By Angelo Lopez on April 30, 2010
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By Angelo Lopez on April 25, 2010
As President Obama and the Congress head into the summer facing the issues of climate change, immigration reform, financial regulations, unemployment and gays in the military, I expect to see an uptick in rallies, vigils, and protests by activists for those particular causes. This is good, as a democracy is at its best with an involved and active citizenry. With this in mind, I've become more interested in the people who took part in the Freedom Rides in 1961. The Freedom Rides were a movement of civil rights activists to pressure the government to enforce federal laws banning segregation in interstate travel in the Southern states of the country. Two really good books chronicle the exploits of the Freedom Riders. One is a Freedom Riders: 1961 and the Struggle for Racial Justice by Raymond Arsenault, which chronicles the history of the Freedom Riders and the effect it had on the country and the Civil Rights movement. The other book is called Breach of Peace: Portraits of the 1961 Mississippi Freedom Riders by Eric Etheridge. It shows the mug shots of the Freedom Riders that were taken by the Mississippi police and were collected by the Sovereignty Commission and are now held by the Mississippi Department of Archives and History. Etheridge looked for Freedom Riders who are still living, took a photo of them as they look now, and ask them of their insights of their experiences as Freedom Riders. Taken together, both books give a broad view of the historical significance of the Freedom Rides in American history and a more personal view of individuals' experience in a significant social movement.
By Angelo Lopez on April 23, 2010
I read an article by Howard Zinn in the Progressive Magazine last year. He was glad that Obama got elected, but Zinn felt that Progressives should not be expecting Obama to be going too far in a Progressive direction unless he is pressured by Progressive grassroots agitation. I think Zinn is right. I'm actually not that surprised at Obama's more centrist direction. Most of what Obama is doing now is what was stated in his campaign website when he was running for President.
I think that any liberal or moderate Democrat who becomes President is going to run into a fierce opposition to even moderate reforms from conservative Republican groups, corporate interests, conservative Christian activists, and entrenched lobbyists. Politicians only go as far as the public will let them, and if the tea party is making all the noise right now, Obama is going to go in a more centrist direction. In a book I read Paul Wellstone wrote that the only way to overcome the corporate sway in politics is a sustained and loud Progressive grassroots effort.
By Angelo Lopez on April 19, 2010
In the course of the debate over the past few months on health care reform, a much larger debate has occurred between liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans over the proper role of government in our lives as opposed to the role of the market economy. Democrats on the whole see a positive role that an enlarged government can play in the areas of health care, climate control, immigration reform, and in helping people survive through the current recession. Republicans and Tea Party protesters have much less faith in the government and place more faith in individual initiative and the market economy. This debate between a strong federal government and a less intrusive government has been around since the beginning of this country's existence. The debates of the passage of our Constitution occurred between leaders like James Madison, Alexander Hamilton and John Jay, who were dissatisfied with the weak Articles of Confederation and wanted a stronger federal government, and leaders like Patrick Henry and George Mason, who were suspicious that any strong federal government would degenerate into tyranny. The ratification of the Constitution did not end the debate over a strong federal government. The debate evolved into an argument between Alexander Hamilton's Federalist belief in a strong federal government and Thomas Jefferson's Republican creed of state rights and local control.
By Angelo Lopez on April 6, 2010
Ever since Ted Kennedy died a few months ago, I've been reading magazine articles and books on his life and accomplishments. I've always admired Kennedy's leadership in progressive causes, but I have to admit that I didn't realize how much he had accomplished until I read some of the bills that he had passed. From civil rights to immigration to poverty, Senator Kennedy has helped more bills to help more Americans than almost any other Senator in the past 40 years. Many historians and commentators consider Ted Kennedy the best Senator in the twentieth century.
On a personal level, Ted Kennedy has become as much a hero to me as his brothers, John and Bobby. When I first knew about Ted Kennedy, I originally felt more sorry for him than admiration for him. It was during his primary challenge to Jimmy Carter in 1980, and he just seemed to have the weight of the world on his shoulders as he campaigned for the Presidency. People around me were condemning him for Chappaquidick and I was very quiet about my support of him. As the 1980s went on, however, I grew to admire him more. During the Reagan 1980s, I admired how Kennedy stood up for liberalism and fought for the poor and the marginalized. In the 1990s and 2000s, Ted Kennedy grew in my estimation as he worked for immigrants, for AIDs patients, and against George W. Bush's push for an invasion of Iraq. When I learned about Kennedy's ability to be friends with those at the opposite end of the political spectrum, like his friendships with Orrin Hatch and John McCain, it showed another side of Kennedy's personality, his equanimity towards all people. I especially like his collaborations with Hatch to pass legislation on health care.
I was impressed with the list of bills that Kennedy passed, but I wanted to research videos on YouTube to see the reactions of people who benefited from his legislation. When I looked at the videos, I was most impressed with the gratitude that many people have for Kennedy for fighting for them. Here are some videos I found on YouTube on Ted Kennedy and the various causes he has championed. Thank you, Senator Kennedy, for fighting for all Americans in our diverse society.
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This is an archive of blog entries written by Angelo Lopez in April 2010.
The preceding monthly archive is Angelo Lopez: March 2010.
The next one in chronological order is Angelo Lopez: May 2010.
If you'd like to see all the blog entries by this author, you can go to the Complete Archives for Angelo Lopez here.
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