Sunday, May 31, 2009

I've Got Spirit, How 'Bout You

Acts 2:1-21, Ezekiel 37:1-14, Psalm 104:1-34, Romans 8:22-27, 1 Corinthians 12:3-7, 12-13, John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15

At football games all over the country this fall, cheerleaders will roam the sidelines and shout out this question: "We've got spirit, yes we do! We've got spirit, how 'bout you?" That is a question that many of us should be asking on this the Day of Pentecost.

Many of us go through our daily existence, dealing with all of the peaks and valleys of life, acting as though we do not carry the greatest gift God can give us other than life itself, the gift of the Holy Spirit. It is the gift of the Holy Spirit that gives us strength in tough times, discernment to make the right decisions and the peace we need in chaotic moments.

The Spirit that dwells within is the most powerful force in the universe, yet we barely tap into it when we need it the most, making our journey on Earth harder than what it should be. The Holy Spirit does not prevent tragedy, but it gets us through. It does not prevent struggles, but it provides the inspiration to overcome.

Think about this as you go forth with your day, if the Holy Spirit can give life to the dry bones of Israel and raise Jesus Christ from the dead, what is it that you cannot accomplish? What hurdles in life can you not rise above? What challenges can you not face down? Remember that you've got the Spirit and you can answer all those questions in the affirmative.

Friday, May 29, 2009

The GOP's Latino disconnect

In 1972, President Richard Nixon received 60 percent of the Latino vote in his successful bid for re-election. In 2008, President Barack Obama received 67 percent of the Latino vote in his successful campaign. A complete swing in a 36 year span.

If I were a Republican, I would be very concerned about such a turn, especially when you look at the generation that voted 60 percent for Nixon. That generation alone voted 63 percent for Obama. Obama won the Latino vote in Florida and Texas, traditionally GOP strongholds.

That is why you are seeing some Republican U.S. Senators cringing at the comments of Wendy Long, Laura Ingraham and Rush Limbaugh concerning the nomination of U.S. Appellate Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court of the United States. They understand that six of them voted for Sotomayor to be confirmed in the current position she holds and that any inflammatory comments will further alienate Latino voters from the GOP.

When he was the RNC Chair, Ken Mehlman did his dead-level best to reach out to the Latino community. However, it did not seem as though he laid a solid foundation for continued outreach as evidenced by the 2008 Presidential vote. It is now going to be Chairman Michael Steele's task to re-invigorate that effort.

However, it might be tough. Here is an excerpt of the RNC Party Platform, approved the 2008 RNC Convention:

Embracing Immigrant Communities


Today's immigrants are walking in the steps of most other Americans' ancestors, seeking the American dream and contributing culturally and economically to our nation. We celebrate the industry and love of liberty of these fellow Americans. Both government and the private sector must do more to foster legally present immigrants' integration into American life to advance respect for the rule of law and a common American identity. It is a national disgrace that the first experience most new Americans have is with a dysfunctional immigration bureaucracy defined by delay and confusion; we will no longer tolerate those failures.
In our multi ethnic nation, everyone – immigrants and native-born alike – must embrace our core values of liberty, equality, meritocracy, and respect for human dignity and the rights of women.

One sign of our unity is our English language. For newcomers, it has always been the fastest route to prosperity in America. English empowers. We support English as the official language in our nation, while welcoming the ethnic diversity in the United States and the territories, including language. Immigrants should be encouraged to learn English. English is the accepted language of business, commerce, and legal proceedings, and it is essential as a unifying cultural force. It is also important, as part of cultural integration, that our schools provide better education in U.S. history and civics for all children, thereby fostering a commitment to our national motto, E Pluribus Unum.


We are grateful to the thousands of new immigrants, many of them not yet citizens, who are serving in the Armed Forces. Their patriotism is inspiring; it should remind the institutions of civil society of the need to embrace newcomers, assist their journey to full citizenship, and help their communities avoid patterns of isolation.

So embracing the culture means mandating English-only laws? That is going to be tough sell in a group that comprises 14 percent of the national population. However, the RNC web site, www.gop.com, has a Spanish language link, unlike the web site for the Republican National Hispanic Assembly, www.rnha.org, which does not have such a link.

