Senator Sessions Has Black Friends. So, What?

By Dr. Elsie L. Scott, Director, Ronald W. Walters Leadership and Public Policy Center, Howard University

Many people offering support to Senator Jeff Sessions in his nomination for U.S. Attorney General have stated that he has black friends such as former Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson.  So, what?  Senator Strom Thurmond fathered a black child, who he financially supported, while at the same time he used his public service platform to try to deny basic rights to black citizens.

Throughout history, whites have been “friends” with and have had sex with black people while at the same time working to ensure that blacks do not have equal protection under the law.  What is most important to our survival and our thriving?  That he hired a black person or that he tried to suppress the black vote?

It is argued by some that Senator Sessions is being judged by actions he took and statements he made 30+ years ago. Let’s look at his Senate record.

Does it show that he would seek justice and equal treatment for all?  No, it doesn’t. He has consistently voted against the confirmation of judicial  and executive nominees who have been engaged in civil rights activities or who use their positions to support civil rights, e.g., Judge Wilhelmina Wright, Secretary of Education, John King, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor and Attorney General Loretta Lynch.  He voted against the Hate Crimes Prevention Act in 2009 and the re-authorization of the Violence Against Women Act in 2013. He has opposed immigration reform that would lead to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

We must not get caught up in symbolic politics such as Sessions’ sponsoring of the Congressional Gold Medal for Selma marchers of 50 years ago. It did not take courage, and it has little or no meaning when this symbolic gesture is placed against his support for Shelby County v. Holder and the gutting of the Voting Rights Act of 1965..

The position of Attorney General is the chief law enforcement position in the country.  Little, if anything, in Senator Sessions background indicates that he is the right person for Attorney General at this time in the history of the country.  Presently, the country is divided with blacks, Hispanics, immigrants, Muslims and other minorities fearful of what will happen to them if Senator Sessions is confirmed as Attorney General. They are afraid that they will have nowhere to turn when they are discriminated against, physically assaulted, harassed, and subjected to voter intimidation and suppression.  They are afraid that he will make “states’ rights” the order of the day, leaving them hostage to local and state officials who will show their true colors with no threat of federal oversight.

In opposing the nomination of Thomas Perez for Secretary of Labor in 2013, Senator Sessions stated: “he seems to have a strong bent toward allowing his own ideological and political views to affect his decisionmaking process–all of which is unacceptable for a high position in this government of the United States of America.”  Many argue that Senator Sessions has allowed his ideological and political view to affect his decision-making process. Does this meet Senator Sessions’ standard for the U.S. Attorney General?



A Good Man By Dr. Stephanie E. Myers

I recently attended a funeral for a woman in the south coastal area of the United States, in an area known for the ancient Gullah-Geechee culture, that was transferred to America from Africa, during the brutal Atlantic slave trade. I was fascinated to observe that remnants of the old culture were still alive in her surviving husband, an African American man, who held the funeral. Note: To preserve the privacy of the family, we will call the deceased woman Marie and her widower husband Fred.

Marie and Fred were raised as neighbors in a small coastal town, and fell in love during their teenage years. After Marie graduated as valedictorian of her high school she went away to college but, after a year she missed Fred so much she returned home to marry him and start their family of two sons and one daughter. For 60 years, Fred worked as a mariner and fisherman, and is a fundamental part of the local fishing industry. Marie and Fred were married for 62 years and for 30 of those years, Marie suffered from a long-term debilitating illness. However, despite her illness Fred displayed six decades of love and loyalty to her. Truth is, Fred’s behavior is not unique, it is replicated by African American men thousands of times throughout America but, is rarely acknowledged in the media, families, churches or communities.

During the funeral proceedings, I was struck with how seldom we celebrate examples of African American men who quietly lead their families with poise and grace. Every day, we see news coverage of African American men who are accused of committing violent crimes and are presented as representatives of the African American race. But, what I saw in Fred was a dignified, ordinary man who stood before his family, his church and his city to demonstrate behavior that all young men should imitate—behavior that shows what a man looks like when he acts responsibly and takes care of his family. Since the media declines to highlight black men demonstrating such behavior, I will outline four (4) lessons I observed from Fred and hopefully readers will share these lessons with young men and women.

I asked Fred who organized the funeral services and he responded, “My son…that’s why I sent him to school.” Although Fred was not an academic himself, he sent his sons to outstanding universities in Massachusetts and Maryland. The oldest son became a Superior Court Judge in a southern state, and the second son became a career federal employee. And, today one of Fred’s grandsons works on Wall Street as an analyst, at a national investment firm. Lesson #1: Educate Your Children.

