Lawyer on a Mission to Preserve the Hard-Fought Right to Vote


Dee Hunter

The “Voting Rights Project” Interview

with Kam Williams

Lawyer on a Mission to Preserve the Hard-Fought Right to Vote

Dee Hunter is the Executive Director of The Civil Rights Center, a Washington, DC-based public advocacy organization dedicated to advancing the public interest in the areas of criminal justice reform and voting rights. The

Civil Rights Center is a national leader in the fight to end the Crosscheck Program, a discriminatory, GOP project ostensibly-designed to purge masses of minority voters from the polls.

Dee has a long history of political advocacy and organizing. He has worked on numerous political campaigns and for several non-profit political organizations including Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow Coalition, Ralph Nader’s Appleseed Foundation, Americans for Democratic Action, The American Nurses Association and SEIU. And he is currently a Palast Foundation Fellow.

Dee studied political science at American University and is a graduate of Howard University School of Law.  He is currently a Masters of Divinity candidate at Wesley Theological Seminary. here, he talks about launching the Voting Rights Project.

Kam Williams: Hi Dee, thanks for the interview.

Dee Hunter: Thank you, Kam, for covering this important issue.

KW: Why are you launching the Voting Rights Project in Georgia?

DH: The Voting Rights Project is a campaign to combat the GOP mass voter purge scheme called the Crosscheck Program. It is fundamentally flawed, racially and politically discriminatory. The Crosscheck Program is a list of people who have purportedly registered to vote in two different states. The list contains approximately seven million names and is terribly flawed. It has resulted in the mass purging of millions of minority voters. Kansas Secretary of State, Kris Kobach, a pioneer of racial and partisan voter suppression, started Crosscheck.

We demand that Georgia end these illegal mass purges. We want to bring attention to Crosscheck, and the widespread voter suppression and persecution of voting rights activists that is going on throughout Georgia.  We want to be sure they don’t use Crosscheck to steal the 6th Congressional District like Trump stole the Presidential election. We are starting with Georgia and targeting the 20 most competitive Congressional Districts in states currently using the Crosscheck Program.

KW: What sort of voter suppression has transpired in the state?

DH: The systemic voter suppression and illegal persecution of voting rights activists in Georgia is more reminiscent of 1917 rather than 2017. Georgia officials have engaged in hostile racially and partisan motivated persecution of voting rights activists throughout the state. Its runs from the Governor and Secretary of State offices down to local, county voter registration boards. They first gerrymander the election districts illegally diluting our vote, then pass restrictive ID and registration laws. Next, they reduce the number of places where and the hours during which we can vote, and purge us by the hundreds of thousands using the Crosscheck Program. They also engage in a pattern of harassment and intimidation of voting rights activists. If you register people to vote in certain parts of Georgia you face the possibility of going to jail. People are afraid of retaliation for helping to register people to vote.

KW: How have they been getting away with this?

DH: Georgia has been a pioneer in voter suppression. Gerrymandering of state legislative districts in 2000 was the beginning of the modern onslaught. In 2008, Georgia adopted the Crosscheck Program while other states were dis-enrolling because of its unreliability. But Georgia adopted one of the most stringent Voter ID laws and felony disenfranchisement laws in the country. Elected officials throughout the state have engaged various suppression tactics. Secretary of State Brian Kemp has led the efforts. Kemp’s tenure has been plagued with multiple illegal mass purges. He has unlawfully refused to accept tens of thousands of voter registration applications because of small technical errors

He has also shortened the period for early voting, reduced the polling places in minority neighborhoods. He has generally engaged in a pattern and practice of harassment and intimidation of voting and civil rights activists.   

KW: How do you hope to prevent further violations in Georgia?

DH: I The strategy is threefold. It involves litigation, legislation, and mobilization. We are bringing together some of the most successful voting rights activists and organizations in the state to discuss tactics and strategies to combat Crosscheck, voter suppression and persecution. We are developing a Georgia Voting Rights Act that would stop the Crosscheck Program and other illegal mass purges. It would also liberalize voter registration and make it easier for people to register and to vote. Considering the extent that the GOP controls the legislature and state government, we are in for a long battle. Civil rights and voting rights groups have been quick to turn to the courts to combat voter suppression in Georgia. The results have been mixed. Recent legal victories in redistricting are encouraging.  Even when courts have ruled in favor of voting rights activists the state has refused to follow court orders. Activists are begging to bring lawsuits against election officials and other state officials in their personal capacity when they persecute activists and abuse their power. We must increase awareness and engagement. The same passion shown in the fight to save healthcare must be applied to voting rights. Trump won the state by 200,000 votes. If we increase minority turnout by three percent, candidates that would support expanding voting rights would win statewide. It is literally going to take hand-to-hand combat, door-to-door grassroots organizing at the neighborhood level. 

