Sarah Roberts is one of Laurie Bertram Robert’s daughters. They live in Jackson, MS. Laurie is President of Mississippi NOW and serves with me on the National NOW Board of Directors. Sarah’s blog focuses on her experiences surrounding the bullying and harassment of women seeking services at the only remaining abortion clinic in Mississippi. Sarah, her sister, and her mother all serve as clinic escorts at Jackson Women’s Health Organization. The story about how she reacts to this harassment is empowering. Thanks for the work all three of you — and all other clinic escorts across the country — do for women’s reproductive justice and health.
I’m Sarah, I’m 16 and I am a escort/clinic defender at Jackson Women’s Health Organization. I first started escorting after my mom, Laurie, told me about how women were harassed while trying to come in and out of the clinic. At first, I just wanted to see if it was really true and how bad it was. When I saw it for myself, I knew I had to stay and help.
My mom actually didn’t want me to escort because of the possibility of violence and the aggressiveness of protesters. My sister and I said if you go, WE GO. We also reminded her that she had always taught us about the role of children in the civil rights movement. If children could march, get beaten and sprayed with hoses for our rights why can’t we help women and defend our rights now? My sister and I…
It’s been 50 years since Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his iconic “I Have a Dream” speech in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC. One of his colleagues at that event was the Rev. Jessie Jackson, Sr. Rev. Jackson has continued speaking and advocating for that dream of “uniting people on common ground across race, culture, class, gender, and belief.” This idea of interlocking destinies was presented during his plenary speech at the National NOW Conference held in Chicago on July 5, 2013.
I was in the room during Rev. Jackson’s speech and took several video clips with my smart phone. One of them came out clear enough to post on this blog. So after getting back home, participating in a family reunion, and then spending a week and a half looking for a replacement car for our 253,000+ mile vehicle, I was able to upload the video and present it to you.
Video of Jessie Jackson at the 2013 National NOW Conference in Chicago, IL
The following quotes, along with the time tags are some of the best comments, IMHO, that Jessie Jackson made during this speech discussing the intersection between the women’s movement and the civil rights movement, which at 13:59 into this video, Jackson calls a “sharing of interlocking destinies.” He started off by discussing these Interlocking Destinies and shared rights.
3:52 The right to vote should not be a state right. It’s a constitutional right for everyone.
4:10 Every child should have access to have access to high-quality public education.
4:20 No matter if you are in Mississippi, Maine, or in California, we live under one flag; you should have equal protection under the law.
5:52 Our goal is to learn to live together.
6:20 Civil rights cannot be another word for “black” and NOW cannot be another word for “white women.” Black women, in big numbers, should be members of NOW now!
7:00 We must pull down the walls [of cultural resistance] that leave us in the shadow of fear…. When the walls come down, we can all grow bigger, better, stronger with greater productivity. When the walls come down.
9:00 There’s a new South today that can have the Super Bowl, CNN, high-tech universities [showing that we are] learning to live together. Yet…
At this point, Rev. Jackson starts talking about some of the interlocking issues of racism and sexism still present that need to be addressed in the United States:
9:56 It’s interesting to me that during the Republican Primary, in my [home] state [South Carolina] with an open primary, not one candidate went to a single school or church of the black community. Not one! 33% black. Not only did they not go, the media did not challenge them to go. This instance [of the] reinforcement of apartheid was natural because it’s [still] normal.
Jackson then spends a bit of time framing these interlocking destinies and the problem of economics and access to justice. He gave several examples of this framework. The one that resonated with me was the one about the automobile industry, considering that my car had died the weekend before the conference and knowing that I would soon be car shopping. He said,
12:38 What does it mean that there are 21,000 automobile dealerships? 200 black-owned. Almost no women. Pepsi: one black franchise. Coke: zero. When you go get educated. You get your masters and PhD degrees. Business people, you cannot buy one of these franchises, by the way, because they were sold under the laws of perpetuity. Those that got the territories [back in the day] have the territory eternally. So it’s not about getting on the ball field. If you get on the ball field, there are no balls left…. Even money can’t buy them.
