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Why Many Say Thank You to a Cosby Prosecution


By Earl Ofari Hutchinson
Disgraced actor-comedian Bill Cosby had two words to say to Pennsylvania District Judge Elizabeth McHugh when she ruled that he must stand trial for sexual assault. The words were “thank you.” The two words were more than simply a case of Cosby being polite. For dozens of women the words were a vindication. These are the women who came forth to say that Cosby drugged, fondled, molested, abused, intimidated, and of course, raped them over the course of many years. They suffered mightily for coming forth. They were lambasted from pillar to post as liars, cheats, sluts, publicity seekers, and every critic’s favorite, gold diggers.

earl-hutchinsonThousands of others never bought Cosby’s long, loud and bitter denials that he was the innocent victim of a giant the-hartford-guardian-Opinioncon game, or the serial denier’s favorite, the victim of a sinister plot by take your pick: the “white man,” “white media,” “white establishment” or simply some unnamed, nebulous white conspirators to bring down a fabulously popular, rich, supremely successful black man. They also said “thank you.”

There were also more than a few legal experts who did not buy the virtual article of faith that there were no legal grounds to prosecute him because the statute of limitations had long since run out on most of the claims. There were just too many alleged victims. That meant that there had to be a case somewhere that fit the bill for a legal prosecution.

Meanwhile, Cosby fed into the conspiracy paranoia and the public trashing of the women by filing motion after motion to duck a prosecution, and defamation of character counter suit after countersuit against his various women accusers. His holding action sufficiently muddied the stream to cast doubt while delaying what was almost certain to be the inevitable. That was his painfully long delayed plop into a court docket.

In the much cited unsealed affidavit Cosby swore to in 2005, he confessed to giving drugs to one woman and getting drugs for other women he wanted to have sex with. This was tantamount to a smoking gun confirmation of what many of his alleged victims claimed, and that was that he plied them with drink and drugs before he sexually waylaid them.

Even without the affidavit, it was not true that a sexual abuser could get away with their crime simply by waiting out the calendar. More than two dozen states have no statute of limitation depending on circumstances in the nature and type of sexual assault. If the evidence was compelling, a Cosby could indeed be prosecuted even decades after the assault in those states.

This gross misconception about prosecuting sexual crimes implanted the dangerous public notion that rape or sexual abuse could be minimalized, marginalized or even mocked because the clock had wound down on when the crime could or even should be prosecuted. A Cosby prosecution rightly tosses the ugly glare back on the wrong public perceptions about rape and sexual abuse and how easily the crime can still be blown off. And it is.

The Iowa Law Review, in March, 2014, found that rape is routinely underreported in dozens of cities. The rape claims were dismissed out of hand with little or no investigation. The result was there were no report, no statistical count, and no record of an attack.

The study zeroed in on the prime reason for this, namely disbelief. It’s that disbelief that assures men such as Cosby are reflexively believed when they scream foul at their accuser. They lambaste their character and motives. If things get too hot, they toss out a few dollars in hush money settlements and the screams are even louder that it was all a shakedown operation in the first place and the victim is further demonized.

This wasn’t the only reason it took so long to prosecute Cosby. He wasn’t just another rich, mediagenic celebrity whose wealth, fame and celebrity status routinely shielded him from criminal charges. Cosby and men like him have deep enough pockets to hire a small army of the best PR flacks around to spin, point fingers, and hector the media that their guy’s pristine reputation is being dragged through the mud precisely because of their fame, wealth, talent and, of course, goodwill.

Cosby was a special case even by the standards of the rich and famed celebrity world. For a decade he reigned as America’s father figure, not black father figure, but father figure. He embodied the myths, fantasies, and encrusted beliefs about the role that a caring, loving, engaged dad is supposed to have with his family. This rendered him almost untouchable when it came to casting any dirt on his character. That’s all past now, Cosby is now just Cosby, the accused rapist, and that’s reason enough to say “thank you.”

