The most recent round of campaign fundraising numbers came out this week and Texas Democrats showed that they are gaining momentum. Democratic Candidate for Senate Congressman Beto O’Rourke out-raised incumbent Senator Ted Cruz. 7 other Democratic challengers out-raised their Republican opponent in flippable Congressional seatsincluding Lizzie Fletcher who I endorsed for Texas Congressional District 7. This is great news for Texas Democrats, but this is just the beginning of the fightwe need to keep the momentum going through November. 

Supporting and voting for Texas Democrats is more vital than ever because we need to be able to have a check on the power of President Trump and Governor Abbott. We must elect Democrats at every level of government to help fight against President Trump and Governor Abbott’s crusade to dismantle the Affordable Care Act (ACA), oppress people of color, and destroy public education.

The ACA has helped lower Texas uninsured rate from around 26% to as low as 17%. Regrettably, the Trump administration has made it more difficult to get health insurance and the uninsured rate in both Texas and the nation has gone up since Trump has taken office. I worked hard as part of President Obama’s State Legislators for Health Reform group to develop and implement the ACA. I have also authored a bill the last three sessions to expand Medicaid in Texas. If re-elected, I will again file a bill to expand Medicaid in Texas. 

President Trump and Governor Abbott have both made a concerted effort to oppress people of color. Governor Abbott has signed into lawand previously defended as Texas Attorney Generaldiscriminatory Voter ID Laws that have been shown to suppress voting by people of color. I voted against oppressive Voter ID laws every time as a member of the Texas House. Likewise, President Trump created the “Commission on Election Integrity” led by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who was found to have disenfranchised 18,000 voters. Thanks to pressure put on by Democrats and their allies, Trump’s Commission on Election Integrity was disbanded.

Both Governor Abbott and President Trump have also worked to destroy public education. At the time of her nomination, President Trump’s Secretary of Education Betsy DeVoss was a board member of a national think tank for school-vouchers. As Secretary, DeVoss has attempted to cut subsidies to public school around military bases, which are property tax exempt, thus public schools need federal funds to offset not being able to raise funds from everyone on the military base. Sec. DeVoss also tried to implement a nationwide voucher policy and successfully eliminated many protections for students with special needs. Similarly, Governor Abbott has championed voucher programs and was proud of shifting $60 million annually away from public schools to charter schools. Fellow Democrats and I voted against that bill that took money away from public schools. Furthermore, next session I am filing legislation to prevent unfair TEA takeovers of our community public schools.

You can help stop Governor Abbott and President Trump’s dangerous agenda by keeping the Democratic momentum going.  Make sure you are registered to vote by clicking here. If you are not yet registered to vote or need to make a change to your voter registration, you can fill out the voter registration form online by clicking hereHowever, after filling the form out you will need to print it out and mail it to the address on the form (address varies based on your location). If you need help getting registered to vote or have questions, please click here or call my office at (512) 463-0524. 


SUPPORT 2018 Harris County Flood Control District 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 is one more Community Engagement Meeting 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.

Buffalo Bayou Community Engagement Meeting
Monday, July 30th, 6-8pm
United Methodist Church
12955 Memorial Drive
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.)”


Hurricane season is already upon us. Now is the time to buy flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) if you have not already.

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.

Serving Times
Specific serving times vary by campus.

Serving Locations
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 hereor contact HISD’s Nutrition Services department at 713-556-2979.

Cartoon of the Week

Source: | Mike Luckovich  |Copyright 2018 Creators Syndicate

What To Watch

This week, we are highlighting this video from PBS NewsHour entitled How Russia is trying to disrupt the 2018 election.  Watch below, or click here.“U.S. intelligence agencies are unanimous in their assessment that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election, and senior officials warn of ongoing efforts to do it again in 2018. Judy Woodruff talks with former Department of Homeland Security official Juliette Kayyem and Laura.”

Song of the Week

Today marks 50 years since James Brown wrote, “Say It Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud,” which you can listen to below. Below the video, you can read an opinion piece from the New York Times by Randall Kennedy on the importance of this song and why it is still necessary.

How James Brown Made Black Pride a Hit

It’s been 50 years since he wrote “Say It Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud,” a song that is still necessary.

By Randall Kennedy
Mr. Kennedy is a law professor at Harvard.

