Thursday, June 4, 2015

Harold Michael Harvey Presents Justice in the Round:Essays on American Jury System - Hits Directly into Today's News!

When I first saw the tape on television when Eric Garner was attacked and later died, I can only describe myself as being shocked. There was, in my opinion, no other way to interpret this scene as being anything but brutal and unnecessary. Sadly, I was not surprised. But, still, I just cannot understand how this can happen. 

Note that the first video is randomly picked based upon my search on "I Can't Breathe..." Tell me, when someone says "I Can't Breathe" while another man has a choke hold on the individual, can there be any reason to continue that hold? Not with many other individuals holding that individual down, right?!

Then I learned of the latest book by Harold Michael Harvey. Its title Justice in the Round--I knew I had to read it! Let's face it, the resulting outcome of such actions as shown above ultimately reach the courtroom. Too often, we are amazed at what the outcome is, especially when there is a mix of White cops and Black victims. In my opinion, a death resulting from an attempt to arrest an individual, supposedly for selling cigarettes is, simply, unbelievable and unable to be accepted by any rational, caring individual.

This nonfiction book is certainly worthy of your highest consideration. First, let's look at the author's credentials...
Harold Michael Harvey is an American award winning journalist, former lawyer, political pundit, novelist, essayist and publisher. He earned a degree in Political Science from Tuskegee Institute and a Juris Doctorate degree from Atlanta Law School. Harvey was honored for “Outstanding Work in Newspaper Journalism,” in 1976 by the National Newspaper Publishers Association. The Gate City Bar Association bestowed upon him their prestigious R. E. Thomas Civil Rights Award in 1996 after Harvey represented over 180 college students arrested in the City of Atlanta during a black college spring break ritual known as “Freaknic.”
Harvey is the author of the critically acclaimed legal thriller, Paper Puzzle. It was originally published in 2009 and republished in 2011 after Harvey formed the Cascade Publishing House to publish his works and the works of other authors who feel more comfortable in a small publishing house.
Allvoices.Com assigned Harvey to cover the 2012 Democratic National Convention which was held in Charlotte, North Carolina. Also, they honored him with two semi-monthly American Pundit Awards, once in February 2012 and again in April 2013.
As can be seen, his extensive training, experience and awards shows his outstanding contributions to the legal system.  Second, the book contains sufficient historical background information, research, and timely up-to-date references, to show that the author is totally experienced  in topical knowledge from the past as well as today's world. In other words, in my opinion, he is an expert readily able to speak and write on the American Jury System.

The book includes individual, completely free-standing essays on topics ranging from specific cases, such as the Zimmerman case in which he was found not guilty, to the jury itself, how it was designed and then a discussion about each jury member's activity. These excellent articles are then folded almost seamlessly into the book, as if they were initially created as chapters, each serving to move the book forward to completion. Together, the book represents a major contribution to today's published works. While the essays could be considered opinion pieces, there is sufficient actual facts and historical research provided, which makes it a valuable source from which future actions and, hopefully, additional writers can move forward to bring about societal and legal changes.  

What I realized more than ever before from reading this book is the extent to which the jurors play in making that final decision to convict or not convict. Let's face it most of us gain our experience of what takes place in the courtroom based upon television law and order-type programs. In reality, we see the events between the police officers and victims or criminals if tapes are available on television news. Then we hear the verdict or see the backlash from the jury verdict, again on television.

What Harold Michael Harvey has provided is an in-depth look at what happens between the event and the final verdict of the jury. It was not a surprise to me that Harvey speaks from the standpoint as a representative of the Black race. Who better to see events we know that are happening, and use his own set of experience and expertise to write essays on the actions of the jury system?!? Many of you have been reading the excerpts during my spotlight this week. 

For purposes of my review, I'm using the parts of the book which had the most impact on me as the reader of Justice in the Round. 
Now the main meeting for Tuskegee students is the
National Bio-Ethics Center, formerly the site of the
John A. Andrews Hospital, where the famed
Tuskegee syphilis Study was conducted, when poor
black farmers and military veterans were inoculated
with the syphilis germ and not provided with a
vaccine to cure it. These men unknowingly passed
this disease onto their wives and girlfriends. They
were used has human guinea pigs.

Looking Back to Look Forward

...August 20, 1970, in old Collins P. Huntington Hall, which, until early one August morning in 1991, when a fire burned the interior of the building, gutting it and leaving the brick facade, housed the School of Arts and Sciences. The building had for 86 years, serviced thousands of eager minds, who for the most part, were descended from men and women who had been shackled, forced into ships, stripped of native garb, language, God, and human dignity only to toil, unpaid, in the murky still waters of American democracy...

Ellison, in his factious depiction in "Invisible Man" of a historical, black, elite southern university, which many scholars believes is based upon his experiences as a student at Tuskegee Institute, portrays it thusly:

"You must see this slave, this black Aristotle, moving slowly, with sweet patience, with patience not of mere man, but of God-inspired faith--see him moving slowly as he surmounts each and every opposition. Rendering, until Caesar that which was Caesar's yes; but steadfastly seeking for you that bright horizon which you now enjoy."

