By Willie B. Hall –
When I was a student at Raines the administration was always allowing influential people who “looked like me” to come and speak to the student body. Simply being a member of the student body allowed the students of Raines the great opportunity to hear people like Muhammed Ali, Rosa Parks, Don King, Cicely Tyson, Melba Moore, Montell Williams & Doug E. Doug speak, just to name a few.
In the spring of my freshmen year, I can remember during a regular school day, hearing our principal come over the public address system and say: “all band members please report to the band room immediately following school”. As we arrived inside waiting for us was the administration, our band director and men in suits. They informed us that Vice President Al Gore was coming to our school to speak and we were being requested to perform. You can imagine the logistical procedures we had to go through in order to gain clearance. I can remember most of us didn’t really think it was a big deal. This was before social media and the popularity of cell phones so who would we have even told?
The next day came quickly and we reported to a secret location inside the school. At our arrival, we were held in that area for what seemed like hours. Finally, as we had been waiting in full uniform, the secret service came in to get us. They checked each student for any paraphernalia other than our instruments. We even had to take each instrument piece apart so that they could look inside of them. That is when we started to realize the importance of the event. Finally we were taking with guards into the gym.
As we walked in it seemed like thousands of people were all waiting, holding signs, cheering and some giving interviews. National and local elected officials, dignitaries and community leaders were in attendance. We were all waiting for the Vice President.
After what seemed like more hours the Vice President and the platform guest were brought into the gymnasium. I really can’t remember what the Vice President said that day. I’m sure he said a lot about his platform and what he planned to do as president. However that is all a blur.
I do however remember Congresswoman Corrine Brown taking the stage. In her speech she informed us that she had specifically requested the event be held at Raines. She said it was many other places that were suggested. However, she felt that the students of the Northside needed to have the experience. She told us that a reporter had even called her asking her in surprise and confusion, “Why did you pick Raines?”
The question she eluded, was said in a way to insinuate that we were not deserving of such an event. That the school was not a school that should be highlighted. Well, she told that reporter “Why not Raines? …They are in the heart of my district and they have the best teachers, principal, supportive parents and the best students!” You see Jacksonville was important to her and we were too. She made us feel important and she used her voice to bring positive light to the school and community.
Years later as an adult I joined the same church that the Congresswoman happened to also be a member of. For years I have watched her keep the members informed about important issues that affected us and had it not been for her telling us we would not have known about most of these things. When Hurricane Katrina destroyed many areas and people’s lives and the government was stalling and not responding as quickly as a lot of Americans think they should have, Congresswoman Brown came to church that morning. She told the congregation what she as a congressional member, was trying to do to help the people. The legislation, the money that needed to be secured, she went through it all. She then paused and said “but I cannot wait, we cannot wait until this process trickles down. We must do something now.” With her leadership we were able to send our own supplies, volunteers and money to the area to help the people.
You see some people may not have liked her “loud mouth”, her unconventional way of getting her opinion out about political candidates, (“quick picks”) but like her or not, Congresswoman Brown spoke up on issues and fought for causes that for years before her had been left by the waste side in Jacksonville.
Is she perfect? Absolutely not. Despite some of the issues people have with her personality and her unconventional way of giving her opinion on certain issues she has delivered for the Jacksonville community. Billions, yes billions of dollars she has brought to our city, thousands of unemployed people she has helped find jobs with her job fair, she has helped millions of people save their homes from foreclosure, and she has fought and used her voice to fight for important issues whenever the community has called her to lead. If you had a problem and you didn’t know how to solve the problem calling her office would provide you with help. She has delivered.
Yesterday we had a 29% voter turnout. If that turnout is a prediction for the general election we are all in trouble! When I look at who this city put in office as it relates to our school board and other local races it saddens me. The people of Jacksonville didn’t deliver for the Congresswoman and more importantly the people of Jacksonville didn’t deliver for themselves. My opinion is based on the number of votes that were cast for all candidates and specifically for our congress and local races like school board.
The democratic and republican congressional candidates that will proceed to the general election seem like nice people but I hope whoever wins will deliver for us like Congresswoman Brown did.
This is simply my truth and my opinion.
03/05/14- Roland Martin talks with Rep. Corrine Brown about the latest in the Marissa Alexander case and what needs to be done in order to repeal “Stand Your Ground” laws. [Read below]
ROLAND MARTIN: …Yes, so in Florida folks we have been covering this Marissa Alexander case and she is gonna be retried in Florida on July 28th by prosecutor Angela Corey, of course, she is the woman who fired the warning shots into the ceiling and they say that because even though she did not hit her husband or the children, Florida law says that, well, look, it’s a mandatory minimum, and she was sentenced to prison by a jury after 12 minutes. But the judge threw it out because of faulty jury instructions. Now prosecutor Angela Corey wants to go after her. And now, because of the loss, she wants her to serve consecutive 20 year sentences.
SYBIL WILKES : Not concurrent.
