Saturday, June 15, 2019
By Rod Thomson
There’s still something going on with the Trump presidency that is lost on pollsters, the media and Democrats: The white-hot support of his base, which is definitely larger and perhaps hotter than in 2016.
This is demonstrated in rally after rally he holds, which all the talking heads told us was going to peter out. My gosh these people are wrong a lot. Consider what is happening in the lead up to Trump’s official campaign 2020 kickoff next week in Orlando.
The President tweeted:
“Wow! Just got word that our June 18th, Tuesday, ANNOUNCEMENT in Orlando, Florida, already has 74,000 requests for a 20,000 seat Arena. With all of the big events that we have done, this ticket looks to be the ‘hottest’ of them all. See you in Florida!”
These numbers will overwhelm the Amway Center’s capacity of 20,000 for an NCAA basketball crowd maximum. Center stage concerts hold 19,700 while end-stage concerts hold about 16,000. Of course Trump frequently draws more than his venues can hold. He also did this as a candidate in the primaries. Are any Democrats anywhere near this? No. Polls do not capture this.
Orange County GOP Chair Charles Hart told the Orlando Sentinel that the extraordinary request-to-availability ratio for tickets to the kickoff is “epic even for his rallies…This is a phenomenally hot ticket.”
The campaign will likely set up outdoor screens for people to watch it live with others even if they cannot get inside Amway.
If the venue held 150,000 (and there is not such a thing) it’s possible Trump could fill it in Florida. Republican clubs from The Villages, Sarasota, Fort Myers, Jacksonville, Tampa, Miami and other Florida areas have chartered buses to take people to the event.
But here’s the deal. A lot more Republicans would go if they thought they could get in. Most are aware that the Amway Center is overwhelmed and have decided not to go to Orlando because their chances of getting in are minimal.
Anecdotally, I was in a group where several said they were planning to go until they realized they probably could not get in. It’s a lot to go through just to stand outside and watch it on large screens.
And yet tens of thousands will likely do just that — knowing that is what they will be relegated to.
That displays a level of support you don’t see in any other candidates, or really in any candidates in recent memory. Obama at his peak did not come close to swamping major venues. And he was going to be the one to lower the seas!
In addition, it shows the level of organization now in the Florida Republican Party. The Party was split organizationally and financially between Rick Scott forces and the statewide party during Scott’s governorship.
But that is all united now under Gov. Ron DeSantis and Florida GOP Chair Joe Gruters. DeSantis and Gruters were both early and strong supporters of Trump.
The simple reality is that the state is more unified and organized than it was in 2016.
And that shows in events such as Trump’s kickoff. The President picked Florida because of course it is the largest swing state and critical to victory. But also because the Party is healthier, and no state has a stronger economy right now.
These are positive trends you will not see reported in the mainstream media or typically reflected in these broad national polls. But they can make all the difference in 2020.
Friday, June 14, 2019
By Michael Barone | The Washington Examiner
Will Joe Biden inevitably win the Democratic nomination for president? A month ago, many psephologists thought so, as national polls within two weeks of his April 25 announcement showed the former vice president with 41% of Democratic primary votes.
Four weeks later, that number has fallen to 33% — still formidable in a field of 24 candidates, but lacking the look of inevitability. His light schedule of campaign events suggests a lack of confidence in the stamina steadiness of a 76-year-old candidate, and his flip-flop on major issues strengthens that impression.
The most important issue on which he’s switched is probably China. In May he downplayed its importance. “Is China going to eat our lunch? Come on, man,” he told Iowa Democrats. “They’re not competition for us.”
He changed his tune in June. “We need to get tough with China,” he said, decrying its “abusive behavior,” “cheating,” and “repression.” Quite the turnabout for someone with 42 years of experience on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the National Security Council.
Attracting more attention was his 24-hour renunciation of his 44-year opposition to Medicaid abortions. He argued that recent state laws restricting abortion, if upheld by the courts, would reduce availability of abortions. But Medicaid payments won’t open closed clinics or enable banned procedures.
Nor did Biden’s abortion flip-flop reflect unanimous Democratic opinion. A June Morning Consult poll showed Democrats almost evenly split on Medicaid abortions: 45% for, 38% against.
