Category Archives: inequality

Civil Rights Leader John Lewis to Keynote Pulitzer Centennial Event Hosted by Poynter Institute


From The Pulitzer Prizes:


“The Voices of Social Justice and Equality” will highlight the achievements of journalists and others who produces Pulitzer Prize-winning work in the service of civil rights, social equality and democracy.

Congressman John Lewis of Georgia, a legendary civil rights leader and an organizer of the Selma Bridge March in 1965, will deliver the keynote address at the main Poynter event on Thursday, March 31, at the Palladium Theatre in St. Petersburg, Florida. Through photography, fine arts, live music and dance performances, the work of civil rights-era Pulitzer winners will be showcased.

The following day, Friday, April 1, 2016, Poynter teachers and invited experts will lead a series of workshops designed to enlighten and inspire the next generation of Pulitzer winners. About 20 former Pulitzer Prize winners will be joining the two-day program.

March 31 – April 1, 2016

Hosted by the Poynter Institute for Media Studies


John Lewis Accepts “Social Justice Award” from Oakwood University Church


John Lewis at Oakwood University Church.

The great John Lewis, civil rights champion and survivor of the Edmund Pettis Bridge in Selma in 1965 and key figure in the March on Washington;  long-serving Congressman from Georgia and The Justice Factory “Hero of Social Justice,” accepts the “Social Justice Award” from the Oakwood University Church in Huntsville, Alabama. Exceptional video of his acceptance speech, provided courtesy of Oakwood University Church.

From the Gamiliel Foundation: “ACT-Syracuse Ends Solitary Confinement for Youth”


GAmaliel Cell

From the Gamaliel Foundation website and blog:

“While New York State is still at odds over whether to treat 16- and 17-year-olds like youth or adults in its prison system, some 35 young people won’t have to face solitary confinement in Syracuse’s county prison anymore.

“In the end, leaders of ACT-Syracuse who announced a news conference where they would begin witnessing on the issue by entering a 6-by-9-foot solitary confinement “cell” did not need to spend a week, or even a day, in the cell to make their case.”

Read 10/29/2015 post by “Gordonhere.

PICO National Network conducts “40 Days of Faithful Action”


PICO Action

From the PICO website:

“Pope Francis’ visit to our country during such a time of such racial and economic turmoil, creates a great opportunity to reawaken the moral conscience of our nation. That’s why we are stepping into the breach and acting on his message of inclusion and liberation for all of God’s children.

“No longer can we sit idly by, allowing the greed of our economic and social policies to set the moral compass of this country – producing what Pope Francis calls the “economy of exclusion”, using the misery and dehumanization of dark skinned bodies as a tool for building wealth.

“Join us for 40 Days of Faithful Action: Take part in over 50 different vigils and actions across the country, in online petitions and prayers, in Twitter actions, and more”

The Justice Factory The Justice Factory website supports community organizing to promote interfaith reconciliation, peace, and justice


Cross and StarBW

The Justice Factory The Justice Factory website supports community organizing to promote interfaith reconciliation, peace, and justice

An Open Letter from Joe


To: Henry Paulson and Ben Bernanke

Re: Application for Bailout

Dear Mr. Paulson and Mr. Bernanke,

This is to apply for a financial bailout, like you recently granted to AIG, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac, in order that I may avoid bankruptcy.

For the past several years I have been experiencing severe financial difficulty. I admit I’ve made a few bad choices. I’ve made some bad moves in the real estate market and ran up some debt. But I was just trying to fix a few old houses and make a little extra money. Who’d have known that the bottom would fall out of the housing market so fast. And I ran up some debt on my credit cards just trying to pay my monthly bills. But I didn’t know that if I missed one payment by one day on one card I’d immediately get hit by HUGE fees from all my cards all at once. When did you and Congress change all those rules?

I’m actually one of the lucky ones; I’ve been able to keep my job, though a few years ago I was laid off and took a lower paying job so now I make less than before. With gas and food prices up my paycheck doesn’t go nearly far enough. I have to pay more to pay for health insurance for my family and I have no idea how I will be able to send my daughter to college. And the mortgage company is on my heels. And the insurance company wants to cancel my homeowners policy just in time for the hurricane.

