26th I Believe Anita Hill Party


Today, the 26th I Believe Anita Hill Party will take place in Columbia, SC.  This must attend event for individuals who believe in Women’s Rights had simple beginnings.  In 1991 a group of women across various political, socio-economic statuses, religions, and professions gathered together to watch Dr. Anita Hill testify during Clarence Thomas Senate Confirmation Hearings for U.S. Supreme Court Justice.  The first gathering was organic and merely a method of support.  In 1992 it was decided to remember Dr. Hill’s testimony and voice it gave women with an event to mark the year anniversary.  26 years later it is still going strong.

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The Author with Dr. Anita Hill (c) 2016

Last year, I had the honor to meet and personally thank Dr. Hill for her courage and speaking up on such a taboo subject.  When she gave her testimony in 1991 there weren’t standard workplace rules dealing with sexual harassment.  It was an unspoken rule that as women there was a chance you would have to deal with sexual harassment in the workplace.  Dr. Hill’s testimony helped set the foundation for women to speak up and legislation to protect them.

With the latest Hollywood news of Harry Weinstein’s sexual abuses toward numerous actresses recently being revealed, we are reminded there is still much work to do.  Prior to Weinstein, mega celebrity Bill Cosby’s sexual abuses were revealed.  Both of these men’s accusers were sometimes questioned as to why they waited so long to come forward.  The question to me shouldn’t be about when they came forward but why must women have to continually deal with sexual harassment in the workplace?

I look forward to this day when women of all ethnicities, socio-economic background, political beliefs and religions come together to remember our shero.  A woman who carried truth and stood behind it.  She opened the way for millions of women to speak up about their own sexual harrassmsent experiences.  Dr. Hill helped set in motion legislation and workplace regulations to help provide a fair and safe workplace for women everywhere.  Women are still fighting for the right to be safe in their workplaces but today we remember and continue to believe the historic and brave testimony of Dr. Anita Hill.

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Why I Love The Obamas


There have been 43 White men as U.S. President.  President Obama finally broke up the club of whiteness and added some diversity.  He is truly in all aspects of the term African-American; since he was born to a White mother from the Midwest and an African father from Kenya.  When running for office there was a dichotomy of opinion whether he was Black enough or if he was too Black.  Some wondered would the White House now become the Black House?  During all the negative rhetoric I watched not with despair but with pride to see a Black man take the oath of office to become the 44th U.S. President.  Wait, let me correct, I listened while on Pennsylvania Avenue standing in Freedom Plaza along the Inauguration Parade route just around the corner from the White House on January 20, 2009.

My journey began way back with the Obamas in 1996, when as a Clinton-Gore volunteer, I was tasked with phone banking and making down ticket calls for Barack Obama.  I didn’t know much about him except he had done organizing within his community.  He was a lawyer at that point having graduated from Harvard Law School.  He also taught constitutional law these were snippets of information provided over the course of the ’96 campaign.  It was a joyous time when on November 5, 1996, President Clinton and Vice President Gore were re-elected and Barack Obama won his first election for the Illinois State Senate.  During the Victory Party at the Hyatt Regency in Chicago, getting my first hugs from Senator-elect Obama and his wife Michelle was heart-warming, yes they’ve always been huggers.

I relocated in 1997 to South Carolina, so Barack Obama was my Senator only for a short while.  However, I watched with pride when he was introduced to the world at the 2004 Democratic National Convention during the speech heard around the globe.  The most recognized part of the speech is:

“There’s not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America; there’s the United States of America.”

However, one of my favorite parts of the speech is:

“If there’s a child on the south side of Chicago who can’t read, that matters to me, even if it’s not my child.  If there’s a senior citizen somewhere who can’t pay for their prescription and having to choose between medicine and the rent, that makes my life poorer, even if it’s not my grandparent.  If there’s an Arab-American family being rounded up without benefit of an attorney or due process, that threatens my civil liberties.  It is that fundamental belief — it is that fundamental belief — I am my brother’s keeper; I am my sisters’ keeper — that makes this country work. It’s what allows us to pursue our individual dreams, yet still come together as a single American family: “E pluribus unum,” out of many, one.”

After hearing this phenomenal speech everyone wanted to know who is this State Senator and candidate for U.S. Senate?  I already knew and watched from that point waiting for the moment for when he would run for U.S. President.  It wasn’t a question of if but when.

