Columns

Yes on Proposition 47: The Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act of 2014

September 3, 2014 by Ernie McCray

To end felony sentencing for drug possession and petty theft crimes

By Ernie McCray

I would like to invite readers to a Community Mobilization Meeting to hear what can be done to help pass Proposition 47 in November.

The meeting is on Thursday, September 4th

Sherman Heights Community Center
2258 Island Ave, San Diego, CA 92102
RSVP to Margaret (mds@aclusandiego.org)

Yes on 47If “Yes on 47″ passes, California will be the first state to end felony sentencing for drug possession and petty theft crimes. This would permanently reduce incarcerations and shift one billion dollars, over the next five years, from state corrections to K-12 school programs and mental health and drug treatment. I love the sound of that. And it’s about time we get our minds off punishing people and focus on helping them become better human beings.

Details of the Act:

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Unions and the Future of American Democracy

September 2, 2014 by Jim Miller

labor movementBy Jim Miller

Over the last year, the subject of economic inequality has been in the news quite a bit with the release of Robert Reich’s spectacular documentary Inequality for All and economist Thomas Piketty’s seminal work, Capital in the Twentieth Century. The picture they paint is a grim one and new bad numbers just keep rolling in.

For instance, a few weeks ago a Russell Sage Foundation study revealed that the wealth of the typical American household has dropped nearly 20 percent since 1984 and yet another study notes that private sector wages measured in real terms have dipped 16.2 percent since their 1972 high point. In the wake of that news, another US Census Bureau report came out showing that middle class household wealth fell by 35 percent between 2005 and 2011.

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Can We Just Create a Civil Society Where Black Boys Can Feel Free to Just Be?

August 19, 2014 by Ernie McCray
Thumbnail image for Can We Just Create a Civil Society Where Black Boys Can Feel Free to Just Be?

by Ernie McCray

Michael Brown. Another black boy dead, unvalued and unloved by this society, unseen for what he is, a human being, dehumanized before he’s memorialized because we love to show a victim at his worse. They just had to show him strong arming a man for a pack of cigarillos.

So now we get away from his being shot (six times I just read) by someone paid by the citizenry to “serve and protect” and we start thinking, because of his criminal shenanigans, that maybe, just maybe, he isn’t deserving of continuing to live on earth with the rest of us.

Well, I’ve known many kids, a grandson of mine being one of them, who thought, at one time, they were slick and went off and committed some stupid crime and then went on to become outstanding human beings. Why? Because nobody killed them. My grandson spent some time in juvenile hall away from all who loved him and came out declaring “The criminal life is not for me” and went on to graduate from UCSD and learned to speak Chinese and is now embarking on a possible business venture with China. We have to give children a chance.

To borrow words from Fannie Lou Hamer, a civil rights hero of mine, “I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired” of this American game where a black boy is killed and then painted in an ugly dismissive light as rationalization for the taking of his life.

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Why Read? In Defense of Uselessness

August 18, 2014 by Jim Miller

happyfaceBy Jim Miller

While I still deeply love my chosen profession of teaching after twenty-five years of work at various colleges with the last seventeen of those at San Diego City College, it’s hard not to notice the constant drumbeat of critics casting doubt on the value of my life’s work in the humanities.

Whether they be corporate education reformers bent on imposing a business model on colleges or techno-boosters with a zeal to toss all that I hold dear into the dustbin of history, there is a long line of naysayers.

As David Masciotra recently noted in “Pulling the Plug on English Departments” in The Daily Beast, “The armies of soft philistinism are on the march and eager to ditch traditional literature instruction in favor of more utilitarian approaches . . . It is easy to observe the sad and sickly decline of American intellectual life, through the cultural and institutional lowering of standards, when prestigious publications promote the defense, if not the celebration, of lower standards.”

