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Happy National Voter Registration Day

Tuesday, September 24th, 2013

Photo Courtesy of Color Lines

Photo Courtesy of Color Lines
Early Voters in Miami

Tuesday, September 24, 2013 is National Voter Registration Day.  And it’s just as important today as it was last year during the 2012 election.  There is not a Presidential election this year but there are many races in the state and local levels throughout the country.  And perhaps, today is even more important than last year.  This year, the do nothing Republican Congress held hostage by the Tea Party faction has threatened to shut down the federal government if Obama Care ( “The Affordable Care Act”) is not defunded.  And they just voted to severely slash benefits for food stamps.  We cannot expect the GOP controlled Congress to act on the country’s behalf. That has been shown time and time again.  The only thing we can do is get enough registered voters to vote them out.  And that begins today with National Voter Registration Day.

Many organizations are trying to get the word out including Our Time.org and Voto Latino with voter registration rallies

Although there is no presidential election in 2013, there are still 1,500 important statewide and local races as well as ballot initiatives that will be decided in November. It’s critical you make your voice heard in them.   Go to  National voter Registration Day.org  for more information and to register to vote.

 

And if you’re not living in one of these election areas, but are one of the millions of Americans who have turned 18, know someone who has turned 18, moved, or didn’t vote in 2012, now is the time to register  and tweet with #celebrateNVRD.  Get the word out.

 

 

Happy National Voter Registration Day!!!

From 50th Anniversary March on Washington to Syria

Sunday, September 1st, 2013

Signing of the 1964 Civil Rights Act

Signing of the 1964 Civil Rights Act

On Saturday, August 31, just three days after President Obama spoke at the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington and Dr. King’s dream speech, President Obama called for military strikes on Syria, laying out the case for targeted military action against the Syrian regime.

As the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington called for Americans to continue the fight for the unfinished business of Dr. King’s dream, a starting point is questioning America’s continued quick stance to move on military intervention and its slow moving or stalled stance for intervention on economic equality for all Americans.

Immediately before Dr. King’s untimely death on April 4, 1968, he was meeting with Memphis sanitation workers to fight for a fair living wage. He was also speaking out against the Vietnam War, calling for an end to the war. And as the March on Washington speeches were ending on August 28, 2013, the following day, there were food service worker strikes from tens of thousands of workers in various cities across the country from Anaheim, California to New York City, protesting for a living wage to raise the minimum wage.  And apparently during the same time period, there were meetings between President Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry and others discussing the potential military  strikes in Syria.

Many food service and lower paid workers are dependent on some form of government assistance, including food stamps, even if working a 40 hour week, due to low wages. The average food service worker makes $7.25. Workers want the minimum wage to increase to $15 an hour. And yet the corporations who  employ them and pay low wages complain that they would not make enough profit if wages were increased. As  even as we celebrate, Labor Day, many working American employees do not enjoy the benefit.

Better education and a college degree is crucial but the increased costs of higher education and increased tightening of  credit qualifications for federal parent’s loans decreases the ability of many students to obtain a college education.  Since 2012, as many as 128,000 students from historically black colleges and universities have had to drop out of college with no clear path to returning due to inability to obtain these loans. On August 1, Congressional Black Caucus Chair Marcia Fudge (D. OH) wrote on behalf of the Congressional Black Caucus to the Department of Education to suspend the practice and “stop the bleeding”.

A quality education begins long before college in pre-school.  The Head Start program prepared 1 million low income children up to age 5 for school last year while assisting parents with social services. And with the sequester cuts, Head Start has cut 57,000 children this current school year. These are the largest cuts since the program began in 1965, according to PEW research.

And yet, without an education, under employment and unemployment runs rampant. The unemployment rate for African Americans is higher today as it was 50 years ago. The rate in 1963 was 10.90% for blacks.The current  black unemployment rate  in 2013 is 12.6%.     27.6%  of black households are in poverty which is three times that of white households, according to PEW research. The gap or difference between black versus white unemployment hasn’t changed in 50 years. As many social gains have been made since 1963, African Americans can sit at the lunch counters and restaurants today but many cannot afford to do so.

Dr. King knew that war was an enemy of the poor. And as Tupac Shakur once said, “ they have money for war but can’t feed the poor”.  With all that is broken within our current economic system, adding more U.S. debt for military intervention and all the while  decreasing funds for education, jobs, job training, Head Start, Food Stamps, government assistance to the poor, seems the perfect place to continue to fight for Dr. King’s dream in the 21st century.

Debbie Hines is a trial lawyer, former prosecutor, speaker and founder of LegalSpeaks.  She is frequently seen in the media as a legal analyst for  RT America,  CBS, NBC and Fox affiliates,  and  Arise America. She also contributes articles to the Huffington Post and Women’s Media Center. Her opinion pieces have appeared in the Baltimore Sun, Washington Post, Baltimore Afro American and CNN.