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COMMENTARY: Right Wing Judges Put Millions’ Rights and Access to Health Care at Risk

Don’t ever forget that the judges who are willing to sacrifice reproductive freedom are usually just as eager to allow states to restrict voting rights. The right-wing judges who vote to eliminate individuals’ right to privacy and health care are often the same judges creating new “rights” to protect corporations’ ability to buy elections, get away with harming workers and communities, and discriminate against some of their employees.

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Ben Jealous serves as president of People For the American Way. Jealous has decades of experience as a leader, coalition builder, campaigner for social justice and seasoned nonprofit executive.
Ben Jealous serves as president of People For the American Way. Jealous has decades of experience as a leader, coalition builder, campaigner for social justice and seasoned nonprofit executive.

By Ben Jealous, President of People For the American Way

The political and legal movement to criminalize abortion in the U.S. is on the brink of its biggest victory in 50 years. Most at risk are those who are already among the most vulnerable in our country: Black and Brown women and LGBTQ people who will be denied access to potentially lifesaving health care.

On December 1, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in the case of a Mississippi abortion ban. That law was written by a right-wing legal group. It was part of a long-term strategy to get the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that recognized that pregnant people have a constitutional right to make decisions about whether or not to terminate a pregnancy.

Groups that want to eliminate access to abortion like to describe themselves with terms like “pro-life” and “pro-family,” but those are deceptive. If we eliminate access to family planning and abortion services, the health of millions will be compromised. Some will die needlessly. Their families and communities will suffer.

Futher, the same groups call themselves “pro-freedom,” but they are aggressively trying to restrict people’s freedom to make decisions about their own health and families.

If you want a sense of how much parents’ and children’s health and well-being mean to backers of the abortion ban, take a look at Mississippi. When the state’s previous governor signed the ban, he declared that he wanted to make Mississippi “the safest place in America for an unborn child.” The current governor has used similar language, saying he made a commitment to God and to voters that he would do everything in his power to make Mississippi the safest place for an unborn child.

But what kind of commitments have these politicians made to children and their parents?

When the Mississippi law was signed, the state ranked 50th in the health of women, 50th in the health of children, and 50th in the health of infants. It was the worst state for infant mortality.

Things haven’t changed much since then. Mississippi is also the state where Black people make up the biggest percentage of the population. During oral arguments at the Supreme Court, the attorney for the health clinic that challenged the law talked about a deadly reality: she noted that “it’s 75 times more dangerous to give birth in Mississippi than it is to have a pre-viability abortion. And those risks are disproportionately threatening the lives of women of color.” This is about political power and the corruption of our courts.

When Donald Trump ran for president, he promised conservative white evangelical leaders that he would put judges on the Supreme Court who would overturn Roe v. Wade.

Don’t ever forget that Senate Republicans refused to even consider President Barack Obama’s last Supreme Court nomination for a year.

They abused their power to create a Supreme Court vacancy for Trump to fill. Then these same shameless politicians took advantage of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death to rush Trump’s final nominee onto the Court a few days before the 2020 election — as voters were already casting ballots to dump Trump out of the White House.

And don’t ever forget that the judges who are willing to sacrifice reproductive freedom are usually just as eager to allow states to restrict voting rights. The right-wing judges who vote to eliminate individuals’ right to privacy and health care are often the same judges creating new “rights” to protect corporations’ ability to buy elections, get away with harming workers and communities, and discriminate against some of their employees.

Like the right-wing campaign to restrict voting, the campaign to eliminate access to safe and legal abortion has built power through organizing at the state and national levels.

We who believe in freedom must do the same. Among the activists and protesters who gathered outside the Supreme Court on December 1 was a group of interfaith leaders who provided the moral clarity and urgency that the progressive movement needs to more effectively defend our freedom and our families.

Ben Jealous serves as president of People For the American Way. Jealous has decades of experience as a leader, coalition builder, campaigner for social justice and seasoned nonprofit executive.

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Activism

COMMENTARY: After Jan. 6, An MLK Day Deadline for Voting Rights and Democracy

This is a dangerous thing that goes beyond mere policy matters. First the Cruzes fall in line. Then the people. Republicans are not shy about what’s next. They want to own our democracy. And they’re willing to get it by going state by state to limit our voting rights and take away our votes.

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Emil Guillermo is a journalist and commentator. Listen to his show on YouTube, Facebook, or Twitter @emilamok at 2pm Pacific M-F. Or on www.amok.com
Emil Guillermo is a journalist and commentator. Listen to his show on YouTube, Facebook, or Twitter @emilamok at 2pm Pacific M-F. Or on www.amok.com

By Emil Guillermo

We all know the images of Jan. 6, 2021. Lawless rioters ransacking the Capitol. Police being tortured and beaten. Members of Congress hiding in fear in the House gallery. The gallows and a noose meant for former Vice President Mike Pence.

