On Passover, we Jews recount our ancestors' story of their slavery in Egypt and their struggles to gain freedom from the Egyptians. We tell this story every single year so that it is never forgotten and so our children hear the story of our struggle for freedom and that they must tell their children.

What you recounted today, HCR is the story of the struggle for voting rights in the south. Although I lived through all those terrible days - and I will never forget them - the story must be told over and over again. Children must learn this important history and their parents must be reminded. Every generation must hear this story!

The right to vote is precious; Black people and their supporters shed their blood for this right. And now is it our job to remind Congress to safeguard that precious right! Thank for HCR for retelling the story and being in Selma today representing us.

Expand full comment

Very moving. Our hearts are heavy for Ukraine, yet each day it is still hard to believe we continue to have to struggle mightily for voting rights in this country. In each case, the alternatives prevent us from giving up. Democracy must win out.

Expand full comment

I was in NC when Bloody Sunday happened. I was 11 years old. This stands out as much in my mind as the three girls who were victims of a bomb set by the KKK, the murders of the 3 civil rights workers, George Wallace trying to physically block 2 black students from entering a school. The assassinations of JFK, MLK, and RFK, were so devastating and very scary. My 7th grade teacher laid her head on her desk and sobbed as the news of JFK was announced over the loud speaker. We were told to go home for the rest of the day. We lived within walking distance of the school and so as I gathered up my books and started walking home, kids (stupid boys) yelled out “Great, that nigger lover is dead!”. I was mortified! I ran home as fast as I could and locked myself in the bathroom for hours. Schools in NC did not integrate until 1964 and up until that age, every person I went to school with was lily white, like me. The only exception was that I was the only Jewish kid in that junior high. I felt sick to my stomach knowing how persecution worked, even at that age. The not-so-funny thing is, I am still sick to my stomach. Things have progressed somewhat, but just not enough. Knowing that those in the southern region espouse to “the South shall rise again” makes me regurgitate. I am happy we have Harris as our VP and as Heather pointed our in her interview with Biden, he has the most diverse cabinet and staff we have ever seen. Let’s keep it that way!

Expand full comment

Naming the Baby

Yesenia Montilla

I couldn’t bring myself

to read through Breonna’s social

media but some say she believed 2020

would be her year. She even

imagined a baby growing steady

in her belly. I imagine her choosing

the baby’s name with care. Taking

all the months she had to name it

something like Pearl or V or Cheryl

There are a million baby names

to choose from the good book

but what do you name

the baby that never would be

in the year that should’ve been

yours? Do you name her

Revolution? Do you name her

A World Screaming? Do you

name her Fire? Let her burn

the house down—

Copyright © 2021 by Yesenia Montilla. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on February 24, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

Yesenia Montilla is the author of The Pink Box (Aquarius Press, 2015). A 2014 Cantomundo Fellow, she lives in New York City.

“I haven’t been able to stop thinking about Breonna Taylor, the injustice of it all. She was 26 years old, her whole life was before her. This poem was written I think to never forget her, to make sure no one else does either, and maybe too, this poem is a vessel to contain my rage.”

—Yesenia Montilla

Trouble of the World

Mahalia Jackson


Expand full comment
Mar 7, 2022·edited Mar 7, 2022

Today, I canvassed my neighborhood for John Fetterman, the PA Lt Governor to be put on the primary ballot for the PA Senate race. I had canvassed the neighborhood in 2018 for other candidates and got roughly 60 signatures; this time, less than half that. There were so many people who 1) refused to answer the door, 2) who are registered Democrats determined not to let Democrats ruin this country, or 3) HAD NO CLUE WHO JOHN FETTERMAN IS! John Fetterman stands 6’9”, is shaved bald, and it the Lt Governor for cripe’s sake! He isn’t your in the weeds local politician, or some outsider! I think we all have reason to worry, between the Fox propaganda machine making everybody angry ALL THE DANG TIME, to the folks who don’t get what is so important about getting involved in civic duty and politics.

Expand full comment

It's amazing to me how close we made it to achieving the vision of many in the 60's. I was not even a child of that era... hell, I am basically a Reagan-baby. But I saw what they DID in that time and when it seemed that the whole Country (well, most of it) was behind getting behind equal rights...voting rights in particular... Other issues took center stage for another decade but it seems to me that the zeitgeist from the 60's never made it to the 80's, and if it did it was killed then or the beginning of its end was initiated...

The whole concept of 'voter fraud' seems to be a manufactured argument in most ways, and one that is hard to argue since it is couched in terms of "protecting" America, but I don't think anyone can argue that the issue is not an issue. The examples of it are at best, one-off's. Not wide-spread and certainly not enough to even throw a local election...SO. If you ARE combatting a problem; shouldn't there BE a problem?! Even if EVERY dead person and felon voted (illegally) it would not sway a single outcome in terms of most races... but it is a sexy talking-point.

Here in Minnesota the GOP is running on a couple of issues, but strangely one of the first-best dog whistles is to get a, "voter ID," bill out right away... Our State has one of the highest and best turnouts in the COUNTRY and with a fraud-factor of basically zero... but the dog-whistle is being blown loud enough for me to hear it...and I'm mostly-deaf...it is whistle to the folks who think that black people, brown people, felons, and others are going to somehow change the outcome that good white people intend and because of THEIR votes, these good people will lose to...unqualified?... people... such drama and such BS.

