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JOHN M. KELLY
248 Golden Gate Avenue #A
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 567-1320
jmksf@hotmail.com
                                                                                                                       
June 14, 2006

DAN PILLA, SR.
704 Edgerton
St. Paul, MN 55101..................................................................................[To return to the discussion page, click here.]

            Re: Freedom Calendar & MLK Holiday 

Mr. Pilla:

            Thank you for your letter, dated February 2, 2006, regarding the Freedom Calendar’s exclusion of the Martin Luther King, Jr. (MLK) holiday.  Please excuse the delay in my response, but I was in the middle of a few things, including moving my residence.  (Please note my new address above.)  I also wanted to take the time to consider and research the materials you sent.

            Your letter states that the MLK holiday was excluded from the Freedom Calendar because “we do not honor a known Communist.”  (Out of curiosity, who is “we”?)  To “back up” this stand, you have sent various tracts, four of which address the Communist charge; and you ask me to say where you are wrong.  As an avid admirer of MLK, I am pleased to have this opportunity.  Two of the tracts also make certain other allegations against MLK.  Although your letter does not state your position on these allegations, I have decided to address most of these issues as well, just to have them on the table.

            Mr. Pilla, you are wrong in excluding the MLK holiday for the following four reasons:  (1) MLK was not a Com-munist (known or otherwise), and his leadership of the civil rights movement did not advance the cause of the Communist Party; (2) the tracts’ miscellaneous other attacks on MLK are meritless or concern matters of relative insignificance; (3) MLK’s extraordinary achievements, courage and integrity deserve the honor of a national holiday; and (4) the American people hold MLK in high esteem.  The foregoing subject matter is addressed seriatim in the enclosed white paper, the form of which I have used to hopefully make my somewhat long response more readable and comprehensible.  In addi-tion, I have a question for you as to whether the Freedom Calendar is meant to commemorate the freedoms of all Ameri-cans.  Please read on.

            Mr. Pilla, you say that the Freedom Calendar is not politically correct.  That is fine, everyone is entitled to express themselves in their own way and be judged by their decisions.  MLK, you will recall, said that his dream was a world where people would be judged by the content of their character.  And character is determined by deeds.

            In MLK’s case, history records that his deeds in the civil rights movement significantly raised the social, economic and political fortunes of millions of oppressed people; and, for this reason he is highly esteemed among the American people (as is discussed in the enclosed white paper).  Your exclusion of the MLK holiday from the Freedom Calendar fails to recognize these incontrovertible facts and, therefore, raises a question as to your appreciation of recent American history.  Furthermore, as discussed in the white paper, your Communist charge against MLK does not withstand scrutiny.

 


PAGE TWO

            This brings me to the question stated above about whether the Freedom Calendar is meant to commemorate the freedoms of all Americans.  This question is raised not only by the exclusion of the MLK holiday, but also the omission of reference to the 13th, 14th, 15th  and 19th Amendments to the Constitution.  As you know, these amendments extended significant constitutional freedoms to American blacks and women by ending slavery, providing a legal passageway for black people to become full citizens, and granting women the right to vote.

            The Freedom Calendar’s omission of the 14th Amendment is particularly questionable because this amendment has given much more meaning to the Bill of Rights, as honored in your calendar.  Thus, before the 14th amendment, the protections of the Bill of Rights (i.e., the first ten amendments to the Constitution) restricted the federal government but not state and local governments.  (See Barron v. Baltimore (1833) 32 US 243-250-251; Modern Constitutional Law (2nd Ed. 1997) Vol. 2, p. 457.) However, following ratification of the 14th Amendment (in 1868), the Supreme Court, slowly over the years, has held that most of the important protections of the Bill of Rights also restrict state and local governments through the application of the due process clause of the 14th Amendment.  The following is a short list of the rights ex-tended to state and local venues through the 14th Amendment:  the 1st Amendment rights to freedom of speech (see Stromberg v. California (1930) 283 US 359, 368) and freedom of the press (see Near v. Minnesota (1931) 283 US 697, 707); the 4th Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures (see Wolf v. Colorado (1949) 338 US 25, 27-28); the right to just compensation for taking of private property – as also set forth in the 5th Amendment (see Chicago, Burlington Railroad Co. v. Chicago (1897) 166 US 226, 241); the 6th Amendment rights to counsel (see Gideon v. Wainwright (1963) 372 US 335, 341-345) and trial by jury (see Duncan v. Louisiana (1968) 391 US 145, 148-150).  Accordingly, through the passage of the 14th Amendment aiding blacks freed from slavery, the Bill of Rights has become more meaningful to all Americans.**

            Another incongruity in the Freedom Calendar is the inclusion of the birthday of a man who unsuccessfully led an army to keep black people enslaved – Robert E. Lee, while excluding the birthday of the man who led a successful movement to give real freedom of opportunity to this formerly enslaved group of people.  Lastly, but certainly not least, it also seems short-sighted for the Freedom Calendar not to recognize the hard-won right of women’s suffrage (i.e., the 19th Amendment) and Susan B. Anthony, whose tireless persistence brought the critical right to vote to the women of our country.

            Mr. Pilla, you, of course, have the freedom to publish your calendar in whatever form you wish.  However, if you intend to exclude the momentous freedoms won for American blacks and women, while including much less important anniversaries (e.g., first linotype, opening of the Brooklyn Bridge, adoption of the United States seal), do you not think there should be a caveat as to your biases?  Please respond on this issue.

**Similarly, all Americans directly benefited by the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, because this law prohibits (1) employment discrimination not only based on race, but also on grounds of sex, religion and national origin (see 42 USC 2000e (et seq.), and (2) discrimination in public accommodations not only based on race, but also on grounds of religion and national origin (see 42 USC 2000a (et seq.).

 

PAGE THREE

            I look forward to your responses on the issues raised above and in the white paper.  And if you would please acknowledge receipt of this letter and let me know if and when you will reply, I would appreciate it.  Thank you for the opportunity to respond to you concerning this matter.

 

Yours truly,

 

________________________________
John M. Kelly

 

 

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