The Grovey Effect and Ryan ~ The Interview

Ryan Grovey is coming to Lincoln. Ryan Grovey is coming to Omaha. Some of you already know him. Perhaps you learned choreography from him when he was a Zumba® Jammer. Or, maybe he trained you to become a MixxedFit® instructor. How about U-Jam Fitness®? If you have not had the opportunity to meet, dance, and/or train with Ryan Grovey, now is your chance.

His first stop is The Clyde Malone Center, in partnership with Danielle Garcia, for its 2nd Annual Health and Fitness Event, 2032 U Street, 3-5 pm, Saturday, April 15. There, Ryan Grovey will be in full effect on the floor bringing his high intensity dance fitness and strength movements. The event is Free and Open to the Public. (Scroll down for poster).

Interested in becoming a The Grovey Effect dance fitness instructor? Join him at The Slay Dome, 6313 Ames Avenue in Omaha, 9am-5pm Sunday, April 16. Sign up at (Scroll down for poster).

Want to know more about Ryan Grovey? Read The Interview below.

What inspired you to form The Grovey Effect dance fitness program?

A lot of things; the main one being COVID. The pandemic really gave me the push I needed to think about creating my own dance fitness program. I am an accomplished dance fitness instructor, having earned my place in dance fitness by way of Hip Hop, Zumba®, MixxedFit®, and World of Dance U-Jam Fitness®. All along, however, I wanted to start my own platform. I talked with my mother who had encouraged me to go on my own for I don’t know how long. My friends had been telling me to step out on my own as well. I just didn’t know how and when to do it. Then COVID hit. My entire income shot to zero after 10 years of the grind and hustle.

How did the pandemic propel you into The Grovey Effect?

I decided to jump online and offer my first free class. I didn’t know what to call it, but I knew I wanted to do my own thing. I put together all choreography I had created over the years. Once I went virtual, I immediately received hundreds of comments! People were asking where to sign up, even how to become an instructor. Let me tell you I had no idea what the heck I was dealing with, but I knew I had created what was the beginning something new and exciting.

Did you create this all on your own?

No. Not at all. I started out very small and created a tight knit committed community! I organized a team of people—some dancers and instructors–to help bring the vision to life. Everyone flew out to Arizona, including my best friend, Diana. The magic of The Grovey Effect was created in my house. We covered my entire upstairs/downstairs wall with post-its and big notepads outlining choreographies and developing our mission.

We filmed about 30 choreographies; later, I conducted a mock training with our corporate team; we had about 60 instructors our first training!

Our mission is to give individuals an incredibly fun, high-energy and effective workout experience that inspires them to develop and grow in all areas of their lives.

What does The Grovey Effect dance fitness program offer that other programs do not?

The Grovey Effect is dance fitness with dynamic cardio, but we incorporate HIIT and strength-style movements. It’s a challenging engagement with dance. We have customized mixes created and arranged by our Grovey Effect DJ. Our classes move dancers to the mountain with a strong push for them to give it all they have. Get that heart rate up!

How has The Grovey Effect developed?

From that first meeting in my house in Arizona, we’ve expanded to a host of states across the country and internationally. I’m talking Mexico, the Philippines, Malaysia, even Japan. We were in Asia for three weeks!

As leaders in the dance fitness industry, GE instructors are valued contributors to positively change the world and instill GE Culture into the lives of our students and community.

Mark out The Grovey Effect team.

Oh wow, yes, our team is spread out all over the country–the world. Our formatting developer, Renee, is in Seattle, Washington; Angela, our Instructor Care Specialist is in Arkansas; Lori, our IT specialist, is here in Arizona; my mom, Patricia Grovey Evans, of course, is the Vice President, and lives in New Mexico; my executive assistant, Pearly, lives in the Philippines.

What do you want to accomplish with The Grovey Effect?

The Grovey Effect is THE next dance fitness program—the largest–on the same level as Zumba! You can print that! We’re just in our second year and we’re already operating in the international arena.

Walk me through your process for developing new choreography? How long does it take you?

I am actually really blessed because my best friend Diana is my choreographer who does the majority of my choreography. I’ll send her the songs that I like and tell her what I envision—a change here, a step there—and we come together to figure out what we can do to maximize and change.

What keeps you motivated?

I’m just a grinder—always have been. I see my vision and I know my vision. I want to be able to take care of my family and have kids; take care of my mother, so I do what I have to do to ensure that I can contribute to a happy healthy lifestyle in the lives of everyone I care about.

