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Monday, 12 August 2013 20:14

Obama Awards Bayard Rustin the Presidential Medal of Freedom

Written by  Peter Dreier | Huffington Post
Obama Awards Bayard Rustin the Presidential Medal of Freedom AP

On Thursday, the White House announced that Bayard Rustin, the trailblazing civil rights activist, will be posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States.

The timing couldn't be better. Rustin was a key advisor to Martin Luther King and the primary organizer of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom -- a job he seemed to have prepared for all his life. Many Americans will be celebrating that event's 50th anniversary on August 28, and insisting that the country complete the march's unfinished business of economic justice, full employment, voting rights, and equal opportunity.

Honoring Rustin with the Medal of Freedom tells us something about how far America has come as a nation in the past 50 years. After all, he had four strikes against him. He was a pacifist, a radical, black and gay. Controversy surrounded him all his life.

From the 1940s through the 1960s, Rustin marshaled his considerable talents -- as an organizer, strategist, speaker and writer -- to challenge the economic and racial status quo. Always an outsider, he helped catalyze the civil-rights movement with courageous acts of resistance. Rustin was a brilliant thinker and strategist, but given his political liabilities as a gay, black, radical pacifist, he also relied on his incredible charm to win converts to the causes of peace and civil rights. A remarkable tenor, he frequently sang gospel and blues songs for his audiences. Had he not become an organizer, he could have become a popular entertainer.

Rustin is not as well known as other civil rights leaders in large part because of his homosexuality and his brief flirtation, during his twenties, with Communism. Although highly respected in labor, pacifist, and civil rights circles, he was typically a behind-the-scenes organizer rather than a public figure.

But last year -- the 100th anniversary of his birth and 25 years after his death -- Rustin's name was name is back in the news. A number of civil rights and gay rights groups honored Rustin with conferences, museum exhibits and other events. In addition, in the wake of President Barack Obama's support for same-sex marriage last year, the issue of homosexuality within the black community -- including the civil rights movement and the black church -- triggered some controversy. Now, with the with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Rustin may finally be getting the recognition he deserves as a human rights pioneer.

Who was Rustin, what did he accomplish, and what is his legacy?

Born in 1912, the youngest of eight children, Rustin was raised by his grandparents in West Chester, Pennsylvania. Although they attended his grandfather's African Methodist Episcopal church, Rustin was strongly influenced by the Quaker faith of his grandmother, who was an early member of the NAACP. Some NAACP leaders, including W. E. B. DuBois, stayed with the Rustins when they were on speaking tours.

Rustin was a gifted student, an outstanding athlete, a skilled orator and poet, and an exceptional tenor. Early in his life he revealed a strong social conscience. In high school he was arrested for refusing to sit in the West Chester movie theater's segregated balcony, nicknamed "Nigger Heaven."

Rustin attended two black colleges (Wilberforce University and Cheyney State) before moving to New York City in 1937. He enrolled briefly at the City College of New York, where he got involved with the campus Young Communist League. He was attracted by their antiracist efforts -- including their fight against segregation in the military -- but he broke with the Communist Party after a few years.

Rustin sang in nightclubs to earn money, and once appeared with Paul Robeson in the Broadway musical John Henry, but he found other ways to channel his prodigious energy, his outrage against racism and his growing talent as an organizer.

He found two mentors who shaped his philosophy and employed him as an organizer. One was A. Philip Randolph, a socialist who founded of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, the first African-American labor union. Randolph was the nation's most militant civil rights leader. The other mentor, A. J. Muste, was a radical minister and former union organizer. Time magazine called him the "No. 1 U.S. pacifist." He introduced Rustin to the teachings of Gandhi. Rustin's commitment to Gandhi's principles, along with his Quaker beliefs (he officially joined the church in 1935), shaped his activism for the rest of his life.

Randolph hired Rustin in 1941 to lead the youth wing of the March on Washington, designed to push President Franklin Roosevelt to open up defense jobs to black workers as the United States geared up for World War II. After FDR agreed to issue an executive order forbidding racial discrimination in defense industries, Randolph called off the protest, angering Rustin and opening a temporary breach between them.

Then, under Muste's guidance, Rustin began a series of organizing jobs with the Fellowship of Reconciliation (a Christian pacifist group), the American Friends Service Committee, and the War Resisters League. These were small, mostly white organizations that provided Rustin with a home base, a title, a newsletter, and a network of activists around the country.

