I love voting. Every time I go into the booth, I see little girl me, pigtails and all, plaid skirt, white blouse and green sweater, part of my Catholic school uniform. Most of my relatives were Democrats, though my grandmother voted Republican a time or two because "Lincoln freed the slaves." In 1960, I had the privilege of pulling the lever to elect John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the candidate that the nuns at Immaculate Conception Elementary School rhapsodized over.
On the way back from the polls, my mom told me that Negroes (as we were called then) didn't always get to vote, and she shared facts about grandfather clauses and poll taxes. I'll never forget that moment, which may have sown the seeds of my activism. Indeed, when I went to school the next day, and the nun asked if everyone's parent had voted, I took the opportunity to share that Negroes did not always get to vote. I was sent home with a note at the end of the day, and got an admonition from my mom about keeping my big mouth shut. I guess I didn't learn my lesson.
When I stepped onto the campus of Morehouse College at the end of my junior year of high school in Memphis, I was faced with many of the challenges that plague the typical teenager seeking guidance on their post-secondary destination: nervousness, excitement and an insatiable sense of curiosity.
I wanted to go to a place that not only fed my mind, but also developed me into a whole person; a man who would leave with a heightened awareness of the world and with a burning desire to change it for the better. In high school, I was exposed to Morehouse Men who were doing great things in the community. They stood for something larger than themselves and they embodied the term "servant-leader".
I entered Morehouse as a freshman in the fall of 2011. During the week of New Student Orientation "NSO" – a week-long orientation for incoming freshmen – I realized that Morehouse was the place for me and that by the end of this journey, I would be a changed man.
You would think that news of a high school student from a family of African immigrants getting accepted into all eight Ivy League universities would be met with universal celebration. If you thought that, think again.
First the news:
In the next month, Kwasi Enin must make a tough decision: Which of the eight Ivy League universities should he attend this fall?
"Until the killing of black men, black mothers' sons, becomes as important to the rest of the country as the killing of a white mother's son – we who believe in freedom cannot rest until this happens."
– Ella Baker
The quote above is from Ella Baker 50 years ago, and like so much about this visionary civil rights leader it is still just as relevant today. She was talking about the murders of Civil Rights Movement workers James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner, who disappeared together in Mississippi in June 1964. Chaney was black, and Goodman and Schwerner were white.
Ella Baker was an outspoken warrior against injustice and inequality her entire life, and always, always unwilling to rest. Her words continue to be a rallying cry for all of us who believe our nation still does not see and value black and white children's lives the same way.
For the second time since his tragic demise, Michael Jackson is returning from the hereafter.
Not in the literal sense, of course. Michael's latest revival is that time-honored tradition, prized by record companies and estates riven by family feuds over cash, if not debt (for the record, Jackson's Herculean personal debts were in fact paid off more than a year ago). The King of Pop will come back to us via "Xscape," his latest posthumous release – or, according to The Rolling Stone's hair-splitting definition, "the first posthumous album of new music."
Depending on who you ask and how they define a new album, "Xscape" will be Jackson's third musical effort released in the wake of his death. Executive producer and music legend L.A. Reid, who literally raided Michael's music vaults to curate songs where his vocals were completed, will partner with hip-hop wunderkind Timbaland and a host of other artists to give the new music a "fresh, contemporary sound."
"Are we ready for Mammy's story?" is a loaded question, with no easy answer.
But it's a question that Simon & Schuster has prompted with the announcement that it will publish a "Gone With the Wind" prequel, "Ruth's Journey," through its Atria imprint, focusing on Mammy, the role in the 1939 film version of the book for which Hattie McDaniel became the first-ever African-American Oscar winner.
A post suggesting movie rights from the black film-focused Indiewire blog Shadow and Act garnered a few comments, including Miles Ellison's "More black servant porn. The renaissance continues. Yay."
Fannie Lou Hamer was a poor black woman with a sixth-grade education who spent much of her life working in the cotton fields. Her legacy, however, demonstrates that each of us has an important voice and role to play in our democracy, and as we near the end of Women's History Month, it is a mighty reminder of the real power African-American women have in blazing the path toward true political equity and leadership.
Activist Hamer showed up at the 1964 Democratic National Convention as a member of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, intent on securing voting rights for African-American people. Her formidable presence and insistence that she, too, deserved a seat at the decision-makers' table rattled the likes of President Lyndon B. Johnson and Sen. Hubert Humphrey and threatened their bid to secure the Democratic Party's nomination for the presidential ticket.
Fifty years later, African-American women are among the country's most politically active citizens. In 2012, 70 percent of eligible African-American female voters went to the polls, providing the highest rate of voter turnout for any group. This statistic highlights African-American women's ability to be defining factors in election outcomes. But despite this growing power, African-American women's electoral heft is not translating into legislation and policies that address their concerns.