ROLAND MARTIN: Not concurrent. Joining me right now is Congresswoman Corrine Brown. She has been very involved in this case. And Congresswoman, the law was changed from concurrent to consecutively, but from your vantage point you don’t believe that Corey should be trying her at all.
REP. CORRINE BROWN: That’s correct. And a different jury in Florida have made different verdicts. So it’s the House of Representatives and Senate needs to clarify the law. That’s the first thing.
ROLAND MARTIN: I also understand, Congresswoman, in Florida right now there is a deal going through the Florida legislature that would change the law when somebody fires a warning shot.
REP. CORRINE BROWN: That’s correct. It’s going through; the hearing will be on the 17th. And I’m encouraging people to come to Tallahassee, I know people that are coming on the 10th, but they need to come on the 17th and testify before the committee. It is very important. I mean it’s ludacris. You shoot a warning shot, the day it happens; now you have a restraining order. You was beaten when you were six months pregnant and put in the hospital. The baby came early. The baby was eight days old and you got 20 years for a warning shot, but yet you shoot and kill African American young men and you walk. There’s something wrong with that.
This law is sloppy. It’s too broad. And let me just say one important thing. When the jury gets the instructions, whether it’s argued in a court case or not, it is part of the jury’s instructions. Stand Your Ground is part of the instructions. So therefore it’s confusing.
ROLAND MARTIN: Now Angela Corey’s office says that they’ve been trying to work out a plea deal with Marissa Alexander and she has rejected all …
REP. CORRINE BROWN: She could have dropped the charges. So I guess you want her to take the 20 years. Let me tell you something, since Angela Corey has been in Duval County we had a 70% increase in direct filing of youth. So what do I mean by that? They are being filed as felons more than other county in the State of Florida. That’s the new slavery. Once you get three years that’s the end. So we, it’s an example that you can’t go to the poll and vote for the President and the Congresswoman and walk out. You got to vote for the attorney general. You got to vote for the state representatives and senators that make these laws. And you got to vote for the judges. You’ve got to go up and down that ballet and you got to educate yourself.
And I understand that Tom and others are coming to Florida. My recommendation is don’t drink the water because we absolutely stuck on stupid here in Florida. These laws started in 2005, it started in Florida, and it spread to 24 other states. And it’s like a cancer, and it needs to be eradicated.
TOM JOYNER: It’s being pushed by the NRA.
REP. CORRINE BROWN: Oh, absolutely and the Koch brothers. So we need to show up and we can’t just come one time. We got to come on the 10th, and we got to come back the next week, when they are hearing the bill. And basically we got to be more involved.
SYBIL WILKES : And when you say Koch brothers, you’re saying K-O-C-H.
REP. CORRINE BROWN: Yes, those are the brothers that …
SYBIL WILKES : These are the brothers that …
REP. CORRINE BROWN: Yeah, those are the brothers that we buy the toilet paper from.
SYBIL WILKES : Yes, ma’am.
TOM JOYNER: How can we find out which congress people around the country are being supported by the NRA?
REP. CORRINE BROWN: Well, we can get that information for you. And we got law students that can do the research for us. Let’s do it.
TOM JOYNER: Because that’s what’s happening here, in all these states, they’re passing laws. And the congress people are the people that pass laws.
ROLAND MARTIN: But on a state level you’re dealing with the state law makers.
TOM JOYNER: That’s right, the state law makers.
ROLAND MARTIN: Right.
REP. CORRINE BROWN: I spoke Monday before the state, one of the members who it’s his bill, he asked me, he said; do you know that the Supreme Court passed this? A ruling in year 1921? I looked at him; is he from another planet? From another planet? I am telling you it is very important. I love the rallies. You got to go to those committee hearings and speak up.
ROLAND MARTIN: Well, the committee hearings, but also the point that I made is you can rally the state capital, but when the rally is over you’ve got to move people to go meet with every law maker, go to every office, and you’ve got to bring constituents. So you got to say we got people from your district, from your area, who are here to meet with you. And you’re right, when they have these hearings, we got to pack those hearings out as well, and that’s why I keep saying; stop having these rallies and we’re not taking people’s names, numbers, emails, twitter addresses because you need to drive people to these hearings. Because often times, Congresswoman, in these hearings, they’re empty except for the people supporting the bill.
REP. CORRINE BROWN: That’s exactly correct. And that’s what happened Monday. After the rally and the NAACP was very organized, they had a wonderful rally, but the hearing started at 4 o’clock, there was nobody in there.
ROLAND MARTIN: Right, so a rally at 11 a.m.
REP. CORRINE BROWN: So we can organize, so we can have people in these hearings.
ROLAND MARTIN: That’s right. Congresswoman Corrine Brown, we certainly appreciate it, thank you so very much.
REP. CORRINE BROWN: Thank you all for your leadership.
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MARISSA ALEXANDER , REP. CORRINE BROWN , ROLAND MARTIN