July 20, 2018

James Brown performs during a 1968 concert at Madison Square Garden.CreditWalter Iooss Jr./Getty Images

In the gym at Paul Junior High School in Washington, D.C., in the spring of 1968, not that long before the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., I asked a buddy whether he was interested in a certain girl. He told me that he was not because she was too dark.

He and I were African-American. (Then we would have called ourselves Negro.) So was she. All of us supported the Civil Rights Movement and idolized Dr. King, yet I did not hold my friend’s color-struck judgment against him. And he did not state his opinion with embarrassment. We had both internalized our society’s derogation of blackness.

Indeed, we luxuriated in the denigration, spending hours trading silly, recycled but revealing insults: “Yo mama so black, she blend in with the chalkboard.” “Yeah, well, yo mama so black, she sweats chocolate.”

It was precisely because of widespread colorism that James Brown’s anthem “Say It Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud” posed a challenge, felt so exhilarating, and resonated so powerfully.

It still does. Much has changed over the past half century. But, alas, the need to defend blackness against derision continues.

The song, written with Mr. Brown’s bandleader, Alfred Ellis, was released in August 1968, five months after the assassination of Dr. King. It shot to the top of the Billboard magazine rhythm and blues singles chart, where it remained for six weeks. I still remember the thrill of singing along with Soul Brother Number One that first summer. I have done so hundreds of times since.

Various musicians in the 1960s tapped into yearnings for black assertiveness, autonomy and solidarity. Curtis Mayfield and the Impressions sang “We’re a Winner.” Sly and the Family Stone offered “Stand.” Sam Cooke (and Aretha Franklin and Otis Redding) performed “A Change is Gonna Come.” But no entertainer equaled Brown’s vocalization of African-Americans’ newly triumphal sense of self-acceptance.

That Brown created the song most popularly associated with the Black is Beautiful movement is ironic. He generally stayed away from protest, endorsed the presidential re-election of Richard Nixon, lavishly praised Ronald Reagan, and consistently lauded Strom Thurmond.

His infrequent sallies into politics usually sounded in patriotic, lift-yourself-up-ism. In the song “America is My Home,” he proclaimed without embarrassment that the United States “is still the best country / And that’s without a doubt.” Alluding to his own trajectory, he challenged dissenters to name any other country in which a person could start out as a poor shoeshine boy but end up as a wealthy celebrity shaking hands with the president.

James Brown combs his hair backstage before performing for American troops during the Vietnam War.CSimonpietri/Sygma, via Getty Image

At the very time that in “Say It Loud,” Brown seemed to be affirming Negritude, he also sported a “conk” — a distinctive hairdo that involved chemically removing kinkiness on the way to creating a bouffant of straightened hair. Many African-American political activists, especially those with a black nationalist orientation, decried the conk as an illustration of racial self-hatred. For a brief period, Brown abandoned the conk and adopted an Afro, but that was only temporary. The conk was part of the characteristic look of “The Godfather of Soul.”

Other than the refrain — “I’m black and I’m proud” — the lyrics of “Say It Loud” are wholly forgettable. They bear little of the artistry that graces the lyrics of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” (written by James Weldon Johnson as a poem in 1900) or “What Did I Do To Be So Black and Blue?” (written by Harry Brooks and Andy Razaf in 1929). Written in a year in which more than 100 black people were lynched, the words of “Lift Every Voice” are a magnificent exhortation championing dignity, bravery and resilience. “What Did I Do …?” is an ironic protest that also highlights the self-loathing that victims of abuse all too often assist in inflicting upon themselves:

How would it end? Ain’t got a friend

My only sin is in my skin

What did I do to be so black and blue?

Even though by 1968 uprisings against white supremacism had been erupting for a decade with great intensity and success — the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the Childrens’ Crusade in Birmingham, the protest against disfranchisement in Selma — prejudice against blackness remained prevalent, including among African-Americans.

In my neighborhood, calling someone “black” was an insult, often the trigger to a fight. Our disparagement of “black” derived from a centuries-long development that Winthrop D. Jordan describes in “White Over Black: American Attitudes Toward the Negro 1550-1812.” He shows, in excruciating detail, how blackness “served as an easily grasped symbol of the Negro’s baseness and wickedness.”