It is the little things that make a difference to a significant population group that you want to sway to your political camp. Another interesting thing about both web sites, they do not address concerns that specifically impact the Latino community. Both sites are all about supporters conforming to the core values of Republicanism, not how Latinos can uniquely empower themselves as Republicans to solve their problems.

Maybe that is a bit much to ask a political party to do, but I am not the one seeking to reverse a 36 year skid.

Now a Latina is on the verge of becoming a member of the Supreme Court and the conservative talking heads are on the attack. The GOP leadership may want to heed the warning of the early colonists to the British monarchy when dealing with this issue and continued outreach to the Latino community, "Don't Tread On Me!"

Thursday, May 28, 2009

My first year on Facebook

One year ago, I was in the middle of my second U.S. Senate campaign. I had successfully won the primary a couple of months earlier and was in the process of getting ready for the summer swing through the state. Then I received an interesting e-mail from a lady in South Carolina.

Her name was Nancy Lockhart. She was a die-hard Obama supporter and had come across my campaign web site while surfing the Internet. She e-mailed me with an interesting proposition: join Facebook. Now I had heard of Facebook, but I was under the impression it was only for college students. I had created a MySpace page in the 2006 campaign and it did not take off like I had wanted to, so I was not immediately sold on putting a profile on another social networking site, especially to a limited audience.

Nancy persisted and on May 28, 2008, I was a member of the Facebook community. It was one of the best things that has ever happened to me politically and personally. I was able to use the network to reach out to people throughout the state to tout my candidacy, which was my primary purpose, but I ended up doing so much more.

I connected with old high school classmates, old college classmates, ex-girlfriends, relatives and a few celebrities here and there. More importantly, I met the love of my life on Facebook. Who would have known that an innocent compliment on the Honesty Box application would have led to me finding true love again. I had been active on the online dating sites since my divorce in 2003 and met many great women, but it was the poetry of Lady G that won my heart.

Meanwhile as that romance blossomed, my Facebook network grew rapidly. So much so that now I have two profile pages as that the limit for friends on Facebook is 5,000 and I now have over 6,000 friends. Which reminds me, my journey has not been totally smooth. My initial profile page was deleted, based on too much networking, especially since I was fast approaching my friend limit, which I documented in an earlier blog. Fortunately, it was re-instated and I was able to maintain my original network and then expand on it.

I have had fun trying to spark debate on Facebook with my questions to my friends concerning the issues of the day and just sharing my thoughts with the world. I may have fallen into the trap of joining too many groups and signing up for too many applications, but in the end it helped me reach out to folks I never would have had the chance to meet otherwise.

It was always interesting when people would stop me and say "don't I know you? I think I saw you on TV." Now people stop me and say, "I'm your friend on Facebook." That is so cool. Yes, I said cool, because I think it is cool to be connected.


The poet John Dunne once wrote that "no man is an island", and Facebook makes that a true statement. Where else could I be friends with Ms. Olympias and U. S. Congressmen? Where else could I have intellectual discussions with Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians and others of all political stripes?

I have enjoyed my time on Facebook and I hope that this next year will be as fascinating and entertaining as this one. I guess nothing can top finding your true love, but I am sure that the continued journey on Facebook will be exciting nonetheless.

Thanks to all of my friends on Facebook, you have made this experience so great. I look forward to my second anniversary with you all.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A Challenge to Long's Assertion

In following the news coverage concerning the nomination of U.S. Appellate Judge Sonia Sotomayor to replace Justice David Souter on the United States Supreme Court, I came across the comments of an individual I had never heard of in previous judicial nomination fights. Her name is Wendy Long. I was trying to find the quote she made on NBC News which I found rather disturbing, something to the effect that if a white man said that being a white allows them to make better judicial decisions, that people would be rightly outraged.

That was in response to a speech Judge Sotomayor gave in 2001 in which she made this comment: "I would hope a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life."

I did not find Ms. Long's direct quote on NBC, but I did find the one she made on National Review, which CNN's Anderson Cooper picked up on:

"Judge Sotomayor is a liberal judicial activist of the first order
who thinks her own personal political agenda is more important that the law
as written. She thinks that judges should dictate policy, and that one's
sex, race, and ethnicity ought to affect the decisions one renders from the
bench. She reads racial preferences and quotas into the Constitution, even
to the point of dishonoring those who preserve our public safety. On
September 11, America saw firsthand the vital role of America's firefighters
in protecting our citizens. They put their lives on the line for her and the
other citizens of New York and the nation. But Judge Sotomayor would
sacrifice their claims to fair treatment in employment promotions to racial
preferences and quotas. The Supreme Court is now reviewing that decision.
She has an extremely high rate of her decisions being reversed, indicating
that she is far more of a liberal activist than even the current liberal
activist Supreme Court."

