Photo by Valentino Funghi
Memorial Day: Remember and Honor
Often conflated with Veterans Day, which pays tribute to military veterans every November 11th, Memorial Day is the day we honor the women and men who died while serving in the US Armed Forces in all wars.
There are some things that Gold Star families want you to know this Memorial Day. From the Military Times,
"In today's world, some think Memorial Day is solely dedicated to the fallen from decades-old wars...'Freedom is not free,' and in our post 9/11 world, personal freedoms can't be taken for granted. All currently serving military personnel contribute in some way to protecting our freedoms; some pay dearly. Memorial Day is for honouring those who have recently died, too."
The origins of Memorial Day, initially called Decoration Day, date back to the Civil War - where the custom of decorating the graves of lost soldiers began. Its date (formally May 30th although always recognized at the end of May) was chosen expressly because it wasn’t associated with a specific battle. It became an official holiday in 1971.
Progress takes time...
LEST WE EVER FORGET
Quarantine won't stop us from remembering the fallen on Memorial Day
Memorial Day will be different this year. There may not be any large gatherings or services in France but we can still honor the men and women who lost their lives defending our freedoms.
Sleep, comrades, sleep and rest
On this Field of the Grounded Arms,
Where foes no more molest,
Nor sentry's shot alarms!
Ye have slept on the ground before,
And started to your feet
At the cannon's sudden roar,
Or the drum's redoubling beat.
Decoration Day by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Democrats Abroad France will be sending wreaths to be laid by the cemetery staff during small ceremonies around the country: Lafayette Monument and in Suresnes, Belleau Wood, Oise-Aisne, Meuse-Argonne. In the Tarn, flowers will be laid at the graves of the two OSS Commandos downed during WWII.
Wreaths will also be laid at the graves of those who died during World War I:
At the Lafayette Monument, Carter Ovington, a pilot who was downed and was never recovered will be remembered. He has a tomb in the crypt but is special in that he is M.I.A.
At Suresnes, Private Mitchell Davis will be remembered. A Howard University Law Graduate and one of the Afro-American soldiers who died during the “Spanish Flu” pandemic in 1918, he wrote a book entitled "One Hundred Choice Quotations" by Prominent Men and Women of the Negro Race:
"Through avalanches of prejudices; industrial barriers; professional intrigues; legal technicalities; diplomatic effronteries, and political buffetings, the American Negro has, at last arrived before the public eye, as a factor not easily to be evaded."
- One Hundred Choice Quotations by Prominent Men and Women of the Negro Race, 1917 by Mitchell Davis
At Belleau Wood, PVT Hercules Grays from the 369th Infantry Regiment also known as the “Harlem hellfighters” will be remembered. You can find more information on this unit here.
Another Afro-American, Private William Cuff will be honored at Oise-Asne. He is a recipient (Posthumous) of the American Distinguished Service Cross and the French Croix de Guerre with Bronze Star.
Also, consider posting pictures on social media of those you wish to honor and remember on Memorial Day. Or, ask those who were going to participate in a service to share a message from their home.
Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders named the co-chairs and members of their joint task forces — including AOC and SecState John Kerry as Co-Chairs on Climate Change. The task forces “will meet in advance of the Democratic National Convention to make recommendations to the DNC Platform Committee” and to Biden directly.
Biden said in a statement that a “united party is key to defeating” the president in six months, as well as “moving our country forward through an unprecedented crisis.” The task forces “will be essential to identifying ways to build on our progress and not simply turn the clock back to a time before Donald Trump, but transform our country,” he said.
“In the midst of the unprecedented economic and pandemic crises we face, the Democratic Party must think big, act boldly, and fight to change the direction of this country,” Sanders said in his statement, adding: “I commend Joe Biden for working together with my campaign to assemble a group of leading thinkers and activists who can and will unify our party in a transformational and progressive direction.”
