Vol. 12   No. 12
JUNE 12, 2017
Reflections/Jonathan Gramling
                           Fighting for Freedom Still

Jonathan Gramling
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Beisser, Wayne Strong, Fabu,
Lang Kenneth Haynes, Heidi
Pascual, Paul Kusuda, Nia
Trammell, Nichelle Nichols,
Jamala Rogers, Kipp Thomas,
and Donna Parker

Heidi M. Pascual
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Before I get started on this issue’s column, let me say that putting out a 40-page issue with 32 pages of color
in the normal two-week preparation period is going to lead to some regrettable errors no matter how perfect
we want to be. One glaring error was on the front page as in the sub-headline, I had Monique Lomax
graduating from Madison College. As anyone who read the story knows, Monique received her master’s in
sustainability leadership from Edgewood College. Sorry Monique!
An email from Andrea Kaminski, the executive director of the League of Women Voters, last Thursday got me
thinking. Kaminski’s email talked about a June 14th vote by the Wisconsin Assembly to call for a federal
constitutional convention to add a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It’s funny how our
government doesn’t send out press releases informing us that they want to fundamentally change the nature
of our government.

And while Kaminski rightfully lists reasons why a balanced-budget constitutional amendment is a bad idea,
the bigger question is, ‘What will all be discussed and passed at a constitutional convention?’ Just because
a constitutional convention is called to pass a balanced-budget amendment, that doesn’t mean that the
constitutional convention would be limited to that amendment. They could pass an amendment that would
limit voting to white male property owners. They can pass any kind of amendment that they so choose. And
with the kind of secretive, anti-democratic people we have in power today, I wouldn’t put it past them.

Why don’t they urge Congress to pass a balanced-budget amendment and then have it passed by three-fourths
of the states? Perhaps because that route has failed before, much like the Equal Rights Amendment in the
1970s. Maybe there is an Agenda B afloat that will limit people’s constitutional rights and freedom.

While people feel that freedom is guaranteed by the moral arc of the universe pointing to justice, as Dr. Martin
Luther King Jr. would say, there are no guarantees. I look at politics more like a rugby scrum. Opponents are
engaged in a circle, pushing against each other until the rugby football is cleared enough so that one team or
the other can proceed down the field with it until the ball is coughed up and another scrum occurs.

The political parties and interests are constantly pushing against each other in the fields of politics and
government to have their interests and rights protected by the law. Once a law is passed, it isn’t static and
for all time. It remains in force as long as the executive branch is willing to enforce it or until rescinded by
another vote of the government.

As we all know by now, the Emancipation Proclamation, — which President Abraham Lincoln issued to
emancipate the slaves in the Confederacy, a wartime tactical move — was issued on January 1, 1863.
However the last slaves in the Confederacy weren’t freed until June 19, 1865 when the Union Army arrived in
Galveston, Texas, some two and a half years later. Someone needed to enforce it.

And the North won the Civil War when hundreds of thousands of freed Africans joined the ranks of the Union
Army and created a surge that led to the end of the Civil War. The passing of the 13th, 14th and 15th
amendments  was as much a recognition of African Americans’ role in ending the Civil War as it was an
abstract recognition of people’s civil and human rights.

And the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 would not have been passed if it weren’t
for the thousands of civil rights protests occurring across America, highlighted by the marches that Dr. King
marched in.

All of these efforts, from fighting in the Civil War to marching in the 1960s civil rights marches, were fueled
by young people.

They were driven by young people yearning to be free. And in this rugby scrum of politics, it is up to each
generation to advance and to win their freedom once more. Freedom is not static. It is constantly won. And if
you don’t fight for your freedom — through politics and the economic realm — you are certainly going to lose it.

I celebrate our graduation issue each year when I particularly see African American students graduating with
a 3.0 GPA or greater and are moving on to higher education. They are equipping themselves to earn their
freedom as many of their parents had for one needs education in order to advance in life, obtain a job with a
living wage or better and have the freedom to make choices about one’s life.

It pains me to see African American students roam the halls in some of our high schools and they think they
are getting over on the system and are being “Black” by blowing off their education. And yet they are falling
into the hands of the larger system that will relegate them to menial and fast-food jobs as adults. They will
have lost their freedom. How ironic.

So young people, earn and fight for your freedom. Get involved in the political process and be the best that
you can be in the educational process. Yours and your generation’s freedom depend on it!

Celebrate Juneteenth Day this Saturday, June 17th on the grounds of the Madison Labor Temple. There will be
plenty of good food and great entertainment. But most importantly, reflect on the cost of freedom others have
paid and the fight for freedom that you must ensue.