Naturally, I wanted to figure out who this Wendy Long was, and who
she is affiliated with, especially since she ridiculously thinks that Judge
Sotomayor is unsympathetic toward America's first responders. Turns out she
is the legal counsel for a group called The Judicial Confirmation
Network. According to their web site, this is their purpose:

The Judicial Confirmation Network is an organization of citizens joined
together to support the confirmation of highly qualified individuals to the Supreme Court of the United States. In addition, JCN works to ensure that the
confirmation process for all judicial nominees is fair and that every nominee
sent to the full Senate receives an up or down vote.

We believe that the qualifications desirable in a nominee
include:

Integrity
Common sense
Education and experience in the law; and
Devotion to the Constitution

We believe that the proper role of a judge or justice is to
interpret the law and the Constitution – not make up the law and deprive the people of the right to govern ourselves.

We believe that a judge or a justice should not use the power of the court to impose his or her personal or political agenda on the people.

Ms. Long herself is a graduate of Northwestern University School of Law, a member of The Order of the Coif, who clerked under Justice Clarence Thomas and served as a press secretary for two Republican U.S. Senators, so you can kind of see where this is going.

Based on what I have been able to read on Judge Sotomayor, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sonia_Sotomayor, I am trying to figure out which one of the four criteria that she does not measure up to.

Her two previous confirmations should address any issues about integrity. She is definitely qualified through her education and experience. Based on this quote: "I don't believe we should bend the Constitution under any circumstance. It says what it says. We should do honor to it.", I believe Judge Sotomayor is devoted to the Constitution.

As for common sense, it depends on who is judging common sense. If Ms. Long thinks that this current Supreme Court is a liberal, activist court, then maybe she should not be the definer of common sense. Sotomayor's career has been defined by being a practical applier of the law in her decisions. Nothing radical, but as it is with most judicial decisions, thoughtful and debatable. In my opinion, she applies common sense to her decisions, whether you would agree with them or not.

Bottom line, Ms. Long is the new attack dog for this fight. She will be the face of the GOP during this nomination process, providing the cover necessary for those Republican senators to vote against Sotomayor's appointment without totally alienating the Latino vote in 2010 and 2012. Her role will be to define the fight, citing judicial activism, so that the GOP will not be labeled as anti-Latino.

Unfortunately, that may not work since they cannot muzzle Rush Limbaugh who has already labeled Judge Sotomayor a racist. Imagine that, Limbaugh calling somebody a racist. I guess he would know, but I digress.

I would expect to see a lot of Ms. Long this summer making the case against Judge Sotomayor. I look forward to continuing to challenge her assertions.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day thought

On the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC, known to most of us as "The Wall", his name appears on Panel 45E, Line 47. He was a native of Marks, Mississippi and was a married man. Born in August of 1946, he grew up in the Baptist church and was drafted into service in 1966.

He started his tour of duty in Vietnam on Valentine's Day in 1968 and he was a Sergeant, E-5, in the 82nd Airborne Division of the United States Army. One month and one day after he started his tour of duty in Vietnam, he was gunned down in a firefight, a week after the My Lai massacre.

His name was Charles Edward Mc Gee. He was my great uncle.

Charles Edward Mc Gee was one of the 38,505 casualties that was killed by hostile fire in the Vietnam War. He is part of an elite group of individuals who date back from the Revolutionary War who have fought for the freedom of this nation and have paid the ultimate price in doing so.

Today is the day we thank Charles Edward Mc Gee and the others who made that sacrifice so that we may enjoy the freedom we too often take for granted. If you have not done so already, take time from friends, family and barbecue to give the proper thanks. It can be a small prayer or a collective moment of silence, but please take the time to do so.

Thank you, Uncle Charles.

There are young men and women in Iraq and Afghanistan right now who we may end up honoring a year from now in the very same way. My prayer is that will not be the case, but it is an unrealistic expectation when we are at war. All we can do is respect their commitment and honor them for their service, as well as pray for their safe return.

