Genma Speaks

Entrepreneur/ Writer/ Radio-Host

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Getting a Book Published in 2009

For several years I have promoted a few authors. I am asked often how I got into the business and to give input on how to get your book in the media. Since today is a day off for me, I thought I would share with you some success stories and give you a few pointers on how to get media attention for your book.

I started my career many moons ago as a swimwear model for Carol Wior. I learned from her the grass roots of marketing and branding. She gave me advice that I will never forget and I it took to heart. "Learned every aspect of the business, don't be a pretty face with an empty head." That advice took me from in front of the lens to PR. Not public relations, but PERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS. Every contact became a source for building relationships with others. And most relationships that I have in the media today have spanned my two decade career. The girl with the southern drawl speaks often with reporters in New York, LA, and DC and every city in between. With the rise of social media, those relationships have become even more important as we recall the phone pitch and complain about the number of emails that often get deleted after reading the first sentence.

My first big dive into the world of publishing and authors was with David L. Steward, author of the Doing Business by the Good Book. Mr. Steward is a quite billionaire entrepreneur in St. Louis who is the founder of WWT. I was introduced to him by Earl Graves, Sr. in Dallas at a conference. Mr. Steward was named the number one Black owned business that year (2001) and I was impressed with his humility and compassion for others in spite of the title that was bestowed on him.

He taught a Sunday school class, every Sunday, called Doing Business by the Good Book. He taught his class to everyday business owners and showed by example how he modeled his company based on biblical principles. After meeting him, I attended his class and knew he was on to something. The book deal was brokered by a member of his class,and I was asked to help promote it. His words to me were "promote me like you do Holmes Pest Control!" He had done his research on me and knew how passionate I was about my environmental pest control business. My company was successful despite all of the odds of me not succeeding in the pest control industry.

George H. Bush was asked to write the foreword to the book. At that time, the Bush name carried much clout, and this was considered a home run in the publishing world. DBBTGB was not only promoted in the faith community but was a leadership manual for servant leadership study within many large corporations like Dell, Microsoft, and Johnson & Johnson to name a few.

DBBTGB tells Mr. Steward's story of being a 'nobody' top sales person working for FedEx and with no prior knowledge of the technology biz, to his thirteen year journey through tough economic challenges to becoming the largest Black owned business in the country. Not Oprah folks, David L. Steward. He was ranked in Forbes and Fortune magazines. I still refer to him as my gentle giant. He is soft spoken and never allowed his billionaire status to corrupt his values. I am still learning from him.

Because of his humility, he was easy to work with and did not come with a list of demands. Coordinating his schedule for promoting the book was the tricky part but the first year was a learning curve. He gave away more than he sold as the case with most first time authors. After a few book signings with George H. Bush and several bookings on local TV and radio stations, the book sales started to rise significantly. Being around such powerful individuals got me in front of many and led me to work and promote others who had similar books or was transitioning from CEO corporate leadership to faith base and marketplace ministry.

We hit our target market by booking him for speaking engagements at business conferences and several large business schools where he was the keynote speaker. He is booked six to twelve times a year for fundraisers for non-profits and business conferences and a minimum book order is required. Books are shipped two months in advance so that organization can sell the books as part of their fundraiser. Prepaid Legal ordered several thousand for one of their annual conferences one year. This helps the group cut costs and promotes his visit as well as the book. The buzz about the book is built ahead of time and it makes for good discussions if you have Q&A time set aside.

Press releases are sent eight weeks in advance as well as contacting local radio and TV stations. This doubles the sale of the books as well as builds the name of the charity. (Make sure the charity or organization is worth the work.)

As a promoter of the author and the book, follow up is essential. Most authors do not have a promoter but there are some things you can do yourself.

1. If you agree to speak for an organization, make sure they order a certain number of books up front. I often find if they are serious about you coming, they will order the books.

2. Contact local radio and TV yourself. Do not leave the promoting of you to another person. Send a signed copy of the book to the show host as well as the producer, AND the person who takes the call. The assistant to the host has the power folks!!

3. List your upcoming engagement, in every paper in the town or city. Do not expect others to do it. The difference between selling a book and a hundred books is making sure you hit the daily as well as the local weekly community papers. Community papers will often give you more detailed study so do not leave them out.

4. With the rise of blogs, bloggers are an excellent choice for book reviews. Ask fellow bloggers to mention your book on their blogs. Give the JPEG of your book to those who are willing to write about it. A picture is worth a thousand words. Do not ask someone to pay for a book that you want to have reviewed. You will not get a review, I promise you. (Ask me how I know that?)

5. Be consistent. I find it frustrating to deal with on and off authors. If you are going to write a book, 'Just do it'. Talk is cheap. I know several authors who have been writing a book for ten years. When I see them at business conferences, I try to find the nearest exit. They want to talk about their imaginary book that they want me to help them promote for free! In my office, we call them ‘Gonnas’. "I am going to" (fill in blank.)

6. If you are not journaling or blogging every day, I would make that one of my top goals in '09. My favorite journal is from Great for making sure you get all those great details out of your head. Tell them I sent you.

One of my favorite authors is Henrietta Anne Klauser. Her book Write it Down, Make it Happen should be a requirement for anyone interested in publishing a book. On my desk is my journal, my study bible and her book. Following her suggestions helped me get into the publishing business myself. Remember the advice I was given by my first boss, Carol Wior, "Learned every aspect of the business, don't be a pretty face with an empty head." After pitching Mr. Steward to countless magazines and writing for numerous publications on various subject topics, I took the plunge into the world of magazines and started a new career.

Now, if I can go from skinny swimwear model, to environmental pest control, to flying around with a billionaire to a magazine, all with a southern drawl that someone from the Philippines would immediately know I was from Mississippi, what is stopping YOU from publishing your book?

Overcoming doubt and finding the funds to publish is what I hear the most from potential authors that keep them from publishing their baby.

I think everyone has a book inside of them waiting to be birthed. Why? We all have stories that have shaped our lives and our world view that can impact others in a positive way. I am not in the business of being a dream crasher but for the thousands that have heard me speak and ask how to get their work published only a few actually follow through on getting it from thoughts to paper and from paper to book.

I challenge you to not allow circumstances deter you from achieving your dream of being a published author. It takes work and research but I do believe with forums like, several authors can be birthed in 2009. Good luck and I will share more in future posting.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Genma Holmes Luncheon Keynote for 2008 Summit for Sunstainable Tennessee

Nashville, TN - Many voices, one vision at the 2008 Summit for a Sustainable Tennessee
Listen and learn from the chorus of voices coming together for a sustainable Tennessee, November 13-15, at the second annual Summit for a Sustainable Tennessee in Nashville. Sponsored by the Tennessee Environmental Council, Tennessee Conservation Voters and Greener Tennessee, the event will unite participants to bring a common vision for generating a practical
and sustainable plan for all of Tennessee that re-establishes the connection between an improved quality of life, a healthy economy and our natural landscape.

