50 Years Later – Still Working Towards Dr. King’s Dream

If you didn’t have a chance to see the 50th Anniversary Remembrance of the March on Washington this afternoon, you might want to do yourself a favor and tune into the replay tonight on C-SPAN. I know, I know, C-Span Nick, do I even get that channel, or care about that channel? Well you do and you should tonight. Because 50 years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his “I Have A Dream” speech. I’m sure you all heard snippets of it from school and others posting the speech today. His speech talks about how one day we will all live in a society where you are not judged by the color of your skin, but by the content of your character. Take a moment to watch the replay tonight, see what John Lewis had to go though, how President Clinton was inspired, what Dr. King’s children have to say 50 years later.

You might be asking, What does this have to do with me? You might have it pretty good, a decent wage at a good job, a home to walk into every evening. You even feel that your friends are doing alright, when we go to vote, there isn’t a problem, I didn’t even have to wait in line, you might say. Well, this could all change much faster than you think. So many fought, and died, so that there is a decent wage and job for you. You are able to get a home in any town you want. You can cast your vote very simply. This was not the case, just 50 years ago for so many.

You might not have ever been affected by any of these things, you might have been born without having to ever worry about any of this, but guess what, I’m sure you can think of one or two people who had to deal with these issues. And therein lies the problem. Every one of us needs to fight for each other’s rights until we can all live without the fear that something can be taken away from you or your friend, just because the Supreme Court made a decision, or because your state changed a law. That’s the only way we can move forward as a society.

Coretta King said that every generation needs to continue to fight, that we can’t become complacent. Are you going to fight for yourself, for your friends, for your neighbor? I know I am putting in the time, but as Dr. King said, I can’t get there alone. Whether it is segregation, discrimination, marriage equality, women’s rights, or something else, there is something that is affecting you or a friend. So let’s get out there and continue to fight for the dream together.

Fired Up!  Ready To Go!

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What’s Next?

It was great to see so many people step up and reach out to their perspective representatives in Washington D.C. letting them know how they need to really look at the language of the SOPA and PIPA bills that were coming up for a vote. The vote has actually been postponed and many who were for it are now against it. It even seems that the bill is not going to even come up for a vote anymore. That’s great news, everyone rallied around a few brands who had a good idea (Reddit, Wikipedia) to go dark for a day in protest. This caused other larger sites to participate in one way or another, Google blocking out their logo, WordPress having a plug-in for individual bloggers to have their site go dark for the day. Many friends on Facebook blocked out their photo, as well as on Twitter. Word spread quickly, and people rallied around it and Congress heard our collective voice and is taking action accordingly. Collectively, we gathered together and spoke up and now are being heard.

But what’s the next step? What else is on the horizon that we can speak up about? We can’t be one and done, can we? Let’s take our collective voice and tell Congress to get behind our President and support the American Jobs Act. It might not be perfect, but I’m sure with it passed, we can get many Americans back to work. Which major company or brand is going to speak out and get everyone on board? Will Wikipedia and Reddit take another stand? Will Google step up to the plate and educate the American people on how if Congress works together we can get people back to work and our unemployment numbers down? I’m hoping some of these brands I use on a daily basis will take an interest it what I care about the way we took an interest in what they care about.

Here’s hoping that someone will take notice and take a stand. It’s getting lonely over here. Let me know if you have any ideas on how we can get big names to speak up for the people. Let’s get this country back on the road to the promised land. Let’s bring hope back to the people.

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WordCamp Philly 2011

A few weeks ago, I attended WordCamp Philly, a WordPress event geared towards bloggers who use WordPress. It was a great event, they had a few different student tracts; user, power user, developer and designer. Since I’ve had a blog for a little while, I was intrigued on going to learn if I was “doing it right” and what else I could learn. Well, I learned a bunch, all the speakers were great, and I was glad that I went. I jumped back and forth between user and power user, depending on the topic.