You often cite that “the American economy is sound.” You say that “GDP is good”, and “Productivity is up,” That’s because of me. With so many of my fellow workers being laid off I’ve had to do the work of two or three people. And like I said my wages have gone down. I do more work for less pay, so of course my productivity is up! If I wasn’t I’d be joining my friends on the unemployment line. And my employer wouldn’t care; there are plenty of unemployed or underemployed people out there just waiting to take my job, and my boss knows it.

So I’d like you to simply offer me the same deal that you gave AIG and Fannie/Freddie. Give me a big guaranteed government loan so I can straighten out my financial situation and avoid bankruptcy. That will help me to, as you say, “backstop any shortfalls in my capital.” I promise to shrink my portfolio over the long term, just like you asked Fannie/Freddie to do. I’m sure that if you help me you will begin to restore some confidence in the markets, which will lead to prosperity for all.

Thank you for your assistance in this matter. I will await my check in the mail.


“Joe” is an “American Everyman” character created by Jim Barrens, a freelance writer and veteran community organizer from St. Petersburg, Florida. “An Open Letter from Joe” appears regularly on The Justice Factory blog,

When Hell Froze Over…


In his 1989 book, When Hell Froze Over: The Untold Story of Doug Wilder: A Black Politician’s Rise to Power in the South, Dwayne Yancey tells the story of Douglas Wilder’s improbable, upstart, grassroots campaign for Virginia Lieutenant Governor in the 1980’s, which Wilder, astonishingly, won. Wilder became the first black politician elected to statewide office in the South since Reconstruction, and later became the nation’s first elected black governor. His victories in both these races astounded observers, fueled by the phrase “Doug Wilder will win election in Virginia when Hell freezes over”. Well, Hell did, indeed, freeze over.

As the only child of a black US Army officer and a Thai mother, Eldrick Woods began playing golf at the amazing age of two. Having been given the nickname “Tiger” by a Vietnamese friend of his father, Woods is an amalgam of races and nationalities, considering himself to be a “Cablinasian” (Caucasian, Black, American-Indian, and Asian), a term he coined himself. Against considerable odds, and against conventional wisdom and societal norms, Woods combined his unique athletic ability, an unrelenting work ethic, and a mental discipline honed by his practice of Buddhism to rise and become the world’s greatest golfer and an international phenomenon.

Wilder and Woods, for all their personal triumphs, are also symbolically significant for all of us. Their victories rise above racial, historical, social, and economic stereotypes. Their victories challenge powerful and historic institutions that are designed to defeat them, to “keep them in their place”. Like Muhammad Ali, they told us they would win, we didn’t believe them, and they won anyway.

As a proud Irish-American who has dedicated much of his life to the cause of civil rights, I couldn’t help but think of Doug Wilder and Tiger Woods and Muhammad Ali this past weekend. Padraig Harrington, the proud, gregarious and steely-eyed Irish Catholic golfer from Ballyroan, son of an Irish police officer, carried the weight of his people and history on his back as he captured the august British Open. I couldn’t help but think, at the moment of Harrington’s victory putt, of the elderly Irish patriot, watching the event on television in a pub, seeing the putt fall and raising his glass to Padraig, while singin’ a rebel song in reply.

As the Masters is to African-Americans and to Tiger Woods, the British Open is to the Irish and Padraig Harrington. The Masters and the British Open– bastions of Old World power and stuffy elitism, emblematic of historic oppression and the oppressors, forced to accept the unacceptable because of their ability and strength. The historic ironies of Woods’ victories in the Masters and Harrington’s victory in The Open edify us all, and affirm the better angels of our nature. They show that, in the best of worlds, right makes might and justice prevails.

Douglas Wilder, Tiger Woods, Muhammad Ali, Padraig Harrington. I’m damn glad I was there when Hell froze over.