And finally, just as the battery in my smart phone died, he ended on a high note using history to look towards the future. He said that as in the past, we have not and can never be at loss for continuing to advocate for reform. This is what I caught on the video as it beeped “bye-bye:”
What’s worse than cutting the amount of food stamp funding from the farm bill? Eliminating them entirely. And that’s what the GOP House members did this afternoon in a 216-208 vote—no Democrats for the bill and 12 Republicans voting against it. The farm will has always been a total package: subsidies and benefits to farmers and nutritional programs such as SNAP to the poor, but House GOP leaders hope that separating them will entirely get rid of this help for hungry people.
Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT) pointed out that the bad policy ignored the bipartisan policy of the House Agriculture Committee. The farm bill that the House passed is for five years, but the food stamps would be on an annual basis if it could even pass, which is most unlikely. The biggest cuts to food stamps in history came in 1996 when then Speaker Newt Gingrich proposed turning the…
Here in Centre County, we have a county-run nursing home facility. It is located in the county seat of Bellefonte, PA. Centre Crest Nursing Home in Bellefonte has been county-owned and operated for 73 years. On June 18, Commissioners Steve Dershem (R) and Chris Exarchos (R) called for a surprise and unannounced vote (which may have violated Pennsylvania’s Sunshine Law) to transfer the facility to a private organization to be run as a non-profit. If the transfer goes through:
We, citizens of Centre Co., will lose our say in the operation and funding of Centre Crest;
Our tax investments could be subsidizing a private company through a rent-free agreement, yet we’d have no say in how Centre Crest would be run;
Current Centre Crest employees will have their benefits and pensions cut;
The Bellefonte community would lose over $1 million when employees lose benefits and when jobs involving payroll, purchasing, and benefit administration services are outsourced to a private company based in outside of Centre County; and
We expect that costs will rise for the residents, most of who are lower-income and cannot afford any of the very expensive private nursing home care that is elsewhere available in the county.
Most of the citizens in the county are opposed to this transfer. Some oppose the transfer because of the inability for citizens to have a continued say in how the nursing home should be run. Some oppose the transfer for fear that their loved ones will no longer be able to afford the care and will be forced to move. Some oppose the transfer because of the expected loss of benefits, including a defined pension plan, should the nursing home be turned into either a non-profit or for-profit nursing home. And some oppose the transfer due to the costs involved.
In 2012, the cost to the average household (not taxpayer, but household) to operate Centre Crest was $25 (5.6% of the county taxes) and it was less than that in each of the four years before that. The third commissioner, Commissioner Michael Pipe (D) spent several months doing a cost-benefit analysis of either keeping Centre Crest as a fully county-run facility or selling it off. The cost of Commissioners Pipe’s proposal to upgrade facilities at Centre Crest is less than $11.50 for the average household. The cost of a suggested subsidy to the county to turn it into a nonprofit is $3 million. In addition, the proposed plan involves this non-profit receiving the current and proposed new site rent free. Should the facility be moved, the county could incur an additional cost of $700,000 to $900,000 to acquire the suggested new location (Bellefonte Armory) with no reimbursement from the non-profit.
The current set up, according to Commissioner Pike is a win-win for the county and for seniors. As he argued before the vote, keeping Centre Crest as an upgraded county-run facility is both an “excellent use of our investments (taxes)” and “provides a home and medical care to our most vulnerable citizens–our seniors.”
The transfer is NOT A DONE DEAL. Although the initial vote was taken to transfer the home, none of the legal paperwork has yet to be signed and there are some legal actions that are being considered to stop what has happened so far.
There is a better alternative. Commissioner Pipe presented a plan to keep Centre Crest county owned and upgrade the facility for only $11.50 per year for the average household.
Together we can make this alternative happen.
If you live in Centre County, PA; have family in Centre County; or are concerned about the idea of profit over compassionate care for vulnerable seniors, then you can help stop this decision from coming to fruition.
If you live in Centre County, attend the County Commissioners’ meetings. They occur at 10:00 am every Tuesday morning. Voice your objection to the transfer during the public comment session at the beginning of each meeting;
No matter where you live, you can donate $5 or $50 to “Centre County Citizens for Fiscal Responsibility.” Mail to: 148 Thornton Rd., State College. PA 16801;
Go to http://saveCentreCrest.org, click on “petition,” download, print and then sign it. You can then, if you desire, you can gather more signatures. Once your petition is complete, mail it to: Save Centre Crest, P.O. Box 262, Bellefonte, PA 16823
You can also obtain more information and background on Centre Crest, what’s happening, and what you can do by visiting the Save Centre Crest website.
