Tuesday, September 10, 2019

CONYERS Portrait In The U.S. House Judiciary Committee 2017

The portrait was placed, stage left, on the wall of the U.S. House of Representative Judiciary Committee.

Portrait by Simmie Knox

C-SPAN has locked the video on embedding, obstructing use in the public record.

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Friday, August 30, 2019

John Conyers, Sr. - Forefather of the UAW - Detroit & GM

I remember when he told me of how his father was beaten and bloodied trying to form the union by GM in Detroit.

Since this his legacy has been omitted from the history books, I believe we shall have a few fun projects coming up.

John Conyers, Sr.

Published: January 4, 1986

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John Conyers, Sr.
Forefather of the UAW
DETROIT, Jan. 3— John Conyers Sr., a retired union official who was the father of Representative John Conyers Jr., Democrat of Michigan, died Wednesday at his Detroit home. He was 80 years old. Mr. Conyers had been an international representative for the United Automobile Workers.

In addition to his son John, Mr. Conyers is survived by his wife, Lucille, and another son, Nathan.

Black history, labor history intertwined in Detroit

March 1, 2010 11:58 AM CDT  BY JOHN RUMMEL

DETROIT – Between the two World Wars, the groundwork was laid in this city’s Black community that culminated in the 1941 organizing of the world’s most powerful corporation: the Ford Motor Company.

That piece of  Detroit’s rich labor and civil rights history was brought to life by professors Beth Bates and Quill Pettway in a Department of Africana Studies Black History Month celebration at Wayne State University here.

Bates’ research has focused on political, social, and economic developments within the 20th century African American community. Pettway is both a student and maker of history. He was helped organize the huge Ford Rouge plant and continued working there for 27 years before becoming a professor. Now almost 90, he continues to teach math at Wayne County Community College.

The two traced the origins of Detroit’s Black population. Escaping what for many was life as a Southern sharecropper, Black migration north took place at record levels in the early part of the last century. From 1916 to1917, Black migration to Detroit averaged 1,000 a month. “Simply put, they came looking for a better life, better education, security and to escape lynching” said Pettway.

By the early 1920s, 45 percent of Black men in Detroit worked at Ford.

Bates said those jobs at Ford gave hope to Blacks, but Henry Ford “extracted more than his pound of flesh in speed-ups.”  She quoted the late autoworker Dave Moore who said “there was nothing liberal in the bastard – Ford’s strategy was simply different than GM or Chrysler,” where cleaning rest rooms and mopping floors was the best Blacks could expect.

Interwoven in Ford’s strategy was a paternalistic philosophy. Bates said Ford imagined Blacks might be “the perfect workers for his open shop movement, what he called his American Plan.” However, Bates said, Blacks also had their own American Plan, one that grew more incompatible with Henry Ford as time went by. Contrary to what many scholars have written, it was Black workers who paved the way for unionization at Ford, she said.

Throughout the 1930s the old AFL autoworkers union missed opportunities to support the Black community in their fight for civil rights and against police brutality, and did not work to develop a broader-based union organizing drive.  “Black workers not initially signing union cards had less to do with allegiance to Ford than wanting to be treated as equals” by the union, said Bates.

She credited the role played by the Communist Party and other radicals in organizations like the unemployed councils and the International Labor Defense (which led the fight to save the Scottsboro Boys) because they facilitated a “cross-fertilization” and politicalization within the Black community, between workers at Ford and community members, on issues like racism, civil rights and jobs.

“By 1935, Black Detroiters considered Communists friends you could count on,” said Bates.

Unlike the old AFL union, the CIO’s United Auto Workers had a policy of racial equality that gave it an advantage, Pettway said.

He noted the role played by white Ford worker and lead union organizer Bill McKie. McKie’s job in Ford’s maintenance department allowed him to circulate amongst different workers. The fact that McKie was a known Communist did not hurt his ability to organize.  He was “second to none, highly respected by everyone. Elected as a trustee his first year,” said Pettway.

The CIO saw to it that a broad base of union support was built within the Black community and on three occasion organized rallies with Paul Robeson.

