Why Labor Day Should Be a Moral Monday by Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II And Richard Trumka


September 1, 2014

The Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II is president of the North Carolina state conference of the NAACP. Richard Trumka is president of the AFL-CIO.

To read the article online in The Root click HERE.

On Labor Day we honor America’s working families. These families build our country, serving as the engine that keeps our country on its path toward a just, sustainable democracy. But in 2014, we urge that Labor Day also be a Moral Monday.

The people of North Carolina have established Moral Monday protests as a powerful tool for coming together to convey their demands to their General Assembly, and in doing so, they have introduced many to the power of collective action. We urge the nation to take up that mantle.

While our country celebrates workers today, poor and working families are under attack the other 364 days of the year. Wages remain at poverty levels as corporate profits skyrocket. The average CEO makes 774 times more than a minimum wage worker and 331 times more than the average employee. Corporations have turned to temporary and minimum wage workers to silence their employees’ voices. States, counties and cities across the nation are dismantling collective bargaining and other rights that would give workers the chance to challenge these regressive trends.

Today we live in a political climate that treats people as disposable things, and corporations as people. Although Wall Street has moved past the Great Recession, most of us are still struggling to make ends meet. In the richest nation in the history of the world, people who work 40 hours each week should be able to put food on their tables and take their children to the doctor.

But the extremists haven’t stopped with labor rights. We know that the same people attacking workers are attacking the pillars of justice in America, ranging from our sacred right to vote to our birthright of public education. Meanwhile, they are privatizing schools and prisons, polluting the environment, attacking LGBTQ and women’s rights, racializing the criminal-justice system, and denying the American dream to immigrants and their children.

Their agenda amounts to a sinister form of “Grand Theft Democracy.” And when officials at any level try to roll back our human rights, it is constitutionally inconsistent, morally indefensible, historically insensitive and economically insane.

Labor Day has always had a patriotic and economic message. But we believe that everything that has ever changed America and the world for the better has inherently carried a moral message, too. The long fight for labor rights, voting rights, educational equality and quality health care for all is not a partisan struggle. It is a moral fight for the soul of the nation.

We are calling for people to organize by building on the most sacred values of our faith traditions.Isaiah 10:1-2 is as clear as the bell of freedom: “Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees; to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people, making widows their prey and robbing the fatherless.”

In turn, our nation’s founding documents demand that we establish justice and commit to the ideal that all men and women are created equal and should be treated as such, whether by their government or in their workplace.

There is a way forward.

To read the rest of the article, click HERE.

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Oklahama Cop Arrested for Sexually Assaulting 8 Black Women, at Least 2 While on Duty (Video)

An Oklahoma City police officer was charged Friday with raping or sexually abusing six women he allegedly threatened to arrest if they did not submit.

Officer Daniel Holtzclaw, 27, was charged with two counts of first-degree rape, four counts of sexual battery, four counts of forcible oral sodomy, four counts of indecent exposure, one count of first-degree burglary and one count of stalking. (Source: Read more)

NC offered $100M for Toyota HQ, twice Texas bid – WRAL

The Political Agitator response: Now this is quite interesting!

RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina business recruiters offered Toyota more than $100 million in incentives for the world’s largest carmaker to move its North American headquarters to Charlotte rather than a Dallas suburb, but still lost out to a Texas offer half that size.

Only about a quarter of the nearly 3,000 jobs paying an average of $105,000 a year were expected to move from Southern California, meaning a golden but missed job-creating opportunity for the region, according to North Carolina recruiting documents and emails released to The Associated Press last week in response to a public records request.

State law requires the release of recruiting documents after a company has announced a decision on its preferred location, which Toyota did four months ago. Since Gov. Pat McCrory took office last year, state agencies often take many months to comply. (Source: Read more)

The State of Black America by William Reed Columnist

“The talented tenth, elitist thinking Negroes, have nothing to offer the masses of Black people. Their minds have never functioned in the all-important sphere of economic independence.” – Booker T. Washington

The state of Black America only goes as far as the state of Blacks’ politics. Blacks’ status and politics have remained static for 40 years. Records show that the vast majority of Black Americans are stuck in and satisfied with “the status quo.” Blacks continue to vote for the same people that they have time and time again over the past four decades. According to a recent University of Chicago study, African- American males haven’t advanced one bit since 1971. Overall, the economic status and state of Black America lacks movement.  

