Nelson Mandela: A Timeline

Nelson Mandela

R.I.P,  Nelson Mandela.
Our African ancestors welcome you home.

Here was a man who had been an inspiration to people the world over! Study this timeline carefully and learn something! (Click photo below to enlarge and access link.)
Nelson Mandela: Before Prisoner, Beyond President
Keepin’ It…REAL!

World Loses A Gem: RIP William H. Gray, III

Yesterday, Philadelphia, this nation and the world lost another gem with the passing of former U.S. Representative, the Reverend William H. Gray, III.

Here was a good man, one of many bigger-than-life Black men in Philadelphia whom I’ve had the pleasure and privilege of meeting back in the day when I was a punk teenager living in Philly. It was during my work as a barely legal to vote teenager with the late C. Delores Tucker’s voter registration campaign at an event in Harrisburg when I first got to meet Reverend Gray. Since that time and over the next few decades, I would occasionally follow reports of the great work he had been doing, not only for his well-known North Philadelphia church, Bright Hope Baptist where he pastured since 1972, in various Philadelphia communities and elsewhere in the Commonwealth state of Pennsylvania, but also in Congress to where he had been elected to further expand his work.

Gray was Majority Whip of the Democratic Party in the William_Gray_III-paintingUnited States House of Representatives during the 101st Congress serving as Majority Whip until his resignation from Congress in 1991. He served as president and chief executive officer of the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) from 1991 to 2004. As an African-American, he was the fourth highest-ranking member of the House at the time of his resignation and a minister in Philadelphia. He was co-founder of the government lobbying and advisory firm, Gray Loeffler LLC, headquartered in Washington D.C

Gray was married to the former Andrea Dash; they have three sons, William IV, Justin and Andrew. Gray was a member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity. Gray died on July 1, 2013 in London, England, while attending Wimbledon with his son Andrew. It was a sudden death and no cause of death was available. He was 71.

Rest in Peace, Brother Gray. Your family, friends, supporters and even the dissenters with whom you sparred in Philadelphia, this great country and the world, will sorely miss you! –

More biography here; News story of Gray’s passing here

Keepin’ It…REAL!

SCOTUS Decisions: Indirectly, We Bear Some Responsibility!

US Supreme Court Building, sealThere are people who think that certain decisions or rulings by the United States Supreme Court (SCOTUS) do not or should not interest them. Those people couldn’t be more wrong! For example, this past week SCOTUS handed down several important decisions, four of which I posted to a Facebook group where, until recently, I had been a member:
(Click each case to see the news story)

A member in that particular Facebook group complained that “no one in the group was interested…” He added: “That is all political shit. The other stuff is all same-sex/gay shit. Nobody cares about that here. You need to post that same-sex thing on the gay pages!”
That member’s arrogance and ignorance, as well as his implied bigotry, along with the other group members who supported his views, had greatly irritated me. I had posted the SCOTUS decisions for the information and benefit of everyone in that group. Never mind that I had become frustrated seeing that only one member (out of a group membership of some 300-plus – in which about 30 were active participants) , was willing to have an intelligent discussion about one of those SCOTUS decisions, I had to read the complaining member’s implied bigoted comment too! The main thing that turned my frustration into fuckstration and which gave cause for me to leave that Facebook group was the fact that many of the members – people in their mid to late-30’s, many who are Black (I’m ashamed to admit) and supposedly educated, seemed eager to talk about other bullshit things but were not willing to discuss the hottest topics saturating the media and the web – and which could have some impact on their lives! USSC Justices hearing casesAnyway… the cavalier attitude of those particular people in that Facebook group made me ask myself the following question:
Did the members in that group realize that if any of them voted in any national election of the past eight years or more, that THEY actually held some responsibility for the decisions the Supreme Court made on the disputed issues in which they had all agreed that “no one was interested?”
Then it hit me! The people in that group – and perhaps hundreds of others might not be aware that they or rather, WE bear some responsibility – in a roundabout way, for the decisions made by the Supreme Court!”

