Tag Archives: The New York Times

Nikole Hannah-Jones Fan Club:  Join Now!

New Orleans        I don’t have time to start the Nikole Hannah-Jones Fan Club, but I’m absolutely ready to join – and pay dues.  Somebody start this, and send me a membership card, because this is one truth-telling, tell-it-like-is reporter if there ever was one, and, miracles never cease, she does so in The New York Times of all places, if you can believe that.

So, I first found myself saying “right on!” when I read her piece about the importance of busing after the Kamala Harris / Joe Biden dustup on this issue at the debate.  Her arguments there devastated anyone who might have even whispered that busing was anything but a public good and essential to racial justice.  When Biden – and Harris’ – people read that piece several months ago, they should have just waved the white flag of surrender and stepped away from the car on that issue!

What really has pulled me across the line forever though is her lead piece for the 1619 Project noting 400 years of enslavement on North American soil.  Wow!  Let me just share some examples of her arguments to give you a sense.

  • She refers to “forced labor camps” which some people call plantations.
  • She calls out ten or so of our first dozen presidents as “slavers.”
  • She nails Thomas Jefferson and the Declaration writers for their efforts to scratch out any mention of slavery in the Declaration and Constitution, but counts the times that they danced around it.
  • She cites continuing the practice of slavery as a major trigger for the demand for independence from Britain for fear that abolitionists there would force an end to the practice in the colonies.
  • She unabashedly argues that African-Americans have saved democracy in the United States from the white elites and that the best and truest Americans are in fact African-Americans.

And, let me remark again, that she does this in the Times!

In general, this is a special Times magazine section that everyone should read.

You know it by its enemies.  Former House Speaker and current Fox commentator Newt Gingrich is whining that the 1619 Project distorts history.  Of course, he is!  He represented a district in the Atlanta suburbs that one article particularly zings for creating the traffic congestion that is the legacy of slavery and persistent racism in Atlanta, and where one county continues to reject the expansion of MARTA to provide mass transit there.

Living in Louisiana, the section on sugar cane, including the fact that the French Jesuit priests planted the first cane stalks in 1751 near Baronne Street in New Orleans where one of ACORN’s old offices was located in 1978 for several years at 628, was especially painful to read.  No one living in the South escapes this reality today and the impact of its legacy.

I also have to admit that as I read Hannah-Jones’ piece when she wrote about her father’s roots having been in Greenwood, Mississippi before they ended up in Waterloo, Iowa, and that there were more lynchings in that county than any other in Mississippi where there were more than in any other state, I had to quickly doublecheck that Greenwood was in Leflore County, rather than my mother’s family next door in Sunflower County, next door, even though terribly bad in every other way imaginable.

She’s going to win a Pulitzer this year for these pieces.  The New York Times is going to win one for the 1619 Project.  I’d take a bet on both of those, as a member of her fan club, but I would also cover a bet that she at least could care less – it’s change that every word in her essay is demanding.

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Please enjoy Do You Remember from Chance The Rapper ft. Death Cab For Cutie.

Thanks to KABF.

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The Community of El Paso Shows the Real America

Gulf Shores     An article in the New York Times entitled “In El Paso, Hundreds Show Up to Mourn a Woman They Didn’t Know” by Audra Burch is the one article that President Trump, Senator McConnell, and the rest of the gang should read if they want to understand the real America and its people and the need to actual do their jobs and provide some protection from tragedy.

The line to attend the service snaked around the church and on the blocks beyond.Credit Joel Angel Juarez for The New York Times

EL PASO — Just about every morning for the past two weeks, Antonio Basco has risen before dawn to buy as many floral bouquets as he can fit in his car and carried them to a makeshift memorial for the victims of the mass shooting in El Paso.

He places the flowers one by one around the white wooden cross for Margie Reckard, his wife. This is his solemn ritual, born of grief and unmooring: tending Margie’s garden.

“She loved any kind of flowers. I could walk down the street and find flowers that had been run over a thousand times and she would think it looked like a million dollars,” Mr. Basco said on Friday morning.

