Category Archives: Inspiring people

Top Women’s Newspaper Journalists of Past and Present

helenthomas

In honor of Women’s History Month, last week I took on the daunting task of listing some top women television journalists that deserve our support. I would like to continue to honor this month by attempting to list top political newspaper journalists, columnists and editors who deserve the same kind of respect, support and place in history. And for a final tribute next week, I will tackle my list of top twenty liberal women political bloggers.

Women are now expected voices during political dialogue – speaking their minds and taking names, so to speak. But how did we get here? After all, we have only had the right to vote since 1920 (a mere 90 years ago) and finally had our first shot at a woman President only in the past year. Wouldn’t you know it, women have been affecting the political scene long before we were voting and have been fighting for their spot on the soapbox in the male dominated field of journalism ever since. Did you know that the International Federation of Journalists reported that only of 38% of working journalists are women?

So as a woman blogger, political junkie and proud feminist, I would like to tip my laptop to the following women of note:

  • Marguerite Higgins was the first woman to win a Pulitzer prize for international reporting in 1951.
  • Ethel Payne covered the civil rights movement and became the first African American commentator employed by a major news network (CBS) in 1972.
  • Ida M. Tarbell was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame for her historical investigative reporting about the Standard Oil company at the turn of the century.
  • Margaret Fuller was the first writer for the New York Tribune in the mid 1800s and was also the first female foreign and war correspondent.
  • Nellie Bly is famous for her undercover work as a journalist who faked her insanity so that she could report on the inner workings of a mental institution in the late 1800’s.
  • Katherine Graham was a Pulitzer prize winning author and managing editor of the Washington Post during the explosive early 70s when the Post unearthed the truth about Nixon.
  • Nancy Hicks Maynard was the first African American female reporter for the New York Times and former owner of the Oakland Tribune.
  • Ellen Goodman is a Pulitzer prize winning columnist who has focused her career on bringing attention to the women’s movement while writing a nationally recognized syndicated column.
  • Anna Quindlen is a Pulitzer prize winning journalist who, in 1990, became the third woman in history to write a regular column for the New York Times Op-Ed page.
  • Helen Thomas was the first female member and president of the While House Correspondents Association and has been in the white house press corps since JFK, sitting front and center of every white house press conference. (See image above.)
  • Arianna Huffington was named as one of Time’s worlds 100 most influential people and  is the co founder of the Huffington Post.
  • Margaret Carlson was the first female columnist at Time magazine and is now a columnist at Bloomberg News.

IN 1937, the National Federation of Press Women was founded. For a list of accomplished women journalists found in their Hall of Fame, please visit their site.

With such amazing journalists and inspiring women preparing the ground for future female writers, it is no surprise that such a fabulous crop of political bloggers have sprung forth today, enlightening, demanding and questioning the political arena at large. So who are my favorites? You’ll have to wait until next week when I will finally reveal my top twenty favorite political bloggers. Until then, happy Women’s History Month!

Cross Posted at Type A Moms.

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Filed under Bloggers, Communication, Educating myself, Feminist tendancies, Giving respect, Inspiring people, Politics, Raising Awareness, Reccomendations, Women

Top Women Television Journalists We Should Support

While it may come as no surprise to you, I still think I need to fess up: I am a news and politics junkie. And in honor of Women’s History Month, I would like to share with you my favorite women pundits, correspondents, news anchors, bloggers and political writers. Women news sources are still in the minority so this is my simple way of supporting every woman out there reporting on what will certainly become history some day.

Now how could I ever sum up the women I support in one concise post? Exactly, it’s utterly impossible. So this will be a three part post – and even then I am quite sure I’ll be skimping on you. Nevertheless, I’m going to give it a shot. This week, I will share with you my picks for the best women television news sources that you need to turn on and follow. Sure, do it for the future of women’s journalism, do it for women’s solidarity but really just do it because they are accomplished professionals making an important impact on mainstream media.

