Hello. Come on in. The daddy writes about current events, literature, music and, once in a while, drops something on you from back in the day to make you pause and ponder, stop and stare, and begin to wonder. Who knows? You may start to pace the floor, shake your head from side to side, then fall down on bended knees in a praying position and cry, "Lawd, have mercy! What is this world coming to?" Check yourself! But this blog is NOT about the daddy. It's about you: your boos, your fam, your hood, your country...our hopes and dreams of a better tomorrow. So let's make a pact: the daddy will put it on the track if you'll chase it down and hit him back. Together, we can definitely take it to another level. Shall we?"

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Emmett Till: Three Poems

"I said it was intended that you should perish in the ghetto. Perish by never being allowed to go behind the white man’s definitions, by never being allowed to spell your name, your proper name."
--James Baldwin, from his book "The Fire Next Time"
"Hatred, which could destroy so much, never failed to destroy the man who hated, and this was an immutable law. "
--James A. Baldwin

Today, the daddy is feeling poems about Emmett Till, a sweet young 14 year old black male teenager from Chicago who was visiting relatives in Money, Mississippi. No one knows for certain what happened, but, apparently, he spoke to a white woman in a general store.

Later that night, several men came to the house where he was staying and took him away. They beat him badly, killed him and threw him in the Tallahatchie River. Though a terrible incident, it spurred not only the black people of Mississippi to muster the courage to reg
ister to vote in large numbers. It raised the indignation of the U.S. to march and, ultimately, to sign into law policies that would effectively end racial apartheid in the southern part of the United States.

The Last Quatrain of the Ballad of Emmett Till
by Gwendolyn Brooks

after the murder,
after the burial,
Emmett's mother is a pretty-faced thing.
the tint of pulled taffy.
She sits in a red room.
drinking black coffee.
She kisses her killed boy.
And she is sorry.
Chaos in windy grays
through a red prairie.

Emmett Till
by James A. Emanuel

I hear a whistling
Through the water.
Little Emmett
Won't be still.
He keeps floating
Round the darkness,
Edging through
The silent chill.

Tell me, please
That bedtime story>
Of the fairy
River Boy
Who swims forever,
Deep in treasures,
A coral toy.

Put it down, field*
by Mac Walton, aka MacDaddy

Put em down, field
You the man

warming wires, spitting fires
from Philly to Compton, Bama to Cali
The holy post from coast to coast
And, no, silence is never golden

Lay em down, field
Your Muddy Mojo is working
your Tubman’s song uplifting, making
darkies in the field quit singing and hoeing and
start listening, quit dancing and joking and
start hoping and planning, talking bout
some chariot coming for to carry them home, talking bout
some lil black boy named Till from up North
with bloody footprints that redden the soil but
ease the mind like a cool drink of water at planting time

Keep picking em up and laying them down
Through the Field negro I can still
hear Jimmie shouting "Fire Next Time!" Still
hear Mahalia singing "Precious lawd
take my hand, lead me on;" still
hear Malcolm making it plain, saying it's gonna
be the ballot or the bullet, still
hear Martin hating war and calling for a beloved community; still
hear H. Rap busting whitey’s balls shouting wild-eyed, fuck whitey
burn it down, pie hating coal-black darkie shit, talking bout
some churning voodo, mother wit, talking bout
some red dirt getting redder still, talking bout
some darkies drinking Till’s cool drink of water, believing
they Douglas, they Malcolm, they Marcus, saying

"Them maroons won’t die"
"Them maroons can’t never die
long as they
keep drinking that lil child’s water, that
cool drink of water
in the fields...them bloody fields”
* Written for Wayne Bennett and his blog, "The field negro."

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Nina Simone:Three Poems for a Great Musician

i got it bad for nina simone
by Regie Cabico

nina look at the sky April clouds
hang a fat

sappy syrup on my saddest day
played you Monday night

my day unbearable as a wool
coat in april

came back to find my bed empty
as a tire swing in

Monday night i was so terribly sad
as a parlor of long veils, growing even sadde
carrying groceries up too many flights of stairs

& cooking for no one but myself

& the sound of your voice so full & broad shouldered

made the day with all its drama
into bangles & diamonds
nina you made me a culinary priestess
you placed a bojangling spell on me

crooning to the sizzling oil as i pranced like a tiger
among the tambourines & tin cans
the rain drops applauded & the single wine glass wept

because i found my inner nina
nina woman painted with egyptian mascar
nubian mona lisa with a tiara

you use silence the way a woman’s figure
made jesus bend at the knees break to the will
of your beautifully blessed contralto

crackling bittersweet as you held a phrase long
enough for green finches to fly out the winte
r gloom
nina the storyteller, nina a river lonely as hell,

nina tossed like an ark full of sparrows
you can honkytonk the bones off Kali
& steal the lightening from her toes

listen nina, i think its going to rain again
human kindness is overflowing & flows har
even in the cruelest time

Nina Simone
by Lance Jeffers
This brown woman's voice
This black wheat voice
This black thigh voice
This black breast voice:
far far in the dim of me I hear her in the dark field
of the slavery South:
gowned in burlap, barefoot,
head down, a musing smile on her lips:
out into the fields before the dawn she goes alone
she gazes into the trees swaying into the slowly-draining
sudden grief pierces her torso and she laughs scornfully:

Now she stands before a microphone and
feels the echoes of her slavery past:
and ache across her torso and a desolating laugh:
she throws back her head to sing and her teeth whiten
the bloodsea of her mouth

Nina Simone
by Nikki Giovanni

Was a beacon against the stormy sea of bigoty and hatred
Was a quilt against the cold of indifference
Was courage to the cowardly
Was boldness to the timid
Was love to the loveless
Was Home to the lonely
Is ours for now
And evermore


