Sunday, May 4, 2008

On McCain Tour, a Promise to Find ‘Forgotten’ America

April 22, 2008
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Senator John McCain opened a weeklong tour of the nation’s “forgotten places” in the Alabama Black Belt on Monday by acknowledging the challenge he faced in appealing to African-Americans and admitting that “I am aware of the fact that there will be many people who will not vote for me.”

But in a speech delivered against the backdrop of one of the great symbols of the civil rights movement, the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Mr. McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, promised to hear voters’ concerns and be “the president of all the people,” including those who supported his competitors.

Mr. McCain was framed in camera shots by the bridge where white police officers beat black demonstrators trying to march to Montgomery in 1965, and where Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama converged last year in a political spectacle to commemorate the footsteps of the marchers.

“There must be no forgotten places in America, whether they have been ignored for long years by the sins of indifference and injustice, or have been left behind as the world grew smaller and more economically interdependent,” Mr. McCain said to a largely white and friendly crowd on the banks of the Alabama River.

Mr. McCain’s trip, which seems a mix of Mrs. Clinton’s “listening tour” in her 2000 Senate race in New York and President Bush’s efforts to portray himself as a “compassionate conservative” in his presidential campaign the same year, is to take him to Appalachia; the economically depressed steel town of Youngstown, Ohio; and the Ninth Ward of New Orleans, the area hardest hit by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Mr. McCain’s advisers devised the weeklong trip as an effort to show that a Republican could appeal to some traditional Democratic voters, or at least to get Mr. McCain credit for trying. The trip is also trying to attract a fraction of attention to Mr. McCain’s campaign in a week when the political center of the world is the Democratic primary showdown in Pennsylvania between Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama.

Democrats dismissed Mr. McCain’s trip as a deluded belief that a Republican could appeal to poor people hard hit by seven years of Republican policies. “It’s like an arsonist turning up at the scene of the fire,” said Paul Begala, a former Clinton White House adviser and a Democratic commentator.

But some Republicans said that Mr. McCain, who has often bucked his own party and is seeking to attract independents and some moderate Democrats in the fall, had a rationale for the trip. “I don’t know if I would have picked the same locations,” said Tony Fabrizio, a Republican pollster and strategist, “but it is not crazy for McCain to think that he can get Democratic votes that were unavailable to Bush in 2000 and 2004.”

At the least, the trip is providing video for Mr. McCain’s campaign commercials. Later in the day, for example, he was serenaded with old spirituals by the quilters of Gee’s Bend, Ala., in a slow-moving ferry ride on the Alabama River.

While a campaign camera crew recorded the scene from a pontoon boat, Mr. McCain stood on the ferry surrounded by a dozen black quilters who sang “The Old Ship of Zion” to the vaguely embarrassed candidate. He had just come from visiting their quilting center.

One quilter, Mary Lee Bendolph, said she was leaning toward supporting Mr. Obama, but she praised Mr. McCain for turning up in Wilcox County, which locals say a presidential candidate has never visited. “He came here and he did something, and you know what, nobody else did,” Mrs. Bendolph said.

The vibrant Gee’s Bend quilts became famous after they were exhibited at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 2002 and 2003. Mr. McCain bought three on Monday.

His campaign would not say what he paid, but quilts of the similar large size in the Gee’s Bend center were $2,500 each.

Monday was the first time Secret Service agents joined Mr. McCain’s campaign. It was unclear how many agents were assigned to Mr. McCain, but there appeared to be a handful. The number is likely to increase as the election nears.

Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company

Friday, February 15, 2008


Quilt Celebrates the Spirit and Contributions of African Americans

SAN ANTONIO, Feb. 13, 2008 — To commemorate Black History Month, AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) has announced the unveiling of a specially commissioned quilt that celebrates the spirit of African Americans and highlights the unique talents of the renowned Gee’s Bend Quilters.

The AT&T Gee’s Bend Quilt, which measures 95 inches by 82 inches, was created by 46 members of the Gee’s Bend Quilters Collective and features colors based on the AT&T brand palette. The artists, ranging in age from 19 to 90, worked together for more than 250 hours to complete the artwork, which is destined to become a part of black cultural history. The quilt symbolizes the individuality of the quilters and their multigenerational approach to African-American art and culture. During February, the quilt will tour the U.S. and make stops at AT&T locations in Atlanta; Birmingham, Ala.; Detroit; Los Angeles; Chicago; and St. Louis. The tour will be supported by members of Community NETwork African American Telecommunications Professionals of AT&T, who will provide visitors with the history of the Gee’s Bend Quilters. Ultimately, the quilt will be donated to the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW).

