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cast ballots, which the group and many other critics say is especially discriminatory toward AfricanAmericans and the poor. South Carolina’s new law was rejected last month by the U.S. Justice Department, but Gov. Nikki Haley vowed to fight the federal government in court. At least a half-dozen other states passed similar voter ID laws in 2011. “This has been quite a faithtesting year. We have seen the greatest attack on voting rights since segregation,” said Benjamin Todd Jealous, president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. The shift in tactics was also noted by the keynote speaker, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Last month, Holder said the Justice Department was committed to fighting any laws that keep people from the ballot box. He

told the crowd he was keenly aware he couldn’t have become the nation’s first African-American attorney general without the blood shed by King and other civil rights pioneers. “The right to vote is not only the cornerstone of our governance, it is the lifeblood of our democracy. And no force has proved more powerful, or more integral to the success of the great American experiment, than efforts to expand the franchise,” Holder said. “Let me be very, very clear — the arc of American history has bent toward the inclusion, not the exclusion, of more of our fellow citizens in the electoral process. We must ensure that this continues.” Texas’ new voter ID law is currently before the Justice Department, which reviews changes in voting laws in nine mostly Southern states because of their history of discriminatory voting practices. Other states that passed such laws in 2011 included Alabama, Kansas, Mississippi, Rhode Island, Tennessee and Wisconsin.



Similar laws already were on the books in Georgia and Indiana, and they were approved by President George W. Bush’s Justice Department. Indiana’s law, passed in 2005, was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2008. Critics have likened the laws to the poll taxes and tests used to prevent blacks from voting during the civil rights era. Supporters, many of whom are Republicans, say such laws are needed to prevent fraud. “I signed a bill that would protect the integrity of our voting,” Haley said in a statement welcoming Holder to South Carolina. At the Atlanta church where King once preached, the Rev. Raphael G. Warnock said some in America disrespect King’s legacy by “cutting off those for whom he died and the principles for which he fought.” He called voter ID laws an affront to the memory of the civil rights leader. “You cannot celebrate Dr. King on Monday, and undermine people’s ability to vote on Super





Leon Smith holds a portrait of Martin Luther King Jr. as he blocks traffic Monday at the annual MLK Day parade in Memphis, Tenn.

Tuesday,” Warnock said. The King Day rally in South Carolina took place in the shadow of Saturday’s Republican presidential primary. State NAACP President Lonnie Randolph said people should vote any time they can, but said his group is nonpartisan. He said officials wouldn’t en-

courage its members — a generally Democratic voting bloc — to disrupt the GOP’s process of choosing its nominee because “we don’t do the mean things.” Jealous made one of the few references to the GOP field during Monday’s rally, saying he was tired of attacks on the movement, such

as cuts to education funding. “And I’m real tired of dealing with so-called leaders who talk out of one side of their mouth about celebrating the legacy of Dr. King and then do so much out the other side of their mouth to block everything the man stood, fought and died for,” Jealous said. The King Day rally in South Carolina was first held in 2000 to call for the Confederate flag to come down off the capitol dome, and has continued after state leaders decided instead to place the flag on a 30-foot pole on the Statehouse lawn near a monument to Confederate soldiers. The flag was mentioned Monday — North Carolina NAACP president the Rev. William Barber called it a “terrible, terroristic banner” — but it was not the focus. The Confederate flag and voter ID laws are all examples of how blacks cannot stop fighting for civil rights, said 39-year-old Llewlyn Walters of Columbia, whose grandmother watched King speak and whose mother told him stories of the civil rights movement as he grew up.