The EMEA Regional Convention took place virtually all day Saturday May 16. Congratulations to the following representatives from EMEA who have just been elected to join the Democrats Abroad 2020 DNC delegation, be a 2020-2024 DNC member, or join the DA 2020 Global Platform committee:
⭐ 2020-2024 Democrats Abroad DNC member - Katie Solon (DE)
⭐ 2020 DA Sanders delegates - Diego Rivas (DE), Anne Dlugosz (FR), Farid Ben Amor (CH)
⭐ 2020 DA Biden delegates - Juan Cerda (AT), Marisa Grimes (RW), Onelica Andrade (BE)
⭐ 2020 DA Platform committee members - Heather Stone (IL) & Nathan Zaccai (UK)
• • •
POLITICAL FORUM: ELECTIONS 2020
Tuesday, May 19 @ 7P
Join Political Forum host Jean-Pierre LaRochelle as he lays out the electoral math and likely paths to winning the White House in November. We will also discuss key Senate and State races up for grabs.
Email questions: email@example.com.
• • •
ELECTIONS DATA WHIZ: DAVID SHOR
Friday, May 22 @ 3:30P France
Can data analytics tell us where we need to be by November 2020? How will the coronavirus pandemic change campaigning and polling? What are the best messages to persuade people to vote? As a young whiz on former President Barack Obama's data analytics team in the 2012 election, David Shor predicted the results within 1 percentage point in all 50 states. Have a question for David? Email it here.
• • •
PHONEBANKING FRANCE WITH THE YOUTH CAUCUS
Saturday, May 23
1-2PM - Phonebanking Training
2-5PM - Phonebanking, Q&A
Help us call thousands of US voters in France to make sure they are registered and ready to vote this fall!
• • •
POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, AUTHOR, ACTIVIST:
Friday May 29th, 2020 @ 5PM France
Robert Reich’s political and government experience spans decades, including serving on President Barack Obama's economic transition advisory board and four years as Secretary of Labor under President Bill Clinton. A prolific and bestselling author, Reich has published more than a dozen books and has co-created two award-winning Netflix documentaries, Inequality for All and Saving Capitalism. His new book, The System: Who Rigged It, and How We Fix It analyses how we came to the current fraught economic and political situation, and how we can change the system to serve the many rather than the elite few.
Have a question for Robert? Email it here.
• • •
GLOBAL LGBTQI CAUCUS: SOLIDARITY SUNDAY
LGBTQI CIVIL RIGHTS PIONEER
"THIS IS NOT MY FIRST PANDEMIC”
Sunday, May 31 @ 5PM France
Cleve will discuss and draw the parallels between the AIDS and COVID-19 government then and now. Both pandemics began with a Republican president in the White House who did not perceive the gravity of the situation and failed to lead the country. Hosted by the Global LGBTQI Caucus and DA Austria.
Happy Asian Pacific American Heritage Month! As we celebrate the Asian and Pacific Islander American experience, it's important to understand the spike in racist attacks and hate crimes people in this community are experiencing. Read more about it, and what to do about it, in Quyen Ngyen’s (Colombia) first-hand account “Racism doesn’t exist here.”
An Asian American/Pacific Islander Caucus is being formed at the DA Global level -- within DA France, caucus members are a part of our Diversity Caucus. Please email Ada Shen at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in helping with the AAPI global caucus from France. All are welcome.
To find out more about Democrats Abroad Global Caucuses and to join, please see here.
Rapid Response Needed: Destroy the Post Office, and you destroy democracy. We must take action to save the USPS, here, and to learn how to use ResistBot at the same time. “Simply put, if you hate the Post Office then you hate America.... We need to all lean on our members of Congress — regardless of party — to lean on the White House to save our Post Office before September.”
The working draft of the 2020 Democrats Abroad Platform is now available(click here to download and open the PDF file): Draft - 2020 Platform. The platform expresses DA’s political values and policy goals, and is the result of over 10,000 comments submitted over the past six months. Please provide YOUR comment here: Platform Feedback Form. Please respond by May 15, ideally, as electors will vote on the platform during the DA Regional Conventions (May 16) and Global Convention (June 6).
