Will this be the Year of Political Pink Power?

Will 2018 be the year that more women get elected into political office? According to CBS News more than 500 women are running for all kinds of political positions. Some media folks are calling it “The Pink Wave”.


Jahana Hayes is just one example. In 2016 she was selected as the “National Teacher of the Year”. Now she is a candidate for the House of Representatives in the 5th District of Connecticut. I don’t know if it’s a ‘sexist thing or a political thing’ but 92 % of Democrats think it’s important that women get elected into political offices while only 50% of Republicans feel the same way.

To me, Jahana Heyes is an American success story of persistence and determination. She went from teen mom to become a Social Studies Teacher and mentor for at-risk kids in a high poverty school district in Waterbury CONN. to “National Teacher of the Year”. The students would say she didn’t get it, and she told them she did.

Hayes grew up in public housing until her family got evicted when she was in the fifth grade. Her mother was an addict most of her life. When Hayes got pregnant at 16, she earned her high school diploma in a program for teen parents in the basement of Waterbury’s City Hall. When she made it to college she worked three jobs to take care of her family and while earning her degree.

When she returned home to teach, she realized that a lot of the students were living in the same conditions that she had, when she was younger. She told them her story and then she developed programs to help them to overcome some of the challenges she had faced when she was in their situation. For her efforts she was recognized as “Connecticut’s Teacher of the Year”.

As the “National Teacher of the Year”, she traveled around the country and the world leading workshops for other educators. When she went to Tunisia on a trip sponsored by the State Department as part of her duties, her daughter called and told her that her grandson wanted to know if her trip to African was to find a new home? Someone kid on the school bus told him that, “We have a new President and they are going to build a wall, so all the Brown people will have to leave”. That’s probably when she got the idea that she could do more than just teach.

I visited Tunisia when I was stationed at Wheelus Air Force Base in Libya during the base closure by Col. Muammar Gahafi. The Base Commander Col. Daniel “Chappie James” left a lasting impression on me because he went to become a trail blazer. I believe Jahana Heyes will go on to blaze some trails before she is through.


Search for the Information


Seek out the information to feed your mind. If you don’t search, you will never find. You should never wait for someone to show up and turn you on. Turn your own self on. We get so busy on our daily grind and we don’t want to fall behind. But sometimes we should take a pause and think about what we want to do later in life.

Going to college is one way to gain knowledge but it’s not the only way to get ahead. Many of the movers and shakers of the world didn’t go to college but they gained a wealth of knowledge. Some even dropped out of college and grew their name and their fame so that they were invited to come to college and share their experience and their knowledge as commencement speakers.

Become self-educated and self-motivated. Most people stop reading after they graduate from school; and it doesn’t matter if it’s high school or grad school. If it’s not required for the job, we just don’t read as much.

My mom was a country girl from Mississippi and never graduated from school. Her mother died when she was only eight, so she never had a good example to follow. She only knew of her father and got married at an early age and started having babies.

She did the best that she could and lived a long life. I was born as she was starting over again in the North. When I was about eight or nine she sent me to live with my father until she returned from her hospital stay.

That’s when things changed for me. My grades were horrible, and he was not going to let me, to continue to do that. He made me read and forced me to do my homework. Little did I know that the seeds of discipline were being planted in my mind. My grades improved, and I begin to like reading because it fired up my imagination.

That was a long time ago. TVs had rabbit ears, telephones were linked to the wall and there was no such thing as a mall. Even TV stations shut down at a certain time of the night. Technology has really changed things and now people are stuck to the phone in their pockets, TVs are always on, and people shop at the i-mall.

Many years passed, and I left home at last. Nine years with mom and the same with dad, now Uncle Sam was in charge. I’m in the Air Force and I’m stationed in a radar site in Nevada. I had time on my hands, so I started to read again. I read a special edition of Ebony Magazine that focused on Africa. And it changed my way of thinking.

Africa became more than the backdrop to a Tarzan movie. It was not all jungle and little villages. It was many countries (50+) and big cities and towns and diverse populations all over the place. I became keenly consciously and aware of the many things I had never thought about.

I left the desert of Nevada and went to of all the places in the world; the city by the Mediterranean Sea and the Saharan sand, Tripoli Libya in North Africa. I became a part of history that I had only read about.

Col. Muammar Gadhafi had deposed Libya’s King Idris and was forcing the US out of the country, but the base Commander Col. Daniel “Chappie” James, made sure there was no major incidents and the base was closed-down on time.