Taken out of context, there may be a problem in understanding why these were important for me. Let me try to explain that, being a White person, watching a white researcher give syphilis to black students and surrounding neighbors at Tuskegee is truly outrageous! What White doctor would have the nerve to even consider trying to do such research at any White institution across the country?!  Why is it okay to withhold truth to some and not others?

I've read other books about the good works at Tuskegee. But Harvey takes us into some of the dark side and reveals how the White man has acted or reacted in relation to the well known Tuskegee Institution.  It seemed that every step forward actually soon showed that the forward movement really didn't happen--at least in the minds of the majority of those of the White race.
"It seemed that this (racism) would never change. It was that way for my daddy. It was that way for me. And it looked as though it would be that way for my children. I was so mad I just stood there trembling and tears rolled down my cheeks."
Oh, Lord, I thought, how can the members of the White race ever explain to God how we have chosen over and over to act as we have to members of the Black Race? 

You see, the major thing about the American Jury System is that jury members, and I'm talking specifically to the White Race now, are those who make the decisions that result in the world shouting out, "What?" when injustice has occurred to members of the Black race.

But Harvay, as he writes, speaks out to both races. For instance, again, in
talking about Tuskegee he notes:

Ironically, Brimmer in his four-decade tenure on the Tuskegee Board and with his nationally recognized business acumen did not attempt to create an advanced degree in business. This gets to the nexus of what plagues African American communities in this country. There is never any attempt to capitalize upon the goodwill and legacy already achieved by institutions of black cultural development in America. We continue to re-create the wheel without moving forward.
I dare say, you could not find any Black Studies program on any Historically Black College or University campus in 1971. Yet black scholars made a demand upon historically white colleges and universities to do what their black counterparts at Historically Black Colleges and Universities were either afraid to do or found counter productive to the advancement of black culture.

Since I have said similar things about the former higher education institution where I worked for nearly 40 years, I was quickly able to realize that this author was willing to look and find problems and define them, hopefully for some response of action. Imagine if more people were willing to look at our own lives and be willing to speak out, even in a small way, to ensure that we are all working for the advancement of all Mankind?!?

Harvey has taken on one of the top problems in the United States. Reading Justice in the Round has made me more aware, more conscious of my own role in changing the interrelationship we have with individuals from other races and, in particular African-Americans. 

Yesterday, I had to go for a mammogram and, and in a busy waiting room at the hospital, I purposely maneuvered myself to sit next to a Black family and promptly started talking, meeting Liam, a beautiful little boy who was initially shy but came to share his beautiful smile. Why? Because I believe it is time for White people--all of us--to reach out and touch our Black brothers and sisters whenever we can. It's time to ask, "What would Jesus do?" about how the White Race at large continues to shun Blacks in daily non-verbal ways and, worse, use excess violence and even murder members of the Black Race when it appears to many that there was no reason for such force.

And here's the killer statement that pricked my heart... "Blacks have always been willing to discuss racial issues from their perspective of history."

He adds:

While whites (feeling uncomfortable with the subject or simply feeling there is no need for such a discussion), have not been willing to engage in honest dialogue. Whereas black people have equality to gain whites fear losing the privilege of white skin.

I don't profess to have been similarly discriminated against as have Blacks,  I do know that it was white men in power who were unwilling to talk with me about options regarding my final years of employment where I have given nearly 40 years of my life. I was no longer willing (or physically able due to job burnout) to do what I was told without question. Metaphorically, like Eric Garner, I was unable to breathe...and my doctor told me I had to choose between my job and my life... The difference, of course, is that I chose life and walked out... Eric Garner didn't had a chance to go on...breathing...
The time is upon us to set at the table of brother-hood and learn how to live together as "one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."  If we do not dare try honest dialogue, all else is cheap window dressing and will doom any initiatives to bring the country with all of its ethnic and cultural groups together in the spirit of good old American democracy.
Red and Yellow, Black and White, we are all precious members of the world. The author says that we are all racially biased and must work to overcome such feelings. I agreed before I read this book. I am totally in agreement with what has been created and published in the book Justice in the Round. It has gone on for much, much too long. We must all listen and learn from those who are willing to speak, be specific, and tell what has been wrong in our actions...

Earlier this week, I posed the question whether you would have voted as the jury did in "To Kill the Mockingbird." Today, I add the true finale of the court scene...It was the entire Black courtroom audience standing to honor the work of the white lawyer, even though he had lost the trial... We all know when truth and justice has happened... Truth was said in this movie, but justice did not occur...

Truth is being said, and seen in videos of today's race relations on the streets of America... Why isn't justice following when it is so clear to our minds and hearts? Read Justice in the Round. I consider this not only A Must Read but one of the most important nonfiction books you may ever read! 


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