Prejudice will never be eradicated but we must continue to fight it
The year: 1950. The place: the grand ballroom of the University of Kentucky's recently completed Student Center. The scene: Not the usual sorority or fraternity ball, but long rows of modestly decorated tables to seat 400 or so Lexington citizens there to see the Rev. A. W. Fortune, beloved minister of Central Christian Church, receive the first-ever Humanitarian Award from the fledgling local chapter of the National Conference of Christians and Jews.
Why the UK Student Center? It was the only sizeable venue that would allow a racially diverse audience to share a meal.
On April 7, almost 59 years later, the Kentucky Conference for Community and Justice (KCCJ) will hold the 54th Humanitarian Award Dinner at the Downtown Lexington Hotel (formerly the Radisson).
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Much has happened between these two events, including two name changes of the original sponsor, but a lot has not.
Yes, the NCCJ/KCCJ has honored 110 other individuals, businesses or organizations as humanitarians. It has sponsored diversity programs and protested injustice and inequality. Other organizations have been diligently at work in the same fields.
Public facilities, such as hotels and restaurants, are open to everyone regardless of race, creed or color and most of our young people don't even know things haven't always been this way.
But complacency and satisfaction don't hide the fact that injustice and deeply-ingrained prejudices are still with us. As a sage put it more than 2,000 years ago, "you are not required to finish the task, neither are you free to neglect it."
Marilyn K. Moosnick
Raise cigarette tax
Kentucky lawmakers are on the verge of a crucial decision about whether to support Gov. Steve Beshear's call to raise the tax on a pack of cigarettes from 30 cents to $1. As I finish my tenure as education commissioner, I am championing that action.
Recent polls show that Kentuckians support such an increase. Groups such as the American Lung Association, the American Heart Association, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, the American Cancer Society and Kentucky Voices for Health have weighed in with evidence of its importance.
During my time as a state legislator, I sponsored legislation raising the cigarette tax in the 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007 legislative sessions. I believed then, and I believe now, that this increase will benefit all Kentuckians, especially our children.
One of the most obvious benefits is that it will curtail the number of adolescents who take up the smoking habit. For our state's overall health and well-being, this is a win. The other benefit is additional revenue that can be invested in public education.
Kentucky has made great progress in our public education system over the past two decades. According to a report by the Kentucky Long-Term Policy Research Center, Kentucky has moved from 43rd nationally in 1992 to 34th nationally in 2005, the last year for which rankings are available.
To continue this progress, we need investment and for investment we need revenue. Raising the cigarette tax is the morally responsible thing to do.
Jon E. Draud
Kill the law to kill the bears
You can tell that the Democrats are in charge of our state now. Allowing a two-day kill of the black bears is so stupid.
Black bears do not eat humans. If they are bothering you, get out of their back yard. Fix trash holders that are bear proof, put your food up at night when camping, better yet, stop killing their food, such as deer.
Please stop the stupidity; kill the law to kill the bears.
Sometimes when I read the letters, I don't know whether to laugh or cry. On Jan. 11 there were several letters regarding the proposed cigarette tax hike. One was headed, "Cigarette tax hike unfair to minority, not about health."
Since when is the health of our citizens not a concern? The proposed tax increase would be unfair if it were only for cigarettes, but it covers all tobacco products, all of which are a luxury, not a necessity. And all tobacco products tend to kill or disable our citizens.
Have any of these against the tax hike ever visited a hospital ward for cancer or emphysema patients suffering from the effects of smoking or chewing tobacco? You would not wish that on your worst enemy. This suffering was caused by a luxury product. Many of these patients are physically disabled and unable to work but must draw disability payments before a long and painful death. What a waste of good citizens, and all because of a bad choice.
Compared to tobacco users, there are few employed in the tobacco industry. Aren't we letting the tail wag the dog?
The writer has a good point about alcohol, also a luxury product, not a necessity. Why aren't taxes being raised on alcohol also? Think about the hardships and deaths also being caused by its misuse.
Let us consider our citizens first before special interests
Joann L. Walker
King would rail against greed
Jan. 15 was Martin Luther King Jr.'s 80th birthday anniversary with Martin Luther King Day to follow Monday, one day before President-elect Barack Obama's inauguration. King's life and words continue to be relevant to what is going on in today's world. His relevancy will never fade away.
