The Buzz for 7-13-15:
Remembering John Seigenthaler on 1st anniversary of his death
Confederate flag down but what happens now
The day comes amid a local and national debate over the necessity of publicly promoted Confederate symbols. That includes calls from Gov. Bill Haslam, U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper and others to remove a large bust of Forrest, a Confederate general and early leader in the Ku Klux Klan, from the state Capitol.
Haslam officially signed the proclamation June 2, but state law leaves him with few options: Code says each year it is "the duty of the governor of this state to proclaim" July 13 as "Nathan Bedford Forrest Day."
"Yes, a proclamation has been issued, per statute," Haslam spokesman David Smith said Friday. LINK
Judge D'Army Bailey dies, Aged 73
D’Army Bailey — a Circuit Court judge who led efforts to establish the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, died in Memphis Sunday after a battle with cancer, according to the Commercial Appeal. He was 73.
Perhaps more than anything else, that institution (the museum) will serve as the legacy of a man who fought to salvage the decaying Lorraine Motel and turn it into the memorial to the civil-rights movement and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. that it is today.
“He had the foresight and the vision to see it as a national shrine,” said his older brother, County Commissioner Walter Bailey. “He got with some other people, he acted on that. If not for his initiative, it probably wouldn’t be here.”
…Judge Bailey was a graduate of Booker T. Washington High School, Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts, and Yale Law School.
After law school, Judge Bailey worked with civil rights attorneys in New York before moving to San Francisco. He was elected to the Berkeley City Council in 1971 but was forced out in a recall vote in 1973.
Judge Bailey returned to Memphis in 1974 and entered into practice with his brother. In 1983, he ran unsuccessfully for Memphis mayor. He was elected to the bench in 1990, retiring in 2009 to join a private law firm. He was elected Circuit Court judge again in 2014.
…He also attended Southern University in Baton Rouge, the nation’s largest historically black college, but his activism eventually led to his expulsion, forcing the transfer to Clark. That activism continued throughout his life.
“His expulsion from Southern University because of his civil-rights activism, which would have crushed the will of weaker souls, only strengthened his resolve to pursue justice, not by half-measure but by the whole,” Mayor A C Wharton said. LINK
Remembering John Seigenthaler on 1st anniversary of his deathIt has been one year since John Seigenthaler, a writer, journalist and prominent defender of the first amendment, died at the age of 86.
Seigenthaler was a citizen of Nashville who loved his city, state and played a major role in the history of both.
He joined The Tennessean in 1949, resigning in 1960 to act as Robert F. Kennedy’s administrative assistant.
During his time with the Kennedy administration, he was beaten during a trip to Alabama while trying to protect the Freedom Riders during the Civil Rights movement.
He later returned to The Tennessean as an editor in 1962, publisher in 1973, and chairman in 1982 before retiring in 1991 as chairman emeritus.
Seigenthaler was also a founding editorial director of USA Today and founder of the First Amendment Center on the campus of Vanderbilt University, a building later renamed to The John Seigenthaler Center in 2002.LINK
Confederate flag down but what happens nowLegions of people clapped, cheered and cried as South Carolina lowered the Confederate battle flag. But the euphoria of a moment that was more than a decade in the making quickly began to shift to a hard question to answer: What exactly had been accomplished for race relations in the United States? Was it more symbolic than substantive?
A flag is gone. But discrimination, poverty and inequality still exist around the country, with some wondering if the time and energy spent on the Confederate battle flag might have been better used tackling other racial issues facing Americans.
“It was easy to focus on the flag, as opposed to the issues that have divided blacks and whites historically,” said Carol Swain, a law and political science professor at Vanderbilt University.
But a symbolic victory is still a victory, others argued, with this one meaning more than most – that the feelings of a minority population perpetually outvoted and not always considered in the South had finally been acknowledged. The abrupt shift in political willingness to take down the flag came just weeks after nine black people – including a revered minister and legislator – were shot to death during Bible study at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston; photos of the white man charged with their slayings showed him displaying the Confederate flag and authorities have described the slayings as a hate crime.
In the years before, it was viewed as political suicide to push to remove the flag from the statehouse grounds. Former Govs. David Beasley of South Carolina and Roy Barnes of Georgia were voted out of office over the issue. Beasley had proposed relocating the flag from the Statehouse to a monument. Barnes had introduced a new state flag to reduce the size of the Confederate battle symbol emblazoned on it.
Elsie Lee, a retired South Carolina state employee, thought about what her parents went through in the South as the Confederate flag, which has been adopted by segregationists and supremacists over the years, slowly came down from a flagpole in front of the state capitol.
“This is the most important thing happening in this country,” said Lee, who lived through the civil rights struggles of the 1960s. “You just see everybody coming together. … I wish that my parents were here to see this.”
The ceremony on Friday when the flag was removed brought out a jubilant, hundreds-deep multiracial crowd. Some chanted “USA” and “hey, hey, hey, goodbye” as gray-dressed South Carolina troopers lowered the flag in a 6-minute ceremony. Jayme L. Bradford, 42, a journalism professor at Voorhees College in Denmark, South Carolina, watched it come down and said now that it’s gone, race relations may get better. LINK
Washington Update by Billy Moore
Washington conventional wisdom is that a September continuing appropriations resolution will set the table for a budget deal later this year. The White House and congressional Republicans will drive negotiations – which could include agreements on taxes, highways and the debt limit – but congressional Democrats have to establish deal-making relevance. Senate Democrats have earned a negotiating position by grinding the appropriations process to halt. Democrats have tried to stop the spending process in the House, but have fallen short.
The House appropriations process went off the rails last week because of the confederate battle flag. The House amended the Interior appropriations bills to limit the flag's display on federal lands, prompting southern Republicans to oppose the bill's final passage; Democrats oppose the bill because of its cuts to environmental programs.
To save the bill's passage, Republican leaders sought to reverse the limitations on the confederate flag's display. Democrats accused Republicans of protecting a racially offensive relic on the same day South Carolina was retiring it. The leadership pulled the Interior bill, and the balance of fiscal 2016 appropriations, until an end-of-year budget deal. The self-inflicted nature of the fiasco probably means House Democrats have not earned a deal-making role.
After the partisan fireworks, an overwhelmingly bipartisan House vote passed legislation to spur new treatments for rare diseases, the second time this year Representatives passed a sweeping bipartisan health measure (April's Medicare pay bill was first). The bill has uncertain prospects in the Senate. This week, Representatives will debate drought relief.
The Senate debated a bipartisan K-12 education bill they hope to finish this week before taking up a short-term extension of the highway bill.
Iran nuclear negotiators missed last week's deadline for agreement and hope to conclude talks this week. Thursday, President Barack Obama will visit a federal prison to highlight criminal justice reforms.
Crockett Policy Institute