when pigs fly … expect the unbelievable

Archive for August 2016

When Representative Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ) announced her candidacy for Senator against 5 term Senator John McCain, people wondered why she would do so.  However, this race has become one of the most hotly contested of the 34 current Senate campaigns.

What’s going for her?

  • She’s a woman.
  • More than 34% of Arizona’s registered voters are independent.
  • Although a Catholic, she is pro choice.
  • She supports legislation to end the national gender-gap.
  • Donald Trump may make a difference in attracting voters.
  • Arizona’s Hispanic population (22% of the electorate) oppose Trump’s stand on immigration policy.

However, Senator McCain is a “brand,” and outselling a brand is difficult.  Let’s wait and see.

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You may have never heard of Esther Lardent.  Honestly, I had not until last week, but she is an unsung hero not only of the American Bar Association but of society as a whole.

Esther died April 4 of 2016 at age 68.  She had been employed as an American Bar Association staffer for over 40 years.

Esther was a displaced person.  She was born in Lienz, Austria, in a displaced persons camp where her parents were living.  They had met and married there after being liberated from Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen after losing their respective spouses and entire families in the camps.  For the first four years of her life, she followed her parents around Europe and Israel looking for a half-sister who had entered Auschwitz at age eight and most likely died there.  She was never found.

Esther’s family came to American through Ellis Island, speaking no English, and settled in Springfield, Massachusetts where Esther enrolled in public schools and was ultimately offered a full scholarship to Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island.  She went from there to the University of Chicago Law School, graduating in 1971.

Esther’s passion as a lawyer was pro bono legal services.  She often said it was her “way of paying back for all that this country has done for me and my parents.”  She founded the ABA’s Pro Bono Institute and, over the last 20 years, the institute has racked up 60 million pro bono hours from lawyers who have contributed from all over America.  Her pro bono work began when she launched one of the first organized pro bono efforts in in Boston.

Now the majority of state law associations across the country, including Mississippi, require an aspirational commitment to pro bono work from all their members.

I hope you have heard of Beth Ann Fennelly and are familiar with her work.  If not, you need to get familiar with both.  Beth Ann Fennelly is Mississippi’s 5th Poet Laureate.  I fell in love with her and her work several “Welty Symposium”s ago, when she was the featured writer.  Wow!  She read a poem about looking at the glistening torsos of the young frat boys jogging around the Oxford campus — looking at them in the rear view mirror instead of concentrating on driving, as she should have been, acknowledging that she was too old, but ogling anyway.  My kind of girl!

Introduce yourself to Beth Ann Fennelly’s work.  She has lived in Oxford with her husband, Tom Franklin, who is also a writer, and their 3 children.  The is an English Professor at Ole Miss and Director of the Masters of Fine Arts Program there.  They came to Oxford when Tom became the John and Renee Grisham writer-in-residence in 2001.  It was a nine month appointment for Tom.  There still in Oxford.

Tennessee was the only “Southern” state to ratify the 19th Amendment (although in all honesty, Mississippi had passed a Married Women’s Property  Act in the 1840s — not the same thing but just a nod to a passing fluke in Mississippi history).  Alabana did not; Georgia did not; Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, South Carolina and Virginia had already rejected ratification on August 18, 1920 when Tennessee acted.

Do you wonder why Tennessee stepped up to the plate?

Well, a woman was involved….

The ratification vote in the Tennessee legislature was 48 for — 48 against.  But then Representative Harry T. Burn (1885-1977), a 23 year old Republican from McMinn County roared into the legislative hall.  He was late, but the “anti-amendment” legislators breathed a sigh of relief.  Burn had vocally opposed the amendment and he would cast the deciding vote.

But a funny thing happened to Representative Burn on the way to the legislature making him late for the vote.  He stopped by the post office and picked up and opened a letter from his mother.  It said:  “Don’t forget to be a good boy and do right….”

Talk about synchronicity!

Burn took his mother’s recommendation to heart and voted in favor of the amendment.  This vote meant that the amendment was ratified.  Certification of the ratification by Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby followed on August 26, 1920.

I had already graduated from law school before Representative Burn died.  I wish I had known the dramatic role he played in ratification of the 19th Amendment.  I have visited McMinn County a number of times, and I would have sought him out.  Would he have tales to tell.

He might have even known my paternal Great-Great-Grandmother, who danced at the Hermitage with General (soon to be President) Jackson.

 


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