Reclaiming Democracy

There’s challenge going around on Facebook that requires the person tagged to list the ten books that have had the greatest influence on them. Well, given my anarchistic tendencies, my list contains 16 books.

On the Road, Jack Kerouac
Catch-22, Joseph Heller
Slaughterhouse-Five, Kurt Vonnegut
The Autobiography of Malcolm X, Malcolm X
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream, Hunter S. Thompson
Another Roadside Attraction, Tom Robbins
Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
A People’s History of the United States: 1492 to Present, Howard Zinn
Long Walk to Freedom, Nelson Mandela
The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien
Waking Up: Overcoming the Obstacles to Human Potential, Charles Tart
The Way of the Superior Man: A Spiritual Guide to Mastering the Challenges of Women, Work, and Sexual Desire, David Deida
Callings: Finding and Following an Authentic Life, Gregg Levoy
The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom, Don Miguel Ruiz
Radical Parenting: Seven Steps to a Functional Family in a Dysfunctional World, Brad Blanton
Everyday Blessings: The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting, Myla Kabat-Zinn and Jon Kabat-Zinn

So what books are on your list? You’re welcome to include them in the comments section.

What we’ve been witnessing at the General Assembly in Raleigh the past few months is the futile attempt by fearful, old, white men to hang on to the power and control to which they assume they’re entitled. These extremists imagine that if they can push women, gays, blacks and Latinos back to the status these groups held prior to the mid-20th century, they can hang on to their perch at the top of the pecking order.

Now don’t get me wrong; I have nothing against old white men. In fact, I am one. But I do take issue with any group, regardless of skin color, sex or age, that abuses its power in a deceitful and un-American attempt to keep others from experiencing the fruits of liberty—equal rights for all, the unfettered opportunity to vote, a quality education for all our children, clean air and water for every citizen . . . I could go on.

If you look at the data, it’s clear that the demographic shift currently taking place in our nation will be the death knell of this Caucasian paternalism. The Pew Research Center projects that non-Hispanic whites will make up only 47 percent of the U.S. population by 2050, while the U.S. Census Bureau estimates that this change will take place in 2042. Already racial or ethnic minorities make up nearly 30 percent of registered voters in North Carolina, and this trend is expected to continue. (more…)

West Carolina

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was arrested while leading coordinated marches and sit-ins against racism and racial segregation in Birmingham, Alabama in April 1963. Dr. King wrote “Letter from the Birmingham Jail” in response to “A Call for Unity“: a statement made by eight white Alabama clergymen against King and his methods. King’s letter was first published on May 19, 1963, and became a key text for the American civil rights movement of the early 1960s.


While confined here in the Birmingham city jail, I came across your recent statement calling my present activities “unwise and untimely.” Seldom do I pause to answer criticism of my work and ideas. If I sought to answer all the criticisms that cross my desk, my secretaries would have little time for anything other than such correspondence in the course of the day, and I would have no time for constructive work. But since I feel that you are men of genuine good will and that your criticisms are sincerely set forth, I want to try to answer your statements in what I hope will be patient and reasonable terms.MLK-jail

I think I should indicate why I am here In Birmingham, since you have been influenced by the view which argues against “outsiders coming in.” I have the honor of serving as president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an organization operating in every southern state, with headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. We have some eighty-five affiliated organizations across the South, and one of them is the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights. Frequently we share staff, educational and financial resources with our affiliates. Several months ago the affiliate here in Birmingham asked us to be on call to engage in a nonviolent direct-action program if such were deemed necessary. We readily consented, and when the hour came we lived up to our promise. So I, along with several members of my staff, am here because I was invited here I am here because I have organizational ties here. (more…)

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