A charismatic speaker, Rustin kept up a hectic travel schedule, preaching the gospel of nonviolence and civil disobedience on campuses, in churches, and at meetings of fellow pacifists. Rustin viewed nonviolent resistance as a "way of life" -- not just a policy. Wherever he spoke, Rustin inspired at least a handful of students to join his cause; that is how he recruited the next generation of civil-rights and antiwar activists.

As a Quaker and conscientious objector, Rustin was legally entitled to do alternative service rather than military service during World War II. But on principle, objecting to war in general and the segregation of the armed forces in particular, he refused to serve even in the Civilian Public Service. "War is wrong," he wrote to his draft board in 1943. "Conscription for war is inconsistent with freedom of conscience, which is not merely the right to believe but to act on the degree of truth that one receives, to follow a vocation which is God-inspired and God-directed."

In 1944 Rustin was convicted of violating the Selective Service Act and served two years in federal prisons in Kentucky and Pennsylvania. In Kentucky he protested the pervasive segregation within prisons, facing violence from prison guards and white prisoners. In Pennsylvania, prison officials kept Rustin away from other inmates so he wouldn't influence them with his radical ideas. As Rustin wrote after his release in June 1946:

We were there by virtue of a commitment we had made to a moral position; and that gave us a psychological attitude the average prisoner did not have.... We had the feeling of being morally important, and that made us respond to prison conditions without fear, with considerable sensitivity to human rights.... It was by going to jail that we called the people's attention to the horrors of war.

After leaving prison, Rustin rejoined the Fellowship of Reconciliation and resumed his career as a peripatetic organizer. In April 1947 he led the group's interracial Journey of Reconciliation, engaging in nonviolent acts of civil disobedience through four southern and border states. These demonstrations served as a precursor to the Freedom Rides of the early 1960s. He and others were arrested in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and Rustin spent twenty-two days on a chain gang.

The Journey of Reconciliation was not without controversy, even among civil-rights groups. Thurgood Marshall, who led the NAACP's legal division, warned that the "disobedience movement on the part of Negroes and their white allies, if employed in the South, would result in wholesale slaughter with no good achieved."

In 1948 Rustin went back to work for Randolph in order to push President Harry S. Truman to enforce and expand FDR's anti-discrimination order. They organized protests in several cities and at the 1948 Democratic National Convention. Their work paid off: Truman desegregated the military and outlawed racial discrimination in the federal civil service later that year.

In the late 1940s and early 1950s, while still working for the Fellowship of Reconciliation, Rustin visited India, Africa and Europe, where he made contact with activists in various independence and peace movements. Increasingly, he viewed the struggle for civil rights in the United States as part of a worldwide movement against war and colonialism.

It was at this time -- when homosexuals were considered "deviant" and gay sex was a crime in every state -- that Rustin's sexual preference became a public problem for him. In 1953 he was found having sex with a man in a parked car in Pasadena, California, and was arrested for "public indecency." Although Rustin was unusually open with his friends about his homosexuality, this was the first time it had become public. Muste fired him for jeopardizing the Fellowship of Reconciliation's already controversial reputation. But Randolph got him a similar job with the War Resisters League, a pacifist group founded in 1923, where Rustin worked for the next twelve years.

Over the next decade, Rustin receded from public view, but he continued to play a critical behind-the-scenes role as an organizer within the civil rights movement. At Randolph's behest, he went to Montgomery, Alabama, in 1955 to help local leaders organize a large-scale bus boycott. There Rustin began advising Martin Luther King Jr., who had no organizing experience, on the philosophy and tactics of civil disobedience.

Rustin was "the perfect mentor for King at this stage in the young minister's career," observed John D'Emilio, author of Lost Prophet: The Life and Times of Bayard Rustin. Over "the ensuing months and years," D'Emilio wrote, "Rustin left a profound mark on the evolution of King's role as national leader."

Much of Rustin's advice would be given from a distance, in phone calls, memos and drafts of articles and book chapters he wrote for King. He had to cut short his first visit to Montgomery because, as a gay man and a former Communist, he was a political liability. Just at the moment when Rustin might have helped lead the mass movement for which he'd been working his entire adult life, he had to retreat to the shadows.