Is The Grovey Effect your sole means of exercise?

My dance fitness program is hot cardio, so I have to really integrate the weight training and be sure to eat well. I eat about five times a day. Lots of turkey and fish, and lots of vegetables.

What is the value of dance to you?

Different rhythms speak to the heart … speak to the soul. Dance is movement, and it can take you to different places even in the middle of class. Not to mention that dance allows you to release all the toxins. When I teach, I am motivated by the people who dance with me and find that my platform inspires them to keep on dancing. Someone told me the other day they cannot live without The Grovey Effect! Another wanted to know about online classes because she was leaving for the summer. All contribute to the value of dance in general. I am glad that The Grovey Effect adds tremendous value to dance!

To learn more about Ryan and The Grovey Effect, click link here.

Pinocchio ~ A Review

(special to The Dreher Report)

By Michael Burton

Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio is a masterpiece. (Spoiler alert if you have not seen it yet). Geppetto and his son Carlo are developed in heartfelt detail within the opening 15 minutes. As a consequence, Carlo’s death (which you know is coming) leaves you feeling empty.

Geppetto goes down a dark road of drinking and self-loathing. He quits working and, in a drunken stupor, cuts down Carlo’s memorial tree to make a puppet. It all happens deep in the night while he’s completely shit-faced. A life-long mastery of woodcraft is blurred by alcohol yet it is obvious he can handle a chisel and block plane. It is not until morning, after Pinocchio is brought to life, that you see how freakishly assembled he is. It is shocking at first.

Voiced by a wonderful actor (Gregory Mann), Pinocchio quickly overcomes awkward social queues, falls in with a loathsome puppeteer named Count Volpe (Christoph Waltz), and becomes a beloved performer. You fall in love with him too.

Then he dies.

Throughout the film, Pinocchio ventures back and forth between the afterlife. Each time he encounters four black rabbits who look like the bunny in Donnie Darko. He learns the rules of eternal life from Death (Tilda Swinton) who is scary at first. She embodies Greco Roman, Egyptian, and Mesopotamian Gods all mixed together.

The narrative becomes a proto-Grecian myth as Death explains things patiently to Pinocchio. Each time he dies (whether by vehicle, bullet, or sea-mine) he learns that he has agency in life and he can learn from his mistakes. He learns of deeper more troubling problems too, privy only to those who live forever.

Pinocchio cost $35 million to produce. Once you see the quality of stop-motion animation you might guess why. This is by far one of the best stop-motion films.

Check out this interview with the character designers, animator, and production designer

Michael Burton is a digital artist, film director, and animation producer. Burton combines art, film, and animation to create historically based stories. He has produced several hybrid-animation shorts including Gold Slipper by Willa Cather (2020), Anna (2018), and Freedom Stories (2022). Burton produced and animated the feature film The Bell Affair (2022). Burton’s digital artwork has been featured across the country and in solo exhibitions at the National Willa Cather Center in Red Cloud, Nebraska, the Denver Art Museum, RISD Art Museum, Joslyn Art Museum, Digital Graffiti in Alys Beach, Florida, and the Sheldon Art Museum. 

He is currently the director of the Robert Hillestad Textiles Gallery and an Assistant Professor of Foundation Art and Design at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Prime Notes

by: Jameel Rashad Patterson

Jameel Rashad Patterson comments on the decision Deion Sanders made to accept the offer of Head Coach at the University of Colorado. Sanders’s decision has drawn controversy given he left Jackson State University, a beloved HBCU in Mississippi.

Special to The Dreher Report

I see both sides of it. It would have been cool if he could have ushered in a new era where the Black community had stake in the talent base of Black athletes. Ultimately, we do not know what Deion Sanders went through as coach of Jackson State, how much support he received, and how the HBCU community welcomed him.

I guarantee you this: Somebody at Jackson State and in the HBCU world is happy he is gone.

From my experience, some members of the Black community would rather keep things the way they are because they benefit some kind of way. Even when Nick Saban [head coach at the University of Alabama] came at Prime, there were probably people in the HBCU world who agreed with him. People usually side with power. Even the people bashing Prime for doing what he deems to be best for him and his family probably do the same thing in their own communities and families.

We really stand on the shoulders of our ancestors, our people who stuck together and created networks. We are not the same as our ancestors, however, even though we stand on common historical ground. They owned sports teams, built communities together. Our ancestors started these colleges, and supported the civil rights movement. In some ways, that’s not our culture today. We bend toward individualism.