KW: What do you think of Trump’s Election Integrity Commission?

DH: It should be more appropriately called the Voter Suppression Commission. It is a very dangerous development. Kobach is the chair of this commission and will use it to make it more difficult to register to vote and to vote. Trump is delusional. His claim that millions of people committed voter fraud costing him the popular vote is just as valid as his assertion that the Russian interference in the election is “fake news.”  Any Secretary of State involved with this commission is assisting the enemies of voting rights.

KW What is the next stop for The Voting Rights Project?

DH: We are organizing in Virginia in June and in North Carolina in July. We are targeting the most competitive Congressional Districts in every state participating in Crosscheck.  They stole the 2016 presidential election. We are going to fight to make sure they don’t steal another.

KW: Thanks again for the time, Dee, and best of luck with the Voting Rights Project.

DH: Thank you for taking the time to cover this important issue, Kam.


Top Ten DVD List for May 23, 2017


This Week’s DVD Releases

by Kam Williams

Top Ten DVD List for May 23, 2017

This Week’s DVD Releases, Kam Williams, Top Ten DVD List, 05/23/2017

Get Out       

Shake the Dust

My Life as a Zucchini

All Governments Lie

The Enless Summer: Director’s Special Edition

Injecting Aluminum

Gauguin: Maker of Myth

Unlocking the Cage

Shaquille O’Neal All-Star Comedy Jam: Live from Sin City

Henri Rousseau: Jungles in Paris

Honorable Mention

On Any Sunday: Re-Mastered Director’s Special Edition

The Future of Work and Death

Welcome to the Loud House: Season 1, Volume 1

Outsiders: Season Two

Peel: The Peru Project

Duck Dynasty: The Final Season

The Great Wall

Rock Dog

Max 2: White House Hero

Masterpiece: Dark Angel

Smithsonian: Air Warriors [Season 2]

David Holt’s State of Music: Season 2

Special Blood

Outsiders: Season 2

Peg + Cat Save the World

Top Ten DVD List for May 16, 2017


This Week’s DVD Releases

by Kam Williams

Top Ten DVD List for May 16, 2017 

This Week’s DVD Releases, Kam Williams, Top Ten DVD List, 05/15/2017


xXx: Return of Xander Cage

WWII Diaries: Turning Points of the War

Africa’s Great Civilizations

The Gospel of Mark

Streets of Fire: Collector’s Edition

American Experience: The Great War

Ice: Season One


Kung Fu Zombies: 7 Killer Movies

Martin Clunes’ Islands of Australia

Honorable Mention

A Mermaid’s Tale

Digimon Adventure Tri.: Reunion

Frontline: Out of Gitmo

Special Forces: The Fight against Terror

Nova: Why Trains Crash

Resident Evil: The Final Chapter

Soviet Spies: 4 Film Collection

Bubble Guppies: Super Guppies

Nova: Viva Puerto Rico

Life’s a Beach: 10 Movie Collection

Dinosaur Train: Dinosaurs Take Flight

The Space between Us

Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood: Tiger Family Trip


Top Ten DVD List for May 9, 2017


This Week’s DVD Releases

by Kam Williams

Top Ten DVD List for May 9, 2017

This Week’s DVD Releases, Kam Williams, Top Ten DVD List, 05/09/2017


Orange Is the New Black: Season Four

Chicago Cubs 2016 World Series: The Complete Game 7

Rake: Series 1

Serial Mom

Divorce: The Complete First Season

Nova: The Origami Revolution

Plants Behaving Badly

Secrets of the Dead: Nero’s Sunken City

Fifty Shades Darker

Honorable Mention

PBS Kids: All about Allergies


Top Ten DVD List for May 2, 2017


This Week’s DVD Releases

by Kam Williams

Top Ten DVD List for May 2, 2017

This Week’s DVD Releases, Kam Williams, Top Ten DVD List, 05/02/2017


I Am Not Your Negro

The Salesman


Saturday Night Fever: Director’s Cut [40th Anniversary Edition]

Maiko: Dancing Child

The Free Man

Secrets of the Dead: Leonardo, the Man Who Saved Science

A Matter of Time

Counting for Thunder


Honorable Mention

The Resurrection of Gavin Stone

Rugrats: Season One

Rugrats: Season Two

The Shadow Effect

A Dog’s Purpose

The Comedian

Nature: Yosemite

Wild Weather

Smithsonian – Air Warriors: Season One


Top Ten DVD List for April 25, 2017


This Week’s DVD Releases

by Kam Williams

Top Ten DVD List for April 25, 2017

This Week’s DVD Releases, Kam Williams, Top Ten DVD List, 04/25/2017



La La Land

The Levelling

Peanuts by Schulz: Go Team Go

The Girl with All the Gifts

The Daughter

An Art That Nature Makes

The Vampire Bat

Agathia Christie’s The Witness for the Prosecution

The Marine 5: Battleground

Underworld: Blood Wars

Make Way for Dulé!