At the end of 1956, the Supreme Court ruled that Montgomery's segregated bus system was unlawful. The victory could have remained a local triumph rather than a national bellwether, but Rustin, along with Ella Baker and Stanley Levinson (another King adviser), had an idea for building a "mass movement across the South" with "disciplined groups prepared to act as 'nonviolent shock troops,'" as Rustin put it. This was the genesis of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference -- conceived by Rustin and founded with King as its first president -- which would catapult King to the national stage. Baker was hired to build the organization, and Rustin became King's strategist, ghostwriter, and link to northern liberals and unions.

To many Americans, the civil rights movement was a confusing mosaic of organizations -- NAACP, SNCC, CORE, the Urban League, SCLC -- all competing for attention, each with a different approach. But in 1963, Randolph, as the elder statesman of the movement, pulled together the leaders of the major civil rights, labor, and liberal religious organizations and laid out his plan for a march on Washington. Randolph envisioned a march that would push for federal legislation, particularly for the Civil Rights Act. President John F. Kennedy had proposed that law, but it had stalled in Congress. The event would emphasize jobs as well as civil rights, which reflected Randolph's long history as a union organizer and champion of racial justice. Its name would be the March for Jobs and Freedom. And Randolph wanted Rustin to run it.

The leaders Randolph gathered endorsed the plan. But NAACP president Roy Wilkins objected to putting Rustin in charge of the march, because of his radicalism and his homosexuality. Randolph outmaneuvered Wilkins by announcing that he would be its director and choose his own deputy: Rustin, of course.

Kennedy tried to dissuade them from holding the march, contending that it would undermine support for the Civil Rights Act. But Randolph would not be cowed. Nor would he be bullied by other civil rights leaders who voiced objections to Rustin's role.

Three weeks before the August 28 march, Sen. Strom Thurmond, a South Carolina segregationist, publicly attacked Rustin on the floor of the Senate by reading reports of his Pasadena arrest for homosexual behavior a decade earlier -- documents he probably got from FBI director J. Edgar Hoover. Randolph bravely defended Rustin's integrity and his role in the march, but, as biographer John D'Emilio noted, thanks to Thurmond, "Rustin had become perhaps the most visible homosexual in America."

The march was a huge success. It was not only the highlight of Rustin's career but perhaps the high point of the movement itself. More than 250,000 people attended. King delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech, one of the great orations in American history. Ten months later, in the aftermath of Kennedy's assassination, Congress passed the Civil Rights Act.

The final 24 years of Rustin's life was something of an anti-climax. He continued his organizing work within the civil rights, peace and labor movements. He was still in demand as a public speaker, and he was still valued for his strategic brilliance. But he never again had the same influence he did when organizing the Washington march. King -- whose opponents were planting stories that he was under the influence of Communists -- continued to rely on Rustin's advice, but always at a safe distance, fearful the movement would be tarnished by Rustin's liabilities.

After Congress passed the Voting Rights Act in 1965, Rustin wrote a controversial article, "From Protest to Politics," in the then-liberal magazine Commentary. In that piece he argued that the coalition that had come together for the March on Washington needed to place less emphasis on protest and focus on electing liberal Democrats who could enact a progressive policy agenda centered on employment, housing, and civil rights. Rustin drafted a "Freedom Budget," released in 1967, that advocated "redistribution of wealth." His ideas influenced King, who increasingly began to talk about the importance of jobs, unions, and wealth redistribution.

Rustin's ideas, however, were controversial among the young Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) radicals. They did not trust the unions or the Democratic Party. The group had become a major advocate of "black power," an idea Rustin opposed because it undermined his commitment to coalition politics and racial integration.

But the two biggest obstacles to Rustin's program were the war in Vietnam, which drained resources and attention away from LBJ's Great Society and War on Poverty, and the urban riots that began in 1965 in Los Angeles and triggered a backlash against the civil rights movement. Rustin was among the first public figures to call for the withdrawal of all American forces from South Vietnam, but as LBJ escalated the war, Rustin muted his criticisms. He wanted to avoid alienating LBJ, key Democrats and union leaders who supported the war -- and who funded the A. Philip Randolph Institute, which had been created in 1964 to provide Rustin with an organizational home. When King announced his opposition to the war in 1967, it caused a rift between the two men. As a result, Rustin -- who had for decades been one of the nation's most important pacifists -- was absent from the antiwar movement, which cost him credibility among New Left student activists.