Hour later, the La Paz Faith Memorial and Spiritual Center in El Paso would be spilling over with bouquets, as hundreds of strangers came to pay their respects to Reckard at her visitation and prayer service.

Basco had invited the public to the service this week, worried that he would have to bury his partner of 22 years alone. Reckard, one of the 22 people killed in the attack on Aug. 3, has children, but Basco has no direct relatives. When Perches Funeral Homes, which was handling Reckard’s arrangements, learned of Basco’s intentions, it extended an open invitation to the service on its Facebook page.

The response was unimaginable. The funeral home received about 10,000 messages and tributes, and more than 900 floral arrangements. They sat along the front of the chapel, below the stained-glass windows, on every table in the foyer, in the fellowship hall and on the staircase. They were sent from across America. New Hampshire. Oregon. Kentucky.

Some came from Dayton, Ohio, the site of a mass shooting less than a day after the attack in El Paso.

And crowds filled the center to capacity. Hundreds stood in a line snaking around the church and on the blocks beyond.

“This is amazing,” Basco said as he walked down the center aisle, surveying the unfamiliar faces.

“You took a stranger off the street,” he added, and showed him love.

Victor and Mary Perales, of El Paso, said they had come to support Mr. Basco because they knew something about sudden loss: Their oldest son died unexpectedly two years ago. Mr. Perales wrote a letter to give to Mr. Basco offering his condolences, but also offering friendship.

We know how hard it was for us and we were surrounded by family. I can’t imagine what it would feel like to go through this alone,” said Mr. Perales, 72, a retired truck driver. “I said we are going to this funeral to give him a hug and let him know we can be his family.”

The moment Alicia Solomon Click heard about Mr. Basco, she knew she was taking a road trip. The professional singer drove six hours from Sante Fe, N.M., and had stood for two hours in the visitation line. “I am here to tell Basco for every crazy nut there are thousands of us that love him,” said Ms. Solomon Click, 61.

For part of the service, a mariachi band played as Mr. Basco and Ms. Reckard’s relatives greeted and hugged guests. Mr. Basco met some of his wife’s relatives for the first time. When a performer began singing “Amor Eterno,” or Love Eternal, much of the church sang along.

“This was an assault on all of us,” Fred Valle, 44, said of the shooting. “You don’t have to know him to feel for him.”

Bishop Harrison Johnson, a Perches funeral director, delivered the eulogy. Before he began, he looked out into the standing-room-only sanctuary and turned to Mr. Basco. “Look at all the friends you have now,” Bishop Johnson said, to thunderous applause.

He preached from Matthew 14:22. Faith will get you through anything, he assured the crowd, even something as evil as the Walmart massacre. He talked about a united El Paso that was not defined or divided by color — a direct answer to a racist attack.

“Whatever you do, do not stop walking through the storm,” Bishop Johnson said. “Don’t stop because you will walk out of the storm.”

Ms. Reckard’s children and grandchildren also attended the service. Her oldest son, Dean, 48, described her as loving and kind. “She would have been overwhelmed to see all the love El Paso showed her,” he said.

Mr. Basco and Ms. Reckard met more than two decades ago at a bar in Nebraska. He was immediately smitten.

“I took one look at her eyes and it was over with,” Mr. Basco said before the service on Friday, tears welling.

She was a lady,” he said, “and she was the love of my life.”

Mr. Basco said that when he wants to feel closest to his wife, he heads to the makeshift memorial and talks to her. Sometimes he returns at night and sleeps next to the cross, hardly visible among the piles of flowers and mementos.

Mr. Basco had invited the public to the service, worried that he would have to bury his partner of 22 years alone. Credit Joel Angel Juarez for The New York Times

Preparing for the memorial service of Ms. Reckard. Credit Joel Angel Juarez for The New York Times

Mr. Basco at the memorial for the victims of the shooting. He said that he sometimes sleeps there to feel closer to his wife. Credit Joel Angel Juarez for The New York Times

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