Meanwhile, enjoy your Memorial Day and remember those who made it possible for us to enjoy it.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Joy Away From the World

Acts 1:15-17, 21-26, Psalm 1, 1 John 5:9-13, John 17:6-19

The world we live in is a very interesting place. Its tempting decadence pulls us in from time to time and make our lives interesting. But those of us who are followers of Christ have to realize that we are no longer a part of the world. We are basically visitors in this world, working toward our goal of becoming a true Christian and enjoying eternal life.

The Apostle Paul reminded us that when we are children, we act and think like children, but when we become adults, we have to put away those childish things. Delving into the decadence the world has to offer is childish. When we caved into peer pressure as a teen, we did it to fit in. When you commit your life to follow Christ, you no longer fit in that world.

As hard as it may seem, you must control your temptation. If you do not, you will lose your way and jeopardize your inheritance of eternal life. Since you know the truth, your faith should give you the strength to resist. It is not easy, and you will struggle to maintain. However, when you remember what you are working toward, that temptation is not so tempting after all.

In short, stay strong in the faith and find your joy away from the world we are temporary occupants in.

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Struggle Continues

Well another political season is winding down in Mississippi, but history was made in the process. Nearly 45 years ago, Philadelphia, Mississippi was a city on the national map, unfortunately though, it was a tragic symbol of how America, specifically the South, was getting it wrong.

Three young men, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner, disappeared on the night of June 21, 1964. The three men were part of a group that were registering Blacks to vote in Neshoba County in an effort called "Freedom Summer." The White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, the bloodiest regiment of America's original terrorist group, had hatched a plan to violently subvert the actions of these individuals. With cooperation from local authorities, aided by an atmosphere of staunch segregation, the White Knights carried out their plan. 44 days later, the bodies of Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner were found buried in an earthen dam.

Now fast forward to May 19, 2009. James Young, a former county supervisor, who is now a minister and paramedic, became the first African-American to be elected mayor of Philadelphia, Mississippi. By a slim 1021-975 margin, Young broke through a barrier many outside of Philadelphia did not think was possible.

Young cited his work in the health care field as being the factor that earned him the trust that lead to him defeat a three-term incumbent mayor. Young also campaigned on changing city government, which is a winning strategy it seems in the 21st Century.

But the credit has to go back to the sacrifice of those young men who gave their lives on a dark road in Neshoba County for the possibility of this occasion. There is a saying that is bandied about that states freedom is not free. Well neither is empowerment.

Because of the work of those young people who came from all over the nation to build a coalition with native Black Mississippians to fight one of the greatest injustices in our history, May 19, 2009 would not have been possible. It was their courage and their commitment to a just cause, as well as the tragic loss of life of their comrades, that led to the events that culminated on last Tuesday.

When I see joyous occasions such as the election of James Young, it makes me appreciate history even more. If you know where you came from, you will know where you are going, and you will cherish the journey even more when you reach your destination. This day has been a long time coming, but as the old folks would say, the sun will come up tomorrow, signaling a new day and more work that needs to be done.

Our next battle will be the election of an African-American to a statewide position. The next year that can happen will be in 2011, nearly fifty years after the deaths of Medgar Evers, Vernon Dahmer, Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner. Wouldn't it be something if that day will come on a cold November Tuesday two years from now?

Until then, the struggle continues.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Coalition

Last night in Jackson, Mississippi, the results of an election were made known to the public. For most casual observers, it appeared to be a municipal party run-off primary between a former mayor and a current city councilman for the party's nomination. For those of us who see the bigger picture, this was a rebirth of a coalition.

Twenty years ago, many of us were a part of a coalition that wanted to advance Jackson, especially in the area of human rights. Incidents of police brutality were high, as well as the city's murder rate. People of color felt disenfranchised although they had gained a major victory four years earlier by electing the first African-Americans to municipal government since 1912.

As those new council members were basically the ones chosen to test out this new council-mayor form of government, they were not in a position of strength to make wholesale changes. Thus the idea of a coalition of many organizations and progressive-minded individuals started taking shape. The result was the formation of the Jackson Human Rights Coalition.

