SUMMERTIME IN AMERICA
Congressman John Robert Lewis, 80, the U.S. Representative from Georgia’s 5th district, since 1987, died on July 17, while battling pancreatic cancer. Lewis was a civil rights leader, a visionary, and a man of great moral authority. His legacy is as a peace warrior and, yet, a fighter for justice. His life’s purpose was laser-focused on equal rights for all.
During his early college days at Fisk University, Lewis was one of the original Freedom Riders. He worked to integrate lunch counters throughout the South in places like South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi. And had the battle scars to prove it. He chaired the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), 1963-1966, which he co-founded in 1960. Throughout his life, he encouraged people to “get into good trouble” like the pursuit of civil rights.
An architect of, and a speaker at, the historic 1963 March on Washington, Lewis, then 23, was one of the “Big Six” leaders of groups who organized the historic event alongside The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. He also was an organizer of the March for Black voting rights across the Edmond Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, Spring 1965 where he was beaten and ended up with a fractured skull. A few months later, the US Voting Rights Bill was enacted. Lewis was active in local Atlanta politics until 1986 when he was elected to Congress where he continued his fight for equal rights and justice for all, far beyond his Atlanta constituency.
In 2013, the Roberts Supreme Court cut the muscle out of the Voting Rights Act, allowing 9 states to change their election laws without prior federal approval. In 2019 Congress passed a voting rights bill to restore protections removed by the Supreme Court in 2013. The Bill was sent to Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell where it collects dust. But perhaps, not for long. Currently, there are national campaigns to memorialize Lewis’ lifelong work: to rename the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama to the John Lewis Bridge and to pass the Voting Rights Bill and call it by Lewis’ name, as well.
“His Truth is Marching On: John Lewis and the Power of Hope,” a biography by Pulitzer Prize winning historian Jon Meachum, is set for publication August 25.
NYS Homes and Community Renewal commits to $100 million COVID Rent Relief Program for NYS tenants with rent arrears, from April 1 to July 31. This one-time rental subsidy will be paid directly to landlords. There is no tenant repay obligation. Application deadline is July 30. Visit HCR.ny.gov/RRP and check with your NYS assemblyman and senator immediately.
TELEVISION: MSNBC’s new highly anticipated prime time show, REIDOUT, hosted by Joy Reid got off to a good start on July 20. The show is 60 Minutes on steroids from a GenX perspective. Reid’s guests were 2020 Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden, the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton; and embattled newsmakers Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot. Mayor Bottoms is under attack by Governor Brian Kemp who wants to enjoin her from talks with the press about her COVID19 mask mandate. Georgia is a COVID hotspot. Chicago Mayor Lightfoot, a former Federal prosecutor, says that Trump’s threat to send uninvited Federal law enforcement camouflaged agents, without IDs, in unmarked cars, to her city like he did in Portland, is unconstitutional. She’s ready to fight. The REIDOUT show airs, Monday to Friday, 7-8 pm EDT.
BOOKS: Presidential historian Jon Meachum has written the definitive John Lewis memoir is at the top of our must-read list. It’s due next month.
The Mary Trump tell-all book, “Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man,” about her infamous Uncle Donald, was published on July 14 and sold more than 950,000 copies that day. The book delves into the most dystopian corners of the Fred Trump household. Clinical psychologist Trump says her uncle cheated to get into UPenn’s Wharton School of Business and that he should get professional psychiatric help to identify his multiple neuroses. She was a guest on the Rachel Maddow MSNBC TV show on 7/16, which pulled in more than a record 5.5 million viewers, besting networks and cable competition.
Three out of eight nominees for the coveted WTO, World Trade Organization, Director General post are Africans, including Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, an economist and global finance expert, who is former Nigerian Finance Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister. A candidate for the World Bank Presidency in 2012, Ngozi Okonjo Iweala is Chairperson of the Board of the Global Alliance of Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI).
Birthday greetings to Leo lions/lionesses: Leah Abraham, Settepani; Anthony Anderson; Angela Bassett; Rev. AR Bernard, Christian Cultural Center; Halle Berry; Charles Blow, NY Times; NYS Senator Leroy Comrie; fashion baron Dapper Dan; Sarah Dash; Ambassador Alice Dear; Laurence Fishburne; Vivica Fox; Barbara Harris, realtor; Michael Horsford; Victoria Horsford; Amari Jacobs; US Rep. Hakeem Jeffries; Magic Johnson; Martha Jones, designer/visual artist; Vernon Jordan; Woodie King Jr., New Federal Theatre; Lois Knox, NJ Perle Mesta; Debra Lee, BET: Mari Moss, CB10 member; Mona Wyre-Manigo, Antigua Progressive Society President; President Barack Obama; Danny Simmons, theater and fine artist; Wesley Snipes; Yvonne Stafford, real estate entrepreneur/author; Professor Yinka Stanford; Professor Keith Taylor; Marlon Wayans; and Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle.
The July 10 WGO column misstated the 2020 HARLEM WEEK celebration, observing its 46th anniversary. Corrected info: HARLEM WEEK 2020 is moving from the streets of Harlem to the virtual world, in the time of COVID-19. HW2020 dates are from August 16 to 23, with the theme, “Movement of the People.” The HW calendar includes: A Great Day in Harlem; A STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) Youth Technology Education and Career Conference and Expo; NYC Eco Development Day; NYC Sr. Citizens Day; and Harlem Day. Visit HarlemWeek.com for full events menu.
MARCHES: The NAACP will host a Virtual March on Washington, August 27/28, the 57th Anniversary of the MARCH, which is the day after the GOP Presidential nomination convention. Visit NAACP.org
Last month, Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network announced its plan for a March on Washington, DC on August 28, the 57th Anniversary of the historic March on Washington, where Dr. Martin Luther King delivered his I HAVE A DREAM speech. The March protests police brutality. The route: Lincoln Circle to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial. Participating organizations include the NAACP, National Urban League, Legal Defense Fund, and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. Visit nationalactionnetwork.org to register for event.
A Harlem –based media/branding specialist, Victoria is reachable at Victoria.firstname.lastname@example.org