I was part of a small group of young Black Airmen that went to see the Black Base Commander to air some grievances. I’m still amazed to this day, that we didn’t have a heavy price to pay. I found out that you can be socially conscience, but you can’t be militant in the military.

Col. Daniel “Chappie” James had paid the price as a Tuskegee Airman and had gone on to become a decorated combat veteran in Korea and Vietnam. I don’t remember all that he said but I remember receiving a ‘flag waving speech’ where he said, “We are the people who face the enemy to defend the freedoms we all enjoy. We may come from different places, but we come together to form one nation.  Protest is OK, but we get paid to do a job. If we don’t do our assigned duty there will be a price to pay”.


Col. “Chappie” James went on to become the First African American to become a Four-Star General in the United States Air Force.


Making ends meet

Justice is blind to those who get left behind.


ABC News did a story about people struggling to make ends meet. They started with Archie Bunker as the typical working class middle income family. That was thirty years ago and things have changed. The woman who moved into the Archie Bunker house many years ago who’s husband was a trucker explained the things have really changed. When they moved into the neighborhood houses cost $60,000 now they cost $800,000. And most of the people moving in now, are bankers and CEO’s.

The next couple live in a small apartment in California. The wife said it a choise between affording where you live and affording a life. Her parents owned their own home and she and her husband are struggling just to pay rent. Prices continue to rise while income stay the same.

The next story is about a young man working two jobs in the fast food industry. Sixteen hour days will take a toll on you. I tried it for a couple of years and it almost wore me out. I didn’t work in the fast food industry but I sold cars and worked in security at night.

In the 1980’s a lot of the workers were young people, now 75% of them are in their 20’s and older. What’s really rough is some of those folks have kids. And minimum pay is not enough to pay the bills and feed the kids. Some people get stuck and don’t move up but they still work hard and deserve to make a decent living wage.

Companies want to maximize their profits and minimize their loses. Fast food places will throw away food at the end of the night to avoid being sued. Maybe some companies think that if they increase wages for their workers it will effect their bottom line. But they made $6.6 billion in 2015 while their employees were getting public subsides to survive. That the working poor!

The CEO of the insurance company was the son of an auto worker, so he knew what it took for his family to take care of him and send him to school. As a results he rose up in the ranks. He took the time to see what was going on at the lower level of the company and raised the wages of his workers. But he is only one of a few.

I worked on the assembly line when I was still in high school and became determined that I would find a way off the line. I enlisted in the Air Force during the time that most of my classmates were being drafted in the Army and the Marine Corps  and sent off to the Vietnam War.

As a writer, blogger and a published author I wrote about my journey of working on the assembly line, walking on the flight line and supporting the front line. Standing in the Shadows, Listening to the Greats!!! For me reading was the key. Runaway Inequality An Activist Guide to Economic  Justice by Les Leopold explained how things began to change.

People need to get out and vote. No matter who is in charge, if things are not good, it’s time for a change. To all those who though it didn’t matter look at where we are now.




A rare look at good business leadership


In a time when the world seems full of corporate greed, it’s a pleasure to write about someone who gets it right, indeed.

Ken Chenault is one of America’s most respected CEOs. He was the former boss of the corporate giant American Express. When he was interview by CBS News Special Correspondent James Brown, thousands showed up at the World Headquarters to bid him goodbye. He was considered a Rock star to the Green card AmEx faithful and the cool and calm leaders to the employees worldwide.

Ken Chenault was the just the fourth African American to run a Fortune 500 Company. He said that someone once said, that they couldn’t conceive of an African American ever running a major division at American Express. Ken’s reply, “Then you haven’t met many African Americans, because there are many qualified people who can do the job”. The Brown vs the Board of Education case provided opportunities for people like him to enter the field and the Harvard Law school just expanded his world view.

Warren Buffett, one of the largest shareholders in American Express called Ken Chenault “A class act. The kind of person that you would want to be the trustee of your will or to be your next-door neighbor. Warren Buffett has been Ken’s friend for 20 years.

In 1981 Chenault was recruited by American Express where he faced a big challenge. The merchandise services unit was losing money and he pulled together a team that went from generating $100 million in sales to $700 million in sales. That propelled him into the fast lane; President and COO in 1997 and CEO in 2001.