In essence, Coach Prime talked a good game so that is why he is getting criticism. Oftentimes when we embark on agendas for the Black community we are not prepared for Black people to be adversarial with us. That’s disheartening, and if Prime went through that, I do not blame him for leaving.

Ultimately we want Prime to lead a grassroots effort of building from the ground up. It is not that we do not have the parts, it is a kind of culture we have embraced for the past four decades in which those parts do not operate in unison. It is an individualistic type culture. Some of us still have the communal ways of our ancestors but those ways are not the dominant culture in Black America .

One of those parts is the HBCU. Why don’t we see rich Black athletes putting their money together to create conglomerates? We say we need to start our own league well Ice Cube did it but you do not see Jay Z, Dre, Puff or whoever helping him for purpose creating our own institutions. It’s obvious: the incentives are not here but can be found in the 40s and 30s, those times. I am not mad at Prime moving with the current of the culture. We have to embrace change and embrace new ideas or a culture of individualism will take shape. I say let’s change the culture.

The Woman King ~ Commentary

by Ronald Jones

(special to The Dreher Report)

Rome. Sparta. The Vikings. Ancient China. Great Britain. Movies have been made about these and numerous other aggressive polities in world history. Each one has conquered, slaughtered, and enslaved their way to dominance, and they conquered, slaughtered and enslaved to maintain their dominance.  

We enjoyed Gladiator (2000) and 300 (2006), as well as their predecessors The Robe (1953), Ben Hur (1959), and Spartacus (1960) (among others), even though the Romans, throughout the course of their existence as part of a republic and later empire, routinely committed mass murder and enslaved countless Europeans. Yet, they’ve been consistently valorized in cinema. The movie 300, for instance, made it seem as though Sparta was a bright beacon of the Greek idea of freedom in opposition to Persia’s despotism and slavery. Sparta, though, repressed its subservient Helot population with terrible ruthlessness.  

I’m aware of Dahomey’s history, and have never had any illusion about the brutality of its armies and the role the kingdom played in feeding the slave trade. However, we shouldn’t shy away from seeing an African kingdom and empire portrayed on screen because of objectionable aspects of its history.  

I want to see every African empire and historical African figure either featured in film or in a mini-series format, warts and all, because every precolonial African state has caused massive bloodshed and suffering from the wars they have waged. On the flipside, these very African states produced some of the finest art, literature and architecture the world has ever seen. Their highly developed statecraft, as well, belied traditional European/American notions of Africans being primitive savages. For example, Scottish philosopher David Hume wrote in his essay “Of National Characters”, that there were “no ingenious manufactures amongst [the African], no arts, no sciences.” Emmanuel Kant, the German philosopher, believed as well, that among “…the Negros of Africa … not a single one was ever found who presented anything great in art or science or any other praise-worthy quality…”  

We should bring to light these African kingdoms and empires just as the Might of Rome and the semi-mythical King Arthur and his famed knights of the roundtable have been repeatedly highlighted in popular culture. 

The creators of The Woman King, I am sure, are seeking to capitalize on what they hope will be a successful Black Panther sequel. Keep in mind, though, that the Dahomean warrior women were unique in the world at that time and in history as being the only organized group of women soldiers. When we speak of great women in African history, it’s usually as individuals. Nzinga or Amina for example, who, besides being strong leaders, demonstrated individual combat abilities. The Dahomean women were regiments of skilled fighters, the elite of the Dahomean military. Their achievements almost demanded a movie.

Ronald Jones is a writer of science fiction. He has written three novels Warriors of the Four Worlds, Blood, Sweat, and Blaster Bolts: Adrenaline Charged Tales of Speculative Fiction, and Interrupted Journey.

The Meaning of Hitler

We know practically every tract of land through which the train tracks ran: Auschwitz. Buckenwald. Birkennau. Dachau. Sobibor—to name a few. Based on the book by Sebastian Haffner, The Meaning of Hitler is a seductive documentary – seductive because I clung to every piece of dialogue and every scene for that one glimmer of understanding. Maybe, just maybe, this time, I thought, the directors, Petra Epperlein and Michael Tucker; the screenwriter Sebastian Haffner; or maybe the historians Deborah Lipstadt, Saul Friedländer, and Yehuda Bauer; or the pscychiatrists, sociologist, the archaeologist, and famed Nazi hunters Beate and Serge Klarsfeld, will say the words that will put to rest finally just who was Adolf Hitler and shed some light finally on his meaning to the world, in general, and specifically, to German history.

