Continuing the Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
March 4, 2018 marked 50 years since the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He was in Memphis fighting for striking sanitation workers because he was a man of action who went to where the fight was. Tragically, he died with an unfinished agenda.We must honor Dr. King’s legacy by continuing his fight to end injustices in our world, including racism, economic inequality, and voter suppression. He showed that with hard work, things like the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA) can be accomplished.
But the fight is not over – we must continue to be doers who make the changes that many only talk about. We still have to protect the VRA – that Dr. King was instrumental in the passage of – because the VRA is under attack.
Protection of the VRA is at the heart of the Texas redistricting case that will finally be heard by the United States Supreme Court later this month on the 24th. The Court will finally decide if Texas lawmakers deliberately weakened votes of people of color in drawing the Texas House district and Congressional district maps. (Click here for more info about this case from January 19th’s Coleman Chronicle.)
The Texas Redistricting case is vitally important to people of color because Republicans are actively trying to dismantle the VRA, and have had some success such as in Shelby County v. Holder (2013) where the Republicans successfully eliminated Section V of the VRA which required states with a history of oppressing people of color to get pre-clearance of changes made to their election laws to ensure new laws did not discriminate against people of color.
I produced demonstration maps to appropriately represent and protect communities of color in Texas alongside Harris County Representatives and my colleagues in the Texas House. I also testified at both the Washington D.C. and San Antonio hearings on how the maps drawn by the Texas Legislature intentionally discriminated against communities of color.
Oral arguments will be heard in front of the Supreme Court later this month on April 24th.The plaintiff’s oral arguments will be based on the same work Dr. King did in showing that the State is deliberately oppressing the voices of people of color. In all likelihood, we will know the final outcome of the case later this year.
Unfortunately, this case has dragged on for far too long and we won’t have constitutional maps until the 2020 general election. This means Texans were forced to use unconstitutional maps four of the five general elections in the census cycle. And as Dr. King wrote, “Justice too long delayed is justice denied.” This is why Texas needs to be bailed back into the pre-clearance provisions of the VRA.
Furthermore, the Trump administration and the U.S. Justice Department are not implementing the VRA appropriately and have already weakened it.
April 3, 1968: From left to right – Hosea Williams, Jesse Jackson, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Ralph Abernathy standing on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tenn., a day before Dr. King was assassinated at approximately the same place. (Photo: Charles Kelly/AP)
In what will likely be another long and hard fight for voting rights in Texas – The Texas Civil Rights Project (TCRP) is fighting to continue Dr. King’s legacy by winning a case this week regarding voter registration.According to KUT, “The Texas Civil Rights Project sued the state two years ago, claiming the Department of Public Safety treats people who update their driver’s license information online differently than people who update it in person…While online voter registration is illegal in Texas, federal laws – including the 14th Amendment – require that all voters be treated the same.” TCRP alleged that people who update their driver’s license online were under the impression that their voter information would be changed as well. When they showed up to the polls, they found they were ineligible to vote.
Judge Orlando Garcia of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas ruled in favor of the TCRP and the people of Texas. However, Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) has already announced that he is appealing the decision to the 5th Circuit of Appeals.
We can all take part in the fight for fair representation by properly filling out our U.S. Census form in two years. We cannot be intimidated by the Trump Administration’s blatant attempt to scare people of color from filling out the census by adding a question about citizenship to the U.S. Census. S0 I encourage you to help continue Dr. King’s legacy and be counted so that our State and people can be properly represented in Congress and receive our fair share of federal aid or funding.
On Wednesday, I was on Houston Matters on Houston Public Radio to remember Dr. King and his work on the Voting Rights Act and how that related to Texas and American today. Thank you to Maggie Martin and Ernie Manouse for hosting Tom Jones, Rev. Ed Smallsof the Martin Luther King Jr. Center, and I.
Opioid and Substance Abuse Disorder Symposium
I commend University of Houston Hobby School of Public Affairs and Baylor College of Medicine for holding an important symposium on opioid and substance abuse disorder on April 18th.Dr. Elinore McCance-Katz will be speaking, who is the lead federal official on opioid and substance abuse disorder and heads the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration at the Department of Health and Human Services. The symposium will take place on Wednesday, April 18th at the Baylor College of Medicine’s Cullen Auditorium in the Texas Medical Center.