Dulé Hill 

The “Sleight” Interview

with Kam Williams

Make Way for Dulé!

Born in Orange, New Jersey and raised in Sayreville, Dulé Hill began attending dance school when he was 3 years- old. He later received his first break as the understudy to Savion Glover on Broadway in “The Tap Dance Kid.”

Dulé Hill,  Sleight, Interview, Kam Williams, The West Wing, Awards, SAG-AFTRA Foundation Board Member

Dulé went on to perform the lead role in the musical’s national tour. And his additional stage credits include “Bring in ‘Da Noise, Bring in ‘Da Funk,” the Tony Award-nominated musical “After Midnight,” “Stick Fly,” “Black and Blue,” “Dutchman,” “Shenandoah” and “The Little Rascals.”

Dulé is well known for his role on “The West Wing,” for which he garnered an Emmy Award nomination, 4 NAACP Image Award nominations for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series, and two Screen Actors Guild Awards as part of the Outstanding Ensemble in a Drama Series.

His other television credits include the role of Burton ‘Gus’ Guster in the long-running series “Psych,” which earned him 4 NAACP Image Awards for Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series. He also played Larry in the second season of “Ballers.”

His big screen credits include “Gayby,” “Miss Dial,” “Edmond,” “The Guardian,” “Holes,” “Sugar Hill,” “She’s All That,” “Sexual Life” and the independent comedy “Remarkable Power.”

Dulé is a SAG-AFTRA Foundation Board Member and is involved with the non-profit organizations Justice for Vets and The Gabriella Foundation. In his spare time, he enjoys tap dancing and playing the saxophone, although he says he admits that he hasn’t quite mastered the art of the sax.

Here, Dulé talks about his new movie, Sleight, an action thriller about a street magician [Jacob Latimore] who starts dealing drugs to raise his sister [Storm Reid] after the death of their mom.

Kam Williams: Hi, Dulé, thanks for the interview.

Dule Hill:  My pleasure, Kam. Thanks for taking the time.

KW: What interested you in Sleight?

DH: Beyond the exciting journey that J.D. Dillard and Alex Theurer delivered in their script, the main thing that interested me in Sleight was the chance to play a character outside of the scope of what I am used to playing on screen. As an actor, I’m always looking for new and interesting ways to challenge myself. The idea of playing a type of villain was extremely intriguing.

Dulé Hill,  Sleight, Interview, Kam Williams, The West Wing, Awards, SAG-AFTRA Foundation Board Member

KW: How would you describe the film in 25 words or less?

DH: Sleight. A story about good versus evil. Life versus death. Circumstances, choices and the powers a young mind can develop when life gets under pressure.

KW: The movie sounds like a mix of several genres.

DH: It is!  J.D. and Alex did a fantastic job of combining an urban, dramatic thriller with a sci-fi superhero origin story to create this world. They took different aspects of genres we enjoy and mashed them up to create a film that is engaging, fresh and new, which was another one of the many reasons I wanted to be a part of this project.

KW: How would you describe your character?

DH: Angelo is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, the kind of guy who charms his way into your world until one day you realize that he doesn’t understand the meaning of the word boundaries. He’s your best friend and your bully all at the same time.

KW: What message do you think people will take away from the movie?

DH: I believe that a message people will take away from the movie is “Actions have consequences, so be careful of the choices you make.”

KW: Harriet Pakula-Teweles asks: With so many classic films being redone, is there a remake you’d like to star in? 

DH: White Nights or The Cotton Club. Gregory Hines and tap shoes. I couldn’t ask for anything more.

KW: The music maven Heather Covington question: What was the last song you listened to?

DH: Unforgettable by Nat King Cole

KW: What is your favorite dish to cook?

DH: I am not really that skilled in the kitchen. Thankfully, my lady, Jazmyn Simon, throws down when it comes to the cookery. But I can cook a mean cornmeal porridge that was taught to me by my Jamaican father. It’s generational…generational. Mi seh? [Jamaican slang for “Understand me?”]

KW: The Morris Chestnut question: Was there any particular moment in your childhood that inspired you to become the person you are today?

DH: There are layers to this answer, but I would say, yes. One, being the moment I gave my life to Christ. My faith has been the focal point of my journey as far back as I can remember. I’m not going to sit here and say that I have always been an angel, but I am aware of the grace that has covered me over my lifetime. I give my all to live a life that is worthy of the favor I have received. I don’t always hit the mark, but I continue to press towards it each day. New mercies every morning… Give thanks for that.