Gathering at the Lipscomb University campus' Ezell Center, Summit organizers have invited citizens from a broad array of backgrounds to participate in three days of breakout sessions, guest speakers (including Mayor Karl Dean and entrepreneur Genma Stringer Holmes) and opportunities to exchange ideas and solutions and
forge new partnerships while finding common ground. Summit participants will focus on sharing best practices, successful working models and case studies to demonstrate the most effective and environmentally sound practices, products and programs in Tennessee. Attendees will include concerned citizens, representatives of private industry, conservation groups, scientists, engineers, environmental policy experts, elected officials, educators, students, artists and community leaders from across the state. Summit participants will identify and prioritize
issues facing Tennessee and outline strategies for addressing them as a unified body. This statewide plan - Thee Sustainability Agenda - will create everyday action items that every Tennessean can use to positively impact our economy, quality of life, environment and natural landscapes. The goal of this year's Summit is to build upon the process created at the 2007 inaugural gathering and to focus on conservation and sustainability as an opportunity for our economy and our state's
health. Protected green space, sustainable land use practices, green energy, transportation, and other technologies and green building methods save money, earn profits, create green jobs and make Tennessee a green place to live and work.
We hope you will join your fellow Tennesseans in discovering how to create a sustainable future.

To read more about this year's Summit and the successes of last year's inaugural gathering, visit

Photo credit: Blair Morgan

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

A day like no other...November 4th

No matter who wins today, November 4, 2008 will be a day like no other. I am volunteering at the polls today. All day. One of my customers owns a bottle water franchise and we did a little bartering. Free pest control for bottled water. That is $585.00 in pest control tender, for those who do not know the dollar value in bug killing terms. My trucks are loaded down with bottled water.

I also managed to get snack crackers from another client who is a local grocer. Mr. Benson thinks I am crazy and was too shocked to say no when I asked him for crackers for some of the older folks in line today and might need a little pick me up. Daddy could make a meal out of saltines, so I figured someone close to his age would appreciate my efforts.

My Mississippi roots are urging me to run find a few cans of sardines to complete my culinary dish but I am pretty sure those standing in line would not savor the odor of the meal most requested by folks that live along Hwy 61 in the Great Magnolia State. Sardines, crackers, and cold water what else would one want while waiting in line for hours to cast a paper ballot that has the value of a cherished, priceless diamond.

My greatest wish today is that everyone vote. No matter how long the line is, no matter how cold or hot, no matter how one might feel about standing in the rain or heat, please vote. My granddaddy was willing to give his life for the right to vote. Joe Jackson is not here but I can hear him asking, "did ya vote?"

This morning, I looked heavenly, and answered, "Yes Daddy, you know I voted!" I pictured him smiling and rocking in his favorite lounger after hearing the only answer I was taught to say. Voting was the only option when you were raised by Joe Jackson. His thoughts will be missed tonight as the polls close and the non-news pundits give their bias on this historic day.

Maybe, I should picked up a few cans of sardines after all. That should help the lines moved faster, I would think.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Why Walk Saturday in downtown Nashville, Tennessee, Oct. 25th?

Because of my granddaddy, Daddy, I have become active with the American Cancer Society. I asked my good friend Ronni to share her story here today.

By Veronica Gliatti
Breast cancer kills.
Breast cancer is the second leading cause of death in American.
1 out of 4 women will be diagnosed and 1 out of 3 in the state of Tennessee with breast cancer.
Infant girls are born every day without the foresight to know what they might be facing in the years to come.

To eradicate cancer, all types, the key is awareness for prevention and funds to research cures. This walk, Saturday, sponsored by the American Cancer Society is to accomplish both. It is aptly called Making Strides against Breast Cancer.

I waited to get involved in this after the fact, after I began treatment for cancer. I have been in treatment since October 2007 and will not completely finish till November of 2008. Do you want to make that same mistake?

I got the news I had a cancerous tumor in my right breast in September 2007. My life was forever changed. Thus began a year with marks on my calendar for doctor appointments, surgeries and chemo therapy sessions. I could not work, could not function without the aid of many drugs to combat the side effects of the drugs needed to kill any remaining cancer cells in my body after a mastectomy. I kept waiting for what the media calls, ‘the good drugs’ but they never came. The reality of battling cancer is to kill a bad cell; many good cells get killed in the process. Along the way, the spirit gets spit on too.

Thus, I choose to take on this cause, raising money and awareness for breast cancer research. My goal is simply that, to make the future prognosis of this horrible disease easier, more timely and the cure within our reach. Each dollar counts, each person walking represents another survivor and every few represent another death at the hands of this diagnosis.

My team is called Make Some Noise. I believe we must all do this, start a chorus that can be heard by everyone, near and far that sings of hope, and of live. Please care enough about this issue to give it a moment of your time; a dollar from your pocket change makes us one step closer to a cure.

If you wait till the day you hear the words “You have cancer” you may have waited a second too long! We need to recognize this disease causes financial hardship on families, an emotional drain on marriages and a killing of the spirit of live. Please walk with me, if not ‘in person’ do it in spirit - in the memory of all the lives that have been lost battling breast cancer in the wonderful land of the free.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Engaging the Community's Involvment with Young People and the Oasis Center

I spent Monday morning sharing with the Willis Group about the importance of their contributions to the United Way. The donations made to the United Way help the youth of Middle Tennessee and the Oasis Center. My daughter, Hurricane Alexis, is gearing up for her fourth year of baking pies for the Oasis Center. Alexis became apart of the Oasis' family in Aug of 2005. As a mom of a teen that has benefited from the generosity of others, I am compelled to share my gratitude and my story with others.

Since that time, I have spent many hours sharing locally, regionally, and nationally about the good deeds of the Oasis Center. For more information about the Oasis Center go to

To schedule a speaker (or me) from the Oasis Center for the your church or civic group contact, Kay Haygood (Faith and Religious Groups) or Hal Cato (corporations or civic groups) you may reach them at 615-327-4455.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

General Colin Powell Shares his Views

In a move straight from the set of the Maverick, General Colin Powell endorses Senator Obama. General Powell, respected by Demos and Repubs alike, broke with the Repub Party and stated that he was voting for Obama. Powell is not the first but he is one of the most influential Repubs that have thrown their support behind the Senator from Illinois.

Here is a quote from the interview:
"Mr. McCain says that he's a washed up terrorist, but then why do we keep talking about him? And why do we have the robocalls going on around the country trying to suggest that because of this very, very limited relationship that Senator Obama has had with Mr. Ayers, somehow Mr. Obama is tainted. What they're trying to connect him to is some kind of terrorist feelings. And I think that's inappropriate. Now, I understand what politics is all about, I know how you can go after one another and that's good. But I think this goes too far, and I think it has made the McCain campaign look a little narrow. It's not what the American people are looking for."

The next two weeks of this campaign will be a nail biter for sure. I am stocking up on my popcorn. Watching how the crazies on the left and right on the don't-believe-a word-they-say-news spend Powell's endorsement is going to be entertaining for sure.

Endorsements for the most part do not matter, but this one can not be overlooked by either side of the isle. As my granddaddy would say, it ain't over 'til it is over.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Second Saturday Ladies

Last fall, I got the opportunity to cover the wonderful Second Saturday Ladies for Inspired Living Magazine. I revisited them to do a 'bread drop'( take bread to the church) a few weeks ago and I thought it would be great to introduce them to the blogsphere.

There is something different about the ladies of Second Saturday. There are no committees to delegate God's work and no annual fund raising luncheon chairperson to acknowledge their good deeds; no gala, yearly ball, fancy invitations or awards to pat each other on the back for a job well done. They are ladies on a mission, a band of sisters, serving sandwiches and love every Second Saturday.

Like most good causes, Second Saturday started from someone's personal trail. The journey began in Vanderbilt Hospital waiting rooms where families sit and wait for hours, even days, on end for their loved ones. Joan Gregory and a friend had both experience the saga of hospital waiting room and a losing a loved one. With her firsthand experience of the stress and misery of hospital waiting rooms, Joan decided to bring cheer and joy to others with a simple bag lunch and a note of encouragement. Thus began a women's ministry.