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try to understand through firsthand experience the feelings of the slaves who composed and first sang Negro spirituals. Wilson, a member of the Christian Music Hall of Fame, asked audience members to share stories, snap fingers, clap hands, stomp feet and sing along to traditional spirituals such as “Wade in the Water” and “Glory, Glory (Since I laid my burden down).” Speaking between numbers, Wilson talked about the importance of music in bonding slaves to one another and to their newfound Christian religion, and eventually in To see additional helping some esphotos, visit cape slavery www.times through the derground Railroad. “I don’t think that it’s possible to understand spirituals unless you get indepth,” Wilson said. “We’re going to go a little bit deeper here, because you might not understand tomorrow unless you understand what was yesterday for me.” Misericordia’s Multicultural Club and Office of Inclusive Excellence Director Scott Richardson asked Wilson to perform at the school’s first full King Day program. Richardson said King should continue to challenge us today, as we paused to remember his life Monday. “My Facebook post said today, ‘Dr. King, I’m just not sure, is your dream being fulfilled or is it a nightmare deferred,’ ” Richardson said. He said he cannot answer that question, but said “we cannot be complacent. We need to continue to move that agenda forward.” Earlier Monday, King’s College observed King’s holiday with a musical tribute. Members of 1 Akkord Mime Ministry and the King’s choir, Cantores Christi Regis, performed before Pastor Adam McGahee of Moving River Ministries delivered a keynote address. Attendees were then invited to help members of the King’s Scholars in Service Program make cards for patients at Wilkes-Barre General Hospital. At Wilkes-Barre City Hall, residents and officials spoke about how King’s life shaped and influenced theirs. GAR High School senior Trenaya Reid said she plans to attend law school, and she owes it all to King. “Dr. King changed the way I live,” Reid said. “Because of him, I can do what I want to do and become what I wish to become.” Wilton Curiel, a student at Wilkes University who grew up in the Dominican Republic, likened “the civil rights movement to the times when we moved from black-and-white television to full-color television.” State Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski, D-Wilkes-Barre, said King’s perseverance led to equal rights and justice for all. He also noted that King earned the divinity degree that made him a doctor from Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester, Pa.

“valid and reliable” examinations and objective evidence of competency, the charter says. Under the draft code, the manager must provide written notice to the administrative services head when vacant positions are to be filled. The human resources department must work with the relevant county office to prepare a current andaccuratejobdescription,salary range and specific qualifications, including educational requirements, experience and, if appropriate, an examination. The appropriate county managermustpreparenumericratingand ranking criteria for each position to assess the knowledge, skills and abilities of applicants. The rating and ranking requirements must be included in the job advertisements, and applicants must address them to be considered for the position. Job advertisements must be advertised in at least one local newspaper and posted for at least two weeks in county buildings and the county website. All applications must be sent to human resources and stamped with a date of receipt. Human resources will screen the applicants and establish an examination process that is open to all applicantswhomeettheminimum requirements. The department will also rate and rank the applicants and submit a list of those who received the highest rankings to the person authorized to make the appointment. In general, one of the three toprated candidates should be chosen. After a selection is made, the sheriff’s department will conduct a background check on a selected applicant. The county manager confirms the final selection in writing. The proposed code prohibits county officials and employees from attempting to use their influence to gain preferential treatment for an applicant. No elected county official or county employee may employ a family member who would be under their “direct line of authority.” The county council, manager and division heads may not have a family member employed in county government, though relatives employedbeforehomeruletookeffect on Jan. 2 will be permitted to keep their jobs. The code also requires the administrative services division head to compile a performance evaluation system and disciplinary procedures. Employees must notify the human resources director within four days if criminal charges are filed against them or if they receive notice that they are the subject of a federal, state or county criminal investigation, the draft code says. The county manager has full discretion to place employees on administrative leave, with or without pay, if criminal charges are filed against them. Bobeck said the personnel code will apply to all non-court county branches.Countyjudgeshavetheir own personnel policies. “There’s nothing precluding the court from adopting or at the very least mirroring the county personnel policy. We just hope for consistency across the board,” Bobeck said.


Christian Music Hall of Famer Barry Wilson, center, joins Misericordia University Multicultural Club President Christelle Patrice of Brooklyn, N.Y., left, and club Vice President Dayanara Rodriguez-Munoz of Hazleton at Misericordia University on Monday.


Trenaya Reid, GAR High School student, makes her remarks during the Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration at Wilkes-Barre City Hall on Monday.


Ron Felton, NAACP WilkesBarre chapter president.



Sally Steinkirchner of Dallas, left, sings along with Barry Wilson in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day at Misericordia University.

The Rev. Marcelle Dotson, left, Field of Grace Community of Faith Church, and Angel Jirau, executive director of SALSA, sing.

Others spoke of the need to continue to work to fulfill King’s agenda. Ron Felton, president of the Wilkes-Barre Chapter of the NAACP, recited King’s speech “A Call to Conscience,” which was given in 1955 in Montgomery,

Ala., after Rosa Parks’ removal from a bus because she wouldn’t relinquish her seat to a white passenger. Quoting the speech, Felton said, “There comes a time when people get tired of being trampled by the iron feet of oppres-

sion.” Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas Judge Tina Gartley said we all are still seeking to reach King’s mountain top. “Much more needs to be done,” she said. Other participants were Rabbi Roger Lerner;

Mayor Tom Leighton; Thomas Leary, president of Luzerne County Community College; Angel Jirau, a community activist; James Kocher, Wilkes University; the Rev. Marcelle Dotson, and Linda Kohut, director of AAA community services.

Times Leader 01-17-2012  

The Wilkes-Barre Times Leader 01-17