Two Black Poets, Two Different Expressions of Love

"One of Mrs. Johnson's literary virtues is condensation. She often distills the trite and commonplace into an elixir. Following the old-fashioned lyric strain and the sentimentalist cult of the common emotions, she succeeds because by sincerity and condensation, her poetry escapes to a large extent its own limitations."
--Elain Locke, book reviewer
"Wanda Coleman’s poetry stings, stains, and ultimately helps heal wounds like the old-fashioned Mercurochrome of her title. No easy remedy for the lacerating American concerns of racism and gender bias, Coleman’s poetry transforms pain into empathy.... These searing, soaring poems challenge us to repair the fractures of human difference, and feel what it is to be made whole again."
--Stanley Plumly, Chair of 2001 The National Book Award

Today, the daddy is feeling two great poets who express love in different ways: Georgia Douglas Johnson and Wanda Coleman.

Musician, playwright, intellectual, poet, mother, wife, Georgia Douglas Johnson was born Georgia Blanche Camp sometimes between 1880 and 1887. No one is certain of her age. She was the first widely recognized black poet since Frances E.W. Harper. She wrote skillfully crafted poems about love, disillusionment and loneliness.The poem “I Want to Die While You Love Me” is taken from her book, “An Autumn Love Cycle,” which is considered her best. The poem is also anthologized in “American Negro Poetry” edited by Arna Bontemps. Douglas Johnson was active into her eighties. She died suddenly of a stroke in 1966. Because her papers were not saved, much of her work is lost.

Poet, columnist, poet laureate nominee, spoken word artist, winner of the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize (the first African American to receive the award), Wanda Coleman was born in Los Angeles in 1946 and has spent much of her life in Watts, known for the “riot.” She has written several books for Sparrow Press, including: “Mad Dog Black Lady,” “Bathwater Wine,” and “Mercurochrome.” One of her more recent poetry collection is “Ostinato Vamps” with the University of Pittsburgh Press.

Whereas Douglas Johnson wrote delicate poems about love, disappointment and loneliness in traditional form, Coleman writes about life as a woman of color living on society’s margin. Her writing is free form, a mixture of blues/jazz and street dialect. Her poems may sting and stain, but the truth can be healing.

I Want to Die While You Love me
by Georgia Douglas Johnson

I want to die while you love me
While yet you hold me fair,
While laughter lies upon my lips
And lights are in my hair.

I want to die while you love me,
And bear to that still bed,
Your kisses turbulent, unspent
To warm me when I’m dead.

I want to die while you love me.
Oh, who would care to live
Till love has nothing more to ask
And nothing more to give!

I want to die while you love me
And never, never see
The glory of this perfect day
Grow dim or cease to be.

The Language Beneath the Language
by Wanda Coleman

under your belly
there’s gnawing in the bones
subterranean & abysmal
the bite that’s more the unsratchable/coldfire
now he penetrates me against the landscape
of my own blood and demands escape from
the rotting tongue in which he’s caged

This is the form i wear

out of my pernicious reason
and my slam-driven mind
comes the clay i shape into pleasures
for your knowing
the angles of his body
cut at my grasp-starved hands
his bone hard as young granite at my softness
the authority of his beauty demanding
the familiarity of my flesh

thus you hold me
frozen in your doubtful vision
in your study of my brownness. believe
my curious fingers. trust my
daring fingers
as they probe your opened wound
to find a roundness

Friday, September 26, 2008

Three Great Poems about Three Great Musicians

"Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life."
--Red Auerbach
"Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness."
--Maya Angelou

Today, the daddy is thinking of three great poets and a poem each one wrote about a great musician.

Joyce Carol Thomas was born in Ponca City, Oklahoma. She now lives in California where she writes and teaches Spanish. Her books of poetry include "Bittersweet" in 1973, "Crystal Breezes" in 1974, "Blessings" in 1975, and "Inside the Rainbow."

Sterling Plump was born in Clinton, Mississippi. He is an instructor in the African American Studies Program at the University of Illinois. He has published numerous collections of poetry, including "Portable Soul" in 1969, "Half Black, Half Blacker" in 1970, "Muslim Men" in 1972, "The Mojo Hand Calls, I Must Go" in 1982, and "Blues, the Story Always Untold" in 1989.

A.B. Spellman was born in Nixonton, North Carolina. He is a poet and jazz critic. He is also a founding member of the Black Arts Movement. His books include "The Beautiful Days," a book of poetry, and "Four Jazz Lives," a book of jazz criticism. Mr. Spellman has worked for 30 years as a director and deputy chairman of the Endowment for the Arts. His most recent book is the highly acclaimed "Things I Must Have Known."

Poem for Otis Redding
by Joyce Carol Thomas

Listening to the man
straight from
the Georgia woods
sitting on the Dock of the Bay

I get high every time
he starts to climb
that sweet soul mountain
dusting the air
with steep gotta gotta gottas
and criggy uh uh uhs

Weeping some slow fast
rhymes of love
measuring out
the blues he's a lover
in lyrical madness

Hearing the guitar
way back inside of me
stirring, jumping
all over my mind
then clinging
to the very last summit
doing the Hucklebuck.

Muddy Waters
by Sterling Plump

put a moving in my father
saw it ripe as liver
on hog
killing day.
And they made
the image they dreamed
from it.
saw gods in their strides,
feisty bold, desires tiled
like derby hats. As
they made
space. He
put a moving in my father.
saw him down
on his spirit/breathing
legends into brown eyes.
roots of sudden power.
tastes of green simmons
and garlic.

