02-19-2017  10:41 pm      •     

When I sat down to watch "60 Minutes" Sunday night, I knew that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice would be appearing. I expected the same old run-of-the-mill defense of the Bush administration and, in that respect, she was predictably predictable.
But when the discussion turned to her upbringing in my native state of Alabama, it was clear that this smart, able and doctrinaire bureaucrat was basically pimping the civil rights movement.
She talked in moving terms about the four girls killed in the bombing of Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham. One of them, Denise McNair, "was my little friend from kindergarten" and another, Addie Mae Collins, "was in my uncle's homeroom in school."
Referring to her childhood, Rice said: "Nobody lived in an integrated fashion. Since you couldn't go to a restaurant until 1964, or stay in a hotel, or go to a movie theatre unless you wanted to sit in the rafters … in the Black-only section … . And my parents were determined to try and shield me from some of those humiliations."
Rice was 8 years old when that bomb exploded in Birmingham; I was 16 years old at the time. Perhaps because of our age difference, I knew then and I know now, there was no way any parent could shield their children from the indignities of segregation. My mother couldn't shield me from the fact that after working all day as a domestic, she was forced to ride home in the back seat of her employer's car.
My stepfather couldn't shield me from knowing that if I rode the city bus to town, I would have to sit in the back — which is why I always walked if I couldn't catch a ride with a relative or friend. My parents couldn't shield me from racist ministers appearing on television, saying that if God had wanted us to be equal, He would have made us the same color.
By all accounts, Rice was a blue-blood Black. Her father, John Rice, was a Presbyterian minister and guidance counselor. Her mother, Angelena, was a science and music teacher. And what did they do to eradicate those oppressive conditions that African Americans were forced to endure?
"My father was not a march-in-the-street preacher," Rice told an interviewer for the Washington Post. The decision to use children in protest demonstrations is one of the main reasons the walls of segregation came tumbling down in my home state. But the Rev. Rice would have no part of it.
"He saw no reason to put children at risk," she told the Post. "He would never put his own children at risk."
And that's the point. Many Black middle-class families refused to confront America's version of apartheid, yet when the doors of opportunity flung open, they were the first to march through them, riding on the back of poor people who were unafraid to take risks.
Many of us, as teenagers, were willing to take risks that many adults wouldn't. I was in the 10th grade when Joe Page, a fellow student at Druid High School, drove us to Birmingham to protest the deaths of those four girls. We were supposed to be in school, but going to Birmingham was the best education I could have received at the time.
Another childhood friend, Ronnie Linebarger, and I were in the middle of most street demonstrations in Tuscaloosa and we know the smell of tear gas. Another schoolmate, Jean Corder, and her entire family were active in the movement. We found a way in 1965, my senior year in high school, to participate in the last leg of the Selma-Montgomery March.
As teens, we took risks and in most instances, our parents would have preferred that we take the safe way out. Our parents didn't want us harmed. They didn't want us beaten or tear-gassed. They loved us as much as Condoleezza Rice's parents loved her. But our parents also knew that the system was wrong. And while they worried about our safety, they allowed us to fight for our rights.
So, watching Rice talk passionately on "60 Minutes" about the civil rights movement when her family sat on the sidelines, stirred a lot of emotions. She can talk passionately about the horrors of that era yet seemingly feel no shame that her parents chose to play it safe.
Perhaps that's why Rice feels so comfortable defending George W. Bush, arguably the worst president on civil rights in more than 50 years. Unlike her parents, she is not on the sidelines — she's on the wrong team.

George E. Curry is editor-in-chief of the NNPA News Service and BlackPressUSA.com.

Recently Published by The Skanner News

  • Default
  • Title
  • Date
  • Random
  • 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
    Read More
  • FDR executive order sent 120,000 Japanese immigrants and citizens into camps
    Read More
  • Pruitt's nomination was strongly opposed by environmental groups and hundreds of former EPA employees
    Read More
load morehold SHIFT key to load allload all
Carpentry Professionals


Reed College Jobs
His Eye is on the Sparrow