Category Archives: Politics

Vote to restore the Voting Rights Act

voting rights act

This past Summer I visited an old haunt in the heart of New York City’s Central Park.  I ran into a well-known entertainment personality I’ve known for years.  We chatted briefly.  During which time he wasted no time in zeroing in on his thoughts: it’s ok for private business to discriminate based on race, government intervention in such matters is no longer relevant and the free market won’t allow any business that discriminates to survive.

Perhaps he was being provocative.

But the conversation is a potent reminder that there are people who think that discrimination is ok.  Or that left to their own devices people and institutions will just do the right thing.  Or that we should just experiment by removing protections and see what happens.

To be clear, discrimination is not ok.  People don’t always do the right thing or know what that thing is.  And experimenting with people’s lives to their detriment is simply wrong.

One of the best defenses against discrimination was the Voting Rights Act, which allowed millions to vote, and which changed the country and countless lives for the better.

If you don’t know much about the Act, watch this engaging conversation about the Civil Rights Movement between three civil rights pioneers.  Representative John Lewis, Georgia 5th District; journalist Charlayne Hunter-Gault; and Chairman Emeritus of the NAACP, Julian Bond, look back and ahead in a discussion moderated by Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. In addition to providing an introduction to the speakers, Professor Gates gives background on the making of the series. The conversation is followed by a lively Q&A session with the audience.  This special series launch event for The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross took place October 9, 2013, at the National Press Club, Washington, DC.  Learn more about the speakers here.  This section courtesy of PBS.

Sadly the Act was recently rolled back by the Supreme Court.

While HCL generally tries to stay clear of politics, we love our community.  And voting rights is a matter of community and citizenship.  It affects all of us.   It’s our obligation and civic duty to vote.  It’s our obligation and civic duty to vigorously challenge encroachments on that right, and to protect that right.

That being said, please take a moment to sign the petition below and urge Congress to restore the Voting Rights Act.  Use the links in a petition we received this morning below.  From Congressman John Lewis.


I’m deeply saddened.

If Congress doesn’t act, this will be the first election in 50 years without critical protections from the Voting Rights Act.

The right to vote is precious… even sacred.

That’s why in 1963, I marched on Washington with Martin Luther King for the right to vote.

That’s why in 1965, I gave a little blood on that bridge in Selma, Alabama for the right to vote.

Folks marched for this. Folks fought for this. And some even died for the right to vote.

But today, the vital protections in the Voting Rights Act have been gutted by the conservative Justices on the Supreme Court.

Will you stand with me to demand basic voter protections be reinstated?

Voting is the most powerful non-violent tool we have in a democratic society. And we’ve got to use it!

Election Day is in 41 days. Will you demand that Republicans fix the Voting Rights Act?


Congressman John Lewis

What Would You Do With $1 Million?

It’s not just a rhetorical question - the City is asking us to suggest projects to improve our community and we will get a chance to vote on which ones should be included in the City budget. It is a new way of making decisions about how to use public money called Participatory Budgeting, now in its second year.  If you would like to learn how to weigh in, check out one of these informational sessions in our area:

Tuesday, Sepatember 9th 5:30 pm at Union Settlement (237 E 104 Street)

Monday, September 15th at 5:30 pm at the Jonson Community Center (1833 Lexington Ave) $_million

Have you every considered running for public office?


If you have ever wondered how candidates get started on their road to elected office, you should check out this seminar on political leadership and the science behind winning elections!  The event is sponsored by WE ACT, a Harlem-based environmental justice organization, and several other community groups.  The seminar will be held Wednesday, January 22, 2014 from 6:30-9:00pm at the WE ACT offices at 1854 Amsterdam Avenue, 2nd Floor. 

You can RSVP to or contact Charles Callaway at with any questions regarding this event.


FILM: Changing Face of Harlem by Shawn Batey

The Changing Face of Harlem Via

The Changing Face of Harlem is a new one-hour documentary that examines the revitalization of Harlem told through the deeply personal stories of its residents, small business owners, politicians, developers, and clergy.

The piece takes a critical look at Harlem’s history, early development, and its present transformation, and highlights how a community deals with the challenge of maintaining identity while accepting change.

Three central characters serve as a thread throughout the film providing personal insight into the changes.

Frank, affectionately known as the “mayor of 114th street,” has lived on the same block since the 1940.  Tekima, a florist located in Mart 125 located across from the Apollo Theater on 125th street, opened in 1986.  Asadah, an educator who teaches youth in East Harlem.

Other contributors include Congressman Charlie Rangel, Rev. Calvin Butts of Abyssinian Baptist Church, local architect Zevilla Preston, Nellie Bailey, Director of Harlem Tenants Alliance, Karen Phillips, co-founder of Abyssinian Development Corporation, and Russell and Maurice Grey, father and son owners of Edward Sisters Realty, a black owned and operated agency that has serviced the Harlem community for three generations.

via About The Film | Changing Face of Harlem.