Isaac Hayes’ Homegoing service

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Hat Tip:  By Jody Callahan, Memphis Commercial Appeal

A collection of musicians, politicians, celebrities and activists said goodbye to Isaac Hayes in a three-hour tribute at Hope Presbyterian Church today.

Hayes died Aug. 10 after suffering a stroke. He would have turned 66 Wednesday.

Stax veteran William Bell, serving as host, introduced Revs. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, who began the stream of speeches and anecdotes.

Next came noted saxophonist Kirk Whalum, performing Eric Clapton’s “Tears in Heaven,” accompanied by a guitarist.

Although most of those speaking references Hayes’ musical and humanitarian efforts, several made pointed references to Hayes’ beliefs as a Scientologist. Many of the celebrities at Hope were Scientologists.

U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Memphis) made the first reference to Scientology, adding that Tom Cruise, also a member of that organization, was in Memphis at a private memorial Sunday to pay his respects.

Memphis filmmaker Craig Brewer spoke about Hayes’ movie career, referencing “Escape from New York” and “Truck Turner,” and talked about the impact Hayes had on Memphis music.

“I have a 7-year-old and a 6-month-old daughter, and rest assured, they’ll be raised on ‘Hot Buttered Soul’,” Brewer said.

A montage of clips from Hayes’ movie and television career ended with a poignant clip featuring Hayes and Bernie Mac in a promotion for Mac’s Fox sitcom. Mac died at age 50 one day before Hayes. They star together, along with Samuel L. Jackson, in the upcoming movie, “Soul Men.”

Actress Anne Archer (“Fatal Attraction,” “Patriot Games”) read a quote from Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. She’s a member of the group.

The back of the program handed to visitors as they entered has a quote from Hubbard: “A culture is only as great as it’s dreams, and it’s dreams are dreamed by artists.”

Another Scientologist, actress Kelly Preston (co-star of “Jerry Maguire” and wife of John Travolta), reminisced about Hayes and a Scientology-backed educational program he helped introduce into some schools.

Stax veteran Al Bell remembered his contribution to the title of Hayes’ landmark record. In Jamaica, a bottle of “hot buttered rum” caught his eye and he knew the term was perfect for Hayes’ sound. “I’m going to moss him terribly. I already do,” Bell said.

Jazz musician Chick Corea (piano) and noted film composer Mark Isham (trumpet) played a piece they dedicated to Hayes. Then Hayes’ daughter, Veronica, told the crowd, “We will persevere and keep my father’s legacy going.”

David Porter, Hayes’ songwriting partner for more than 40 years, recognized all the Stax veterans in the audience, as well as the star of the movie “Shaft,” Richard Roundtree. He also pointed out Public Enemy founder Chuck D and renowned bassist Bootsy Collins.

Demonizing Barack: The enduring racist double standard

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(Obama sets the record straight on Race, Religion, and his Pastor)

Having absorbed all of the calumny, reprobation, and histrionics I can stand regarding Barack Obama, Trinity United Church of Christ and its former Senior Pastor, Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright, I can be silent no more.

Having failed to make the manufactured Farrakhan smear stick, Obama’s tormentors have succeeded in distorting Jeremiah Wright into his horrifyingly racist doppelganger.

First, let me say that Barack Obama’s “denunciation” of some of Dr. Wright’s justifiable indignation about America’s hypocrisy regarding race, war, and Hillary Clinton, left a bad taste in my mouth, a very bad taste indeed.

Obama, the Junior Senator from Illinois, has labored mightily to run a campaign which focuses on that which unites rather than that which divides because it is a reflection of the way he has lived his life and made his career as an organizer, lawyer, state legislator, senator, and presidential candidate. He hasn’t always met that goal. His unequivocal support of Israel’s indiscriminate bombing of innocent Lebanese civilians in 2006 and his failure to adequately address the Clinton campaign’s deliberate and repeated attempts to racially polarize Democrats reflect his craven accommodations to America’s racial hypocrisy.