U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security Holding Hearing April 9th
On Monday, April 9, 2018, the U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security, chaired by U.S. Representative Michael McCaul (TX-20), will hold a field hearing entitled “Houston Strong: Hurricane Harvey Lessons Learned and the Path Forward.” Witnesses will be by invitation only.
Field Hearing – “Houston Strong: Hurricane Harvey Lessons Learned and the Path Forward.”WHO:
U.S. Committee on Homeland Security, chaired by U.S. Representative Michael McCaul (R-TX). The ranking member is U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS).
8877 Barker Cypress
Cypress, Texas 77433
Tony Robinson, FEMA Region VI
Beth Van Duyne, HUD Region VI
Col. Lars Zetterstrom, Army Corps Galveston District
Rear Adm. Paul F. Thomas, Commander, Eighth Coast Guard District, USCG
Commissioner Jack Cagle, Harris County
Mayor Sylvester Turner, City of Houston
Mark Sloan, Harris County Emergency Manager
Carol Moore, Disaster Chair, Texas State Conference NAACP (Democratic Witness)
Dr. Earthea Nance, Associate Professor, TSU (Democratic Witness)While witness testimony is by invitation only, citizens are encouraged to attend. If you cannot attend, you will be able to watch via live stream by clicking here at 10:30am on Monday, April 9th.
Neighborhood Fantasies at Project Row Houses Runs Through April 22nd
Project Row Houses presents Neighborhood Fantasies. This exhibit integrates the spirit of an emerging art photographer Evan Coleman with the work of PRH founding artist Jesse Lott. The exhibit runs through April 22nd. Please see below for details.
Neighborhood Fantasies, presented by Project Row Houses
2521 Holman Street
Houston, TX 77004
EXHIBIT VIEWING HOURS:
Wed – Sun | Noon to 5pm
*Neighborhood Fantasies runs through April 22nd*
Below is an explanation of Neighborhood Fantasies from Project Row Houses.
Curated by Kathleen Coleman in conjunction with Fotofest 2018.
“Neighborhood Fantasies integrates the spirit of an emerging art photographer Evan Coleman with the work of PRH founding artist Jesse Lott.Kathleen Coleman curates this exhibition .
The Houston urban landscape is an eclectic image of symbolic eras in time. The photographer Evan Coleman has captured the images of homes, office buildings, flora, fauna, roads, and houses; front yards where a person rides in a car or walks down a major street and a back road, familiar depictions portrayed in photo montages such as: a trailer, hamburger joints, resale businesses or party events are included. There are familiar images in the collages–a water hose, a variety of mangoes, giant watermelons floating across the sky to create everyday dreams as we ride along. Let us not forget the porcelain cats resting in the window of a house, in a daydream; a central, focal image throughout the exhibition. The fantasy photo of a windowsill of cats is inviting Jesse Lott, who inserted a dog to peer at them through the window.
Jesse Lott has made blind cuts, and separated them by color, thus creating the opportunity to assemble a puzzle, which has never been solved. This concept in brief can be thought of as documentation of the reality reconstructed as a fantasy supplemented with the original subject matter. Recontextualisation places the images into a new perspective, meaning changes within the point of view of the artist applied, which inspires the public to visualize and imagine the symbols or the object commonly viewed in our daily lives. In the collages, a bounce house is cut up and fruit from a stand is placed to add color with common objects to form depth and structure such as concrete.
The countless forms of architecture from one neighborhood to another incorporate Houston’s diversity at its finest, in addition to revealing gentrification from one street to another. Repetitive objects are common features in the artwork in Neighborhood Fantasies therefore a perception is a sense of belonging in the heart of the city through art and collective experiences. The concept is evolving to produce involvement within the community to enlighten themselves within their own area. The artist team will continue to conceive fantasy from random reality.
Thank you to our sponsors Melanie Lawson, John Guess, A Rocket Moving and Storage, Womack Development, and Mayberry Homes.”
Sandra Bland exhibit at
Houston Museum of African-American Culture
EXTENDED until April 28th
The Houston Museum of African-American Culture is celebrating the life of Ms. Sandra Bland with an interactive exhibit, running until Saturday, April 28th. The museum is CLOSED Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday.
See below for hours and details. Click here for more information.
Houston Museum of African-American Culture
4807 Caroline Houston, Texas 77004
Sunday, Monday, Tuesday: Closed
Friday, Saturday: 11am-6pm
General Admission to the museum is free, however donations are accepted.
Our song of the week is a speech by Dr. King during the Poor People’s Campaign – a movement to combat poverty in the U.S.