KW: Sherry Gillam would like to know what is the most important life lesson you’ve learned so far?

DH: Enjoy life’s moments. Do not take them for granted, because you never know which one will be the last. Also, seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness; and all these things will be added unto you. In other words, get your priorities straight; figure out what really matters, and focus on that.

KW: The Viola Davis question: What’s the biggest difference between who you are at home as opposed to the person we see on the red carpet?

DH: The clothes I wear. Thank you [celebrity stylist] Jason Bolden and [fashionista] Ongell Fereria.

KW: If you could have one wish instantly granted, what would that be for?

DH: For peace to be.

KW: Larry Greenberg asks: Do you have a favorite movie monster?

DH: I’m a little old school, so I’m going to have to go with The Blob.

KW: Thanks again for the time, Dulé, and best of luck with the film.

DH: Thank you, Kam! I definitely appreciate the love. Blessings

To see a trailer for Sleight, visit:


Legend in La La Land!


John Legend 

The “La La Land” Interview

with Kam Williams

Legend in La La Land! 

Ohio-born John Legend is an award-winning, platinum-selling singer/songwriter. His work has garnered him ten Grammy Awards, an Oscar and a Golden Globe, among others. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania where he studied English and African-American literature, John participated in a wide range of musical activities while in college.

John Legend, La La Land, Interview, Kam Williams, platinum-selling singer/songwriter, career, Get Lifted, Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone

During that period, he was introduced to Lauryn Hill, who hired him to play piano on her track “Everything Is Everything.” Shortly thereafter, he began to play shows around the Philadelphia area, eventually expanding his audience base to New York, Boston, Atlanta and Washington, D.C.

After college, he was introduced to an up-and-coming hip-hop artist named Kanye West. Kanye quickly signed John to his G.O.O.D. Music imprint and had him sing vocal hooks on some of his tunes.

John’s career started gaining momentum through a series of similar collaborations with established artists. He added vocals to an impressive list of chart-topping hits including Kanye’s “All of the Lights,” Jay-Z’s “Encore” and backup vocals on Alicia Keys’ 2003 song, “You Don’t Know My Name.”

John’s debut album, Get Lifted, was released to critical acclaim in December of 2004 by Columbia Records. The album landed multiple Grammys, including Best R&B Album, Best New Artist and Best Male R&B Vocal Performance. And earlier this year, John won his first Academy Award for “Glory,” a song he wrote and performed with Common for the film Selma.


Throughout his career, John has worked to make a difference in the lives of others. In 2007, he launched the Show Me Campaign (, an initiative that focuses on education as a key to breaking the cycle of poverty.

He’s received the 2010 BET Humanitarian of the Year Award, the 2009 CARE

Humanitarian Award for Global Change, the 2009 Bishop John T. Walker Distinguished Humanitarian Service Award from Africare, and the 2011 Harvard Foundation Artist of the Year Award. Furthermore, John sits on the boards of The Education Equality Project, Teach for America, Stand for Children and the Harlem Village Academies.

Here, he shares his thoughts about playing his first, major movie role opposite Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone in six-time, Oscar-winner La La Land, which he also executive produced. And he talks about his philanthropic work and his new album, Darkness and Light, too.

Kam Williams: Hi John. Thanks so much for the time.

John Legend: My pleasure, Kam.

KW: I’ve tried to land an interview with you for years, so I’m honored to finally have this opportunity to speak with you. 

JL: I’m excited, too.

KW: Let me start by asking what made you decide to do this film with Damien [writer/director Damien Chazelle]?

JL: Well, it really started with meeting him as a filmmaker in my capacity as a producer, because my company, Get Lifted Film Company, has done a few movies and a couple of television shows now. We love meeting with up-and-coming directors who are doing great things. And, obviously, upon the success of Whiplash, Damien was someone we’d love to collaborate with. My producing partner [Mike Jackson] suggested we connect with him very early on, after we saw a screener of Whiplash. We finally got a chance to sit down and discuss something creative when he was in the process of preparing to shoot La La Land. The script was finished, and they were already in talks with Ryan and Emma to star in it. Damien  wanted to see if we were interested in getting involved. He was originally thinking in terms of executive producing and in terms of the music for the character, Keith, and his band, The Messengers. But eventually, he asked me if I wanted to play Keith. I said, “Yeah, let’s do it!” I hadn’t done anything like it before. I hadn’t had a major speaking role in a film before. But I guess he felt that I could pull it off, because the character had some similarities to my own background as a musician. Damien thought I could relate to the character, and I felt the same way. So, it made sense for me to do it, since I was already a fan of his work. And then, when I found out that Ryan and Emma had come aboard, it seemed like a no-brainer for us to get involved.        

