From the Super Bowl to the Black and Puerto Rican Legislative Caucus: Two Memorable Weekends
March 10, 2016 by Herbert Daughtry
Five events were planned for Saturday, February 6, 2016. The first was held at 8 a.m. It was a tour of Levi’s Stadium after which we would meet at the hotel for our trip to the Bay area. Looking at our schedule, it was clear that it was going to be a grueling day. I passed on the tour, preferring to have a leisure morning. It had been a long trip the night before. Moreover, I needed to catch up with myself. I was behind in my journal entries. I also needed to adjust to the time difference. We were three hours earlier, which meant that 8 a.m. in California would be 11 a.m. in New York City.
At 11:15 a.m., our party had returned to the hotel, and we were ready for the Bay area. We – Leah, Herb, Dawn, Latoya (Leah’s assistant), and I – commenced the journey. Our driver was a middle-aged Latino. He was a wealth of information and eager to share it with us. It was hard to concentrate on his conversation. It was a gorgeous day. The weather was warm, and the sky was bright and blue. In the distance were sloping mountains. Along the highway, the blue waters of the ocean or the sea was always in sight.
I do remember the driver saying that prices of apartments and houses had gone up substantially beyond the reach of the ordinary person. Obviously, I thought of Brooklyn, NY where I’ve been told that we have one of the highest-priced apartments in the city. We drove into a small village surrounded by water. It seemed that water was everywhere. We parked not far from Kincaid’s Restaurant where we were to have lunch. We were seated at a beautifully decorated table near the water. We were surrounded by other restaurants and shops.
Soon, our friends came to join us. Carla Marie Reed had once pursued an acting career while she was in NYC. She appeared in a number of television programs. She won our hearts by her commitment to our struggle. She had joined an organization that my wife, Dr. Karen, had founded – Sisters Against South African Apartheid (SASAA). Carla even went to jail with us to free South Africa-Free Mandela. Her husband is Quincy. I call him “Mr. Q.” He works for Pacifica Radio, the sister station of WBAI in NYC.
There was much news to cover. We had not seen each other for over 20 years. Leah had to cut short the luncheon. She had two speaking engagements – the Asian American Caucus and the African American Caucus. We had a choice of staying for lunch and going on a tour of Oakland afterwards; or, go with Leah. I elected to go with Leah.
The next stop was the Asian Pacific American Democratic Caucus of Alameda County. The meeting was scheduled from 1pm-2:30pm at Studio One Arts Center (365 45th Street). It was the first chartered Asian Political Action Committee (PAC), focusing on public policies which impact the diverse communities of Alameda County.
Among its goals are to:
-Create and influence Democratic policies on issues of importance to the Asian communities
-Promote Pacific Americans for electoral office and leadership within the Democratic Part on a local, state, and national level
-Recruit and register Asian Pacific Americans into the Democratic Party
It was about a 15-minute ride from Kincaid’s Restaurant to the Center. It was a sprawling neighborhood – mostly residential with 1-2 storied houses. It was a striking contrast to the tall buildings from whence I’ve just departed. There were about 25 persons present – mostly Asian, and a few African-Americans and Euro-Americans. Leah was introduced, and she spoke for about 20 minutes. Then, she responded to questions – almost all of which were related to the Democratic National Convention:
1. How are the delegates chosen?
2.What’s the best transportation, etc.?
3. What are the contracts for various goods and services? How are the contracts requested?
4. What are the seating arrangements, policies, etc.?
As I observed Leah speaking and handling the questions, knowledgeably and eloquently, I was beyond proud. She was simply brilliant. My mind kept racing from the present to the past. Here was the baby I had brought home from the hospital in the crook of my arm – the little girl my wife and I had raised with the support of church members. I had kept her near me, even when I attended various meetings, rallies, church services, etc. I would make sure that she would accompany me to the United Nations, and my lectures at various high schools, colleges, and universities.
I became a joke among the congregations. I wouldn’t let Leah cry. Whenever she started sobbing or whining, I would drop whatever I was doing, pick her up, and rock her in my arms. She was spoiled rotten. I would sing her to sleep at night, making up my own songs or tell her bedtime stories, recounting our history. I counted as we climbed stairs. I read magazines and books to her. We watched TV together, especially Sesame Street. I bought her a little traveling bag so she could imitate my wife and I, carrying books and papers. I would always let her see me read or write.
What I did for Leah, I did for all of the children. Every experience was an educational opportunity. It was interesting watching them at play. They would organize meetings, and argue about who would hold what office.
When we enrolled Leah in school, I had a clash with the principal. He wanted her to go to the doll corner, but she wanted to read and write. We had prepared her for school with pencils and books. Daily, I would be at the school. The principal said to me, “You want to change the whole school system.” I replied, “You are right. That’s what I want to do.”
Eventually, they tested her reading scores. She was reading on a third grade level. Now, they wanted to skip her to the third grade. I said, “No, you can move her up one grade. She’s not physically or emotionally prepared for the third grade.”
I recall Leah’s elementary, middle, and high school years. Then, she was off to college. After her internship with Congressman Ed Towns, she held various positions in Washington, D.C., including Assistant Secretary of Labor during the Clinton Administration. Ms. Alexis Herman was the Secretary. For six years, she was the Chief of Staff of the National Democratic Committee, the administrative arm of the Democratic Party. Now, she’s the CEO of the 2016 Democratic National Convention (DNC). She was the first person to be invited to do it again. She was the CEO of the 2008 DNC. During that time, she was ordained to the ministry and became the founding Pastor of The House of the Lord Church – Washington, D.C. Now, here she stands. It seemed that the time had flown so swiftly.
… to be continued.