A sistah named Cassandra from Michigan emailed me saying, “For the first time I don’t care whether or not he wins if he must shed his spirituality and dilute his soul to neutralize the stench and sting of truth that so many White Americans refuse to acknowledge…The hypocrisy and denial of how racism is destroying the integrity of working class and poor American blacks, whites, Latinos, Arabs and Asians is the seam that is dividing and will eventually shred the Democratic Party.”

Americans talk a good game, but in the end, as Jesse Jackson before him, he is being held to a racist double standard that previous white Presidents and Presidential Candidates were not held too.

Barack Obama’s religious affiliation with Trinity United Church of Christ is an affirmation of his own bi-racial heritage as the son of a Kenyan and white Kansan. To say that his membership in the United Church of Christ, a predominantly white denomination created in 1957 from the Congregational Christian Church and the Evangelical Reform Church is somehow suspect or racist is both ludicrous and false.

Trinity United Church of Christ is both integrated and welcoming of all people-including gays and lesbians. When Hillary Clinton’s denomination, the United Methodist Church, sent conflicting signals over the issue of homosexuality and restricting the role of gay clergy and the ability of gay congregants to have their unions blessed in the Methodist Church, the United Church of Christ went in the opposite direction in affirming its covenant with gay clergy and parishioners. Years before then, Wright established an AIDS ministry and a singles ministry for gay and lesbian congregants.

Lisa Miller, writing in Newsweek said, “As a leader, Wright defied convention at every turn. In an interview with the Chicago Tribune last year, he recalled a time during the 1970s when the UCC decided to ordain gay and lesbian clergy. At its annual meeting, sensitive to the historic discomfort some blacks have with homosexuality, gay leaders reached out to black pastors.”

“At that session, Wright heard the testimony of a gay Christian and, he said, he had a conversion experience on gay rights. He started one of the first AIDS ministries on the South Side and a singles group for Trinity gays and lesbians—a subject that still rankles some of the more conservative Trinity members, says Dwight Hopkins, a theology professor at the University of Chicago and a church member.”

Given the hatred and venom spewed forth in too many black pulpits toward black gays and lesbians, Dr. Wright stands out as enlightened, inclusive, and welcoming. But he would have to be in order to grow the church from 80 to 8000 members in three decades. Dr. Wright is the opposite from the bitter, angry, and bigoted portrait the corporate media has fashioned.

Come on, people. Do you really believe that a “black racist” would choose a 90% white denomination in which to plant his flag or are you just some kind of a damn moron engaged in a typical form of racist projection. I defy anyone to name one integrated, gay-friendly, mainline, protestant, predominately African American congregation you’ve ever stepped foot in where you’ve experienced hatred. I know damn well that nobody can because there is no such thing. Are you seriously scared of a moderate, bi-racial politician who bends over backwards to be inclusive, mainstream and non-threatening? Please.

Don’t fall for the right-wing attack campaign launched by Fox News and its corporate mimics.

Obama’s rise to prominence has been swift but it is not unlike that of another little known state politician who rose to prominence over thirty years ago, Jimmy Carter. Carter, you’ll recall was a born-again Baptist layman who also made common cause with all people regardless of race, religion, or background in order to heal the nation after Watergate. During the first months of his presidency in 1977, his home congregation, the Plains Baptist Church, of Plains, GA, forced out Pastor Bruce Edwards, because he sought, with the support of the President, to integrate the church.

During the waning days of the Presidential campaign, a black minister and “publicity seeker,” Rev. Clennon King, challenged the official policy of the church forbidding “Negroes and other civil rights agitators,” from membership. I find no record of the firestorm of criticism we see regarding Barack Obama and Jeremiah Wright. Nobody called on him to resign his membership or denounce the racially prejudiced people with whom he had lived his entire life.