KW: After watching the film, I was surprised to see that you have so few acting credits, because you did a phenomenal job.John Legend, La La Land, Interview, Kam Williams, platinum-selling singer/songwriter, career, Get Lifted, Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, Humanitarian Award for Global Change

JL: Thank you! I’d spent my whole career focused on music. Acting wasn’t something I was really pursuing, even though we were doing film and TV behind the camera as producers, because music takes up so much of my creative energy. But I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to work with such great people.

KW: After Damien released his first movie, Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench, I wrote: “Appreciate Damien Chazelle now and avoid the rush!”

JL: Yeah, he’s brilliant! You can tell, just by virtue of the fact that he made Whiplash and La La Land before turning 32. That’s not even fair. [Chuckles] 

KW: What did you think of Justin Hurwitz’s score for La La Land? Did he  compose the songs you played in the movie?

JL: We wrote those together. He, Marius [de Vries], Angelique [Cinelu] and I. The four of us just sat in a room and played, and figured it out. Justin, obviously, was the composer for the rest of the film, and he’s wonderful. But since I always feel comfortable singing, that particular song [“Start a Fire”] worked, and made sense for the character I was playing. Yet, it posed an interesting challenge, because you wanted the song to be good and represent a viable creative path, but you also wanted it to be a song Ryan’s character, Sebastian, wouldn’t want to play, given the storyline. So, it called for an interesting balance of making it a good, jazz-influenced tune you could hear on the radio while also making it something that represented too much of a departure for Sebastian.

KW: Early in your career, were you a musical purist like Sebastian, who had a reverence for the classics? 

JL: No, I never looked at myself as a purist in the sense of simply wanting to recreate old music that I’d grown up listening to. I never struggled with that conundrum. But I think every artist is influenced by certain traditions and the artists they grew up listening to. For Taylor Swift, it was Country music. For me, it was Gospel and Soul. Other artists grew up listening to Folk, Classic Rock or whatever else it was for them. But no matter what your early influences are, you have to decide how much you’re just recreating the feelings those artists gave you, recreating their styles, or doing something fresh and new that’s influenced by them. I think we all deal with that. There’s always the push and pull in our careers of how much we go traditional and how much we try to change it up and do something new.   

KW: Editor/Legist Patricia Turnier says: like many people, I think that you are a great artist and I consider you like the young Stevie Wonder. I saw you in Montreal when you opened for Alicia Keys on one of her tours. Given that your new film is about jazz, please name a few of your favorite jazz musicians.

JL: Honestly, I don’t consider myself much of a jazz aficionado. When I was growing up, my dad used to play a lot of vocalists like Billie Holiday, Ella [Fitzgerald], Sarah Vaughan, Nancy Wilson and Nat King Cole. So, I grew up loving some of the great standards singers and jazz vocalists. Also Nina Simone who cut across a few different genres. Those are a few of my bigger influences, but i wouldn’t say I was much of a jazz expert.

KW: Patricia also notes that you consider yourself a feminist. She would like to know why men should feel as concerned as women about female issues and how men can advance women’s causes?

JL: First of all, because its the right thing to do. It’s fair, you have women in your family, women you work with, and women who are your friends. Why shouldn’t they have the same possibilities and opportunities as you? Why shouldn’t they live in a world where they are valued for what they contribute, and valued as much as men are for the same thing? Who wouldn’t want to live in that world? It doesn’t hurt men for women to do well, because it just makes the planet a better place. There’s more innovation, more creativity and more productivity in the world. All of our lives are improved when women have power, influence and opportunity.

KW: I’d like to congratulate you on your new album, Darkness and Light, which I’ve been listening to. It’s terrific!

JL: Thank you. I’m really proud of it. It’s funny being in La La Land mode today, since I’ve been in Darkness and Light mode for the past month, and I’ll be back into it for the next year or so.  It’s exciting to support this really beautiful film and to have a new album out at the same time.

KW: I’ve always been impressed by your incredible commitment to charity work. What has inspired you to do that?

JL: I’ve always thought that if I were successful in this career, I would have a lot of resources and a lot of influence, and that I would would want to use them to make the world a better place. Part of my making the world better involves creating great art, and part involves my being an activist and contributing directly to causes that improve people’s lives with my time, my money and my influence. I think that’s part of who I am and of who I always will be.   

KW: Finally, what’s in your wallet?

JL: What’s in my wallet? [Laughs] Credit cards… insurance cards… membership cards… I got my Academy membership renewed this year.

KW: Well, thanks again, John.