"We started out with 10 lunches at first...then 25...then 35 sack lunches," says Joan. "Our very first outing was on the second Saturday of the month."

Since the first outing to Vanderbilt Hospital and its eight intensive care waiting rooms, on the second Saturday of each month, like clock work, a group of ladies deliver sack lunches to everyone waiting in the the intensive care unit.

Nearly twenty five years later, over 20,000 lunches have been served. Each sack contains sandwiches on fresh bread, homemade cookies. fruit, mints or candy and a special note card from the Second Saturday ladies: "We realize that IC rooms and situations you're facing today can be very is our prayer that this lunch brings a smile to your face."

Many of the ladies who participate bring their children and grandchildren to learn the art of serving others. The second generation of this ministry is already in training.

The ladies of Second Saturday believe that God chose them to do this work, and it is not about one person. More than making lunches, they are feeding souls. Through simple sandwiches, the ladies are reminding people who are hurting of God's unfailing love. Second Saturday has received thousands of thank you cards and notes, and many people have started similar ministries in their hometowns or churches.

The Second Saturday ladies are a breath of fresh air to everyone in our great city. The families that they touch monthly, in turn touch others. When Daddy was ill and I spent many hours by his side, the work of the women, came to mind often. I longed for them to walk through the doors and say hello. I would have loved one of their famous bologna sandwiches. My time at home with my granddaddy helped me to appreciate the ladies gift of caring for others all the more.

If you ever want to spend time with Second Saturday Ladies, by all means stop by Woodmont Hills, 3710 Franklin. They meet every Second Saturday at 8:45am.

For more info go to
Photos by: Russ Corley

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Say it ain't so; Joe's no plumber

Joe Wurzelbacher, "Joe the plumber", learned a big lesson this week about pollies and the media. Both will stroke your fires when they need air time and flatter you to no end. But the minute they smell the smoke they helped create, they spend the rest of the time throwing gasoline on the fire. "Joe the plumber" needs a fire truck from Engine 212 ASAP.

"Joe the plumber" (as he is know in affectionate and despicable terms at the same time) welcome to fifteen minutes of fame. Joe's name was mentioned twenty six times during the presidential debate on Wednesday night. Thursday morning, Joe was in desperate need of an press agent and a few talking points. By the way, Joe's name is really Samuel which he will probably start using again. He was declared the winner by many, including me, of the final presidential debate. Anytime a plumber consumes the attention of a candidate that has never met him, you are the winner.

The clip of Joe asking the Demo candidate about his tax plan and how it would hurt "his business" was shown hundreds of times by every crazy pundit on cable and network news. He was the toast of the town. But it does not take but a few seconds to burn toast. After a minute of vetting Joe, it has been revealed that Joe does not own a business, does not have a license to do business, and is not required to have a plumber's license. Hold up, wait a minute! I am okay with his questioning taxes and the like, but please have your crap together. Do not give the stupid pundits any reason to make you look like an idiot. It will not be long before we see an exclusive of a few customers who are unhappy with the work that Joe has performed in the past. Say-it-ain't-so-Joe before long, Joe will need a fire hydrant outside his home.

In the pest control industry, we can not service a client's home or business without being certified or licensed. We can not operator a business without a charter which must be inspected by the state. We can not advertise our business without meeting these litmus tests. This is the law. So how is Joe making his money, the pest control operators are asking?

As a business owner in the pest control industry, I would not want an unlicensed, non-certified person representing me or my industry. No, Joe was not speaking for his industry but we are going to forever associate him with plumbers. By the way the national union for plumbers release this statement to The

Plumbers union rips McCain on ‘Joe the Plumber’
By Chris Good
Posted: 10/16/08 03:54 PM [ET]
United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipe Fitting Industry (UA) says Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) "manufactured outrage" over Democratic rival Sen. Barack Obama's (Ill.) tax plan in last night's debate by invoking the now-famous — or infamous — "Joe the Plumber."

"Last night John McCain made Joe the Plumber a household name. His manufactured outrage on behalf of Joe would be a lot more believable if his economic plan had anything to do with helping working people deal with the economic crisis," UA Assistant General President Steve Kelly said in a statement released Thursday afternoon.

The UA union claims to be the first organization of any kind to endorse Obama in the presidential race. It did so Jan. 9, 2008.

Joe Wurzelbacher, the now-famous Toledo, Ohio plumber who sparred with Obama over taxes at a campaign event in his hometown, is not a UA member, a UA staffer told The Hill.

The UA staffer claimed that Wurzelbacher is a member of the Associated Builders & Contractors (ABC), a non-union trade group that has endorsed McCain.

Gail Raiman, vice president of public affairs at ABC, stated in an e-mail that Wurzelbacher reportedly works for Newell Construction in Toledo, Ohio, which is a residential contractor. ABC, Raiman stated, “represents commercial and industrial contractors, not residential contractors.”

Neither Wurzelbacher nor Newell Construction is a member of ABC, Raiman stressed.

The UA staffer noted that Wurzelbacher does not hold a plumber's license in the state of Ohio, though Wurzelbacher says he does not need a license as he works for someone else.

"Unlike McCain's, Obama's outrage for the middle class is real. He will turn us in a new direction, not keep us on the same, tired old path of the Bush years," Kelly said, going on to blast McCain's tax proposal.

"McCain's plan gives massive tax giveaways to CEOs and mega-corporations while leaving working families out in the cold. At a time when our economy is bleeding jobs, McCain also opposes investment in infrastructure spending, which would create good jobs and help put our economy back on solid footing."

Geez. I thought it was crazy killing bugs and dealing with the industry's big bug stompers, I can not imagine the sh**, I mean fallout the plumbers will be dealing with because of their new found media star, Sam...I mean Joe. So much for calling a plumber for the truth.

Go vote, then call a LICENSED pest control company.

A Plumber won the Final Debate of 2008

Joe Wurzelbacher, "Joe the Plumber", was the clear winner of the final debate of the 2008 Presidential election. I thought that it was befitting since so much poop was thrown out that a plumber was truly needed to flush out the truth. As always, I strongly encourage you to check facts before you repeat a statement from either candidate.

A partial list of the major blunders from are listed below:

Spin and hype were apparent, once again, at the third and final debate between McCain and Obama:

* McCain claimed the liberal group ACORN “is now on the verge of maybe perpetrating one of the greatest frauds in voter history ... maybe destroying the fabric of democracy.” In fact, a Republican prosecutor said of the first and biggest ACORN fraud case: “[T]his scheme was not intended to permit illegal voting.” He said $8-an-hour workers turned in made-up voter registration forms rather than doing what ACORN paid them to do.

* McCain said “Joe the plumber” faced “much higher taxes” under Obama’s tax plan and would pay a fine under Obama’s health care plan if he failed to provide coverage for his workers. But Ohio plumber Joe Wurzelbacher would pay higher taxes only if the business he says he wants to buy puts his income over $200,000 a year, and his small business would be exempt from Obama’s requirement to provide coverage for workers.

* Obama repeated a dubious claim that his health care plan will cut the average family’s premiums by $2,500 a year. Experts have found that figure to be overly optimistic.

* McCain claimed that Obama’s real “object” is a government-run, single-payer health insurance system like those in Canada or England. The McCain campaign points to a quote from five years ago, when Obama told a labor gathering that he was “a proponent of a single-payer health care program.” But Obama has since qualified his enthusiasm for Canadian-style health care, and his current proposal is nothing like that.

* Obama incorrectly claimed all of McCain’s ads had been “negative.” That was true for one recent week, but not over the entire campaign. And at times Obama has run a higher percentage of attack ads than McCain.