To suck groans from smiles.
they pocketed the meaning
in their genes and
kept eveil out
side vows in their dance.
quietness to flames in loins.
segregated fingers
to clenched fists.
men paraded.
left shadows of lynchings and
made images.
them above creation
to drip
on generations.

put a moving in my father

Bobby's Ballad
by A.B. Spellman

bobby hutcherson is playing polka dots
and moonbeams & it's so clean & pretty
you'll miss the lyric if you listen live. bobby
tests you to hear a voice on the other side of beauty
that asks then answers the questions
you never thought to pose. his vibes lift a soft
tintinabuluation to the ballroom's cornices
where the notes merge as bell tones do
then float back down upon us. if you could descry
bobby's song with your prismatic eye
it would describe a silver rain

i'm remembering bobby as i knew him
in 1964 on the lower east side
when nothing stopped anything we tried
we learned the discipline of freedom
& tuned our minds with the substance
of the hour--- it could be weed, it could be
war, it could instant, disposable love
it could be any of our little teen y revolutions

but now at the frisco bay his voice weighs
much more as i hope mines does. he's found
the balance that we fought to escape
& it's better than it was though the people
we used to be would laugh at us & call us
square. this is the failure of happiness
it stands casually in the mind of now
& pulls a reflecting shade down the eyes
so it can admire itself uninterrupted
carpe diem my ass: the now has no body
save what eidetc form reflection lays upon it

such is the truth of bobby's song
as he floats plump effulgent polka dots
into the argent beams of the bayside moon.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Strong Black Mothers , Loving Black Families

Today, the daddy is feeling good. He’s thinking about Troy Davis, a black male prisoner who was supposed to be executed by the racist Parole Board in Georgia on Tuesday but was saved (at least for a few days) by the U. S. Supreme Court. He’s thinking about of a surprised but happy Troy Davis in a photo with his family. This got the daddy to thinking of his own family: about how poor it was in a financial sense but how rich it was it was in a spiritual sense. This is because, despite the hard times, despite the occasional hunger, the daddy’s family, like so many black families in his community, was filled with love. The daddy knows that his mother and the mothers of his community were chiefly responsible for this love, but his father and the fathers had a lot to do with it too. So the daddy looked for some essay, poem, or short story that depicts this love in his and other flack families. He came with two poems, one by Nikki Giovanni and the other by Langston Hughes. Nikki Giovanni (b. 1943) is an internationally known poet and long-time social activist. Her books about the civil rights movement in the sixties are militant and insightful. Her most recent books are personal and reflective. Her most recent book of poetry is entitled “Acolytes.” The poem she wrote that most connects to my memories of a happy family filled with love is called “Nikki-Rosa.


by Nikki Giovanni

Childhood remembrances are
always a drag if you're Black
you always remember things like
living in Woodlawn with no inside toilet
and if you become famous or something

They never talk about how happy
you were to have your mother
all to yourself and how good the
water felt when you got your bath
from one of those

Big tubs that folk in chicago barbeque
in and somehow when you talk
about home
it never gets across how much you
understood their feelings as the
whole family attended meetings

About Hollydale and even though you
remember your biographers never
understand your father's pain as he
sells his stock and another
dream goes

And though your're poor it isn't
poverty that concerns you and
though they fought a lot
it isn't your father's drinking that
makes any difference but only that

Everybody is together and you
and your sister have happy birthdays
and very good Christmasses and I
really hope no white person ever has
cause to write about me
because they never understand

Black love is Black wealth and they'll
probably talk about my hard childhood
and never understand that
all the while I was quite happy

Langston Hughes (1901) is associated with the Harlem Renaissance, but he was a prolific writer, and his work span generations and world wars and even the civil rights and black power movement of the sixties. Though he wrote novels, dramas and columns for black newspapers, he is best known for his poetry.
The poem he wrote that reminds the daddy of his happy childhood and loving family was entitled “The Negro Mother.” It reminds him of the centrality and spiritually of his mother that kept his large but loving family together:

The Negro Mother

by Langston Hughes

Children, I come back today
To tell you a story of the long dark way
That I had to climb, that I had to know
In order that the race might live and grow.
Look at my face -- dark as the night --
Yet shining like the sun with love's true light.
I am the dark girl who crossed the red sea
Carrying in my body the seed of the free.
I am the woman who worked in the field
Bringing the cotton and the corn to yield.
I am the one who labored as a slave,
Beaten and mistreated for the work that I gave --
Children sold away from me, I'm husband sold, too.
No safety , no love, no respect was I due.

Three hundred years in the deepest South:
But God put a song and a prayer in my mouth .
God put a dream like steel in my soul.
Now, through my children, I'm reaching the goal.

Now, through my children, young and free,
I realized the blessing deed to me.
I couldn't read then. I couldn't write.
I had nothing, back there in the night.
Sometimes, the valley was filled with tears,
But I kept trudging on through the lonely years.
Sometimes, the road was hot with the sun,
But I had to keep on till my work was done:
I had to keep on! No stopping for me --
I was the seed of the coming Free.
I nourished the dream that nothing could smother
Deep in my breast -- the Negro mother.
I had only hope then , but now through you,
Dark ones of today, my dreams must come true:
All you dark children in the world out there,
Remember my sweat, my pain, my despair.
Remember my years, heavy with sorrow --
And make of those years a torch for tomorrow.
Make of my pass a road to the light
Out of the darkness, the ignorance, the night.
Lift high my banner out of the dust.
Stand like free men supporting my trust.
Believe in the right, let none push you back.
Remember the whip and the slaver's track.
Remember how the strong in struggle and strife
Still bar you the way, and deny you life --
But march ever forward, breaking down bars.
Look ever upward at the sun and the stars.
Oh, my dark children, may my dreams and my prayers
Impel you forever up the great stairs --
For I will be with you till no white brother
Dares keep down the children of the Negro Mother.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Troy Davis Case: What Happens Now?

by Langston Hughes
Democracy will not come
Today, this year
Nor ever
Through compromise and fear.