Ironically, Rustin's homosexuality became a centerpiece of his final few years. He had been wary of the burgeoning gay rights movement, which exploded after the Stonewall riot in New York City in 1969. But at the end of his life, when he was involved in a stable relationship, he began speaking publicly about the importance of civil rights for gays and lesbians. Thanks in part to a 2002 documentary film, Brother Outsider, Rustin has become an icon for gay rights activists.

Last year, after the NAACP endorsed same-sex marriage, a handful of local chapter leaders resigned from the nation's oldest and largest civil rights organization. A number of black churches lost congregants after their ministers, including Reverend Oliver White of the Grace Community United Church of Christ in St. Paul, announced their support for same-sex marriage. Many civil rights and gay rights activists were upset when Alveda King, a right-wing preacher who happens to be the niece of Martin Luther King, made the false claim that Rustin tried to get King to embrace the "homosexual agenda" as part of the civil rights movement. And in a new book, The Fan Who Knew Too Much, historian Anthony Heilbut describes the pervasive influence of gays within gospel music and accuses some black Christians of hypocrisy for opposing same-sex marriage while relying on gays to create the church's sacred music.

In 1986, a year before he died of a burst appendix, Rustin was asked by Joseph Beam, a writer and gay rights activist, to contribute an essay to a volume on the experience of gay black men. Rustin declined. But his reply to Beam provides an eloquent summary of the foundation of his life's work.

My activism did not spring from my being gay, or, for that matter, from my being black. Rather, it is rooted fundamentally in my Quaker upbringing and the values that were instilled in me by my grandparents who reared me. Those values are based on the concept of a single human family and the belief that all members of that family are equal.... The racial injustice that was present in this country during my youth was a challenge to my belief in the oneness of the human family. It demanded my involvement in the struggle to achieve interracial democracy, but it is very likely that I would have been involved had I been a white person with the same philosophy. Needless to say, I worked side-by-side with many white people who held these same values, some of whom gave as much, if not more, to the struggle than myself.

Rustin would no doubt be proud of the progress American has made in human, civil, LBGT, workers' and women's rights, but if were still alive, he would surely be on the front lines of today's battles to fulfill the promise of equality and social justice.

Despite the controversy that surrounded Rustin his entire life, his hometown had the courage and foresight to honor him a decade ago. In 2002, the Republican-dominated school board in West Chester -- a conservative district that is 89 percent white -- voted to name its new high school after Rustin. At Bayard Rustin High School, where a huge photo of him adorns one wall, teachers incorporate aspects of his life into their classes. Dr. Phyllis Simmons, the principal, insists, "Our students know who Bayard Rustin is."

Now, thanks to President Obama's decision to honor Rustin, more Americans will know who Bayard Rustin is.

 


Peter Dreier teaches politics and chairs the Urban & Environmental Policy Department at Occidental College. His book, The 100 Greatest Americans of the 20th Century: A Social Justice Hall of Fame, was published last year by Nation Books. Rustin, A. Philip Randolph, Thurgood Marshall, A.J. Muste, Ella Baker, and Lyndon Johnson, and Martin Luther King are among those profiled in the book.

 

The original article on Huffington Post.

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  • It’s One Person, One Vote, Not 1 Percent, One Vote
    It’s One Person, One Vote, Not 1 Percent, One Vote

    The failed effort to recall Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is widely seen as a crisis for the labor movement, and a pivotal moment in the 2012 U.S. presidential-election season.

    Written on Friday, 08 June 2012 02:55 Read more...
  • Probing Obama’s Secrecy Games
    Probing Obama’s Secrecy Games

    Will high-level Obama officials who leak for political gain be punished on equal terms with actual whistleblowers?

    Written on Friday, 08 June 2012 02:52 Read more...
  • Big shot banker proves big banks are too big
    Big shot banker proves big banks are too big

    In April, Jamie Dimon–the swaggering chief of JPMorgan Chase–scoffed at critics who warned that his bank's high-flying investment division was dangerously overextended and risking collapse: “A complete tempest in a teapot,” scoffed Dimon.