All of which makes a Biden nomination looks less inevitable this month than it did in May. And maybe it was all along. A May YouGov survey reported that only 8% of Democrats were for “Joe Biden or bust” and the same percentage for “Bernie Sanders or bust,” while 67% of Democrats were “considering multiple candidates.”
This is a race in which every candidate, well-known or not, is standing on quicksand. As Barack Obama’s chief strategist David Axelrod wrote this week for CNN, “No one is going to hand Biden the Democratic nomination. He’ll have to engage fully and fight for it if he is to get the face-off with Trump he is seeking.”
And if his flip-flops on China and abortion undercut his supposed advantages of deep experience and settled conviction, his stance on another issue has the capacity to make his priorities seem downright eccentric.
That issue, dear to his heart, is passenger rail. During his 36 years in the Senate he commuted almost every day to his home in Delaware on Amtrak, a 75-minute commute each way these days on the Acela. This enabled him when first elected to help raise his two sons after his first wife and daughter were killed in an auto accident a month after he was elected. Over many years it enabled him to keep in closer touch with constituents than almost any other senator.
No wonder he’s been a booster of high-speed rail, which makes him this year a natural ally of freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Her “Green New Deal” proposals include “transportation systems in the United States to eliminate pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector as much as is technologically feasible” and would, according to a staff-drafted FAQ document, require the federal government to “build out high-speed rail at a scale where air travel stops being necessary.”
Of course your mileage may vary on what is “necessary.” There’s no doubt that the not-quite-high-speed Acela is the fastest way to travel the 120 miles from Capitol Hill in Washington to downtown Wilmington. But it’s cheaper to drive a car or take a bus, and it would be faster if you could commandeer a helicopter.
But the veteran Biden, like the newcomer Ocasio-Cortez, wants the federal government to pay for “the construction of an end-to-end high-speed rail system that will connect the coasts, unlocking new, affordable access for every American.”
It’s hard to overstate how wacky an idea this is. We already have “affordable access” through commercial airlines and interstate highways and, at distances above 300 miles, high-speed rail can’t compete on travel time with airlines and on costs with automobiles. Among all of the world’s much-praised high-speed rail lines, only the 300-mile- long Tokyo-Osaka Shinkansen and Paris-Lyon TGV have been profitable.
Given the fiasco of California’s now canceled high-speed line and the longstanding failure to upgrade the Acela line up to Shinkansen/TGV standards, it’s lunacy to envision — and start paying for — a 3,000-mile coast-to-coast passenger rail line.
Anyone want to ask Biden about this?
Thursday, June 13, 2019
Cuba, 2016 (Ioanna Sakellaraki/Barcroft Im/Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
Nor is it compatible with the Constitution
Back in 2011, while covering Occupy Wall Street, I was accosted by a man wearing a large cardboard box. On this box, which he wore around his torso as might a child pretending to be a robot, he had scribbled down a theory that, at first glance, seemed more sophisticated than most that were on display.
“Hey, man,” he said to me, “it’s up to us.”
To explain, he turned around to reveal the other side of the box, which bore a single word: democracy.
Then, having paused for effect, he turned around again and pointed to the front, on which he had written down almost every single economic system that had been tried in human history: capitalism, socialism, mercantilism, autarky, distributism, fascism, feudalism, potlatch, mutualism, and so forth.
“It’s up to us,” he said again. “It’s our democracy, and we can choose the economy we want.”
Further conversation revealed that he believed this quite literally.
In his view, democracy was the sole nonnegotiable element of our political system, while everything else was up for grabs.
If a majority wanted to nationalize the banks or abolish private property or bar all international trade or invade Brazil and harvest its resources, that was its prerogative.
As might be expected, he had a prediction and a predilection: Socialism, he explained, was both the most likely system to be adopted, because it catered to the “majority, not the 1 percent,” and the best, because it would fix all of America’s problems without any downsides.
“It’s up to us.”
I have thought about this conversation frequently since then, because it highlights some of the core misconceptions held by socialism’s champions, which are, in no particular order, that the retention of a democratic system of government makes massive state intervention more acceptable, that “capitalism” is a “system” in the same way as is “socialism,” and that liberal democracy — and, in particular, America’s brilliant constitutional order — can survive the establishment of a socialist economy.
