Tag: Georgia

Why the DNC Should Target Georgia

By Michael September 3, 2020 Off

From 1868 to 1964, Georgia, the self-proclaimed peach state, voted Democratic in each Presidential election cycle. In 1968, Georgia broke with nearly a century of voting for Democratic Presidential candidates. That year, Georgia gave its ten electoral votes to American Independent Party candidate George C. Wallace. Then in 1972, Georgia sided with Republican Richard Nixon, before again giving the nod to a Democrat, native son, Jimmy Carter in 1976 and 1980. read more

Finally, A King, A Native Son,Finds Honor At Home

By Michael August 28, 2017 Off

He was born a King in 1929 and would live a life committed to equality and justice for all humankind. The dash between the starting line and the finishing line ended in 1968. Some would say that was a short dash, but oh boy, did he pack a lot of life in those 39 years.

The King ran his race well. He was, as they said about the baseball legend, LeRoy “Satchel” Paige, “Sneaky fast.”

He burst upon the scene on December 5, 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama as an itinerant Baptist preacher, one hundred and 60 miles southwest of his childhood home on “Sweet” Auburn Avenue in Atlanta, Georgia.

In moving to Montgomery after earning a doctoral degree in Religion and Philosophy at Boston College, King traded the Georgia segregationist Governor, Samuel Marvin Griffin for Alabama’s populist Governor, James “Big Jim” Folsom.

In the parlance of the 1950s, a populist sought to engage the common white working class in government and politics. To paraphase Folsom’s successor, George Wallace, “There is not a dime’s worth of difference between,” a populist and a segregationist, as each political philosophy ignored the plight of Blacks within a given political sub-division.

Probably because King was a newcomer to Montgomery and the city’s white political brokers could not control his purse strings, he was picked to lead the Montgomery Improvement Association’s bus boycott. You remember the story, how our dear sister, Rosa Parks refused to give up her sit in the Negro section of a city bus so that a white man could sit down.

King’s leadership during the Montgomery bus boycott caused his house to be bombed. He stood trial for trumped up charges, which he beat. Some political observers who recall the trial believe that a deal was struck between King’s father and Montgomery’s power elites; that King would leave Montgomery in exchange for a favorable verdict.

King returned home to Atlanta where he served as pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church. Back in Atlanta King never forced a major confrontation with the city’s white power structure like he had done in Montgomery and would do in other cities throughout the country.

However, he did “sit-in” with Spelman College students at the lunch counter at Rich’s Department Store. He attempted to dine at the Pickrick Restaurant owned by Lester Maddox, who would become the Governor of Georgia. Maddox threatened to beat King with an axle-handle if he stepped foot inside the Pickrick.

His advocacy of nonviolent direct action in supporting integration of public accommodations, voting rights, and housing discrimination put a bull’s eye on his back.

But before a sniper squeezed off a single round into his right jaw as he stood playfully outside of room 306 at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis on April 4, 1968, the King would tell white America on August 28, 1963 about a dream that he had which envisioned people being judged by the “content of their character and not by the color of their skin.”

Fourteen months later, on October 14, 1964 King was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace. He was 35 years old and when he gave his acceptance speech at the University of Oslo in Norway two months later, no one in the audience suspected that in less than four years his light would belong to the ages.

He returned from Norway to Atlanta without fanfare. There was hardly any recognition that King had become the first person from Georgia to earn a Nobel Prize for Peace.

On April 3, 1968, King told Black Americans that he had been taken up to a great mountain where he behold the universal God and was shown the land promised by the God of the Old Testament.

The next day, King paid the ultimate price for his belief in justice and equality. Yet no public recognition was given for the sacrifice he had made. Instead of recognition, on April 9, 1968, Governor Lester Maddox caused Georgia State Troopers to surround the capitol to prevent anyone in King’s funeral dirge from using the rest room facilities in the state capitol.

For 37 years King would be the only Georgian to receive this prestigious prize. Yet still, no public recognition from the state of Georgia to acknowledge his contributions to humankind.

In 2002, Jimmy Carter, a former Governor of Georgia and former President of the USA was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace.