Until the early 1960’s, news reporting was strictly a man’s gig. So first things first – let’s give a shout out to some of first women who reported the political goings on in Washington. Nancy Dickerson was in fact the first woman television reporter. She opened the doors for such news greats as Diane Sawyer, Barbara Walters, Ann Compton, Lesley Stahl and more recently, Katie Couric. The stories I’ve read about how difficult it was for these women to break into journalism makes the hairs on my neck stand up. They deserve respect and credit for the ceiling they have all cracked together.

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Today, there are a number of television pundits and correspondents who have established themselves as top news contributors. But who tops my list? None other than the amazing and brilliant Rachel Maddow. If you don’t watch her MSNBC show at 9pm every weeknight (or follow her on twitter), you are missing something impressive. Ann Marie Coxis often a guest on her show and I have become a fan of hers also.

Another good perspective comes from Campbell Brown and her show “No Bias, No Bull” is my “go to” when I am not watching Keith Olbermann (and while he’s a “he” and therefore does not fit the bill for this post, I am a loyal viewer of his also). And by the way, Alison Stewart(previously of MTV fame and Emmy award winner) does a fabulous job filling in for Maddow and Olbermann – I hope to see more of this amazing news contributor in the future.

Gwen Ifill is the Moderator and Managing Editor on PBS’ Washington Week. Along with the stiff shirts of the McLaughlin Group, my father watches her regularly. I am a big fan myself and think she handled the vice presidential circus debate with grace and professionalism.

And while I stare at my monitor most afternoons, I usually have MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell quietly on in the background. She’s smart and does a fantastic job asking the right kinds of questions. And then Norah O’Donnellis the MSNBC chief washington correspondent and also hosts the 3pm hour of MSNBC.

While not your traditional political pundits, I have to mention the women on The View. They have made a significant impression on this country with their ideals and fiery political debates. Say what you will about The View being an actual news source, Whoopi Goldeberg and Joy Behar have my utmost respect.

And finally, Christiane Amanpour, CNN’s chief international correspondent, deserves every bit of recognition she has received including the Peabody Award, two Emmy Awards and has been named the Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE). She speaks three languages and fearlessly positions herself at the epicenter of war, chaos and international instability on a daily basis. There is no question that she has earned my deepest admiration.

The only way we will see more women reporting and commenting on important news stories is if we support the women currently doing just that. Take note of who sits around the table during Meet the Press or gather in the White House Press conference room. Is our women’s perspective represented? Let’s hope it will be the case more frequently in the future.

Feel free to comment about some of your favorite women journalists below. And stay tuned for next week’s second post in this series about my picks for favorite women political newspaper journalists and writers that deserve their place in history.

Cross posted at Type A Moms.

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Filed under Educating myself, Feminist tendancies, Giving respect, Inspiring people, Parenting, Politics, Reccomendations, TV, Women

My Thoughts on the Presidential Address to Congress

The other night after putting my children to bed, I settled onto my couch with my laptop and switched on MSNBC. I was ready to hear from our President. I was looking for hope, for answers, for any sign that there will be a light at the end of this very long and difficult tunnel. Homes in my neighborhood stand empty, friends are losing their jobs, funding for my son’s education is being cut drastically and I’m getting nervous about affording even groceries right now. This speech needed to assure me that eventually everything is going to be alright. And did it? Here is my reaction to the President’s address to congress.

After thunderous opening applause and a quick introduction by Pelosi, President Obama launched enthusiastically into his speech. Right away he recognized just how bad it’s gotten. He explained that he didn’t need to rattle off any more statistics about this recession since we are all experiencing it first hand.

With my arms folded and my heart sadly resigned, I certainly agreed. As much as I support our President whole-heartedly, I know the reality and can’t help but worry the obstacles in front of us are impossible to overcome.

He then reminded us that we are all responsible for our economy, for our environment, for our children’s futures. After years of excessive spending and with no regard for the consequences of bad loans or oil dependence, we’ve wound up where we are. His words were strong, he spoke plainly and he spoke right to me.