He was tested again when the American Express Corporate Headquarters suffered major damage during the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center in which the company loss 11 employees. The next test came during the Great Recession of 2008. He kept his head while others were losing theirs.


Chenault was interviewed by the Associated Press about the new tax law, being a Black CEO and the effect of competition.

  1. You are leaving AmEx but if you were staying, how would you use the benefits from the tax bill?
  2. I think a lower corporate tax rate will spur the economy in the long run…We wanted to create some long-term benefits for our employees. That’s why we did this one-time incremental benefit in profit sharing. We also going to put $200 million into incremental investment places where the company can grow and expand.
  3. Your departure reduces the number of African American CEOs at Fortune 500 Companies to three. What legacy would you talk about tied to that role you play in society and business?
  4. That’s embarrassing. It’s embarrassing because there are thousands of people who are just as qualified or more qualified but haven’t been given the opportunity. What’s needed is a pipeline where quality people are coming in and the need to create an environment where people are embraced and engaged rather that just tolerated. Diversity and inclusion should be a core priority not just the flavor of the month.
  5. What will American Express look like once plastic cards go away?
  6. People see the services and the service is the brand. In 2017 Forbes named American Express as the 23rd most valuable brand in the world. In 2018 Fortune ranked American Express as the 14th most admired company worldwide and the 23rd Best Company to work for.

Maybe that’s the reason why the advertising program so effective, “Don’t leave home without them.”


Let us honor an American Hero

This is the real life story that reads like a movie. An Admiral’s son becomes an aviator, gets captured in battle and becomes an American Legend. He became the gladiator that defied the Emperor to save the nation.

Let us honor him, because now he is free. CBS News called John McCain  “One of a Kind”… and I think a lot of other folks would agree. The Vietnam experience crystallized the importance of doing what’s right. It wasn’t easy but he persevered and came out of that situation a changed man.


The military schools and basic training teach and preach about duty, honor and country because all warriors need  guidelines to follow. When he refused an early release he was practicing the “code of conduct”. The goal is to survive honorable while resisting the enemy efforts to be exploited.

Article I – I am an American fighting in the forces which guard my country and our way of life. I am prepared to give my life in their defense.

Article II – I will never surrender of my own free will. If in command, I will never surrender the members of my command while they still have the means to resist.

Article III – If I am captured I will continue to resist by all means available. I will make every effort to escape and to aid others to escape. I will accept neither parole nor special favors from the enemy.

Article IV – If become a prisoner of war, I will keep faith with my fellow prisoners. I will give no information or take part in any action which might be harmful to my comrades. If I am senior, I will take command. If not I will obey the lawful orders of those appointed over me and will back them up in every way.

Article V – When questioned should I become a prisoner of war, I am required to give my name, rank, service number, and date of birth. I will evade answering further questions to the upmost of my ability. I will make no oral or written statement disloyal to my country and its allies or harmful to their cause.

Article VI – I will never forget that I am an American, fighting for freedom, responsible for my actions and dedicated to the principles which made my country free. I will trust in my God and the United States of America.


When he got into the Senate he warned about the rising power of special interest in government because it would  cause a breakdown in the democracy on which this nation was built. When he walked into the Senate Chambers after surviving brain surgery and did his thumbs down, it went against the party and the man who wanted to be king.

During the presidential race against Senator Barack Obama, he corrected a woman in the audience who called Barack an Arab. Senator McCain said, ” No ma’ma, He is a decent family man, citizen, that I just happen to have disagreements with”.


When Barack was elected he asked his audience to refrain from booing and said, ” I had the honor of calling Barack Obama to congratulate him on being elected the next President of the country , that they both loved.” Sometimes the real measure of a man is shown by how he responds to his victories AND his defeats.

In the coming days and weeks, many things will be read and said about the man and the life he led. He called it an extraordinary life and many veterans might also agree.


Farewell to the Queen


When Aretha was here, she did her thing. She will always be considered the Queen of Soul. CBS News did an interview her on June 5, 2012 in which Anthony Mason asked her some questions about her health.

She said she was excited and that she was ready to do her thing. That was something that the Godfather of Soul would say and later sing. As she was making a comeback at a New York benefit concert show.

Rolling Stone Magazine named her the Greatest Singer of the Rock Era. She was the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. She was awarded the Grammy Legend Award in 1991, The Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1994, she was a Kennedy Center Honoree in 1994, a National Medal of Art recipient in 1999 and awarded with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005. But to most of us she will be remembered as the Queen of Soul.

