Tag Archives: Ellwood Park

A new day might bring a new era

As I write these few words, we’re about 15 hours or so from sunrise on a new day in the Texas Panhandle.

We intend to mark the day in a way I never thought would occur. We’re going to Ellwood Park sometime Saturday morning, look for a place to park our car and we’re going to visit with what I hope is a large crowd of marchers.

I’m not sure I intend to actually join the March For Our Lives. I do intend to bring my notebook, a pen and that trusty camera on my cell phone. I intend to talk to young people, some of their parents and perhaps an onlooker or two (or three) to get a sense of what they hope to accomplish.

The March For Our Lives is a national event that has washed over Amarillo. Caprock High School students are taking the lead on organizing the local event; they have the support of their teachers and, I’ll presume, their parents.

It’s not too much of a stretch to wonder if this march portends a new era, whether it signals an awakening among young students who feel endangered by the threat of gun violence.

By now you know that the March For Our Lives was spurred by the slaughter of 17 students and staff members at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. The students are outraged, enraged and, yes, frightened. To their huge credit, they aren’t letting their fear overcome them. Many of these Douglas High School students are going to march on Washington, D.C.

Meanwhile, their high school-age brethren are marching in streets throughout the country. I saw a map on TV showing communities where March For Our Lives is staging demonstrations; the map was covered with dots denoting such activity.

The students here who’ve taken up this cudgel deserve high praise. I intend to offer it to those I meet.

Amarillo will join the nationwide march. We’ll need to get there early enough to find some parking near Ellwood Park.

I’m looking forward to the new day. May it signal an awakening.

Hoping this march leaves big footprint

One might be able to expect a big turnout for what’s coming at the end of the week in places such as Berkeley, Boston and Austin.

My strong and sincere hope is that the event that will unfold at Ellwood Park in Amarillo, Texas, will rival what can be expected in those more progressive-minded communities.

Students from throughout the Texas Panhandle are going to “March For Our Lives.” They’ll parade through downtown Amarillo and conclude at the Potter County Courthouse. There, they will read the names of the 17 students and staff members who were gunned down on Valentine’s Day in Parkland, Fla. Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School has become the latest “name” of tragedy related to gun violence.

Columbine, Sutherland Springs, Las Vegas, Aurora, Sandy Hook, Orlando. And now it’s Parkland. They’re all scarred indelibly — along with too many other sites — by the horror of gun violence.

The students want their collective voice to be heard. They want politicians to listen to them, just as politicians from an earlier era listened to young people who marched against the Vietnam War.

Those earlier young people who now are grandparents of today’s youngsters had “skin in that game.” Many of them did not want to serve in a war with which they disagreed. They marched, chanted and occasionally battled with law enforcement.

Today’s young people believe — correctly, in my view — that they are in the line of fire of another battle. It’s being fought here at home. The gun lobby has lined up one side; these students and many millions of members of the American public are lined up on the other side.

The students want change in the laws that govern the sale and purchase of firearms. They want stricter controls on those who can obtain those weapons. The gun lobby, led by the National Rifle Association, traditionally has opposed those tighter rules and regs, contending that they threaten the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Will the students here in the Texas Panhandle, a place known as being extremely friendly to the gun lobby, be able to have their voices heard as clearly as they’ll be heard next Saturday in other communities? Time will tell us plenty.

Our nation’s young people are frightened. To their credit, though, they aren’t cowering. They are taking their message into city streets and rural roads from coast to coast.

They want to be heard.

Let them be heard while they “March For Our Lives.”

Texas students take a break from protests

Thousands of U.S. students walked out of class today to show their anger and anxiety over gun violence in our nation’s schools.

Oh, but Texas students largely were left out of that protest. They are on spring break this week. So, it follows that there were no classes out of which they could walk to protest gun violence.

The protests continue to build across the land in the wake of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre in Parkland, Fla., that left 17 students and staff members dead; a young man is accused of their murders and faces the possibility of a death sentence if he is convicted of this hideous crime.

Lawmakers keep choking on efforts to enact stricter laws regulating the sale and purchase of guns, the fate of assault weapons. They are hung up on arguing whether to arm teachers, giving them a chance to “neutralize” shooters who open fire.

It’s too bad Texas students are on spring break this week. Oh, but let’s not lament their absence today.