JL: Thank you very much, Kam.

To order a copy of John’s new CD, Darkness and Light, visit:

Dr. Leon Pressing On!


Wilmer J. Leon III , The “Politics: Another Perspective” Interview, Kam Williams, Black Politics American Government, Public PolicyWilmer J. Leon, III

The “Politics: Another Perspective” Interview

with Kam Williams

Dr. Leon Pressing On!

Wilmer J. Leon, III is a political scientist whose primary areas of expertise are Black Politics American Government, and Public Policy. Dr. Leon has a B.S. degree in Political Science from Hampton Institute, and a Masters in Public Administration and a Ph.D. in Political Science from Howard University.

He is a nationally-syndicated columnist and the host of SiriusXM Satellite Radio’s  “Inside the Issues with Wilmer Leon.” He is also a regular contributor to national and international television news programs, newspapers and websites.

Kam Williams: Hi, Dr. Leon, thanks for the interview.

Wilmer J. Leon: Kam, my pleasure. Thank you for your interest in my book “Politics Another Perspective”. The struggle continues and we can only move forward through fact based analysis and dialogue.

KW: What interested you in publishing a collection of your Op-Eds?

WJL: As a political scientist, I was looking for a way to provide to the general public clear analysis of some of the issues impacting the country. I wanted it to be in a form that would be easy for readers to access and digest. I’ve always received great feedback to my Op-Eds. So, a collection of them seemed to be the natural answer or solution.

KW: Most of the pieces were written during Barack Obama’s tenure in the White House. How would grade him as a president?

WJL: Wow, that’s a difficult question to answer. Usually we take some time and allow the lens of history to provide some distance and space for the analysis to be done. Right now, I would give President Obama a “C.”

KW: What would you say is his legacy?

WJL: Again, that’s a difficult question to answer. Symbolically, being the first African-America president is invaluable and powerful. The fact that I can turn to my 15-year-old son and say, “You too can be POTUS” is a very powerful reality. In terms of domestic policy, navigating the country through the economic crisis was an incredible accomplishment. Even though he bailed out the banks, he did nothing for the homeowner. If he had forced the banks to lend the bailout money back to the homeowner in the way of more favorable loans, property values would have remained stable. The ACA [Affordable Care Act] was a great accomplishment even though its rollout was an utter failure. How can one pay so much attention to the detail of the legislation and then ignore its implementation? This is mind-boggling. He should have used the Recess Appointment option with Merrick Garland. He should have nominated an African-American woman to the Supreme Court instead of Kagan. In terms of education, he continued the Bush Era neo-liberalization of education, No Child Left Behind, with Race to the Top. From a foreign policy perspective, he continued a lot of the Bush administration approaches, if not policies. The assassination of Gaddafi was an utter failure. As a Senator, he voted against the illegal invasion of Iraq and then does a similar thing in Libya making the problems in the Middle East worse. The use of drones was not as benign or sterile as he tried to make them out to be. To a great degree, he did not use his bully pulpit to rally his base against the obstructionist Congress. I don’t believe that the politics he ran on were really his politics. I think he’s a conservative corporatist who ran as a centrist. He tried to be reasonable with a House and Senate that swore to oppose him at every turn but thought that his intellect was more powerful than their racism. Those are a few examples.

KW: Do you think African-Americans were rewarded fairly by the Obama administration for being his most loyal constituency?

Wilmer J. Leon III , The “Politics: Another Perspective” Interview, Kam Williams, Black Politics American Government, Public Policy

WJL: Not at all. Again, the symbolism is invaluable, but you can’t pay the mortgage with symbolism. In his defense, the African-American community, for the most part, did not challenge him and force him to use his bully pulpit to address our issues. In that regard, we gave him a pass. So many of us were so happy to have him there that we focused on the politics of pigment and phenotype and forgot the politics of policy. He rewarded other constituencies such as the LGBTQ, Latino and women, but ran from us unless he was forced to speak to us.

KW: How do you explain the Trump victory? Do you think the Democratic Party made a mistake closing ranks behind Hillary, especially after it was obvious that Bernie was the candidate with all the enthusiastic popular support?