Because I was there to write about the protests rather than to get into prolonged arguments, I listened and probed rather than disputed his contention. Had I been debating him, however, my rejoinder would have been a simple one: No, it’s not “up to us.”
Or, at least, it’s not up to “us” in the way that my friend in the cardboard box was using the word “us.”
As I write, ascendant elements within the American Left are engaged in a sustained attempt to reintroduce and rehabilitate the word “socialism,” in part by prepending to it a word that has a much better reputation and an infinitely better historical record: “democratic.”
Voters should not be fooled by the rebranding, for there is no sense in which socialism can be made compatible with democracy as it is understood in the West.
At worst, socialism eats democracy and is swiftly transmuted into tyranny and deprivation.
At best — and I use that word loosely — socialism stamps out individual agency, places civil society into a straitjacket of uniform size, and turns representative government into a chimera.
The U.S. Constitution may as a technical matter be silent on most economic questions, but it is crystal clear on the appropriate role of government. And the government that it permits is incompatible with, and insufficient to sustain, socialism.
This is deliberate.
In the United States, and beyond, we do not think about our democracy in purely procedural terms.
While majority rule on certain political questions is indeed deemed imperative, we nevertheless reject the notion that majorities may do whatever they wish, we demand that our institutions leave room for civil society and for individuals, and we insist upon a broad presumption of liberty that extends across all areas of human activity.
It is reasonably well understood in this country that to place the word “democratic” in front of, say, “speech restrictions” or “warrantless searches” or “juryless criminal prosecutions” would be in no way to legitimize those things or to make them more compatible with the preservation of a free society.
It is less well understood that to place the word “democratic” in front of “socialism” is an equally fruitless endeavor — and for the same reasons.
To those whose conception of “democracy” is limited entirely to the question of “Who won the most votes?” this may seem paradoxical.
To those familiar with the precepts beneath the Anglo-American tradition, however, it should be quite obvious. Just as the individual right to free speech is widely comprehended as part of what we mean by “democracy” rather than as an unacceptable abridgment of majority rule, so the individual rights protected in property and by markets are necessary to the maintenance of a democratic order — in this, deeper, sense of the word.
In the West, choosing to trade with a person in another country is, itself, a democratic act. Electing to start a company in your garage, with no need for another’s imprimatur, is, itself, a democratic act. Banding together to establish a cooperative is, itself, a democratic act.
Selecting the vendor from which you source your goods and services — and choosing what to buy from it — is, itself, a democratic act. Keeping the lion’s share of the fruits of your labor is, itself, a democratic act. When governments step in with their bayonets and say “No!” they are, in effect, keeping your choices off the ballot.
Properly understood, the attempt to draw a hard line between “democracy” and “economics” is not only a fool’s game but a game that socialists do not in fact play themselves.
Ugo Okere, a self-described “democratic socialist” who ran for the Chicago City Council earlier this year, was recently praised in Jacobin magazine for explaining that “democratic socialism, to me, is about democratic control of every single facet of our life.”
That’s one way of putting it, certainly.
Another is “tyranny.” Or, if you prefer, democratic tyranny.
Alexis de Tocqueville observed that “the health of a democratic society may be measured by the quality of functions performed by private citizens.” Lose those functions in America, and you lose democracy in America, too.
And then there is the question of socialism’s substantive record, which is so extraordinarily disastrous that it renders my friend-in-the-box’s theoretical argument useless even on its own terms.
It is, in a strictly technical sense, “up to us” whether we choose to, say, smash ourselves repeatedly in the face with a hammer, but that is neither here nor there given that nobody in his right mind would elect to smash himself in the face with a hammer.
We should avoid socialism with a similar diligence — and for similar reasons.
History has shown us that socialism exhibits three core defects from which it cannot escape and which its champions cannot avoid.
The first is what Hayek termed “the knowledge problem.” This holds that all economic actors make errors based on imperfect knowledge but that a decentralized economy will suffer less from this, partly because the decision-makers are closer to the information they need, and partly because each actor does not wield total control over everything but is only one part of a larger puzzle.
The second problem is that, because socialism eliminates both private property and supply and demand, it eliminates rational incentives and, thereby, rational calculation.