I have as much right
As the other fellow has
To stand
On my two feet
And own the land.

I tire so of hearing people say,
Let things take their course.
Tomorrow is another day.
I do not need my freedom when I'm dead.
I cannot live on tomorrow's bread.

Is a strong seed
In a great need.

I live here, too.
I want freedom
Just as you.
Today, the daddy is feeling this small but important piece from Chigozie. It provides the clearest explanation of what happens now with the Troy Davis case:

"The US Supreme Court has issued a stay on the lynching of Troy Davis. This simply means that the execution will be postponed until the US Supreme Court decides whether to hear the case. In the event the US Supreme Court decides not to hear the case, the State of Georgia can proceed with the execution. This is a small victory, but there is no guarantee that the Supreme Court will ultimately decide to hear this case, as it hears very few cases that petition to be heard. It should be noted that even if the brother is ultimately released from prison, which may be several years from now considering the process, the rehabilitation process from spending nearly two decades on death row will prove difficult."

To read the full story, check out The Liberator Blog.

Thanks, Achali.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Troy Davis' Execution Postponed!

"As one whose husband and mother-in-law have both died the victims of murder assassination, I stand firmly and unequivocally opposed to the death penalty for those convicted of capital offenses. An evil deed is not redeemed by an evil deed of retaliation. Justice is never advanced in the taking of a human life. Morality is never upheld by legalized murder."
-- Coretta Scott King
"When I’m finally released from this Death Camp, my path will remain Righteous as I help bring an END to the DEATH PENALTY."
--Troy Davis

Tonight, the daddy is very happy! Troy Davis, who was slated to electrocuted by lethal injection at 7 p.m. tonight, has received a reprieve. It was given by the Supreme Court less than two hours ago. The daddy is going to get him a drink and a slice of peach pie. Troy Davis: This one's for you.

Ga. cop killer gets last-minute execution reprieve

ATLANTA (AP) — The U.S. Supreme Court gave a reprieve to a Georgia inmate less than two hours before he was to be executed Tuesday for the 1989 slaying of an off-duty police officer.

Supporters of 39-year-old Troy Davis have called for a new trial as seven of the nine witnesses who helped put him on death row recanted their testimony. Protesters had arrived by the busload to protest the execution, carrying signs with slogans like "Justice for Troy Davis" and wearing blue T-shirts emblazoned with "I am Troy Davis." A crowd of about 50 erupted in cheers when the stay, granted around 5:20 p.m., was announced.

The Rev. Al Sharpton had accompanied members of Davis' family to the protest, including Davis' mother, Virginia.

Prosecutors have labeled the witness statements "suspect," and courts had previously refused requests for a new trial.

The execution had been scheduled for 7 p.m. EDT.

The stay will remain in effect while the court considers Davis' appeal. Davis wants the high court to order a judge to hear from the witnesses who recanted their testimony and others who say another man confessed to the crime.

Influential advocates, including former President Jimmy Carter and South Africa Archbishop Desmond Tutu, insist that there's enough doubt about his guilt to merit a new trial.

A divided Georgia Supreme Court has twice rejected his request for a new trial, and had rejected his appeal to delay the execution Monday afternoon. The Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles also turned down his bid for clemency.

Davis was convicted of the murder of 27-year-old officer Mark MacPhail, who was working off-duty as a security guard at a bus station.

MacPhail had rushed to help a homeless man who had been pistol-whipped at a nearby parking lot, and was shot twice when he approached Davis and two other men.

Witnesses identified Davis as the shooter, and at the 1991 trial, prosecutors said he wore a "smirk on his face" as he fired the gun.

But Davis' lawyers say new evidence proves their client was a victim of mistaken identity. Besides those who have recanted their testimony, three others who did not testify have said Sylvester "Red" Coles — who testified against Davis at his trial — confessed to the killing.

Coles refused to talk about the case when contacted by The Associated Press during a 2007 Chatham County court appearance and has no listed phone number.

Prosecutors have contended in court hearings the case is closed. They also say some of the witness affidavits simply repeat what a trial jury has already heard, while others are irrelevant because they come from witnesses who never testified.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Troy Davis: Where is the Justice?

"An eye for an eye will only make the world go blind."
--Mahatma Gandhi

It would take me a long time to understand how systems inflict pain and hardship in people's lives and to learn that being kind in an unjust system is not enough."
--Sister Helen Prejean, Dead Man Walking"

Today, the daddy is thinking of the many world leaders who are calling for clemency for Troy Davis, who is scheduled to be executed by legal injection on Tuesday, September 23rd, at 7 p.m.

Some of the leaders include:
  • Pope Benedict XVI,
  • Nobel-prize winner Rev. Desmond Tutu,
  • singer Harry Belafonte,
  • actor Mike Farrell,
  • Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-IL),
  • Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX),
  • Sister Helen Prejean,
  • Sam D. Millsap, Jr. (former D.A. of Bexar County, TX),
  • record producer and activist Russell Simmons.

Irene Khan, secretary general of Amnesty International, says "The facts with which the jury was presented nearly 16 years ago have fallen into considerable doubt. To allow this execution to proceed would be to knowingly countenance an irrevocable injustice."

According to Larry Cox, executive director of Amnesty International, over 4,000 letters and postcards have been presented to the the Georgia Parole Board on Troy Davis behalf.

He says the reason for the worldwide attention to this case that a possibly innocent man could die because of "dysfunctional application" of justice in the U.S.:

"Certain cases are emblematic of the dysfunctional application of justice in this country; the case of Troy Davis is one of them. There is ample evidence to show that Davis may not have perpetrated the crimes for which he may lose his life. Georgia's Parole Board needs to give this serious consideration and decide whether it is worth even the possibility of killing an innocent man."