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. His latest book is How “President” Trump will Govern (Amazon Kindle) He is an associate editor of New America Media.

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Carly Fiorina Urges GOP Unity, Yet Won’t Speak Trump’s Name


STAMFORD – Carly Fiorina seemed to endorse Donald J. Trump, if only by inference Tuesday night. She never allowed herself to say his name, yet vowed to do everything “to make sure that Hillary Clinton is not our next president.”

Presumably, “everything” includes entering a polling place to cast a vote for Trump, even if he is, at least for the moment, the Nominee Who Cannot Be Named, right?

Fiorina, 61, who lingered to chat with well-wishers after her speech at the Connecticut Republicans’ annual fundraiser, the Prescott S. Bush Awards Dinner, just smiled when a reporter interrupted with that question.

“I’m sorry, I’m meeting with voters right now,” Fiorina said, keeping her gaze directed at the Republicans who wanted to shake her hand and pose for pictures. “Sorry, you heard the speech. That’s all there is.”

Fiorina stopped only when the question was repeated.

“We’re not doing interviews,” she said. “You heard the speech. That’s what you got.”

It was good enough for her audience. Her vow to do anything to deny Clinton the White House was rewarded with hearty cheers and a standing ovation, as was a call for unity. Republicans shrugged off the refusal by Fiorina, who has said she is “horrified” by Trump, to explicitly endorse him.

“She gave an endorsement to Trump without mentioning him by name,” said Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano, R-North Haven.

“That’s what I thought,” said Sen. Toni Boucher, R-Wilton.

Carly Fiorina.

ctmirror.org

Carly Fiorina

Linda McMahon, the two-time U.S. Senate nominee and major GOP donor who will be a Trump delegate in Cleveland, said Fiorina told her before the speech she intends to campaign for down-ballot Republicans. A willingness to campaign for Trump didn’t come up.

“She and I didn’t really talk politics in that way,” McMahon said.

It’s been a tough month for the 61-year-old Fiorina, the former Hewlett-Packard chief executive who lost a U.S. Senate race in California to Barbara Boxer. On May 2, she fell off a stage while introducing Ted Cruz in Indiana. A day later, she fell off political radar screens, her brief time as Cruz’s running mate ended by Trump’s smashing win in Indiana.

Before Cruz dropped out, the Connecticut GOP faced the unnerving prospect of a keynote speech by a woman intent on telling them they erred by voting for Trump by a landslide in the April 26 primary.

Fiorina offered wan praise for Trump at the outset of her 30-minute speech.

“Our nominee has raised Twitter to an art form. Let’s face it,” she said.

Fiorina said she never mastered how to pack a punch into its 140-character form, but she read that potential Hilliary slogans were trending. She offered a few.

“ ‘It’s my turn, dammit.’ ‘Four out of 10 people find me tolerable.’ And my personal favorite: ‘Experience you cannot trust,’ ” she said.

Fiorina quickly dropped the jokes and delivered a scathing appraisal of the candidate who would be the first female president, a fact that does not seem to be exciting the Democratic base, male or female.

“So, now they are beginning to continuously remind people abot the historic nature of her candidacy, that she is a woman and therefore women must vote for her,” Fiorina said. “So, Mrs. Clinton, I have news for you. I am a woman, and I am not voting for you.”

The crowd whooped and applauded.

Fiorina said Clinton’s gender was no basis for other women to support her for president.

“Feminism is what each and every woman has an opportunity for to live the life she chooses and to use all of her God-given gifts,” she said. “That is feminism, and as a feminist I will do everything in my power between now and November to make sure that Hillary Clinton is not our next president.”

The crowd stood and cheered louder. Their speaker would not say the name of their nominee. She would not promise to vote for him. She would not urge others to vote for him. Maybe she would one day before November.

For now, it was enough that they knew what she meant.

