Below is an article from the Houston Chronicle on Mayor Sylvester Turner’s call for the Houston community to unite behind one of two parades honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for the January 21, 2019 event. Read below, or click here.
I STAND WITH MAYOR TURNER IN CALLING FOR UNITY RATHER THAN CONTINUING DIVISION.
Tired of dueling tributes, Mayor Turner asks city to rally behind one MLK parade
Mayor Sylvester Turner on Thursday again called on the Houston community to unite behind one of the city’s two parades honoring Martin Luther King Jr., saying the two-decade feud that has split the celebration is “antithetical to the legacy and the message” of the slain civil rights leader.
Flanked by numerous public officials, civic leaders and pastors, including the Rev. Bill Lawson and the Rev. F.N. Williams, both of whom marched with King, Turner backed the Black Heritage Society’s 40-year-old parade. Just months removed from the 50th anniversary of King’s assassination in Memphis, the gathering will become an official city event for the first time, the mayor said, receiving assistance and support from special events staff.
“Far too long, people have been asked to divide their time, their energy and their loyalty between two parades while the city sits on the sidelines,” Turner said. “There are many people who don’t participate on MLK Day because they don’t want to pick one parade over the other, they don’t support the optics, and they just are frustrated by what they see. It’s certainly not a reflection of Dr. King’s legacy. Now is the time for us to rise above personalities.”
Turner called on Houstonians reflecting the city’s diversity to organize marching bands and floats and round up participants, on foot or on horseback, for the Jan. 21, 2019 event.
For 17 years starting in 1978 — which by some accounts made it the first such parade in the country — Houston’s Black Heritage Society and leader Ovide Duncantell staged the only downtown MLK parade in Houston, led by people with connections to community organizations committed to advancing King’s ideals of social and economic justice.
In 1995, society volunteer Charles Stamps surprised Duncantell by applying for and receiving a city permit for a parade under the banner of a newly formed MLK parade foundation. Stamps’ event, known as the MLK Grande Parade, become a glamorous pageant featuring celebrity grand marshals and financed by corporate sponsors.
Things went downhill from there, with Stamps and Duncantell — who was said to be in poor health and unable to attend Thursday’s announcement — taking turns accusing each other of profiteering on parade proceeds.
“We’re excited,” Black Heritage Society Director Sylvester Brown said Thursday. “There is a lot of opportunity for our city to jump in and pull their sleeves up and get involved.”
Stamps, who also has applied for his own permit for a Jan. 21, 2019 parade, said the mayor’s announcement simply was a public reflection of the quiet support city officials and other politicians long have given to the heritage society parade.
“The problem is they don’t have much participation, so what you heard today was more like a public service announcement: He’s asking people to support the other,” Stamps said Thursday. “That’s their decision, but I don’t think his commentary is going to make a difference. This year is going to be our largest ever. We’re going all out and there’s nothing that can stop that.”
Stamps drifted between calling Turner’s motives “honorable” and questioning the legality of the mayor’s intervention. Stamps added that a meeting he had with Turner shortly after the mayor took office ended poorly when Stamps was asked to sell the parade and refused. That conversation was repeated about a month ago, Stamps said, with Turner saying he publicly would back the society parade if Stamps remained recalcitrant.
The mayor said he never suggested Stamps sell the parade, but rather offered to help both groups raise an amount equal to their best financial year operating each event on the condition that they partner to coordinate a unity parade. When neither group accepted, Turner told them he would pick a side, and heard strong support from public officials and civic organizations about choosing the heritage society.
Turner also said he is prepared to extend city support to Stamps’ annual Battle of the Bands event held each January, bolstering the weekend-long celebration.
“You can’t stop anyone from coming in and seeking a permit. We will be respectful,” Turner said. “But in terms of where the emphasis is going to be and where the overwhelming support is going to be, it’s going to be right there with the Black Heritage parade.”
Stamps insisted he and heritage society leaders are close to a deal to unify the parades, saying, “Trust me, there will be another press conference in the next few months. It will all come together.”
Brown, the heritage society director, disputed that.
The gulf between the two camps is deep. Stamps at one point called Duncantell a “subversive from the ‘60s, an amateur Panther” who “doesn’t have a clue about what the MLK celebration is all about.” Duncantell dubbed Stamps a “thug” and a “rogue” and for years highlighted his rival’s 1980s felony theft conviction.
Most every year for more than two decades, the two sides applied for a permit for the day commemorating King’s birth, and the losing side — the one granted no permit or, after the feud led the city to change its parade permitting rules, the side granted the less favorable route — protested the outcome, hosted a “festival” to compete with the permitted parade, or sued.
A judge in 1998 ordered that Duncantell’s event go forward rather than Stamps’. A judge ordered both parades to proceed downtown at different times in 2007. A coin toss determined who got the downtown route in 2008.
The two sides held a joint parade once, in 2006, but Duncantell the next morning applied for a permit to host the event solo the following year.
Every year, parade attendees express dismay at the low turnout, confusion over the competing routes, or disappointment at the absence of unity.