POLITICAL FORUM: ELECTIONS 2020
Tuesday, May 19 @ 7:00pm
Join Political Forum host Jean-Pierre LaRochelle as he lays out the electoral math and likely paths to winning the White House in November. Email questions:email@example.com.
There's More To Come in May!
Keep your eyes peeled for notices from DA Global (firstname.lastname@example.org) about upcoming webinars with these amazing speakers.
- Elections data whiz, David Shor - Friday, May 22 - details TBA
- Economist, Author, former US Labor Secretary, Robert Reich - Friday, May 29 - details TBA
Did you know that US overseas voters must register/request their ballot every calendar year they want to vote?
👉Phonebanking thousands of US voters across France is underway, to make sure those requests are in. Want to help make calls? Get started with phonebanking, here.
👉Need to register/request a ballot yourself? Go to www.Votefromabroad.org.
Want to volunteer? Click here.
To donate to DA France: Click here.
THANK YOU for your support.
Please take action today to save the United States Postal Service. We need to protect our votes!
The United States Postal Service (USPS) is in a dire situation. According to the Postmaster General, between June and September of this year the USPS will run out of money and will be forced to cease operations. This, only months ahead of the November General Election.
Needless to say, without a functioning postal service, our votes from abroad will be effectively suppressed.
The USPS has had operating issues for over a decade. However, the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic have gravely exacerbated the issue of decreased volumes that has plagued the agency over the past years.
Unsurprisingly, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and Republican Members of Congress have to-date refused to include the Postal Service in any coronavirus relief legislation, privatizing mail delivery being a long-term goal of the conservative movement. Donald Trump reportedly had said that he would block emergency funding for the agency, putting at risk the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) if the legislation had contained any money directed to bail out the postal agency.
In this critical election year where we need every vote to be counted, we cannot standby and allow the next Coronavirus stimulus bill to exclude full funding and protection for the USPS and the vote-by-mail ballots sent by overseas voters.
Here is a quick, easy action that we all can take today! Use Resistbot to send an email to each of your Members of Congress. Resistbot will find out who represents you in Congress, turn your text into an email and deliver it to your representatives. 1-2-3.Read more
Want to know what is going on in April?
We are launching National Events & News featuring virtual events and info for all DA France members nationally. New to real-time web videoconferencing? DA virtual events are usually conducted via WebEx (download WebEx Meetings here), or via Zoom (download Zoom Client for Meetings here).
A couple of Presidential primary campaign updates: on April 8, Bernie Sanders suspended his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, making Joe Biden the presumptive Democratic nominee for President. The Sanders campaign has now confirmed to Democrats Abroad that they will continue with the DA delegate selection process, and will carry their DA delegates to the Democratic National Convention in mid-August. As announced last month, DA’s Global Presidential Primary resulted in Bernie Sanders winning 57.9%, earning 9 pledged delegates, and Biden winning 22.7%, earning 4 pledged delegates — this remains unchanged by Sanders’ campaign suspension. For information on how to run to be a delegate supporting Bernie or Biden, please see here. Note: the deadline for submissions is April 17.
Additionally, Biden for President Campaign Manager Greg Schultz will be joining DA for a global webinar on April 17 at 3PM France time -- save the date, details to be announced.
At the end of March, Congress passed the “Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act”, a $2 T relief package for individuals and businesses negatively impacted by the coronavirus outbreak. Congressional Democrats fought to make sure this third relief package put workers and families ahead of corporations. The Democrats Abroad Tax Team has put together a FAQ on the CARES Act and relief for Americans abroad. Democrats in Congress continue to work on a fourth package that would provide additional relief to unemployed workers, farmers, families, and frontline health care workers, and provide badly needed funding for hospitals and state and local governments.
Please also see this message from the US Embassy, shared with you at their request, reminding that the official guidance to Americans who want to return to the US is that they should do so now, or be prepared to remain where they are indefinitely.
Are you registered to vote for US elections this November? Are you SURE?Make sure you are registered, do it now. Get everything you need at votefromabroad.org. The stakes could not be higher this November.