All this time, I’ve been smugly blaming the previous administration and everyone else for this mess. But it was at this moment when I realized that this problem is all of ours. We have all played a part in this mess and we all need to make an effort to fix it.

“Now is the time” he demanded. Ok. You’re right. I’m listening.

He then went on to explain this recovery plan will do the following:

  • Create 3.5 million jobs
  • Give 95% of Americans a tax cut by April 1
  • Give families paying for college tuition a $2,500 tax credit
  • Allow unemployed Americans extended unemployment benefits

Honestly? These promises practically make me giddy with hope. I was ready to leap to my feet during this part of his speech faster than Pelosi herself. But I didn’t. I was still holding myself back. These are promises and certainly look great on paper – but I am still waiting and seeing.

Obviously, this recovery plan means that a lot of money (read: trillions) will be floating around. Considering our reckless past, I appreciated the President explaining that careful tabs will be kept on every dollar spent. Americans can go to recovery.gov to see where our money is going. This is good. Actions and process have to be kept transparent if we want if regain any economic confidence.

The next points he brought up were about banking, credit and loans. The message came across loud and clear that our money in our banks is safe and that we cannot stop loaning to individuals and businesses. This will stop economic growth in its tracks. Clearly, trust needs to be rebuilt again.

He also pointed out that “responsible” families struggling to hold on to their homes will be assisted. He said that:

“…the average family who refinances today can save nearly $2,000 per year on their mortgage.”

For a family like ours who followed the rules, bought a home within our means but are still scraping to pay our mortgage – this was very encouraging to hear.

Further into his speech, I was thrilled to hear the three priorities of the recovery plan:

 “…the budget I submit will invest in the three areas that are absolutely critical to our economic future: energy, health care, and education.”

He explained that ignoring these areas will change the future of our country if we do not give them immediate support and attention.

This was where my cautious “we’ll see” grumblings gave way to affirmative exclamations. I was emotionally on board then. All I could think about was my child’s school staying open, my $150 co-pays to treat my son’s flu that never responded to his $25 flu shot, and the empty homes scattered all over my neighborhood. Maybe? Could it be? Well, it seems there actually is hope.

As our president concluded his speech, he mentioned the stories of individuals who have made differences in their communities. He then introduced us to the young high school girl who reminded our congress that “We are not quitters!”

You see, that is exactly it for me. I am scared right now. I am nervous that from the bottom of this economic hole, these promises are just too good to be true. I want to hide my head in the sand and wish it all away. Or maybe just wait for someone else to fix it. But we are not quitters. No matter what side of the tracks you fall on: get up, get out and do something. This is everyone’s problem. Not just Wall Street’s or Congress’s or our President’s.

No doubt about it, our President is a fantastic speaker. But he is also an extremely smart and capable leader. The impossible is ahead of us but instead of moaning about what can’t be done, I will follow his lead and consider all that can be done. He is inspiring me to take responsibility, move forward and do my part. It was an excellent speech and I’m excited and ready to see what our future has in store.

Cross posted at Type A Moms.

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Filed under Communication, Economy, Getting green, Government, Inspiring people, Obama, parental fear, Parenting, Partisanship, Politics, Raising Awareness, Reality check

Experiencing the Vivienne Tam Show

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After an evening trying to whip myself together into some sort of presentable look for fashion week, myself and the 20 other bloggers tromped out into the rain to go see the Vivienne Tam show.

What did I expect? Some very beautiful, thin, doe eyed girls trooping around in fabulous outfits and a crew of fashionistas getting it so much more than I am, and eyeing everyone up and down. I doubted I’d see VT herself, but what do I know about how these events go down…

And what happened?

Well, we arrived, were escorted right in and handed glasses of champagne. And there was Vivienne Tam standing with all the models in front of a row of Touchsmart HP screens! After many pictures, the models moved on and the crowd mingled. The wonderful DWJ from the Art of Accessories grabbed my hand (I love this woman, by the way) and managed to get us in for a picture with Vivienne Tam herself!