On March 24, Texans are going to join other young Americans on a “March For Our Lives” to continue their protests in search of gun violence remedies.

They’re going to march in communities across the nation, including in Amarillo. Students in Amarillo will gather at Ellwood Park and march through downtown, ending up at the Potter County Courthouse.

These protests — instigated and organized by young people whose brethren have been in the line of fire — are important for a couple of key reasons.

They are putting intense and growing pressure on lawmakers who have the authority to act on behalf of those who are making these demands.

They also are sending an important message, which is that they are either old enough to vote now or will be soon; moreover, they say they intend to hold lawmakers accountable for their action — or their inaction.

Students have a message worth hearing … and heeding

Amarillo students are going to march … for their lives!

You go, young people. You have something important to add to a growing and significant national discussion.

On March 24, around noon, students are going to begin their “March For Our Lives” at Ellwood Park. They are far from alone. They are joining a national movement that seeks to draw attention to the scourge of gun violence. There will be marches in other communities around the nation on that day.

The catalyst occurred in Parkland, Fla., where a gunman opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. He killed 17 students and staff members before he was arrested.

The shooter might be executed for his crime; or at the least he will spend the rest of his miserable life in prison.

He has ignited a serious call for change.

I heard from a Caprock High School teacher who is helping a couple of young students — Carly Prieto and Wendy Garcia — organize the march.

According to Cindy Dominguez, the students and their families “will take to the streets to demand that their lives and safety become a priority and that we end this epidemic of mass school shootings. The collective voices of the March For Our Lives movement will be heard. That’s exactly what this movement will be about!”

Dominguez notes that “These kids are our future.”

The shooter, indeed, seems to have awakened young people in a way we haven’t yet seen. The Sandy Hook slaughter of 20 first-graders and six teachers didn’t do it. Nor did the Columbine High School massacre in 1999. The Orlando, Fla., nightclub massacre produced more silence, as did the Las Vegas music festival slaughter that killed 59 people.

This one, the Parkland tragedy, seems different in its response.

Dominguez said the march organizers have “invited all the local high schools, middle schools, heck, even the elementary schools can join us.”

The march will start at Ellwood Park and conclude at the Potter County Courthouse. Dominguez indicated that County Judge Nancy Tanner “has yet to say ‘yes'” to the use of the courthouse grounds. I trust the judge will do the right thing and grant permission for these young people to have their voices heard.

This is a big deal. Students want to read the names of the Parkland victims. They intend to recite poems they have written to honor them. And, yes, there will be plenty of rhetoric aimed at the politicians who have the power to legislate remedies to this plague when and where it’s appropriate.

I don’t hold out a huge dose of hope that U.S. Rep. Mac Thornberry or U.S. Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz will respond immediately to what they hear in Amarillo or anywhere else in Texas.

But … this demonstration must take place. These voices must be heard. Their message must be heeded.

Glad to see Confederate debate arrive

I am delighted to see that Amarillo, Texas — my current city of residence — has entered a serious debate that many other communities have already joined.

How do we remember those who fought for the Confederate States of America? Should we remember them? Should we forsake them?

This is an important discussion that erupted in August as a riot ensued in Charlottesville, Va. White supremacists, Klansmen and neo-Nazis marched to protest a plan to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from a public park. Counter protesters emerged to challenge the first group. A young woman was killed when she was run over by a car allegedly driven by a young man with white supremacists sympathies.

The debate hasn’t really let up since.

Now it’s arrived in Amarillo. On Monday, the Amarillo public school system is going to discuss whether to rename Robert E. Lee Elementary School. The Robert E. Lee school situation presents an amazing irony, given that the school is located in a historically black neighborhood. Think of that for a moment: That school is named to honor a man who fought to destroy the United States. And for what purpose? To preserve the enslavement of black Americans!

There’s more discussion about the status of a Confederate soldier statue at Ellwood Park.

A pro-Confederate advocate is urging the City Council to “leave history alone.”

I come at this from a different angle. I am a transplant who chose to move to Amarillo in early 1995. My wife and I came here from Beaumont, Texas, where we lived for nearly 11 years prior to moving to the Panhandle. Indeed, we have witnessed our fair share of racial strife since we moved to Texas in 1984 from Oregon, where I was born and where my wife lived for many years.

Do we honor traitors?

