Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Media Personalities M L Schultze And Kathy Wray Coleman Are Speakers At Akron League Of Women Voters 91st Annual Women's Equality Day Picnic





From the Metro Desk of the Kathy Wray Coleman Online News Blog.Com (www.kathywraycolemanonlinenewsblog.com)

The Akron Chapter of the League of Women Voters, which is led by Diana Kingsberry, on Thur. hosted Ethnic Journalist and Cleveland Area Blogger Kathy Wray Coleman and WKSU radio news editor M.L. Schultze, who on Aug 8 moderated the Akron Democratic Primary mayoral debate between long term Akron Mayor Dan Plusquellic, Akron City Councilman Michael Williams and Janice Davis.

Schultze and Coleman were the guest speakers at the organization's "Women Equality Day Annual Picnic Representing The 91st Anniversary Of Women Suffrage" and spoke primarily on the theme of whether there is equality for women in politics.

Akron is an urban based city of some 200,000 people that is roughly 31 percent Black and lies 35 miles south of Cleveland. It is the the hometown of NBA basketball icon Lebron James.

Founded in 1920, just six months before the Nineteenth Amendment gave women the right to vote, the non-partisan League Of Women Voters, a national organization of men and women with headquarters in Wash. D.C. and local chapters throughout the country, began as a women's only group and as "a mighty political experiment aimed to help newly enfranchised women to exercise their responsibilities as voters." Since then its mission has expanded and includes efforts to inform and educate voters on government issues such as the controversial Senate Bill 5, the bill that the Akron Chapter opposes, according to member Sara Gibbs. It was passed into law this year by the Ohio State Legislature with support from Republican Gov. John Kasich and would dismantle key aspects of collective bargaining, but it is now stalled due to a voting referendum put on the Nov. ballot as a union led initiative that seeks to overturn it.

"Our unions have done some things [that we might question] but Senate Bill 5 is dangerous," Coleman said to the predominantly White audience of mainly seasoned and politically engaged women that came to participate in the forum. "It was the unions that made sure that women teachers got paid what men made and that Blacks got paid like Whites, and to wipe out teacher tenure would be shameful."

Ask by an audience member whether the first woman president of the United States of America is likely to be a Republican or a Democrat Schultze said she predicts it will be a Republican and Coleman, who blogs at www.kathywraycolemanonlinenewsblog.com and www.realneo.us, agreed.

"The Republicans are putting a lot of money and resources behind women candidates said Schultze, referencing in part Minnesota Congresswoman and presidential candidate Michelle Bachmann of whom Coleman said she likes.

"What do you like about her?" asked Linda F.R. Omobien, an at large Black member of the Akron City Council and a Democratic candidate for the Akron Clerk of Courts.

"She's attractive, smart, and represents her party," said Coleman. "But I would not vote for her because I am a Democrat and I only vote Democratic for the presidency."

Both Coleman and Schultze said that there still is not equality for women in politics , both highlighting that Congress is 17 percent female when women are the majority in the country, and that a woman has yet to win the presidency. And in Ohio, where women are also in the majority, they represent only 25 percent of office holders across the state such as the state legislature said Coleman, with Schultze noting that the only major political venue in Ohio where women are in the majority is the Ohio Supreme Court with four of the seven justices being female.

Tamela Lee, a member of the Summit County Council for District 5, asked the speakers to rank by priority if they would choose their ethnicity or their country and Schultze, who is White, said that her country ranks first. But Coleman answered differently.

"I'm Black first," she said, prompting an elderly White woman in the audience to seek an explanation as to why some Blacks wanted to remain slaves even after the Thirteenth Amendment ended slavery in 1865.

Coleman responded that one reason is intra-group hostility, which is a by-product of racism and causes conflict among Blacks including some Black slaves that worked in the homes of their slave masters and those that worked on the plantation cotton fields. And she said that that same concept can be applied to the women who prefer men in political offices and who push the subordination of themselves and other women.

Coleman was asked also to discuss her one-on-one interview with now president Barack Obama during the 2008 Democratic Primary fight between the then Senator from Illinois and Hillary Rodham Clinton, now secretary of state, that was published in the Call and Post Newspaper, Ohio's Black press with distributions in Cleveland, Cincinnati and Columbus. And she talked about her interview with the late U.S. Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones that was also published in the Call and Post where Tubbs Jones, who died of brain aneurysm Aug 20, 2008, spoke about sexism in the campaign and advising Clinton as her national campaign co-chairperson.

"We have the only Black congressperson in three states including Kentucky and Tennessee," said Coleman. "And that is Congresswoman Marcia Fudge who represents the 11th Congressional District, a district that is roughly 53 percent Black and includes parts of Cleveland and its eastern suburbs. The seat was held first by retired Rep. Louis Stokes of Shaker Hts and then by Rep. Tubbs Jones before Congresswoman Fudge replaced her after her death."

Coleman told the audience of women and men that women in America would be more progressive if minority and White women could come together where Black women do not traditionally push for women's rights issues and White women in general are not staunch advocates of Civil Rights, comments that caused a former president of the Akron group to tell Coleman that "I was into Civil Rights before you were born."

The program concluded with a member of the Akron Chapter of The League of Women Voters urging those at the gathering to take petitions for signatures in the hope of a ballot referendum to ask voters to repeal House Bill 194, the voter suppression bill opposed by Fudge and others that is now law. A Republican pushed agenda, the state law slashes early voting in Ohio and requires identification to vote, mandates that Ohio's Democratic Party and state and national Civil Rights organizations claim will quiet the Black vote and discourage poor people and other minorities from coming to the polls during the upcoming presidential election and otherwise.

Journalist and Community Activist Kathy Wray Coleman can be reached at 216-932-3114 and ktcoleman8@aol.com