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The Widder Curry: My Visit to Fort Rosecrans Cemetery Two Years Later

August 15, 2014 by Judi Curry
Thumbnail image for The Widder Curry: My Visit to Fort Rosecrans Cemetery Two Years Later

Note: After visiting the cemetery on Saturday, August 9th, 2014, we three widow’s were sorely disappointed in what we saw – or didn’t see, two years later. I sent this article to Doug Ledbetter, the Director of the Ft. Rosecrans and Miramar Cemeteries so that he would be aware of what I was going to write. He called me this morning – Monday, August 11th, and we discussed the conditions I have mentioned in this article. His comments to me are in italics and indented next to our concerns:

Two years ago – August 21, 2012 – I wrote my first article about the deplorable conditions of Ft. Rosecrans Cemetery. The cemetery has special meaning to me because my husband is interred there, and it will be my “home” when I leave my Pt. Loma home. Over the past two years I have written several follow-up articles about the grounds and have complimented the “new” director, Doug Ledbetter on returning the cemetery to its “pre-2012” standards.

I don’t know if it was “karma” but yesterday I received a call from Doug asking me if I had been up to the cemetery lately. I had not, but told Doug that today three of us were going to visit our husbands on Saturday because it has been a long time since we have been there.

I told him that we were looking forward to the improvements we expected to see, and I would let him know our thoughts the first part of the week.

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Giving Praise When Praise Is Due: Delta Airlines and Toyota of San Diego

August 14, 2014 by Judi Curry
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Delta Airlines

For the past ten years I have not flown anywhere. I think flying everyday when my husband was in training for Ma Bell in Los Angeles and my working in San Diego – good old PSA – took its toll on me. When I was transferred to Maine I found that I was still doing a lot of flying, and, quite frankly, didn’t like the small commuter planes I had to take from Maine to Boston for various conferences, conventions, etc. When we returned to California and finally San Diego, I could not fathom flying anymore and decided to either take trains or drive.

My daughter lived in North Park at the time of the PSA airplane crash and for years I had nightmares about not being able to find her for 6 hours after the crash. (She was attending classes at SDSU and didn’t even know about the crash. Obviously there were no cell phones then!)

And one trip that the entire family took to the Yucatan, Mexico City and Guadalajara was a real nightmare in that we took off from Tijuana and in our return found out that due to a bad storm the instrument landing that would have been used was not operable. After attempting to land 3 times we finally landed in San Diego and, to make a long story short, returned to TJ to get our car by bus. There had not been any reason to leave San Diego for the past ten years and I was content to stay home.

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“How Many Times Can You Be Screwed?” Let Me Count Another Way

August 13, 2014 by Judi Curry

“No money would exchange hands, but it would be a win-win for both of us…”

facing eastBy Judi Curry

I have always thought of myself as a compassionate person. I frequently do things because I feel it is the right thing to do without ever thinking of any compensation – mentally, emotionally or monetarily. So let’s take a trip down the road to “I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine.” Let’s get into the time tunnel and go back approximately nine months.

I was walking my Golden Retriever Buddy around the block when I came across a woman I knew exercising her dog in front of her house. She was having some work done on her house and I stopped and talked to her. Her name is Patty, and it turned out that she was also in the field of education and I enjoyed talking to her.

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Helping Young People Who See the World through Frosted Windows

August 11, 2014 by Ernie McCray

Frosted Window

By Ernie McCray

I just finished watching a Turner Classic Movie, “Scandal at Scourie,” that featured two of my favorite all-time movie actors, Walter Pidgeon and Greer Garson, playing a couple who adopted a foster child. In one scene a bully, a boy, says to the adopted child, a girl, “You have no mother and you have no father. You’re nothing but a…” The last words are lost in a flurry of commotion.

As I watched I thought how timely the movie was for me since my plan for the day was to write about a program my son and others are creating to help empower low-income young adults and former foster youth, ages 18-24, to become more self sufficient. As it is, they spend their young lives pretty much seeing the world as though they’re observing it through a frosted window. All is blurry. Focusing on anything that might be of value to them in the future is often nearly impossible.

