his government push back against his policies and leak confidential information. All of this has played out amid a steady drip of revelations about an FBI investigation into his campaign's contacts with Russian intelligence officials. Trump says his administration is running like a "fine-tuned machine." He points to the rising stock market and the devotion of his still-loyal supporters as evidence that all is well, although his job approval rating is much lower than that for prior presidents in their first weeks in office. Stung by the unrelenting criticism coming his way, Trump dismisses much of it as "fake news" delivered by "the enemy of the people" — aka the press. Daily denunciations of the media are just one of the new White House fixtures Americans are adjusting to. Most days start (and end) with presidential tweets riffing off of whatever's on TV talk shows or teasing coming events or hurling insults at the media. At some point in the day, count on Trump to cast back to the marvels of his upset of Democrat Hillary Clinton in the November election and quite possibly overstate his margins of support. Expect more denunciations of the "dishonest" press and its "fake news." From there, things can veer in unexpected directions as Trump offers up policy pronouncements or offhand remarks that leave even White House aides struggling to interpret them. The long-standing U.S. policy of seeking a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Trump this past week offered this cryptic pronouncement: "I'm looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like. I can live with either one." His U.N. ambassador, Nikki Haley, the next day insisted, "We absolutely support a two-state solution." Trump's days are busy. Outside groups troop in for "listening sessions." Foreign leaders call or come to visit. (Or, in the case of Mexico's president, cancel out in pique over Trump's talk about the planned border wall.) After the president signed two dozen executive actions, the White House was awaiting a rush order of more of the gold-plated Cross pens that Trump prefers to the chrome-plated ones used by his predecessor. Trump hands them out as souvenirs at the signing ceremonies that he points to as evidence of his ambitious pace. "This last month has represented an unprecedented degree of action on behalf of the great citizens of our country," Trump said at a Thursday news conference. "Again, I say it. There has never been a presidency that's done so much in such a short period of time." That's all music to the ears of his followers, who sent him to Washington to upend the established order and play the role of disrupter. "I can't believe there's actually a politician doing what he says he would do," says an approving Scott Hiltgen, a 66-year-old office furniture sales broker from River Falls, Wisconsin. "That never happens." Disrupt Trump has. But there may be more sound and fury than substance to many of his early actions. Trump did select Judge Neil Gorsuch to replace the late Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court, a nomination that has drawn strong reviews from conservatives. But the president is regrouping on immigration after federal judges blocked his order to suspend the United States' refugee program and ban visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries, which had caused chaos for travelers around the globe. Some other orders on issues such as the U.S.-Mexico border wall and former President Barack Obama's health care law are of limited effect. Trump says his early actions show he means to deliver on the promises he made during the campaign. "A lot of people say, 'Oh, oh, Trump was only kidding with the wall,'" the president told a group of police chiefs recently. "I wasn't kidding. I don't kid." But the Republican-led Congress is still waiting to see specifics on how Trump wants to proceed legislatively on top initiatives such as replacing the health care law, enacting tax cuts and revising trade deals. The messy rollout of the travel ban and tumult over the ouster of national security adviser Michael Flynn for misrepresenting his contacts with Russia are part of a broader state of disarray as different figures in Trump's White House jockey for power and leaks reveal internal discord in the machinations of the presidency. "I thought by now you'd at least hear the outlines of domestic legislation like tax cuts," says Princeton historian Julian Zelizer. "But a lot of that has slowed. Trump shouldn't mistake the fact that some of his supporters like his style with the fact that a lot of Republicans just want the policies he promised them. He has to deliver that." Put Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in the camp of those more interested in substance than style. "I'm not a great fan of daily tweets," McConnell said Friday, referring to the "extra discussion" that Trump likes to engage in. But McConnell was quick to add: "What I am a fan of is what he's been actually doing." He credits Trump with assembling a conservative Cabinet and taking steps to reduce government regulation, and promised: "We like his positions and we're going to pursue them as vigorously as we can." The challenge may be to tease out exactly what Trump wants in the way of a health care plan, tax changes and trade policy. At his long and defiant news conference on Thursday, Trump tried to dispel the impression of a White House in crisis, squarely blaming the press for keeping him from moving forward more decisively on his agenda. Pointing to his chief of staff, Reince Priebus, Trump said, "You take a look at Reince, he's working so hard just putting out fires that are fake fires. I mean, they're fake. They're not true. And isn't that a shame because he'd rather be working on health care, he'd rather be working on tax reform." For all the frustrations of his early days as president, Trump still seems tickled by the trappings of his office. When New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie visited the White House last week to discuss the national opioid epidemic over lunch, the governor said Trump informed him: "Chris, you and I are going to have the meatloaf.'" Trump added: "I'm telling you, the meatloaf is fabulous." ___Follow Nancy Benac on Twitter at http://twitter.com/nbenac
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