Plotting a middle ground, the church, following Carter’s lead, denied Rev. King membership. The final straw, however, came after Pastor Edwards and his wife adopted a half-Hawaiian child. According to the President’s brother Billy, it was bad enough that the pastor was a liberal integrationist, but adopting the “tan-skinned” child was “99 per cent of the preacher’s problem,” wrote Margaret Montagno in Newsweek.

The Plains Baptist Church subsequently changed its policy in word, but not in deed. Nicholas King, writing in the New Republic said, “The ‘opening’ of the Plains Baptist Church was achieved last fall under the leadership of the Carter family…But there was opposition to the opening from the church’s old guard, and the only black face in the congregation the Sunday Jimmy Carter first returned to Plains as President belonged to a Secret Service man.” After he left the presidency, Jimmy Carter left the church and joined with former Plains Baptist Church members at Maranatha Baptist Church. The small congregation of 135 opens its doors to 12,000 visitors a year to hear the President teach Sunday School. A few years ago, Carter also left the hopelessly right-wing Southern Baptist Convention.

According to the Los Angeles Times, during the 1980 presidential campaign, in the midst of a conservative tide taking over the Southern Baptist Convention, the President of the Southern Baptist Convention, Bailey Smith, proclaimed, “God almighty does not hear the prayer of a Jew.” Again, nothing was heard from the media calling on President Carter to renounce the convention of which he was a member or for then Governor Ronald Reagan, who had addressed the same gathering of evangelicals in Dallas that same day to renounce the divisive and anti-Semitic statement of a right-wing supporter. The Washington Post covered the story on page F10 on September 26, 1980. The New York Times covered the story on three occasions and A 18 was the closet it came.

Lastly, can anybody recount for me the media firestorm over Pat Robertson’s endorsement of Rudy Giuliani. Refresh my memory about how many times the clip of the Religious Broadcaster and Baptist Minister advocating the assassination of the president of Venezuela, a supplier of oil to the United States, was run on Fox News and the rest of the corporate media in denunciation of Giuliani. How many times did they run the clip of Robertson agreeing with Jerry Falwell about the proper blame for 9/11 on abortions and gays and lesbians in a manner meant to accuse Giuliani of intolerance?

Today, nothing is materially different for the Hawaiian bred Barack Obama than it was for the half-Hawaiian son of Jimmy Carter’s Pastor. America, like Plains Baptist Church, has the same problem and like Jeremiah Wright has pointed out eloquently for thirty-six years as Pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ, race is 99 per cent of it.

Hillary’s Handkerchief Heads: Call Them Out

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Rep. Corrine Brown (D-Fla.)
Del. Donna Christensen (D-V.I.)
Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.)
Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.)
Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.)
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas)
Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.)
Rep. Kendrick Meek (D-Fla.)
Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.)
Rep. Donald Payne (D-N.J.)
Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.)
Rep. Laura Richardson (D-Calif.)
Rep. David Scott (D-Ga.)
Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-N.Y.)
Rep. Stephanie Tubbs-Jones (D-Ohio)
Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.)
Rep. Diane Watson (D-Calif.)

If any of the listed Negro members of Congress supporting Hillary belongs to you, they need to hear a word from the people. I propose the following letter.

Dear Handkerchief Head:

You have been unconscionably silent in the face of Bill Clinton’s racially divisive tactics on behalf of Senator Clinton’s presidential campaign. I can only surmise from your silence that you either approve of Bill Clinton’s tactics or are too gutless to publicly register your opposition. Whatever the case may be, I have taken the liberty of writing to formally register my unbridled indignation and to withdraw whatever support I may have given to your re-election campaign.

Pretending that the President’s comments were somehow taken out of context or don’t mean what they plainly imply simply will not do. Burying your head in the sand or defending the indefensible won’t do either. It’s time to do-you know what-or get off the pot. You can delay addressing these comments if you want to, but you do so at your peril.

The Sunday morning talk shows were universally caustic against the Clintons.