We all saw the video images one year after and astonishingly they did nothing to pull our nation together.

Nothing.

They simply confirmed the only thing everyone can agree on.

Our democracy’s in trouble. Real trouble.

We already sensed that after the Civil Rights battles of the 1960s such things as race, policing, and income inequality are still major issues in 2022.

But we’ve got trouble in a different key.

C Major. No sharps or flats. This trouble goes right to the core of our democracy. They’re coming after your vote.

That is, after all, what the Jan. 6 rioters were attempting when they tried to stop the certification of the election.

But now the GOP politicians who may have been behind the Jan. 6 rioters all along, are going legit.

The majority of Republicans, notably California’s Kevin McCarthy, continue to sing the fictional tune “The 2016 Election Was Stolen.”

As if in a song battle, the Democrats counter with the loud truth, “The Election Was Fair. Trump Lost.”

But enough people keep singing the lie as if it’s their battle hymn.

And now they are looking for the ultimate control of any election. Legally. In plain view.

Republicans are taking over or running for top election official posts in key states. State legislatures are proposing laws to limit absentee ballots, mail-in voting and other conveniences. They are putting up obstacles to make voting harder with the hopes of suppressing your vote.

This is why Biden spoke in Georgia this week, saying “I will not yield, I will not flinch in protecting voting rights.”

Let’s hope he’s serious, starting with new voting rights legislation to make election days federal holidays and require federal approval of any state and local election changes.

It may take changing the filibuster law to make sure Republicans can’t block any Democratic reforms, but it must be done. And done now.

That’s why even the family of Martin Luther King Jr. is calling for “no celebration” of MLK Day without the passage of voting rights legislation.

This is how Democrats are talking to Biden.

The Republicans’ post-Jan.6 strategy is simply Orwellian. Where truth and lies are indistinguishable. And Republicans loyal to Trump are dead set on forcing their lies on everyone.

Witness Sen. Ted Cruz last week caught in a moment of truth calling the Jan. 6 rioters “domestic terrorists.” But how quickly he recanted when called on the carpet by Fox’s Tucker Carlson, the Trump Confessor, for all the Republican congregants to see.

Like a loyal Trumper, Cruz knelt, confessed, and did his penance.

It used to be called hypocrisy. Now it’s just called Modern Day Republicanism.

This is a dangerous thing that goes beyond mere policy matters. First the Cruzes fall in line. Then the people. Republicans are not shy about what’s next. They want to own our democracy. And they’re willing to get it by going state by state to limit our voting rights and take away our votes.

That’s even worse than the Jan. 6 rioters’ wildest dreams.

Emil Guillermo is a journalist and commentator. Listen to his show on YouTube, Facebook, or Twitter @emilamok at 2pm Pacific M-F. Or on www.amok.com

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Activism

El Cerrito Hosts 33rd Annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Parade and Rally

The celebration is sponsored by its founders, St. Peter CME Church and the El Cerrito Branch of the NAACP, as well as the Human Relations Commission, and the West Contra Costa County Unified School District.

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“Keeping the Dream Alive - Embracing Our New Normals with Faith, Family, and Community,” is the theme for this year’s celebration.
“Keeping the Dream Alive - Embracing Our New Normals with Faith, Family, and Community,” is the theme for this year’s celebration.

By Clifford L. Williams

The City of El Cerrito invites all of its residents and surrounding cities in the Bay Area to join in its 33rd Annual Community Celebration honoring the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., on Monday, Jan. 17, 2022.

“Keeping the Dream Alive – Embracing Our New Normals with Faith, Family, and Community,” is the theme for this year’s celebration.

The celebration is sponsored by its founders, St. Peter CME Church and the El Cerrito Branch of the NAACP, as well as the Human Relations Commission, and the West Contra Costa County Unified School District.

Event chairperson, Patricia Durham said “this peaceful protest began in 1989 on the back streets of El Cerrito because of the City’s refusal to acknowledge King’s birthday as a federal holiday.

“Members of St. Peter Christian Methodist Episcopal Church (CME), the City’s only African-American church, and the El Cerrito Branch of the NAACP, in true Dr. King style, took to the streets. The City eventually came around and acknowledged the peaceful and powerful works of Dr. King.”

Durham added, “El Cerrito’s birthday celebration of MLK is one of the longest-standing parades and rallies in the Bay Area.”