* McCain described Colombia as the "largest agricultural importer of our products." Actually, Canada imports the most U.S. farm products, and Colombia is far down the list.

* Obama strained to portray himself as willing to break ranks with fellow Democrats. His prime example was his vote for a bill that was supported by 18 Democrats and opposed by 26. Congressional Quarterly rates him as voting with his party 97 percent of the time since becoming a U.S. senator.

A detailed analysis of the debate is listed at The debate was boring and for all the hype given to "whipping his you know what" and the "say it to my face" talk on cable-don't-believe-the pundits-news-networks, the candidates would not have gotten a crowd at my Catholic School playground. No street fighting here. No even a good school yard dust up!

I did appreciate the "kill him" comments being addressed or in this case, not answered. I think all grown men and women should be responsible for their actions. As for McCain's facial expressions, his looks would have made a blind man laugh. Only a few more weeks to go folks, hang in there. In the meantime, if you are looking for the truth call a plumber.


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

It Ain't Over until It's Over

There are sure signs in the air that the talking heads and fake news pundits contracts are coming to a close. Every channel has someone declaring a winner and a loser. November 4 is over two weeks away. Being ahead in the polls does not make one a winner. First lesson in Joe Jackson's school of street fighting politics. It ain't over until it is over. You do not stop campaigning until the campaign is over. You fight to the end.

So what is my beef? We have given away common sense thinking to the 24 news cycle. Gloom and doom or psyche and fear. That is all we hear. McCain may act insane but he has risen from the ashes several times. In a million years, I would never have thought McCain would be the Repub select for 2008. Who knew? I know my man Romney is sitting at home going "what the hell happened?"

Do not forget about 2000? A winner was not declared until several months later. History has a way of revisiting the present.

My granddaddy would have never declared a winner before midnight on the day of election. And that was back in the days of the old trusted paper ballot. No tricked out voting machines in his day. Folks are out buying meat to barbecue already, planning their "galas" for the Demos sweep through out the country. How tacky is that! Mississippi folks know their plan a fish fry with fresh catfish (from the Delta of course)!

It ain't over til it is over! Got to run, today is the first day of early voting in Tennessee.

Just Vote!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Genma Holmes Speaks to McCain's supporter James T. Harris

Last week James T. Harris, a talk show host and McCain's supporter, made national news when he begged McCain to take it to Obama at a rally for McCain. I had never heard of Mr. Harris until the clips of him were replayed repeatedly. I was instantly intrigued and wanted to find out more about him.

Mr. Harris remarks were not something that many have not heard before. What made Mr. Harris stand out was the fact that he was a man of color in sea of white faces yelling "take it to him". The crowd, according to the pundits, were angry and upset. Two other men spoke of their frustrations with the McCain campaign as well, but Mr. Harris got most of the attention from the talking heads and media critics. He has been the subject of several talk shows over the last few days.

On Friday, several national radio programs played Mr. Harris remarks through out the day and left us with much to digest over the weekend. There were many theories on why he would say what he said to the crowd. The cries that he was a plant or paid by the McCain camp from people of color got my investigative juices flowing and I went to work. I did my faithful Internet research and decided to give him a call. I have always been one to get it from the source, the talking heads are paid to spew their mindless garbage and it is hard to know what is the truth from our news junkets anymore. Instead of spending the entire weekend waiting to see how this will be played out on Monday,I decided to ask questions why the topic was hot. God knows, this week, we will have something else to talk about.

Mr. Harris show is on the weekend lineup for his station, 620 WTMJ. After finding his time slot, I waited to see what the fuss was all about. I listened to the first hour of the show and called his producer the second hour. During the first hour, he took calls from only those who supported his statements to McCain. He shared about the level of hate mail and death threats that he was now getting. He asked his callers "did they see anything wrong with what he said"? Now that made me pause, because he stated at the beginning of the show he only wanted to hear from those who supported his statements. The lines were on fire, according to Mr. Harris. This gave me time to listen to his style and check out his website as well. He is a Repub through and through. He was raised in a Demo family but became a Repub later in life. In Nashville, Black Repub capital of America, he would be right at home.

I had two questions for Mr. Harris. I told the producer my first one and saved the second one for on the air. Our initial greetings were pleasantries and nicies (as I was taught by my granddad to say). Manners count when you are from the South. Besides he had the power to cut me off at any time. He mentioned he had a cousin from Mississippi who was concerned about his safety and I went there with the whole "I am from Mississippi too". You may laugh but that one liner has opened more doors for me than I can count. Back to Mr. Harris.

My first question was how does it feel to receive hate mail and death threats the same way Obama gets? Oh, yes I did. I think it is important to understand what others feel and maybe just maybe we can give each other grace. We discussed what he meant about taking Obama on and hitting him where it hurts. My concern with him was that he can say one thing to an audience and the audience may have a different take on the meaning of those words. In Mississippi, an angry crowd of white folks was never a reason for black people to celebrate. We went home and locked our doors and prayed. Many people(black and white, Jew or Gentile)can recall what happens when you see a group of angry folks getting together and wanting to make things happen. My granddaddy told us enough stories that I do not have to go looking for a group of angry people, black or white.

My second question, why he did not wear the attire in his publicity photos to McCain's rally? In his publicity photos, he would have been mistaken for a Muslim easily. He said his wife told him not to wear that. He went on to state that he was in line and one of the organizer recognized him brought up front.

I tried to load the radio link on this post but could not get it to cooperate with me. Hearing it first hand is so much better and you can come to your own conclusion about him. In the link I am providing, if you move the dial button to almost half way, you will get our ten minute conversation. He was pleasant with me.

My concern comes from my years of being a Mississippi brat. You do not agitate a group of angry folks and do not think violence will not happen. If we are going to have a campaign, let us do it with out the mob mentality. Remarks like "kill him" and "off with his head" should be saved for your children football games where cries of dissent are respected and welcomed. Okay, yes I do get rowdy at my kids games but I do not view the opposing team as terrorists.

Whether you are a Demo or Repub the rules are the same. Race baiting is becoming a familiar theme in too many elections. Mr. Harris did not give me an answer about why he did not wear the publicity photo clothing to the event. I have a strong sense that he would not have been on the front row, nor would he have been given a mic to share his views. Less than three weeks left to in the campaign season. Thank God. I do not think I can take any more.

James T. Moore 10-11-08 Hour 2

Monday, October 6, 2008

The Eyes of the Nation Are on Nashville

For the last several months, Belmont University and the city of Nashville have been preparing for the Presidential Debate. There will be viewing parties across the country and throughout our great city. I will be inside seeing the debate live and in person. I have gotten several calls over the weekend asking me to attend several meet and greets, I mean donor parties, for the Presidential Candidates. To meet Obama with Governor Bredesen at his home is going for $2500 and to meet McCain a cool $1500.

I told the supporters since I am still counting my pennies left over from the Wall Street mess, "thanks, but no thanks". I did managed to throw out my media credentials with Inspired Living Magazine and will be able to get a few photos snapped for the media outlet. Daddy would be proud. Not one cent spent to hob nob with the few people with money left in the city.

I will be updating throughout the day on the happenings around the city. Hopefully, no one will suspend their campaign before Tuesday or no late breaking news that the sky is falling.

Friday, October 3, 2008

She stayed on her feet!

Through out the night, I received texts and emails asking how was Governor Palin doing in the VP debate? My answer was the same to everyone, she stayed on her feet. Biden never really knocked her down. She was charming. She put her pageant skills to work and because expectations were so low, she held her own. My granddaddy always said never underestimate your opponent. And the shoes and suit were cute.