On “Meet the Press,” Byron York of the right-wing National Review said, “You know, I don’t think you can overstate the amount of, of anger in–created in Democrats by Bill Clinton’s tactics. I mean, they were very, very unhappy with him. I was talking to a Democratic strategist the other day who said, “My wife just got in the car. She’s driving to South Carolina to volunteer for Obama.” They were that angry at what Clinton had done. And he also said, you know, Clinton is trying to turn him into Jesse Jackson. And sure enough, after Obama wins big, what does Bill Clinton say about it? “Well, you know, Jesse Jackson won here, too.”

Neo-Con Fox News Contributor and NY Times Columnist Bill Kristol wrote, “What do Jesse Jackson’s victories two decades ago have to do with this year’s Obama-Clinton race? The Obama campaign is nothing like Jackson’s. Obama isn’t running on Jackson-like themes. Obama rarely refers to Jackson.”

 

“Clinton’s comment alludes to one thing, and to one thing only: Jackson and Obama are both black candidates. The silent premise of Clinton’s comment is that Obama’s victory in South Carolina doesn’t really count. Or, at least, Clinton is suggesting, it doesn’t mean any more than Jackson’s did.”

“But of course—as Clinton knows very well—Jesse Jackson didn’t win (almost all-white) Iowa.  He didn’t come within a couple of points of prevailing in (almost all-white) New Hampshire.  Nor did he, as Obama did carry rural Nevada. And Saturday, in South Carolina, even after Bill Clinton tried to turn Obama into Jackson, Hillary defeated Obama by just three to two among white voters. So Bill Clinton has been playing the race card, and doing so clumsily.  But why is he playing any cards.?

On “Meet the Press,” Chuck Todd, NBC News Political Director, provides a blunt answer to Kristol’s  rhetorical question,  “But, you know, it does feel like, though, that what Bill Clinton is doing is he reads a poll, and he said, “OK, when am—how am I going to get her to 51 percent.  OK. We’ve got to figure out how to drive white men away from Barack Obama. We’ve got to figure out how to drive Latinos away from Barack Obama.” That’s what works on February 5th.  And, you know, he may not ever say that, but it feels like it’s a very tactical thing that they’ve done, and I think that’s what, you know, is going to offend the Beltway corridor, the Amtrak corridor, and, and you’re seeing a lot of, sort of, the New York and Washington Democrats who are probably going to keep coming out against Clinton on this…”

Some of us were raised to believe that members of the Congressional Black Caucus were among the best Black public servants in the country.  Your actions belie that notion and constitute a slap in the face to those that came before you in the Reconstruction era.  They fought valiantly for a seat at the table for African Americans before they were disenfranchised through the white supremacist tactics of mob violence, grandfather clauses, literacy tests, and poll taxes. 

Continuing to languish on the Clinton plantation in light of these racially divisive tactics is a betrayal of the progressive ideals of the Democratic Party and to the many unsung heroes of the civil rights movement who fought to make America a functioning and pluralistic democracy.  As for me, I am through with the Clintons and I am too through with you.

Sincerely,

Skeptical Brotha, a Negro who has some damn self-respect.



 

Jacqueline Jackson cuts endorsement ad for Hillary Clinton

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South Carolina Hotline is reporting that Mrs. Jacqueline Jackson, independent of her husband and son, has endorsed Senator Hillary Clinton and has cut a Radio ad for her. The text of the ad is below:

JACKSON: This is Jacqueline Jackson. My husband, Rev. Jesse Jackson, is a native of South Carolina. Let me tell you why I decided to support Hillary Clinton for President. As a mother and a grandmother, I know that raising children begins and ends at home. It begins with a loving family that builds esteem. It ends with a woman’ touch that inspires children to make their dreams a reality. That’s why this election is so important. It is also why I believe Hillary Clinton is by far the most qualified candidate to be President in these tough times. Hillary believes that the way we treat our children reflects our nation’s values. For 35 years, Hillary has fought for families. As first lady, she fought for universal health care and fought just as hard to pass the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. Women are used to making difficult choices, but this is easy because it’s about what’s best for our families. Join me in supporting Hillary Clinton.