Marie’s 30-year illness required her to be moved from medical facility to medical facility but, regardless of where she was, Fred drove hours to visit her week after week, month after month, year after year. Given the length of her illness many men would not have had the stamina to drive hundreds of miles regularly to visit a long-term terminally ill wife. Some men would have turned away and handed off responsibility to other family members. However, Fred did not do this—during his regular visits he lifted Marie’s spirits and the spirits of the nursing staffs, who grew to love him. Lesson # 2: Be caring, consistent and loving.

As I watched Fred interact with his children, grandchildren and extended family I was pleased to see they were comfortable with him and that he found a way for everyone to have a role. He was gracious and provided opportunities for his brothers-in-law, nephews, nieces and children to take the microphone at the funeral service, to express their feelings about losing Marie. Lesson # 3: Stay connected to your extended family.

Fred received gifts and acts of kindness from some of the wealthy and non-wealthy white and black “City Fathers and Mothers” in his small town. They came to his home, sent food and refreshments for out of town guests, and personally attended the funeral at a Black church. They clearly regarded Fred and Marie as valuable parts of their lives and commented on how Fred’s care for Marie was a local legend. During the funeral Fred received three standing ovations and the City Fathers and Mothers joined in. Lesson #4: A man who conducts his personal and family business in a loving and dignified manner, will be publicly and openly praised.

Fred demonstrates what a strong, solid, dependable man looks like. I recognized it because my father and husband have the same characteristics. We can all learn a lot from watching Fred. Both young and old people can learn from his example. We must show our young men and young women that there are positive and negative role models they can follow but, if they imitate the positive behaviors of a man like Fred, we can help restore the strength, love and unity we so badly need in our African American communities today.


smyershdshotSTEPHANIE E. MYERS is Co-Founder and National Co-Chair of Black Women for Positive Change. She is Vice President and Co-Owner of R.J. Myers Publishing and Consulting Company, a minority owned business headquartered in the District of Columbia. For 4 years, she served as a Presidential Appointee as Director, Office of Commercial Space Transportation, U.S. Department of Transportation, where she authorized the first U.S. commercial space launch. For five years she served as Senate-Confirmed Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, where she was responsible for the first national PR campaigns on HIV/AIDS and Child Support Enforcement. She was also a founding member of the Minority Health Task Force that created the federal Office of Minority Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, a 30 year old federal agency focused on minority health and health disparities. She is an author and script writer and is married to Roy J. Myers, President of R.J. Myers Publishing Company. She is proud step-mom to three adult/married adult children and grandmother to five.

Black Women for Positive Change Endorses Hillary Clinton for President of the United States


Media Contact:    Karen Carrington, 202-210-4005
Dr. Stephanie Myers, 202-327-4301               

Black Women for Positive Change Endorses Hillary Clinton for President of the United States

In a joint statement, Black Women for Positive Change National Co-Chairs Delegate Daun S. Hester, Norfolk, Virginia State Delegate, and Dr. Stephanie E. Myers, Businesswoman and Consultant said, “We are endorsing Hillary Clinton for President because she shares our vision for an America that closes the gaps among us, and will work to create a society that leads America in non-violence and peaceful conflict resolution. We don’t want our young people killed needlessly in unnecessary wars or, killed in the streets through violent confrontations within the community, or by police. We want Hillary Clinton, as President to negotiate solutions to difficult problems and strive to resolve differences among people, both at home and abroad.”  Black Women for Positive Change (BW4PC), is a national, multi-cultural, inter-faith civic network.

Delegate Daun S. Hester said, “Hillary Clinton is the most qualified candidate that we, the American people should trust to lead our country.” Delegate Hester continued, “I have met her several times and am confident she has the leadership skills to take our beloved nation forward. I am also very supportive of her choice of Tim Kaine for Vice President, a Virginian and colleague.” Dr. Stephanie E. Myers, stated, “I voted for Hillary during early voting in the District of Columbia, because I believe Hillary Clinton will work to strengthen the American Middle/Working Class. She has convinced me that she understands the challenges many Americans face as they struggle to hold onto their homes, educate themselves and their children, and work hard to be part of the global economy.”  Rev. Dr. Barbara Reynolds, Maryland voter, journalist, author and Chaplain of Black Women for Positive Change stated, “Too many people have shed their blood and sacrificed their lives to allow Donald Trump to become president. Hillary is qualified, experienced and more than worthy of our vote. When she was First Lady, I met with her several times at the White House and I was proud to vote for her last week in Maryland, because I know she will work hard for the advancement of black and brown people.”

