The Year of Moving Forward

The Year of Moving Forward
At our 4 person wedding reception in DC

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Inaugural Festivities

Seven. The number of days left until we have a new direction for our country. Jackpot!!!

The inauguration is on Tuesday, but the festivities start Sunday at the Lincoln Memorial.

I wonder what this man would be thinking.

I think I know.

I wonder what this man will be saying.

Well I don't know the words he will be using, but as Bishop Gene Robinson opens the inaugural festivities with a prayer, I know that a feeling of hope, of inclusion, and of promise will be heard by all. The festivities will be taped and broadcast for free on HBO Sunday evening (6 - 8 Central time). Of course, I'm not sure the 2 hour broadcast will include the prayer, but I assume it will. Free, for all Americans (that have cable or satellite).

Robinson had this to say in an email to Episcopal Cafe:

"I am writing to tell you that President-Elect Obama and the Inaugural Committee have invited me to give the invocation at the opening event of the Inaugural Week activities, “We are One,” to be held at the Lincoln Memorial, Sunday, January 18, at 2:00 pm. It will be an enormous honor to offer prayers for the country and the new president, standing on the holy ground where the “I have a dream speech” was delivered by Dr. King, surrounded by the inspiring and reconciling words of Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. It is also an indication of the new president’s commitment to being the President of ALL the people. I am humbled and overjoyed at this invitation, and it will be my great honor to be there representing the Episcopal Church, the people of New Hampshire, and all of us in the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community."

It's nice to know that someone is "representing" me at the inaugural festivities. I haven't heard anything like that from Rick Warren.

Beyonce, U2, John Legend,, Usher, Garth Brooks and a bevy of other performers will entertain.


Anonymous said...

And the City of Birmingham, who can't pay ATTENTION, is going to spend $50k of taxpayers money to have an inaugural party. If this were a WHITE president would this be happening? Would they have done this for John McCain? We live among idiots! And racists.

Joe said...

Since taxpayer money went toward spraying firehoses at Birmingham residents, and toward police dogs attacking children who wanted their rights, and taxpayer money went to build an interstate that was designed to break up neighborhoods and destroy as many black churches as possible, don't you think we can use a little taxpayer money to show how far Birmingham has come? Certainly, it has not come far enough, what with a homophobic mayor, but still, the world wants to see, and the world will see.

Anonymous said...

Oh come on Joe. All of that happened YEARS AGO. Way before any of us were around. I thought we were trying to get past that. As long as people like you keep bringing it up, we never will. Bottom line is WE DON'T HAVE THE MONEY for this. Take a quick drive through B'ham and look at all of the empty, eroding buildings. It is a sad sight. Let's use that $50k and do something useful. This is an outrage.

Joe said...


You may be a mere child. I am not. To correct you, I was around when everyone of those things happened. I remember it well. I wondered about our city and about our country. I can imagine how black people my age felt.

There are plenty of people around that were alive back then, including the mayor and several council people. It was not that long ago. Also including my older brothers.

Sure there are empty buildings in Birmingham...Bessemer too. The positive attention the city gets from this might, just might, help bring something good to Birmingham.

The scenes of Birmingham's racist past keep being brought up, and I don't know if we will (or should) ever get past that. But that is just part of the price you pay when you comment such atrocities.

Anonymous said...

So what do you think is going to happen Joe when B'ham throws this big bash? All of the liberal media will pull up all of those archives of the things you mentioned and will show them over and over again. There is nothing positive that will come from this.
B'ham will still be recognized as a racist town, and all this is going to do is fuel the fire. Once again, we have stupid people doing stupid things. But why would we expect anything different from Birmingham, Alabama.
Our pathetic Jefferson County Commission has the county in the grips of bankruptcy, our mayor will be going to jail within the next 12 months, our city council is a joke. Yes, let's grab some national attention now while things are looking so positive around here.

Anonymous said...

I am retired from the Ala Dept of Transportation (Highway Dept). The comment above about the interstate system targeting black communities and trying to break up black churches is a complete myth. As someone who had hands on responsibilities in engineering and design, I assure you that in my 45 years working with the highway department, never at anytime was the discussion of dividing black communities ever part of our conversation or our plans. If you knew all that had to be dealt with in order to get the interstate system in place and working effectively, you would know how rediculous that statement is. It is simply a rumor that has no validity whatsoever.

Joe said...