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Letter: Gov. Malloy and Hartford’s Stadium


 

letterstohartfordguardianDear Governor Malloy:
We are writing to urge you not to use state taxpayer dollars to bail out Hartford’s Dunkin Donuts Stadium.
As a result of construction of the stadium exceeding the agreed upon deadline, we understand that costs are now likely to increase for the project. We are also aware of comments from the Hartford Stadium Authority indicating that they will not go back to the city to seek the needed added capital. That needed capital should not come from the state and our already overburdened taxpayers.
We want to remind you of multiple statements from you and your administration that promised the state would not get involved in this project which taxpayers and the lawmakers who represent them at the Capitol never had a say in authorizing. That commitment will be broken if you sign the state budget passed by Democrats that allows taxpayer dollars through the admissions tax to go towards stadium construction debt service. That commitment will also be broken a second time if any additional aid is given to Hartford for this project’s new costs due to missing its deadline.
We fully understand the predicament Hartford is in and truly empathize with the people of Hartford who have serious concerns about the Yard Goats’ stadium project and the burden it places on the city. But the state is in no position to hand out any additional funds. Democrats just passed a budget that slashes from core social services, cuts state education funds, and hurts some of the most vulnerable populations in this state. Yet at the same time their budget gives up $400,000 annually in taxpayer dollars to go towards the Hartford stadium. It is not right that at a time when support for the poor, sick and elderly is being cut, a project that had zero taxpayer support is profiting.
No state taxpayer dollars should go towards the delayed stadium.
                                                                             Senate Republican Caucus Chair Len Fasano, et al
From:

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Why The Confederate Flag Will Continue to Fly — For Now


By Earl Ofari Hutchinson,Contributor

Former GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney says take it down. Present GOP presidential candidate Jeb Bush says take it down. South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley will say a qualified take it down. The “it” is the Confederate Flag. They now want the flag removed from the South Carolina State House.

A year ago Romney, Bush, and Haley would not have dared say the flag must go. In fact, Haley vigorously defended the flag waving proudly at the state house during her reelection bid in 2014 and flatly stated before that the flag should stay. The hideous Charleston church massacre and the loud clamor again by civil rights activists and a wide swath of the public to dump the flag explains their sharp reversal.

earl-hutchinsonThe flag, of course, should go and should have gone a long time ago when the NAACP did everything from calling for a boycott of the state to mass protests to get the flag scrapped. But it still stands and there’s little reason this time around to think much will change.

the-hartford-guardian-OpinionThe reason is not hard to find. The defenders, and there are countless numbers of them South and North, will not budge from their stock argument that the Confederate flag is merely a symbol of Southern history, pride and heritage, and has absolutely no political or social connotations, let alone intended as a symbol of slavery and a prop for racism? This is a bold faced distortion of you want to be charitable. Or, if you don’t, it’s a flat out lie.It is a blatant display of bigotry and racist defiance that symbolizes slavery and black oppression and is a direct slap in the face of blacks a century and a half after the South was vanquished on the battlefield?

Yet, the brutal reality is that for decades, the Confederate flag, or some variation of it, has either flown or been displayed or embedded in state flags in Mississippi, Georgia, North Carolina, and Alabama and in decades past in other Southern states. Thousands of motor vehicle owners have requested personalized license plates with the Sons of Confederate Veterans logo which embeds the Confederate flag in it for their cars and trucks in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.

And thousands of white motorists tool down the state and city highways in parts of the South with the Confederate flag decal on their windows and bumpers. Does that tag them as a racist? Some are, and they embrace the flag to puff up their unabashed racism. But for many other Southern whites, the flag and its association with Southern history, is a genuine source of pride and identification. For many young whites that emblazon the flag on their attire, wave it at rock concerts, or football games, and other sporting events, it’s just a hip, in-crowd, stitch of cloth that’s little more than a chic fun and games display.

They know little and could care less about what the flag meant, and the racial oppression that the flag has symbolized. They know nothing about the defiance of Southern legislatures and governors that dredged the flag up in the 1950s and adopted variations of it in their state flags as a blatant, open rebellion against court ordered integration in schools and public facilities.