 

 

 

HILLARY: I’m Hillary Clinton, candidate for President, and I approve this message.

 

 

 

ANNOUNCER: Paid for by Hillary Clinton for President

 

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Mrs. Jackson’s endorsement was pounced on by Hillary’s camp. They’re desperate to demonstrate that they are still technically proficient, have prominent black support, and that they intend to fight tooth and nail for black votes- especially those of black women.

Jesse disses Obama in Chicago Sun-Times Op-Ed piece

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Brotha Jesse is pissing outside of the tent again, this time its in the form of an op-ed piece in the Sun-Times. After reading it, give me your take.  Is Jesse’s criticism valid and is his timing right?  He’s endorsed the brotha and is pulling even with Miss Hillary in Iowa.  This piece begs the question of whether Jesse really wants Obama to win.

Hat Tip: By Rev. Jesse Jackson, Chicago Sun-Times  

Can Democrats get the votes they need simply because they’re not Republicans? You might think so in this presidential campaign. African-American and urban votes are critical to any Democratic victory. Bill Clinton won two terms without winning the most white votes. His margin was the overwhelming support of black voters. George Bush learned that lesson; that’s why his campaigns spent so much effort suppressing the black vote in key states like Florida in 2000 and Ohio in 2004. His victory margin was the tally of votes suppressed or uncounted.

Yet the Democratic candidates — with the exception of John Edwards, who opened his campaign in New Orleans’ Ninth Ward and has made addressing poverty central to his campaign — have virtually ignored the plight of African Americans in this country. The catastrophic crisis that engulfs the African-American community goes without mention. No urban agenda is given priority. When thousands of African Americans marched in protest in Jena, La., not one candidate showed up.

Democratic candidates are talking about health care and raising the minimum wage, but they aren’t talking about the separate and stark realities facing African Americans.

The civil rights movement succeeded in ending segregation and providing blacks with the right to vote. But the end of legal apartheid did not end the era of discrimination. And the ending of institutionalized violence did not end institutionalized racism.

Patterns of discrimination are sharply etched. African Americans have, on average, about half of the good things that whites have, and double the bad things. We have about half the average household income and less than half the household wealth. On the other hand, we’re suffering twice the level of unemployment and twice the level of infant mortality (widely accepted as a measure of general health).

African Americans are brutalized by a system of criminal injustice. Young African Americans are more likely to be stopped, more likely to be searched if stopped, more likely to be arrested if searched, more likely to be charged if arrested, more likely to be sentenced to prison if charged, less likely to get early parole if imprisoned. Every study confirms that the discrimination is systemic and ruinous. And yet no candidate speaks to this central reality.

African Americans are more likely to go to overcrowded and underfunded schools, more likely to go without health care, more likely to drop out, less likely to find employment. Those who do work have less access to banks and are more likely to be ripped off by payday lenders, more likely to be stuck with high-interest auto and business loans, and far more likely to be steered to risky mortgages — even when adjusting for income. And yet, no candidate speaks to this central reality.

The result is visiting a catastrophe on the urban black community. I and many others campaign for young people to stay in school, to graduate and not to make babies until they are prepared to be parents. My son and I write and teach about personal financial responsibility. Personal responsibility is critical. But personal responsibility alone cannot overcome the effects of a discriminatory criminal justice and economic system in generating broken families and broken dreams.

The Rev. Martin Luther King saw the movement to end segregation and gain voting rights as the first stage of the civil rights movement. The second stage — to gain economic justice and equal opportunity in fact — he knew would be more difficult. Now, 40 years later, it is no longer acceptable for candidates to turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to entrenched discrimination and still expect to reap our votes.