Following many rumors in February 2007, in Springfield, Illinois U.S. Senator Barack Obama announced his run for U.S. President.  Among other U.S. Senators running were Joe Biden and Hillary Rodham Clinton.  In May 2007, I stopped by the South Carolina Obama Campaign Headquarters in Columbia, SC located on the corner of Calhoun and Assembly streets and began my volunteer efforts.  Starting off doing phone banking I knew my talent was better used in other capacities.  And over time soon became what I am known best as Data Goddess.  The Obama Campaign recreated how data as well as digital media was used during a campaign.  He created via his experience of community organizing a new mold for how to run a Presidential campaign.  With the blowout win of the South Carolina Presidential Democratic Primary, Obama and not Clinton became the candidate to beat.

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Taken by Staff Photographer in Manning, SC – November 2007

Upon becoming elected as the 44th President even during a campaign where rocks and stones were thrown his way, he pushed for an agenda passionate to him.  Unlike any other President before him his cabinet was filled with powerful and capable women.  Showing the importance of women, the first piece of legislation he signed was the “Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act Bill.”  Over the last 8 years, President Obama has signed approximately 1,350 pieces of legislation into law.  His most famous and the piece of legislation marked for repeal by the 115th U.S. Congress is The Affordable Care Act.  Coming into the White House with a dysfunctional banking system and an auto industry near bankruptcy he made tough decisions in bailing both out with federal assistance.  Even when detractors thought this was not the better solution but time has shown it was the best solution.

There are far too many things to list regarding why I have such admiration for the Obama Administration.  However, I most respect the humanness of the President.  During addresses after shootings at Sandy Hook in Newtown, CT and last year at the Pulse Night Club in Orlando, Florida we saw a very human and compassionate President.  We also saw this when speaking about the killing of Trayvon Martin and during the numerous addresses made upon unjustified shooting of Black men and women by law enforcement across the nation.  It is the humanness, dignity, and intelligence that I most admire about President Obama.

With the incoming 45th President, I am greatly concerned about the openness and dignity that President Obama brought to the White House.  I do not have confidence in the leadership to come this is based on the vitriol hate displayed during the 2016 Presidential campaign by the Republican Presidential nominee.  I admit I am a staunch liberal and a leader within the South Carolina Democratic Party, so to many of course I admire and support President Obama.  However, I am fair and try not to pre-judge but what I have seen thus far from the U.S. President-Elect does not give me great confidence in the next four years.  I do not see an inclusive or diverse White House or one open to the public in the way the Obama Administration engaged the public.

I admit as a Black woman I have watched with pride the initiatives put in place by First Lady Michelle Obama.  She has worked for military families to getting young people moving and eating healthy to fighting for girls right to education around the globe.  Being a part of history also puts a smile in my heart.  On June 1, 2016, on behalf of the Columbia Museum of Art as their Community Member, I attended the ceremony and reception for 2016 National Medal for Museum and Library Service.  It was hosted by First Lady Michelle Obama in the East Room of the White House.  And to the surprise of us all while in the Blue Room we saw Marine One land and take off on the White House lawn!  This opportunity seemed to be a full circle moment from when I first met the Obama’s in Chicago, Illinois.

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2016 National Medal for Museum and Library Service Program

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Karen Brosius, Michelle Obama, Joyce Rose-Harris – White House East Room           June 2016

Finally, I say thank you President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama for your leadership and dedication to the American people.  Seeing a Black couple occupy the White House makes me proud not merely because they are Black but because they worked hard to get to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.  There was no silver spoon for them during their childhoods but there was the knowledge of how important it is to get an education and then to uplift their communities.  I will miss the weekly addresses by President Obama and the many initiatives of First Lady Obama but I know now they will take their work to Chicago, Illinois in a year or so, putting their knowledge and activism in the Obama Presidential Library and Center.  I know there is much more awesome things to come for the Obama family.  Thank you President and First Lady Obama for showing citizens of the United States and the world how to rise higher.

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Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling


Hillary_Clinton_official_Secretary_of_State_portrait_cropThe 19th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution passed in the Senate on June 4, 1919, this was 97 years ago.  The amendment reads “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.  Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”  Specifically, this amendment allowed women the right to vote.  This June history occurred, when Hillary Clinton became the first woman named as the presumptive Presidential nominee for a major political party.