But no matter what the motive of the flag defenders, whether it be pride, ignorance, racism, or just youthful style, the NAACP and civil rights leaders that have fought ferocious battles against the display of the flag on public property, at taxpayer expense, and that includes thousands of African-American state taxpayers, stress that the flag undeniably was the symbol of a region that drenched the nation in blood for four years to defend values, a way of life, an economy and a political system that had slavery as its bedrock. And for decades after was a symbol of the South’s rigid domination and brute force control of African-Americans.

The two wildly clashing views of the flag’s meaning are again on full display in the aftermath of the Charleston massacre. Unlike in times past when the debate over the flag has flared, no South Carolina state legislator has so far publicly come out with a full throated defense of the flag. However, it’s not necessary. The majority of them belief that the flag stands for what the South was and still is all about. That belief runs far too deep for even a shocking massacre to unhinge. The flag will be ridiculed, assailed, and burned. But it will likely stay and not just at a state house but in the minds and hearts of far too many.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He is a weekly co-host of the Al Sharpton Show on American Urban Radio Network.  Follow Earl Ofari Hutchinson on Twitter.

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Borges Resignation Necessary


Saundra Kee Borges is gone from public office—hopefully for good.

Kee Borges announced her resignation this week. She will resign on Jan. 30. The Hartford Guardian is happy about this move.  People who care about Hartford and its ability to attract professionals and other smart consumers should welcome this news as well. editorialbannerthumb

Kee Borges and her nativist cronies sold the idea that people of color cannot govern this 384-year-old city. We hope to see more resignations soon because under Pedro Segarra’s administration there have been several alleged abuses of the rule of law and federal regulations.

On the local level, common sense is missing from some of the decisions from the Office of Corporation Council and his office. For example, slapping court papers on residents and business owners for owing less than $200 in parking tickets is beyond the pale, especially in a city with limited parking.

Kee Borges has been the city’s top lawyer for the last four years. Before that, she was Mayor Pedro Segara’s chief of staff when he took office in June 2010 because former Hartford Mayor Eddie Perez was forced to resign after a six-person court found him guilty of alleged corruption. Kee Borges became friends with Segarra’s while they were law students at the University of Connecticut School of Law. Segarra said the office “will continue to operate efficiently” as its leadership changes.

We do believe that Segarra needs to ask more people to resign from office if he really wants City Hall to “operate efficiently.”

Because based on evidence obtained by The Guardian’s staff, we don’t see it operating as such.

In the meanwhile, Deputy Corporation Counsel Henri Alexandre is expected to serve as an interim until the position is filled. We hope he chooses to operate for the good of the entire city rather than operate to serve his personal agendas as Kee Borges did during her tenure.

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Jeb’s Real Challenge Comes from His Own Party


By  La Opinión

Editors of La Opinión write that the real challenge Jeb Bush will face will come from his own party.Jeb Bush’s announcement that he would form an exploratory committee for a possible presidential run puts him at the top of what will be a long list of contendors for the White House. The former governor of Florida holds moderate positions on issues that many conservatives oppose. He supports the Common Core program in schools, and has recognized the contributions of undocumented immigrants.the-hartford-guardian-OpinionA  Jeb Bush presidential run would be attractive for the Latino voter, wroite editors of La Opinión. Be it his familiarity with the culture —his wife is Mexican— or some of his political views. However, the litmus test for a majority of Latinos will be whether he will extend Obama’s executive actions on immigration, or will he support eliminating the protection against deportation — and the separation of millions of families.But the real challenge for Jeb Bush, editors write, is how to win a Republican primary that is dominated by the most conservative voters. His dilemma is how a moderate on education and immigration issues can gain the support of his own party.

Lea en español

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Whitey’s Towing Should Be Topic of Concern at Hearings on Hartford’s Parking Problems


Updated April 23, 2014, 4;00 p.m.

As part of its efforts to improve parking accommodations in downtown, Mayor Pedro Segarra and his administration recently held a kick-off meeting at the Hartford Public Library to get feedback about downtown parking. Stakeholders, including residents, business owners and visitors, were invited to give input.