Now, I can imagine readers asking, “How is anyone responsible for any decision or ruling the Supreme Court makes?
I’m glad you asked!

Readers, no matter what or how we may agree or disagree regarding issues of dispute that are brought and argued before the Supreme Court – or any court having appointed or elected judges, we bear some responsibility to the decisions that judge or court makes – that is, if we, our parents and perhaps our grandparents and other family members voted in local, state or national elections.

Before I explain what that means, let me inform everyone that we need to take an active interest in what the Supreme Court is doing whenever it is in session, regardless whether a case now or in the future has any direct effect upon us, our family or community. The fact is, in many situations, depending on certain criteria, a court’s ruling could possibly affect someone other than the plaintiff and the defendant in the case being heard by the court. Often court rulings on previous cases are used as a precedent or model in arguing and/or deciding other cases. Such a precedent might someday help determine the outcome of some future case in which you or someone you know might be involved.U.S. Federal Court hierarchy (2)

One does not have to know much about law or have the experience of a trial lawyer to understand the Supreme Court. However, Americans need to have some knowledge of the U.S. Constitution, the functions of the three branches of American government (Executive, Legislative, Judicial), the American judicial process, and the people who sit on the nation’s highest court and how they got to sit there, if he or she is to understand – to some degree, how and why Supreme Court Justices come to make certain decisions and opinions on certain cases. Equally helpful to an American citizen is to know a little something about each Justice’s personal position or viewpoint on morality, politics, religion, social, and cultural issues.

Key points about the U. S. Supreme Court:

  1. Established under Article III of the United States Constitution, the Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court in the nation. It has ultimate (and largely discretionary) appellate jurisdiction over all federal courts and over state court cases involving issues of federal law, and original jurisdiction over a small range of cases.
  2. There are nine (9) Supreme Court justices: 8 Associate Justices and 1 Chief Justice. Under Article II, Section 2, Clause 2 of the U.S. Constitution, each Justice is nominated by the President of the United States. Each judicial nomination must be confirmed by the U.S Senate before a Justice can be sworn in.Justices of U.S. Supreme Court (as of June 28, 2013)
  3. Justices serve on the court for life or until they decide to resign, retire, is removed from the bench after impeachment (yes, a justice CAN be impeached) or dies in office.
    ** S/N Fact: The only S/C Justice to be impeached was Associate Justice Samuel Chase in 1805. The House of Representatives passed Articles of Impeachment against him; however, he was acquitted by the Senate.
  4. The Constitution does not specify qualifications for Justices, such as age, education, profession, or native-born citizenship. Generally, this means that almost anyone – even someone without a law degree, legal training or judicial experience, can be nominated and confirmed to serve on the Supreme Court. (Think about that!)
  5. In the U.S., both the Executive and Legislative Branches of the federal government have a voice in the composition of the Supreme Court. Depending on various political factors, a Justice might see the tenure of several presidents and congressional legislators while seated on the bench.

Key reasons to be interested in Supreme Court decisions (and why we bear some responsibility):

