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Clemency Double Standard
Rev William Barber
Richard Petty and Darrell "Bubba" Wallace, Jr.
Barber To Step Down From NAACP
NASCAR is Driven for Diversity
The Rev. William Barber, who led the state NAACP in blocking North Carolina’s attempts to limit voting rights and fiercely supported gay rights, said he’s stepping down as state chapter president and will focus on a poor people’s campaign like the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was building when he was slain.
Barber gained prominence in launching “Moral Monday” protests in North Carolina this decade and trained others in more than 20 states in such peaceful civil disobedience. But he said Wednesday that after 12 years as an NAACP state leader, he wants to focus on the new campaign and “a national call for a moral revival.”
“We need a moral narrative because somewhere along the line we’ve gotten trapped in this left vs. right conversation,” said the 53-year-old NAACP leader in an interview via conference call.
Barber also leads a nonprofit called Repairers of the Breach and said that group, along with the Kairos Center, Union Theological Seminary and others will lead a movement that will concentrate on 25 states and the nation’s capital where voter suppression, poverty and other problems are prevalent.
The groups plan major actions next summer, which would mark the 50th anniversary of the start of King’s campaign in 1968.
Barber said more details would be forthcoming at a news conference Monday.
This is the tale of two Americas.
On one side we have a white, transgender U.S. Army soldier who committed one of the most heinous acts of espionage in American history. She was court-martialed and received 35 years for her crimes.
One the other side we have a black woman in Florida that was convicted of selling drugs and she received a life sentence.
Both of these women received clemency from President Obama in 2016, but their paths are as different as their skin color.
Chelsea Manning entered the Army as Bradley Edward Manning. During the Iraq War she leaked classified information to WikiLeaks.
Manning was ultimately charged with a total of 22 offenses which included aiding the enemy that is punishable by death. Instead of the death penalty she was given 35 years.
Manning was released Wednesday from Fort Leavenworth in Kansas after serving only about seven of her 35-year sentence.
When she walked out of prison she had $150,000 that was raised for her by her ACLU attorney. Musician Michael Stipe has dedicated all proceeds from the sale of his benefit album to Manning as well. In addition she has the support of the LGBTQ community.
Donnella Marie Harriel of Martin County, Fla. was convicted in 2004 of possession with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of cocaine. She was given a sentence of 264 months in prison, which equates to a life sentence.
Before he left office, President Obama grated 214 commutations and 11 of those were from South Florida alone. One of them was Harriel. Her release date is set for June of this year, but instead of being met by a large sum of money and a vast support system, she will be met by a new jail sentence.
When Harriel was arrested on her federal charges it caused her to violate her parole in Martin County Florida. After serving almost 14 years of her sentence in a federal penitentiary, and missing out on her children’s lives, she will still have to face a 15-year sentence for a parole violation.
Anyone who has every heard of NASCAR has heard of “The King” Richard Petty. Petty is an icon in the sport and is still one of its most recognizable figures. Stepping into the shadow of such an iconic figure is enough to have any rookie shaking in their boots. Now imagine strapping up in the number 43 car as a Black man.
Darrell “Bubba” Wallace, Jr. innocently stepped into a stock car at the age of 12. Seemingly, from that moment his path to the history books was illuminated. Wallace, Jr. has come up through the circuits the long way. From stock car to Bandelero to Legends Cars and eventually on to the NASCAR Truck Series. He found success on the NASCAR Truck Series multiple times which shone the spotlight of hope brightly on him. But this sport is both brutal and futile. With dwindling numbers and decreased sponsorships no ones season is guaranteed.
Wallace, Jr. is not the first African American to win on a NASCAR circuit, but he is the latest. Now he has been given the opportunity of a lifetime, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. The “one door closes, one door opens” theory is strictly in play here. Bubba got his opportunity to move up to the big leagues when Aric Almirola got injured in a crash at the Kansas Speedway in May. It’s not the way anyone would want to get hired for a job, but when opportunity knocks you better open the door.
Since he has been called up from the Truck Series, Wallace, Jr. has garnered a lot of attention and support. And why wouldn’t he? He is young, talented and, in the racing world, an anomaly. A Black racecar driver at the top of the NASCAR pyramid is definitely something to write home about.
NASCAR has also done a great job of increasing diversity within the sport. They have pushed programs to get minorities across the board involved and have been very successful in their endeavors. The question now is what will minority spectators bring to the table.
For years African Americans have been armchair NASCAR fans. Watching the races from home is great, but watching the races at the track is an experience like none other. With the olive branch extended, will more African Americans come to NASCAR?
This sport is driven by fan support and sponsorships. Now that there is an African American at the top level in racing we have someone to throw our dollars behind.
Like with anything, if we don’t support it you will loose it. Show NASCAR that we want Darrell “Bubba” Wallace, Jr. to keep driving diversity!
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