Um. Is this my life? Here we are. (I have no idea what happened with my hair. I am clearly channeling “A Flock of Seagulls”. Whatever. I’m standing next to her!)

vt-pic

And then a few minutes later, they lined up all the bloggers with Vivienne Tam and took endless pictures. This sounds silly but I totally had a red carpet moment all of the sudden. Little ol’ me. Whoda thunk. I don’t have a big group shot now but will post one when I do.

Anyway, we saw the amazing collection. Its absolutely gorgeous. I fell in love with a beautiful leather dress of hers and was amazed by the beauty of the detail in her dresses.

vtdresses

A Mom in Red High Heels and I checked out the Touchsmart PCs. We pulled up our sites and took pics of ourselves at the event.

We talked to interesting people, learned more about the inspiration of her collection (which I hope to post more about in the future) and just generally had an amazing time.

vtdetail

I think what impressed me most was Vivienne herself. She was so taken aback that we were all women bloggers there to support her show. She said it meant so much to have women supporting her this way and was extremely appreciative of us being there. I said to her that women bloggers absolutely adore this mini and all want one. Her face absolutely lit up. She spun around to some very nice man behind her. “Did you hear that?? The bloggers love the Mini!!!” She was genuine, she was warm, she was truly grateful to have us there.

Grateful. Yes. My words exactly.

What an amazing evening.

For more information about the HP products I review, please visit my HP Update page.

 

mmsite1

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Filed under Blog love, Bloggers, Friendship, Giving respect, HP, Inspiring people, Photographs, Reviews, Techie Stuff, Travel, Women

Is Obama’s Hope for Bipartisanship Possible?

It’s week one for President Obama and he faces an overwhelming to do list; a tangled rats nest of diplomatic, economic and environmental issues – all of which are deemed an absolute priority. However, our President has made one thing very clear. In order to succeed at untangling any of this mess, our country must unify, shake off bad partisan habits, and move forward as one nation. But after all the anger across party lines over this past year – heck, over this past decade – is national bipartisanship actually possible?

During President Obama’s historical inaugural speech, he turned to the nation and announced:

On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.
On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn-out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.

Bipartisanship was clearly his priority the night before his inauguration as Obama attended a number of dinners, one honoring John McCain, where he aimed to demonstrate his intentions to unify this country.

And while President Obama’s stimulus plan only needs the majority number of votes to pass, he hopes for more. Obama is aiming for at least 80 votes to demonstrate to the nation that our government acts with one voice working together to solve our economic issues.

Before and since Obama was sworn in as our new leader, he has prioritized efforts to reach across party lines. There are an endless number of examples and Jonathan Martin at Politico lists many of them here. However, many are still skeptical whether these bipartisan efforts will actually work – and for various reasons.

Jake Tapper, an ABC White House correspondent, pointed out examples where Obama critiqued McCain during the election year – and at the time, he was clearly not in a bipartisan frame of mind. Will conservative citizens forget his criticisms and allow this water to pass under the bridge?

And that stimulus plan? Well, even if it is likely to pass, folks on both sides of the fence think such an idealistic goal of 80 votes is unlikely. Jay Newton Small from Time Magazine explains that Obama will either have to reach much further over to the Republican camp, which would disappoint supporters – or push the plan ahead going against his bipartisanship ideologies. Newton-Small writes:

“Obama may quickly find himself forced to choose between betraying his party and betraying his principles.”

Ed Kilgore wrote about Obama’s bipartisanship goals at the Huffington Post – and he too recognizes those that are skeptical his efforts will work. He writes:

“Call it ‘bipartisanship,’ ‘nonpartisanship,’ or ‘post-partisanship,’ this strain of Obama’s thinking is impossible to ignore, and has pleased and inspired some listeners while annoying and alarming others.”