The one seminar that I learned a great deal from was, “Stop Worrying, Start Publishing.” I’ve had a blog for a little while now, but I don’t post that much. You see, right out of college, I was a writer and editor for a monthly magazine. Before publishing something, we made sure everything was perfect. Everything. Had. To. Be. Perfect. It was drilled into me. So, it’s not that I’m afraid to put my thoughts, ideas, writings out there, I’m just used to it being 100% polished. I have many different posts that I’ve written, but don’t publish, because it’s not polished. But this class was great in helping me get over that. It doesn’t have to be 100% polished. I don’t have to write, edit and re-edit until I’m blue in the face and feel that it’s perfect. Honestly, who’s reading this stuff anyway. That’s an inside joke I have with myself now, not many people are reading this, so who really cares if it’s crap writing. I promise to try and not put out crap writing, but I’m sure sometimes it will make it’s way out there.
Anyway, I suggest if you are serious about WordPress, or getting into it, check out a WordCamp in your area. You’ll meet a great group of people, learn something, and get some stickers and a tee-shirt, and honestly, who doesn’t like that?

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The Pioneer Spirit

“Pioneers! O Pioneers! Come my tan faced children…..” as Walt Whitman goes into his poem, you are brought into a world of the Pioneer Spirit. He was writing about a time when the country was expanding at leaps and bounds, a time when the promise of gold, land and a new beginning were just beyond the horizon. But, did you have the gumption to go forth?

I received an e-mail from my old college professor, Dr. Jack Sullivan. He invited me to a dinner he hosts.  We haven’t seen each other in quite some time and he wanted to make sure I would attend the American Studies major alumni dinner. I made sure to block out the date on my calendar, because he is someone I admire, respect and always look forward to spending time with. When I got to the dinner, I saw a few familiar faces, but mostly people I never met before. Since we all shared a common background, I knew we would have an enjoyable time. Towards the end of the event, a current AMS student came to meet up with Dr. Sullivan. She was writing her senior thesis and he wanted to give her draft back to her with his notes. I got caught up in their discussion, and remembered why I became an American Studies major.

I always enjoyed history, but American Studies was more diverse thinking. We studied literature, art, music and history. It is not for people who are unwilling to take a few chances. More than anything else, studying American culture past and present gives one the critical thinking skills that are invaluable in an ever-changing world. I was discussing with the current student that with my American Studies major, I was able to apply for a variety of different jobs right out of college, and I ended up starting in the publishing world. Since broader analytical and writing skills were necessary for American Studies, publishing seemed like a great fit. Through a series of jobs and more schooling, I leapt into Human Resource Management, and never looked back.  Jack stopped me and said, “you know Nick, you were one of my first American Studies majors. Usually students were American Studies majors along with another major, like education, or they were American Studies minors, with a major in something else. You were a pioneer.”

This had me thinking the whole ride home. I’m a pioneer, me, Nick DeVito, a pioneer. Of course it makes sense, why wouldn’t I be a pioneer? By the time I got home to talk to Katie, my head barely fit in the door, because of all the pioneer blood in me.  I told her the story, of course making sure to stress the fact that Jack, my advisor, my mentor, someone I respected, someone who is friends with Cornel West, called me, ME, a pioneer. I was ready to conquer anything at that moment.

After thinking about it a few days, and of course reminding Katie (over and over) that she married a pioneer, I came to a few conclusions. Yes, I am a pioneer.  I like to know about the past, so that I can learn from it for the future.  I like to be on the forefront of things, including; news, books, technology, new opinions/outlooks/thoughts.  I like to know what’s in the pipeline, what’s next, what’s new. I also like to look at things that don’t work, and change them, make processes easier, cut through the red tape. I actually never thought of myself as a pioneer, and I’m sure the folks who went westward at first didn’t either; they just wanted to know what was out there, what’s next, what’s new.  Get out there and find out.

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MLK Said It Best

‎”I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

I saw this posted as a friend’s facebook status and I was able to finally get my head around the past 24 hours regarding Osama bin Laden. While events were unfolding last night, I was unsure of how I felt. While I was happy he was gone, I knew I couldn’t celebrate the fact that a person was dead. He is an evil monster, he killed thousands of people, but to me, to celebrate a person’s death would make me the same.

So while there are many out there who I am sure will disagree with me, I just feel that I can’t dance in the streets over a person’s death. It would put me on the same level as Osama bin Laden, and I know that I am not even remotely like him.