Now putting all that aside, I have learned to listen to the candidates but check the facts immediately. As soon as the debate was over, I checked several trusted fact checking websites and here is what I got in summary:

Biden and Palin debated, and both mangled some facts.

* Palin mistakenly claimed that troop levels in Iraq had returned to “pre-surge” levels. Levels are gradually coming down but current plans would have levels higher than pre-surge numbers through early next year, at least.

* Biden incorrectly said “John McCain voted the exact same way” as Obama on a controversial troop funding bill. The two were actually on opposite sides.

* Palin repeated a false claim that Obama once voted in favor of higher taxes on “families” making as little as $42,000 a year. He did not. The budget bill in question called for an increase only on singles making that amount, but a family of four would not have been affected unless they made at least $90,000 a year.

* Biden wrongly claimed that McCain “voted the exact same way” as Obama on the budget bill that contained an increase on singles making as little as $42,000 a year. McCain voted against it. Biden was referring to an amendment that didn't address taxes at that income level.

* Palin claimed McCain’s health care plan would be “budget neutral,” costing the government nothing. Independent budget experts estimate McCain's plan would cost tens of billions each year, though details are too fuzzy to allow for exact estimates.

* Biden wrongly claimed that McCain had said "he wouldn't even sit down" with the president of Spain. Actually, McCain didn't reject a meeting, but simply refused to commit himself one way or the other during an interview.

* Palin wrongly claimed that “millions of small businesses” would see tax increases under Obama’s tax proposals. At most, several hundred thousand business owners would see increases.

Always, check the facts. There is information more than what is mentioned above. Senator Biden looked very secure and was very respectable and Governor Palin looked confident and ready to show that she can think and talk at the same time.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

And the People Cried Out!

Many times in our history, the cries and groans of the people have helped shape policy and laws of the land. The Women's Suffrage movement lead to the Nineteenth Amendment. Cries, shouts, and mass protests from the Civil Rights era gave people of color the right to vote with the signing of Voting Rights Act of 1965. The outrage from many in the late sixties and early seventies helped end our participation in the Vietnam War. The voice of the people will always be heard.

The calls to Congress to vote against the Wall Street bail out are from people crying out "enough" with lies and trickery. I have seen one polly after another admit that they really do not understand what is being asked of them in the bail out package. If the people had not rebelled, our foolish pollies in Washington would have signed a blank check that our unborn children's children know will bounce. We would have given our country away, again, without accountability and transparency. The Secretary of Treasury emerged from a cave to ask us for money that sounded like a gazillion dollars. We are still trying to get our minds around the amount. Had we given in to his demands, that would have been truly naive on the part of Congress and the people. Because we did not give in to his demands, we are being blamed for the huge loss of market value on Wall Street this week. I am not buying what is being sold and seems like many others are thinking the same way.

We have overstretched our military and bankrupted our future trying to save the people of Iraq and constantly justifying the cost of a war that we should never have started. We did not ask enough questions and accepted what we were told as the absolute truth. Our shock from 9/11 allowed our emotions to be used and common sense was thrown out the window. Not this time. The back lash, from the misinformation and out right lies that lead up to the Iraq war, has created a country of skeptics who distrust our elected officials. The cost of the funding of the war is rarely mentioned when we discuss the financial mess we are in. Our pollies have developed amnesia about the daily cost of the war and all of our financial problems are now being blamed on color people who became homeowners. Please, give me a break. 10 billion a month to fund the Iraq war. Are we forgetting that many of the people who are losing their homes are over in Iraq or wounded veterans who can not go back to work?

The cries on Capital Hill that the sky was falling, only on Wall Street by the way, were met by a public that demanded more information and more accountability than we asked for when we were presented the same blank sheet of facts for Iraq. As a country, we are smarter, angrier, and tired of the mind games that are played with taxpayers' money. Our money. We are demanding facts and have realized that the fact presenters are not very good fact checkers.

Honestly, I do not know if the sky is falling. I do know we were told that if Wall Street was not bailed out 16 days ago, we would loose out country. Yet, we still own the country and the President is still residing at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Do I believe that we are in serious financial trouble? Yes. Do I believe giving billions upon billions to one neighborhood street is going to solve our crisis? No.

We bailed out the airlines after 9/11 and we are now being charged for a pillow to fly. We bailed out the automotive industry at one point and we are having more recalls than ever before. Bailing out large industries for the sake of our country, rarely benefits the country. The airlines and the automotive industries are going belly up, jobs are disappearing over seas and workers are being forced out with early retirement options to save the executives at the top.

I called my Senators and Congressional representatives. I am not happy about the financial crisis. I want our country to be safe and financially strong. I suggested that the financial experts do what I do at my home and in business when things are tight, I get on a budget and stick to it. Sounds elementary but it does work.

I left my money in the bank but I am asking more questions of my financial advisers than ever before. I am becoming more educated about my retirement investments and if it does not sound right to me or my kids then you need to keep explaining. If that is too much to ask, I can always go else where with my money.

I am against the bailout as presented the first, second, and third time. I do not understand the bigger picture because it did not make sense. I do agree that something must be done but what, I can not answer at the moment. How it will affect my children's children children, that I do not know either? Hopefully and prayerfully we will get through this crisis, our country is strong and resilient. In 2009, we will have new elected officials with a different mindset on how to handle a crisis and taxpayers' money. Prayerfully. Some of the financial advisers from Wall Street would now make excellent pollies. They would be able to explain to us what happened to all our money when they were working on Wall Street. Then our country will have pollies who can read our country's financial portfolio and understand hogwash from the Secretary of Treasury when it is heard the first time. Hopefully, this will help hold up the sky when it starts to fall again.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Fridays with CEO Fellowship

Every Friday morning, I am out the door to my 6:45 appointment with CEO Fellowship. CEO Fellowhip is a networking group that is focused on your daily walk and not your daily deposits. It is an appointment that I have only missed once in eight months. It is my power hour for me, my family, and my business. I got to get there! Sunny or thundering and lightning, the forty five minute drive to Brentwood is the only drive that I do not complain about the mileage or gas. I come with my note book and pen ready to get my fill of the Word that not only motivates me to be the best I can be, but cuts through the garbage in my head and heart that can not be detective with a smile and hand shake.

Some memorable moments for me in the last few weeks have been Ruby Kalis, Steve Robinson and Nancy Reece. Mr. Kalis made such an impact on my Hurricane Alexis and Baby Boy Corn, that I am still trying to make sense of the effect his presentation had on them. Rudy Kalis is sports director with WSMV. With a house full of athletes, his words from that week have been repeated over and over by kids. "Mom, did you hear him say" is how many conversations with my son and daughter start since they heard him speak in September. I had them as my guests that week hoping something would be said that would make an impact on them. Boy, did I underestimate that one. They have talked about Rudy every week and I find the tv on WSMV instead of ESPN more and more.

Steve Robinson, a director of FCA, made an impact on the kids at several athletic camps over the summer. I realized why the kids respect him so highly after hearing him share his story last week. Steve gave insight about the challenges a CEO faces at home. The room was silent and reflective as Steve shared his life story. His vulnerability before a room full of men and women was courageous and gut wrenching.

Nancy Reece, a sought after speaker, gave me pages and pages of notes from her lesson on leadership. The power of her message left me thinking deeply long after the I left the building. Nancy is with The Human Capital Group and I can see why the company is successful. Nancy's emphasis on integrity was the foundation of her message. There is no way she could have spoken with such authority if that was not her life.