Here’s our input.

For years, Whitey’s Inc. has been known for its predatory towing tactics. And year after year, the city of Hartford gives this company unconditional support by turning a blind eye to the mountain of complaints to out-of-touch politicians, who have special parking spaces at the downtown library and other compounds.

editorialbannerthumbFor years, Whitey’s would hook up people’s cars, some of which were parked legally, and towed them across town. And car owners would be charged a fee of more than $100 to retrieve each car.

For years, Whitey’s would target the most vulnerable populations in the city. And the workers seemingly relish doing so because of the company’s contract with the city of Hartford and their support from the Hartford Police Department. The company seemingly has carte blanche access to people’s cars.

 Reports of cars that were legally parked and then got towed have been mounting over the years. And Whitey’s still have a contract with the city.

tow_trucks_003On March 20, 2014, Whitey’s towed a 2013 Silver Subaru Impreza from a Dunkin’ Donuts parking lot on Washington Street, across the street from Hartford Hospital after a Hartford Guardian editor went inside to get coffee and sat in there for about two hours before walking across the street to do business. When she returned, the car was gone.

We have done a brief survey, including checking in Avon, where the owner of that Dunkin’ Donut shop lives. And we have yet to find a these parking policies in Avon and other surrounding towns. We understand this kind of behavior if these parking lots were full to capacity by non customers, and other customers had nowhere to park. But no. In this case, the parking lot was half-empty.

But our run in, though costly, is minor in comparison to the horror stories we’ve heard over the years–since the 1990s. And if you live, work or play in Hartford, you’ve been a victim. Or you have friends who were victims of Whitey’s and the company’s tactics. Most of these victims, unfortunately, are black people.

There are also cries of racism when these victims interact with the all-white, working class drivers at—gosh darn it–Whitey’s. They are known to prey on Hartford residents and visitors with its “trespass tow” spiel.

A casual survey of the Better Business Bureau’s site on the number and nature of complaints about Whitey’s and the company’s attitude toward customers who shop in downtown and other parts of the city cannot go unnoticed.

One woman wrote a detailed report of her painful ordeal with Whitey’s. And like many other victims of this particular company, she felt targeted. She writes: “I am writing this complaint because I was treated horribly and possibly discriminated against.”

How many more complaints does the city need to take decisive action? Why is this contract in place for so long to further oppressed already oppressed people? And why are these towing policies by Dunkin’ Donuts only in Hartford?

These and more questions should be addressed soon, Mayor Segarra. The city can find the issues laid out in the mountain of complaints that already exists.

Otherwise, the city’s gesture will only serve as a pretense to assuage the latest victims.

So before the city spends thousands of dollars on marketing campaigns that invite people to shop downtown, it should focus on making sure they can park without worrying about their cars being towed if they cross the street to visit another shop or business.

Who wants to get into a car to drive across the street–just to do business? Think about it.

If city officials really care about people’s concerns about parking downtown or other parts of Hartford, it would seek first to end its relationship with companies such as Whitey’s.

Seriously.

Photo: Wethepeople.com

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Good News for Hartford Board of Education


Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra recently announced his support to have a new leader at the helm of Hartford’s Board of Education on Feb. 18: Richard Wareing.

This is good news.

Wareing, an attorney and a mayoral appointee to the board since 2012, is seemingly passionate about putting the welfare of students first. Most importantly, he is able to rise above the malaise that sometimes grips Hartford when it comes to making substantive changes for the greater good.

Yeah. We know. Wareing is a lawyer and a Republican who champions “school choice.” And he’s been active in city politics for decades, having served on the Metropolitan District Commission since he was 19. But he has also demonstrated this much: he cares. He constantly champions parental input. And he stresses that parents should be well-informed about proposals in the district.

editorialbannerthumb When parents were upset about a proposed closing of Clark Elementary School and then a move to convert it into a magnet school, Wareing passionately and eloquently detailed the rational for turning Clark into a magnet school, unveiling previously withheld facts that later helped parents arrive at an informed decision about the proposed changes.