Carter rightfully should have been awarded the Nobel Prize long before he was, but the committee did not bestow this honor upon him until one year after the state of Georgia removed the Stars and Bars, a symbol of Georgia’s Confederate past from its state flag. It was as if, the Nobel Prize Committee refused to acknowledge anyone from Georgia  other than King, who preached racial reconciliation, as long as the state held onto symbols of the the old south.

Interestingly, the confederate flag was taken down by Georgia Governor Roy Barnes, who as a young state senator from West Cobb County, in the 1980s had opposed a state holiday for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

On August 22, 2011, the federal government honored Dr. King with “The Stone of Hope” at the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr Memorial in the District of Columbia.

Three years later, the state of Georgia began efforts to honor Dr. King on the grounds of its capital.

August 28, 2017 was a grand day, with fine speeches from Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, State Representative Calvin Smyre, Rev. Dr. Bernice King and Governor Nathan Deal. On this day, King’s supporters were protected by State Troopers who were armed and ready to prevent anyone from disrupting the proceedings.

Finally, an honor fit for a King, whose statue now faces the rising sun on the east side of the state capitol, overlooking the Atlanta streets where he played as a little boy, forging the character that would shape a state, a nation and a world.

Harold Michael Harvey is an American novelist and essayist. He is a Contributor at The Hill, SCLC National Magazine, Southern Changes Magazine and Black College Nines. He can be contacted at hmharvey@haroldmichaelharvey.com

Integrating Lanier Jr. High School for Boys

By Michael February 3, 2017 Off

Editor’s Note: This piece was written in 2009 on the 40th anniversary of the integration of Lanier Junior High School in Macon, Georgia.

I read with interest Tom Johnson’s (former head of CNN) plans for the Miller-Lanier 50th class reunion.  Mr. Johnson invited the 1959 class at Ballard-Hudson to lunch.  Fifty years ago this group could not sit together at the soda fountain in the old Davidson’s Department store in downtown Macon, Georgia.

It was such an unthinkable notion; no one would have bothered to daydream about it.  The law prevented Negroes from sitting with white people in public.  If the kids had such a thought, surely their parents would have rushed in and pointed out the social mores prohibiting it.

Thus Tom Johnson and his classmates left their youth behind and went off to college, family, and careers without knowing much about Negroes their age; save perhaps, kids of domestics, who worked in their homes or in some other menial jobs relegated to Negroes in 1959 Middle Georgia.

Johnson’s class reunion got me thinking about my own date with destiny.  This past June marks the 40th anniversary of the Lanier class of 1969.  This class was the first to see white boys and black boys go to school together for four consecutive years.

This experiment began in 1964, when Winifred Anderson and Vernon Pitts enrolled in Willingham and Lanier senior high schools respectively.  Anderson, now a doctor and Pitts currently an attorney integrated the senior high schools as seniors.   I watched them navigate their senior year with their heads held high.  Little did I know I would be in their shoes a year later?

Yet, the 1969 classes at the formerly old white high schools validated the efficacy of integration.    My class culminated the “freedom of choice” plan that permitted Negroes to attend Lanier-Miller, McEvoy-Willingham and later Smith-Lassiter high schools. In the good old days, the white high schools were segregated by sex, while the Negro schools were co-educational.

It was the first class that had been together for four years.  It ended with several Negroes walking across the stage at the City Auditorium, in my case, with fist raised in the Black Power sign.  Why not pump the right fist in the air?  I had done what many said at my birth could not be done; I had just kicked Jim Crow in the seat of his pants.

During the spring of 1965, while completing my foray into the maze that 8th grade can be over at Ballard-Hudson Jr. High School, the principal, Robert Williams made an announcement.  It came during last period science class.

“Judge Boottle,” he said, “had just ruled any Negro student could elect under a ‘freedom of choice’ plan to attend an all white high school.”

A light went off inside my head.  I had day dreamed about wearing the blue and white colors of the Willingham Rams.  These day dreams begin when my family moved to Bibb County in 1960 and I begin to read in the old Macon Telegraph about the football team at Willingham. I did not think it was possible. Yet I daydreamed about it. I held onto this doubt even after learning that Winifred Anderson had enrolled in Willingham and graduated with his class.