The third problem is that socialism, following Marx’s dialectical theory of history, lends itself to a theory of inevitability or preordination that leaves no room for dissent, and that leads in consequence to the elevation of a political class that responds to failure by searching for wreckers and dissenters to punish.
Worse still, because socialists view all questions, including moral questions, through a class lens, these searches tend to be deemed morally positive — bound, one day, to be regarded by History as Necessary.
Together, these defects lead to misery, poverty, corruption, ignorance, authoritarianism, desperation, exodus, and death.
Ironically enough, they also lead to socialism’s exhibiting a record of failure in precisely the areas where it is supposed to excel.
Despite the promises in the brochure, socialism has been terrible at helping the poor; it has been terrible at helping women advance; it has been terrible for civil liberties; it been terrible at helping the environment; it has been terrible at attracting immigrants; it has been terrible at tolerating and protecting minorities; it has been terrible at fostering technology, architecture, and art; it has been terrible at producing agriculture; and, worst of all, it has been terrible at sharing power and resources — indeed, it has done precisely the opposite, creating new “ruling classes” that are far less adept, far less responsive, and far less responsible than the ones they replaced.
It has become something of a running joke that, whenever socialism’s history is highlighted, its diehard advocates insist that “that wasn’t real socialism.”
This defense is frustrating. But it is also instructive, in that it is an admission that, like perpetual motion, socialism has never been realized in the world.
The U.S. Constitution has survived for so long because it was built upon the understanding that man is imperfect and always will be, because it accepts that selfishness is ineradicable and so must be harnessed, because it acknowledges that power corrupts as much in our era as it ever did, and because it makes provisions for the fact that disunity is inevitable in any free society.
Capitalism, too, has survived because it is built on truth rather than myths.
Socialism, by contrast, has failed each and every time it has been tried because it is predicated upon precisely the opposite — that is, precisely the wrong — assumptions.
One would have imagined that, at some point, “That wasn’t real socialism . . .” would have been followed by “. . . and real socialism can’t exist because man isn’t perfectible, selfishness is ineradicable, power has needed restraining since the dawn of time, and political unity is a dangerous and undesirable myth.”
Alas, no such recognition has yet been forthcoming.
In the 20th century, Communism killed at least 100 million people — by democide, by famine, by central planning, by war — and yet it is still acceptable to say in public that it was a “nice idea.”
In the post-war period, “democratic” socialism ravaged the economies of the West like a virus and required a counterrevolution to remove, and yet it remains sufficiently seductive to a slice of the public as to present a threat to the American order.
Today, the states that have actively rejected socialism are growing fast (India, Poland, the former East Germany) while those that fell prey to the temptation are either moribund (Greece), tyrannies (China), or international pariahs (Cuba and North Korea) — and yet there is still a solipsistic cottage industry dedicated to blaming their successes and failures on decisions made by the United States.
The damn thing is ineradicable.
And so we get Venezuela.
That Hugo Chávez’s centrally planned “Bolivarian Revolution” has descended into dictatorship, repression, starvation, and crisis was apparently genuinely shocking to a good number of the people who write about politics for a living.
Six years ago, upon Chávez’s death, the Guardian’s Simon Reid-Henry reflected the consensus view on the left by arguing that Chávez had shown “that the West’s ways aren’t always best” by “[refashioning] Venezuelan democracy in ways that he thought better addressed the country’s long-standing development issues.”
His paper’s editorial board went one further, describing Chávez’s work as an “unfinished revolution.”
Predictably enough, this was in fact a correct characterization of Venezuela’s fate — just not in the way that the Guardian had anticipated.
Five years after that edition went to print, Ricardo Hausmann, the former chief economist of the Inter-American Development Bank, was explaining that “Venezuela’s economic catastrophe dwarfs any in the history of the U.S., Western Europe or the rest of Latin America.”
“The West’s ways aren’t always best”? The Venezuelan president is now a ruthless dictator who has cracked down on free speech, prohibited mass political protests, and confiscated firearms from anyone who has been even remotely critical of him.
Thirteen percent of the country’s population has now fled, and those who have remained have been left so degraded by the government’s price controls that they have gone years without toilet paper, meat, and other basic necessities and have in consequence taken to eating zoo animals for sustenance and to scouring garbage bags for supplies.