    Written on Friday, 08 June 2012 02:43 Read more...
  • Time For Outrage On Behalf of the Planet--It's Time to Fight the Status Quo
    Time For Outrage On Behalf of the Planet--It's Time to Fight the Status Quo

    My solution is: get outraged. Campaigners marched in Copenhagen under the banner "System Change, Not Climate Change." On the eve of Rio+20, that message again will rise, but slogans and proposals and will mean nothing without the requisite power standing behind them.

    Written on Friday, 08 June 2012 02:34 Read more...
  • Medea Benjamin on How Drones May Be Used Against US Citizens Soon
    Medea Benjamin on How Drones May Be Used Against US Citizens Soon

    Internationally renowned activist Medea Benjamin has written a compelling case against drones. One of the most fearful aspects is that drone technology is growing so rapidly in so many nations that soon the nations the US deems enemies will be using them against our forces and us.

    Written on Saturday, 02 June 2012 15:42 Read more...
  • Defense contractors eye cuts to jobs, plants
    Defense contractors eye cuts to jobs, plants

    Defense contractors already are preparing for the layoffs and plant closures that will occur if Congress fails to reach a deal on the federal deficit this year, triggering $600 billion in automatic Pentagon spending cuts.

    “We are running towards a cliff, all telling each other like lemmings that somehow this isn’t going to happen,” said Marion C. Blakey, president and CEO of the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA). “But the cliff is coming up.”

    Written on Tuesday, 22 May 2012 19:29 Read more...
  • Congressional Progressive Caucus Co-Chairs Slam Latest Chapter in Republican War on Women
    Congressional Progressive Caucus Co-Chairs Slam Latest Chapter in Republican War on Women

    Washington, D.C.--Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) Co-Chairs Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) today released the following statement after the House passed H.R.4970, the House Republican version of the Violence Against Women Act:

    Written on Wednesday, 16 May 2012 22:49 Read more...
  • I can best serve from outside the Congress
    I can best serve from outside the Congress

    Dear Friend,

    I would like to thank you for your support, and thank the tens of thousands of concerned Citizens for Kucinich who in the past few months have written, emailed and called to discuss my running for Congress in Washington State.

    Written on Wednesday, 16 May 2012 20:48 Read more...
  • Bush Convicted of War Crimes in Absentia
    Bush Convicted of War Crimes in Absentia

    It’s official; George W Bush is a war criminal.

    In what is the first ever conviction of its kind anywhere in the world, the former US President and seven key members of his administration were yesterday (Fri) found guilty of war crimes.

    Written on Tuesday, 15 May 2012 19:52 Read more...
  • PARODY: Mitt Romney: I Can Relate To Black People, My Ancestors Once Owned Slaves
    PARODY: Mitt Romney: I Can Relate To Black People, My Ancestors Once Owned Slaves

    In yet another seemingly faux pas moment for the former governor and presidential candidate, Mitt Romney tells a crowd of supporters in Alabama that he can relate to the plight of black individuals because his ancestors were slave owners in the 1800′s.

    Written on Saturday, 12 May 2012 16:50 Read more...
  • New York Times reports on NC Marriage Ban, WI Recall
    New York Times reports on NC Marriage Ban, WI Recall

    North Carolina's voters on Tuesday approved a constitutional amendment that bans same-sex marriage, joining 29 other states and the rest of the South.

     


     

    Democrats in Wisconsin have a month to persuade voters to unseat the governor, Scott Walker, in a recall election with Tom Barrett as Mr. Walker's opponent.

    Written on Wednesday, 09 May 2012 17:42 Read more...
  • Chicago pulls permit for nurses rally planned for NATO summit
    Chicago pulls permit for nurses rally planned for NATO summit

    The city of Chicago today yanked a permit for the first demonstration planned for the weekend of the NATO summit in a dispute over where the National Nurses United can hold its rally May 18.

    Written on Wednesday, 09 May 2012 13:28 Read more...
  • Socialist Wins in France: Two Articles Explain the Historical and Current Context
    Socialist Wins in France: Two Articles Explain the Historical and Current Context

    "France, Okay, But Could a Socialist Gain Power in the US? Here's How It Almost Happened" by Greg Mitchell of the Nation, and "François Hollande wins French presidential election" by Angelique Chrisafis of the Guardian.

    Written on Monday, 07 May 2012 17:44 Read more...
  • NNU Rally to Tax Wall Street and Heal America
    NNU Rally to Tax Wall Street and Heal America

    Nurses, Robin Hood and the band of merry women and men, and scores of friends
are strapping on their boots and preparing to head to Chicago Friday, May 18.