We have a fantastic system here in the Country and certainly in Minnesota. IF evidence suggested that voter-fraud was an issue WE would have caught it. Efforts to make voting more difficult based on concerns of fraud are the reddest of herrings and thus we must look to another rationale for the desire to make voting more difficult. Perhaps because of WHO doesn't vote when it is made more difficult.

Selma was almost 60 years ago. Many many people fought and died for simple suffrage and WON. Yet we have watched that get eroded away from the folks that won in incremental hits and court decisions. This is being taken away from all of us and it is not cool. I have no answers or even suggestions, but I'm very angry that this is our now. It should not be our future.

Expand full comment

Switch white and black and imagine how you would feel. Our history of racism is both tragic and immoral.

Expand full comment

Justice must prevail for black and minority voters. The laws passed by the GOP in the 19 states must be dismantled and abolished before all black voices are suppressed by racist bigots. I do so hope that President Biden will "continue promote voting access through last year’s executive order and with the help of the Department of Justice," Congress must pass the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act! We need to set a letter campaign in motion. I will write mine first thing in the morning.

Heather, this letter is so passionate and heartrending! Thank you for trying it in with Ukraine so beautifully through VP Harris's words.

"In Selma today, Vice President Harris told the people gathered: ''Today, the eyes of the world are on Ukraine, and the brave people who are fighting to protect their country and their democracy. And, their bravery is a reminder that freedom and democracy can never be taken for granted by any of us.'"

Expand full comment

Heather, thank you for reminding us that we have a long, long way to go to fulfill Dr King's Dream. Sleep well.

Expand full comment

All *that*. And all it took was 40 years of racist right wing religious extremist grass roots and astro turf organizing to take control of the Republican party and dominate every branch and every level of government. So they could gut civil right protections and institute racist, sexist, homophobic, and xenophobic laws.

They are having a bit of cognitive dissonance right now - Putin is the great white hope of white supremacism in Europe and the USA but his Ukrainian victims look *just like us*. The Putin narrative is threading itself through other antidemocratic and antiDemocratic preoccupations and obsessions across the American political spectrum. While the Ukrainians are in a race against time to stay alive, we are in a race against time to support our Democratic administration in helping them without causing greater harm.

It should be a lesson to those in the American Center and Left, who indulge in purity test vote splitting or purer than thou refusal to vote - there is a lot to lose. Look at how Black citizens put their lives on the line took achieve civil rights protections. Look at how the Ukrainian people are fighting to the death to protect their fledgling democracy. All we have to do is put our shared goals above our personal feelings and unite for Democratic candidates and platforms. Party and partisanship are not dirty words, it is how get things done. For better, or for worse.

Expand full comment

That the US Supreme Court ripped the guts from the Voting Rights Act saying that you the issue of race was then settled and that fairness in voting reigned throughout the land. It wasn’t 30 seconds later that Republican led legislatures began rolling out their pre-written bills circumscribing voting rights and the legislative onslaught hasn’t slowed down one whit. This time though, their proposals go several steps further into the insidious realm of VOTER NULLIFICATION. Unfortunately, I hold little hope that this current, activist, conservative Supreme Court will put a stop to any of this nasty legislation. They have already proved themselves capable of overturning established precedent.

Expand full comment

I am your biggest fan, but I believe that any column written on voting rights in America must link SCOTUS to the efforts of Southern racists who tried to suppress black voting rights the old fashioned way in the early 60s. In Justice Kagan's words in the Arizona case, we are now in a "law free zone" on voting rights.

When John Roberts was in Reagan's Justice Department in the early 80s, he tried to get DOJ to gut the Voting Rights Act then, arguing "It should not be easy to vote." John Roberts is probably the smartest politician in Washington. He eventually achieved his goal of emasculating the Voting Rights Act.

John Roberts is probably the smartest politician in Washington today. But events have overtaken him and he has lost control of his Court. It is now the Thomas Court.

The first rule of politics is that you have to define your adversary.

It is high time that we began to call out John Roberts and Sam Alito for the reactionaries that they truly are. The vision of a multi-racial, multi-cultural America is anathema to them.

Give me Bull Connor any day. It's a helluva lot easier to define him.

Expand full comment

The forces arrayed across the globe to prevent the People from exercising their human right of self-determination are vast and determined.

Putin’s war is different only in kind from the war being waged in State Houses, in Congress, and on the Supreme Court, by the Radical Right.

Their method, however, is the same – what they cannot accomplish by force of truthful argument, they will attempt first by deception, intimidation, and perversion of the very system they claim to support; but ultimately, if those efforts fail, they will resort to the tools of coercion and death.

We are blessed to have the right President to lead at this perilous time, and the wind of history is at our backs: It is our challenge to persevere.

Expand full comment

We must persevere

Expand full comment

This is a story that must be told in every school across America. Republican CRT politics are nothing less than another insidious form of the beatings and killings that southern police, Klan, white supremacists and their politician facilitators did from.the end of the Civil War through the Civil Rights Movement.

The new documentary "Lincoln's Dilemma" includes the massacre at Fort Pillow where Confederate soldiers overtook a Union fort which a large number of black soldiers (former slaves) defended. The Confederates, so enraged that former slaves were fighting against them for their freedom, executed every black soldier within sight after they had surrendered and put down their guns. Republicans want to excise American history of every uncomfortable story that reminds us of how hideous and vicious white Americans have and can be, just as Putin has banned all reports of his hideous and vicious assault on the Ukrainian people. As the Russian invasion continues, American politicians and media stars who just a week ago still supported Putin over our own nation are scrambling to rewrite their pro Putin statements and activities out of American history. Accurate accounts of history must be preserved and taught well.

Expand full comment