Vol. 11    No. 15
JULY 21, 2016
Reflections/Jonathan Gramling
                                                     Julius and the Primary
There are some days that I know things when I don’t want to have to know things. But that is the nature of my business to know things. On a
regular basis, I get email notices from Foster Funeral Home about deceased individuals for whom they are taking care of funeral and other
arrangements. When I notice the email in my in box, I wonder for a moment if I want to open it up and eventually, I do open it up. Almost always,
the email is about someone whom I don’t know. But being the empathetic person that I am, I still feel bad for the stranger who has died and his
or her family. And I will still look at their online obituary to see who this person was.

And unfortunately sometimes I do know the person and it makes me even more sad. Such was the case last week when I received the notice
that Julius Johnson had died. I couldn’t believe it.

Julius was a long-time deacon at Mt. Zion Baptist Church, but in many ways, he was a community deacon. I was almost surprised that Julius
had passed because I would see him in so many places with his wife Willie. He might have been officially a member of Mt. Zion, but I would
also see him at St. Paul AME Church functions, Christ the Solid Rock functions and many community functions.

Why it was just last May that I found out that Julius had a powerful voice when he sang at Kathryn Johnson’s 75th birthday celebration at the
Sheraton Hotel. My, he had a great set of pipes.

The last time that I saw Brother Johnson was at The Hues 10th Anniversary Celebration on June 26th. It was always good to see him because
he had a grand open smile and treated everyone with respect. I remember Julius sitting in the hot afternoon air watching the different cultural
acts that were performing. Now of course Julius was there to hear the Mt. Zion choir group that Leotha Stanley put together for the occasion.  
But Julius also appreciated humanity and people regardless of their background.

I will truly miss Julius’ smile and warm greeting. No matter where I saw Julius, his presence made it feel like home. I offer my condolences to
Willie and the rest of the family.

***
The Republican-controlled legislature has truly been a radical group sacrificing and sense of continuity and normality for their own narrow ends.
They don’t care about the impact that it has on other people’s lives as long as it benefits their own.

It used to be that summertime was for relaxing, taking vacations, family reunions and just plain enjoying the good old outdoors. And then Labor
Day would roll around, the first Monday in September. Labor Day would be the last day of summer enjoyment before the serious work of the fall
began. The schools would start up. Farmers would complete the harvest of their crops. And we would begin to focus on the fall elections. In
presidential election years, that would mean that we would have the state primary in September and the presidential election on the first
Tuesday of November. That was the rhythm of political elections of my youth, going out in car caravans to towns and villages to campaign for
the candidate that my parents were supporting. It was how I marked the seasons.

But then this radical Republican Party came to power and wanted to put measures in place to keep themselves in power as they directed the
resources of the state to their own personal agenda and in some cases gain. These radicals have done everything they could think of in order to
suppress the votes of people whom they felt would not vote for them.

Therefore they have instituted Voter ID — which thank God has been declared unconstitutional for the upcoming federal election. They have
limited the number of early-voting days to disrupt the tradition in the African American community of going down to vote after worshipping on
Sunday together.

These radical Republicans just do not believe in democracy of cultural political traditions.
And so, one of them came up with the idea of moving the state primary — the one that was held in September — to the second Tuesday in
August. At a time when most people are enjoying the few months of beautiful weather that Wisconsinites can enjoy, these radicals moved the
state primary to that time because they feel that more of their people will be paying attention to the electoral process at that time than their
opponents will.

I am mad about them messing with my summer and fall cycles of life, but I know they don’t care. But I am not going to allow them to interfere
with my duty as a citizen to vote.
Yes, we have a state primary on August 9th. Ismael Ozanne is running for reelection as the Dane County District Attorney. Julia Arata-Fratta is
running for the 47th District Assembly seat. And Richard Brown is running for Dane County treasurer.

There are many, many reasons for you to get out there and vote on August 9th including the blood that your ancestors shed to gain the right to
vote and have some impact on a government that would make decisions that affected their lives. You should get out there and vote because
you know someone who is running, you believe in them and you want to help get them elected.
In addition to those reasons, I am not going to let some radical, self-righteous Republicans take away my rights. We must eventually defeat them
and restore our full voting rights by overcoming every obstacle they place in front of us.

We shall overcome! But in order to do so, we need to vote no matter what. Vote August 9th. Your future depends on it.