Wednesday, February 27, 2008

It's Time for Basketball!!!

The CIAA Basketball Tournament is this week in Charlotte, NC at the Bobcats Arena. We'll be going tomorrow thru Sunday. The games are always good, but the best part is the reunion--seeing old friends and walking around the concourse. And I always collect a bunch of free stuff from the vendors. Anybody going to be in Charlotte this week, let me know, and I'll try to find you.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Let America be America Again

by Langston Hughes

Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed--
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There's never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this "homeland of the free.")

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?
I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery's scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek--
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one's own greed!

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean--
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today--O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.

Yet I'm the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That's made America the land it has become.
O, I'm the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home--
For I'm the one who left dark Ireland's shore,
And Poland's plain, and England's grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa's strand I came
To build a "homeland of the free."

The free?

Who said the free? Not me?
Surely not me? The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we've dreamed
And all the songs we've sung
And all the hopes we've held
And all the flags we've hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay--
Except the dream that's almost dead today.

O, let America be America again--
The land that never has been yet--
And yet must be--the land where every man is free.
The land that's mine--the poor man's, Indian's, Negro's, ME--
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose--
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people's lives,
We must take back our land again,

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath--
America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain--
All, all the stretch of these great green states--
And make America again!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Wife Debate?

Michelle Obama is getting criticized for saying, "For the first time in my adult life, I am really proud of my country."

Some are suggesting she was unpatriotic in her statement, Mrs. McCain saying she has always been proud of this country.

When I was a naive little school-girl, I was proud of this country too. Even when I went to segregated schools, and walked rather than ride in the back of the bus, went thirsty rather than drink from the "For colored" fountain.

My college roommate was from Birmingham and was one of the school children who were fire-hosed for demonstrating for the right to public accommodations, arrested for exercising her First Amendment right to free speech because she was "Parading without a permit." But we were both naively proud of this country.

Reality hit both of us when we studied abroad our junior year in 1965. My German friends had seen the news footage of the fire-hosing and bombing in Birmingham and asked if I was afraid to go back to the States. Didn't I fear for my life? They understood the rage that took place in the summer of Watts, and wondered why it took us so long to take to the streets.

In more recent years when Tinker and I have traveled abroad, the reality has become an embarrassment. We meet people from other countries who ask us...Why are we in Iraq? How could the "Most Powerful" country in the world turn it's back on the people of New Orleans?

Cindy McCain needs to get real. The rest of the world does not think too kindly of us.

But I tell you what. Tinker and I will be traveling to South America next month, and we will be proudly wearing our Obama buttons.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

In time for my sister's birthday!!!



Family stories are easily lost, especially in these times when children leave home and move far and wide from the place where it all began. Family reunions are times when the old stories may be repeated, but the young ones often don’t listen. Some stories are never retold because of embarrassment or feelings of shame, and the failure to recognize that regardless of how dour our circumstances may have been, that was where we came from. Even our mixed heritage should be a source of our strength.

My siblings and I often heard the stories of our grandmother, Mattie. My sister LaVerne, as the oldest had the foresight to write down the story as told by our Mother before she died in 1958. LaVerne gave us all a typed copy that in my case was read and filed in a drawer of assorted family documents.

LaVerne went further in writing her own story of growing up as the first child of Robert and Georgia Gordon. She worked on it nearly fifty years as she remembered bits and pieces of all the places they lived and the churches Daddy served in his ministry through Georgia, Florida, West Virginia, and Virginia.

As the years passed, LaVerne developed decreasing patience with her computer, and declining memory of the names of people and places, until I took it upon myself to intervene. I hijacked her manuscript with the intention of crafting it into a story to be passed on to our progeny.

I found, however, the story needed no crafting, but it was missing the ending; I hadn’t been born yet. I called on my brothers to fill in the gaps to get us to Petersburg where I was born. Their tales of growing up as four brothers who followed their big sister, tales of adventure and mischief, were their story, not LaVerne’s. I wanted to keep LaVerne’s voice. No one else could have told of the “halcyon period” of our parents. No one else could express Mother’s motives for marrying “that yellow man.”

And so begins the Saga of the Gordons of Tallahassee.


Friday, February 1, 2008

Running mate or Runner up?

The question came up in the Democratic debate last night asking Obama and Hillary if they would consider the other as a running mate. The both said it was too early to be talking about running mate. But that just got me to thinking about how running mates were chosen in the past. I can only talk about recent history, since we didn't learn about national conventions when I took history in school.

There were a lot of VP's chosen to "balance the ticket," as in the case of JFK and LBJ. Kennedy wanted a running mate from the South since the Dixiecrats weren't too happy about a Catholic from Massachusetts. Johnson turned out to be a powerful VP, who rose to the occasion after Kennedy was assassinated

Who knows what Nixon was thinking when he chose "Spiro who?" who happened to be one of the party faithful, a ranking member of the National Committee. Julian Bond referred to him as a "Jive Maryland Farmer." He was in fact from Maryland, but that was the term we used to use in polite company to call somebody an MF. Agnew had to resign after he was indicted for tax fraud.

Who can forget Mondale-Ferraro? That's about all I can say about that ticket.

And poor Al Gore...I wonder if he has 27 dresses collected somewhere.

I would say that Dick Cheney was one of those "balance the ticket" choices. They needed somebody to balance the "C student." Did we ever think he would be so diabolical?

I remember the first time I saw a national convention was in 1956. (OK, I'm old.) But I was still a kid. My brothers were really caught up in the process and they gave me the play by play rundown on what was happening. In those days the nomination process went well into the night, with several roll-calls, wheeling and dealing on the floor until somebody emerged with a majority. The "runner up" was not always the choice for running mate.

When it comes down to this summer's conventions, I expect that the winner of the nomination will offer the VP slot to the runner up. And I think she will decline.