It was clear to some onlookers that he buried his ego and used common sense to assess what would truly be best for students. In this particular case, what was best for Clark was the money the state would funnel into the school. What Clark school needed was more resources to continue its progress. And under the Sheff  v. O’Neill school desegregation lawsuit agreement, converting it into a magnet/charter school would help direct resources to it. Clark is now among the Commissioner’s Network of Schools, which will allow it to get the necessary resources needed to make drastic improvements.

Another good news is that Rev. Dr. Shelley Best will join the Hartford Board of Education to ensure that students continue to rise above mediocrity and offend those who have low expectations of them. Best, a gifted orator and community leader, is the president and CEO of the Conference of Churches and is seemingly committed to servant leadership. Best would replace Cherita McIntye, another mayoral appointee who resigned in December.

The recent appointment, in addition to the recently elected board members with a history of civic engagement, has Hartford schools poised for great progress well into 2014. However, it’s odd that no West Indians have been appointed in the long history of the board of education,  given the large number of them in the city and its schools. We hope city administrators will rectify this egregious error soon.

In any case, there are good reasons to celebrate Hartford’s progress, which is to come for our long-neglected public schools.

Yeah!

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What Do Republicans and Democrats Look Like?


By Glenn Mollette

I’ve heard a lot of discussion about political profiles in recent days.

The Republicans supposedly are the corporate greedy CEOs and the Democrats supposedly are all those standing in the government entitlement lines. Not true.

My father was a Republican. For thirty years of his life he drove an older model truck

glen mollettAlmost two hours one-way to Holden, W.Va. where he worked in an underground coal mine. He worked eight to ten hours a day and then came home to farm two to three hours before crashing into bed. We worked a small garden, cared for ten to twenty cows, had some hogs, raised a large corn patch and you get the idea. My father was always exhausted during the workweek.

the-hartford-guardian-OpinionMy mother was a Democrat. For several years she worked in the school system. She raised five children, washed clothes with a ringer washer in the early years and when there was not enough rainwater we carried water from the creek. She made breakfast and had supper on the table every evening and kept the house immaculately clean. She worked with my dad in the garden, milked cows, tended her flowers and like my dad was usually exhausted.

On Sundays they got dressed up and went to church. They sang in the church choir and often sang in a quartet in other churches.  Life was not always easy and as with many families there were those times when we wondered if we would make it.

Looking back I can say my father was a hard working Christian Republican. My mother was a hard working Christian Democrat. Together, they built a house, raised five kids, entertained family and friends and both lived to be 85. They were not wealthy in retirement but with a thirty-year miner’s pension, Social Security and a balanced lifestyle they did fine.

If only all Republicans and Democrats today could be as blessed. Imagine what our states and nation might accomplish if we worked together? These are tough times. We have to make some unpopular decisions in this country. People are hurting, stressed to the max and even in the streets hungry.

We cannot go on with the “Us against them” syndrome. If we do we are only going to lose more jobs, incur more national debt, lose more corporations to other countries, increase taxes and watch our communities drown in drugs, violence and poverty.

Abraham Lincoln was quoting the Bible when he said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”

Glenn Mollette is an American columnist read in all fifty states. Contact him at GMollette@aol.com  Like his facebook page at www.facebook.com/glennmollette. He is the author of American Issues,  Hear him each Sunday night at 8 EST on XM Radio 131.

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Is the Room at the Top of Civil Rights Organizations for Men Only?


By Earl Ofari Hutchinson New America Media

In a petition circulated online, Change.org minces no words–“NAACP: Hire the First Woman President in the NAACP’s 104 year History.”

Seventy percent of the respondents agreed it is time that NAACP (the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) elect the first permanent woman president in its history.