And I waited.

What is interesting about The Meaning of Hitler is the all-present Mercedes-Benz hood ornament. Designed by Gottlieb Daimler in 1872, each point stands for transportation on land, water, and air. The camera filters the scenic routes through the 3-points-in-a-circle as the filmmakers travel to the next destination. Post-screening of The Meaning of Hitler, the luxury status of a shiny white Mercedes-Benz I saw cruising on O-Street, here in Lincoln, Nebraska, was undercut by the ghost of its history; and the knowledge of the complicity of the Daimler Benz company in the Nazi horror. And then there is the microphone—the newly invented microphone–that allowed Hitler to move about uninhibited onstage as it lifted the messages from his voice, carried them through the air, and landed them on the ears of the assembled masses.

And I waited.

Edited with tight-fisted precision, Epperlein and Tucker remarkably juxtapose mob exhilaration over the Beatles at Shea Stadium and Donald J. Trump speeches, the Charlottesville Tiki torch parade with Hitler’s charismatic personality and his ability to move people to action. The political spectacle dramatized by Leni Riefenstahl in her landmark film Triumph of the Will, produced in 1935, adds an eerie dimension to the documentary

And I waited.

Among other destinations, there are visits to Hitler’s ancestral village in Austria, his apartment complex, and Wolf’s Lair, the Third Reich’s Military headquarters. The most disturbing visual is that of David Irving, a bona fide anti-semitic and a fervent denier of the Holocaust. He believes Hitler’s commanders carried out every atrocity behind the Fuehrer’s back.

And I waited

… only to see how Nazism and Hitler has seeped into pop culture and embraced by a new generation. Be forewarned, these are the most frightening interviews.

Watch for in-depth Film • Television • & More reviews & commentary.

In the meantime, Catch a film … Share the Popcorn … Feed Your Soul!

A Sincere Wish for Love

by Kimberly N. Brown

(special to The Dreher Report

Been talking with a couple of people about the comments made by television talk show host and personality Wendy Williams on Tabitha Brown, actress and vegan chef. Brown made the announcement that she has asked her husband, Chance, a policeman with the Los Angeles Police Department, to retire so he can pursue his dreams. I am not a fan of Wendy Williams, but her comments prove she clearly is scarred deeply by the infidelity of Kevin Hunter, her former husband and manager.

So many of us are broken. No one talks about how to love in a healthy fashion.

I watched the clip of Williams basically calling Tabitha a fool for giving her husband the go ahead to follow his dreams after he stood by her to help her realize her dream. It was an agreement between both parties. After showing Tabitha’s clip on her show, Wendy predicted “this marriage is going to be on real rocky ground in a moment.” She even went so far as to mock Tabitha’s [southern] accent. What tripped me out is that Tabitha is so well loved, secure in her relationship, and grounded in herself and her faith that she didn’t clap back or lash out at Williams. Instead, she put Wendy in her place and gave her what appeared to be a sincere wish for love. She responded, “Wendy, honey, God Bless you … The pain you must be in to feel this way … and I am so sorry. … This is my prayer for you: I pray that love finds you … and holds you tight … I pray that someone will love you enough to see you … when you are not well. …”

So many of us are broken. No one talks about how to love in a healthy fashion. One of my favorite quotations about loving comes from Paul D, an ex-slave in Toni Morrison’s novel Beloved, who searches himself to find the words to express his feelings for Sethe: “Suddenly he remembers Sixo trying to describe what he felt about the Thirty-Mile Woman. She is a friend of my mind. She gather me, man. The pieces I am, she gather them and give them back to me in all the right order. It’s good, you know, when you got a woman who is a friend of your mind.” Sixo, who was enslaved along with Paul D on Sweet Home plantation, was the original Sapiosexual. He’s not saying that Thirty Mile Woman completes him; he’s saying that she helps him see things clearly — most importantly, she helps him to see his authentic self.

I pray that someone will love you enough to see you … when you are not well. …

~ Tabitha Brown to Wendy Williams

Sixo’s love for the Thirty Mile Woman is different than that tired shit guys talk about when they say they want women to be their “peace” — the passivity of that statement rattles me. It’s a type of nurturing that is one-sided. I prefer the active quality of being a friend to someone’s mind. Life is chaotic and dangerous. There are many pathways to loving — but this way means someone is helping you see yourself the right way, who you ought to be. They are helping you to become the best version of yourself. That’s what Chance did for Tabitha.