When the bell sounded announcing the close of another school day, I ran the half mile trek to my house, rushed into the house to see my mom.  She was not inside the house.  I found her in the back yard hanging cloths on the cloth line.  Haplessly out of breathe, I blurted out Mr. Williams’ announcement and asked her if I could enroll in Willingham Jr. High School.  Without blinking or pausing to think about it, mom said yes!  I was on cloud nine.

Before I could shout for joy at a chance to attend Willingham, my brother Gerald found us in the back yard.  He had the look of excitement on his face and asked if he could enroll in Lanier Sr. High School.  Mom said yes to integration, but we had to attend the same school.  Gerald, a rising junior at Ballard-Hudson Sr. High School, had stayed behind at school a little longer and he and a group of friends had selected Lanier Sr. High.  Thus, a Lanier Poet, I became.

That summer was the last summer my teammates on the Westside Braves coached by Rev. James Jackson, made me feel like a part of the team.  It was perhaps one of my best summers at the bat.  I have always kept stats and the record records a .411 batting average with no homers but double digit doubles. Something happen after I stepped foot on the Lanier campus.  It was as if my childhood friends thought I was better than them or something weird like that.  I felt isolated at school by the white students and isolated in the community when I returned home from school.

But that is getting ahead of the story.  At summer’s end a local civic group sponsored a tutorial session in English and Math at Mercer University.  I came under the tutelage of Mary Wilder who ran the tutorial program.   I would later, as a journalist, cover Ms. Wilder’s exploits as a member of the Macon City Council and as Macon’s first female candidate for Macon Mayor.

Two days before the start of school in 1965 I visited with my grandmother at her cloth line.  She gave me a sage piece of advice that I carry in my heart today: “No matter what they say about you, no matter what they do to you, get your education son; because once you got your education baby, no one can take that away from you.”

Though rebuke, scorned and stripped no man has ever been able to take away the things I have learned in school or life.

Yet neither Ms. Wilder nor granny could have possibly prepared me for the first day at Lanier Jr. High School.

Gerald and I dressed in silence that first day of school in 1965.  If he was afraid, he hid it.  His seeming courage emboldens me.

Mom labored in silence to serve a breakfast of bacon, grits, eggs and toast.  She saw us off and quickly closed the door.  She had just sent her only progenitors off to integrate the public school system in Bibb County.  I have never asked her but I am sure she must have fallen on her knees and prayed.

Gerald and I walked up to Frank Everest’s house on Pio Nono Avenue, where the site of the Frank Johnson Recreation Center now stands.  Frank had a car and when Mrs. Everest had blessed our journey Gerald, Frank, and I believe Tommy Miller and I piled into Frank’s car.  We headed to school.  Frank kept the group loose by telling jokes.  We were laughing and unaware the history we were embarked upon.

Then we came to Henley Avenue and Napier.  They let me out of the car as I was the only one going to the junior high campus.  I walked down the street towards the horseshoe parking lot in front of the building.  I saw from a distance what I perceived at first blush to be a welcoming committee. Boy was I wrong.

As I drew closer to the entrance, I discovered to my horror, they did not come out to welcome me on my first day at a new school.  I began to discern the shouts of “two, four, six, eight, we don’t want to integrate.”  I turned my sight away from the rage and anger emanating from this sea of white faces.  My eyes looked away from the crowd, my mind blocking out the words of their shout.

A man came through the crowd.  To this day I do not know who he was.  I do not recall seeing him again.  He greeted me and took me through this gullet and into the principal’s office.  My first day at a new school and already I am being escorted to the principal’s office.  I sat and waited.

No one spoke to me other than to initially ask for my name.  “Harold Harvey,” I trembled and said.  About five minutes later one by one the other black boys began to arrive and were brought into the room.  In came Ernest “Sonny” Lester, Kenneth Nixon, Sylvester Royal, James Thomas, Larry Carson, Alvin Russell, Hamp Davis, James Mason and Carlton Haywood.

When the officials were able to clear the kids from the front of the school, we were each escorted to our respective home rooms.  I was assigned to Mrs. Chapman.