Kilgore explains further about the possibility of Obama’s bipartisan intentions:

“Among self-conscious progressives and conservatives alike, there’s a prevailing belief that Obama’s ‘bipartisan’ talk is largely a tactical device without real meaning — and a lingering fear that he might really mean it. “

So, critics seem to think Obama’s bipartisan efforts are not genuine but some underhanded method to get what he wants? Or worse still, if he does mean it and politicians drop their baggage at the door, where does that leave both parties? Will they have to (gasp) compromise and listen? Have open discussion and actually tolerate differing opinions? That’s just not how Washington works. Right?

FireDogLake.com goes so far as to say that Obama cares more about bipartisanship than a stable economy. RealClearPolitics.com explains that bipartisanship is not such a great idea after all because it requires both sides to work together – and if one side has got it all wrong, the entire effort will be diminished.

And let’s not forget Rush Limbaugh. Like him or not, he has a huge conservative audience that hangs on to his every word. What are his thoughts on Obama’s bipartisanship efforts? Well, go see for yourself. But he certainly doesn’t think conservatives should “drink the Kool-aid”.

So what do everyday people think? Well, I was discouraged looking back at the comments of the Politico article I mentioned above. But not everyone considers Obama’s efforts impossible. Corina Fiore from Down to Earth Mama explained to me:

“Obama’s bipartisanship agenda is possible. As a nation, we know that with hard work, determination, intelligence and common purpose, anything is possible… This task, though, is difficult with so many egos and so many different ideals to consider.”

And then another blogger, Wendy Piersell from Totally Her, relayed to me that:

“I hope/think the Obama administration will change the dynamic between parties forever. But politics will always be partisan.”

I agree with both. Opposing parties and differing opinions are important for this country to check and balance itself. Our country is defined by its diverse perspectives – we don’t all agree and it’s our right that we don’t have to. That being said, President Obama simply wants to keep the door open. No idea or suggestion aimed at fixing our nation’s problems should be ignored based on party affiliation. Let’s keep an open mind and sit down to fix this together. We may all not get exactly what we want but, if our country is better off for the compromises we’ve made in 5 years, it will all be worth it.

And bipartisan efforts should extend even as far as Type A Mom. Please make sure to jump over, welcome and read future articles by our new Conservative Mom Editor, Krista Herling! Welcome Krista!

Cross posted at Type A Moms.

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Filed under Communication, Economy, Giving respect, Government, Inauguration, Inspiring people, Obama, Partisanship, Politics, Presidency, Reality check

My Son Learns about his 44th President

While my son was at school yesterday, his kindergarten class watched the inauguration. They also read books about Obama and his teachers explained the significance of that day. When T. jumped into the car yesterday afternoon, he yelled out to me “Hey Mom! You won’t BELIEVE why the President’s Office is called the OVAL office!” Hmmm, I can’t imagine – but I was thrilled that he knew. So then it was my turn for a presidential factoid. “Hey, did you know President Obama has two little girls?” I happened to spy an eyeroll in my rear-view mirror. “I KNOW that.”

Already, President Barack Obama is being taught in schools. Already, he is considered part of my son’s “social studies” curriculum. Already, he is getting colored in and pasted on to construction paper.

It should come as no surprise then that I consider this sort of school work: “refrigerator-worthy” – and it is posted proudly for all to see.

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bo2

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Filed under Education, Giving respect, Inauguration, Inspiring people, Obama, Patriotism, Presidency, Teaching kids

Inauguration Day: Proud, Patriotic and Pantsless

So here I sit, under a blanket, with a cup of tea steaming on the coffee table. My laptop, with about 10 separate windows open (CNN.com, twitter, various blogs, email, etc.), is sitting on, well, my lap. CNN is on the television in front of me and my two year old son is napping (finally).

And Barack Obama is President of the United States.

Wow.

He’s been president for almost two hours now. And I could not be more grateful.