CEO Fellowship has that affect on me since my joining the group. The hugs and smiles are genuine and the honest dialogue is refreshing and renews your spirit after a week of being beat down by the day to day business of doing business. The room is diverse in backgrounds each week but is be unified on the mission of equipping business owners to be better leaders at home and in the marketplace.

We start each meeting with song and praise with Alex Harvey. Lenoard Isaccs turn up the volume making sure each visitor get a dose of laughter and a warm welcome. Carla Ritz keeps us organized and greets everyone with a smile. Jerry Moll brings order and reminds us of the purpose of the group. Joe Green, Chairman, teaches with many examples from his life. Speakers from all spectrum of God's kingdom walk through the doors leaving a piece of themselves behind. There are a host of other volunteers that give of themselves to make sure the meetings are well planned. All done with love and admiration for God's word and to help business owners, executives, and those in career transitions to be better and to do better.

If you are in the Nashville area, we meet every Friday morning at 6:45 rain or shine.
For more information about the group:

Photos by: Stephen Kiern

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Palin Interview...Painful Viewing

Watching Governor Palin's interview was painful to put it lightly. The pundits have repeated the two interviews with Katie Couric as often as possible. Each time I viewed the segments; I cried out,"stop, please, stop!" We get it.

PF (Pray First)Warning: Take two Tylenols before clicking.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Let 's here it for the girls!

Thursday night, several business owners got together to help promote breast cancer awareness and to support a fellow business woman, Veronica Gliatti (Ronni). Nearly a thousand dollars were raised in Veronica's name. Ronni and I are networking maniacs and share the same views about the importance of relationships as you grow your business. I fell in love with her zest and zeal for life. She defies her circumstances and is still undergoing chemo. Ronni is determined to live life to the fullest. She shares her story, victories and struggles, with as many as she can as often as she can. Her ten month old granddaughter, Ava, is one of her greatest motivators to keep fighting the good fight. The bond between Ronni and Ava was obvious to everyone as Ronni spoke to the group about her passion for life and determination to inform others how important it is to raise money for research for new drugs to help cure this dreadful disease.

Because of my dad's mom battle with breast cancer many, many years ago, this is my second year being engaged in the cause.

Recently, Ronni started blogging to chronicle her journey to become employed again. She is courageous to stand strong and proud and shout to the world that I am a survivor. She is a survivor not damaged. Ronni is walking this year in the American Cancer Society's 'Making Strides Walk'. Her team is fittingly called "Make some Noise". Ronni is making much noise about life and living.

Check her blog out at
Photos and Poster by Scott Thomas

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Who are they are polling?

Have you ever gotten a call and been asked who are you voting for? In this day and age of caller-id, who is actually answering their phone if they see a number they do not recognized or, God forbid, "unknown" show up on their caller-id box? Are polltakers real people? I have asked everyone I know and no one has ever gotten a call about their opinion on this election or anything else!

I checked out the Gallup Poll website and the list of "trends" they have polled. When I saw the list, I decided I would help out by calling and giving the names and numbers of several hundred individuals who need to be polled. Demos, Repubs, and Indies alike. All, who would love to tell the world what they are thinking about this never-ending election.

After getting a real live "poller" on the phone, I found it ironic that the very questions they claim to ask others, she seemed to not want to answer them for me. I offered her the numbers of my friends to call. And to be fair and balanced, I included a few customers' (who have not paid their bills) work, home, and cell numbers as well. The Gallup Poll office called me back and said "Thanks but no thanks". I told them that I am not in Alaska but I live in Tennessee, a red state with influential people who need to be included in their polling data.

Since I had the Gallup Poll people on the phone, I asked them a few burning polling questions that Americans are dying to know. What Walmart store allowed them on site to interview their customers? As elusive and media shy as the folks at Bentonville can be, I can not believe they are giving the media as much access to the Walmart moms as being claimed. Another burning question that seems to pop up at my dinner table nightly, what rural areas of the country are the Gallup folks traveling to get the answers from the blue-collar workers? I live in Tennessee and I was born and raised in Mississippi in a two-red-light town and I think I am an expert on rural communities. As a matter of fact, we called it living in the country. "My friends", I know country.

No one in Tennessee or Mississippi have seen a media truck or Gallup poll worker standing outside their home or business waiting to ask a question about this election. As matter of fact, we call those people lost Northerners asking to be shot!

Needless to say, the poller for the Gallup Poll did not want to be polled. But if you are curious about the questions that are supposedly asking Americans who do not answer their phones, I have provided a list for you.

Election Trends by Group:
Overall Candidate Support
Candidate Support by Gender
Candidate Support by Gender Among Whites
Candidate Support by Age
Candidate Support by Region
Candidate Support by Education
Candidate Support by Education Among Whites
Candidate Support by Political Party
Candidate Support by Political Party Among Whites
Candidate Support by Political Party and Ideology
Candidate Support by Political Party and Ideology Among Whites
Candidate Support by Church Attendance Among Whites
Candidate Support by Marital Status
Candidate Support by Marital Status and Gender
Candidate Support by "Red," "Purple," and "Blue" States

No one wants to know my opinion on anything. So if you get a call from the people up North who works for the Gallup Poll office, please record the call. In the meantime, I am headed to Target.

Hillsboro vs. Maplewood, Thursday Night Lights Football Mom Style

Baby Boy, Corn to the world, had a much better week this week. He is still riding the bus and making it home in once piece. Hillsboro played in their second televised game of the season. As I sat in the bleachers watching the game, I noticed that our high school games can garner as much media as the Titans. This game was a rematch of last year's season ender for Hillsboro, so much was at stake.

Hillsboro came on the field with a determination to win and it showed. Corn was in on several plays and I was not as concerned about him as I was last week. I was glad on a few plays he was not in the game because the guys in the heap in green and yellow came off the field looking as if they had tackled bricks instead of muscles. Maplewood boys are not missing any meals.

The sounds of helmets hitting each other and seeing a few being knocked off of players do not make this mom feel good. I love the game and I love watching my kid play but I have my limitations. The highlight of the game, for me, was not Hillsboro winning 28 to Maplewood 12 but the awesome spectacle of Maplewood's band and dancing majorettes. I was reminded of the my years growing up near Alcorn State University in Mississppi. My mom and several relatives were professors there and I have a few cousins that attended the college. Steve McNair, a former Titan, is an alumnus of Alcorn. The half time show was an important part of the game as winning. The majorettes were called Golden Girls and they were known for their dance routines and those fancy gold and purple sequins were known around the SWAC conference. They were the south's Rockettes with soul!

Maplewood majorettes were of that style without being hoochie. Precision and flair were all over the place. It got us up-tight folks our of our seats and the Green Hills crowd shook their tail feathers. Imagine that. The entire band joined in on several numbers and showed us how they do it on the other side of town. I was proud of them and clapped through out every number as if my children were entertaining everyone.

As soon as they finished on the field, I brazenly ran over to the other side with all my Hillsboro football mom attire and asked the moms in the crowd how many of their kids have not registered to vote? I conveniently had a few applications on hand. As I stroked the opposing team mothers and complimented the principle and the band director for such a lively half time show, I was shamelessly promoting getting their kids registered to vote. "It is what we football moms do," I told the crowd that was eying me as if I was smoking something. It worked because several moms took applications, twelve to be exact.