SUPER TUESDAY was just the beginning of the 2020 Global Primary in-person voting!
From March 3 through 10, Voting Center and ballot assistance events were open across France. DA France held twenty-eight events, of which ten events were held in Paris so that voters around the Paris region could cast their ballot - including for the first time ballot assistance events in the western suburbs of Saint Germain en Laye and Le Vesinet.
Added to Voting Centers in established chapters - Aix-Marseille, Avignon, Bordeaux, Grenoble, Normandy, Riviera, Strasbourg, Toulouse - chapters in Brittany, Lyon, and Montpellier held their inaugural polling stations. The Normandy chapter reached FAR out to provide assistance to voters in Lille.
On Super Tuesday, we saw an outpouring of voters who wanted to cast their ballot for their preferred presidential candidate. In Paris alone, at the American Church of Paris, there was a 50% increase in voter turnout compared with 2016. Not to mention the thousands of votes that arrived via email, mail and fax through the end of voting on March 10!
But Voting Centers don't just happen. Lots of planning and hard work go into making the primary voting go smoothly! From printing the ballots, setting up the voting centers, greeting voters, providing information, managing voter lines, interviews, monitoring the voting...to tallying the ballots and sending the validated ballots to the Global GPP Team!
We want to thank the volunteers who helped SuperTuesday through SuperSaturday voting go so smoothly across France. And when the last vote is cast, the DAFrance leaders and voting center managers still had plenty to do to make sure that every vote is counted. Hats off to our leadership who have made this #GlobalPrimary week a success!
Many of you who are reading this blog may be among of our new members! Democrats Abroad France has had a 24% lift in membership since late January, driven by the keen interest in Democratic voters in France to be engaged in the nomination process. Having their vote carry up to 4 times the weight of a vote in their voting states, the excitement of voting in-person during this critical presidential election year, and having their ballot counted as a Super Tuesday vote, no doubt drove the unprecedented interest by voters abroad...in France and around the world!
If the outpouring of interest both abroad and in the US is an indication of the mobilization possible among Democratic voters, we can win in November! Stay engaged! Would you live to get involved in our Get Out the Vote efforts in 2020? Fill in our Volunteer form!
Thanks to the photographers who captured these moments...and many others! Paris: Meagan Lopez, Melissa Short; Lyon: James Colburn; Nice: Robert Flores
Don’t Miss Election Emails from Democrats Abroad! Check your SPAM folder, and your Promotions tab if using Gmail. You can whitelist Democrats Abroad by moving the email from SPAM (or Promotions tab in Gmail) back into your Inbox, and by adding email@example.com and Info-France@democratsabroad.orgto your contacts.
BLACK HISTORY MONTH 2020: ART AND EDUCATION IN A TURBULENT ERA by Jake Lamar
We live in paradoxical times. Twenty years into the twenty-first century, remembrance and public recognition of the legacy of slavery and racial oppression are more frequent while, at the same time, the backlash against such acknowledgment grows more intense. Last year, I heard a young American pundit suggest that an overzealous Black History course in a New York school risked guilt-tripping white students so badly that they might, in a strange defensive transformation, become racists themselves. It was a theory I found, to say the least, unconvincing.
I was a New York high school student when Black History Month became a regular part of the American curriculum in the 1970s. The whole point of the February commemoration was to rescue from the shadows the accomplishments of members of the African diaspora in the USA and beyond while analyzing the brutal racial caste system incarnated by slavery, colonialism, segregation and the terror of state and mob violence. Survival, achievement, excellence in the face of dehumanizing systems of law and belief: this is what Black History Month recognizes and celebrates. My intellect was infinitely nourished by what I learned in those high school lessons. I can't speak for my fellow students but I certainly don't remember my white classmates being traumatized by guilt or turned into racists by the education they received.
