Martin Luther King day was Monday. An annual celebration is held on the downtown plaza, preceding by a a ceremony at the Martin Luther King Garden nearby. The crowd on the plaza was huge, the largest that I have seen.

 A program, hosted by Rodney long was held on the main stage:

Trans Rights are Human Rights

I join the revulsion in response to Trump’s ludicrous ban of transsexuals from military service.  They deserve better. People who want to serve this country should not be prevented from doing so because one day they realized that they were a differ gender inside from the one they were on the outside. They are human beings and have human rights.

Thec alleged expense of transition is used as an excuse for this denial of human rights. Such expenses would surely be less than the expenses incurred treating soldiers’ injuries.  Additionally, many trans people will have completed their sex changes by the time they enlist. They will still be taking harmone pills, but if they are to be excluded for that, does that mean all soldiers taking medication should be excluded? Utter nonsense!


Many trans serve and have served. They even have their own veterans organization, the Transsexual American Veterans Association, whose website I have already posted on this blog. Can anyone deny that they have contributed to their services?


Trump’s transsexual ban is a bigoted mistake and a cheap political stunt to pander to  the Republican base and possibly to distract from the train wreck that is his administration. It is a violation of  common sense and of decency. It is unamerican.  This country was founded on a shared be.ief that human beings had “inalienable rights.”  None are more important than HUMAN rights and trans rights are human rights.


It was 50 years ago today

Today is the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act. This landmark legislation helped to level the playing for African Americans in the South somewhat until the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated a vital portion of the law, the majority claiming that the South is changed.

The South has, to the contrary, not changed enough to stop trying to disenfranchise African-Americans, most notably with ID requirements that have a similar effect to the nefarious poll taxes of the Jim Crow era. These laws are justified by a fraud problem that is nonexistent. This situation is a travesty.

The time has come restore the franchise once and for all to those, particularly minorities, who law been blocked from voting by the law and its application. This restoration starts with three measures:

  1. Restore the Voting Rights Act – This has been proved in congress and blocked by Republican’s who need to be turned out of office.
  2. Automatic Registration – People become registered voters when they become citizens or turn 18. Oregon has just made such a procedure the law of the land. This eliminates duplication, saving both the government and voters money and time. This makes easier for all citizens to vote and for the government to prevent fraud.
  3. Franchising ex-cons – it is high time that we stop disenfranchising felons who have been released. Whether they are paroled or finished their sentences, if they have done their time, they have done their time, and it makes no sense to keep punishing them. This would have a huge impact since so many African-Americans spend time in prison.

These are just the beginning. We also need to have a holiday for voting so people do not have to rush out to vote during lunch hour or on the way home or on the way to work. Voting should be fair for everyone, not just those who are wealthy enough to overcome the obstacles. 



Today is MLK’s Birthday

imageimageimageimageIt is observed tomorrow, but the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, an American hero, was born on this day in 1929. On this important anniversary we at the UUFG honored King with a service dedicated to civil rights. Dr. Zohara Simmons, a veteran of the 1965 March in Selma, and Esther Wallace spoke. They both received standing ovations.

After the service, we had a discussion about the move “Selma” which a group of us saw yesterday. Several in the discussion group, including Dr. Zohara Simmons, who led the discussion, were veterans of the sixties civil rights movement. They thought all the portrayals of the African-American marchers were spot on save that of James Forman, who was portrayed by a man much younger than he was. He was a member of the SCLC and was older than many of the other marchers.

The film was also praised for portraying many African-American women who were in the movement, but faulted for not showing them speaking. Dr. Simmons stressed the importance of Annie Cooper, the woman portrayed powerfully by Oprah Winfrey. Cooper bravely tried to register to vote and was jailed for punching the sheriff. She lived to be 100. Simmons also pointed out that Amelia Boynton, portrayed powerfully by Lorraine Toussaint, is now 103 and still has a sharp mind.

A civil rights veterans who was at UF in the ’60s pointed out that a march occurred in St. Augustine in 1964. Those marchers were also beaten up by police. When the city celebrated it 400th anniversary in 1965, activists  tried to remind people of what had happen the year before.


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Today a  group from the Universalist Fellowship of Gainesville (including this writer) and one person from the split off Phoenix UU group attended the 12:45 viewing of the acclaimed film “Selma”, which is about the marches Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King led in Selma, Alabama in 1965. It more than lived up to expectations. “Selma” is the most powerful film I have seen in a long time. It is inspiring and moving.

The portrayals of participants such as King, Correta Scott King, now-U.S. Rep. John Lewis, Rev. Abernathy, and others are  powerful. The attempts to cross the Edmund Pettis bridge are portrayed with particular intensity. The music score which includes “Take My Hand, Precious Lord” and Bb Dylan’s “Masters of War” is moving. The film definitely succeeds in recreating the tenor of the times.

11 Rules for New Anti-Racist Allies

Here is an article explaining how to be an ally of African-Civil rights activists. Those of us supporting African-Americans in the movement arising in the wake of the highly publicized killings of young African-American men need to take heed.

via 11 Rules for New Anti-Racist Allies.

By the way, protest marches over the killings of Michael Brown and Eric Garner are taking place today. Let us build up the momentum.

Alabama woman, at 94, reflects on poll taxes, literacy tests and new efforts to limit voting | Southern Poverty Law Center

Alabama woman, at 94, reflects on poll taxes, literacy tests and new efforts to limit voting | Southern Poverty Law Center. – with a big el cation coming tomorrow, a reminder of what is at stake in the face of increasing GOP efforts to obstruct voting.