WJL: There are a lot of factors to the Trump victory. Dr. King called it “white backlash” and Dr. Ronald Walters called it the politics of resentment. A major part of this was the backlash to 8 years of an African-American president. There are a lot of people who fear the “browning of America” and the election of Obama validated those fears. As Dr. Walters wrote in his book, “White Nationalism, Black Interests: Conservative Public Policy and the Black Community”: “Within American society, which includes contending social groups, there exists a balance of power that conforms to that society’s racial composition.” This balance must conform to the normal distribution of power, if society is to remain in equilibrium. President Obama, in the minds of a lot of people became an indicator that the normal distribution of power is askew and is in jeopardy. According to the Pew Research Center, 67% of non-college whites backed Trump, compared with just 28% who supported Clinton, hence his statement “I love the uneducated.” Trump won whites with a college degree 49% to 45%. The CBS Exit Poll data found that 54 per cent of white women voted for Trump. Trump also won among white, non-college women 62 to 34 percent and white college-educated men, 54 to 39 percent. This begs the question, for as nauseating as Hillary Clinton was to a lot of people, how could white-women vote for a shallow misogynist who called women pigs and said about Carly Fiorina “Look at that face…Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that the face of our next president?” And we know about his reference to women’s’ genitalia and he also objectifies his own daughter? In spite of this, white women saw value and redeeming qualities in this guy. They voted “white” before they voted “women.” A lot of working-class and middle-class whites who have seen their wages and salaries remain stagnant for 15 years were convinced that immigrants are stealing their jobs and social programs for lazy “colored” people have been draining the public coffers. Trump spoke directly to them and was able to convince them that he would be their champion. They wanted to believe him because he spoke to and validated their bigotry. We can also explain the Trump victory by understanding voter suppression and the Crosscheck Program. According to investigative journalist Greg Palast, Kris Kobach’s Crosscheck “removed tens of thousands of minority voters from the rolls in the swing states that surprisingly shifted to Trump… Stopping Crosscheck is the Standing Rock of racist vote suppression.” Yes, the Democratic Party made a mistake closing ranks behind Hillary, especially after it was obvious that Bernie was the candidate with all the enthusiastic popular support? This demonstrates that the Democratic power structure is closer to the ideology of the Republicans than the constituents they are supposed to represent. The way that the DNC mismanaged the nomination of Congressman Keith Ellison to be the DNC chair is another example of this. They are not nearly as “progressive” as they try to make themselves out to be.

KW: The country seems very divided by the election of Trump? Can that rift be healed while he’s in office?

WJL: No, not as long as the racist reactionary forces such as the Tea Party and Freedom Caucus continue to dominate. Also, neo-liberal politics is killing America and it’s being sold wrapped in the cloak of xenophobic, fearmongering, racist, reactionary politics. As Lester Spence writes, “Racial politics perform work here, as white attitudes about labor, work, crime and taxes are fused to attitudes about black men and women and, through them, to other non-white populations.” As Trump said, “When Mexico sends it people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.” And on March 12 of this year, Congressman Steven King (R-Iowa) said “…culture and demographics are our destiny. We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies.” The next day, King said, “Individuals will contribute differently, not equally, to this civilization and society. Certain groups of people will do more from a productive side than other groups of people will.”

KW: Do you think Trump is serious in terms of his plan to make Chicago’s South Side and other crime-ridden inner-city neighborhoods safe?

WJL: No. It’s a rhetoric to demonize a category of people and present a narrative that will prepare Americans for the militarization of our urban centers. The evidence is clear, safety comes from education, jobs, and the hope for a profitable future. Investing in the infrastructure of our inner cities and the people who live there is how you make them safe.

Wilmer J. Leon III , The “Politics: Another Perspective” Interview, Kam Williams, Black Politics American Government, Public Policy, SiriusXM Satellite host

KW: What about when it comes to jobs and education? He did make overtures to the HBCUs.

WJL: No, he did not. That was hollow rhetoric followed by a photo op. Budgets are numeric representations of priorities. When his budget was presented the funding he had discussed vanished.

KW: Is the country post-racial? How will we know when it is?

WJL: No. As long as African-American men are incarcerated at a rate of more than six times the rate of white men and the incarceration of black women continues to grow at record numbers, America will not be post-racial. As long as unemployment among African-Americans is more than twice the rate of white Americans, and as long as studies show that a black family’s income is a little more than half that of a similar white family’s income, America will not be post-racial. According to Forbes, “The typical black household now has just 6% of the wealth of the typical white household; the typical Latino household has just 8%, according to a recent study called The Racial Wealth Gap: Why Policy Matters, by Demos, a public policy organization promoting democracy and equality, and the Institute on Assets and Social Policy. In absolute terms, the median white household had $111,146 in wealth holdings in 2011, compared to $7,113 for the median black household and $8,348 for the median Latino household. [All figures come from the U.S. Census Bureau Survey of Income and Program Participation.]” This is what is called the “racial wealth gap.” And this is exacerbated by the problem with inter-generational transference of wealth. White parents are able to transfer assets to their children that African-American families cannot. As long as African-Americans continue to deal with “Driving While Black,” extrajudicial police murders, excessive high school dropout rates and imbalances in health care, America will not be post racial.