Thus begin this social experiment to see if blacks and whites could en mass attend school together.  After umpteenth racial slurs, a few fist fights, and a burned school building; we emerged 40 years ago from the turbulent 60’s and set our course for the advancement of race relations.

Tom Johnson’s journey has almost come full circle.  It’s high time we get to know each other.  Sitting down at lunch and enjoying a glass of sweet southern ice tea is an excellent way to let the good times roll.

Harold Michael Harvey is an American novelist and essayist, the author of Paper puzzle and Justice in the Round, Easier to obtain Than to Maintain: The Globalization of Civil Rights by Charles Steele, Jr.; and the host of Beyond the Law with Harold Michael Harvey. He can be contacted at haroldmichaelharvey.com.


Cascade Press 2016 Endorsements

By Michael October 25, 2016 Off

Atlanta, Georgia, Cascade Press has never endorsed a candidate for political office. In spite of this fact, in this digital space,we have not been shy in expressing our views on all things political . This is an unusual election year. We feel the need to endorse a candidate.

Although, Cascade Press will enter the game of endorsing candidates, we will not endorse a candidate for president. We will leave it to the intelligence of the electorate to make a smart selection between the four candidates that are on enough ballots that they could potentially win 270 electoral votes to become the 45th President of the United States of America.

Those four candidates are, not in any particular order, Donald Trump representing angry conservative Americans, Hillary Clinton representing “Baby Boomers with her 35 years of public engagement, Gary Johnson, a default candidate for Republicans who do not trust Clinton and can not abide the denigrating persona of Trump, and Jill Stein the activist candidate out to save the planet from global warming.

According to the polls the smart money’s on Clinton to be atop the pack when the votes are finally counted, sometime in the early morning hours, eastern time, on November 9.

Cascade Press has never believed in betting against the “house.” With 94 percent of all donations by journalist going to fund Clinton’s campaign, Donald will have to pull a trump card out of thin air to pull them one off.

Consequently, our attention is diverted to the U. S. Senate race in Georgia. It is a seat held for the last two terms by Johnny Isakson (R), a real estate executive who made his money selling dirt in Georgia.

Isakson is opposed by Jim Barksdale (D), a stockbroker, who made his money in the stock market.He has campaigned on tougher regulations of Wall Street. Also, in the contest is Libertarian Allen Buckley.

Isakson has garnered the financial support of many big name Georgia Democrats, including former Georgia Governor Roy Barnes. He leads in a recent AJC poll over his rivals. Isakson is liked by 47 percent of likely voters, while Barksdale comes in at 32 percent and Allen Buckley stands at 11 percent.

Not surprisingly, Barksdale’s strongest support comes from Georgia’s African American population. Despite this fact, Cascade Press endorses one-time State Senator Steen Miles as a Write-In Candidate for this senate seat.

Miles, a veteran broadcast journalist, ran for an open senate seat two years ago. She failed to gain the support of the state party and lost a primary contest to Michelle Nunn, who had the full endorsement of the Democratic Party elite prior to the primary contest.

Miles favors sensible gun control legislation, environmental measures that will protect the planet, jobs in impoverished African American communities and a stronger health care system.

We know that Miles is not a Write-In Candidate. Indeed, she is in a bigger battle for her life right now as she undergoes radiation and chemo treatments to ward off an attack on her lungs. Miles is taking the fight to those cancerous cells and it is this fighting spirit that we find refreshing and the type of energy Cascade Press would love to see from a member of the U. S. Senate from Georgia.

On November 8, Cascade Press encourages Georgia voters to write in the name of Steen Miles for U. S. Senator. If you do not think this is a good use of your political capital, or if you live in a state other than Georgia, then we suggest that you become a member of  “STEEN TEAM: Steen Miles Heroes'” GoFundMe Campaign.

Miles is in a tough campaign. The polls are against her. She believe she can win this race against the odds with a little help from her friends.

The early donation period has started.No donation is too small. Please donate early and donate often.Steen is fighting for her life. She needs help to pay the out of pocket medical expenses not covered by her insurance plan and Cascade Press urges its readers to pitch in and help her win the biggest prize of the 2016 election year. Go Steen! Beat Cancer!