    Written on Monday, 07 May 2012 16:29 Read more...
  • 9 Swing States, Critical to Presidential Race, Are Mixed Lot
    9 Swing States, Critical to Presidential Race, Are Mixed Lot

    Since the housing bubble burst, Nevada has been plagued with record foreclosures, the nation’s steepest drop in home values and its highest unemployment rate.

    Iowa, on the other hand, may have missed out on some of the boom but was spared the worst of the bust: its housing prices have stayed relatively stable, and it now has the fifth-lowest unemployment rate in the country.

    Written on Sunday, 06 May 2012 22:46 Read more...
  • Defense trumps poverty in Republican House
    Defense trumps poverty in Republican House

    American soldiers learned the hard way not to walk down enemy trails in Vietnam — and certainly not twice. But here come the House Republicans, marching into the sunlight by shifting billions from poverty programs to the Pentagon, all within hours of adopting an entirely new round of tax cuts for those earning more than $1 million a year.

    Written on Friday, 04 May 2012 16:50 Read more...
  • McDermott Will & Emery's Pardo discusses impacts of EPA's fracking rule (video and transcript)
    McDermott Will & Emery's Pardo discusses impacts of EPA's fracking rule (video and transcript)

    How will U.S. EPA's oil and gas air rule affect the fracking industry? During today's OnPoint, Jim Pardo, a partner at McDermott Will & Emery, discusses the broader impacts of the rule ....

    Written on Thursday, 03 May 2012 23:19 Read more...
  • One Year After Bin Laden’s Death, Bring the Troops Home Now
    One Year After Bin Laden’s Death, Bring the Troops Home Now

    Today marks one year since the death of Osama bin Laden. The CIA estimates there are fewer than 100 al Qaeda operatives in Afghanistan. Since ‘getting Bin Laden’ and defeating al Qaeda were the stated reasons the U.S. invaded Afghanistan in 2001, President Barack Obama should use the anniversary to announce the end of the U.S. war in Afghanistan.

    Written on Thursday, 03 May 2012 23:12 Read more...
  • Obama's Afghanistan Speech: A Guide for the Perplexed
    Obama's Afghanistan Speech: A Guide for the Perplexed

    President Obama’s dramatic speech from Afghanistan should be parsed as a careful election-year orchestration of his plan to “wind down” the war. It is no accident that the speech came during the first-year commemoration of the killing of Osama bin Laden, the event providing Obama the rationale for ending American combat while placing hawks and political rivals on the defensive.

    Written on Thursday, 03 May 2012 23:05 Read more...
  • End Student Debt!
    End Student Debt!

    The student loan crisis finally reached center stage in Washington after the House GOP budget called for letting interest rates double on government-subsidized loans (and for deep cuts in Pell grants and other student support). If it passes, students who borrow the maximum will end up paying as much as $1,000 a year in added interest.

    Written on Thursday, 03 May 2012 20:13 Read more...
  • Women: Occupy the Left
    Women: Occupy the Left

    Women’s rights have always been a bit of an add-on for the left. At this spring’s Left Forum, only fifteen of 440 panels touched on any feminist issue, broadly understood. New Left Review is famous, at least in my apartment, for its high testosterone content (despite being edited by a woman); ditto Verso, the left’s flagship publishing house, where women authors are as rare as Siberian tigers.

    Written on Thursday, 03 May 2012 20:06 Read more...
  • Conservative Nonprofit Acts as a Stealth Business Lobbyist
    Conservative Nonprofit Acts as a Stealth Business Lobbyist

    Desperate for new revenue, Ohio lawmakers introduced legislation last year that would make it easier to recover money from businesses that defraud the state. It was quickly flagged at the Washington headquarters of the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, a business-backed group that views such “false claims” laws as encouraging frivolous lawsuits. ALEC’s membership includes not only corporations, but nearly 2,000 state legislators across the country — including dozens who would vote on the Ohio bill.

    Written on Monday, 23 April 2012 19:50 Read more...
  • Meet the US media companies lobbying against transparency
    Meet the US media companies lobbying against transparency

    Corporate owners or sister companies of some of the biggest names in journalism against FCC order to post political ad data. News organizations cultivate a reputation for demanding transparency, whether by suing for access to government documents, dispatching camera crews to the doorsteps of recalcitrant politicians, or editorializing in favor of open government.