It was most likely during Black History Month lessons that I first learned about such brilliant African American artists as Henry Ossawa Tanner and Lois Mailou Jones, Augusta Savage and Jacob Lawrence, Romare Bearden and Laura Wheeler Waring: major figures who are, to this day, often under-recognized compared to their white contemporaries. My introduction to their work fuelled my wider interest in the arts. The life-changing education I received was much on my mind when a major exposition opened in March of last year.
In my quarter century in Paris, it's rare that a cultural event comes along that doesn't just enlighten or entertain but feels truly important in its power to affect the way people see and think about art, about history, about the politics and culture of a country and its place in the world. Le Modèle Noir---which was on display at the Musée d'Orsay from March 26 to July 21, 2019---was such a cultural event. And it was the brainchild of Dr. Denise Murrell.
An African American graduate of Harvard Business School and former Wall Street executive, Murrell had a passion for art that led her to daringly change career paths. During a graduate course in Art History at Columbia University, a slide of Edouard Manet's Olympia was projected on the lecture hall screen. Known as one of the landmarks of modern art, the painting contains two human figures: a nude white prostitute and her black maid, fully clothed and carrying a bouquet of flowers. The Columbia professor lectured at great length on the significance of the white figure. But to Murrell's stunned dismay, he did not mention the black woman in the painting...at all.
Murrell went on to investigate the life of the model, named Laure, and to explore the representation of black figures in Western Art. The subject became her PhD thesis, then an exhibition at the Wallach Art Gallery at Columbia University before opening, in an expanded version, in Paris.
Le Modèle Noir was a resounding success for the Musée d'Orsay, one of France's most staid institutions. As the show closed, Laurence de Cars, the president of the museum, said that it had attracted 400,000 visitors, twice the number that was anticipated; and that the visitors were younger and more diverse than the typical museum-goers. The result was all the more notable since, as Laurence des Cars said, the subject is considered "delicate" in France. The French Republic is officially colorblind. Le Modèle Noir offered a challenging vision, one that seemed to enhance the perceptions of its viewers, whatever their backgrounds.
On June 20th of last year, Dr. Murrell honored members of the Diversity Caucus of Democrats Abroad with a private tour of the exposition. Afterward, we all dined at Rosie's Smokehouse in the Latin Quarter. The whole restaurant came alive with warmth and conviviality, energetic talk and laughter filling the air as we savored barbecued chicken and spare ribs and pulled pork. The walls of the restaurant were adorned with works by Ealy Mays, a long-time Paris-based artist, whose paintings often have the satirical edge of a Robert Colescott. There was an atmosphere of celebration that evening that I will always remember and cherish.
Dr. Denise Murrell was recently appointed Associate Curator for 19th and 20th century art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. She is the first full-time black curator to ever work on the museum's staff. Dr. Murrell's appointment is a bracing blast of hope in these turbulent times, when education itself is being attacked in insidious ways.
About the author:
JAKE LAMAR was born in 1961 and grew up in the Bronx, New York. After graduating from Harvard University, he spent six years writing for Time magazine. He has lived in Paris, France since 1993. He is the author of a memoir, seven novels, numerous essays, reviews and short stories, and a play. His most recent work, Viper's Dream, is both a crime novel and a radio drama, set in the jazz world of Harlem between 1936 and 1961. He is a recipient of the Lyndhurst Prize (for his first book, Bourgeois Blues), a prestigious Centre National du Livre grant (for his novel Postérité), France’s Grand Prize for best foreign thriller (for his novel The Last Integrationist), and a Beaumarchais fellowship for his play Brothers in Exile. He is currently working on a memoir about his life in Paris.
Would you like to get involved with the DA France Diversity Caucus? Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
With all the news coming from the US around the impeachment, the primaries, the debates, the candidates...French news outlets are anxious to connect with us to get an informed opinion on what is happening. Democrats Abroad France leaders were featured in several prominent news programs this past week.
Joe Smallhoover, International Legal Counsel and former DAFrance Chair, appeared on Le Figaro Live (v.f.)
Diane Sklar, DA Lyon Chapter Chair, appeared Tuesday morning on Euronews (v.o.) link to video not available