  1. Once a Justice is seated on the bench, he or she has no political obligation or favors owed to the president who made his/her nomination, the senators who confirmed the nomination, to any political party of said president or senator, or to any political or private lobbying group.
  2. Americans tend to vote for the president and congressional leaders based on certain criteria they liked and respected of that person(s). For example, in 2008 and 2012 we might have voted for Barack Obama to be president of the United States because we believed in his position on certain moral, political, religious, social and cultural issues.
  3. Since his presidency, Barack ObamaBarack-Obama-on Air Force One has appointed (nominated) two people to the Supreme Court and could possibly nominate one more, if not two before he leaves office in January 2017. Like his predecessors, President Obama most likely – but not necessarily, nominates people to the court whose political thinking or ideology are the same or similar to his own. Therefore, during a nominating president’s term in office and long after he or she leaves office, decisions made by a Supreme Court justice could – but not necessarily, be reflective and/or influenced by the shared ideology of the president who appointed that Justice to the bench.
  4. As with his previous court nominations, Obama’s third and possibly even his fourth nomination could be confirmed by the Senate – even if that Senate is ruled by the opposing political party of the sitting president.
  5. There are many political ideologies but for the purpose of this article I’ll keep it simple and name three which everyone often hears about: liberal, moderate and conservative. If a two-term president having one of these ideologies makes a Supreme Court nomination of say, two, three, or four justices and/or one of those justices happens to be nominated for Chief Justice (with each nomination being confirmed by the Senate as required by the Constitution), it is possible that a Supreme Court Justice could make a decision, dissent or write an opinion on a case which is reflective of the ideology (or some degree thereof) he or she has mutually in common with that president.
    IMPORTANT NOTE: The political thinking, position or ideology of the president, the senators and the Justice(s) may not necessarily reflect our own. This is why it is very important to study and completely understand where political candidates stand ideologically before giving our support, money, and of course, our vote. A decision reflective of a particular ideology could set a nationwide judicial precedent for decades!
  6. Do not easily dismiss the possibility of President Obama nominating one, if not two more people to serve on the Supreme Court before leaving office. There are three Associate Justices in their mid to late 70s, two of which to date, have served more than 25 years; another Justice is 80 years old. Besides those four Justices, the seat of any Supreme Court justice could possibly be rendered vacant due to any number of the reasons previously mentioned that would preclude a sitting Justice from holding his or her seat.SCOTUS Justices-1
    Remember: Supreme Court justices are no less immune to the probabilities of life than anyone else.
  7. We may have been responsible for electing the very people who serve on the United States Committee on the Judiciary – more popularly known by and referred to as the Senate Judiciary Committee.United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary
    Learn more about this Committee here:
  8. The Senate Judiciary Committee is tasked with vetting the president’s judicial nominations. The U. S. senators who confirmed Associate Justices Sonia Maria Sotomayor and Elena Kagan – both Obama nominees, could have been vetted and confirmed by senators whom we and/or our parents or grandparents, as the electorate or voters, elected into office.
  9. When we elected “Senator X”, we did so because that person, like the president we voted for, had certain moral, political, religious, social and cultural views that were similar to our own. Naturally, we expect “Senator X” – as we expect our chosen president, to make key appointments and nominations of people to government positions and court judgeships whose views or ideologies are similar to our own.  As such, we would hope that the actions and decisions of those confirmed appointees will be made accordingly.
  10. Ideally, we would all love to have the people working in all three branches of our government making decisions that coincide with our respective ideologies. Reality however, can be a cruel co-parent of Life and as such, does not always give us – or everyone what they want or expect. We need to consider this as we think of the other seven Supreme Court Justices who were nominated by previous presidents and confirmed by previous senators – either of which who might be long dead but still people who we and/or our parents or grandparents might have elected to office.
    S/N: Our perspectives or ideologies may not always be in sync with those of our parents or those of our voting-age children. Some of us are already seeing this. It’s always good when we can agree with our parents or children when discussing certain issues, the job performance of our political leaders and even court decisions but its frustrating, perhaps downright fuckstrating when our points of view clash.

The point I’m attempting to illustrate is that we, as the American electorate, must understand that we carry some responsibility for the decisions or rulings made by our government leaders and representatives, as well as those made by the Supreme Court (or any court). It’s sort of a domino effect – with every succeeding action happening because of some previous action. Whether we agree or disagree with the Supreme Court’s rulings or decisions this past week, we must not ignore the fact that some responsibility rests with us due to our involvement in electing the people who nominated and confirmed the Justices who sit on the bench and ruled as they did in the first place. As with most things happening in all three branches of our great government, there are some decisions we are happy with and others we aren’t. In the grand scheme of things, we are indirectly responsible for those decisions. Before you dismiss this idea, just… think about it.

Keepin’ It…REAL!