Turner issued a similar call for a joint effort last January hours before the parades launched two miles apart in downtown and Midtown, telling a crowd of hundreds at an MLK scholarship breakfast that “this division in our city must come to an end.”
When Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement on June 7th, President Trump put his support behind Brett Kavanaugh. One of the most important jobs the President has is nominating Judges to the Supreme Court of the United States — a lifelong appointment. As U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer (D-New York) said, “Whoever fills that seat will impact the rights of its citizens for a generation.”
In this article by the Washington Post, the authors argue that Kavanaugh, “was extremely polarizing in his votes,” “tended to dissent more often along partisan lines than his peers,” and “is an uncommonly partisan judge, even compared to other federal appeals court judges.”
The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights decried Kavanaugh as “a direct threat to our civil and human rights,” adding that “he has consistently ruled for the wealthy and powerful.”
In 2016, when Justice Anthony Scalia passed, President Obama nominated highly regarded Appeals Court Judge Merrick Garland to fill the vacancy. Led by Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, the U.S. Senate refused to hold hearings. The Supreme Court seat was left vacant for over a year. Instead, Republicans contended that it was an election year and the next president should get to fill the vacant Supreme Court seat, allowing the people to decide, and waited until after the 2016 Presidential Election to confirm Justice Scalia’s replacement. In 2017, when Trump was sworn in, he hastily appointed Neil Gorsuch, who was sworn in the first 100 days of the Trump presidency.
Current members of the Supreme Court, seated from the left: Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Justice Anthony Kennedy, Chief Justice John Roberts, Justice Clarence Thomas and Associate Justice Stephen Breyer. Standing, from left: Justice Elena Kagan, Justice Samuel Alito, Justice Sonia Sotomayor and Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
To be appointed to the Supreme Court, Kavanaugh must have 51 votes from the U.S. Senate — or a simple majority. While Republican members make up 50% of the vote, it’s not definite that all Republican Senators will vote in favor of him. During the GOP efforts to dismantle the Affordable Care Act last year, three Republican Senators — Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona), Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) — went against their party and halted the GOP effort to take away health care from millions of Americans.
Click here for this Vox article on where every senator stands on Trump’s Supreme Court nominee as of July 12th.
Call to Action
Senator John Cornyn:
(202) 224-2934 in Washington D.C.
(713) 572-3337 in Houston
Fax: (202) 224-5220
Click here to email Sen. Cornyn.
Senator Ted Cruz:
(202) 224-5922 in Washington D.C.
(713) 718-3057 in Houston
Fax: (202) 228-0755 in Washington D.C.
Click here to email Sen. Cruz.
How confirming a nomination to the Supreme Court works
SUPPORT 2018 HCFCD BOND PROGRAM
The Harris County Commissioners Court has called a bond election for Saturday, August 25th, 2018. Early voting runs from August 8th – 10th, and August 13th – 21st. The $2.5 billion in bonds is for flood risk reduction projects throughout the county.
The list of proposed projects can be viewed by clicking here, and an interactive map can be found by clicking here. There are multiple projects proposed for House District 147 including storm repairs along Brays Bayou, Buffalo Bayou, and Clear Creek, as well as the storm water detention basin along Sims Bayou.
There are Community Engagement Meetings to discuss potential projects and receive community input on the emergency bond election coming up for the projects that affect District 147. Please see below for details.
Clear Creek Community Engagement MeetingWHEN:
Tuesday, July 17th, 6-8pmWHERE:
El Franco Lee Community Center
9500 Hall Road
Houston, TX 77089
Buffalo Bayou Community Engagement Meeting
Monday, July 30th, 6-8pm
Memorial Drive United Methodist Church
Houston, TX 77079
A full list of all Community Engagement Meetings can be found by clicking here. You may also call the Flood Control District Bond Program Hotline with any questions directly at 713-684-4107.
If you can’t make it to the meetings, you can still submit your comments. CLICK HERE for details on how to submit comments online, by mail, and by phone.
I SUPPORT THE BOND PROJECTS because they will help make the people of District 147 and Harris County less susceptible to flood damage. The combination of more than 150 potential projects will make a major difference in preventing flood damage.
Additionally, the individual cost of the bonds on individual taxpayers is very small. According to the county’s Budget Management Department, “If passed, the bond issue would result in an overall tax rate increase of 2-3 cents per $100 assessed valuation – meaning that most homeowners would see an increase of no more than 1.4 percent in their property tax after all bonds were sold. (Homeowners with an over-65 or disabled exemption and a home assessed at $200,000 or less would pay no additional taxes.)”
BUY FLOOD INSURANCE
HISD Summer Meal Program Running Through August 2nd
More than 190 schools in the Houston area are providing free meals for the summer for children ages 1-18 until August 2nd.
As per HISD, the children:
- Do not need to be enrolled in summer school to participate
- Do not require paperwork, registration, or proof of income to participate
Adults will be charged $2.25 for breakfast and $3.75 for lunch.
Specific serving times vary by campus.
A map detailing when and where meals are being served is below. Parents are encouraged to call the site before they go to confirm serving times.
For more information, please click here or contact HISD’s Nutrition Services department at 713-556-2979.
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