Someday my sons may ask me where I was the day President Obama was inaugurated. And so I think it seems only right I post today to “archive” it in some way. But I hate to disappoint them. Even though my parents live in the DC area, we are not there. We are home in Florida. Or I am, with C., doing dishes, making dinner and folding laundry. My 5 year old went to school today and my husband went to work and won’t be home until late in the evening. A family trek to DC was not practical or affordable right now. So here we are, its just another day in the neighborhood.

But I know its not. Something has changed. A subtle but deeply felt shift just happened, and we were all moved by it. Our country is now somehow altered with the swearing in of this single man. Hope is an extraordinarily powerful thing and the meaning of an event like today’s inauguation can be felt in every office, work place, and living room nationwide. Even in the far reaches of boring old suburbia, even in a little ol’ living room like mine.

As the crowds gathered on the Mall this morning and I gathered my robe around me while I watched, I suddenly figured something out. You know this whole concept of change that Obama has been going on about? Yeah, well, I have realized that “change” – or making it happen, rather – is something that we all must to own. It’s no longer Obama’s line anymore. Once he was sworn in, change has become an action that we are all responsible for. We can fix these issues if we all harness the energy of the people on that mall today and commit to making a significant difference in our communities, from where ever we stand. Even if we stand in a spot far from DC, maybe even at the edge of a cookie cutter community in Florida, in a home with stew simmering in the crock pot and a child napping in the front room. 

So back to my point. What was I doing when Obama was sworn in? Well, as Aretha Franklin began singing, I noticed a certain… odor… in my living room. And it wasn’t the stew. C. looked at me sheepishly – and I knew. Yup. I spent Obama’s swearing in changing a very full and fairly horrifying poopy diaper. Afterwards, I let C. “air” out some and left him pantsless. The poor child has had horrible diaper rash. And I dragged out his potty too which he graciously peed in for me – twice – while I caught snippets of Obama’s speech.

That’s where I was when Obama became President of the United States. I was at the helm of my current and very humbling profession, doing what I do best right now, being a mom.

(And you can’t say *I* wasn’t “changing” something during that very pivotal and historic moment in history, correct?)

So here is my two year old, only minutes after Obama officially became president, standing on our back porch: pantsless and patriotic. cinaug

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Filed under Deep thoughts, Educating myself, Election, Family, Florida, Giving respect, Inauguration, Inspiring people, Obama, Patriotism, Presidency, Reality check

Honoring Dr. King’s Dream

We can never take for granted how far we have come to ensure equality for every citizen in our country. Thousands of people have suffered so that the rights of our people are upheld and preserved. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I have a dream” speech has lived in our minds for decades. It has remained alive in our hearts, reminding us to work for a dream, to accomplish the impossible. And tomorrow, with the election of Barack Obama, we are so close to realizing Dr. King’s dream.

But we can’t assume we have accomplished his dream entirely. We can’t assume equality comes simply with the election of an African American president, because it hasn’t. But we’re getting so close. And as we watch President-Elect Obama be sworn in tomorrow, there can be no doubt in our minds that the impossible can happen. Now, we have every reason to believe that Dr. King’s dream may soon be entirely realized.

I think it is all of our responsibilities to watch this speech, read this speech, and experience this speech before tomorrow’s inauguration. Amoungst everything that it represents, every one of us should understand the significance of this new presidency and the effect it will have on our hopes for equality in our country.

“I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we have come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.” But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check — a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quick sands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. They have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.

As we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied, as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating “For Whites Only”. We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.

Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.

I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with a new meaning, “My country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.”

And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!

Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!

But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

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Filed under Equal Rights, Giving respect, Inauguration, Inspiring people, Martin Luther King Jr., Obama, Patriotism, Peace, Presidency, Racism, Raising Awareness

Inauguration Activities for your Children

change-has-come

In case you hadn’t noticed, I am very excited about the upcoming inauguration of President-Elect Obama. And as a mom, I think it is only fair that I share the excitement of this historical event with my children too. I also think this is the perfect opportunity to teach our children about the United States presidency and the purpose of an inauguration. So, after doing some research, I have found all sorts of fun ways to engage our children in this historical event.