The following is Troy Davis view of the application of U.S. justice in his own words:

Where is the Justice for me?
byTroy Davis

Where is the Justice for me?

In 1989 I surrendered myself to the police for crimes I knew I was innocent of in an effort to seek justice through the court system in Savannah, Georgia USA. But like so many death penalty cases, that was not my fate and I have been denied justice. During my imprisonment I have lost more than my freedom, I lost my father and my family has suffered terribly, many times being treated as less than human and even as criminals. In the past I have had lawyers who refused my input, and would not represent me in the manner that I wanted to be represented. I have had witnesses against me threatened into making false statements to seal my death sentence and witnesses who wanted to tell the truth were vilified in court.

For the entire two years I was in jail awaiting trial I wore a handmade cross around my neck, it gave me peace and when a news reporter made a statement in the local news, “Cop-killer wears cross to court,” the cross was immediately taken as if I was unworthy to believe in God or him in me. The only time my family was allowed to enter the courtroom on my behalf was during the sentencing phase where my mother and sister had to beg for my life and the prosecutor simply said, “I was only fit for killing.” Where is the Justice for me, when the courts have refused to allow me relief when multiple witnesses have recanted their testimonies that they lied against me?

Because of the Anti-Terrorism Bill, the blatant racism and bias in the U.S. Court System, I remain on death row in spite of a compelling case of my innocence. Finally I have a private law firm trying to help save my life in the court system, but it is like no one wants to admit the system made another grave mistake. Am I to be made an example of to save face? Does anyone care about my family who has been victimized by this death sentence for over 16 years? Does anyone care that my family has the fate of knowing the time and manner by which I may be killed by the state of Georgia?

I truly understand a life has been lost and I have prayed for that family just as I pray for mine, but I am Innocent and all I ask for is a True Day in a Just Court. If I am so guilty why do the courts deny me that? The truth is that they have no real case; the truth is I am Innocent.

Where is the Justice for me?


Troy Davis is scheduled for execution at 7 PM tomorrow (Tuesday), September 23rd. Do what you can:

  • Get the word out.
  • Call the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles and the Georgia Attorney General's Office! Huffington Post put up an article this morning with working numbers for both of these offices. Call, give your name and state of residence, and briefly explain why you object to this execution.
  • Focus on the specifics of this case, not general opinions about the death penalty as a public policy. Here are two important phone numbers:
  • Visit Troy Davis' website to see how you can help.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Harry Belafonte on the Troy Davis Case: "Prevent a Grave Travesty"

"Perhaps the bleakest fact of all is that the death penalty is imposed not only in a freakish and discriminatory manner, but also in some cases upon defendants who are actually innocent."
--Justice William J. Brennan, Jr., 1994

By reserving the penalty of death for black defendants, or for the poor, or for those convicted of killing white persons, we perpetrate the ugly legacy of slavery--teaching our children that some lives are inherently less precious than others."
--Rev. Joseph E. Lowery, former President, Southern Christian Leadership Conference, 1989

Tonight, the daddy is feeling the letter that celebrity and long-time social activist Harry Belafonte sent to Georgia's State Board of Pardon and Paroles urging them to review the evidence-- old and new-- in the Troy Davis case. The letter is important not only for its plea for a review of the evidence, but also for the solid background it provides into the case.

Dear Chairperson Hunt and Board Members:

Having become aware of the current circumstances surrounding the fate of Mr. Troy Anthony Davis, I am deeply and urgently concerned by the imminent possibility of a grave injustice. Convicted of murdering Officer Mark McPhail and also for shooting Michael Cooper and assaulting Larry Young in the same situation, Mr. Davis has been on death row for the last 15 years. It is critical to note that Mr. Davis’ conviction was not achieved through the use of physical evidence and there was no murder weapon found. The prosecution instead based its case on the testimony of witnesses, many of whom now allege police coercion and most of whom have recanted their trial testimony.

Since the trial, Mr. Cooper and Mr. Young, who both survived, now deny knowing who the perpetrator in their attacks was. A witness who signed a police statement declaring Davis the assailant later admitted that, “I did not read it because I cannot read. Another witness said he incriminated Mr. Troy because the police “were telling me that I was an accessory to murder and that I would…go to jail for a long time and I would be lucky if I ever got out, especially because a police officer got killed…I was only sixteen and was so scared of going to jail. Several witnesses have implicated another man in the crime, yet the police focused their efforts on convicting Mr. Troy.

Troy has been an exemplary prisoner for 15 years, and during that time has campaigned to have the facts of the case heard in its entirety. Compounding this uphill legal battle are current statutes. The federal Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 was cited by Georgia state lawyers as grounds for refusing to hear new evidence that would help prove his innocence because it was not presented during appeals in state courts. Additionally, Troy has repeatedly suffered from deficient legal representation, particularly during the crucial appeals phase.

While I am opposed to the death penalty, I recognize that your service on the State Board of Pardons and Paroles means you view the death penalty as a fact of law. The 124 people who have been released from death rows across the US due to wrongful conviction are themselves dramatic indicators of the colossal weight this puts on your shoulders. News accounts of a growing number of cases in which those who have already been executed are now believed to have been innocent only increase that burden. The fact that human error is inevitable argues that we must exhaust every possibility and carefully examine every detail before allowing the state to take an action that cannot be reversed. My plea is that you use your power to ensure that Troy has one final chance of a fair hearing in federal court, one that will properly review all evidence, both old and new, and properly question the reliability of the witness testimony used against him at trial. I implore you to review the facts of this case. Immense “reasonable doubt” exists in Troy’s case, and by granting clemency, you can prevent a grave travesty.