The petition and the clamor for a woman to lead the organization came almost within moments after current NAACP President Ben Jealous announced he was stepping down at the end of the year. This is hardly the first time there’s been a clamor and an even louder criticism of the dearth of female leaders at the top of the nation’s major civil rights organizations.

earl-hutchinsonTwo things have marked the litany of civil rights organizations past and present. One is that throughout the history of the best-known major civil rights groups–the Urban League, Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and of course the NAACP–no woman has occupied the top spot any of them.

The sole exception was in 2009, when the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), which in its declining years finally elected the first woman head, Bernice King, Dr. Martin Luther King’s daughter. But that breakthrough was short-lived when King the-hartford-guardian-Opinioncould not reach agreement with the SCLC’s male-dominated board regarding the terms of her presidency.

The second major earmark of civil rights organizations has been the number of prominent women who played pivotal roles in the fight for justice and equality. They are well-known: Rosa Parks, Fannie Lou Hamer, Ella Baker, Gloria Richardson, Dorothy Cotton, Septima Clark, Dorothy Height, to name a few.
These women had to wage two fights. One was for civil rights and one was against the blatant sexism and male dominance among the rank and file and leadership in the civil rights organizations.

The men frequently denigrated and minimized women’s role and importance, or they pigeon holed them into so called women’s roles—typists, phone answerers, general gofers, and just plain flunkies for the men. In some cases, they sexually exploited and abused women.

The most blatant example of this was Black Panther leader Eldridge Cleaver’s frequent admonition that the only place for women in the movement was “prone.” This ignited a firestorm of criticism and condemnation from female Panther members and among women activists in various other civil rights organizations. Although Cleaver took much deserved heat for his insulting and outlandish digs at women, he reflected the quiet sentiment of far too many men that, aside from their views of women, their positions were some of the most advanced, forward thinking and progressive in their social concepts and activism.

The Achilles’ Heel of the civil rights organizations remained the quiet and destructive sexism within their ranks. This history burst into public in the run-up to the 50th anniversary commemoration of the March on Washington this past August. A number of women took dead aim at the march’s 1963 organizers for what they considered the deliberate exclusion of women from a major role in the planning, organizing and deliverance of any of the keynote speeches at the historic event.

Those women didn’t stop with a nostalgic glancing, over-the-shoulder critique of the events 50 years ago. Instead, they openly wondered how much had really changed within the major civil rights organizations today.

Apart from the towering roles that women played in past civil rights battles as activists and organizers, radical women, such as Kathleen Cleaver, Angela Davis and Hamer showed by their courage and example that they could more than hold their own and even surpass most men, including men who were considered the movement leaders, in terms of vision, passion, energy and steel-like dedication to the fight for economic and social justice.

Yet despite the power of their leadership and example, they still had to struggle against marginalization by male leaders. In spite of their prominence and name recognition, they constantly bumped up against the intrinsic and galling reality that when it came to leadership and decision-making in organizations, the hard edge of traditional and ingrained male domination and female marginalization continued to be the order of the day.

While many applauded an Angela Davis and rallied to her defense, she was still seen by many men as a woman first, second and often last, and not as a black leader. Yet, just as in the past, there were powerful examples of women as activists and leaders in the civil rights movement, there are even more women today who are fully capable of being not only the visible face of a major civil rights organization, but one of its leading decision and policy makers as well.

NAACP has legions of women in local decision- and policy-making roles in their various chapters. Any one of them could step into the top presidential spot. There are also prominent women outside the organization that BlackAmericaweb.com named, who could assume the president’s mantle.

Among them are Stefanie James Brown, former NAACP youth and college director; Aisha Moodie-Mills, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress; Sherrilyn Ifill, president and counsel-director of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.

Appointing any one of them to head the organization would signal that the NAACP has shattered the glass ceiling. It would send a powerful message that the organization regards the fight for gender equality and against sexism as being equally potent and compelling as the historic and continuing fight for racial justice and equality.

NAACP has a golden opportunity to open the door of its male-only room at the top to women. It’s an opportunity that it and no other civil rights organization purporting to call itself a champion of civil rights should blow.

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