Where to begin? First, and depending on their age, you might want to explain to your children what the United States President is actually responsible for. Ben’s Guide will give your kids a simple but fairly thorough explanation.You may also want to show your children our nation’s past 43 presidents. White House.gov provides a list of past presidents along with interesting facts about each. And what better way to remember our presidents than to learn a rap about all 44 of them? The song and lyrics can be found here.

The inauguration is as much a celebration as it is a learning experience for our children. Parents should think about explaining what this inauguration is for and what it means for so many people. Here are some excellent books which will teach children further about the presidency and the inauguration process:

Our President-Elect represents a great deal to our country. His principles, his history as a politician and recent election can teach our kids many important lessons. Princemensah at Ehow wrote a wonderful article about the inspiring lessons children should learn from Barack Obama. One suggested lesson reads:

“Point out the lesson of working with different people.

The President-Elect has a history of working with people with differing views. From Harvard to the Hill, he has established faith and friendship with people who do not share his views. This attitude is critical to a nation sharply divided over war and worries over the economy. Your children need to know about the value of being able to gain the respect of your enemies.”

While teaching our children about the inauguration is important, there are plenty of fun, interactive ways to include them in all the celebrating too. Active learning with lots of cutting and pasting always gets the brain moving. As I mentioned in a post before, Kaboose.com has some excellent craft ideas for children. More crafts can also be found at Amazing Moms.com.

Does your child dream of becoming President of the United States someday? Scholastic.com has a fun game for older children where they can decide what they would do if they were president.

If you have an inauguration whiz on your hands, perhaps the whole family can sit down and play this inauguration quiz found at pbs.org

Or do you have a musician in the house? Have them try playing “Hail to the Chief”. The sheet music can be found here if you click on the “score” icon at the top left of the page.

Are you looking for coloring pages? So that your young ones can stay busy coloring up a storm on Tuesday, we’ve got plenty of links to share:

While the rest of your household readies for the inauguration, you may be wondering how you can engage your tween or high schooler further. Nickelodeon, The Disney Channel and MTV will all be hosting events with many favorite performers like the Jonas Brothers and Miley Cyrus.

With millions of visitors expected to converge on the capitol next week, it is likely that some of you are headed there as well. Due to all of the security restrictions, I am sure you are frustrated to hear that it may be very difficult to bring your children to the inauguration itself.

That being said, there will be so much to do in the DC area for families. Be sure to check out Go City Kids for all of the city wide activities. And did you know that there will be, in fact, a Children’s Inaugural Ball?

And for those families like mine who are scrambling to figure out how to celebrate inauguration day hundreds of miles away from Washington DC, be sure to check locally for events and activities for children on the day of the inauguration. I know that Borders will hosting inaugural events in some cities, so it’s worth doing further research online.

So strike up Hail to the chief, hang your coloring pages proudly, maybe do a little presidential rap, and enjoy celebrating the inauguration with your entire family this coming Tuesday, January 20th.

Crossed posted at Type A Moms.

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Filed under Children, Education, Family, Government, Inauguration, Inspiring people, MTV, Music, Obama, Parenting, Patriotism, Presidency, Reccomendations, Teaching kids

Michelle Obama as First Lady, Feminist and Mom in Chief

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I can’t help but empathize with Michelle Obama right now. As a mother of two small children myself, I keep trying to imagine what she is going through as she prepares her family for life in the White House. I think about her little girls growing up in Washington DC as I did, attending a school right down the road from where I grew up. And as I empathise with our future first lady, my ears perk up when I read both about the support and criticism she is receiving as an accomplished woman who has decided to make her role in the White House “mom-in-chief”.

There can be no more daunting task than trying to raise the First Children. Can you imagine? Your daughters must live in a virtual museum with some of the tightest security world wide. There is no spontaneously running over to a neighbor’s house to play.  They will be isolated and protected from the world and yet they will have the most public lives of any child.