Harry Belafonte


To see how you can help, go to the Troy Davis website.

Troy Davis and Two Protests in Atlanta

"Most of the world has abolished the immoral and barbaric practice of the death penalty. Yet the United States continues to condemn men and women to death. Nearly all of the people this country executes are poor and/or people of color, and many of them suffer from mental retardation or mental illness...The death penalty is a microcosm of the problems we have with violence in general."

--Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

This morning, the daddy is feeling the protest in
Georgia about the impending execution
of Troy Davis. Actually, he's feeling two protests.

On Thursday evening, 250 people marched through the streets of Atlanta. They carried signs saying "Innocence Matters." They marched 12 blocks from Woodruff Park in the heart of downtown At
lanta to Ebeneezer Baptist Church, the now famous institution where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once preached.

But at the park, at the beginning of the march, it was Rev. Timothy McDonald who spoke the words that seemed to resonate and lift the spirits of the marchers. Noting the diversity of the group (old, young, Asian, black and white), he said: "This is what justice looks like" and waded into the crowd, leading them in chants of "justice matters," "innocence matters."

And then there was the protest of Steve Woodall, one committed soul holding a vigil in a chair at Marietta and Fairlie streets. Woodall was fasting to protest Troy Davis' impending execution by lethal injection. He says he will stay until Davis is pardoned, sentence commuted or life taken.

Why is he protesting? Woodall says it's not just because of the death penalty but because Davis is an innocent man.

Woodall wears a T-shirt that reads "I am Troy Davis."

To find out what you can do to protest, go to the Troy Davis website.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

President Carter Calls for Clemency for Troy Davis

Today, the daddy is feeling this message from Jimmie Carter, our 38th president, former Governor of Georgia, Nobel Prize winner and highly respected statesman of the world. He calls on the Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles to reverse its decision to deny clemency to Troy Davis.

Davis was convicted of the murder of a Savannah police officer in 1991 with nothing but the flimsiest of evidence. Seven of the nine witnesses either recanted their
statements or admitted that they were pressured to point out Troy Davis as the murderer. One of the other witnesses has been a suspect in te murder.

Also, Davis' family and friends were not allowed to testify, leaving the
characterization of Davis the sole domain of State prosecutors. And the weapon used in the murder was never found.

After arguing for clemency for Davis, President Carter states:

"This case illustrates the deep flaws in the application of the death penalty in this country," said former U.S. President Jimmy Carter. "Executing Troy Davis without a real examination of potentially exonerating evidence risks taking the life of an innocent man and would be a grave miscarriage of justice. The citizens of Georgia should demand the highest standards of proof when our legal system condemns on our behalf a man or woman to die."

Davis is scheduled to be executed on Tuesday.

New York Times columnist Bob Herbert writes today that, since
The United States Supreme Court is scheduled to make a decision on whether to hear a last-ditch appeal by Mr. Davis on Sept. 29 (six days after the state of Georgia plans to kill Davis), his lawyers tried to get the State to postpone the execution a few days. But the State would not change its mind. He says now his lawyers are trying to get the Supreme Court to issue a stay or decide whether it will consider an appeal.

He said the chances of an appeal looks slim.

Stay tuned. The daddy will keep you updated.

Friday, September 19, 2008

LaVena Johnson Website Expands

Tonight, the daddy is thinking about LaVena Johnson. The confusion and bizarre situation around her death (Her father, who is doctor, said that there were signs that she was beaten to death and possibly raped) and the military's steadfast refusal to let her family and the rest of America know what happened keep him from sleeping at night. But guess what? LaVena Johnson was not the only one. Remember Pat Tillman, the professional football player who gave up his football career and multi-million dollar salary to serve his country in Afghanistan after 911? His mother is still waiting to hear the truth from the military. But there is good news. In the future, the LaVena Johnson website will talk about other cases that the military will not come clean to military families and the American people about. Here's an article from the LaVena Johnson website that tells us about it:
Deaths awaiting answers

September 11, 2008 by Philip Baron

The bleak refusal of Army investigators in response to the Johnsons’ call for a renewed investigation of LaVena’s death has been well-noted here and elsewhere on the Web. LaVena’s case is just one of many, however; stories of other soldiers whose deaths are shrouded in secrecy, and whose loved ones still await investigation and explanation by military authorities, are coming to light. In May of 2007, this website noted an article by Diane Farsetta, senior researcher for the Center for Media and Democracy, titled “War vs. Democracy: Untold Stories from the Lynch / Tillman Hearing.” Using as a springboard the House Oversight Committee’s hearings on the cases of Cpl. Pat Tillman and Pfc. Jessica Lynch, Farsetta noted several U.S. soldiers - besides LaVena - whose deaths or serious injuries had gone unexplained or whose families had received incomplete or misleading information:

  • First Lieutenant Ken Ballard: “His mom, Karen Meredith, was told that Ken was killed by a sniper on a rooftop,” recounted Kevin. “Fifteen months later, she found out that he was killed by an unmanned gun from his own vehicle.”
  • Private Jesse Buryj: “His family was told he was killed in a vehicle accident. A year later, they received the autopsy report, and they found that he was shot in the back. The Army was forced to concede that he was accidentally shot by a Polish soldier. Just recently, out of nowhere, a Lieutenant showed up at their family’s house and told them that an officer in his own unit had shot him.”
  • Staff Sergeant Brian Hellerman: His wife, Dawn Hellerman, called Kevin Tillman late one night. “She was tired of receiving new official reasons why her husband had died. She was desperate for help. … The system had failed her.”
  • Sergeant Patrick McCafferty: “The family was told, it was — quote — ‘an ambush by insurgents.’ Two years later, they found out that those — quote — ‘insurgents’ happened to be the same Iraqi troops that he was training. Before his death, he told his chain of command that these same troops that he was training were trying to kill him and his team. He was told to keep his mouth shut.”
  • Sergeant Eddie Ryan, who was wounded in Iraq: “He sustained two gunshot wounds to the head and, thankfully, is still alive,” said House Oversight Committee Chair Henry Waxman. “He didn’t find out the truth about his injuries until five months later, even though his fellow Marines knew immediately that his injuries were due to friendly fire.”
  • First Lieutenant Sarah K. Small, who died during a military training exercise in Egypt.
To read the full article, go to the LaVena Johnson website. Stay up on what the military is doing, or not doing, to support the brave soldiers who fight for us.