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Kevin Faulconer’s War on the Poor

August 11, 2014 by Jim Miller

war on the poor2By Jim Miller

Despite the fact that 63% of San Diegans support raising the wage, Mayor Faulconer vetoed San Diego’s minimum wage ordinance, definitively proving that he is more loyal to local plutocrats than to the people of the city, particularly those who work hard for very little.

Yes, with a stroke of the pen, Kevin Faulconer denied a raise to 172,000 people and took away earned sick days for even more local workers, a move that disproportionately affects women and people of color. Just as one could begin to feel good about the fact that our city did the right thing and stood up for those of our friends and neighbors who are most in need of a hand up, Mayor Faulconer struck them down.

When it was time to love his neighbors, he slammed the door in their faces. Rather than living with a more than reasonable compromise that will help rather than harm the local economy, he chose to declare war on the poor instead.

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Lessons for a New Gilded Age: Labor Studies Courses at City College

July 28, 2014 by Source

history-labor-unionsBy Kelly Mayhew

There’s been a lot of discussion of economic inequality recently in wake of Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century.

As many economists have observed, American workers are more educated and more productive than ever and are driving record profits for corporations while they’re seeing their wages stagnate or decline as the wealth accumulated by the top 1% of earners has skyrocketed. Robert Reich has been on a crusade to emphasize the historic importance of our current economic inequality crisis, and people like Paul Krugman have noted that we are living in “a new gilded age.”

Here in San Diego we are in the midst of seeing this writ large as the battle to raise the minimum wage rages on with a community-labor alliance advocating for the rights of low-wage workers while the city’s economic elite push back hard.

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After the Minimum Wage Win: the Battle Continues

July 21, 2014 by Jim Miller

Closeup of business people standingBy Jim Miller

San Diego’s progressive community got a well deserved shout-out last week in the national media with The Nation praising the good work of our city’s “expanding progressive base.”

More specifically, the article noted that the local movement to raise the minimum wage was comprised of many of the same folks who formed the community-labor alliance behind the David Alvarez mayoral campaign:

That coalition, Raise Up San Diego, includes the Center for Policy Initiatives as well as labor unions, immigrant rights groups and service providers.

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Feeling Hawaii

July 15, 2014 by Ernie McCray
Thumbnail image for Feeling Hawaii

by Ernie McCray

I’ve been to the islands of Hawaii four times, thoroughly enjoying the unparalleled beauty each time. How can one not?

Maui. The Hana Highway. The howling trade winds, the sudden rains, the rainbow eucalyptus, with its bright green inner bark and blue, purple, orange and maroon tones. The wonders of the Seven Sacred Pools.
Kauai. The Garden Isle. Waimea Canyon, the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific,” wild chickens everywhere. ‘Opaeka’a Falls after a heavy rain. The wet and dry caves.

Oahu. City life. Waikiki Beach. …

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What Kind of City Is San Diego? It’s Time to Raise the Minimum Wage

July 14, 2014 by Jim Miller

By Jim Miller

raise min wageThe San Diego City Council will consider today whether to pass an ordinance or put forth a ballot measure to increase the city’s minimum wage and provide earned sick days for local workers.

Since the last time I wrote on this subject in late April, the original proposal of raising the minimum wage to the local Self-Sufficiency Standard of $13.09 with five earned sick days has been significantly lowered in order to address the concerns of opponents.

The current proposal keeps the initial five earned sick days but now only raises the minimum wage to $9.75 in 2015 …

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America Has a Koch Problem

July 8, 2014 by Judi Curry

Move-on sponsored movie “Koch Brothers Exposed: 2014 Edition” shown in households all over the nation.

By Judi Curry

Bill from the Swamp CrittersSenator Bernie Sanders sent out an email telling Move-on members that “ . . . our great nation must not be hijacked by right-wing billionaires like Charles and David Koch. For the sake of our children and our grandchildren, we must fight back, and we must do it now in advance of November’s elections.”

I had heard of the Koch brothers for months; I was somewhat aware of the dastardly deeds they were doing throughout our country, and decided to attend the showing of this documentary at “The Hippie House” recently with approximately twenty of our Pt. Loma/Ocean Beach neighbors.