What a night, a win for Corn, a great halftime show, and twelve moms vowed to registered their football players to vote. Not bad for a Thursday night at the game.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Genma Holmes talks to Roland Martin about the Young People Vote

Genma Stringer Holmes speaks with Chicago's WVON host and CNN special correspondent, Roland Martin about the importance of getting young people out to the polls. "We normally ask young people to be poll watchers but poll officials are needed as well. Registering our young people to vote is good but teaching them to be poll officials is even better, " Holmes stated to WVON listening audience. She further stated than many voters do not know that poll officials are compensated for their time.

Holmes believes that the office of the Presidency will be decided by 18-34 year olds voters. This age group is never included in polling data and is rarely mentioned by the pundits. Their vote will be crucible to this election stated Holmes. Holmes is also urging football moms to get their sons (and daughters) to the polls early. Early voting will relieve stress and long lines that usually comes with national elections. In a separate interview, Holmes asked what is the difference between a "football mom" and a rottweiler? With a smile, she said "A weave!".

Martin and Holmes are both speakers for the Essence's 5th Annual Leadership Summit.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Baby Boy had a BAAAAD Week!

My second child, known as Corn to the world, had a week that can only be described as hellish. After warning my son for weeks that he would ride the bus if he did not appreciate me picking him up from school, I pulled the plug on my chauffeuring duties and had him to ride MTA on Monday. Not bad by any means, but if you have gone your entire 17 years of life and never been on the bus, you are in for a rude awakening. Living in Tennessee, the MTA is not that of New York and Chicago. It is cruel by those standards. Since the nearest bus stop is several miles away, I dropped him off at a satellite stop with NO ONE but the wind waiting. He and I looked at each other at 5:21AM and I suddenly regretted my decision to go hard on him and teach him a life lesson. I tried to sound stern when I said, "get out, this is it" but inside I was dying. I waited a few minutes because I was too fearful to leave him.

He nor I knew what I was doing. For the next several days, he got off at the wrong stop, he left school work twice, and there was calls from me to the school to make sure he made it. He got home from football practice and the long bus ride looking as if his mom was a monster from his bad dreams. I had to accept that I had stopped nursing him some years ago and this was needed I told my reflection in the mirror. This was hard for both us because he was my kid without attitudes and a mouth. He was rewarded by being allowed to play sports, any and all the time. Those rewards turned into torture for me because as he got older, he took advantage of his 'practice schedule'. His practice time was also his way of socializing and flirting with the cheerleaders that called out his name on and off the field. He was always late when I came to pick him up. With traffic and other stops along the way, it was starting to look like I was in a prison called 'Waiting on Corn'. I had said over and over that I was going to make him ride the bus but each time I was at the school sitting and waiting. After a month into this new school year, I said enough is a enough.

Why he does not drive you are thinking? Because of his 'practice schedule', most things were done for him. He is not the most responsible one that I raised. He had less chores than the other children but then again he was never in trouble. This slight form of favoritism had a downside. He would lose any and every thing; cell phones, keys, book bags, money, cleats, you name it. The thought of him driving a vehicle that was insured through my business was a no,no. He plays sports, study his school work and works part time. Mom feed him and take care the details of life. He is not creative and independent like Hurricane Alexis nor is he focused on deep psychological conversations about the molecular structure of matter like Dr. Franz. He is consumed with football and any other sports that had a ball, as well as statistical analysis of the preseason predictions. From infancy, I noticed he was interested in feeding time and needing a ball for comfort. I provided both readily.

Once he became a teen, things did not change except girls came with his love of sports and the need to feed. The girls are all friends I am told often. I nod my head as if I am from Mars, of course. He now plays football at Hillsboro. He wants to be a sports journalist.

Last night, the game against MBA was one for the record books. I stood in the stands the entire last quarter. I could see the frustration the team was feeling. Miscues, fumbles and interceptions galore dogged Hillsboro throughout the night. My eyes were focused on jersey number 28. His pacing was killing me. When he got in the game, it was not for long because MBA would get the ball back within a play or two. Corn plays offense and defense. With 4:26 on the clock, the ball was turned over to Hillsboro and there was a cry from the stands that maybe we had a chance. The Boros got to the ten yard line but MBA's 'wall of steel' would not let them in the end zone. An interception, in the last minute of the game, sealed the deal. MBA 19, Hillsboro 14.

I walked out on the field like I have done hundreds of times in the past and gave him a pat on the butt. (I was forbidden to hug him many seasons ago.) I gave him an encouraging spill about the game was hard fought. He told me he felt he could have done better. We walked silently to the truck and I can feel his thoughts. My baby boy had a baaaad week! I wondered quietly if I had helped contribute to Hillsboro's lost by deciding he had to ride the bus.

This morning, he came into my home office at 6:00AM and asked for a ride to the school. He wanted to review the film of the previous night's game and practice for an hour. The bus does not have a Saturday schedule he informed me. He told me that he wanted to do better and he needed to get in some extra practice time. Because he usually works most Saturdays, this was the first week he was able to review film. His normal 8 hour Saturday has now been stretched to 12 and he seemed eager to get started. Baby boy is growing up. I got up right away to feed him!

What? I am his mom and some things are hard to change in one week.
Photos by Dipti Vaidya

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Free and the Brave

As we pause to remember those who lost their lives seven years ago, let us also remember the living. Our families and friends who are still alive. Reach out to your love ones and give them a "hello, how are you?" I can remember where I was on the morning of 9/11. And my first thoughts were of my children and my extended family. I was on the phone with Carolyn Waller and we were planning an art show at her gallery.

We were shocked and dismayed and started frantically calling everyone we knew. Carolyn made a decision later on that evening that still amazes me seven years later. She decided to the do the show as scheduled for later that month. Folks, no one was buying art after 9/11. Yet, Carolyn decided to do the show and had several prints on hand of photos of New York City before 9/11. She said we need to get together and celebrate life. The show was a huge success. I learned something from her that month. The living must keep living and we must find time to celebrate each other lives.

My thoughts of my granddad naturally comes to mind today. As much as I miss one of the most influential people in my life who helped shaped and mold me into the person I am, I know he would want me to continue to live the best life possible. Memories of him will always be close to my heart. So hug a love one today, as we honor those who sacrificed their lives to save others. And despite our differences,we are still in the land of the free and the brave.

Monday, September 8, 2008

From Good to Great: Taking it a Step Further than Registering Voters!

In Nashville, voter registration drives are in full swing. That is good. But this election, we need to strive for greatness. As citizens, we have to go a few steps further than registering voters. We have to make sure they come back to the polls to vote in November and train our young people to not only be registered voters but to work the polls as well.

How often have we encouraged individuals to work for the county, state, or federal elections? How many of us ever wondered who are the people who work the polls and how did they get the job? I had a friend tell me she thought poll workers were volunteers. Many of us do not know the process or that it is a paid position.

This year, young people ages 18-34 will be a deciding factor in the this election. No matter what party they vote for, I am advocating that they vote. I have voted since I was 18 and it is one of my greatest joys in life to participate in electing local, state, and national leaders. I am convinced more and more that young people are truly our future and they need to see our government at work at the ground level. My grandfather believed strongly in the power of the vote and he never let an election go by without being involved in voter registration drives. The ground level has always been at the polls with me. Voting is one of the foundations of our democracy.

We need to have young people employed at the polls to help not only bridge the technology gap but the widening age spasm with the number of new voters voting in this election. I am going full court in making sure that as many young people as possible know that they can be trained and employed to work the polls. (Our young people today are our next generation of leaders). Imagine how fast the lines will go if we had younger, more agile people working!!! I am hitting the streets and airwaves to let others know that in Davidson County alone, they need 500 new poll workers for the Nov. 4 election. The training classes and more information will be forth coming. It would be wonderful to have others to partner with as well in getting this info in the hands of the 18-34 year old voters.