From The Interstates and the Cities: Highways, Housing, and the Freeway Revolt, by Raymond A. Mohl,
Department of History, University of Alabama at Birmingham, 2002.
"...but building an
expressway through a black community was the most common choice, the ubiquitous experience of urban America in the expressway era of 1956 to the early
." page 28 (of the document, not of the pdf file).


"In Birmingham, Alabama, where three interstates intersected, a black citizen's committee
complained to the Alabama state highway department and the BPR in 1960 that proposed interstate
freeways "would almost completely wipe out two old Negro communities [in] eastern Birmingham
with their 13 churches and three schools." Moreover, the public hearing held on the highway
proposal had been segregated, and blacks were unable to present their grievances.59 In 1963, as the
start of expressway construction neared in Birmingham, opposition flared again in the city's black
community. A resident, James Hutchinson, protested to Alabama Senator John Sparkman that the
expressway (I-59) "bisects an exclusive colored residential area. In addition, it has a large
interchange in the heart of this area." In the early days of the interstates, the racial routing of the
Birmingham expressway noted by Hutchinson was rather typical. So was the response of Federal
Highway Administrator Whitton to Senator Sparkman. The route had been chosen by the Alabama
state highway department and approved by the Bureau of Public Roads, Whitton wrote, "based on
a thorough evaluation of all engineering, economic, and sociological factors involved." If that was the case, then it would seem that the destruction of the Birmingham black community was indeed a
planned event.
" (page 33 of the document)

I can provide other references as well.

Anonymous said...

I was part of all of that. You need not give me any references. The black community had nothing to do with the selection of the interchange. I was on the engineering staff. There was absolutely no way to do it in another location. For one, this was the most financially feasible way to do it, which was important at the time. Secondly, existing structures and environmental issues made it impossible to go in any other direction. But again, I am telling you that at no time, behind closed doors, because I was there, was the discussion of breaking up a black community ever a 'goal'. Like in all of our cases, we tried to develope this system, with help from the federal government, in the most effective way so as to not cause economic, environmental or unnecessary structural damage.
As for grievances, we listen to them all. The interstate bisected Midfield and Fairfield on the West Side. We had issues with the communities of Leeds, and undeveloped communities on the Southside of Jefferson County. No matter where we went, there was someone who didn't want us there, and understandably so.
But again, I reiterate, it was never a goal or a plan to purposefully divide or destroy any community, black, white or otherwise.
You are reading a news article. I was there.

Joe said...

Jim says: "The black community had nothing to do with the selection of the interchange."

My point exactly.

Mohl says "Moreover, the public hearing held on the highway
proposal had been segregated, and blacks were unable to present their grievances,
" so it is obvious that the blacks had nothing to do with it.

Mohl documents purposeful black neighborhood destruction for interstates in several cities in this article. He is working on a book of the same subject.

From Mohl's article:
"Highway builders rarely mentioned African Americans specifically in their discussions about clearing out blight and slums." (page 31).


"A notorious racist, Alabama's state highway director Samuel Englehardt served simultaneously as a high level officer of the Alabama Ku Klux Klan and of the White Citizen's Council, which organized against school integration." (page 35)

So you want me to believe that in the racist state in the nation (at the time), with a racist Highway Director, that Alabama took the high road? That is laughable.

Anonymous said...

So, as I see it, there are 9 more days until lots of unknowns happen. Right? I mean, yes I will give the new president a chance. Everyone needs to quit proclaiming him as the fixer of all wrongs.

Anonymous said...

What's laughable Joe (and somewhat sad) is that you chose to believe a writers piece over a man who was obviously there in the midst of it all.
You are quite a piece of work.

Joe said...

I wouldn't consider Mohl's work "A writer's piece." He is an esteemed, award winning researcher on this subject. He's a professor at UAB.

I know a bit about research. I know a bit about documenting research. I am sure Mohl does as well.

Anonymous said...

Oh? Then why don't you believe Joe, and actual gay person, instead of those who think they know more about what it means to be gay, yet aren't gay themselves.
I assume the researcher has sources that were involved or documented those involved in the decisions. Regardless of whether it was consciously planned, at the very least you know that because the black neighborhoods were politcally and socially powerless, that the highways ended up where they did. I know this is not the same as the planners consciously and vindictively planning it that way on purpose, but its nevertheless institutionalized racism.

Joe said...

I assume that comment was aimed at John. It took me a minute to get it.

Yes Mohl does have sources. I am going to post more about this in a few days. I'm getting my sources lined up as well.