This loose coalition was effective in bringing many issues to the forefront during its four year tenure. However, it faded away in 1992, after the nucleus of the coalition convened a citywide grassroots convention to choose an African-American to run for mayor of Jackson. Many in the coalition left during the planning sessions of the convention as control of the convention became a major issue. Nevertheless the convention was convened, a candidate was chosen, and then that candidate was soundly defeated in the 1993 Democratic Primary.

The friction that divided the coalition was too strong to overcome and everyone went their separate ways. During this time after the disbanding of the coalition, an African-American mayor was elected and five of the seven city council seats had Black members. The issues of crime and economic opportunities never went away though and the feeling of disenfranchisement turned into apathetic acceptance. Apathetic acceptance is basically the realization that the more things change, the more they stayed the same.

As many looked at our city government in frustration and believed it had become chaotic, sixty people decided to run for municipal office, 55 of them African-American. Despite whom you chose as your particular candidate for a particular race, one had to admire the way the campaigns were run. Each candidate worked hard to sell themselves as individuals who were qualified and committed to serve, and Black people should be proud of how those candidates conducted themselves.

Yet, there was a movement afoot that eventually brought the coalition back together. It seems as though the influential whites in the Jackson diaspora thought this was their time to recapture what had been lost to them by demographics, the court system and eventually the ballot box: the seat of power at City Hall. They made a concerted effort to line up behind a Black candidate that they felt would help their ascent back into power.

They invested money and manpower into this candidate, and when the smoke had cleared on May 5, 2009, their candidate had made the run-off. Their blatant acts of support for this particular candidate sounded an alarm within the Black community, even as we were mourning the sudden death of the current mayor.

Within days, the old coalition started reforming. Folks, who some fifteen years earlier had parted ways to fight their own battles, were answering the call to galvanize again. Once the coalition was put back together, they went to work and the culmination took place on May 19, 2009 with a resounding victory over the white power structure's anointed candidate.

Now the hard part begins anew. First is the business of finishing the deal on June 2, 2009 with another resounding victory and then it will be time to govern. There is some unfinished business that the coalition initially started addressing some twenty years ago that needs to be resolved.

One is to finish healing the divides that disbanded the coalition in the first place. Now that all of us are some twenty years wiser, that should not be hard to do. Then we must assist the new Jackson municipal government by holding them accountable to deal with the economic disparities and the issue of safety in our communities. In turn, we must continue to be supportive of each other's efforts to reach out to our youth and improve our quality of life, especially with housing, health care and education.

Those seem like daunting challenges, but as long as the coalition remains intact and strong, those challenges are no more insurmountable than any other campaign. We have proven we can come together for a short-term crisis, now our test is fighting the good fight for the long haul. My faith in God tells me it can be done because as His people do His work, their steps are ordered and they can achieve all things.

As long as the coalition holds, we can fulfill the desire of the prophet Isaiah and be the repairers of the breach in our communities. As long as the coalition holds, no weapons formed against us shall prosper. As long as the coalition holds, we shall see a new day in Jackson, Mississippi.

As long as the coalition holds.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

It is bigger than you because you were chosen

Acts 10:44-48, Psalm 98, 1 John 5:1-6, John 15:9-17

Have you ever noticed when certain events happen in your life, how they just fall into place? It just seems like as you start worrying about stuff, things tend to work out, with or without your input? That is a clear sign that this life on earth is bigger than you. It is bigger than you because you were chosen to have favor with God.

When you are chosen, and you stop resisting your enlistment, you develop a certain insight, a distinct discernment if you will. You can see the pieces of life's puzzle come together, all you have to do is trust in God and stand out of the way.

You can visualize things in your sleep because your steps are ordered. Despite your worrying and panic, things work out for the best. When you acknowledge this, then you have peace within yourself and your faith is strengthened.

As long as we love one another, we can see the Spirit that dwells within others. When we discern that Spirit in others, we can trust them to do the right thing, for they are also driven by their love and their faith. Guidance is expected, but a heavy hand is not needed. A hand more powerful than yours has already been applied.

Remember when Jesus Christ died on the cross, it was a fulfillment of a promise made out of love. The people closest to Him were distraught until they were reminded of that promise. In the end, it all worked out and their faith was strengthened, thus preparing them to receive the Holy Spirit. Once they received the anointing, they were able to carry out the mission they were chosen to do.