Sen. McCain and the U.S. Failing Economy

Today, the daddy is feeling two very good articles on Sen. John McCain and the U.S. economic crisis. The first is by Eugene Robinson, editor at the Washington Post and MSNBC commentator and the second is by Cynthia Tucker, Pulitzer Prize winning editor and commentator at the Atlanta Journal Constitution. Check them out:

This is the man who is going to fix the economy?
Eugene Robinson
September 18, 2008

John McCain was telling the truth when he said that economics wasn’t his strong suit. In response to what many economists have called the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, the Republican nominee has sounded—and let’s be honest here—totally, embarrassingly and dangerously clueless.

His now-famous remark Monday about how “the fundamentals of our economy are strong” would almost by itself be enough to justify my assessment. But he committed what was probably an even worse gaffe on Tuesday when, as the behemoth insurance company AIG teetered on the brink, McCain took a stand. “I do not believe that the American taxpayer should be on the hook for AIG,” he said. “We cannot have the taxpayers bail out AIG or anybody else.”

Within hours, the federal government had bailed out AIG to the tune of $85 billion. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and others who know how Wall Street works understood that if AIG were to collapse, much of the financial system might follow.

McCain quickly changed his tune, saying the government was “forced” to rescue AIG because of “failed regulation, reckless management and a casino culture on Wall Street.” That sounds OK, but wait a minute. If he had any idea of what he was talking about—if he had any inkling of how big AIG is, or how central the company has become—then why on earth would he have taken a stand against a bailout in the first place? Doesn’t he have economic advisers who could fill him in?

Read the full article at Truthdig.

Private enterprise worship exposed by Cynthia Tucker September 17, 2008

The high priests of capitalism are in sackcloth and ashes, their belief in markets shattered, their catechism of risk-taking renounced. From Wall Street to Detroit, once-devout believers in unfettered private enterprise are running from their religion. Now that their greed has brought the economy to the brink of depression, they want government help.

What happened to those masters of the universe? What happened to their handmaidens, the Republican politicians who denounced government regulation and read from the holy scriptures as recorded by Ayn Rand?

When ordinary Americans began to lose their homes several months ago, conservatives were quick to denounce them for being too stupid to understand a simple mortgage or too undisciplined to know how to live within their means. The right-wing talking heads had a field day denouncing plumbers and painters, teachers and personal trainers threatened with foreclosure: They’re idiots! They’re losers! They’re suckers!

Well, it now seems there were quite a few idiots among the brokers and bankers who bundled loans in complicated investment vehicles they didn’t fully understand. They actually believed they could vastly increase the financial rewards they received while virtually eliminating the risk of losses. That’s the very definition of “sucker.”

This week, sensing shifting political winds, John McCain took to criticizing those Wall Street schemers, imbuing his speeches with a populist rhetoric intended to make you believe he’s always been a firm supporter of government regulation. On Monday, as the Dow was plummeting, McCain was the change agent, the reformer:

“The regulatory system is broken … We’ve got to catch up the regulatory bodies to make sure that there is the proper oversight and regulation and transparency. That is vital.”

Actually, that is laughable. In March, McCain told The Wall Street Journal, “I am fundamentally a deregulator. I’d like to see a lot of the unnecessary government regulations eliminated.”

In a speech a few weeks later, he argued that our approach “should include encouraging increased capital in financial institutions by removing regulatory, accounting and tax impediments to raising capital.”

There is a reason for McCain’s two-and-a-half somersault. He knows the economy wouldn’t be in this mess if Congress had passed regulations to curb Wall Street excesses, so he’s feigning a sudden conversion.

Read the full story at AJC.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Norman Whitfield-The Daddy Remembers You

"A might oak has fallen in the forrest."
--Rev. Jessie Jackson,
eulogizing Dr. Martin Luther King

"I remember you.

You're the one who made my dreams come true.
A few kisses ago.
I remember you.
You're the one who said, "I love you too."
Didn't you know?"
--songwriter Johnny Mercer

This afternoon, the daddy is being lazy. He's sitting in a coffee shop thinking, mumbling the song "I remember you," which Johnny Mercer wrote for Judy Garland (He had a crush on her):

Between verses of "I remember you," the daddy is remembering the Harlem born, Detroit raised and, later, Los Angeles resident Norman Whitfield, the great producer/songwriter who partnered with fellow songwriter Barrett Strong to write and produce some of the greatest hits of the 60's and early 70's.

Whitfield, 65, died yesterday, September 16, 2008, from complications related to diabetes at a hospital in Los Angeles.

You may not know him, but you know his songs. My friend James, who knows music much better than I, described Whitefield this way:

"{Whitfield} wrote many hits for the Motown stable of stars, rivaled there only by the equally genius writing trio of Holland/Dozier/Holland. His hits were varied and numerous...His ability to weave a tune, then get the "Funk Brothers" to transpose his raw ideas into memorable hooks and signature bass lines were legendary; no one in the industry was ever able to match or copy it; he had a "lock" on that musical brand which became the very definition of "sophisticated soul/funk" from 1963 until 1974."

