Columns & Editorials

Mr. Paris Dennard

Paris Dennard is a  is a longtime GOP political commentator, writer, consultant and strategist with over a decade of private and public sector experience on all levels of politics and public relations.

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July 14, 2022 Columns and Editorials

Guest Editorials

COMMENTARY: An Extraordinary Life, Linking Past and Present

By Ben Jealous
President of People For the American Way, The Seattle Medium

I was trained to fight by my grandmother, Mamie Bland Todd. She would often remind me, “Pessimists are right more often, but optimists win more often.” “In this life you have to decide what’s more important to you.” Then she would add, “As for me, I’ll take winning.” My favorite optimist died recently at 105. For our family, she was the last living link to our story of origin in antebellum Southern Virginia.

Three of her grandparents were Black and born into slavery. The fourth was white and helped run a plantation. She and my grandfather made the great migration north to the Up South that is Baltimore. Their love story was the bridge to our family’s life in modern America. She carried lessons from the old world with her. She learned to fight from her paternal grandfather, Edward David Bland. He was born into slavery in his white uncle’s house.

He would defeat one of his white cousins to become one of the last Black Reconstruction statesmen in Virginia. He was also the Black leader of a multiracial populist movement made up of former slaves and former Confederate soldiers.

His white counterpart was former Confederate General William Mahone. Theirs was a coalition of working men, Black and white. Most of them were farmers with rough hands and dirty fingernails. Together they built a movement in the early 1880s that created Virginia State University, expanded Virginia Tech, and secured the future of free public education for every child in the commonwealth.

Their common enemy was the far right-wing politicians who said Virginia could not afford the universal free public education that had been created during Reconstruction. Publicly, these wealthy conservatives said the state could not afford both free public education and paying off Civil War debt.

Privately, they feared free universal public education would render both poor whites and poor Blacks ungovernable. Bland and Mahone’s multiracial movement also attacked voter suppression, outlawing the poll tax and several other measures meant to make it harder for Blacks and low-income whites to vote. When they took control of the state legislature, they made Mahone a U.S. Senator.

Without forgetting the sins of the past, the men they led each chose to invest in new-found unity rather than renew old hurts and divisions. What united those men was their commitment to providing a better future for their children. They recognized that what the children of working families – Black and white – needed more than anything was access to a free high-quality education.

In short, they needed what the children of plantation owners took for granted. My grandmother was born in 1916. She was a third-generation NAACP member who rebelled against Jim Crow without hesitation. As a young teacher, she confronted the white man who was the local superintendent of schools. She convinced him that just like white teachers, Black teachers could not teach without adequate supplies.

He rectified the problem at her segregated all-Black school the next day. Two decades later, she would support my mom when at age 12 she signed on as a named plaintiff in one of the feeder cases to Brown v Board of Education. When my mom desegregated her local high school at 15, my grandmother was with her every step of the way.

Ultimately, however, my grandmother, like her grandfather, could not escape the moral imperative that children of every color who are struggling need the same protections and supports. She would go on to found Child Protective Services for the city of Baltimore and lead Maryland’s effort to replicate the program statewide.

Like Bland, she built an army of warriors for social change. In her case, it was an army of social workers, who were mostly women. Among them was a young white woman and future U.S. senator named Barbara Mikulski.

Four years ago, when I was the Democratic nominee for governor of Maryland, I bumped into Sen. Mikulski at a women’s political event. She looked at me and said, “You’re Mamie Todd’s grandson.” I said, “I am,” and I watched a tear roll down her face.

As I close this week’s column, tears are running down mine.

Letter to the Editor

Vernon Jordan, Prominent Lawyer also Pioneer in Voter Rights, Dies

I salute and honor Vernon Jordan, a prominent lawyer who was also a pioneer in ensuring the 1965 Voters Rights legislation was fully realized in the South and sparked my political journey. As a young lawyer he served as the Director of the Voter Education Project (VEP) in Atlanta, Georgia during the years 1966-1970; sponsored voter education projects and encouraged Blacks to run for various offices through the South, including Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina.

In North Carolina, VEP-sponsored projects educated voters about their rights under the 1965 Voter Rights Act and encouraged Blacks to volunteer to run for various offices. In 1968, I ran for Congress and Dr. Reginald Hawkins ran for Governor. I knew it was unlikely that I would win; I lost royally. The primary goal, however, was to increase registration - which we did significantly.

Many earlier political successes in the South were supported and nurtured by Vernon Jordan of the Voter Education Project, for which we are grateful.

Eva Clayton

Former Congresswoman 1992-2003

Letter To The Editor

REVISIONIST BLACK HISTORY

The recent action taken by the Quaker Oats family of products to change the name of Aunt Jemima to the Pearl Milling Company (which in 1888 developed self-rising flour), was a supposed bid to redress complaints of racism from the perceived belittling name for their best pancake mix taking it away from its legacy of good home cooking.   The face of Aunt Jemima was originally depicted by Nancy Green, a member of my grandfather’s Olivet Baptist Church in Chicago, Illinois.  Green, a woman of class, was not a mammy per se but one born into slavery yet found to be a servant of G-d’s word.  In a bid for cultural whatever, “nilism’ is a description for removing all vestige of truth in search of political correctness by which Black History has been distorted with facts thought a disgrace haphazardly removed rather than allow such to exist on its own truth.  read more...

Letter To The Editor

PROTESTATION

I have a protestation that revels repulsion to think that our intelligence should be, is, insulted by the notion that the truth of systemic-racism, is not a beast, and a monster, is a bold faced lie. To go forth to say that this should not be taught because it will be an agent to instill a poor self image or promote the disease of poor self-esteem is preposterous

Firstly, born, reared, nurtured, supported, and revalidated that I came to this earth to live in the residence of this world as an equal to every other human being. I have the years of longevity to say that I’ve been fortunate enough to live those evidences in the County of Wake, in N.C. read more...