When I was a child in an age long, long ago, I used to look at freedom as a chronological thing. The United States declared its freedom on July 4, 1776. The Africans who were slaves were declared free by the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863. Women received the right to vote when the 19th amendment was passed on August 26, 1920. And the list goes on.
      I was taught that freedom always marches forward in a straight line toward justice and the American Way. We never stepped backwards. Once our freedom was granted, it was never taken away. We just received more of it as time goes by until we reach some kind of utopia.
      In the 1950s and 1960s, the civil rights movement spearheaded the efforts of African      Americans to obtain the real freedoms they thought they had won when the Union was victorious and the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments were passed by the Republican Party, which had become the party of the abolitionist movement. Back then, real freedom for African Americans lasted for approximately 10 years before reactionary forces took their rights away.
      Now they didn't repeal the constitutional amendments that had guaranteed the freedom of the former slaves. Technically, African Americans have always enjoyed those freedoms. But through violence which weakened African American political power, the passage of laws that made it virtually impossible for a significant number of African Americans to participate in the political process and untimely rulings by the U.S. Supreme Courts, the era of Jim Crow -- the improbable standard of separate but equal -- swept across the South with Jim Crow's cousin enforcing segregation in the North. Jim Crow was kept in power by the Ku Klux Klan. Freedom for African Americans was thrown for a loop.
      And so with all of the rights that the civil rights movement won: fair housing, the Voting Rights Act, Affirmative Action, Equal Employment Opportunity and so on, one would get the impression that freedom had finally been won. We have finally put race behind us and now, we live in a race-neutral society. We all can pursue happiness regardless of race, color, creed, etc. After all, didn't Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. say that he wanted his "children to be judged by the content of their character and not the color of their skin"?
      And so, with this great civil rights victory, all of us were now free and we could go back to living the inane nature of our lives. The fight was won, the war was over.
      But you know, it is never over. I don't care what beautiful imagery is piped into our lives in an ever increasing torrent that shows us all living peacefully together and African Americans having as much right to shop till they drop -- and leaving their hard earned money in someone      else's coffers -- as every other true blue American. Don't get me wrong. I love the imagery. I love the thought. I love the ideal. It';s just that it isn't here yet. I believe in heaven and have      pleasant thoughts about it, especially when life on earth takes a particularly hellish turn. But that doesn't mean heaven is on earth.
      So where is this leading? Well, I had a wake up call on June 5 when the Special Committee on Affirmative Action had its final meeting at the state capitol. This committee, ruthlessly
VOL 2  No. 12                                                         June 13, 2007
JUNE 13, 2007
STORIES AND COLUMNS

*
The Literary Divide: "Blood diamond," Freetown, and Juneteenth,
by Paul Barrows

*
18th Annual Madison Juneteenth: In the soul of its people,
by Jonathan Gramling

*
Frank Allis Principal Chris Hodge: It's all about the children,
by Jonathan Gramling

*
Asian Wisconzine:
-- The immortal kundiman
-- DWD Reaching out to the Hmong community
,
by Heidi M. Pascual
(www.asianwisconzine.com)

*
Simple Things:
Time Out
,
by Lang Kenneth Haynes

*
Politicas de hoy: La reforma migratoria puesta al dia,
por Alfonso Zepeda Capistran

*
Voices: Get busy living ... or dying,
by Jean Daniels

*
Civil War contributions,
by Anne Vandenburgh

* The plight of New Orleans,
by Megan Feifer

SPECIAL FEATURE:
*
The 27th Annual African American Student Recognition Celebration (The Links)
pp 1-4
,
by Jonathan Gramling

*
China Dispatch: Summer tears of joy and pain,
by Andrew Gramling

* Keep pressuring Congress,
by Salvador Carranza

*
UW Law School's KaShia Moua: A commitment to change (2),
by Jonathan Gramling

*
East Madison Community Center addition,
by Jonathan Gramling

*
A touch of African American art

* 2007 YWCA Women of Distinction photo caption

Reflections/Jonathan D. Gramling
                 Freedom is always earned
And Still I Rise
The story of Arthus Jones, Milwaukee's First Black Top Cop
chaired by State Senator Glenn Grothman (R-West Bend) was drawing up and voting on recommendations concerning Affirmative Action.
      Grothman and his Republican colleagues dreamed up this committee when they controlled both houses of the state legislature as a vehicle to push through a state constitutional amendment  that would prohibit Affirmative Action based on race a la Michigan and California initiatives that had been spearheaded by Ward Connerly -- who coincidentally made an appearance before the committee.
      Grothman probably would have gotten his constitutional amendment and other draconian measures through the state legislature except for the fact that Democrats won the state senate last year and put the brakes to the Republican train that had left the station. And the train was stopped that night -- the constitutional amendment failed -- due to the efforts of committee members like State SenatorLena Taylor, Representative Tamara Grigsby, and Vicki Washington. They fought the good fight and won.
      One of the most draconian proposals made was Grothman's proposal to limit Affirmative Action programs to individuals who could prove that they were at least 25% ethnic minority.  When told that the process of certification would be onerous, Grothman said  -- and I heard this with my own ears -- that for most, we could look and tell that they were ethnic minority with more than 25% ethnic heritage within them. I am not kidding. This is someone who has been entrusted to create laws for the state of Wisconsin who is harkening back to the days when the Antebellum South passed miscegenation laws and defined slaves as anyone with one drop of African blood in them. While Grothman's 25% heritage measure was defeated, he plans to introduce it to the legislature.
      Freedom is never permanent and must be defined and won by every generation. Just as the Africans who were slaves found out about freedom on June 19, 1865 and fell into a jubilant celebration as they should, 10 years later, that freedom was lost. While African Americans still experience the freedoms won by the civil rights movement, they can still be lost if the presidential voting debacle in Florida and Glenn Grothman's proposals are any indication.
      It is important to celebrate Juneteenth and the accomplishments of the African American community and its contributions to the standard of living that we enjoy. But let us not party all the time lest our hard won freedoms are taken away as we get down to the latest track on our ipods. Always freedom!
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