KW: founder Troy Johnson asks: What was the last book you read?

WJL: I tend to read a few books at a time. Let me say, “Stamped From the Beginning” by Ibram Kendi, “The Half Has Never Been Told” by Edward Baptist; “Knocking the Hustle” by Lester K. Spence, and “Invisible Man” by Ralph Ellison I’m always re-reading the classics.

KW: Ling-Ju Yen asks: What is your earliest childhood memory?

WJL: Wow! Being driven to nursery school in Mrs. James’ white Corvair, with her son Dennis and Kenny McGhee.

KW: Who loved you unconditionally during your formative years?

WJL: My parents until their deaths.

KW: Was there a meaningful spiritual component to your childhood?

WJL: Yes. I was raised Catholic, sentenced as a child to do 1st to 12th grades in Catholic school, and served all 12 years. As the only African-American child in my class from grade 4 to 8, I was subjected to a lot of racist abuse by classmates and teachers. The spiritual element of my childhood came around the 6th grade when I was taught that the Jesus of history was a Palestinian Jew who looked more like me than my bigoted classmates and teachers, and not like the White Jesus/God that they were indoctrinating me to pray to.

KW: What is your favorite dish to cook?

WJL: Smoked roast and/or shrimp or chicken etouffee’.

KW: The Morris Chestnut question: Was there any particular moment in your childhood that inspired you to become the person you are today?

WJL: Sorry, but there are four. First, my mother ran the Head Start program in our home town of Sacramento, California in the Sixties, and she would take me with her in the summers to work with the kids. My dad was a parole officer early in his career and would take me with him on some of his visits with former parolees. My parents taught me that all humans have value and the importance of working for the empowerment of the community. Hearing Tom Porter’s voice on “Morning Conversations with Tom Porter” on WPFW 89.3 FM in DC in 1983. His perspective changed my world view. And seeing Dr. Ronald Walters with Ted Koppel on “Nightline.” I knew then that my life’s work would be as a political scientist and that Black Politics would be my focus.

KW: Sherry Gillam would like to know what is the most important life lesson you’ve learned so far?

WJL: As Sho Baraka says, “In the land of the passive, make sure that you man up; when introduced to a lady it’s always proper to stand up…always speak up for the weak until somebody listens…your knees should be hurt from prayin’ with your people and your shirt should be wet from cryin’ over evil.” Contrary to the popular narrative, our struggle has always been about the success of the collective not the individual.

KW: When you look in the mirror, what do you see?

WJL: A flawed man, husband and father trying mightily to measure up to the standard set by his brilliant, loving and committed parents.


KW: If you could have one wish instantly granted, what would that be for?

WJL: One more conversation with my parents. I miss them.

KW: Is there any question no one ever asks you, that you wish someone would?

WJL: What was it like growing up in an African American community in South Sacramento as the son of Wilmer, Jr. and Edwina Leon? It was a blessing. I was a midget in the land of giants. I grew up around an eclectic group of educators, lawyers, physicians, Tuskegee Airman, etcetera, who were all committed to excellence, our culture, the community and raising their kids to be strong Race People who would fight against the racism that we were subjected to during the Sixties and Seventies.

KW: Judyth Piazza asks: What key quality do you believe all successful people share?

WJL: Challenging the status quo and using excellence to do so.

KW: What advice do you have for anyone who wants to follow in your footsteps?

WJL: Don’t. Learn from where I’ve gone; and lead, don’t follow.

KW: The Tavis Smiley question: How do you want to be remembered?

WJL: As a man who unconditionally loved his family and worked tirelessly to make his community better. And as a man who left the situation a little better than he found it.

KW: Thanks again for the time, Dr. Leon, and best of luck with the book.

WJL: Thank you for your interest, Kam, and for your assistance in promoting it.

To order a copy of “Politics: Another Perspective,” visit:


Source:  GIG News

Top Ten DVD List for April 18, 2017


This Week’s DVD Releases

by Kam Williams

Top Ten DVD List for April 18, 2017


Hidden Figures

Punching Henry

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg [The Criterion Collection]

Ocean Waves

A League of Their Own [25th Anniversary Edition]

The Young Girls of Rochefort


John Lewis: Get in the Way

800 Words: Season 2, Part 1

Paris 05:59 – Theo & Hugo

Honorable Mention

Kidnapped: Miniseries

Bigger Fatter Liar

A Cowgirl’s Story

In the Doghouse

Chupacabra Territory

Walking with the Enemy

Arctic Adventure: On Frozen Pond


Masterpiece: Home Fires [Season 2]

American Experience: Ruby Ridge

Smithsonian: Hell Below

Mia and Me: Season 1, Volume 1


Source:  GIG News