Blacks have been sold a bill of goods by Democrats and engage in political actions that are just plain nonsensical. For instance: Across the country, Blacks treat elected officials more akin to “celebrities” than “public servants.” Blacks and Whites are at opposite spectrums when it comes to economics and elected politicians. Polls show half of Whites saying: “If Blacks tried harder, they would be as well-off as Whites.” Just 18 percent of African Americans agree. Instead of attributing our state of rigor mortis to racism, Blacks need to take note that if they: “Keep doing what they’ve been doing, they will continue to get what they’ve been getting.” As their city crumbled around them, in lemming-like fashion, Detroit-area voters recently re-elected 85-year-old John Conyers to the congressional seat he has held since 1965.  Likewise, Black New Yorkers sent censured 13th District Representative Charles Rangel back to Congress. A political kingmaker, Rangel has served continuously since 1971.

The state of the Black race remains inert because we don’t vote with strategic plans or purpose. Black Americans’ economic status is thin as our overall dependencies and mindsets toward entitlements escalate. It’s as if African Americans can’t see beyond “big government socialism” and reliance on the state. Because of our emphasis on the political franchise, too often Blacks view government as omnipotent never giving thought to what good governance represents. Politically unsophisticated Blacks’ agenda are led by Democratic Party operatives. With a $17 trillion deficit looming over their heads and the lives of their children, Blacks continue to defend President Barack Obama’s lame-duck tenure as if all Americans measure as we do.

Since the well-intentioned federal programs of the New Deal, Blacks have allowed government dependency to destroy essential elements necessary for success: marriage, family and work. In a misguided ideology, those Blacks put all their eggs in government baskets, while opposing the free- enterprise system and its constructs, in every way possible.

As Americans go forward someone has to be held accountable. The enemy is either ourselves or the officials we keep sending back to public office. Under decades of Democrats’ political rule in Black populations, one in four lives in poverty – three times the rate of Whites. African-American unemployment rates run twice the rate of Whites and Black households have the lowest median income ($30,134) among race groups. Employed Blacks earn 77 percent of Whites’ wages in comparable jobs.

More than half of Americans rely on some form of government assistance – 165 million. Of these, 107 million rely on welfare, 46 million seniors benefit from Medicare and 22 million are federal government employees. Eligibility for Medicaid, food stamps, earned income tax credit, work pay tax credit and unemployment benefits total more than 70 percent of federal spending.

Blacks have to become oriented toward and viable in American free enterprise. There are about 1,500 wealthy Blacks. Two million Black families have annual incomes of $75,000 or more, but as a whole Black Americans have virtually no stake in the nation’s free-market economy and own little of manufacturing, wholesale and retail entities.

Blacks need meaningful capitalistic and private-sector endeavors. Terms such as “job creation” must become more commonplace in Blacks’ vernacular. To fully acquire American capitalistic success, Blacks must expand social and political views beyond liberalism and socialism.

William Reed is publisher of “Who’s Who in Black Corporate America” and available for projects via the BaileyGroup.org

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Judea for Jews? by William Reed Columnist

The longer any colonial occupation endures, the greater the settlers’ racism and extremism tends to increase. Note what’s happening in the land of Israel and Gaza and how it smacks of White supremacy. The claims of today’s Jews, most of who come from the West, as being “God’s Chosen People” are among the first issues we need to question.

Despite America’s so-called, “even-handedness in the Middle East,” some Blacks are beginning to see events unfold through the eyes of the poor Palestinians and are appalled. Black people of conscience should be aware of the United States’ role in Middle East war crimes. The U.S. seeks the status quo and funds the Israeli military apparatus and stonewalls world diplomatic bodies while religious and racist factions kill Palestinians and take their land with impunity.

The arrogant actions of Israel only occur when a country feels that it’s justified in doing whatever it wants to do regardless of the impact. Citizen boycotts that isolated South Africa during apartheid is an effective way to raise the price of Israel’s actions. Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu has called on corporations profiting from Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories to pull out. Tutu said that 1.5 million people have joined the initiative and: “Those who continue to do business with Israel fund perpetuation of a profoundly unjust status quo.” There have been several public divestures in recent months. The Dutch pension fund, PGGM, withdrew tens of millions of Euros from Israeli banks, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation divested from security firm G4S, and the U.S. Presbyterian Church divested an estimated $21 million from Hewlett Packard, Motorola Solutions, and Caterpillar. Seventeen European Union governments urged their citizens to avoid doing business in or investing in illegal Israeli settlements.

