Category Archives: Authors R-Z

ADR authors listed by last name R-Z

RIP John Lewis – By Elwood Watson

A Tribute to the ‘Conscience of Congress’

As he’s laid to rest, there are no shortage of salutes to Congressman John Lewis, the formidable civil rights activist and legislator from Georgia who departed this earth on July 17, 2020, at the age of 80.

Mr. Lewis was a larger than life figure, a fierce, fiery presence packaged in a medium-sized man’s body. He was a person who lived an extraordinary life.

Mr. Lewis, there have already been numerous, bountiful tributes to you; you were more than deserving of such recognition.

The commentary (save for a few right-wing websites) has been overwhelmingly positive and rightly so. Indeed, even when you were alive, there were a considerable number of articles written about you and your life experiences. You were a living legend.

To hear network commentators, radio hosts, prominent and lesser-known podcasters and people from all walks of life pay their respects to you was and is nothing short of deliriously satisfying.

    For a Black man who was born in 1940 in Troy, Alabama, a child of the deep, segregated south, life was a challenge from the very beginning.

Bold Social Activism

From childhood on, you readily witnessed glaring unjust impositions that were routinely perpetrated upon Black men and women who often had no recourse, legal or otherwise, to challenge such indignities. Witnessing and experiencing such injustices made you determined to combat such untoward mistreatment.

While your parents, who were deeply indoctrinated in the mores and customs of the segregated south, were steadfastly opposed to you becoming actively involved in civil rights activities (their concerns and reservations were well-founded), you nonetheless decided to follow your own heart, forge your own path, trust your own instincts, and pursue a life of social activism.

Trust me, more than a few of us, of my generation, thank the Lord that you and others of your cohort did!

    It was largely due to those of your generation that monumental change was able to take place in our nation.

For much of your life, you were engaged in confrontations or challenges of some sort, from disagreeing with your parents about how to behave and live your life as a Black man who was living in the legally segregated south, to challenging and confronting vicious southern mobs who attacked you for daring to ride segregated buses or sit at segregated lunch counters, to enduring violent police officers and brutal beatings (your skull was cracked and you almost died).

     For demanding the right to vote as an American citizen, you were often at the forefront of challenging injustice wherever it reared its tormenting and sadistic head. You will always be remembered for your courageous leadership in the face of racial oppression, such as:

     Your 1960s activism in organizing the Nashville sit-ins in 1960. Your courage in becoming one of the 13 original freedom riders in 1961. Your involvement as director of the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in 1963.

Your assistance to Martin Luther King Jr, A. Philip Randolph, and other political and religious leaders of the movement — by adhering to their concerns and wishes that you and some of your fellow comrades modify the language of your eventually delivered speech, and restrain behavior that was viewed as aggressive by some— made that iconic event proceed much more smoothly than it otherwise might have.

In fact, you were often on the front line with Dr. King and other leaders, who you viewed as mentors.

Public Service

During the 1970s, after a few unsuccessful runs for public office, you worked in a variety of government agency positions, first in Atlanta, for the Voter Education Project, for several years, and then working for the Carter administration as a leader of ACTION, VISTA, and similar agencies until you returned to Atlanta.

Unlike the 1970s, your 1980s runs for public office were successful. First you became a part of the Atlanta city council in 1981, and then you pulled off an upset by defeating fellow civil rights activist Julian Bond in 1986 and becoming a member of the House of Representatives.

The campaign temporarily damaged your decades’ longtime friendship with Bond, but over time both of you managed to mend the wounds. You went on to be reelected more than 16 times!

While in Congress you were known and widely respected by your colleagues as, “The Conscience of Congress.”

You, along with several other veterans of the modern civil rights movement were overcome with unbridled emotion at the unveiling of the Martin Luther King Memorial in 2003 as his widow, Coretta King and others consoled you.

Who can forget when you stood on the house floor with a picture of yourself drenched in blood shouting “this was my blood” as you passionately demanded that Congress support the extension of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Fellow congressional members stood up and applauded you for your bravery then and on “Bloody Sunday” in Selma.

Congress went to extend provisions of the Voting Rights Act in 2006. Although, it is ironic that such legislation is now under attack as you have passed on.

In your later years, you were as fiery as ever, demanding that the needs of the marginalized and voiceless be addressed.

    Even in your 70s, you were getting arrested for standing up to and challenging injustice. You eventually came to support Barack Obama for president after initially supporting Hillary Clinton.