Previously the closest a woman has come to being anywhere near the Presidency was when Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi was Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.  The invisible glass ceiling referring to women seeking to move up in business, government, or other leadership roles has been shattered.  I am happy, truly and honestly happy about a woman being a major party’s nominee but I wonder if the ceiling is self-healing?  Will the pieces come together again like in a sci-fi movie?  Or will there remain a clear opening for other women to rise through?

For females young and older around the U.S. I do believe that Clinton is a beacon of hope.  She has shown that even when mud and something else is slung her way she can take it.  This was shown back in October 2015 during an 11-hour hearing on Benghazi, like a true leader Hillary responded to the pounding of questions from the House Committee lead by Congressman Trey Gowdy (R-SC).  Most recently Clinton showed Presidential poise when she gave her speech on foreign policy.  In response to her speech and the comments around the instability of Donald Trump the presumptive republican nominee, Trump came back with random comments none of which related to his foreign policy plan.

Under constant investigation from when she was First Lady of the United States, U.S. Senator, and most recently Secretary of State, her record has and continues to be picked apart.  Just as President Obama faces obvious racism as the first African American President, Clinton will continue to face scrutiny if elected as the first woman President.  Sadly, the U.S. has issue with what is different and out of the norm and the norm are white males in leadership.  I would like to note that while giving her speech the night of major wins on June 7th she complemented her opponent Bernie Sanders.  Upon her comments there was respectful clapping of her supporters.  Yet when he complemented Clinton during his speech there were boos from the crowd.  Sanders did not even blink nor did he admonish the negative response.

Finally, I want there to be a day when we don’t have to focus on the fact a woman is in a position of power.  Whether it is the CEO of a major corporation or the nominee of a major political party.  The U.S. is merely catching up with other countries who have had female leaders for decades now.  Great Britain, Germany, Norway, India as well as many more nations have and have had female leaders in the highest offices or within the monarchy.  Now that this history has been made let’s move forward to the issues.

Content originally published by The MinorityEye on June 9, 2016

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Rule Number One, From My Mom


My mother’s number one rule was always treat people with respect.  Her advice is reflective of the golden rule that can be found in many cultures and religions.  Treating others as you wish to be treated is something said by mothers in all parts of the planet.  China, India, Africa, England, Canada, Mexico, the United States, and in other nations children are taught this simple but powerful message.

be-kind-blogSpecifically, my mother would say that individuals in the service industry can be your greatest allies.  Food service, custodial, and administrative workers were whom my mother referred to often as people who can help you.  I learned the truth in her lessons during my undergraduate college years.  While attending college many times when money was tight a food service employee named Teresa ensured I did not go hungry.  Custodial staff allowed friends and I to study while they cleaned up as long as we didn’t “mess up”.  I now better understand that the “messing up” they referred to was not always literal.  What it meant was for me and my fellow African American classmates to study hard and earn our degrees.  My numerous trips to the financial aide office and other university offices also showed how patience and respect for clerks helped me get assistance quickly…often before those who’d been waiting for hours.

My mother died five years ago but all the lessons she taught me over the years have served me well.  Recently there have been legislation put in place in North Carolina called the transgender bathroom bill.  The law states that the gender on your birth certificate should correlate with the bathroom you use.  However, transgender individuals who have not yet had full transformation can be put in an awkward and possibly dangerous situation.  The idea is supposedly to reduce the chance of lewd behavior or sexual assault specifically against women.

The same insensitive bill was presented in South Carolina, where I reside.  Within a week LGBTQ activist came together to organize a protest.  They attended legislative hearings and gave testimony on why the bill is a bad idea.  One of these people is a poet and friend.  I shared her post on Facebook and stated the following:

“This is my friend she is transgender.  She’s a poet and I use to be afraid to speak to her.  She may not know it but I was.  It wasn’t because of anything she did but my own isms and what I thought others would say.  I admit I still am wrapping my head around the idea of someone being physically born one gender and seeking to change it.  However, I do empathize with those of the transgender community.  They like others of the LGBTQ community have no physical interest in those outside of their community.  They aren’t trying to get you, your man, or your woman for that matter.  I’m still learning but one thing I believe is the bathroom bill is a bad idea.  The SC General Assembly needs to focus on infrastructure for the remainder of this session.  This is what matters most to me.”