In essence, if you look at things and tasks with your own mortal eyes, you will think that things will not work out and you become afraid of failure. Once you realize it is bigger than you, and you apply your faith, a failure in your mind becomes a huge victory in reality.

Since we are chosen, it is not about you. Accept it and watch God work it out.

Monday, May 11, 2009

The Honorable Frank E. Melton, 1949-2009

It has taken me awhile to get my thoughts together since that fateful Tuesday evening when I learned that my candidate, the Honorable Frank E. Melton, Mayor of Jackson, Mississippi, became gravely ill. That was one of the most surreal experiences of my life.

Around 7 p.m., on May 5th, I was getting calls on my cellphone from campaign workers reporting the vote tallies from the various precincts throughout the city. Then I received a call from a reporter stating that she heard on the police scanner that an ambulance was called to the house where Frank lived. She asked did I have a comment. I told her, "No."

Truth was I was too stunned to make a comment if I had wanted to. Meanwhile, I was still getting tallies and it became apparent early that we were not going to make it to the runoff. Now not only was I dealing with the health of my candidate, I had to come to the realization that we had lost this hard-fought election.

Shock. Disappointment. Concern. Exhaustion. I was feeling all of those emotions simultaneously. By 1:30 a.m. Wednesday morning, I was still feeling all those emotions, but I was coming to terms with the eventual reality, Frank was not coming back. He was on his way to his well-deserved rest.

Frank Melton from the moment he set foot in Jackson was a man on a mission and on the move. Brought in to save the only Black-owned television station in Mississippi, WLBT, Frank made major personnel changes and started a turnaround that laid the foundation for this station to become the most dominant in the Jackson market.

Frank used his wealth to help children attend college and take in children from troubled communities. He made the Farish Street YMCA his second home in Jackson, teaching hundreds of children how to swim. One of the most moving stories I learned about was how Frank paid for a single mother's son to have a lung transplant. That young man worked as a phone banker in this past campaign.

Frank also had disappointments and controversy. Despite taking numerous young men under his wing, several strayed back into the way of life that eventually got them killed. Frank paid for the funerals. It also raised his level of passion to use his position as a television general manager to publicly call out drug dealers and ineffective politicians. Frank even bought billboards that plastered the faces of drug dealers throughout the inner city in order to shed the light on a problem that frustrated him until the day he died.

His passion for a safer Jackson and a better life for inner city youth led him to run for Mayor of Jackson in 2005. He beat the incumbent mayor with 65 percent of the vote and overnight became the number one target of the political godfathers in Jackson. When he went out one ill-fated night and put a sledgehammer to an active crack house in a residential community, Frank opened the door for his enemies to come at him.

With politicians getting political mileage for challenging his agenda and people suing him or trying to convict him in court, it eventually started taking a toll on his health. The stress exacerbated his genetic heart condition and eventually led to his death at 12:10 a.m. on May 7, 2009, less than 48 hours from the time I got that call from that reporter.

Frank was depicted as a complex, egotistical man. He was not. Frank had pride in his accomplishments and he was passionate about what he believed in. He always kept his eye on the future and tried to embrace every young person that crossed his path so that they would get the same opportunities he had. Frank was task-oriented but nothing occupied his attention long. In other words, he was a "doer", not a procrastinator.

That characteristic may not have been ideal for public service, but Frank Melton will go down as one of the greatest mayors this city has ever had. He was a man of the people and he was transparent. As he used to say all the time, "it is what it is," and he was what he was.

I admire men who are free. Men who speak their mind and act decisively. Men who act as if their steps are ordered by God. Those men are not cowards, nor are they timid in the face of adversity. The power of their personality sways the masses and calls attention to what is needed. These men stand out as giants in an age of heroes and a constant in an environment of chaos.

Frank E. Melton was one of those men. It was my honor and privilege to fight for him as he fought for all of us. Like many others he encountered during his lifetime, he left a lasting impression on me. I will miss him dearly.

However, as a man of faith, I know that he is in a better place now. A place where Pop Staples would say, "Ain't nobody crying, ain't nobody worried." He is with his faithful companion, Abbey, and dwells in the right hand of the Father. He leaves behind physically a wife and two children, but he also leaves behind his spirit to be among us, our memories with him that we will cherish, and his legacy that we must protect.

