I'd like to say thank you to everyone who has supported me on my journey to completing my first novel. To those of you who don't know me or my work and are visiting this page for the first time, welcome.

Over the next few weeks, I hope to share with you a little of my progress as I begin research on my new book -- a yet-to-be titled historical novel, set in the 1920s and involving the founding and establishment of The Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, the predominently African-American labor union, led by A. Philip Randolph. Sleeping car porters worked on the railroads, cleaning and preparing sleeping cars and acting as valets and waiters for passengers. The union struggled for more than a decade before they received recognition and equity from the Pullman Company.

As part of my research, I'll be traveling by train from Oakland to New York City, following the path of those porters from years ago. This trip will include a visit to the A. Philip Randolph Museum in Chicago. Along the way, I'll be sharing with you what I learn and experience. Thank you for coming along.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Why Would Anyone Want to This Job

Frankly, I've never understood why anyone would want to be president. It seems a tireless and thankless job. Over the years of my life, as I have observed men who left the White House looking far older than when they arrived, I wondered why they did it. For years after their presidencies are over, the relative merits of their governing skills, their intelligence, their character and this illusive thing called legacy is debated over and over. Often by those without either the vision or wisdom to do so, ranking presidents on some top 10 list, as if we can quantify greatness.

Our more recent presidents have allowed themselves to be seduced into this thinking. They begin talking about their legacies as soon as they enter office, recording every moment, hoarding every piece of paper, writing diaries in anticipation of books to be written and libraries to be built after they leave office. I've never had much time for people who were more concerned with how they would be perceived than what they could accomplish. I don't see how we can ever have an effective leader if he (or she) is making decisions based upon how his actions will be perceived in a future history book than how effective his actions are in the present. That's not leadership; that's an audition. Right now, it seems to me that we need a leader far more concerned with our present problems than with his legacy.

Leadership is really not about a leader or at least, it shouldn't be. Leadership should be about service. It appears counter-intuitive but the role of the leader is of both domination and submission. We elect our leaders because we assume that he will make decisions that are in our best interest but we do not relinquish our role in the decision-making. We are not children to be lead but partners in the process. The role of a leader is noble one and, more so, in this country because it is a choice. One does lead but only, with the permission of those to be led. The leader chooses to lead and the populace chooses the leader. That is the essence of democracy. Those that forget that do so, to the detriment of us all. I bring this up only because it appears, at times, that we, all, have forgotten our roles and responsibilities. We elect leaders, assign them the role of messiahs and wait for the miracles to happen. The leaders, in the void of our attention, become less and less concerned with our well-being and more concerned with their legacies.

I don't believe in messiahs or miracles in politics. I believe in democracy,though not with the fevor of some because I am aware of its imperfections. It is, I think, a work in progress. Being a part of it is a tireless and thankless job. But it has occurred to me that while there may not be messiahs, but there might be superstars, those people that just through the force of their will and talent stand above the rest. Those folks, the ones that would want to be president now, while we are facing the largest economic crisis ever, are in engaged in two wars and have strained relations with our allies, would have to be one of those people. This would have to be a person, like Micheal Jordan, who wants the ball when it is the last game of the championship series and the team is down by one with time ticking off the clock. They want the ball, yes, because of the moment but also because they have the courage to take the shot, all with sweaty palms, the roar of the crowds, and hands-in-your-face defense and the pressure of your fans, family and teammates watching. Because they can see past it, to the basket and the victory afterward.

Sometimes they make the shot; sometimes they don't. I say, give them the ball and see what they can do.

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