    Written on Sunday, 22 April 2012 15:31 Read more...
  • Former ALEC Supporters Now Find Connection Toxic
    Former ALEC Supporters Now Find Connection Toxic

    With thousands of consumers expressing their concerns about the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) to corporations across America, even former supporters of ALEC are feeling the heat, and some are rushing to distance themselves from the organization. YUM! Brands (owners of KFC, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut) became the 12th corporate member of ALEC to announce it is leaving the organization yesterday.

    Written on Friday, 20 April 2012 15:24 Read more...
  • A Cruel Ethos - Pay Upfront or Die
    A Cruel Ethos - Pay Upfront or Die

    Our acceptance of death for those who can’t afford medical care is unique among the advanced industrialized nations of the world. This ethos allows people who don’t have enough money or enough medical insurance to die everyday. We remain blind to the humanistic healthcare ethos of other nations, that result in greatly reduced costs and superior outcomes.

    Written on Wednesday, 18 April 2012 03:20 Read more...
  • Drug War Nightmare: How We Created a Massive Racial Caste System in America
    Drug War Nightmare: How We Created a Massive Racial Caste System in America

    The drug war has created a new Jim Crow system. Ever since Barack Obama lifted his right hand and took his oath of office, pledging to serve the United States as its 44th president, ordinary people and their leaders around the globe have been celebrating our nation’s “triumph over race.”  Obama’s election has been touted as the final nail in the coffin of Jim Crow, the bookend placed on the history of racial caste in America. 

    Written on Tuesday, 27 March 2012 19:15 Read more...
  • How ALEC Is Creating Florida-Style Messes in Other States
    How ALEC Is Creating Florida-Style Messes in Other States

    Wisconsin is a rod-and-gun state, with a hunting history that has fostered traditions of broad gun ownership and respect for the right to bear arms.

    So how did Wisconsin get saddled with a “Castle Doctrine” law that mirrors some of the worst aspects of the Florida legislation that's now at the center of the controversy over the killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

    Written on Tuesday, 27 March 2012 17:42 Read more...
  • We Need More Heels Running Around Capitol Hill
    We Need More Heels Running Around Capitol Hill

    "[I]t will come, but I shall not see it ... It is inevitable. We can no more deny forever the right of self-government to one-half our people than we could keep the Negro forever in bondage. It will not be wrought by the same disrupting forces that freed the slave, but come it will, and I believe within a generation."

    Written on Tuesday, 27 March 2012 13:31 Read more...
  • The 1%’s Doctrine for the 99%
    The 1%’s Doctrine for the 99%

    Many on the American Right insist federal actions from the Civil War to recent banking regulations were encroachments on states’ rights and personal liberties, but underlying these claims – in the 1860s and today – is the greed of the richest 1 percent treating the 99 percent as chattel, writes Mark Ames.

    Written on Monday, 26 March 2012 21:21 Read more...
  • Congress Takes a Step or Two Forward, Two Steps Back
    Congress Takes a Step or Two Forward, Two Steps Back

    Watching some of the news coming from Capitol Hill this week, two old music videos started buzzing around in our heads. One was the classic “I’m Just a Bill,” from Schoolhouse Rock, in which a beleaguered piece of legislation sits outside on the marble steps hoping to someday become a law.

    Written on Monday, 26 March 2012 21:15 Read more...

PDA In Your State

Join "Countdown to Coverage" Share TPP with your Daily Newspaper

CWA devised a simple plan for which they were uniquely suited: drag TPP out of the shadows and into the light - one city at a time - using a medium they understand intimately: Daily Newspapers!

Two CWA members - Dave Felice in Denver, CO and Madelyn Elder in Portland, OR have started the ball rolling. We just need to keep up the momentum leading up to a big day of petition deliveries.

Button-ShareTPPWithNewspaper

Step 1 is to send an Op-Ed to your Daily Newspaper.

Sign the TPP Fast Track Petitions

MoveOn.org Petition - Congress Don't Renew Fast Track

Public Citizen Petition - Congress Must Reject Fast Track Authority

MoveOn.org Petition - Stop the Trans Pacific Partnership

CREDO Petition - Stop the Massive Corporate Power Grab

 

TPP: The Biggest Threat to the Internet You've Probably Never Heard Of