Forging a Winning Progressive Coalition

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Chris Bowers of Open Left has an excellent piece on Barack Obama’s failure to recreate the progressive white and African American coalition that catapulted him to national prominence.   Read it and tell me what you think.   I think he’s dead on.

Hat Tip: By Chris Bowers of OPEN LEFT

I want to make an addendum to my post yesterday about Obama’s campaign. In particular, I want to say that one of my longest-running visions in progressive politics has been for a strongly progressive Democrat to win the party’s presidential nomination, and then the Presidency, based on a coalition that, at its core, combines African-Americans and the white progressive “creative class.” Loosely speaking, as I articulated in one of my very first blog posts ever, it would be a combination of the Jesse Jackson coalition in 1988 and the Howard Dean coalition of 2003. In a more recent formulation, I have referred to it as the coalition of non-whites and non-Christian Democrats. That isn’t to say that other demographic groups wouldn’t be involved in the coalition, just that its two largest demographic groups would be people of color and whites who do not self-identify as Christian.

Why do I focus on these two groups? Several reasons. First, they tend to be the most Democratic-leaning of all demographic groups in terms of voting patterns. Second, because members of congress who come from these districts tend to be the most progressive Democrats around. Third, because non-whites and non-Christians are both high growth demographic groups, and represent a potential long-term governing majority. Fourth, because they already make up a majority of Democratic voters nationwide. Fifth, the 1988 and 2004 elections demonstrate the willingness of these groups to support non-establishment candidates. In short, this is a coalition that could dominate Democratic politics and even national politics for a long time to come, with the result being an electable, progressive governing majority if formed. I see this coalition as the Holy Grail of progressive electoral politics.

In early 2004, while living in Chicago, I saw a candidate who explicit strategy in the Illinois Democratic Senatorial primary was to forge that very coalition: Barack Obama. I thought that, if he won a Senate seat using that strategy, it would then become possible for him to use that strategy to become President either eight years down the road (was banking, of course, on a Democratic presidential victory in 2004). If a state Senator could do it on a statewide level, a US Senator could do it on a national level. Obama seemed like a potential solution to a long-running electability problem for progressives on a national level. And given that many people I talked with had considered him a possible future President even when he was in a distant third-place in the Senatorial primary, his potential to pull this coalition off, even before his 2004 DNC speech, appeared enormous and very believable.

Because of this, I leaned toward Obama for a long, long time in this campaign. Despite events like the Edwards blogger controversy, or Richardson coming out in favor of no residual forces, I kept waiting for Obama’s campaign to put this coalition together. Once it started happening, and his early lead among the progressive creative class was matched by an advantage among African-Americans, I was ready to jump on board. Given how long I had looked for such a coalition to form, I wasn’t going to sit on the sidelines once it actually did. However, it just no longer seems to me as though Obama is going to pull that coalition together. He never overcame Clinton’s advantage among African-Americans, and as I documented in yesterday’s post he started losing ground among the progressive creative class. If, as the campaign progresses, a candidate is losing ground, and is behind overall, among the two main of this potential coalition, I have a very difficult time seeing that candidate as the leader of the progressive governing coalition I have sought.

I don’t know why Obama has been unable to make any dent in Clinton’s overall advantage among African-Americans. I have my theories on Obama’s struggle with the progressive creative class that I articulated yesterday. Frist, he kept attacking extremist liberal strawmen, which is basically an attack on the progressive creative class. Second, he kept talking about unity and reaching across the aisle during a time when conservatives and Republicans were repeatedly shooting down consensus legislation in the Senate, where Obama himself holds a seat. It seemed as though he was determined not to pursue his 2004 primary strategy on a national level, and instead take a more traditional, establishment route. I don’t know for certain how accurate my analysis is, but for one reason or another Obama has now failed to bring either of the two main components of this coalition together during the campaign, and current trends make it seem like the situation is only going to get worse.