What would happen if we developed an ethic of loving where we sought out friendships and romantic relationships that help us to sort each other out? Tabitha Brown made it known–and made it known clearly–that Chance, her husband, helped her to realize the best version of herself. Now, for all of his sacrifice on their journey, she gave him the choice to follow his dreams now that they have made it to the destination. Wendy, your gossip will not–no cannot riff on this kind of love. I join Tabitha in her prayer that love finds you (and finds you soon).

Kimberley Brown, Ph.D. is Associate Professor of Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University. She has published Writing the Black Revolutionary Diva: Women’s Subjectivity and the Decolonizing Text (Indiana UP). She currently is at work on two book-length manuscripts, IncogNegro Stances: Cross-racial Espionage in Contemporary Literature and Film (under contract with University of Mississippi Press) and Through Ebony Eyes: A Black Feminist and Ethical Praxis of Viewing Contemporary Film.

Stop Buttin’ Into the Uterus

by Anneice Jones Robin

Special to The Dreher Report

Just finished talking to a friend. She has a newborn and people are pressuring her already to have another baby. I encouraged her to follow her heart and not allow others to butt into her uterus. I honestly believe if more women talked about all what happens with pregnancy and postpartum, that more women would choose not to have children.

The changes a woman’s body undergoes to bring a life into this world are truly amazing, but they are terrifying and life/body altering for many as well. So, when some mothers rush to work off that baby fat, don’t just brush off their frustrations or impatience. Know that many times it’s not even about the weight, but it may be a mother’s effort to regain once again a sense of normalcy and familiarity she had with her body before pregnancy.

Settle in. This is about to be TMI. Oh, well. I still would choose to have children but more knowledge about pregnancy and postpartum would have served me well. Like, I am about to be 8 months postpartum, and my organs and abdomen feel bruised to the touch on the inside. Every time I try to do any ab work, I feel like I’m about to tear something. My C-section has caused the skin on my stomach below my belly button to have very little feeling. My muscles were strained during my firstborn’s delivery. I have to have surgery on my rectum. Why? Because I can’t have a complete bowel movement most times without doing an anal douche.

I honestly believe if more women talked about all what happens with pregnancy and postpartum, that more women would choose not to have children.

Stop asking women “when will they have children?” or “That’s the first one; when are going to get the second one? You know you ain’t no spring chicken.” You don’t know if they even want to have children. You don’t know what it took for them to have the child or children they currently have. You don’t know if they can have children. You don’t know if their lives are set up in a way that they feel comfortable having them.

The changes a woman’s body undergoes to bring a life into this world are truly amazing, but they are terrifying and life/body altering for many as well.

I was guilty of making these same asking points for a very long time. Then I began to think what if people asked “so when are you going to buy a house?” or “You should quit teaching, because you’re so good at [fill in the blank]” or “you would be an amazing [fill in the blank]” or “When are you going to get a PhD? You ain’t no spring chicken.” These questions speak to the whole woman; they speak to life outside of the womb.

I mean the world thinks it has a right to butt into a woman’s uterus and the right to tell her what to do with it.

To all my friends: If I’ve ever butted into your uterus, please forgive me.

Anneice Robin Jones is an English Language Arts Teacher (ELA) at Korea International School JeJu and Teacher at Mansfield ISD. She is from Omaha, Nebraska. A mother of two boys, she is married to Tremuir Robin.

It’s The Same & Not in Any Order

by De’Kendria Stamps

Special to The Dreher Report

To those who speak in disbelief saying, “This is Not America!” I offer a friendly amendment to your statement, “This Is Not America to YOU!” It has always been America to us.

This is the same America that practically wiped out the Native Americans. The same America that touted manifest destiny and enacted brutalization and terror on the Trails of Tears and the during the Middle Passage of the mid-Atlantic slave trade.

The America that enacted full on lynchings while parents held picnic baskets on one arm and the hands of their children as they sat down on blankets to watch.

The same America that forced Native children into boarding schools and Japanese families into internment camps. The same America that tricked Black men into being inoculated with syphilis known as The Tuskegee Experiment. The same America that burned down Black Wall Street, Black churches, and Black towns. The same America that allowed the burning of crosses by the Ku Klux Klan in Black yards.