Pettway said the last rally, in Detroit’s downtown Cadillac Square, drew 60,000 people. “Regardless of race, creed or color, they came to hear Robeson, Walter Reuther, former City Council President Erma Henderson,” among others.

On May 21, 1941, Ford workers overwhelmingly voted for the union.

The vote shook the automotive industry and shaped it for decades to come.

During discussion, retired UAW activist General Baker pointed to the “high level of solidarity” still seen within UAW Ford Local 600. At its peak there were 17,000 Black workers and even today, most top UAW national leaders come out of Local 600 he said.

Pettway said “the unity needed to organize Ford was the same unity that elected Barack Obama.  This is what is necessary to move forward.”

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Friday, August 9, 2019

Rufus Cormier Discusses the House Committee on the Judiciary Impeachment Inquiry

How come Rufus has no Wikipedia page?

Lawyer Rufus Cormier was born on March 2, 1948, in Beaumont, Texas to Rufus Cormier and Katie Cormier. Cormier attended Hebert High School, where he played football with Jerry LeVias. Both Cormier and LeVias received full athletic scholarships to play football at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, where Cormier was named outstanding lineman in the 1968 Bluebonnet Bowl. Cormier graduated with honors, earning his B.A. degree in anthropology in 1970. Cormier then received his J.D. degree from Yale University Law School in 1973.

Cormier began his legal career at the law firm of Paul Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton, & Garrison in New York. During his time there, Cormier was hired as a special assistant to John Doar, the lead counsel to the House Judiciary Committee for the Nixon Impeachment Inquiry. In 1974, he joined the law firm of Baker Botts LLP, becoming not only the first African American lawyer to be hired as a partner at a major Houston law firm, but also the first African American partner at a major corporate law firm in the State of Texas. After thirty-nine years with Baker Botts LLP, Cormier retired in 2013.

In addition to his law practice, Cormier served on numerous boards. He was appointed to Texas Southern University's Board of Regents in 1991. He also served on the board of directors for the Memorial Hermann Healthcare System, the board of visitors for the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, the board of directors of the Center For Houston’s Future, the executive board of SMU School of Law, and the board of directors for the Gulf Coast Legal Foundation, among others. Cormier was also honored for his professional and volunteer work. He received the Leon Jaworski award from the Houston Bar Association Auxiliary, the Anti-Defamation League’s Karen H. Susman Jurisprudence Award, and the Silver Anniversary Mustang Award from Southern Methodist University. He was also named one of The Best Lawyers in America, and a Super Lawyer by both Texas Monthly and Law and Politics magazines.

Cormier and his wife, Yvonne Clement Cormier, have three children: Michelle, Geoffrey, and Claire.

Rufus Cormier was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on November 30, 2016.

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Saturday, July 20, 2019

CONYERS: FBI Broke the Law and General Counsel’s Office, Headed by Valerie Caproni, Sanctioned It and Must Face Consequences

MARCH 20, 2007

Dean of the U.S. House
of Representatives
John Conyers, Jr.

(Washington) April 14, 2010 - House Judiciary Committee Chair John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) issued the following statement after the Judiciary Subcommittee Hearing on the Report by the Office of Inspector General (IG) of the Department of Justice on the FBI’s Use of Exigent Letters and Other Informal Requests for Telephone Records.

"Today’s hearing showed that the FBI broke the law on telephone records privacy and the General Counsel’s Office, headed by Valerie Caproni, sanctioned it and must face consequences," said Conyers. "I call upon FBI Director Mueller to take immediate action to punish those who violated the rules, including firing them from the agency. This must include the FBI Office of General Counsel, headed by Valerie Caproni, which the IG testified today had ‘approved [the] continued use’ of exigent letters and ‘provided legal advice that was inconsistent with’ federal law.




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Valerie Caproni
"Between 2003 and 2006, the FBI improperly obtained personal telephone record information from U.S. telephone companies for more than 5,500 phone numbers, including private details protected by federal law. The IG found that, during this period, much of this information was obtained through the use of so-called ‘exigent letters’, which do not exist in the Patriot Act and have no statutory basis whatsoever. In some cases agents sent letters with information known to be false.