Wielded ferociously by whites, this symbol inflicted hidden injuries that scarred every strata of African-American society. In his memoir, “Soul on Ice,” published in 1968, Eldridge Cleaver recounts a fellow prison inmate’s scornful dismissal of African-American women: “I don’t want nothing black but a Cadillac.” He remembers another one remarking, that if “money was black, I wouldn’t want none of it.”

Champions of African-American uplift in the 1960s sought to liberate blackness from the layers of contempt, fear, and hatred with which it had been smeared for centuries. Brown’s anthem poignantly reflected the psychic problem it sought to address. People secure in their status don’t feel compelled to trumpet their pride. At the same time “Say it Loud!” was a rousing instance of a reclamation that took many forms. Instead of celebrating light skin, thin lips, and “good” (i.e., straight) hair, increasing numbers of African-Americans began valorizing dark skin, thick lips and “bad” (i.e., kinky) hair.

For purposes of collective self-identification, African-Americans took to calling themselves “black” as opposed to “Negro” or “colored.” Negro Digest was renamed Black World. Negro History Week was superseded by Black History Month. Students demanded the establishment of black studies programs.

In his final book, “Where Do We Go From Here?,” Dr. King also embraced the reclamation of blackness. One “must not overlook,” he insisted, “the positive value in calling the Negro to a new sense of manhood, to a deep feeling of racial pride and to an audacious appreciation of his heritage.” He went on to say that a black man “must stand up amid a system that still oppresses him and develop an unassailable and majestic sense of his own value. He must no longer be ashamed of being black.”

The reclamation of blackness in the sixties made tremendous headway quickly. By 1970 my friend would not have dared to repeat out loud what he had told me unapologetically two years before. Here, as elsewhere, however, changes wrought by the black liberation movement, though impressive, were only partial. Nearly four decades after the release of “Say It Loud,” Professors Jennifer Hochschild and Vesla Weaver, having synthesized the pertinent academic literature, declared authoritatively that compared to their lighter-skinned counterparts, dark-skinned blacks continue to be burdened by lower levels of education, income, and job status. They receive longer prison sentences and are less likely to own homes or to marry. Filmmakers, advertisers, modeling agencies, dating websites and other key gatekeepers demonstrate repeatedly the ongoing pertinence of the old saw:

If you’re black get back

If you’re brown, stick around

If you’re white you’re all right

James Brown performs in Toronto in the late 1960s.CreditJeff Goode/Toronto Star, via Getty Images

Colorism was part of the drama that starred Barack and Michelle Obama. That a man of color was twice elected to the presidency is surely a sign that racism has waned. Still, that Barack Obama is not a black black man but instead an African-American of intermediate hue raises the question whether or to what extent colorism played a role in enabling his triumph. As for Michelle Obama, many black people delight in the fact that she was not only an African-American first lady but a dark-skinned first lady. Much of the satisfaction that an ambitious African-American man chose as his partner an accomplished dark woman arises, however, from the rankling impression that frequently such men prefer lighter companions. Alice Walker’s articulation of the point is unexcelled in its bluntness: “For the dark-skinned black woman it comes as a series of disappointments and embarrassments that the wives of virtually all black leaders (including Marcus Garvey!) appear to have been chosen for the nearness of their complexions to white alone.”

Intra-racial colorism in Black America is often seen as a topic that should, if possible, be avoided, especially in “mixed company.” That sense of embarrassment three decades ago prompted officials at Morehouse College to demand that Spike Lee cease filming on campus once they learned that his movie was exposing, among other things, black collegiate colorism. The impulse toward avoidance remains strong.

With racial prejudice against all African-Americans still a potent force, many would just as soon ditch the discussion of “black on black” complexional bias. Colorism, however, remains a baleful reality. The urgency with which it needs to be confronted is evident in moving speeches from the actress Lupita Nyong’o about learning to appreciate her dark skin. It is evident, too, in Kendrick Lamar’s insistence that dark-skinned women also be featured in videos showcasing his music.

Half a century after James Brown’s proclamation, it remains imperative to assert what should have been assumed and uncontroversial all along: that black is beautiful and as worthy of pride and care and consideration as any other hue.

Randall Kennedy, a professor at Harvard Law School, is the author, most recently, of “For Discrimination: Race, Affirmative Action and the Law.”

Our second song of the week is “Rise Up” by Andra Day.

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