I see the Confederacy as an aftertaste of the nation’s bloodiest armed conflict. The Civil War killed more than 600,000 Americans. Why did they fight? The Confederacy came into being as a protest against federal policy that the Confederate States believed interfered with their own right of self-determination.

Let’s not be coy about what those states wanted to preserve: One of their goals was to maintain slavery.

They separated from the United States of America and then went to war. Where I come from, I consider that an act of treason.

Is that the history we want to preserve? Is that what we honor?

I don’t have any particular concern about those who plaster Confederate flags on their bumpers or fly the Stars and Bars from their car radio antennae. That’s their call. Do I question why they do these things? Sure, but I don’t obsess over it.

Putting these symbols, though, on public property — be they parks or public schools — is another matter.

Preserving and honoring history is fine. I’m all for it. The Civil War, though, represents a dark and grim chapter in our nation’s history that should be remembered, studied and discussed. But do we honor that time? That’s why we have historical museums. We’ve got a damn fine historical museum in Canyon, at the West Texas A&M University campus.

So, let’s have this discussion in Amarillo about the Confederacy. Keep it civil and high-minded.

Scorned women on the march

How does that saying go? “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned”?

A lot of women around the United States of America are feeling scorned today, the first full day of Donald J. Trump’s presidency.

They’re marching on Washington, D.C. They’re marching all across the country. Why, even in Amarillo, Texas — where the president earned about 80 percent of the total vote — women were to march at Ellwood Park.

Their protest? They dislike (a) the election of a man who actually admitted to mistreating women and (b) the defeat of Hillary Rodham Clinton, who most pundits and prognosticators said would make history by becoming the first woman elected president of the United States.


I’m trying to process this collective march throughout the land.

On the one hand, I understand women’s anger, disappointment and pain. Trump campaigned for the presidency while hurling insults at many demographic groups — and that included women, who took personally his attacks on people such as former Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly and actor/comedian Rosie O’Donnell.

But … get this: Exit polling showed that Trump garnered more than 50 percent of the female vote nationwide. Statistically, that might have spelled the difference between winning and losing for the Republican presidential nominee. By capturing a majority of the female vote, does the women’s march overstate the concern that marchers are expressing? I don’t know the answer to that question.

It does appear that the national divide now is split not just along urban and rural residents, among racial groups and among socio-economic groups. It now appears split along gender.

A lot of women are angry today as the realization of Trump’s inauguration as the 45th president is soaking into their consciousness. Not all of them, mind you. Indeed, I know several women here in the Texas Panhandle who voted for Trump — many of them with great trepidation; however, others did so with great enthusiasm.

My advice today to the president? Pay careful attention to what these women on the march are saying. He should not want to be on the receiving end of women’s rage if he scorns them yet again by ignoring their protests.

Flag becomes easy target … with good reason

confederate flag

A flag is coming down today. TV networks are going to cover the event live, such as they did when we launched men to the moon or when we held state funerals for a murdered president.

This is a big deal for an important reason.

The flag — which symbolizes the kind of bigotry that helped launch the Civil War — is an easily recognizable symbol. Its intent today, in many quarters, is to inspire fear and to terrorize Americans.

It has to come down and it has to be placed in a museum, where adults can tell their children about what this flag means to so many millions of Americans.

The flag in question has flown on the state capitol grounds in Columbia, S.C., the state where just a few weeks ago nine African-Americans were slaughtered in a Charleston church. A young white man has been charged with murder; and that same young white man has been revealed to harbor hatred for African-Americans.

And yes, he’s displayed pictures of himself waving that Confederate battle flag.

You see the flag and any number of things come into your mind.

I see the flag as a symbol of oppression. That it would fly on public property — which is owned jointly by African-Americans and white Americans who see the flag as many of us do — is an insult in the extreme.

Moreover, the flag is different from many other Confederate symbols, such as statues.

There’s a statue at the west end of Ellwood Park here in Amarillo of a Confederate soldier. To be honest, I drove by it for years before I even knew what it represented. To this very day I cannot tell you who it represents, and I doubt most Amarillo residents even know the name of the individual depicted by that statue.

Should that artifact come down? I don’t believe its removal is as necessary as the removal of the flag from the statehouse grounds in South Carolina.

We know what the Confederate battle flag represents to many Americans.

And because it is so easily recognizable as what it is, then it needs to come down.