"The FBI must fulfill its obligations to protect the rights as well as the security of all Americans. I share the concerns of my colleague, the former Republican chairman of the Committee James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), who today said,

‘I’m extremely disappointed that every time Congress has tried to plug potential civil rights and civil liberties violations in our counterterrorism activities, the FBI seems to have figured out a way to get around it.’

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Wednesday, June 5, 2019

CONYERS CONTINUES AT 90: Birthday bash draws over 300 friends, Congress and Detroit VIP’s, well-wishers, and comments on news

John Conyers, Jr.
A Detroit 90th birthday bash for retired Congressman John Conyers, Jr. (D-Detroit) held on May 18 at his brother Nathan’s house drew over 300 friends, Congress and Detroit VIP’s, and well-wishers. The party, organized by wife Monica, Nate, and sons John III and Carl, brought Detroit area congressional representatives Brenda Lawrence, Debbie Dingell, and Rashida Tlaib, great-nephew former State Sen Ian Conyers, and many Detroit political officials including Council President Brenda Jones. An array of Conyers’ former Washington and Detroit top staffers also joined the celebration.
Conyers said in an interview at the event:

· He suggests “not to impeach” Trump now but keep investigating. “The longer he stays in, the more mistakes he’ll make.” He added, “the election will be a tough race. If we’re not careful he’ll win again.”
· Among his many achievements, he’s “most proud” of his Martin Luther King Birthday Holiday bill becoming law. He was asked, “Did you think it would grow into this big an event, a national day of service?” He responded, “Yes. At first there was a small group of people with me. A larger group said it “would never happen. Then other people joined. More introduced their own. Support grew. After the assassination, what he had done resounded with people.” Conyers mentioned he felt the “most association” with King among American leaders, marched with him, went to his home, was endorsed by him for Congress.
Congressman John Conyers Jr. and
Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence
· He’s “all in” supporting Joe Biden’s run for President. Biden was a close colleague who chaired the Senate version of Conyers’ House Judiciary Committee and came to Conyers’ Hill portrait unveiling in Washington. Conyers said Saturday: “He has a good chance, better than Barack had at this point.” Conyers also supported Obama very early on.
· He’s happy his Reparations bill has become a major issue in the presidential campaign. Cong. Brenda Lawrence told him at the event, “It’s the talk of the country.” Conyers said, “It’s getting traction because it makes sense.” He joked, “Most of my stuff makes sense but it doesn’t always help it right away.”
Conyers and Friends at his birthday party.
· On the Medicare-for-All movement where he enlisted a majority of House Democrats, but now weakening a bit under political arguments and industry lobbying since he’s left? Conyers said, “I still feel good about it, it’s moving, it takes time.”
· His resolution that passed in the House for no Iran war without congressional approval is “relevant especially now.”
· He noted that “the first person I hired when I was elected was Rosa Parks.”
· He said his health is good: “There’s not a thing wrong with me, no complaints.” He said he stays “active with events, there are so many who invite and welcome me. I’m privileged.” He said he’s been with many groups “from the beginning.” He’s thinking he’ll “write a book.”
· He offered positive words about his successors, Cong. Talib in Detroit and, at the Judiciary Committee in Washington, Jerold Nadler (D-NY). Talib presented Conyers with a flower bouquet. He said that despite some criticism of her rhetoric, people need to know she “means well.” He said that Nadler is carrying a “good program, well organized” on constitutional issues concerning Trump. Top Judiciary Counsel Perry Apelbaum came from Washington with a resolution congratulating Conyers signed by all Democratic Judiciary congressional members. Also at the party were former office Chief of Staff Ray Plowden and former Judiciary counsel Julian Epstein (and spokesman Bob Weiner, author of this article).
Congresswoman Dingell was seen crying at the event and was asked why. Perhaps summarizing the feelings of many, she said, “I’m just missing him. Lots of great memories of the ups and downs of life.”

Weiner is former communications director for Cong Conyers, a former Clinton and Bush White House spokesman, and former senior aide to Cong. Charles Rangel, Claude Pepper, Ed Koch, and Sen. Ted Kennedy. He now heads a group recruiting young journalists to write for top papers and contributes regularly to the Chronicle.

Voting is beautiful, be beautiful ~ vote.©

Thursday, May 2, 2019