Category Archives: Women & Girls

Progress Against Sedition In the Military? Not Yet . . .

“Burying the lead” (or “lede”) is a form of journalistic malpractice that stuffs the most important information or disclosures in an article under a layer of mostly irrelevant or unoriginal text, likely to deflect readers from noticing them.  This article is a prime example.

Continue reading Progress Against Sedition In the Military? Not Yet . . .

Roberta Flack: Sad News

New York Times — Nov. 14, 2022

Roberta Flack Has A.L.S. and Can No Longer Sing, Her Publicist Says

The highly decorated vocalist, known for hits like “Killing Me Softly With His Song,” was diagnosed with the disease in August.

Roberta Flack with one of the Grammy Awards she won in 1974 for “Killing Me Softly With His Song.” Credit…Harold Filan/Associated Press

Cartoons: Is It Just Me, Or Are These Cartoons Actually Kinda Funny??

Too much cartoon commentary this year has had a grim, often gallows humor aspect. It seemed justified (or at least inescapable) in the moment, but was wearying to deal with week after week.

Perhaps we’re now just having a brief break in the gloom. If so, we better flex those stiff muscles and enjoy it. . . .

“Toto, I think we’re not in Kansas, or Michigan, Montana, Kentucky, Vermont or California anymore . . . .”

Continue reading Cartoons: Is It Just Me, Or Are These Cartoons Actually Kinda Funny??

Quotes of The Day (Actually Yesterday, But Whatever)

 

Quotes of the Day: The New York Times hosted a conversation among two pundits (Times columnist Frank Bruni; Jonathan V. Last, editor of the Bulwark; Mallory McMorrow, a Michigan state senator). Here are several excerpts:

A “red wave”?

Frank Bruni: There was more like an itty-bitty, pale red undulation.

McMorrow: It changed everything — and Democrats who leaned in fared well. Especially Democratic women.

Continue reading Quotes of The Day (Actually Yesterday, But Whatever)

Aftermath — Part 2: A Constant Struggle

Aftermath — Part 2

Amelia Boynton was my landlady in Selma, Alabama. She was also a prominent local civil fights activist, one of the handful of Black Selmians who had managed to badger her way onto the voting rolls despite segregation.

Mrs. Boynton, on the Pettus Bridge, 1965.

When she was knocked out cold on Selma’s Edmund Pettus Bridge during the “Bloody Sunday attack on March 7 1965, she was 54 years old, and had been a working advocate for thirty years. When the Voting Rights Act was signed in August, she was about to turn 55.

Mrs. Boynton lived for 48 more years. That was long enough to see a Black mayor elected in Selma, a Black woman sent to Congress from its district, and a Black man sitting in the White House oval office.

But she also lived long enough to note that the poverty rate in Selma and the Alabama Black Belt was still as high in 2015, 50 years after  the Bridge was first crossed. She also saw the Supreme Court cut the heart out of the Voting Rights Act, with the 2013 Shelby County decision. She was then102.

Two years later, she joined the Obamas, Congressman John Lewis (who had also been knocked out during the 1965 attack) and many others to cross the Pettus Bridge on the march’s 50th anniversary. And that time, like the Act itself, she was on her last legs. Mrs. Boynton died that August, a few days after her 104th birthday.

Mrs. Boynton was one of many pillars of the struggle for voting equality. Yet the arc of her life is uniquely emblematic of it, tracing its rise to a summit of achievement, followed by a  backslide which is sinking ever closer to where she started out.

Its course marks my first reflection on the 2022 midterm aftermath: what we’re facing now, on many fronts, will take a long time to repair. Voting rights demolition started well before this election, and more is all but certain to come. Regaining its upward momentum will likely take a long time.

Long-term: This observation should be a truism, a platitude. But in my experience, it isn’t. Americans, and too many liberal Quakers (including me) have assimilated to a culture of ever-shortening attention spans. Along with fast food, fast cars, fast internet, a fast track and fast weight loss, we expect a fast lane to social change and justice.

Sometimes big change does happen “fast’: after 65 long years of formal Black disfranchisement, it was a mere five months (the blink of an eye in Congressional time) from “Bloody Sunday” til Lyndon Johnson’s signing of the Voting Rights Act.

But that was likely a once-in-a-lifetime cataclysm. Much more often, it takes longer. A lot longer.

This is a bipartisan truth, which the right seems to have learned and applied better: the movement to eviscerate the Voting Rights Act took 48 years. The crusade against Roe vs. Wade lasted 49; neither took their “eyes off the prize.” (How long will it take to topple Obergefell and same sex marriage?)

Looking further back, I see the smiling visage of my personal Quaker hero, Lucretia Mott: bringing encouragement she worked to end slavery for more than 50 years, and for black equality thereafter. And she “inherited” that imperative from her parents’ generation. However imperfectly, it’s fair to say Quakers labored and agitated on this matter for a century.

Lucretia also worked for women’s equality almost as long, though women did not win the vote til four decades after her death in 1880.

Such long-term labor, planning, or even attention, is increasingly rare today; for too many of us, a “long term” view barely extends beyond the next election — and have you noticed? These days, election season never ends. Yet how many of our Quaker institutions know how to transmit this long term Quaker work ethic to our children? (Hint: not many.)

I have no magic potion for reawakening the capacity for Quakers to think up and put together long-term work. Nevertheless, I maintain it’s the starting point for moving from hand-wringing irrelevance to faithful witness and actual influence,

And I think I’ve found a few clues. I’ll share some of them next time.

For now, here’s a teaser: during the civil rights years, freedom songs helped me and so many others hang on. And one, which I recall joining while in jail, sums up a lot. No one knows who “wrote” it; the movement did. It’s called “A Constant Struggle.” Here’s the refrain; verses varied:

“They say that freedom, is a constant struggle.
They say that freedom, is a constant struggle.
Yes, They say that freedom, is a constant struggle. . .

Oh Lord, we’ve been struggling so long
That we must be free,
We must be free . . . .”

Barbara Dane & the Chambers Brothers: “A Constant Struggle”

Watch it here, performed by Barara Dane & the Chambers Brothers

“Aftermath” — Part 1 is here.