While you marched with a few Presidents, it was the image of you with President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama and their daughters — the first Black family to live in the White House — marching over the Edmund Pettus Bridge, where you almost lost your life more than half a century earlier, which was nothing short of tearful for many of us.

    It was an electrifying moment for many of us. Your emotional embrace of the former president was touching as well.

You argued that all Americans, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, or other specific factors be treated as equal and human beings. It was due to brave, heroic individuals like you and others that Barack Obama was elected president in 2008.

Congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, and many others now follow in the pathway you opened up. Witnessing President Obama award you the Medal of Freedom in 2012 was nothing short of spectacular.

Fighting pancreatic cancer undoubtedly was one of your heaviest battles to wage. Even then, you did so with sophistication, strength, and dignity.

     You were a shining example of courage.

Final Thoughts

God called you home on July 17th.

There is no doubt that Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King, Frederick Douglas, Juanita Abernathy, A. Philip Randolph, C.T. Vivian (who passed away on the same day as you) and, of course, your longtime friend and short-term nemesis, Julian Bond, and many other forebears have welcomed you with heavenly arms.

Once again, thank you for all you did. You lived and endured an extraordinary life from the womb to the tomb.

May you rest in peace.

Juneteenth Message – by Elwood Watson

Remember Rashard Brooks and Other
Black Victims of Police Brutality

In 1964, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

As the Black Lives Matter movement continues to sweep the country, the arc of justice needs to bend more quickly in the case of Rayshard Brooks and other African Americans who have been killed by police. This is especially important as the country commemorates Juneteenth.

The justice system must send a clear message that overzealous police cannot get away with targeting and treating Black men and women as second class citizens. Every American must fully comprehend that all Black lives matter.
Continue reading Juneteenth Message – by Elwood Watson

Eyes and Ears Wide Shut – by Mauricio Velásquez

THE SILENCE IS DEAFENING

I have always specialized in hostile or militant audiences but from time to time even I have to step back and pause for a second.  Current events are always “fair game” in my workshops; it is what makes my sessions current, electric and never boring.  Recent moments of truth in my sessions lead me to pen and update to the original article I wrote many years ago.  The recent rash of horrible racial injustices (some say pattern) of Ahmaud Arbery to Breonna Taylor to George Floyd to Amy Cooper has erupted into a national conversation about racial injustice, white privilege, inequity, diversity, inclusion, and more.

Comments like – “I don’t care about BLM – Black Lives Matter, I am trying to run a business” or “White Lives Matter” or worse “White Lives Matter More (WLMM)” when people mention “Black Lives Matter” has led many to the politicization and polarization of these horrible atrocities and we these acts continue a horrible pattern of racial injustice.  You have to go back to “Rodney King had it coming!” and “Tayvon Martin, who cares.”  Today, you must be a “liberal” or a “conservative” – ouch! 

Continue reading Eyes and Ears Wide Shut – by Mauricio Velásquez

GOTTA BE GRATEFUL – by Cynthia Young

I thank God my son was in California
In 1992
when the police looked down at him sitting
on the ground and said to the suburban shopper,
who called security and reported him.
“Is he the one?”

I thank God my son has white friends.
The fact that his friends were all doing the same thing—
making an action-packed testosterone video for school,
might have helped him some.
They let his friends do the explaining,
showed the po-lice
their guns weren’t real,
while my son held his head down on concrete,
his wrists handcuffed together
like the shackles of his ancestors.

They let him go with
a restraining order:

never enter our mall again

and I thank God it wasn’t
a restraining rope
in a community square
in Alabama
in 1892

or a bullet
in 2002,
from a real gun.

Image credit: Abstract art (Cyclone Zone Amoled Backgrounds)

i want to say something – by Johann van der Walt

i want to say something but then i think of food again

chewing the thick pieces of a privileged life is easier when its buttered by the comfort and bliss of the suburbs // dishes are served deboned and all crusts already cut off sweetly sinned and sprinkled slippery with deceit // on some occasions a stranger reflects back at me from the cutlery especially late at night when i feel the need to lie to myself // i tell myself that their uncooked problems do not outweigh my people’s thawed out mistakes // i greedily swallow the marrow of a smooth history // what is politics nowadays but an aftertaste anyway?

