02-19-2017  10:41 pm      •     

I have given lip service to the unprecedented saga of Sen. Barack Obama to become president of the United States, but not my heart-felt support. I wonder — is it because I have seen so much tragedy confront our big dreamers, especially African Americans, that like a mother to a son, I have to curb my enthusiasm?
This week, we commemorate not only the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, but also the mysterious death and possible assassination of the first Black Commerce Secretary Ron Brown. On April 3, 1996 — on the eve of the anniversary of Dr. King's murder some 28 years before— Brown's plane went down, along with 34 other people, on a mountaintop in Croatia.
Not only have these two great men been taken from us, but also the historic memory of why they died, and how their dreams have been twisted. What does all of this portend for the next Big Dreamer?
If Dr. King and Brown were only dreamers, they would have been alive today. Dr. King was one of the 20th century's greatest prophets, a man who had the skills to analyze, organize and activate. The King movement showed the victims and then the victimizers that forcing U.S. Blacks to live under a reign of terror, without dignity nor democracy, was a sin and a scandal.
King and the movement reordered traditional social relationships. No longer would Blacks, Browns, women, the handicapped or any other group accept their imposed status of a valueless nobody without a fight. And this vision of equality was translated into a worldview that challenges this nation's concept of a global superiority that permits it to invade other countries to steal resources and subjugate their people.
King, the activist, is not the King that the media serves up every holiday. That manufactured man is sleepwalking through history. He could be used in ads for mattresses: "Come buy the King mattress and you too could have a dream."
King in his prophetic mission did not always use somnambulistic language, but fiery challenges, not much different from the spirited sermons of Pastor Jeremiah Wright. King often quoted the Negro fight song that "before I be a slave, I'll be buried in my grave and go home to my Lord and be free."
King's militant non-violent context resulted in his death. Unfortunately as we commemorate his death, the nagging questions surrounding it — as well as that of Brown — remain.  For example:
• Why were the two Black firemen who watched over Dr. King when he was in Memphis transferred from their post the evening before the killing?
• Why has the sworn testimony of Lloyd Jowers been ignored? Jowers, who owned Jim's Grill across from the Lorraine Motel, said he was offered $100,000 from a Mafia businessman to set up the killing of King in which a patsy (James Earl Ray) would be provided. Jowers said after the shooting, he took the "smoking rifle," from the hit man, who was not Ray.
• Why has Rev. Walter Fauntroy, the former delegate from the District of Columbia, who was on the sub-committee of the King assassination panel, maintained: "The assassination was a conspiracy involving operatives in our intelligence agency, including the military, along with the Mafia and corporate interests."
In the case of Brown, two weeks before his plane crashed, he called me to his office to observe a new plan of action, which he felt would drastically change the plight of Africa, by launching a new program based on trade not aid.
Brown, too, was a big dreamer whose dreams would have benefited people of color globally. Few people these days mention him, nor is there any action to investigate why forensic pathologists stepped forward and put their careers on the line to say that Brown's skull had a hole that resembled a bullet wound. Yet, to my knowledge there has been no independent autopsy and neither are the media or civil rights groups clamoring for it.
No credible explanations were ever given as to why there were no cockpit recorders aboard the government aircraft, why an experienced pilot was replaced by someone with lesser experience and why the maintenance chief at the airport where Brown's plane crashed was found dead before U.S. investigators reached him, reportedly from a self-inflicted wound.
If Obama becomes the first Black president, this would mean a Black man would be commander-in-chief of the most lethal superpower on the globe. In addition, under his administration he could influence world trade, the global financial markets, the course of the Middle East and shape the direction of the U.S. Supreme Court.
Even more important, Obama would possibly be privy to all or most of the United States' dirty secrets. 
At least two other African Americans who stepped on or into the power stream of the United States were taken out. As the nation commemorates Dr. King, I can't help but worry if the rulers of a nation built on the foundation of White supremacy will once again see the dreamer coming.
And then would they slay him?
Dr. Barbara A. Reynolds, an ordained minister, is author of several books and an adjunct professor at the Howard University School of Divinity.

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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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