She was born in Memphis Tennessee but considered Detroit Michigan her home. She began her singer career at New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit where her father, C.L. Franklin, was the minister. Aretha’s mother, Barbara Siggers Franklin, died before she turned ten. Her grandmother Rachel raised her and her siblings with a little help from people like Mahalia Jackson.  Aretha young life was surrounded by music and musicians and she learned to play piano by ear.

Her father reached celebrity status and many gospel folks would stop by the house: Clara Ward, James Cleveland, Albertina Walker, Inez Andrews, Jackie Wilson, Sam Cooke and Martin Luther King Jr. In fact, Martin gave her the SCLC Drum Beat Award for Musicians a few months before his death. And at the young age of 16, she sang at his funeral.

The two-day viewing of Aretha’s casket will be at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, which happens to be a stones throw from where my mother’s senior tower was. My mom was born in Mississippi and she also settled in Detroit. Mom was an independent country girl who lived down the street. Glad I able to convinced her to come with me to the Museum with me on one of my visits to the city.

On my Face Book page is a photo of the Charles H. Wright Museum. The guy in the foreground is my man James. He got drafted in the Army and was sent to Vietnam. I enlisted in the Air Force and was sent to Germany after a quick stop in Libya.

Aretha has sung for the king (Martin Luther King Jr.) the Queen of England and the President of the United States. Now she gets to add her voice with the King of Pop, the Godfather of Soul and Prince.


President Obama said, “American history wells up, when Aretha sings. Nobody embodies more fully the connection between the African American spiritual, the Blues, R&B, Rock and Roll – the way that hardship and sorrow were transformed into something full of beauty and vitality and hope.”  Farewell to the Queen.


Mary G. Ross was a Lady Boss


Mary Golda Ross (Aug 9, 1908 – Apr 29, 2008) was the first known Native American Female Engineer. She made major contributions to the aerospace industry.

Sometimes you never know what you might learn when you click a Google Doodle. She was also the great -great granddaughter of Chief John Ross of the Cherokee Nation. She was born in the small town of Park Hill in Oklahoma where she chose to follow a nontraditional path for women.


She taught math and science until she returned to school to earn her masters in math from Colorado State College of Education. She was very bright at a young age. At the age of 16, she enrolled into Northeastern State Teachers College.

She moved to California in 1941 to seek work after the US got involved in World War II. She was hired as a mathematician by Lockheed in 1942 where she began working on the effects of pressure on the Lockheed P-38 Lightning jet, which was one of the fastest airplanes at that time.


After the war Lockheed sent her to UCLA for a Professional Certification in Engineering. Wikipedia stated that it was unusual for a company that hired a woman to keep her after the war had ended. They must have felt that she was a valuable as one of the guys. She must have held her own because she was one of 40 founding engineers of the highly secretive “Shunk Works Project” at Lockheed Corporation.

In 1958 she appeared on the TV program “What’s My Line?”, where contestants had to guess who design rockets and missiles. My mom who grew up in Mississippi, but lived in Detroit said that she once made it to “The Price is Right” when she visited California. She also talked about that old Indian that she never really knew. I must have missed it or it when right over my young head.

Many years pass and I’m about to enter the service for the second time, I see a movie that made me re-think about a persons world view. As an US Army Officer we talked about military history and I knew about the Battle of Little Big Horn. The movie ‘Little Big Man’ was the story of a young man who straddled two worlds. It was the first time I looked at Cowboy and Indian movies in a different light.

At the age of 96 Mary participated in the Opening Ceremonies of the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington D.C. in Sept 21, 2004.

Ten years later, when I finally visited the city during the Annual Cherry Blossom Festival, it was one of the places I wanted to tour. In 2010 at my mothers funeral I learned that her father, my grandfather that I never met was a Native American.        Mom gave birth to 14 kids and worked into her mid eighties catching the bus in the cold Detroit winters. To me that’s a pioneering attitude and a Native American perseverance.

Mom remembered when her mom died because she was only eight. She called the man who dropped the seed, that made her, as “that old Indian”.  I always wondered where she got her independent spirit from, and it finally made sense.  The dad that she never knew kept track of all his off spring during his life time. And when mom was born in 1919 she was the last of his 33 kids, so I wanted  to make the connection to that part of my roots.