Maya Angelou remains our icon and inspiration

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5 18 2011 - OW Brunch

CONVERSATIONS around racial issues have grown supercharged during this presidential election season and part of that seems to have rubbed off on Capitol Hill in a debate over naming a post office after award-winning poet and civil rights activist, Maya Angelou.
On days when the House of Representatives does not have much to do by way of work, the body names post offices.
Usually these are fairly mundane affairs, the body will unanimously vote to approve the naming of a post office no matter what member puts the request forward.
That was the case on Tuesday March 1 2016, when a vote to rename a post office in California, to ‘Medal of Honour’ post office passed 381-0.
However, it was not for the next vote, cast to rename a post office in Winston-Salem, North Carolina after civil rights icon Maya Angelou.
That measure passed with only 371 votes.
Nine Republicans voted against the Maya Angelou bill and one voted present.
The nine Republicans who voted against naming the post office after Maya Angelou were GOP Representatives Mo Brooks of Alabama, Ken Buck of Colorado, Michael Burgess of Texas, Jeff Duncan of South Carolina, Glenn Grothman of Wisconsin, Andy Harris of Maryland, Thomas Massie of Kentucky, Alex Mooney of West Virginia and Steven Palazzo of Mississippi.
Representatives Don Young of Alaska voted present.
One of the nine Republicans, Andy Harris, wrote to NBC News in a statement saying he voted against the Maya Angelou post office naming because she was a communist sympathiser.
His parents escaped communism and he feels that he cannot vote to name a post office in the US in honour of someone who supported the communist Castro revolution in Cuba.
Democrats, invigorated by Republican presidential candidate frontrunner, Donald Trump’s failure to quickly disavow association with former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke went on the offensive.
Representative Steve Israel, a Democrat, released a statement saying: “Naming post offices is one of the most benign and bipartisan duties we perform in the House of Representatives and there is rarely any opposition.
“That’s why I was shocked today as nine Republicans voted against naming a post office after Maya Angelou, indisputably one of our country’s greatest poets, authors and civil rights activists.
“The fact that these nine members would cast a no vote shows a blatant disrespect and only adds to the damaging actions they’ve taken this year to reverse progress from long and hard-fought civil rights battles.”
This latest development further exposes the institutionalised racism with America’s society.
Angelou was in her later years universally beloved for her poetry.
She won the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011.
Her works are widely taught in American schools and she was even put on a postage stamp after her death in 2014.
Meanwhile, a San Antonio, Texas, police officer who shot and killed an unarmed man is to be fired.
In a short statement issued on March 1 2016, police chief William McManus says, officer John Lee has been, in the chief’s words: “Issued a contemplated indefinite suspension for placing himself unnecessarily in a tactical situation wherein he felt compelled to use deadly force.”
Investigators say Antronie Scott was fatally shot the night of February 4 2016 at a San Antonio apartment complex by officers trying to serve him with felony weapons and drug warrants.
They say Scott was holding a cellphone, not a gun, as officers feared.
Still in Texas, five people were taken into custody and questioned late Monday in connection with the apparent racially motivated shooting at a Texas campaign office.
Zena Stephens, who is African-American and a university police chief, is seeking the Democratic nomination to run for the role of sheriff in Jefferson County.
I guess some white folk do not want this woman to be in charge of law and order in their county.
Stephens told NBC News that she was standing outside her campaign headquarters in Beaumont, Texas, when a white male in a white Jeep pulled up and shouted, “f*** the n*****s.”
Seconds later, a shot shattered the glass door of the building.
No one was hit or injured.
There were about 25 people inside the building and five or six outside the office.
We are not even a week out of Black History Month and already, the cases of racism are increasing.
One would think that since it is an election year and with a sitting African-American president, the discrimination would be toned down.
If the developments are anything to go by, America remains unrepentant and our children, brothers, sisters, mothers and fathers remain unsafe on the streets.

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