Previously in 2013…
10. Get Out The Vote
In June, the United States Supreme Court would hand down two decisions that would change the course of law and human rights in America. The first decision was a 5-4 vote to strike down Section 4 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which was passed to ensure the right to vote by all Americans no matter their race, class, gender or status. Section 4 of the act demanded specific parts of the country, particularly those in the south or places that has had problems making voting rights accessible, it demanded for them to have special pre-clearance before they were able to change their voting laws. This law, which has been in effect for nearly 40 years, which has been upheld several times over the 40 years was suddenly deemed unconstitutional because Republicans started to lose too many elections. As you can imagine, within HOURS of the decision Texas and Mississippi(shockingly) immediately changed their laws. Other states would follow suit. Their reasoning? That making it harder for people to vote they will be able to stop voter fraud, which is pretty much saying I wear gloves and muffs in June to prevent myself from catching a cold.
9. Out of the Frying Pan, Into the Fire
Also in June, Food Network star chef Paula Deen came under fire for a deposition she did to a lawsuit filed against her earlier in the year. The lawsuit, which alleged racial discrimination and sexual harassment to a white female employee had a recorded deposition from Deen where she was asked if she ever used the “N-word”, to which she responded, “Yes, of course” and was from an incident she said where someone held a gun at her during a robbery. While having a gun pointed at you(even if it actually happened) isn’t an excuse to refer to someone like that, it never excused her openly musing about having a plantation themed party where the waitstaff are all black, and not referred to by name(hint). Through it all, Paula Deen who would lose several endorsements and cancelled deals, all the while the fallout that was completely mismanaged just as much as her complete lack of understanding that “no, don’t use that word or try to excuse using that word EV-VER”. Her not only using it, admitting that she uses it and then excusing it because she black kids she hires uses it, knowing FULL WELL where and when she was born is COMPLETELY inexcusable and it was only made worse by the fact that she seemingly had no understanding of that fact.
8. Spy Games
On June 6, Edward Snowden released to the media evidence of a global surveillance network by the National Security Administration, which also included phone records from over 120 million Verizon subscribers as well.
7. Virginia’s New Dominion
On November 5, a full year after the re-election of Barack Obama Virginia was put into the electoral limelight as one of the few states with very crucial statewide elections to be decided. Virginia, which is home to strong Republican majorities in cities across the state and in the General Assembly, and apparently as I learned this week the Ku Klux Klan still, the state has not be a place where Democrats have been very successful. Until now. The candidates for Governor, Terry McAuliffe, Lieutenant Governor, Ralph Northam and Attorney General, Mark Herring all would win their elections, marking the first time since the Democrats were the conservatives of the Solid South that they held every major statewide seat in office. What makes this year more interesting were the circumstances leading to it. Again, after November of 2012 and the Republicans had to face the fact that they lost again to Barack Obama, they had to re-examine themselves and their party. They had to find out if following the path laid by the Tea Party or Libertarians would bring them greater success than the social or fiscal conservatives that has lead them for years. In the mist of it all, Virginia, which for over 40 years has never elected a governor from the same party that they just elected President in the previous year, they now had also a debacle of that President’s most notable program fully fresh in the minds of every voter still. With all of this in mind, they still turned to Ken Cuccinelli, a Tea Party and Libertarian darling. The rollout of the national health care marketplace on October 1st was embarrassing, indefensible and was every Republican’s wet-dream come true. But with with all of that in mind, not only did Terry McAuliffe win, but Ralph Northam(who was given the gift of a imminently repulsive E. W. Jackson) and more surprisingly, Mark Herring won against Mark Obenshain. This was remarkable for the fact that Democrats have not won an Attorney General race in 20 years, but also because based on most reasonable standards, Senator Obenshain was as good of a AG candidate the Republicans could have hoped for. That’s says something. Republicans were given a full year of re-examination and a one of the worst months for any Democrat and they could not even win seats that they should have won.
6. Cleveland Rocked!
On May 6, Ariel Castro left his Cleveland home, much like he has over the last ten years, but unlike any other day over that time, on that day he left a door unlocked inside his home. Inside that door was 27 year old, Amanda Berry. She took the opportunity to go through the door and grab the attention of Angel Cordero and Charles Ramsey, neighbors of Ariel Castro, and was able to escape through a blocked doorway. She then notified her rescuers as well as the authorities that she was the same Amanda Berry that had been missing for over ten years and that two other missing teens during the same time period, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight were also being held captive in the home of Ariel Castro. This story was an immediate sensation across the country. Often is the case that children go missing around the country. Whether they’re runaways, abducted or murdered, often are the not found alive. To find THREE missing teens after such a long period of time, together, alive and healthy and all being held by the same demented soul miles within the spot they were taken was a miracle. It gave three families, who did not imagine they’d be able to have their loved ones with them again, the chance to keep them close and hug them to express their love that they missed out for over 10 years. It gave hope to families across America who have had loved ones taken from them without answers hope that someday they will return. It was remarkable to see these girls, these young women support each other. It was remarkable to see them even smile when you could only imagine the hell that the last ten years of life they had. It was even remarkable that such a story to be given a happen ending with the pricelessness of the internet and of course… Cleveland’s version of Your Friendly Neighborhood Black Man.