LGBT Pride Month: What It Means to Me As A Veteran

Almost two weeks ago, on May 31, 2013, an important event took place in ourPresident Barack Obama, soldiers, LGBTQ flag nation’s capital. Unfortunately, certain news media outlets either didn’t cover the story or it was quickly glossed over.  So I’ll mention it here. President Barack Obama, in a Presidential Proclamation, named June 2013 as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month. You can read the president’s proclamation here.

In that same week, fellow blogger, nudist and friend Roger Poladopoulos, knowing I’d served a full career in the Navy and am a supporter of many LGBT issues and causes, asked me to write an article for his then-blog, A Guy Without Boxers (now ReNude Pride), sharing my thoughts on what LGBT Pride Month means to me as a veteran. I was more than happy and honored to do that for it gives me an opportunity to give a retired veteran’s view since the lifting of the ban against LGBT/GLBT people serving in America’s armed forces.
Here’s the article.

                                                           * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The death of Don't Ask Don't Tell (DADT)Since President Barack Obama did away with the highly ineffective policy of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) almost two years ago, LGBT Pride Month has had – and it continues to have, more of a significant meaning to me as a veteran. I served 20 years in the U.S. Navy, joining at the tail-end of heavy U.S. NCIS (United States Naval Criminal Investigative Service (formerly NIS)) witch-hunts and screenings designed to detect and eradicate any Sailor or Marine thought or suspected to be gay or bisexual. Such actions were not only being conducted in the Navy and Marine Corps but in all of America’s armed forces!

United States Naval Criminal Investigative Service (seal)Over the span of my career, up to the point after the DADT policy was established (under President Clinton in late 1993), and training implemented at the naval command bases and ships where I was stationed, I have witnessed several loyal, honest and dedicated men and women get discharged or forced out of the Navy and Marines for being gay or suspected of being gay or bisexual. Many other gay and bisexual men and women who were still serving decided not to reenlist due to the stresses of having to live undercover or “on the low” because of their sexuality. I was a telecommunications specialist in the Navy. Often my job meant being privy to the knowledge of some of those Sailors or Marines being discharged from military service due to homosexuality. It always broke my heart to see the names of people I knew, some who wereus-military-seals1 friends or acquaintances, being kicked out and being made to start their lives over simply because of found or suspected homosexuality. I always counted myself as being one of the fortunate ones whom some of those fine men and women – my brothers and sisters in uniform, considered to be a trusted friend and confidant.

There is an adage that says, “If one is chained, then all are chained; if one isn’t free, then no one is free.(or words to that effect). I’d like to think that whenever one of the world’s greatest armed forces allows for bigotry and hatred to function within its leadership and ranks, that military entity DoD_Pride_Month_2013_postercannot be an effective defender of a nation or its people, let alone the world. President Harry S Truman must have realized this when he ordered the desegregation of the U.S. armed forces in July 1948.

With gay, lesbian and bisexual men and women now free to serve openly in America’s military, the chains that once bound its potential for growth have been severed. This means that except for those few dissenters who protest about having to serve alongside known gays and bisexuals, overall EVERY man and woman, regardless of their sexual orientation, can now serve their country with much fuller distinction, individual potential, honor and pride; pride not just in the respective branch of service in which that person serves but pride as in being recognized, respected and accepted for being a complete individual who wears the military uniform!

Keepin’ It…REAL!

They Used a CHILD to Preach a Message of HATE!

*Another presentation in the KIR continuing series of articles of the Steppin’ On The Feet Jesus Washed (SOTFJW) Project-Mission!
Yesterday, in North Carolina, there was some shit on Easter Sunday…

Somebody PLEASE give this boy a box of Cracker Jacks and a puppy!
Count the number of times he keeps saying “God loves you”, followed by “going to Hell”, and the multiple use of “you people”.
It is a shame to human society and existence when adults brainwash their children to HATE…and use them to pass on their messages of hate!
It is this kind of shit that will always inspires me to “keep steppin’ on the feet Jesus washed”!

Keepin’ It…REAL!