Western media and politicians have demonized Palestinian entities in the minds of Black Americans.  But, more Blacks are empathizing with Palestinians in what has transpired in Gaza. It’s not a war between two equal sides. It’s an onslaught by a powerful military state, against an impoverished, besieged and displaced people. Without justice for the plight of the Palestinians there will never be peace – without international pressure, Israel will never compromise and reach a just settlement.

A look at Gaza depicts it as a strip sandwiched between Israel and Egypt that’s been under Israeli siege for years. Fishermen are shot when they go out to sea. Trade is blocked. Travel is nearly impossible. Water is contaminated. Hospital supplies are lacking. The economy is kept in a state of controlled collapse, just short of cataclysmic implosion. Israel rations everything that enters Gaza. Israel occupied Gaza in the 1967 War and pulled troops and settlers out in 2005. Israel controls all of Gaza’s borders, waterways and airspace, while Egypt controls Gaza’s southern border.

There is an extremist, racist ideological current in Israel that not only justifies onslaughts on Gaza, but actually encourages use of enormous and disproportionate violence. Clear thinking Blacks should move beyond the norm to boycott and divest to end Israel’s stranglehold of Gaza and the West Bank.

Racially and religiously-biased members of American government, Congress and media support the siege of Gaza, the building of settlements and periodic massacres. Good people of conscience and color must demand that Washington observe our own laws and discontinue military aid to Israel. Education and political pressure is needed to reorient U.S. policy toward peace and justice in this region.

Black Americans need to ask: “Is this how we want our ($3.2 billion) of annual tax dollars spent? Then we should ask our congressional representatives to cut off this financial backing. The Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) describes itself as “the conscience of the U.S. Congress,” but CBC members support Israeli actions without question. With the world condemning the massacre that occurred in Gaza not a single CBC member bothered to lift their voice against Israel’s genocidal assault or its ongoing apartheid state in general. – William Reed is publisher of “Who’s Who in Black Corporate America” and available for projects via the BaileyGroup.org

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Africans Come to America by William Reed Columnist

As he winds through his second term with high “disapproval” numbers, Blacks are the only people President Barack Obama can turn to. As we enter August, a third of America’s voters think Obama is the worst president since World War II. Except for Blacks providing an upside, the first African-American president of the United States’ image is one of inexperience and ineptness. With his domestic and foreign policy portfolios both in tatters, Obama has turned to Blacks for support. This time it’s leaders from African nations that are “in good standing” with America. As he holds history’s first U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, Obama is hosting 50 African heads of state and more than 100 of their ministers.

Recent domestic polls have Obama being viewed as “less competent” and “more dishonest” than George W. Bush. Obama’s approval rating among American registered voters stands at 45 percent, but among Blacks, his job approval soars to 86 percent. Almost nine out of every 10 African American would support Obama no matter what, no matter how far America sinks under his leadership, even if they have no jobs and their own lives are in shambles. Seventy percent of Africans say pretty much the same about Obama.

The three-day Summit is the largest event any U.S. president has held with African heads of state and government. Those Africans coming to America for the Summit will be displaying the latest fashions, prints and styles of the continent. But, not much of substance is expected. It’s a “photo-op” to help Blacks, from here and there, feel good and in charge. Truth is, China, which devotes half of its $14.41 billion aid budget to its projects on the continent, regularly hosts individual African heads of state and has far outpaced the U.S. in trade and everything economic, in Africa. The structure of today’s trade relations between the U.S. and Africa is primarily dominated by fuel and fuel-related products.

Colonialist countries exploited Africa for centuries. As “the Black President,” Obama gets a “pass” for America’s colonial practices, but little else. These days China is the “most dominate” foreign country in Africa. The Africans are being very polite in coming to America because little else will come of the occasion other than a “Polaroid moment.” Obama has a long way to go to put America on economic par with China among Africans.

The African continent is home to more than a billion people that speak more than 2,000 languages. Only a few of Africa’s 54 leaders – Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe, who is still the target of U.S. sanctions and the Sudanese whom the U.S. bombed and assisted in the separation of South Sudan – were not invited to the Summit.

U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman is hosting the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Ministerial at the World Bank. Obama’s Power Africa initiative is a key Summit issue item.  “Power” is one of Africa’s most pressing challenges. According to the World Bank, only a quarter of sub-Saharan Africa has access to electricity and 10 percent per-year capacity growth is needed to meet electricity demand.