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The City “Dudette” meets the Real Cowboy!

July 7, 2014 by Judi Curry

Cowboy.

By Judi Curry

Weeks ago I said that I was going to stop my on-line dating sites. To a certain degree that was true; those sites that cost money I have now eliminated; those that are free I have kept. About 3-4 months ago I began corresponding with “Cowboy.” When he told me he lived in North Dakota – near Fargo – no less – I knew that there was no purpose in continuing our relationship, but it just seemed to continue, sometimes talking or texting 20-30 times a day.

After only a short period of time – maybe 3 weeks, he told me that we had texted over 2000 times! What in the world did we talk about? I don’t know, really, but our conversations went on and on, and pretty soon we were talking on the phone. For an honest-to-goodness cowboy I was impressed with his knowledge and truly enjoyed our conversations.

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What the Supreme Court’s Harris v. Quinn Decision Means for Workers and American Democracy

July 7, 2014 by Jim Miller

David Sachs/SEIU via Equal Times

By Jim Miller

After last week’s slew of bad Supreme Court rulings much of the media attention rightfully went to the horrendous “Hobby Lobby” case where the rights of corporations were deemed more important than the rights of women.

But there was another big decision where the Supreme Court surprised some observers and ruled narrowly on Harris v. Quinn, the case which could have gutted public sector unions and virtually wiped out their ability to play in American politics by ending all public sector unions’ ability to collect agency fees. As the Daily Kos noted of the case:

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San Diego Grit: Remembering Tony Gwynn

June 23, 2014 by Jim Miller

IMG_20140619_142336_131By Jim Miller

Tony Gwynn died last week and it stopped me. In part it was because he died too soon at 54, only four years older than me and many of my friends who grew up watching and admiring his skill as a player. As is always the case when someone who has been a part of your collective experience goes, there is a new hole in your life, that sense that something’s missing that won’t come back except as a ghost, a haunting memory.

But it was more than that. With the death of Gwynn, San Diego lost the last of his kind, a Southern California product who went to school at SDSU, came up with the Padres, and stayed here for his entire career, …

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“How Do You Train a Kangaroo Retriever?”

June 17, 2014 by Judi Curry
Thumbnail image for “How Do You Train a Kangaroo Retriever?”

By Judi Curry

As my Golden Retriever “Buddy” was quickly losing his ability to stand or walk, I decided it was time to start looking for another dog. I hoped that the new dog would breathe some life into Buddy, and although I had been looking for months for the “right” dog, none came to the forefront. None, that is, until I found “SHADOW”, aka Thomas, at the Baja Animal Sanctuary. He was just what I thought Buddy and I needed.

Although we cannot be sure of Shadow’s heritage, he appears to be a pure Retriever, but what kind is in question. You see, I think I have the “Superman” of the Retriever genre. He can’t leap buildings in a single leap, but he sure as hell can jump over the coffee table, with all the geegaws on it, to jump up on the couch to watch the people go by.

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What’s Wrong with the Recent Court Decision for Teachers

June 16, 2014 by Jim Miller

BlueRobot / Foter / Creative Commons AttributionBy Jim Miller and Kelly Mayhew

Last week’s decision in the Vergara v. the State of California lawsuit that undermined tenure and seniority rights was a profound slap in the face to teachers who have committed their careers to improving the lives of our children. It was yet another significant victory for those who are seeking to impose corporate education reforms by pitting teachers against children in a cynical, destructive, and utterly counterproductive fashion.

As tenured professors in the community college system, union members, and parents of a child in California’s public school system, we have a unique perspective on this matter. …

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Common Kindness Is Not Dead – and How ‘I Blew It!’

June 11, 2014 by Judi Curry
Thumbnail image for Common Kindness Is Not Dead – and How ‘I Blew It!’

Have you ever wished that you had done something but by the time it happened it was too late to act upon it? That happened to me yesterday. Let me tell you the story.