And so Michelle Obama has chosen to make parenting these children her priority. However, within days of learning about her future in the White House, Michelle had already received her fair share of advice. Hillary has jumped in to say her piece. Tony Blair’s wife, Cherie, had a few things to say. And even FDR’s grandson offered some words of wisdom. While Michelle did not formally ask for Laura Bush’s advice, the current first lady did share her suggestions with the press later.

I wonder what comfort she has taken from all of this advice, if any. I wonder how much more advice is coming down the pike from other celebrity parents or those with political agendas or even advice from your average “Jane Parent” who always thinks she knows better anyway.

However, while Michelle prepares her girls and faces all of this advice, she must deal with those who already criticize her decision to put her girls first. Michelle is certainly an accomplished woman. A graduate of Harvard Law School, she continued on to work as an associate at a law firm and hold six board of director positions. She founded programs, she lead community outreach – she made “change” happen long before it was cool for an Obama to do so. But now, as her husband has been elected to be President, she has chosen to bring her career to a screeching halt and just be… well… a mom.

In a fascinating article written by Rebecca Traister at Salon.com, Michelle’s choices to focus on the traditional worries of a First Lady leave the author concerned. 

“…some of the most extraordinary [qualities of Michelle Obama] — the ones that set her apart from many of her predecessors in the East Wing — are already falling victim to a nostalgic complacency about familial roles, and to an apparent commitment to re-creating Camelot with an African-American cast, but little modern tweaking of the role of wife and mother.”

She argues Michelle could push the envelope and bring a more career minded feminist into the role of a first lady. She seems disappointed she has chosen to put her role as a mother and wife first and foremost, while leaving all the rest behind.

Ruth Marcus from the Washington Post discusses the ever present question that arises between married parents such as the Obamas: who will work and who will raise the children?

“The brutal reality is that, like our president-elect, most men do not wrestle quite so strenuously with these competing desires [to work or raise your family]. So when the needs of our families collide with the demands of our jobs, it is usually the woman’s career that yields.”

She implies that Michelle was not given much of a choice in this matter. When Obama was elected President, her career had to end. And there was no other choice but to make her children a priority.

But has Michelle truly failed as a feminist by focusing on her children? Is her career an utter failure because she is stepping aside from it for the meantime? Has she lost all credibility as a potentially new, modern, variety of First Lady?

According to Geraldine Brooks at The Daily Beast, she can make parenting her priority while still representing women as a powerful example.

“She is smart enough and subtle enough to have worked out that so-called Mom issues can make for meaty public policy.”

And then explains that her position as a mother in the White House will in fact bring much needed attention to women who struggle daily as they balance their careers and family.

“Work-family balance? What is that, really, but a polite way of putting the feminist agenda of equal pay and decent childcare back on the table after so many years of neglect?”

Meghan O’Rourke at Slate.com sympathises that, once again, no matter if a woman chooses either work or parenting as the priority, they will be criticized for their choice. And most of often a woman’s biggest critic is herself. She then goes on to make this final point.

“The best way Michelle Obama can act as a role model for women right now is not by making the decision any one of us would make (because we’d all make different decisions), but by reminding us that life is fleeting, and we ought to immerse ourselves in the opportunities and joys of our own life as it exists. Not as it might exist.”

And so my identification with Michelle Obama remains true. With two small children, and a mountain of advice, she must trust her instincts and raise her girls the best way she knows how.  There is no doubt in my mind that she will change the role and perceptions of the First Lady. And however she shakes things up, she has already made it unapologetically clear that she will make her girls her priority. In my mind’s eye, as a mother and brilliant leader able to remain fluid in her many roles as a woman, Michelle will make an excellent “First Feminist” indeed.

Cross posted at Type A Moms.

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Filed under daughters, Election, Equal Rights, Family, Fathers, Feminist tendancies, Guilt and motherhood, Hillary Clinton, Inspiring people, Marriage, Michelle Obama, Mothers, Obama, Parenting, Politics, Women, Working moms