Frank E. Melton sacrificed much to give to many. Now he has earned his rest and has received his reward.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day

Acts 8:26-40, Psalm 22:25-31, 1 John 4:7-21, John 15:1-8

This is the most significant day in America. This is the day that we honor our mothers and celebrate motherhood. It is a day worthy of celebrating because it honors the most important profession in all of civilization. The most famous woman in history is Mary because she was the mother of Jesus.

Motherhood is more than just bringing children into the world. It is the nurturing, the sacrifices and the unconditional love that makes motherhood unique. It is a bond that goes from the cradle to the grave. Mary epitomized that.

Cynics would say that not all mothers should be honored and that a lot of women are not ready to be mothers.

That is not my experience. Most of the women I have known have been great mothers to their children, despite the circumstances of how they became mothers, or their financial resources. These women have risen to the challenge and go unsung when things go right with their kids.

Except on this one day, a day we set aside to make sure that those who do the work of God on earth are recognized and celebrated for their achievement. Happy Mother's Day!

Friday, May 1, 2009

100 days and lasting memories

The President of the United States has made it past the 100 days milestone. The first 100 days of a presidency will give you an insight as to what direction the President wants to go and to take advantage of the grace period given to him after his election.

President Obama has been aggressive during his first 100 days, especially concerning the economy. Stimulus packages have been passed, CEOs have been fired, and reforms have either been passed or proposed. The President has set an agenda for the end of the conflict in Iraq and refocused efforts in Pakistan. He has stopped a band of pirates and has met with 90 world leaders.

Now his focus in on a possible pandemic, drug wars south of the U.S border, saving the U.S. auto industry, a new Supreme Court appointment. But this is just the start.

President George W. Bush has cruised through his first 100 days and was moving as if he truly had a mandate from the American people. Then a plane hit one of the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City at 9:05 am on September 11, 2001. The Bush Presidency was changed forever.

Four years is a long time in political terms, especially serving as President. It will be interesting to see what will be the defining moment of the Obama Presidency.

Speaking about moments and memories, I could not miss this opportunity to talk about two friends of mine who have passed away since the last time I wrote on the blog. The first was a lady named Debra Noble. Debra worked for AT&T for a number of years, but that was not the work that defined her.

Debra was a union leader and a political activist here in Mississippi. A native of Natchez, Debra, along with her union partner Brenda Scott, did more to contribute to the elections of African-Americans than a lot of "political insiders". Debra was a leader in the Communications Workers of America and was instrumental in developing the successful phone bank operations for many union-supported candidates, including myself and President Obama.

More than that Debra had a commodity that very few in Mississippi politics possess: Loyalty. Debra was one of those people that would always show up for the showdown, any time, any place, anywhere. Her love for the union, Mississippi and a good game of Scrabble will be sorely missed.

My other friend that passed on to a better place was the Honorable Charles Young, Sr. Charles and I served together in the Mississippi House of Representatives for nine years. He had been in the House since 1979 representing the city of Meridian and was one of the founders of the Mississippi Legislative Black Caucus, which is now the second largest African-American state delegation in the country.

My nickname for Charles was "the Fox", partly for his charming ways with the ladies even as he advanced in age, but mostly for his keen political instincts and his ability to moderate even the most heated debates. He was a strong businessman, running the family hair products business for years and being the owner of two television stations and two hotels in his lifetime. Charles was also a pioneer, becoming the first African-American to be a member of the Meridian Chamber of Commerce.

He and I would talk a lot during breaks in the session about anything from politics to civil rights history to being a good father to your children. He took pride in his children and his daughter, who is around my age, will probably win his seat in the special election this June, while his son will take over the family business. He treated me as one of his children as well, giving me encouragement and advice when needed, and always with a smile. My last great memory of him was when I last ran for the U.S. Senate, taking the time during the campaign to stop by his office at the E.F. Young Manufacturing Company, and just talk about life in general and how proud he was of me and Obama.

One of the traditions of the House was to have senior members give prayers or speeches on the last day of the session. Aaron Henry had a special Irish prayer he would say, and then when Dr. Henry left, Charles took up the mantle of saying that prayer. As I say goodbye, I feel it is only fitting that I end this entry with that prayer:

"May the road rise to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face.
May the rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the hollow of His hand."