Because of the global pandemic, this is the second year the city will have a car parade because of COVID-19 protocols. Participants will meet at 9 a.m. at the El Cerrito Del Norte BART station (in the parking lot of Key Boulevard & Knott Avenue). At 10 a.m., the parade will caravan down San Pablo Avenue to the El Cerrito Plaza BART station and at 11 a.m., the rally will begin. To ensure everyone enjoys the parade safely, all CDC guidelines will be enforced. Masks and social distancing are required.

“Keeping the dream alive even during a pandemic is a necessity,” said Durham. “We are fighting for our democracy and if the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s taught us that we need each other to embrace our new normals of survival.”

“The City is expecting more than 100 cars, so we encourage everyone to decorate your vehicles so that yours stands out the best,” noted Durham. “Entertainment will be provided by the Japanese American Citizen League, The Black Cowboy Association, Ujima Lodge #35, the Mardi Gras Gumbo Band, Mighty High Drill Team, Smooth Illusions Band, and El Cerrito’s Poet Laureate, Ms. Eevelyn Janean Mitchell, among other talents.”

The MC of this illustrious event will be Jeffery Wright, president of the El Cerrito Chamber of Commerce. The event’s keynote speaker is Diana Becton, the first female African American to be elected District Attorney in the history of Contra Costa County.

For more information, contact Patricia Durham at (510) 234-2518.

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Activism

Higher Ground NDC to Sponsor MLK Jr. Day of Service in East Oakland’s Sobrante Park and Brookfield Neighborhoods

Higher Ground has partnered with community-based programs that will be on hand to provide valuable resources including a food giveaway, the City’s Stop Waste Program, designed to help people with gardening and growing their own food, and the Sobrante Park Leadership Council who assist residents in organizing and protecting their streets. COVID testing will also be available during the event.

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More than 170 volunteers will come together to provide service to various projects within the Sobrante Park and Brookfield neighborhoods in East Oakland.
More than 170 volunteers will come together to provide service to various projects within the Sobrante Park and Brookfield neighborhoods in East Oakland.

By Clifford L. Williams

Higher Ground Neighborhood Development Corporation (NDC) will once again participate in its 15th Annual Martin Luther King Day of Service on Monday, Jan. 17, 2022, from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at 10495 Edes Avenue in Oakland.

More than 170 volunteers will come together to provide service to various projects within the Sobrante Park and Brookfield neighborhoods in East Oakland.

Higher Ground has partnered with community-based programs that will be on hand to provide valuable resources including a food giveaway, the City’s Stop Waste Program, designed to help people with gardening and growing their own food, and the Sobrante Park Leadership Council who assist residents in organizing and protecting their streets. COVID testing will also be available during the event.

Event organizers will spend the morning planting trees, community cleanup and beautification, and mural painting. There will also be resource tables, a food giveaway, Warriors’ giveaways, food trucks, and entertainment.

“This event started as a community garden with the after-school program at Madison Park Academy,” said Khariyyah Shabazz, event organizer and deputy executive director of Higher Ground. “We are now coordinating 10+ on-going projects year-round, working with 15+ community partners to make these types of programs a success.”

“Each year, our goal is to build awareness of the issues within deep East Oakland. These service days are one of many direct responses from community engagement circles and focus groups to find a solution to long-standing environmental issues and struggles that plague East Oakland, which include clean air, debris removal and illegal dumping. These solutions, coming directly from community members, are coming to surface which allows us to plant more trees and clean up our neighborhoods.”

“This news comes in the wake of recent accomplishments lead by our nonprofit group made up of small businesswomen, comprised of young, gifted, and Black, Oakland natives.”

Recent accomplishments of Higher Ground are:

  • Opening an Adult Wellness Center in West Oakland.
  • Serving as a distance learning HUB for OUSD during the pandemic.
  • Becoming a key partner implementing the bike enrichment program for Brookfield and Sobrante Park youth as a member of TCC, a multimillion-dollar project funded by the City of Oakland geared toward increasing health and wellness among young Black and Brown children in the City of Oakland.
  • Continuing to partner with neighboring organizations to lead service projects throughout the city even through the pandemic of 2020.
  • Celebrating a 10-year anniversary of providing paid internships for middle and high school youth through our workforce development program.

Higher Ground is proud to host this year’s MLK Day of Service in partnership with Roots Health Clinic, African American Sports and Entertainment Group (which was recently tapped by the Oakland City Council to purchase the Oakland Coliseum), Planting Justice, Scraper Bike team, Athenian High, District 7 City Councilmember Treva Reid, Madison Park Academy, Brookfield Elementary, Service for Peace, Golden State Warriors, City of Oakland, Alpha Phi Alpha, Bay Area Air Quality Management, and Sobrante Park Leadership Council, as well as its Resident Action Council.

To learn more about how to get involved with the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service, contact Ms. Shabazz at 510-415-9271 or visit www.highergroundndc.com.

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