A Summit Business Forum will be presented by the Department of Commerce and Bloomberg Philanthropies. The Senate Foreign Relations and House Foreign Affairs Committees will host a Capitol Hill welcoming reception.  The key Blacks on African issues there are U.S. Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.), the Ranking Member on the U.S. House of Representatives’ Subcommittee on Africa and the Republican majority’s Gregory Simpkins the Subcommittee staff director, who says his main focus is: “increasing economic linkages between the U.S. and Africa.”

Summit planners say the discussions will encourage progress in areas that Africans define as critical for the continent’s future: “expanding trade and investment ties, engaging young African leaders, promoting inclusive sustainable development, expanding cooperation on peace and security, and gaining better futures for Africa’s next generation.”

“Everyone must understand that Africans aren’t looking for people to save them, but for people to partner with,” says Melvin Foote, head of the U.S.-based Constituency for Africa.

William Reed is publisher of “Who’s Who in Black Corporate America” and available for projects via the BaileyGroup.org

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A Rising Tide Lifts all Boats by William Reed Columnist

The Political Agitator response: I totally agree you take their money and use it to do what you need to do. Damn turning down the money would make no sense.

A version of the iconic slogan, A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste,” is playing out in the court of public opinion and it’s a huge debacle, as a major union severs its ties with the United Negro College Fund (UNCF). Lee Saunders, the president of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, or AFSCME, should receive the 2014 “Foot in Mouth” award for a letter he sent informing Michael Lomax, the chairman of the United Negro College Fund, that the union would be ending its partnership with the educational organization in September. The union is angry about a $25 million donation that UNCF accepted from Charles Koch. The billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch have become targets of Democrats and unions, alike.

Saunders’ letter smacks of politics and lacks Black leadership values for our youth to emulate: “Like many supporters of the UNCF, I was deeply troubled by your decision to accept $25 million from David and Charles Koch,” Saunders wrote. Saunders contends that the UNCF chairman “has taken actions deeply hostile to public employees”… and there’s “a profound betrayal of the ideals of the civil rights movement.” The union intends to end its relationship with UNCF in September. Saunders also described the Koch brothers as the “single most prominent funders of efforts to prevent African Americans from voting.”

If ever there was a case of ideological extremism, this is it. Instead of saying, there’s not much we agree on, but helping Black youth graduate from college is one of them. Let’s unite and do some good. However, in his huff, Saunders sacrificed AFSCME grants that have helped nearly a hundred Black students throughout the course of the AFSCME/UNCF program.

Heads turned when UNCF announced Charles Koch’s no strings attached $25 million donation to historically Black colleges and universities and loan assistance programs. In his nonsensical justification of his taking money away from Black students, Saunders claimed that the Kochs are openly hostile to Black people. “We are doing this as a result of actions taken by the [chairman] of the UNCF that are not only deeply hostile to the rights and dignity of public employees …” Saunders’ letter told Lomax. “I was truly stunned to learn that you attended and spoke at a Koch summit.” Saunders shot hundreds of Black students in the foot because he’s fixated on the premise that “The Koch brothers and the organizations they fund have devoted themselves for more than a decade to attacking the voting rights of African Americans.”

UNCF chairman Michael Lomax, perhaps too pleased with the Kochs’ donation to worry about losing $60,000 from AFSCME, said in a statement: “UNCF has over 100,000 donors with a wide range of views, but all believe in helping young students of color realize their dreams of a college education. For over 70 years we have never had a litmus test and we have asked all Americans to support our cause.”

What Black Americans need is good leadership. AFSCME’s relationship with the UNCF revolved around the AFSCME/UNCF/Harvard LWP Union Scholars Program, in which sophomore- and junior- college students work with AFSCME during the summer and receive scholarship support. That program ends September 1.

It’s time to brand what Saunders has displayed as feckless leadership.” Amid the plight of Blacks in America, it’s sad when a man in a position to lift up race-specific programs suspends them instead. Similar random accusations represent the history of Blacks and unions. Throughout the past century, unions have been on both sides of the racial divide, sometimes fostering discrimination; other times welcoming minorities.

Saunders is the first African-American president of the 1.6 million-member AFSCME. Saunders holds a Master of Arts degree from Ohio State University. We wish him wisdom to think and act in a leadership capacity that advances Blacks’ interests and causes.

Saunders shouldn’t stop AFSCME’s support of UNCF. If he needs a few bucks, he should poll his union partners for some of the $153 million they spend in political contributions. -William Reed is publisher of “Who’s Who in Black Corporate America” and available for projects via the BaileyGroup.org

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