According to the Pharmaceutical Federation of Venezuela, the country is suffering through an 85 percent medicine shortage and a 90 percent shortage of basic medical supplies.
The child-mortality rate has increased 140 percent. Ninety percent of Venezuelans now live in poverty.
This year, the IMF predicts, inflation will hit 10 million percent.
All this in a country with the world’s largest oil reserves — reserves greater than those of the United States by a factor of ten.
“It’s up to us.”
One of the great advantages to living at the tail end of 6,000 years or so of human civilization is the chance we have been afforded to look back and learn from the lessons accrued by others without having to go through the pain of learning them for ourselves.
History is a complicated thing, and should be treated as such, but there are nevertheless a few core rules by which we can live:
Do not inflict laws on others to which you would not subject yourself;
Ensure that you distribute power among several rival institutions, and,
If possible, several geographical locations;
Never relinquish the right to free speech, the right to free conscience, the right to freedom of religion, the right to bear arms, or the right to a jury trial;
Insist on being represented by a parliament, and make sure that you prohibit that parliament from loaning its powers to a king, temporarily or permanently;
Do not ask people to give up more of their income than they are permitted to keep; and
Don’t, whatever you do, be seduced by socialists bearing promises.
And if you are seduced, get out before it’s too late.
You have nothing to lose but your chains.
Wednesday, June 12, 2019
If leftists were truly staunch advocates of racial equality and harmony, they should be moved to address the fact that the face of abortion has a color.
“The right doesn’t actually care about black or brown babies.” I have seen viral variations of this quote on social media countless times the past couple of weeks, amidst pro-life victories in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Ohio, and more.
I listened as Alyssa Milano claimed that protecting the preborn would be “catastrophic” for black women. I was deeply disturbed as major news outlets flooded readers with arguments that black women would be hurt the most by pro-life laws, even to the point of enslaving them once again. And I was in utter disbelief when Ohio state Rep. Janine Boyd proposed an amendment to a bill that would only allow black mothers to have an abortion.
The left thrives on recklessly leveraging race. They inflame and foment racial differences until their voters are hysterical over the idea that slavery is returning to our country at the hands of the pro-life movement. The left’s frenzied panic and outlandish claims compel me to respond to the insidious lie that “the right doesn’t actually care about black and brown babies.”
I am black. I am pro-life. And I do care. I think I can speak for all pro-lifers when I say we care about all pre-born babies—babies so early in development that they don’t even have a skin color yet. Regrettably, it is the left that has a race problem at its core, and this problem is as old as the institution of slavery.
It is the left, in fact, that worships an organization that was birthed out of the racist ideas of its founder, Margaret Sanger. She was a staunch proponent of the contemptible, progressive, eugenics movement—the discredited philosophical concept that “undesirable” people should be eliminated from the gene pool of the human race. “Undesirables” like the poor, illiterate, disabled, and the dark-skinned.
Unfortunately, Sanger’s degenerate beliefs led her to work very closely and intentionally with the black community, “assuring” them that her goal was not to “exterminate the Negro population.” America’s intricate strategy to dovetail racist policies and eugenics was so effective that it was studied by one Adolf Hitler, and the horrors of the eugenics movement were fully realized in the unspeakable atrocities of the Holocaust.
Fast-forward to today, and Sanger’s early organization, the American Birth Control League, has become today’s Planned Parenthood, and the intentional targeting of America’s minorities continues. It appears that 79 percent of Planned Parenthood’s surgical abortion facilities are within walking distance of black and brown neighborhoods. Indeed, more than 19 million black babies have been aborted since the Roe v. Wade ruling in 1973, effectively reducing the size of today’s black community by 40 to 50 percent!
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 36 percent of all abortions in the United States are performed on blackwomen, despite the fact that they represent just 13 percent of the population. Hispanic babies are also aborted at 1.5 times the rate of white babies, making up 18 percent of all aborted babies. Essentially, more members of the black community are killed by abortion each year in the United States than by all other causes combined.
Despite the intentional targeting of poor and minority communities that has persisted across the decades, Sanger’s strategy to ensure that blacks remain unaware of their extermination has worked perfectly, with both pro-choice blacks and their allies insisting on their right to choose.