This is the America that hunted down Emmett Till and allowed the murderers to walk free even after they admitted to the crime during an 1950 interview in Look magazine.

The same America denied people the right to vote, stole family land through circumvented property laws, and continues to stifle Black economic empowerment through gentrification and predatory lending practices.

The same America that hoodwinked the nation with Reconstruction only to enact grandfather laws, Jim Crow, and reading tests to compromise our ability to vote. The same America that did not allow women to vote until 1920. The same America that forced members of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. to march at the end of the Women’s Suffrage March of 1913 as to not sully the movement for white women.

The same America that necessitated the fugitive slave narratives of Henry “Box” Brown, Ellen & William Craft, Harriet Jacobs, Frederick Douglass, Olaudah Equiano, and Joseph Cinqué. The same America that celebrated the movie “Birth of Nation”; that same America whose president screened the movie in the White House.

The same America seeking to diminish any other form of beauty that steps outside of its white, blond, blue-eyed ideal.

The same America that wrote of freedom, justice, and the pursuit of happiness while simultaneously choking the life out of millions of nonwhite lives.

The same America flooded our neighborhoods with drugs, refused to enact a standard living wage, and preached bootstrap theology. The same America that decided that your sons and daughters were victims of a drug epidemic and now drug addiction should be considered a public health emergency.

The same America denied Black people the right to vote, stole family land through circumvented property laws, and continues to stifle Black economic empowerment through gentrification and predatory lending practices.

The same America that makes me cry when I look into the eyes of one of my brothers, and he tells me, ‘De’Kendrea, at least they let you in. They automatically see me as a threat’ during a conversation we had about employment.

The same America created an intricate private school system after desegregation and a corrupt public school system funded by an imbalanced property tax system.

The same America that created white flight, suburbia, and exclusive neighborhoods. The same American that created HOAs, citizens councils, public charge, COINTELPRO, and the OG labor unions.

The same America that makes me cry when I look into the eyes of one of my brothers, and he tells me, “De’Kendrea, at least they let you in. They automatically see me as a threat” during a conversation we had about employment. This America does not see his multiple college degrees, strong work ethic, or commitment to his family.

Terrorists, seditionist, and traitors have existed–always.

This is the America that killed Sandra Bland, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks, Daniel Prude, George Floyd, Atatiana Jefferson, Aura Rosser, Stephon Clark, Botham Jean, Philando Castille, Alton Sterling, Michelle Cusseaux, Freddie Gray, Janisha Fonville, Eric Garner, Akai Gurley, Tamir Rice, and countless others.

So, when you exalt, “This Is Not America.” I offer a friendly amendment, “This Is Not America to YOU.” It has been America to us–always.

Terrorists, seditionist, and traitors have existed–always. They shot James Meredith as he fought for an education in the south, placed our sons/brothers on the frontlines of wars and ripped GI Bill benefits from them upon return, and beat Fannie Lou Hamer as she battled for her right to vote.

So, now that you see it, will you decide to unsee it? Will you hide in your shroud of privilege and supremacy? Will you busy yourselves with book clubs, planning councils, and longitudinal studies? Or will you take a long, hard look inside yourself and your families to root out these seeds of injustice, bigotry, and hate? You will see, it’s the same

De’Kendrea grew up in the bustling metropolis of Crystal Springs, MS (population 4,853), in a family that truly believes in public service and social justice.

She is the FoodShare Outreach Program Director for Madison Region Economic Partnership (MadREP). While working at MadREP she was inspired by quality of life metrics. From there, De’Kendrea quickly developed a passion for issues focusing on the social determinants of health, which include access to transportation, education, and healthy food. Nearly 15 years later, De’Kendrea provides support to our SNAP Outreach team and is happy to spend her days ensuring that all Wisconsinites have access to food and benefits they need to work, learn, play, and live healthy lives.

… who gave you life: An Encomium for the Vote

Screen Shot 2020-08-27 at 4.35.32 PMby T. Renée Crutcher

(special to The Dreher Report)

To you who disrespect

those who

gave you


They lived

for us.

They understood

Life to Life.

People of the earth.

They speak to us

from the ground.

They shed their shackles

from a resurrection spirit


The puritanical self-righteous attitudes related to the vote and the disrespect for the generations that gave you birth and life, nurtured you, left you an inheritance of faith, hope, institutions of education, commerce, skills, land, and gave slave names dignity makes this position deserving of Donald Trump and the GOP. Why? Because your ingratitude for the blood spilled over the African diaspora for you to live and to have the rights you enjoy now that you didn’t fight for nor earned matters not to you.