Diane Powell, National Outreach Co-Chair, Black Women for Positive Change and Co-Chair, of the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania chapter noted, “I am supporting Hillary Clinton because

she is well prepared and experienced in all of the areas that a President has to draw from, to make important policy decisions, on behalf of our nation.” Nebraska voter Charlene Ligon, retired United States Air Force and Webmaster for Black Women for Positive Change said, “I proudly support Hillary Clinton for President because I trust she will shape domestic policies to strengthen our economy, to increase equity and therefore will create a society more just for all. I am confident Hillary will appoint Supreme Court justices who will make decisions that protect our rights and strengthen our democracy. I believe Hillary Clinton will reflect and think before making decisions and will not act or react impulsively.  She has experience, wisdom, and deep knowledge of our nation, and the world.”

Colorado voter, author and professional photographer Patrician Duncan, Co-Chair of the Denver, Colorado Chapter of Black Women for Positive Change sent out an appeal, “We are calling on men and women voters of all races, ages, and religions—and particularly our millennials, to register to vote and to vote for Hillary Clinton. As an attendee at the Democratic National Convention, I have been in Hillary’s presence several times and am impressed with her passion and dedication to helping underserved populations including elders, children and returning offenders. She is also committed to helping college students obtain a college degree, without a lot of debt.” Estella E. Lee, California voter, former Headstart Director, in Los Angeles, and Charter Member, Black Women for Positive Change said, “Hillary has always been there for our children and will fight for their healthcare, education and safety.”   

Black Women for Positive Change recently sponsored the 2016 Week of Non-Violence, Justice and Opportunities, October 15-23, 2016, where organizations in 22 U.S. Cities, in 17 States, organized numerous non-violence activities involving youth, law enforcement, elected officials, faith leaders and adults.  


NATIONAL WEEK OF NON-VIOLENCE News Release from National Bar Association

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE  National Bar Association
October 12, 2016


WASHINGTON, DC — For the second consecutive year the National Bar Association (NBA) has partnered with Black Women for Positive Change in their National Week of Non-Violence, which will take place October 15-23, 2016.
The National Week of Non-Violence is dedicated to preserving and strengthening America’s middle and working classes, in addition to changing the culture of violence that exists both domestically and globally. It is a time to educate youth and violence-prone adults about conflict resolution, anger management, non-violent concepts in behavior, music and art. It is also a time to emphasize alternatives to the causes of violence, specifically, employment, education, faith and economic development.

The NBA’s involvement in the National Week of Non-Violence will be two-fold.  First, President Kevin Judd is proudly serving as an Honorary Co-Chair for the Week.  Second, National Bar Association affiliate chapters have been encouraged to participate by hosting events in their local communities.

In light of President’s Judd’s Presidential initiative to economically empower Black communities through entrepreneurship, the theme for National Week of Non-Violence events hosted by NBA affiliates is “Entrepreneurship as an Alternative to Violence.” With this theme in mind, President Judd has asked every NBA affiliate chapter to organize and facilitate a workshop, panel discussion, or other program to educate and inform our communities about how creating one’s own business can be a viable alternative to other life paths that may lead to violence.

In the words of President Barack Obama, “Entrepreneurship offers a positive alternative to the ideologies of violence and division that can all too often fill the void when young people don’t see a future for themselves.  Entrepreneurship means ownership and self-determination, as opposed to simply being dependent on somebody else for your livelihood and your future.  Entrepreneurship brings down barriers between communities and cultures and builds bridges that help us take on common challenges together.  Because one thing that entrepreneurs understand is, is that you don’t have to look a certain way, or be of a certain faith, or have a certain last name in order to have a good idea.”

President Judd stated that “he hope the words of President Obama, as well as the mission of Black Women for Positive Change, will inspire all NBA affiliates nationwide to leverage their local networks and resources to commemorate the National Week of Non-Violence.  I look forward to hearing about the outstanding programs hosted by NBA affiliates in support of this critically important effort. “

For additional details on Black Women for Positive Change and the National Week of Non-Violence, please visit:




The National Bar Association was founded in 1925 and is the nation’s oldest and largest national network of predominantly African-American attorneys and judges. It represents the interests of approximately 60,000 lawyers, judges, law professors and law students. The NBA is organized around 23 substantive law sections, 9 divisions, 12 regions and 80 affiliate chapters throughout the United States and around the world. For more information, visit:

Kevin D. Judd
Washington, DC

Juan R. Thomas
Aurora, IL

Joseph Drayton
Vice President
New York, NY

Monica Dula 
Vice President
Bronx, New York

Yuri Walker 
Vice President
Washington, DC

Terry Wiley
Vice President
Oakland, CA

Jonathan E. Richardson
Nashville, TN

Michael A. Thompson
Vallejo, CA

Joseph Hairston
Washington, DC

Lamont Bailey
General Counsel
Springfield Gardens, NY

Keith Andrew Perry
Executive Director
Washington, DC