I still hope that this coalition will one day come together, but I no longer see Obama as having real potential to pull it off anymore. I also don’t think that the coalition can be successful if it forms on its own, and then endorses a candidate without being endorsed by that candidate. Voluntarily offering your support to a candidate that hasn’t endorsed you is a good way to become irrelevant once that candidate is in office. See, for example, the way that congressional Democrats went along and condemned MoveOn.org, now that, once they are in the majority, they can use corporate PAC money instead of netroots money. If you give it away for free, people can find other sources of support once they are in power. Also, it is hard for any coalition to come together without a unifying cause for it to come together around.

I see this as a big missed opportunity in 2008. I don’t know what happened to the Barack Obama of the Illinois Senate primary. Maybe nothing did, and I simply misjudged his potential as the leader of this new progressive coalition.  Either way, it is very disappointing, and it has me searching for answers much like I was after Dean’s defeat four years ago.

To the Jena 6: Just hold on, change is coming

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Norman Hutchin’s song, “A move of God,” has been in my head all day.

To Mychal Bell,  Robert Bailey, Jr, Theo Shaw, Carwin Jones, Bryant Purvis, and the other unnamed young brotha, just hold on, change is coming.

“I feel a breakthrough coming your way, it’s a mighty move of God, it’s gonna change your day. With signs and wonders, miracles to perform, God is gonna bless you for just holding on.”

“Just hold on, a change is coming, feel it in the air, it’s in the atmosphere. Just hold on, a change is coming, a move of God is on the way.”

“You’ve been expecting a change in your life, looking for your midnight to turn to sunshine. It’s gonna happen, you wait and see, all things are possible to them that believe.”

“Just hold on, a change is coming, feel it in the air, it’s in the atmosphere. Just hold on, a change is coming…A move of God is on the way.”

Thousands of chanting demonstrators filled the streets of this little Louisiana town Thursday. It's not about black and white. It's about right and wrong. I would like to see these young men set free,

We should have progressed past this kind of unequal treatment based on race; however, we clearly are not. The outpouring of community support in the black community and the dearth of support from others is quite telling.   Katrina became an enduring symbol of neglect and racial indifference and Jena, Louisiana has provided the nation with another.  

There is nothing particularly unique about the disproportionate felony charges meted out to these six teenage boys, this happens everyday to black children somewhere in America, as Al Sharpton has pointed out.  What is unique is the black reaction the racially discriminatory actions of the LaSalle Parish School Board and LaSalle Parish District Attorney provoked.    

Today’s rally was amazing in its genesis and scale, as the song above says, “It’s a mighty move of God, it’s gonna change your day.” I feel confident in predicting that the charges against all six young men will be dropped.  

Praise God for Michael Baisden, Tom Joyner, Howard Witt, Amy Goodman, Roland Martin, Rev.Al, Rev. Jackson, Color of Change, the black blogosphere, and for the many black college students and other concerned persons who raised the alarm to inform the community when it was needed.  

Congresswoman Maxine Waters, on hand for the day’s events, told CNN’s Kyra Phillips that the House Judiciary Committee is preparing to subpoena the LaSalle Parish District Attorney to Washington to explain his conduct and the President himself said that the Justice Department is monitoring this case.  Despite protestations to the contrary, there is a valid reason why Tina Jones, mother of Purvis Bryant, believes that the D.A. is “so adamant about destroying these kids lives.”  I would love to hear his explanation of how a tennis shoe becomes a deadly weapon.   

The idea of a 21st century civil rights movement which focuses on the disproportionate punishment of people of color in the criminal justice system warms my heart.  That’s something that this skeptical brotha can get with enthusiastically.  Much remains to be done and it is not simply a local issue.   I hope that that Congresswoman Waters and Congressman Conyers grasp that a comprehensive solution which addresses the lack of resources for indigent defense is at the root of the harsh and disproportionate treatment that our children and adults face nationwide.