Demos and Repubs alike are racking up huge numbers in new voter registrations. With that type of growth, and the constant reminders of the long lines at polling booths on election day; we must have poll workers who represent the diversity in our communities, who are technology savvy and can bridge culture gaps between old and young.

When my oldest son voted for the first time, it was a learning experience for all of us. I taught him to not only vote but to take others with you and boy did he! After voting early, he went back to campus and rounded up his track teammates to cast their first votes. As exciting as it sounded initially to the young 18-20 year olds voting in their first presidential election, they were hit with reality when they met a staff of middle age women who felt a bit intimidated by the group. Young, strong, sweaty from practice and talking above the whisper guide lines, the guys piled into the office wanting to received their paperwork to fill out the forms for their voter cards. What transpired, after the initial ask for the papers, was a clash of cultures and a view of life from different lenses.

My son said it was "okay" until they were questioned about why they were voting and if the information on their driver license were their actual addresses. "They questioned us as if we were doing something wrong", my man child stated to me on the phone. The more the young men were questioned, the more they got upset and felt 'disrespected'. Many wanted to leave and say forget it. I stayed on the phone and talked to them until everyone had voted.

Out of concern and curiosity , I paid the election office a visit the next day. The women versions of events were the exactly opposite of the team. They noted their attire and I was told the boys, you are actually a man at 18, were loud, rude and 'disrespectful'. I saw both sides of the story. I wanted them to know that my son voted for the first time and I was proud of him for bringing his friends in to vote also. I thanked them for their service and apologized for any misunderstanding.

I believe that both groups saw what they saw. Our perception is our reality.

My son's story does not have to be repeated. If we employ young and old alike at the polls, we will have less confusion and less misinterpretation of words and actions. This election will have millions of young people voting for the first time. I want them to leave the polls believing they contributed to making this country great. By seeing others like them working the polls can be a start and we can also put a dent in the time we spend complaining in the lines on election day. Voting early takes the guess work and stress out of any hiccups or surprises that may occur at the polls when we wait to the day of.

My youngest son will be voting for the first time this year. I am excited as I was when he began school twelve years ago. His older brother will be a poll worker. My sons and I are making sure that we keep my grandfather's legacy alive by registering voters, encouraging early voting and working the polls. Will you join us?

For info about becoming a poll worker in Metro Nashville go to:

Sunday, September 7, 2008

El Llamado de Dios, Spanish Out Reach attended by Hundreds

My dear friends, Leoncio and Amy Dominguez, sent out an SOS several weeks ago asking for volunteers to help with their Spanish Outreach Ministry. For many years, Leoncio and Amy have been dragon slayers in the Nashville's Spanish speaking community. Working where ever God pulls them. Helping those that hurt silently with love, kindness, and gentleness. Whether it is a family in crisis, immigration issues, help with a husband's job hunt, a wife in need , or child gone astray; they seem to always be there for others to lend a hand, a shoulder to cry on or give wise counsel. It was an honor to volunteer for this event that they have been working on for sometime.

I found myself fretting over my Spanish towards the end of the week until a friend reminded me that it was not my Spanish that was needed. That put an end to my worries instantly. I came with my handshakes, a ready smile, a confident "hola!" and lots of hugs and managed to greet everyone who entered Madison COC. When people know you care, what language you speak does not matter. The two day event, Friday and Saturday, was filled with Latinos and Hispanics from all walks of life and from every country imaginable. Diversity is alive and well in the great land of the USA. The stories of why they came that night was as varied as the dialects and nationalities.

From educators and college students, to cab drivers, business owners, and cooks, they all piled into Bixler Chapel to hear words of encouragement and "God's Calling". The keynote speakers for the event were Magda Basanez originally from Veracruz, Mexico and Nelson Galarragna originally from Venezuela and now leads a ministry with his wife in Atlanta, Georgia.

The children were kept busy with games and activities and MCOC basketball court was turned into an indoor soccer arena. It was amazing watching the teams dribble the soccer ball and shooting in the nets while waiting for their teams to be announced. Kids are funny and watching them transit from one game to the next without hesitation was entertaining. I rooted for my favorite new soccer team and no one seem to mind that my Spanish was not their Spanish. I found a friend in Alma right away. One of two girls on a team with sixteen boys. I was smitten at 'hola!' and seems as if she was too. She smiled all night and I shouted 'girl power' every time she got on the floor. A cheering mom can never stop cheering, even if it is not her kid!

Leoncio and Amy are heroes to so many and it is wonderful seeing the impact they are making in the lives of others.

Amy and Leoncio can be contacted at
Photos credit

Saturday, September 6, 2008

RNC...Palin, God, Country and Answered Prayers

As I watched the convention on C-SPAN (of course), I could not help but notice the difference between the RNC and the DNC. The RNC lacked diversity and the rush to showcase women and give them seats up front was obvious. The highlight of the convention was Governor Sarah Palin and her youngest daughter was the scene stealer hands down. While mom delivered several one line zingers that brought the house down, Piper Palin giving her brother a comb over with a lick gave the morning talk shows the warm fuzzy news for the next day.

One thing the Repubs got this past week, for sure, was a real live walking nuclear weapon with Governor Palin. I knew God, country, and babies were going to be up front and center but this was truly a moment for the evangelical community as well as the Grand Ole Party. It was equivalent to the parting of the Red Sea. If I know nothing else, I know that McCain has been praying for a miracle and God showed up and showed out and then some. Who knew a woman would resurrect the dead and give sight to those who were losing their vision and give energy to the masses at the RNC who got off the plane feeling weak and tired? Palin, a real mom with real women issues, was a hard act to follow. McCain and the green screen could have done a 'Bush no show' and no one would have noticed. Palin was the deal breaker.

The music was patriotic and what I knew all along was confirmed, the folks at the RNC are not fans of 'Dancing with the Stars'. Music with a beat was not on display. More hand clapping and foot stomping filled the air. Even Carrie Underwood would have been a little out of touch with this crowd rhythmically.

The speakers never quite hit the mark according to the pundits who spent a week prior covering the DNC. If you follow my ramblings, you know how I feel about pundits so I will not comment on their comments. The theme "Country First" was put on the back burner the first day, and the Weather Channel seemed to be what everyone was tuned into. Thank God, Gustva spared New Orleans but other areas were hit hard and millions in damages still occurred. Governors Jindal, Perry, and Barbour skipped the festivities to tended to their flocks. You got to love Red State Governors who care more about their people than their party politics. While the convention was tempered to not appear too upbeat, balloons and confetti were the most exciting thing before or after Palin.

McCain threw a Hail Mary and by all other standards the convention was a success. The RNC rallied its base and left many wondering who will occupy 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in January. This will be a battle for the White House like none we have ever seen.

While all the cameras were pointed away from Washington, Vice President Cheney managed to slip out the country to do rebuilding assessments. With all the talk of Gustva, Governor Palin, the RNC, and teen pregnancies now being blessed by God and the evangelicals, my gun shooting VP Cheney managed to take a billion dollars cash to Georgia. Not Georgia in the USA, not even New Orleans, but Georgia that I did not know was a country Georgia. Now if that does not make you pause and think, then all this talk about "Country First" was for nothing. Millions were spent to tell us that the Repubs care about the USA. Millions. But in the end, a billion was sent to another country that many of us did not know existed. Wow, the power of the Vice President!

Thanks to the RNC and it show casing how important the Vice President choice will be in this election, I am giving the VP candidates as much or more attention than I ever had before. Pit bulls wearing lipstick have a new meaning.

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