Soul Patrol, an on-line site dedicated to R&B, was even more assertive:

No one in the media will cover this, but this is hands down the most tragic of the losses we've sustained this year, even moreso than the loss of Isaac Hayes. No one had more influence on complete revolutionizing Motown and its transition from party music in its early days to the social relevance and taking the pulse of American culture than Norman Whitfield...He was the bridge that kept the company going after Holland-Dozier-Holland (rightfully) bolted. Very simply, Mr. Whitfield single-handedly changed the framework of Black popular music, making the intersection between Southern soul/funk, urban cool, rock rebellion and sophisticated pop."

From the age of 19, Norman hung around the studio, playing tamborine for Edwin Starr at Motown Records, known as "Hitsville U.S.A." He got his break when he began producing songs for the Temptations. Between 1966 and 1974, Whitfield wrote and produced numerous songs for the Temptations,
including "Papa was a rolling stone," "I wish it would rain," "Girl, why do you want to make me blue?" "Beauty is only skin deep," "I know I'm losing you," "Ain't too proud to beg," "You're my everything," "Cloud nine, "I can't get next to you," "Psychedelic Shack," "Ball of confusion," "Just my imagination" and many others. In fact, Whitfield wrote and produced so many hits for this group that he was called "the man behind the Temptations." But he wrote and produced others as well.

The songs he wrote and produced for Marvin Gaye included "Heard it through the grapevine," "Pride and Joy," "Too busy thinking about my baby," among others. He wrote and produced "I heard it through the grapevine,"End of our road," and "Friendship train" for Gladys Knight and the Pips. And he wrote "Car wash," "I'm going down," and "Wishing on a star" for Rose Royce.

In 1973, Whitfield left Motown and started his own record producing company. Except for the hit "Car wash," he was unable to come near the success he achieved with acts like The Temptations, Marvin Gaye and Gladys Knight and the Pips. But perhaps more than any other single individual, Whitfield was responsible for what was called "the Motown sound."

Another mighty oak has fallen in the forrest; and, Norman, the daddy remembers you. You, too, made a lot of dreams come true.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Obama's Speech about the U.S. Financial Crisis

"the system has been experiencing postmodern bank runs. These don’t look like the old-fashioned version: with few exceptions, we’re not talking about mobs of distraught depositors pounding on closed bank doors. Instead, we’re talking about frantic phone calls and mouse clicks, as financial players pull credit lines and try to unwind counterparty risk. But the economic effects — a freezing up of credit, a downward spiral in asset values — are the same as those of the great bank runs of the 1930s."
--economist Paul Krugman
"His {McCain's} immediate reaction to the financial trauma that swept Wall Street and Main Street on Monday was to mock McCain for suggesting that the economic fundamentals are sound. 'What economy is he talking about?' the Illinois Democrat exclaimed in Colorado. Obama believes one strategy is to paint McCain as out of touch with the lives of middle-class families. Polls show the public already believes Obama is the more empathetic of the two candidates and more attuned to their everyday problems, and anything McCain says that reinforces the impression that he is out of touch will draw a sharp response from Democrats."
--The National

Yesterday, Barack Obama delivered an important speech about the economy in Golden, Colorado. The daddy knows that a speech about the economy is not sexy. It's not gossip about what Sen. McCain about Sen. Obama or what Sen. Obama said about Sen. McCain. These are good ideas that we should get used to listening to. Here's a part of the speech:

Over the last few days, we have seen clearly what’s at stake in this election. The news from Wall Street has shaken the American people’s faith in our economy. The situation with Lehman Brothers and other financial institutions is the latest in a wave of crises that have generated tremendous uncertainty about the future of our financial markets. This is a major threat to our economy and its ability to create good-paying jobs and help working Americans pay their bills, save for their future, and make their mortgage payments.

Since this turmoil began over a year ago, the housing market has collapsed. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac had to be effectively taken over by the government. Three of America’s five largest investment banks failed or have been sold off in distress. Yesterday, Wall Street suffered its worst losses since just after 9/11. We are in the most serious financial crisis in generations. Yet Senator McCain stood up yesterday and said that the fundamentals of the economy are strong.

...So let’s be clear: what we’ve seen the last few days is nothing less than the final verdict on an economic philosophy that has completely failed. And I am running for President of the United States because the dreams of the American people must not be endangered any more. It’s time to put an end to a broken system in Washington that is breaking the American economy. It’s time for change that makes a real difference in your lives.

...Make no mistake: my opponent is running for four more years of policies that will throw the economy further out of balance. His outrage at Wall Street would be more convincing if he wasn’t offering them more tax cuts. His call for fiscal responsibility would be believable if he wasn’t for more tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, and more of a trillion dollar war in Iraq paid for with deficit spending and borrowing from foreign creditors like China. His newfound support for regulation bears no resemblance to his scornful attitude towards oversight and enforcement. John McCain cannot be trusted to reestablish proper oversight of our financial markets for one simple reason: he has shown time and again that he does not believe in it.

What has happened these last eight years is not some historical anomaly, so we know what to expect if we try these policies for another four. When lobbyists run your campaign, the special interests end up gaming the system. When the White House is hostile to any kind of oversight, corporations cut corners and consumers pay the price. When regulators are chosen for their disdain for regulation and we gut their ability to enforce the law, then the interests of the American people are not protected. It’s an ideology that intentionally breeds incompetence in Washington and irresponsibility on Wall Street, and it’s time to turn the page.

Just today, Senator McCain offered up the oldest Washington stunt in the book – you pass the buck to a commission to study the problem. But here’s the thing ... we know how we got into this mess. What we need now is leadership that gets us out. I’ll provide it, John McCain won’t, and that’s the choice for the American people in this election.

Click here to read the full speech as it was prepared for delivery.