More than 100 years ago, the “pro-choice” party of today insisted that the institution of slavery was also a choice to which every state was entitled. Their platform was that each state should have the right to choose whether slavery was a morally acceptable option for its own citizens. In addition, states were not allowed to impose their moral beliefs about slavery on others because slavery was a constitutionally protected right.
If leftists were truly staunch advocates of racial equality and harmony, they should be moved to address the fact that the face of abortion has a color. They should be compelled to address the fact their pro-choice platform of a century past has resulted in tens of millions of lives lost, a great many of them black. Pro-lifers understand that a law that is ruled to be “constitutional” can still be morally reprehensible.
So the next time you hear someone on the left claiming that the right doesn’t care about brown and black babies, know that it’s a lie designed to cover up their own shameful past and present. The truth is this: Regardless of political philosophy, no one is doing more to protect brown and black babies than the pro-life movement.
Leftist Governor Says Illinois Is 'A Beacon Of Hope' For Legalizing Partial-Birth Abortion Under New Law
By Timothy Meads | Townhall.Com
Source: AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin
Despite leftist commentators routinely insisting that the Democratic Party does not celebrate abortion, the governor for Illinois bragged this morning that state's new abortion law supposedly signals that Illinois "is a beacon of hope in the heart of this nation." The legislation essentially makes abortion-on-demand a reality and makes partial-birth abortion legal under Illinois law.
"Illinois is making history, because our state will now be the most progressive in the nation for reproductive healthcare," Gov. JB Pritzker said in a statement after the Illinois Senate approved the passage of the Reproductive Health Act last week. The press release also noted that the law makes "good on his promise to make Illinois the most progressive state in the nation for women's reproductive rights."
Gov. Pritzker signed the legislation today, which will remove virtually all restrictions on abortions in the state.
"Let the word go forth today from this place that if you believe in standing up for women's fundamental rights, Illinois is a beacon of hope in the heart of this nation," Pritzker said while signing the law. "We trust women," he added.
The Chicago Tribune has more details as to what exactly the radical bill includes.
Via Chicago Tribune:
The bill establishes the “fundamental right” of a women to have an abortion and states that a “fertilized egg, embryo or fetus does not have independent rights.” It repeals the Illinois Abortion Law of 1975, doing away with provisions for spousal consent, waiting periods, criminal penalties for physicians who perform abortions and other restrictions on facilities where abortions are performed.
Critics in the state rebut the governor's boast by saying the bill goes "much further" than the typical pro-life vs. pro-choice debate.
“In just a few short years, the Democrat party in Illinois went from advocating ‘safe, legal and rare’ to abortion-on-demand, at any time, for any reason, and funded by taxpayers,” Illinois Senate Republican chairman Tim Schneider said in a statement after the passage of the law.
While partial-birth abortion is now legal at the state level in Illinois, there is still a federal law in place which bans the practice. It is unclear to what extent federal authority would enforce the law in Illinois should a woman seek the procedure.
Tuesday, June 11, 2019
BY J’LYN FURBY
Reprint Article From The Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) Magazine / SPRING ISSUE / Vol. 48 / No. 2
Juanita Abernathy (center), David Abernathy (second to her right), and John Lewis (third to her right) march from Selma, Ala. to the state capitol in Montgomery in 1965 with Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King.
Photo: City of Atlanta.
Juanita Jones Abernathy, one of the pillars of the Civil Rights Movement, has lived an extraordinary life of community servitude and Civil Rights activism for a woman of her era. She was highly educated attending the famous Selma University Boarding School in Selma Alabama and a graduate of Tennessee State University. Her life and legacy as a Civil Rights Activist, former First Lady of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and Reverend Ralph David Abernathy’s courageous wife is widely revered.
That’s why a recent Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority Board Retirement Ceremony was organized for Mrs. Abernathy by self-proclaimed Republican “Statesman” Bruce LeVell. That dignified event is at the center of this commemorative article because on that occasion Mrs. Abernathy exuberantly expressed candid moments about her effervescent life as a wife, mother, and pioneering female civil rights activist.
Republican statesman Bruce LeVell congratulates Juanita Abernathy on her stellar and courageous civil rights career.