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A True Champion

American Dreams can fade away, but for someone born on the Fourth of July, I think they have no chance but to carve a niche in society. George M. Steinbrenner III died Tuesday, July 13, 2010 at the age of 80.

Being a life-long Yankee fan, I’ve had my own personal relationship with the man as well as every other Yankee fan. There were times I cursed him, (how could you tell Donnie Baseball to cut his hair,) times that I agreed with him, (I’m glad he made Randy Johnson cut his hair). There were good times (the late 90s) and bad times (most of the 1980s). But through all the times, he was the Boss. Even when the Yanks were down, you knew Ol’ George had something up his sleeve to change the team around. Also, you knew at any moment he could step in and ruin a good thing. He kept you on edge, on your toes. You always knew where you stood with him because there was only one outcome expected, to win. Not get in the playoffs, or win the division, but to win the World Series.

George Steinbrenner changed baseball. It’s as simple as that; he changed baseball. To this day, when teams complain about the money the Yankees spend, why don’t those teams open up the purse strings like George did and get some talent. You have to spend money to make money.  It’s easy, start spending, get the talent in the door, the fans will come and if you keep winning, you will not only have a good year or two, but a franchise, and maybe even some day, a dynasty. He also changed the way we watch baseball. He went to a cable network (MSG) when everyone else was floundering to make money off of people watching the game. Then he realized how much money he could make off of it and created his own network, the YES Network. More money means more talent. More talent means winning which leads to World Series rings, which means more money for more talent. He was the first to figure out how you build a franchise and a dynasty in today’s free agent market.

On Seinfeld, they made Steinbrenner a character. Even before George Costanza was working for the New York Yankees, there is a very early episode where Kramer comes into Jerry’s apartment and throws down the paper claiming, “Steinbrenner, he’s ruining my life!” I’m almost positive every single person in the Yankee organization, as well as every single fan has claimed this at one point or another. I know I did. But, it showed you something about the man; he had heart. He cared about the Yankees, knew the winning tradition behind the pinstripes and wanted to keep that tradition going at any cost. Sometimes it cost him money for a free agent; sometimes it cost him fans cursing his name because he didn’t have the patience for a guy to turn his season around. It didn’t matter to Steinbrenner, because there was only one thing he wanted, to win.

George Steinbrenner went out a champion. The Yankees won their 28th World Series in 2009 in their brand new stadium. The first stadium was the house that Ruth built. The new stadium is the house that George built. I find it fitting that both men share the same name: George. We will miss you George, you always gave it your all, and you expected the same from everyone else. That’s why you will always be the Boss.

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You Say You Want A Revolution

The revolutionary movement began as a defense of the status quo. All the colonists were asking for in their first protests were the continuance of their traditional right as English subjects to consent to their own taxes. Had Britain pulled back at nearly any point before 1775, the resistance would have died away.

Was it possible for a revolution that began so conservatively to cause significant changes in society once it reached full flood? The conservative revolution became radical as conflict with the imperial government compelled the colonists to search to the roots of their allegiance. As the government became increasingly oppressive, the colonists had to ask why they obeyed at all. Thomas Jefferson summed up a decade of thought in the Declaration of Independence when he wrote about “equality” and “inalienable rights.” When a government fails in its duty to protect those rights, the people may organize a new government. It was a simple line of thought, but unlike the initial protest against parliamentary taxation, the thinking was radical.

The United States began as a lonely democratic experiment in a world of monarchies. The Founders could take courage, however, from the interest of advanced political thinkers throughout the civilized world. The United States came into existence in an age when hopes were high that tyranny could be overthrown and rational government based on liberty and equality were established in its place. In fact, the monarchies of Europe were not toppling; they seemed to be growing stronger.

So on this Fourth of July weekend, while you are having a fun time at the beach or in the backyard, remember that there were a group of men that had ideals that we live upon till today. They didn’t always do the right thing, but they left loopholes in what they did so that future generations could fix their mistakes. That’s how smart they were; they based this country on the fact that they knew they didn’t know everything. To have that vision, that’s the vision this country is founded on, to look forward and move forward and to try and be the best possible.

Happy Independence Day.

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