Not for a moment did King, America's all-time greatest prophet, ever set out to get rich from doing God's will. As great yet imperfect as he was, one of King's most admirable qualities was humility.
I believe he would be disappointed in his children quibbling over the King estate. With the American economy in the tank due primarily to individual and corporate greed, the King children seem to be buying into the destructive greed that so besets us as individuals and as a nation.
King, the not-for-profit prophet, would be railing against greed if he were preaching today. During his earthly sojourn, he was busy advocating for poor people and literally sacrificed his life for the least, the last and the lost.
Paul L. Whiteley Sr.
Pett's in, neo-cons are out
This in response to the Jan. 11 letters regarding cartoonist Joel Pett. I happen to be a huge fan of Pett.
After all, he won several national awards for his work, not to mention personally signing both the books of his clips, including a cartoon just for me.
As for the attacks, I would say that once again, he got it dead right.
I think President Bush should apologize to the nation, for "Mission accomplished," Abu Ghraib, Gitmo, the Iraq war, torture and the whole economic mess we are stuck with. Best wishes to President-elect Barack Obama. This one's gonna be a rough trip.
Enough with the last 30-odd years of failed neo-conservative, market-based economy. Please, can these people just give it a rest? By the way: No, I have still not gotten over the 2000 election.
Rev. R. E. Barrow
Don't forget abused kids
Charles Baker's Jan. 11 column, "Don't let budget cuts hurt children" hit the nail on the head. Through our governor and legislators we need to designate adequate support for abused and neglected children and their families. Unfortunately, when I attended the Chamber of Commerce banquet last week, which featured the governor and key legislators sharing their vision and priorities, nothing was said about these kids.
We heard of the need to balance the budget, support education, provide safety for our citizens while limiting the growth of our prison population, and controling Medicaid costs while providing health care for needy Kentuckians. But nobody mentioned the growing number of children whose custody has been taken over by the state.
These children do not have lobbyists and most of them are not even old enough to vote so the rest of us need to advocate for sufficient resources for their care.
Please contact your legislators and ask them to remember these kids.
Howard and Dee Reynolds
Media, U.S. failed Gaza
The Gaza Strip crisis is growing worse every day; 1.5 million inhabitants are surrounded by Israel's military occupation with no place to take refuge from the ongoing onslaught. More than 18 months ago, Israel began to blockade Gaza, leaving the residents with limited to no access to water, electricity, food and medicine. Hospitals are overwhelmed, and emergency aid workers have been unable to reach the wounded.
So far, Israel's disproportionate attack on the overwhelmingly civilian Gaza Strip has caused more than 800, mostly civilian, deaths and 3,000 injuries, which will not likely lead to security for Israelis.
The timing of the strikes calls into question Israel's political motivation as this comes before hotly contested Israeli elections. Israeli forces are targeting worship places, hospitals, Red Cross teams, civilians and UN-operated schools. Such behaviors, in violation of all international laws, have no justification.
The media have failed miserably in coverage of the humanitarian tragedy taking place. An immediate cessation of hostilities on all sides and a complete end to the blockade is the only way to reinstate a cease-fire agreement that will ensure the security of both Israelis and Palestinians.
The United States should repudiate the ongoing violence and humanitarian crisis. With $3.2 billion in funds sent to Israel per year, what in God's name are we doing? It is time for the U.S. to take its proper role as an honest broker in the conflict and to live up to its promise as a champion of freedom, liberty and justice.
Dancing with dinosaurs
For the last 2,000 years evangelicals have been announcing the end of the world, and for 2,000 years they have been wrong.
Evangelicals overwhelmingly supported George W. Bush and the war in Iraq, leading to the mess we are in. Evangelicals teach their children to ignore science and believe in a 6,000-year-old universe where humans and dinosaurs lived together and nothing ever evolves.
In my eyes, the evangelicals have no credibility left. It's time for the evangelical movement to stop bedding down with the Republican Party and ignoring science. If they want to make claims about the end of the world then they should be forced to put a date on the prophecy. Then they can be called false prophets when the date passes and nothing happens.