I had a massage at my favorite massage therapist’s office. Usually I pay in cash but I was short today so I wrote her a check. Had a wonderful rub down at “Mary’s Therapies” in Ocean Beach, and left about noon.

About 2:00pm, Mary called to tell me that she thought she had lost my check. She couldn’t find it anywhere and wanted me to know. I talked about stopping payment on it but she told me she had already endorsed it and added her account number on it so I figured that no one else could cash it. I thought I’d wait a few days and see what happens.

Two hours later there was a knock on my door.

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June Gloom: Inequality for All, Really

June 9, 2014 by Jim Miller

plutomoney-470x219By Jim Miller

“When you skip voting it’s not rebellion, it’s surrender.”

That was the apt Facebook meme doing the rounds last week after a brutal primary election where a pathetically low turnout led to a very good night for Republicans and the corporate interests they represent. Of course this was not at all unexpected as June primaries have always been lethargic affairs, but this one was even more embarrassing.

Indeed, with labor significantly depleted after losing a big mayoral special election and fractured local Democrats still reeling, the right saw an opportunity to go for the kill and they did, outspending the Democrats in nearly every race and burying the community of Barrio Logan under a mountain of corporate-funded bullshit.

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Restaurant Review: the “New” OB Noodle House Bar 1502

June 5, 2014 by Judi Curry
Thumbnail image for Restaurant Review:  the “New” OB Noodle House Bar 1502

OB Noodle House Bar 1502

4993 Niagara
Ocean Beach, CA 92107
619-255-9858

Weeks ago when I was told that the OB Noodle House was going to open up their second restaurant I made a note to myself to try it before it became as busy as the original restaurant on Cable. For some reason I never found time to get there – probably lacking a date – and I did not try it until yesterday, June 4th.

My friend Mary and I had just had an acupuncture treatment upstairs from the restaurant, and since it was 4:30pm on Farmer’s Market Wednesday with a great parking place, we decided to have a bite to eat before going home.

There are some vast differences between this new restaurant and the original one.

Perhaps the biggest is that this one has a full liquor license. And, unlike the original, one can actually have a drink outside.

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‘Rite Aid Carded Me When I Bought Beer and I’m a Great Grandmother!’

June 4, 2014 by Judi Curry
Thumbnail image for ‘Rite Aid Carded Me When I Bought Beer and I’m a Great Grandmother!’

“You want to see my what??!!”

The most exciting thing that has happened to me in 50 years happened just the other day. Right here in our own Ocean Beach. I am still giggling as I write this report. Let me set the stage:

I am not a beer drinker. I will cook with it, but I do not think that I ever ordered beer to drink except when I went out with the man that became my husband back 40 years ago.

We were at the race track and he ordered a glass of the brew. Not wanting him to think that we did not have anything in common, I ordered one too. I didn’t want him to know that I didn’t like it so every time he went to cash a ticket – and he was lucky that day – I poured a little bit more out. When the glass was empty he asked me if I wanted another one, but I told him that one was my limit. As best as I can recall that was the only time I ordered a beer.

Recently I have gone back to on-line dating, in spite of my saying that I would not do so again. But I didn’t know where I could legitimately meet members of the opposite sex, and, at the same time, get fodder for my articles, so I returned to OKCupid, and Mingle, which are free sites, and Match.com, which is a paid service.

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Five Reasons to Vote on June 3rd

June 2, 2014 by Jim Miller
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By Jim Miller

What if they had an election and nobody came?

That’s the feel that this June’s primary has to it and, after a nasty and seemingly unrelenting political year from the Filner scandal on, it’s understandable that folks are burned out and/or disgusted enough to stay home.

Nevertheless, while most San Diegans are meeting tomorrow’s election with a collective shrug, there are a number of things at stake that will affect our lives and the future of our local and statewide democracy in important ways.

Here are a few key areas that should motivate progressives to get to the polls: jpallan via flickr

1) The balance of power in the city is at stake.