i say let’s move on and forget about what happened in the past // we need the bad taste of this meal to dissipate for my white-skin sake // i should try to understand that it is not as easy if the leftovers bite back and break the hand that holds the plate // empathy is what i lack and i can’t seem to understand their hate // desperately they chew on sinews while covered by reluctant skin // they try to disguise whatever freedom they could salvage under candlelight

i say let’s put our disadvantages behind us even if i disown to this day // please forget about your shortcomings and my free-flow // i say I know the reasons for a black man crying in the rain // his incessant hunger for a mother and the will to simply co-exist but never have i invited him to dine at my dinner table never have i envisioned this // do i understand what martin luther meant when in me he searched for a brother and not just a friend?

tomorrow i see black lives matter protests on the news and all empathy dissipate // why i want to justify it to read only all lives matter is a representation of my blind faith // to survive i have to make myself believe that the world’s greatest never die in vain

Image credit: Artwork by Johann van der Walt

The Sweet Harvest – by Chris Wood

A hawk shadows the lawn,
shades my view
where honeybees hover clover
scattered in the grass, gathering.

Laden with yellow pods of pollen
clinging to their back legs,
I watch them disappear into the hive.

The rusty beehive smoker puffs
as my dad, clad in his sting-proof suit,
walks slowly to the three-tiered honey keeper.

He lifts the metal telescoping roof
to 10 wood frames filled with wax covered goodness,
pulls them out one by one,
and slings the soul of the hive into mason jars.

As I spread the fruits of their labor
on a piece of wheat toast
cradled in my hand,
for a brief moment, I am
surrounded by buzzing, wings fanning
until all that is left
is the pure golden nectar of the gods.

Image credit: Honey photography by Bea Abascal

Mother’s Day for a True Diversity Futurist – by Sridhar Rangaswamy

Happy Mother’s Day! Celebrated across the world for this year on May 10, 2020.  During the COVID-19 period, it is a time when people are doing social distancing and this is the time through online, to facilitate, help, support, be fair and objective for mothers across the world.

DEBORAH LEVINEI should state in this time, I had come across a Great Person, Mrs. Deborah Levine, whom I wanted to share and support as a true mother having all the above qualities.

She is a giver and she takes time to do so always promptly, in spite of her busiest schedule on earth-managing multiple things at this time period. It’s not easy, and I respect her fully, support her as a generous, compassionate, humanitarian. She is true being human compared to being born as a human…there is a difference in practice in action and deeds as a true/fellow brotherly/sisterly hood.  Continue reading Mother’s Day for a True Diversity Futurist – by Sridhar Rangaswamy

Education in the Pandemic – by Katie Schwartz

One School’s Experience

Imagine  that literally overnight, everyone in your profession all over the world was told that your work would have to be done very differently, totally online, starting the next day. No-one had preparation, many of the recipients of your work did not have devices, and many were traumatized by the change.  In addition, many of the professionals, who were to be working from home, also were trying to deal with their family’s needs.

Welcome to the world of education today, where teachers, support personnel and administrators are creatively trying in new ways to meet the needs of so many.

Continue reading Education in the Pandemic – by Katie Schwartz

Inclusive Sports – by Martin Start

Diversity in the Sports World

Sport plays a significant role in creating communities as common bond is formed when individuals and teams compete celebrating their successes and failures with others.  The Olympics is as much a peace movement as a sporting event with the Olympic flame a symbol of harmony, cultural plurality and togetherness. Athletes have been practitioners of Inclusion & Diversity (I&D) for decades meeting and connecting with people from other countries and backgrounds setting aside differences and developing a sense of fair play for all. Nicknamed “The Greatest”, Muhammad Ali is one of the most celebrated sporting figures of the 20th Century and he brought the whole world together when an estimated global audience of 1 billion viewers watched his famous “The Rumble in the Jungle” fight with George Foreman. In the 21st Century, major sporting apparel companies understand the ubiquitous commercial benefits of I&D as evidenced in the World Economic Forum article titled: The business case for diversity in the workplace is now overwhelming which stated:

     “It is important for corporations to step up and advocate for diversity and tolerance on a public platform. A great example of this is Nike’s support of American football quarterback and rights campaigner Colin ` Kaerpenick. More than a marketing exercise, it showed the world that one of America’s best-known corporations was willing to stand aside one man in his battel against racial injustice and intolerance.”

Continue reading Inclusive Sports – by Martin Start