You think the elders are useless.

Go ahead.

Drop the excrement of your disrespect with no regard to the privilege to vote you have that you paid no price for.

Go ahead.

Expect results that you aren’t even willing to fight for because you just give up and refuse to vote.

Our lives are at stake. Don’t you know? You curse the wombs that bore you. You curse the seed that created you when you, as a Black person in this country, decide because Jesus isn’t the nominee you won’t vote. “Oh,” you ask, “what are you talking about?” Here is what I’m saying: You are looking for that perfect candidate. Well, I’ve got news for you: There never will be that candidate.

Unbeknownst to you, our ancestors are still making ways that you can’t and are unwilling to see.

Know this: People and situations evolve. The evolution may not be at breakneck speed and it may be too slow sometimes. Be not dismayed. Every piece of a pace is a gain. Don’t you know to just live is revolutionary? You gotta keep on pushing as Curtis Mayfield encouraged us in the 1960s.

If your decision is to give up and not fight then here is what I have to say to you: Don’t dishonor those who walked the journey for you to be here now—in this moment–and even left you a blueprint for you on how to thrive by speaking their names.

Remember this: Congressman John Robert Lewis and Rev. Cordy Tindall “C. T.” Vivian died on the same day having witnessed the gutting of voting rights, yet both men died with dignity, bravery, and hope for us and for our country.

Screen Shot 2020-09-24 at 4.30.58 PM

Let me tell you. On February 1965, on the steps of the Dallas County Courthouse in Selma, Alabama, C. T. Vivian, with several civil rights activists faced segregationist Sheriff Jim Clark who refused to let him enter. C. T. Vivian warned Clark, “You can turn your back on me, but you cannot turn your back upon the idea of justice. […] you can keep the club in your hand, but you cannot beat down justice. We will register to vote, because as citizens of these United States we have the right to do it.” Sheriff Clark hit him in the face with his club. C. T. Vivian kept on speaking; he was arrested. On August 5, 1965, Congress passed the Voting Rights Act. C. T. Vivian died July 17, 2020.

Let me tell you. Congressman Lewis never forgot about us, even on his death bed. On July 30, 2020, the New York Times published his final words of wisdom and encouragement. Before you even get to the general content of his words, he speaks to us in the title, “Together, you can redeem the soul of our nation. Though I am gone, I urge you to answer the highest calling of your heart and stand up for what you truly believe.” Our Statesman died on July 17, 2020.


Yet, some of you decide you’re wiser than either of them for not voting because the perfect candidate is not on the ballot. I’ll state it again: there is, never was, and never will be that candidate!

Let me tell you something: Unbeknownst to you our ancestors are still making ways that you can’t or simply are unwilling to see. Why? Because you enjoy the benefits of the sacrificial bravery of those who came before us but disparage their wisdom and knowledge.

Go ‘head …

… wit yo bad self! Raise your hands. Shrug your shoulders. Claim, “it is what is is!”

I write this in all sincerity: Our ancestral heritage does not tell us to be silent over things that matter; not family, friend, nor foe.

As I close, I’m thinking. Maybe, just maybe, we need to stop using the word “woke” ‘cause it’s past tense. In this present moment, we need to wake up and stay awake. Our ancestors and those on whose shoulders we stand gave us life. Let there be an encomium for the most nonviolent gesture in the land they fought for us to have: the vote.

◊ T. Renée Crutcher is the founder, CEO at Sankofa Ministries & Tellin’ Our Story Publishing, Inc. in Atlanta, Georgia. She is a graduate of the Candler School of Theology, Emory University.

Now is the Time: An Inflection Point to Equal Justice

Screen Shot 2020-06-10 at 2.46.09 PMby Luther J. Battiste, III
National President
The American Board of Trial Advocates
special to The Dreher Report

The American Board of Trial Advocates held its first meeting of 2020 in Charleston, South Carolina, in January.  The keynote speaker during the business session was Judge Richard M. Gergel, a distinguished federal judge in Charleston. He was the South Carolina ABOTA Judge of the Year in 2017 and the trial judge in the case of Dylann Roof, the young man convicted of killing nine church members at Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston.