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“Yes” on Props B & C is the Way to Support the Barrio Logan Community

May 31, 2014 by Ernie McCray
Thumbnail image for “Yes” on Props B & C is the Way to Support the Barrio Logan Community

by Ernie McCray

Here we go.

Same old same old politics in San Diego. The “Big Boys” have to get their way. They want us to vote “No” in opposition to a plan that was created to make a community healthy and safe.

And mayor, Kevin Faulconer, who has billed himself as an “independent” leader, has, as such, been going around talking about how when Propositions B & C are voted down, “it will be our opportunity to pass a plan that works to protect our families, to protect our economy.”

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Many Thanks, Maya

May 29, 2014 by Ernie McCray
Thumbnail image for Many Thanks, Maya

by Ernie McCray

I miss you, Maya,
but you will forever reside
in the breezes of
the breaths of fresh air
you gifted us with
when you were here,
ever so lovely and dear,
so wise beyond any years,
captivating us with your smile
and your wit
and your humor, all the while,
teaching us the ways of “We,”
you, him, her, them, me -
all of humanity.

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San Diego City Works Press Calls for Submissions for Its Anthology – “Sunshine/Noir II” – Writings from San Diego and Tijuana

May 27, 2014 by Jim Miller

SDCWPBy Jim Miller

San Diego City Works Press is soon approaching its 10-year anniversary. SDCWP is run by a 100% non-profit collective and is the only small literary press in San Diego that focuses primarily on the publication of local writers with an emphasis on our region that moves beyond the postcard version of our reality.

In an era where commercial forces and hegemonic instrumentality are drowning out what remains of literary culture, we have persisted against the odds. We invite all interested parties to be a part of our beautifully useless endeavor.

To celebrate our anniversary, we are putting together a second edition of our first anthology, Sunshine/Noir II. All local writers are encouraged to submit work for consideration.

See the relevant details inside:

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What’s at Stake With Propositions B and C?

May 12, 2014 by Jim Miller

“Everyone who wants to preserve community control over the planning process should be afraid because your community will be next!” –Georgette Gomez, Associate Director of the Environmental Health Coalition

EHC SpeakerBy Jim Miller

As we head toward the June 3rd election, the same corporate interests who spent big money to fund a petition drive based on lies to force a vote on the Barrio Logan Community Plan are now funding an equally dishonest campaign to defeat it.

As the San Diego Reader recently noted, the No on B and C Campaign’s sleazy tactics include teaming former mayor and current corporate front man Jerry Sanders up with a “crooked ex-admiral” to repeat the same bald-faced lies about how the Barrio Logan Community Plan will kill jobs and drive the Navy out of San Diego.

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A Look at a “Dangerous Friendship”

May 6, 2014 by Ernie McCray

By Ernie McCray

unnamedA couple of years ago at a showing of “Sing Your Song,” a documentary that highlights Harry Belafonte’s role in pursuits for human and civil rights, I met Ben Kamin, a scholar who has written much about the social struggles of those times. I just finished reading, with delight, his latest book, “Dangerous Friendship.”

The book puts the spotlight on Stanley Levison, a little known figure in the civil rights movement, who fully dedicated his life to helping Martin Luther King.

Regarding this man, Clarence Jones, another prominent aide to Martin, says “I am extremely upset, and I get angry, 24/7, and have been for many years about the glaring omission of the name and history of Stanley Levison in the civil rights chronicle.”

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Remember the Folks Who Brought You the 8-Hour Day?

May 5, 2014 by Jim Miller

By Jim Miller

8hours1Last week, May Day came and went and, while there was a small march downtown, most people barely noticed. Indeed most Americans don’t know much about May Day and if they do, they associate it with the state sponsored holiday in the former Soviet Union.

The truth of the matter is, however, that May Day has deep American roots. It started in 1866 as part of the movement pushing for the 8-hour day.

As historian Jacob Remes reminds us:

The demand for an eight-hour day was about leisure, self-improvement and freedom, but it was also about power. When Eight Hour Leagues agitated for legislation requiring short hours, they were demanding what had never before happened: that the government regulate industry for the advantage of workers.

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