“Selma” The Film

SELMA the FilmOn Monday I went to the theater to watch “Selma”, the film that relives the march from Selma to  Montgomery, Alabama. “Selma” recreates the thousands of African American citizen activists who rushed toward violence seeking their right to vote. I too am an African American, old enough to remember that dangerous time in American history when Black citizens in the south could not vote. I was a distant witness far removed from that struggle, living in California with my first husband who was stationed at Travis Air Force Base.

In Doylestown, my family experienced no pain or struggle to vote. Raised by parents who reminded us that civic responsibility included voting, my brothers and sisters continue our parents’ legacy and vote every election cycle. I remember on several occasions walking to our polling place with Daddy and Mom. Back then they voted in the old Doylestown Borough School on Broad and Court Streets, a three-block walk from our home. I went into the booth with them straining my neck to look up and see their fingers flip the levers for their candidates of choice. Then I heard that distinctive “click-click-click” as the levers on those reliable Eisenhower era machines assured that their vote was cast and would be counted.

“Selma” is a powerful narrative showing Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) clashing with each other over their ideological strategy on how to accomplish voting rights for Blacks. There is also a brief appearance of Malcolm X, weeks before his assassination. After the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was signed into law by President Lyndon Baines Johnson, the south abandoned him: Democrats below the Mason-Dixon Line switched to the Republican Party. The prejudice and hatred so prevalent in the 17th, 18th and 19th Century of during slavery returned, this time with 20th and 21st Century discrimination. The whips, clubs, dogs and water cannons have been replaced by electronic voting machines, redistricting, voter-photo ID laws, the termination of early voting and most damaging, court rulings that continue to chip away pieces of the original 1965 Voting Rights Act. The poor and disenfranchised citizens are now included with Blacks as losing the right to vote.

The song ‘Glory’ from “Selma” received the Golden Globes and Critics’ Choice Awards and is nominated in the Academy Awards Best Song category. Although “Selma” is nominated for Best Film by the Academy, Ava DuVernay is sorely missing from the Best Director category. She did a brilliant job pulling together the machinations that brought about the march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. “Selma” is in the theaters just in time for the January 19, 2015 commemoration of Martin Luther King Day of Service. Thousands of Americans will honor his memory through volunteer projects in their communities. If no community service is scheduled near you, Get in your car or put on your walking shoes and make it to the nearest theater showing “Selma”.

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G.O.P.: Keep your laws off women’s bodies

Nina Turner T shirtLatest petition alerts from Daily Kos and Credo hit my email box letting me know that Sen. Mitch McConnell (my favorite turtle) plans to introduce a bill to ban abortions after the 20-week gestation period.

Here we go again. Another old white man playing doctor so he can legislate another reproductive part of a woman’s body.

On November 20, 2012 I published a blog about Ohio State Senator Nina Turner’s protest against her legislative colleagues who were proposing to cut $1.7 million from Planned Parenthood’s budget. At a press conference with a Planned Parenthood representative, Senator Turner wore the T-shirt shown above, transforming the Grand Old Party into a new acronym –“Get Out of my Panties!!!” Turner had denounced the Ohio legislature‘s recent introduction of the “heartbeat bill”–a radical piece of legislation that would ban abortions as soon as a fetal heartbeat is detected.

Ohio Senator Nina Turner is my heroine. She spoke and continues to speak loudly on behalf of women’s reproductive rights–a voice not heard here in Pennsylvania by the pitiful number of women now serving in the hallowed halls of the Harrisburg capitol. Earlier in March 2012, Turner had introduced a Bill in the Ohio Senate proposing that men should be subjected to invasive examinations whenever they seek a prescription for Viagra or any other penile enhancement pill. She was countering a proposal by her male dominated colleagues who had introduced a bill to disallow physician assistants from placing or removing intrauterine devices (IUDs). Checking the 2012 Ohio Senate bill history it appears that her legislation probably died.

Some time ago while chatting with an RN, she shared an incident with me about one of her former male patients, 70 years of age and hospitalized with a heart condition. The nurse described how after administrating the patient’s Physician-ordered medications he had asked her, “Where’s my blue pill?” She replied that there was no ‘blue pill’ on his list of authorized meds. He became so insistent that she checked with his doctor who told her the ‘blue pill’ was Viagra. Doctor then added, “His 50-year old girlfriend is expected in an hour. Give him the pill.”

I’m bewildered: television commercials for penile enhancement drugs always include a caution about health side effects, yet there was a physician allowing his patient to ingest Viagra. And yet, physicians are denied the right to assist women with choices that effect the health or financial well being of their bodies.

Takin’ it to the Court

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December 2014 marked two years of my support for the Thorpe First Nation Family Farm located near Newtown in Bucks County. As “Granny” I wrote four posts about the struggles confronting this 145 acre non-certified organic farm currently owned by Dale and Renee Thorpe. Dale, a distant relative of Olympian Jim Thorpe and Daniel Boone is the 5th generation of Thorpe’s to work this land. At the end of 2012 when learning that the farm was in danger of being lost, nearly a hundred citizens–dozens of them Native Americans along with farmland advocates, banded together to Save the Thorpe Farm. We became very public with letters to newspapers, holding monthly Native American events at the Farm, organizing a protest march in front of the bank that was threatening foreclosure and making public comments at Township meetings. See link to public comments at the March 6, 2013 Upper Makefield Township meeting:

http://uppermakefield.pegcentral.com/player.php?video=db5c9abbca3d5f715c5c66a6aa908ec3.

Over seven years ago the Thorpe’s purchased the farm from Dale’s cousin. The outbuildings were in poor condition but the Thorpe’s, so passionate about farming, were and remain determined to transform this diamond in the rough into a farm equal or better than neighboring farms in their area. A major resource of their land is the rich soil for growing crops. In addition with an abundance of underground water, for years before and since Dale and Renee bought the farm, developers and other special interest groups were sniffing at the gate. The farm’s tumbledown condition was cause for the local municipality, Upper Makefield Township to file numerous code violations against the property. It should be noted that surrounding the Thorpe farm are homes large enough to board a baseball team. Many of these home owners dislike the farm spoiling the view from their windows.

Then in the fall of 2012, just like toast landing butter-side down on the kitchen floor, disastrous events strike the farm:

1) On October 13 a suspicious fire destroys the barn filled with machinery and tools; 2) Then on October 30 Hurricane Sandy rips the roof off the farm’s Market, taking with it some of the galvanized steel roof on the hay barn that is attached to the Market; 3) With little revenues to maintain the farm, the mortgage holder–Susquehanna Bank–threatens to foreclose on the farm.

Last summer Bankruptcy hearings were held and for now the wolves have been blocked at the gate.

Enough already with the bank and the township and the neighbors! The Thorpe’s are takin’ it to the Court. On October 28, 2014, Robert T. Vance Jr. attorney for the Thorpe’s, filed a Civil Rights lawsuit in the Philadelphia Office of the Pennsylvania District Court.

Thorpe et al v. UPPER MAKEFIELD TOWNSHIP et al.Case Number: 2:2014cv06154.

The document numbers over a hundred pages with a plethora of exhibits. It’s not over yet.

Always remember: No Farms No Food.