By Betty Pleasant
The U.S. Supreme Court used to be our friend, as it was the nine justices who comprised that august body that looked beyond the local prejudices and territorial tricks that kept minorities out of the mainstream of American life and meted out justice to all. But two actions taken by the court this week signal a great falling out between them and us.
Tuesday, the court struck down Section 4 of the historic Voting Rights Act of 1965, which specifically deals with federal monitoring of elections in southern states. Rep. Karen Bass, in a joint news conference with the NAACP, decried the court's action, stating: "The ruling ignores significant evidence of continuing racial discrimination and efforts to interfere with the rights of minority voters. Congress must now act and pass legislation to ensure the right to vote is protected for every American."
The nine-member California Legislative Black Caucus quickly blasted the Supreme Court's decision and called upon Congress to right this grievous wrong handed down by the highest court in the land. Assemblywoman and CLBC Chair Holly Mitchell, called June 25 a sad day in America. "The door to nefarious and biased voting requirements, such as the use of driver's licenses as mandatory voting ID cards, has been swung wide open," Mitchell said.
Likewise, the African Episcopal Church decried the court's action, which "guts a major provision and protection for those who have been subjected to historic and longstanding discrimination, including threats to life and livelihood," said Bishop Reginald Jackson, chair of the AME Social Action Commission. "In 15 states that are now being monitored and others where new disenfranchising laws are being crafted, the AME church will increase its efforts to register, mobilize and educate potential voters," Jackson added.
The day before attacking the Voting Rights Act, the Supreme Court did something else. It took a limp-wristed swing at affirmative action again and its mouthiest opponent of affirmative action was -- you guessed it -- Justice Clarence Thomas, the only Black member of the court and the only member of the court who got there by affirmative action! (When President George H.W. Bush appointed Thomas to the Supreme Court in 1991, he was looking for a Black man to replace the late, great Thurgood Marshall, a Black man. Bush was specifically looking for a Black man -- that's affirmative action big time!) Yet, Thomas is vehemently averse to Blacks anywhere getting special treatment or consideration for anything anywhere. Thomas has likened affirmative action to slavery! And he, along with six other justices on the conservative court sent back a case about the University of Texas' admissions policies to a federal appeals court for review, thus allowing the university another chance to justify its affirmative action program. Thomas made it clear that if the Supreme Court had actually voted Monday instead of finding a loophole to send the matter back, he was prepared to vote against the school's affirmative action program. One justice recused herself from the vote. It could have been Sonia Sotomayor, who has probably benefitted from affirmative action, like Thomas, who should have recused himself as well. But no, he is busy taking every opportunity he can get to destroy the very concept of affirmative action everywhere he can, while Nelson Mandela, the greatest Black man of our time, is lying on his death bed -- and the Black fiend, Clarence Thomas, is not.
JUSTICE FOR TRAYVON -- Los Angeles Urban Roundtable President Earl Ofari Hutchinson announced Wednesday that a coalition of South L.A. civil rights leaders, coordinated by Project Islamic Hope President Najee Ali, will organize a "Justice for Trayvon Martin Caravan" to drive to and attend the trial of George Zimmerman in Sanford, Fla. The group will join other civil rights organizations from around the country in monitoring and reporting the trial's proceedings and offering support to Trayvon's family. Donations for the caravan trip are being solicited and can be sent to the Los Angeles Urban Roundtable office at 8703 LaTijera Blvd., Suite 211, Los Angeles, 90045.
FEED THE CHILDREN -- Free meals for children 18 years of age and younger are being provided through Aug. 30 by the First New Fellowship Community Development Corp. The meals are being served weekdays from 7 to 8 a.m. and from 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. at First New Christian Fellowship Baptist Church, 1555 W. 108th St., across the street from Washington High School. The free meals are a component of the Summer Food Service Program, sponsored by the state Department of Education's Nutrition Services Division. "We understand the value of good nutrition and the role it plays in the development of children," said the Rev. Norman S. Johnson Sr., pastor of the church. "We are pleased to be one of the sites selected to provide food to community children through this program." Pursuant to applicable laws, the program does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, or disability.
RUNNERS -- Councilman-elect Curren Price held a private dinner last night at the Hilton Checkers downtown in support of Sebastian Ridley-Thomas, one of Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas' genius twin sons, who is a candidate for the 54th Assembly District. Gloria Gray, current member of the West Basin Municipal Water District's Board, vice chair of the Metropolitan Water District and a member of the statewide Commission on Water, is preparing to run for the 64th Assembly District seat next year.
TELL ME THIS: Is somebody out there thinking the D.A. that you people elected is going to get state Sen. Rod Wright out of his seat? Well, forget about it. His trial, which was set to begin July 1, has been rescheduled for sometime in November. Attorney Winston McKesson is leading his defense and I'm helping! I'm going to try your D.A. in my newspaper. She's the one who is wrong -- and has been wrong for years. This picking and choosing which alleged political "lawbreaker" the D.A. will prosecute has got to stop. You can count on one hand the number of effective Black elected officials we have and we must fight the D.A. to keep them. And we must make the D.A. prosecute law enforcement for murder when they kill us. Next time, I want to talk about that $7.5 million awarded last week to the family of 21-year-old Robert Thomas Jr., who was shot dead -- 12 shots to his back -- by Los Angeles County sheriff deputies in 2010. The family got money, but the killer deputies got nothing!! This has got to stop. The Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office is a terrorist organization. It's worst than the Taliban!!
SHOWDOWN -- The Crenshaw Subway Coalition is calling everyone's attention to an important meeting of the MTA Board Thursday at 9 a.m. and is urging your attendance.
RAPID RESPONSE -- Also Thursday, the Turner Construction Co. will hold a Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) small business and job resource training session on how to do business with Turner at the International Airport. Jobs are available there, and this company wants to teach people how to get them. The session will be held from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the Doubletree Hilton, 6161 Centinela Ave. in Culver City. The session will cover how Los Angeles-based minority, women and disadvantaged business enterprises, small business owners and contractors can work with Turner and LAWA on upcoming projects.
AND FINALLY -- The world was not blessed with a Soulvine column last week as I was without telephone and computer services on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday because AT&T decided I needed these services "upgraded." Then they "upgraded' me from a fully functioning DSL system to their highly touted and "iffy" wireless U-Verse thing that did not function. I was, therefore, "upgraded" from something to nothing. I have a word of advice to all you readers: If you see an AT&T guy coming onto your property, sick your dogs on him!!