Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Crone buys Chief George sketch for five clams

I'm still getting around to giving some love to my first (and, one supposes, last) buyers at my first (and, one supposes, last) art show.

I also moved some product to my old colleague Thomas Crone, who bought this sketch of former Fire Chief Sherman George for $5. Maybe Thomas expects it to go up in value because he thinks Sherman will run for mayor, but I know Sherman doesn't want that job.

Crone and I go back too far through too many evolutions to summarize it all here. Whichever of us dies first (many years hence, I hope), leave it to the other guy to tell the tale. I know he has helped me a lot at various points in our lives, and I'd like to think I've helped him.

Sherman would have been at the art show, but he was out of town speaking at an International Association of Black Professional Firefighters convention. Before he left, he dropped off the intro and outro of his speech (with two bracketed notes for where he would insert copy he has used before) so that I could edit the copy for him.

That's what friends are for. After all, it's one of the only things I can do. My name is not Joe, and I am decidedly not a plumber.


Speech to International Association
Of Black Professional Firefighters
By Sherman George

I don’t think I have to tell anyone here that we are on the eve of an historic election. And I hope my hosts forgive me if I speak in a highly partisan manner about that election. Like a lot of people who have stood and fought in positions of leadership, I watch Barack Obama and his campaign with a keen and admiring eye, and sometimes I imagine I see some of myself in him and his efforts.

In St. Louis, where I live and for years served as fire chief, we recently welcomed Senator Obama at our riverfront with a crowd of more than 100,000 people that broke all the attendance records for political events. The crowd stretched from the Gateway Arch, where Senator Obama delivered his remarks, to the Old Courthouse, where one of Dred Scott’s trials in his lawsuit to free himself and his family from slavery was heard.

I don’t think I have to explain that symbolism to anyone here. I shouldn’t have to explain that symbolism to anyone in America. But, unfortunately, many of us do not know our history. In fact, too many people think that African-American history is not even American history – just like it is possible to imagine that an accomplished, complex and intelligent man like General Colin Powell could cast his vote for president on the basis of something as superficial as the color of a candidate’s skin.
[IABPF history]
[My history]
So, you can see that in St. Louis we are watching the final days of Obama’s campaign through weary and wary eyes.

Even as we work very hard to elect this special man to the highest office in the land, we look around ourselves in our own city and we see a lot of hard work that remains to be done and that President Obama won’t be able to do for us. We see a lot of people – in fact, an entire entrenched political organization – in power that operates by deceitful means and with disregard for what is legal, appropriate or just.

I wouldn’t be surprised if many American cities were run by similar political cliques – but I know for a fact St. Louis is run by such a clique.
I wish I could tell you it’s a pleasure to oppose a group of people like that. I wish I could tell you that I have enjoyed it. I wish I could tell you it will be fun if you fight for your rights. But in fact, I myself am an easygoing, peaceable man. I would much prefer to have been allowed to run my department as I was empowered, entitled and qualified to do.

But I have had to fight against a political movement that had different ideas – that operates along the old, awful principles of cronyism, nepotism and racism.
With all due respect to anyone here who plans to vote differently, I think Barack Obama points the way past these old, awful political realities of life in America. But he can’t do our work for us. I challenge each of you to learn your local politics well enough to know its injustices, and to organize yourself to oppose those injustices once you understand them.

Thank you and God bless.

No comments: