Keeping Up

Keeping up: Books by Michelle Obama and activist DeRay McKesson; straight talk about “take a knee” and good news out of Ferguson, MO

Apologies for the lapse in posting.

My schedule these days means a lot of juggling tasks and projects. In August, I returned to teaching at the College of Southern Nevada; I am preparing for a move at the end of October, and I am writing my book proposal.

That said, going forward, I will post twice weekly (Wednesdays and Saturdays).

“Michelle, ma belle”

Come November, most Americans eagerly await Thanksgiving, I, on the other hand, look forward to the publication of Michelle Obama’s memoir, Becoming: In Her Own Words. 

Our former First Lady is a dynamic speaker and truth-teller, so I expect she will pull no punches about her years under the nation’s microscope.

While President Obama is an excellent speaker, he is more measured in his public speaking. He’s first and foremost a politician; she is a fiercely opinionated black woman who is not looking for public approval or worrying about how history will view her.

In 2017, I re-posted “Behind Closed Doors: Michelle and Obama,“a humorous account of what I imagine they said in private about being the First Couple.

Can’t wait to get a real peek behind the White House doors.

Supernova” DeRay McKesson

Despite having read Wesley Lowery’s 2016 book, They Can’t Kill Us All: Ferguson, Baltimore, and a New Era in America’s Racial Justice Movement, about his coverage of protests in those cities, I had not heard of  activist and community organizer, DeRay McKesson.

In an August 31 article, The Baltimore Sun reporter Mary Carole McCauley wrote: “… DeRay Mckesson is just 33 years old, but he has shot into the public sphere like a supernova.”

McKesson moved into my orbit last week when he appeared on Noah Trevor’s The Daily Show to discuss his new book, On the Other Side of Freedom: The Case for Hope, a memoir and collection of essays on “resistance, justice, and freedom” and an insider’s look at the Baltimore protests, ignited by the death of 25-year old Freddie Gray, who suffered a fatal injury after riding unrestrained by a seat belt in a police transport van.

His death was deemed a homicide by the Maryland State Medical Examiners; however, the cases against six officers ended in mistrials, dropped charges, or “nolle prosequi” (do not charge).

Although, McKesson was “tear-gassed, shot at with rubber bullets and hid under his steering wheel” during 400 days of protest, he told Noah, “I think about hope as a belief that our tomorrows will be better than our todays. I think about hope as (doing) real work, not magic.”

In 2015, was McKesson was No. 11 on Fortune magazine’s list of 50 greatest world leaders.

He is host of Crooked Media’s prize-winning podcast, Pod Save the People.

Couldn’t have said it better...

Caught Beto O’Rourke, Democratic nominee for the Texas Senate, on Real Time with Bill Maher (HBO) recently.  Maher showed a video clip of O’Rourke giving a candid response to a politically-charged issue–the actions of Colin Kaepernick and other NFL players who “take a knee” during the national anthem to protest police shootings of black men and “systemic oppression.” It’s refreshing to hear a political candidate who doesn’t waffle for fear of losing votes.

Straight Outta Ferguson

Finally, some good news o of Ferguson, MO.

Last month, Wesley Bell, 43, a city councilman, won the Democratic primary for St. Louis County district attorney, ousting Robert McCullough (who has held office since 1991).

Bell faces no Republican opponent, so he is likely to take office in November.

McCullough faced criticism for his failure to charge the officer who shot 18-year old Michael Brown in August 2014.

According to the Huffington Post, Bell…”pledges to never seek the death penalty, eliminate cash bail for nonviolent offenses, publicly oppose legislation that would create new mandatory minimum sentences for some crimes and adopt other policies that advocates for criminal justice reform favor.”


Recommended Reading

News Bytes: the Obamas’ and former AG Eric Holder’s soon-to-be published books

FYI: My podcast, “One Mother’s Voice: In the Name of Justice,”  ( and Sound Cloud) will resume posting episodes in January 2018 with enhanced content, better production quality, and revamped formatting. In addition, I hope to feature guest interviewees (e.g. social justice advocates/activists) and enable listener call-ins. Until then, I will post criminal news, events, updates at this site. Stay tuned.

News Bytes

2018 pub dates for Obamas’ and AG’ Holders books 

Two books on my “most-anticipated” list are forthcoming from former President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama. The couple signed book deals with Penguin Random House for a combined total of $65 million dollars. I eagerly await behind-the-scene stories about their years in the WH; however, I am most interested in their experiences as the first black president and first lady. Frankly, I want to hear about all the stuff that didn’t make the news!

The Obamas will donate 1 million books to First Book, a Penguin Random House non-profit partner and Open ebooks.

Barack Obama has two previous best-sellers, Dreams from My Father and The Audacity of Hope.

Another much-anticipated book is Pursuing Justice by Eric Holder, the nation’s first African-American attorney general, who served under the Obama Administration from 2008 until his resignation in 2015. His personal and political memoir will recount his immigrant roots–his father was born in Barbados–and his strong advocacy for criminal justice reform. Holder will work on the book with journalist Douglas Blackmon, who won a 2009 Pulitzer Prize for his book, Slavery By Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to WWII.

In November 2017, Politico wrote:

“The keenly legacy-conscious Holder has never been in better standing, leaving on arguably the highest personal note of his tenure, after a year of progress on his plan to reform sentencing laws and just after his well-received, calming-the-waters trip to Ferguson, Missouri, during the riots in August.”

Of course, Holder had detractors who opposed the Justice Department’s use of subpoenas and search warrants “for phone records and other information of journalists involved in reports about leaked classified information…” as reported in 2013 by CNN Politics online.

It is these contradictions that make Holder’s story all the more complex and read-worthy.