“You know people don’t vote now, I tell everybody,” laments Mrs. Abernathy. “We walked 50 miles for the right to vote in loafers, not sneakers, with blisters on our feet from Selma to Montgomery. I never miss an opportunity to vote no matter how small. My husband and Martin had been to see the president; and had told him how difficult it was for Blacks to vote in this county and especially in the South.” That was after Jimmy Lee Jackson was killed in Marion Alabama.
“They had a literacy test that was to prohibit blacks from voting,” continues Mrs. Abernathy during her retirement ceremony. “If you could not fill out all that information. Then you could not qualify to register to vote. My husband he was a KAPPA. He took his fraternity down to register to vote. They had all this material to fill out. When they got to him. He [Rev. Abernathy] wrote down the pledge of allegiance.”
The voter registration worker told Dr. Abernathy “I knew you would do it right.” He got to vote, and all his fraternity brothers were angry. “You got to vote, and we didn’t,” they told him. He said, “I wrote down what I knew, and I knew she [voter registration worker] didn’t know it. But it was just to keep us from voting.”
Mrs. Abernathy shared little known facts surrounding the historic accomplishments of her husband and his freedom fighting brothers.
Together many leaders advanced the voting right issue all the way to the White House. Mrs. Abernathy said how “President Johnson federalized the state troopers and forced them to protect us. We did all of that for the right to vote and we added no gerrymandering.”
Mrs. Abernathy’s historical contributions are also cemented in history along “The U.S. Civil Rights Trail” locations and attractions that document Abernathy’s and King’s story timeline state by state. Dr. Martin Luther King and Reverend Ralph David Abernathy were each other’s right hand sharing in the social struggles and triumphs of their time. The women who held these men down have stories of their own.
Former Georgia State Representative Roberta Abdul-Salaam is a self-proclaimed “Movement baby”, who much like Mrs. Abernathy does not mince words. “I’ve known Mrs. Abernathy through ‘The Movement’, she says. “I been working with SCLC since I was a 12 or 13 years-old. I went to my first National SCLC Convention in 1972.”
Rep. Abdul-Salaam, spoke about Black women who have always been the backbones of the community is different capacities. “Mrs. Abernathy is such a strong pillar.
She exemplifies the kind of leadership that woman have made a difference in the country for so long. I remember telling her a couple of years ago; that we were going to do a celebration on Dec 1st in commemoration of the Montgomery Bus Boycott. And she took me aside and took her time. She [Mrs. Abernathy] told me well you know I am the only one of the originals left. I kind of knew that. I was also fortunate to work with Mrs. Rosa Parks, Mrs. Coretta King, and Mrs. Evelyn Lowery. I said what is it that made you women stand out to these powerful men?”
The four female pillars of Civil Rights shared more than the struggles of being progressive woman during that era. According to Rep. Abdul-Salaam, “what I had noticed is that Dr. Young, Dr. Lowery, Dr. King and Dr. Abernathy all choose their wives from that same community. That had to speak for something.” All four women came from the same Union County community in Alabama. “Mrs. Abernathy had leadership in her blood.
I heard Mrs. Abernathy say, that if you want to be a good leader. Find good leadership and become a follower,” Abdul-Salaam recalls.”
Attorney Michael Tyler, a former MARTA Board president, was the first to speak at the ceremony. “She knew and understand the imperative of MARTA for those who truly needed it,” Tyler said. “Mrs. Abernathy was our compass.”
Tyler, hailed Mrs. Abernathy for her incredible moral compass and strengths: “You’ll see photos of Mrs. Abernathy when she was a younger woman. Back then she was team with her legendary husband, one of the icons of the 21st century, who she met back in high school.”
Mrs. Abernathy interrupted Tyler, “He [Rev. Abernathy] use to brag and say the problem with you all is I raised my wife.”
Tyler, after yielding to Mrs. Abernathy, said, “It’s not a mystery that Mrs. Abernathy was joined at the hip back in Selma back in the day with her husband and stuck with him all the time. It was noteworthy to me, Mrs. Abernathy, that back in 1955-56., when we had the Montgomery Bus Boycotts you were there. When I think about your service to MARTA, to me it’s been an extension of your service to ‘The Movement’. The movement after all started off on a bus. It was all about equity in terms of opportunities for African Americans.”