Judge Gergel spoke about his recent book, Unexampled Courage: The Blinding of Sgt. Isaac Woodard and the Awakening of President Harry S. Truman and Judge J. Waites Waring. The book is about a young African American soldier returning home in uniform from service in the Pacific during World War II.  Sgt. Woodard was struck unlawfully with a blackjack by a white South Carolina police chief, gouging his eyes and permanently blinding him.  The horrific incident was publicized on the radio airwaves by Orson Welles and others, which resulted in a national public outcry about the inhumane actions of the police chief. It was an inflection point for President Truman and influenced his decision to issue an Executive Order integrating the armed forces.  It also inspired Judge J. Waites Waring, a federal judge and native Charlestonian, to become a champion of civil rights in his rulings.

Screen Shot 2020-06-10 at 2.32.00 PMLast week, a 17-year-old girl captured on video a white Minneapolis police officer with his knee pressed on the neck of an African American man, George Floyd, for almost nine minutes. Despite pleas from Mr. Floyd saying, “I can’t breathe,” the officer and three other officers standing by continued until there was no breath left in George Floyd’s body. This horrific event outraged the world and was an affront to the African American community, which was already grappling with the recent deaths of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor and the disproportionate effect of COVID-19 on African American communities.

Citizens in this country and the world have exercised their First Amendment right to protest the tragic death of George Floyd.  These protests have brought together diverse groups of people of goodwill to challenge the treatment that these men and women suffered and the systemic problems with explicit bias, racism and policing in this country.

The United States of America was born from protest.  Protesters today are demanding equal justice, which is an American ideal not always practiced.  The words “Equal Justice Under Law” are carved in marble above the entrance to the United States Supreme Court. These words emphasize the Fourteenth Amendment requirement that “nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.”

The United States is at another inflection point in its history.  The people of this country are telling us that it is time, it is necessary for us to address the history of racial injustice and systemic problems with policing and the legal system. They are telling us that it is time to respect the rule of law. We, at this time, in this country, must find a way to channel protest to policy.

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Protestors at the State Capital, Columbia, SC

ABOTA is an organization of members of goodwill.  It is an organization that has a respect for the Constitution and the rule of law.  ABOTA’s Code of Professionalism states that members should “encourage respect for the law, the courts and the right to trial by jury.”  We have a mandate to support change in our criminal justice system and to dismantle the systemic racism that plagues our cities and country and affects how policing is practiced.

We should actively support social justice for all. It should be a bedrock of our ideals, our mission, and our programming.  Our members should engage in dialogue that confronts the issues that divide us.  We should encourage our government leaders to address the root causes of the problems that result in the misuse of police authority. We should advocate for a legal system which ensures proper charging of offenders and a trial that is fair to the accused and the victims.

I have hope that the tremendous outpouring of peaceful resistance in our streets and the demands for changes in our legal system will serve to bend the arc of the moral universe toward justice.  We should be a country of equality where every person regardless of race, creed, color, religion or sexual orientation can have an expectation of liberty and justice for all.

I have faith that ABOTA members will not be merely observers but advocates for positive change and will seize this moment with enthusiasm, goodwill and open minds by accepting the responsibility to be leaders in creating a better world.

Finally, President Jimmy Carter provided a telling statement about the recent protests nationwide.  “People of power, privilege, and moral conscience must stand up and say ‘no more’ to a racially discriminatory police and justice system, immoral economic disparities between whites and blacks, and government actions that undermine our unified democracy,” the President said. “We are responsible for creating a world of peace and equality for ourselves and future generations.”

Abraham Lincoln knew that the nation could not afford to look away, instilling a sense of duty in all of us, when he said, “Let’s have faith that right makes might; and in that faith let us, to the end, dare to do your duty as we understand it.” He later said,“It often requires more courage to dare to do right than to fear to do wrong.”

(reprinted from the American Board of Trial Advocates newsletter June 5, 2020 with permission by the author)

Screen Shot 2019-11-12 at 3.51.09 PMLuther J. Battiste, III is a founding shareholder of Johnson, Toal & Battiste, P.A. in Columbia, South Carolina. He is a graduate of the University of South Carolina and Emory University Law School. In 1983, Luther entered the political arena and made history by becoming one of the first two African-Americans elected to Columbia City Council since Reconstruction. He served fifteen years as a member of the Columbia City Council including two terms as Mayor Pro Tempore. In 1998, the City of Columbia dedicated to Luther J. Battiste, III the Monument and Plaza in honor of his dedicated service as a public servant.


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