When I wrote the message, I felt a little nervous.  But then I remembered my mother saying to always be kind.  I heard my father say speak your truth and don’t be afraid to say what is right.  The idea behind any bathroom bill is reminiscent of the Jim Crow laws in the early and mid 20th century.  The reality is that many individual/single bathrooms are used by both genders.  Without being able to indicate exactly how many instances have occurred where a person not of the gender or even transgender have attempted to use a restroom opposite their gender is not quantitative.  Sadly, criminals and those meaning others harm will get around any bathroom law.

I have always chosen to work toward the betterment of society through activism for art, political, and women’s issues as well as human rights issues.  It is disappointing to know that there are elected officials seeking to hold back any gender or race.  Here in South Carolina crumbling roads, education, and jobs are what I believe to be most important.  I strive each day to be my mom’s legacy and to be kind to everyone.  I think my mom would agree.

This video illustrates that the message of kindness transcends language barriers.  Grab your tissue and give it a watch.  Kindness begets…kindness.

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Voting Matters


I am the product of generations of activists. African American along with Native American ancestors who consistently fought for their civic, civil, and human rights. It is in my blood to be active and present in my own existence. I first became aware of the political process in the third grade, while attending William H. Brown Elementary School in Chicago. A huge red voting machine was brought to my school. Levers and buttons were used to vote for the candidates of your choice. The machine was intimidating but it helped me to understand that my civic duty of voting might not be easy.

20140610-105237-39157510.jpgMy next experience with politics occurred the summer I turned 10 years old. I learned about a candidate for President of the United States that hailed from the state of Georgia. James (Jimmy) Carter seemed to just be a peanut farmer but digging deeper he was a man with clear political goals. A former State Senator and Governor the political arena was very familiar to him. I did not know much of about Jimmy Carter when I was a child but his daughter was my age and my parents liked him. So I decided that he was the candidate, I wanted to win.

I was a freshman in college during the historic 1984 Presidential Election. Where on the Democratic ticket the first female Vice Presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro was alongside Walter Mondale. Sadly they lost terribly to Ronald Regan and George H.W. Bush but I was still proud to have cast my first vote. I knew at that point that I would always vote for the persons I thought best to hold the office.

As I stated earlier voting is not easy. It takes effort not merely at the polling place but before you enter the building to vote. Some things that are a must prior to reaching Election Day is to ensure that you are registered to vote. In some states there are voter identification laws that require approved identification to be presented upon voting. In many states this Saturday, October 4th will be the last day to register before the Tuesday, November 4th elections.

Many people do not think their vote matters but it does. It not only matters, it is your civic duty. Elected officials write legislation and regulations that impact you every day. From teacher salaries to whether Medicaid is accepted in your state to other impacts to your community, the individuals who win elections have your life and future in their hands. Voting is a right that other nations are fighting to obtain. Finally if you fall into the category of minority or are a female this right came with a struggle, fight and bloodshed. Don’t take your right for granted; remember your vote is your voice, don’t remain silent.

First published on PaisleyPerspective.com on October 1, 2014

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Between The Lines


Standing strong by staying seated

to help right wrongs.

Walked for miles until their feet

were tender and torn.

 

Praying and singing hand

in hand seeking justice.

Needing to be seen as people

not just colored.

 

Marching in the day getting

showered by hoses.

Not cowering in the night covered

in crisp white.

 

Blessings of angels tending

to the left and right.

Our ancestors paved a path

of hope and determination.

 

They talked with pride

and walked with dignity.

Each and every stride carried

with it generations to come.

 

The future now exists as todays

youth of the 21st century.

They don’t know the fear

of dogs chasing them in the night.

 

Don’t understand the effect

and decay of white flight.

Elder generation you must tell them

what textbooks hide between the lines.

 

First published Feb. 16, 2011 on PaisleyPerpesctive.com

(c) 2007 by Joyce M. Rose-Harris

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Why I Support Hillary Clinton For President


Since this was originally posted I have become even more committed to getting Hillary Clinton elected as the next President.  The decisive nature of Donald Trump and any of the Republicans that follow him should be a major concern.  The Republican Party is known for using fear as their main campaign tactic, however, intolerance and lack of compassion for anyone different themselves should not be tolerated.

Since this was posted some 6 months ago, I have attended the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.  It was an appropriate location since it is the city of brotherly love and sisterly affection.  In short Hillary Clinton has the experience and the compassion to lead our nation.  I am still with her and I believe you should be too.  Read the contents of detail below and then find your local campaign office at hillaryclinton.com.