The Hip Hop Culture today would call her a “ride or die” revolutionary activist. Mrs. Abernathy recalled that “Rosa Parks sat down on my birthday in December 1955.”
She was the ultimate volunteer and spent a great deal of time working with civic and religious organizations. Biblically speaking she was Reverend Ralph David Abernathy’s helpmate. She gave Rev. Abernathy three children, two girls Donzaleigh and Juandalynn and his son Ralph David Abernathy III.
“We met when I was 16 years-old,” Mrs Abernathy revealed. “He told people he raised me and he did.”
She wore many hats in addition to being a mother and educator: Board of Directors and Secretary for the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority; Board of Trustees of the Morehouse School of Religion; Board of Directors for the Ralph David Abernathy Towers and Foundations; Board of Director and Treasurer of the Fulton County Development Authority; Board of Director of the Atlanta-Fulton County League of Women Voters; and Citizen Panel Review Board for the Development of Family and Children Services.
The right to vote was paid for with American blood and lives of Black and White people. Mrs. Abernathy’s passionately voiced that; “people were killed but we had blisters on our feet for the right to vote. Because people died it’s a blood ballot.”
Protecting others was a standard operating procedure with this noted civil rights heroine. Mrs. Abernathy identified as a Democrat but nevertheless found a way to defend Black Republicans. According to Black Republican businessman LeVell, she had a unique approach to how she influenced others. He says that Mrs. Abernathy protected him—a self-described Frederick Douglass Republican—from taunting and ridicule. In support of LeVell and other Black Republicans she told others; “we need people on both sides of the aisles.” That is a strong salient political statement from an iconic activist that resonates and remains relevant today.
“I fondly remember Mrs. A.”, says LeVell. “She was nice and fiery; when she put her hands on the desk and folded her arms and her eyes got big everyone knew to watch out. I was her self-proclaimed protector. I don’t know if she knew that; but everyone knew I wasn’t going to tolerate anyone disrespecting her.
“It wasn’t right how she learned about her ‘retirement’ from MARTA,” LeVell continues during an interview. “I had to do something. We had to do something to honor Mrs. A. Right is Right. She was only 5’5 and mighty.”
Mrs. Abernathy was instrumental in the Montgomery Bus Boycott and gaining Atlanta MARTA transportation for maids and home workers. She literally walked and marched for civil freedoms and access to transit systems for the working class. That was a was key to Mrs. Abernathy’s civil rights activism that now “spans decade’s across multiple cities and states—from Topeka, Kansas, to Memphis, Tennessee, from Atlanta, Georgia, to Selma and Birmingham, Alabama and all the way to Washington, D.C. charts the course of the Civil Rights Movement” as chronicled by U.S. Civil Rights Trail.
Mrs. Abernathy maintained that “people really don’t know that history. People think it just happened. It happened at the action of a lot of people.”
Mrs. Abernathy was a woman with great fearlessness to endure such a journey that included more than 100 locations across 15 states.
Political and Civil Rights Activists suggest that our society could learn a thing or two from the former First Lady of the SCLC and the Black Republican “We worked together for what is right” says LeVell.
“Civil Rights Veterans tell me that Mrs. Abernathy was brazen and outspoken about issues and events her husband and MLK captained,” says Maynard Eaton, SCLC’s National Communications Director. “She was not passive participant in ‘The Movement’. She was not a background player. Mrs. Abernathy was unafraid to unabashedly voice her strategic and savvy opinions, I’ve learned,”
The Transportation Civil Rights issues that Mrs. Abernathy fought for still fosters similar sentiments from transit users around the Southeast. Mrs. Abernathy was also a successful entrepreneur who had several business endeavors in Atlanta, Georgia. She held a high position with Mary Kay for over 20 years and had to find her way to and from client homes. Just like today’s working folk Mrs. Abernathy was no stranger to hard work and perseverance. Today’s entrepreneurs, students, hourly workers and business professionals save time and money by using the same public transportation systems across the country that Mrs. Abernathy pushed for.
J’Lyn Furby is U.S. Presidential Gold Service Medal Awardee, U.S. Air Force veteran, former USAF police officer, exercise physiologist, community activist and proud Black Republican.