Besides being a civil rights activist, I am a strong supporter of historic preservation and the arts. So I’m putting on a different hat today to talk about a pending crisis in my home town that can be averted if we have people like you who are willing to assist us by the end of August. Here’s the story…
[I]ncrease the awareness of the significance of Bellefonte’s cultural heritage and the value of its preservation; foster the economic development and maintenance of downtown Bellefonte; promote tourism and tourism development; and provide a much needed venue for local artists and friends of the arts.
The two major functions of BHCA–arts and historic preservation–have come together in a project to save the Garman Opera House (or Theatre) and turn it into a regional community arts center. The Garman Theatre was constructed in 1890 across a side street from the Centre County, PA Courthouse. Some of its historic claims to fame:
The song, “After the Ball is Over” was first sung publicly at the Garman in the 1890’s soon after it opened;
The Garman hosted many famous acts over the years, including George Burns and Gracie Allen, Houdini, the Flora Dora Girls, and a myriad of Wild West and one-act shows; and
In the 1900s it started showing films, first silent and then talking. This continued until 1961.
Bellefonte’s Historic”Anchor:” The Garman Opera House Theatre, c. 1961. Built in 1890.
The Garman, after several years of use as a furniture store warehouse, was restored in the 1990s as a stage performance center and then turned back into a combination theatre and performance center. Unfortunately, it was damaged by fire on September 9, 2012 when the building next door was destroyed due to arson. The Bellefonte Borough took over the Garman Theatre as a “blighted and abandoned” property under Pennsylvania’s Conservatorship Act and gave it to a conservator, the Bellefonte Area Industrial Development Authority (IDA), to dispose of it.
The conservator asked for proposals as to what to do with the property. Only two showed any interest in this property:
The Progress Development Group, LLC, who wants to raze it and build a new building to be a part of 32 high-density housing project in downtown Bellefonte; and
BHCA, who wants to save and restore the Garman to its historical function in keeping with a “restrictive land covenant” which is attached to the property deed.
BHCA became involved in April 2013 after hiring a structural engineer who confirmed our suspicions that the Garman was still structurally sound, despite the damage caused by the fire. And we later found out that the Bellefonte IDA had made the same structural-integrity assessment. Yet the IDA decided to go ahead with the destruction of the Garman and told the court of their decision. We decided to contest that decision as allowed under the Pennsylvania Conservatorship Act.
Both parties went to court last month and made their cases before the judge. On June 28, Centre County Judge Thomas Kistler granted a reprieve to the destruction of the historic Garman Opera House and Theatre here in Bellefonte. So we have 60 days to come up with a detailed plan, including financing, to save the Garman and turn it into an art and cultural center for the town.
We want to do what the Wellsboro, PA community did a couple of years ago when they saved a historic building destined for destruction; they turned that building into the award-winning (see page 6 this PDF file for info on this award) regional arts center now known as the Deane Center for the Performing Arts.
Here’s where you come in. YOU can help us to save the Garman by making a donation to BHCA. Here’s the message from Keith Koch, President of BHCA calling for donations:
NOTE: We now can take PLEDGES and $$$ contributions. We are a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization which means any donation is 100% tax-deductible for the donor as we are not providing any “goods or services” to the donor.
Checks can be made out to “BHCA” and noted as “Garman.” They can be sent to BHCA, PO Box 141, Bellefonte, PA 16823.
We would be honored if you would make a donation to BHCA to help save what I deeply believe is truly a historical, architectural gem? And please spread the word. Thank you for your support!
Progressive commentary from Gainesville, Florida, once called the Berkeley of the South. Potano was the chief of and the only known name of the Native American tribe inhabiting the area around what is now Gainesville at the time the Europeans arrived.
“It takes no compromise to give people their rights…it takes no money to respect the individual. It takes no political deal to give people freedom. It takes no survey to remove repression.” – Harvey Milk
Learn more about the state laws being introduced and passed around the U.S. that is limiting Women's rights. Did you know that the Women's Equal Right Amendment from 1983 still needs to be ratified by 3 more states before it goes into effect?