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Original content:

“Didn’t Bill Clinton sign the three-strikes bill into law?’  This was a question asked by a friend when I was advising that I support former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for President of the United States.  My response is as follows along with a summary of just 10 of the many reasons why I support Hillary Rodham Clinton for President of the United States.

FullSizeRender 2First off yes former President Bill Clinton did sign a bill that included the three-strikes legislation; however, there were other components of the legislation to help benefit the Black community.  But before I get into the other components during this time the Congressional Black Caucus unanimously supported the bill.  Included in the legislation were rehabilitation reform for federal prisoners; expanded school hours to reduce time children of working parents are alone; and increased funding for urban police departments.  This is just a few of the additional components of the legislation put into law in 1993.

Former President Clinton has indicated that he takes ownership of the three-strikes component of the legislation.  It was a different time with extremely high crime rates but hindsight is 20/20. Now comes to the big news.  In April 2015, the first issue that Hillary Clinton announced she would tackle is criminal justice reform and I applaud that fact.  One it needs to be done and two who better to reform the three-strikes legislation signed into law by Bill Clinton.

I spent time in a few days in January with two of my sorority sisters Ohio Congresswoman Marcia L. Fudge and former Secretary of Labor Alexis Herman.  They both gave insights into the Clintons that reminded me why I liked them and who they are to the core.

Yes, in 2008 there were some ugly things said during the Democratic Primary campaign toward then Sen. Barack Obama.  However, President-Elect Obama selected then Senator Clinton for the role of Secretary of State.  The role she was placed in made her his representative to the role…so I believe he has gotten pass any name calling.  So we his supporters should do the same.  In addition, without disrespecting the process, President Obama has hinted that he supports Hillary Clinton.  She is the hope to keep the legacy he has begun going.

Finally, Hillary Clinton has fought for the poor and disenfranchised during law school and has never stopped.  No she is not poor but do you need to be down and out to understand, I don’t think so.  The Kennedy’s are some of the biggest philanthropist and they have great wealth.  The Clinton’s have always been involved in making the world better…. including creating the Clinton Global Initiative.  Bernie Sanders has not been a major part of the Black community until this election.  He is talking about things that will benefit us but money needed would be impossible to have his legislation pass.

Around the planet there are nations with female Presidents.  Even in India.  I think it is about time that we give a former Children’s Defense Fund lawyer, first Lady of Arkansas, first Lady of the US, NY Senator, & Secretary of State an opportunity to be President of the United States.

Below are some of the most important issues and challenges that she will take on.  Including as mentioned above criminal justice reform.

  • As former Secretary of State; U.S. Senator; First Lady (of the nation and Arkansas); Lawyer; and lifelong advocate for women and families, no one is more qualified to be President of the United States than Hillary Clinton.
  • Hillary knows child care, equal pay, and paid leave are fundamental economic issues not merely women’s issues. She even sponsored legislation while in the senate around these issues [S.182 (110th); S.3609 (110th); & S.3635 (110th)].
  • Our next President could name multiple appointments to the Supreme Court…and if the Senate pushes back on President Obama’s appointee to replace Associate U.S. Supreme Court Justice Scalia this will be sooner than later.
  • Hillary will defend Planned Parenthood and women’s health care from Republican attacks.
  • Hillary’s New College Compact would mean students would never have to borrow to pay for tuition to attend a four-year public college in their state_and the millions of Americans who have student debt can refinance.
  • After decades of fighting for progressive issues (and 11 straight hours of testimony in front of a Republican-led congressional committee), she’s proved nobody can stand up to Republicans better than she can.
  • It’s time to end for-profit private prisons in America.
  • We need a President who will fight to restore the protections of the Voting Rights Act after they were gutted by the Supreme Court.
  • She made LBGT rights a priority of the U.S. foreign policy.
  • There are cities across the country that are already leading on climate change_so she’ll launch Clean Energy Challenge that will form new partnerships with states, cities, and rural communities.

There is so much more that I could write, however, I will summarize my desire for a President who will serve the best interest of liberals and conservatives. I want someone who can channel their anger into progress and positive negotiations.  For example, when Congress blocked the initial efforts for Universal Healthcare during the 1990’s, she was able to negotiate to secure millions of children receive healthcare.  I am seeking a change maker and not merely a change talker.  These are just a few reasons why I support Hillary Rodham Clinton as the next President of the United States.

Now back to campaigning.

Source: Check out hillaryclinton.com for details on the issues.

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