“The collaboration with the Gee’s Bend Quilters has given us the unique opportunity to create a piece that will help not only to tell their story but to highlight the important cultural contributions of African-Americans,” said Tracy McDade, AT&T associate director of Multicultural Marketing. “As we celebrate Black History Month, we hope this will be a tool that inspires people to preserve and pass on their traditions.”

“Working with my mother, Leola Pettway, on our two squares for the commissioned quilt for AT&T was wonderful because it brought back memories of the old days, when we went from house to house quilting with all the women,” said China Pettway, member of the Gee’s Bend Quilters Collective and member of the board of the Gee’s Bend Foundation. “We sewed our history right into this quilt and are proud to celebrate Black History Month. This gave us the chance to sit with a large group of the women, singing and sewing together.”

Quilts made by Mary Lee Bendolph, a member of the collective, were featured in an AT&T broadband marketing campaign that was introduced last summer and included television, direct mail and Internet ads. As part of that campaign, AT&T also sponsored a three-city Gee’s Bend Quilters tour to Historically Black Colleges and Universities, featuring appearances by several quilters.
The Gee's Bend Quilters Collective is a group of more than 50 women who live in Gee’s Bend, Ala. The history of quilting in Gee’s Bend dates back to the 1800s, when the women of Gee’s Bend — which remains a small, isolated, all-black rural community outside Selma, Ala. — developed a style that featured distinct, bold, sophisticated designs. Blending the cultural influences of the area — European, American Indian and African aesthetics — the unique style and designs of the Gee’s Bend Quilts have been developed and passed down through many generations. The quilts are internationally acclaimed — The New York Times pronounced the quilts as “[among] the most miraculous works of modern art America has produced.”

AT&T’s long heritage of serving the African-American community stems from the company’s commitment to diversity at every level. The relationship with the Gee's Bend Quilters Collective is just the most recent commitment to celebrate and preserve African-American culture. The company also invests in cultural events, such as San Antonio’s Beyond the Dream celebration to commemorate the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Additionally, AT&T’s activity has been recognized, with more than 20 notable diversity awards in 2006 and several distinctions last year, including being named 2007 Corporation of the Year by 100 Black Men magazine and being ranked No. 1 among DiversityInc magazine’s Top 10 Companies for African Americans.

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About The Quiltmakers of Gee’s Bend

Gee’s Bend is a small rural community nestled into a curve in the Alabama River southwest of Selma, Alabama. Founded in antebellum times on the site of cotton plantations owned by Joseph Gee, the town’s women developed a distinctive, bold, and sophisticated quilting style with a geometric simplicity reminiscent of Modern Art. The women of Gee’s Bend passed their skills and aesthetic down through multiple generations to the present and in 2002, an exhibition of 70 quilt masterpieces from the Bend, organized by Tinwood Alliance of Atlanta, Georgia, premiered at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston. Since then, “The Quilts of Gee’s Bend” exhibition has been presented at more than a dozen major museums, including the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. Newsweek, NPR, CBS News Sunday Morning, House and Garden, and Oprah’s O Magazine are just a few of the hundreds of print and broadcast media organizations that have celebrated the quilts and history of this unique town. Art critics worldwide have compared the quilts to the works of important modern artists, such as Henri Matisse, and the New York Times called the quilts “some of the most miraculous works of modern art America has produced.” For more information, visit

About AT&T

AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) is a premier communications holding company. Its subsidiaries and affiliates, AT&T operating companies, are the providers of AT&T services in the United States and around the world. Among their offerings are the world's most advanced IP-based business communications services and the nation's leading wireless, high speed Internet access and voice services. In domestic markets, AT&T is known for the directory publishing and advertising sales leadership of its Yellow Pages and YELLOWPAGES.COM organizations, and the AT&T brand is licensed to innovators in such fields as communications equipment. As part of its three-screen integration strategy, AT&T is expanding its TV entertainment offerings. Additional information about AT&T Inc. and the products and services provided by AT&T subsidiaries and affiliates is available at

© 2008 AT&T Intellectual Property. All rights reserved. AT&T and the AT&T logo are trademarks of AT&T Intellectual Property. For more information, please review this announcement in the AT&T newsroom at

Friday, January 18, 2008



Link for viewers to find out when and where "The Oprah Winfrey Show" airs in their market:

CHICAGO, IL (January 18, 2008)-- Forty-five years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his famous “I Have A Dream” speech, forever changing the course of history. In an unprecedented episode of “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” this special program shot entirely on location throughout the United States features Oprah at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC honoring Dr. King’s message of hope.

Weaving together Dr. King’s own words and historical footage with individual stories of courage and change that illustrate how his dream lives today, the show highlights the following stories:
* The small, predominantly African-American town of Gee’s Bend, Alabama was separated from the neighboring white towns by a murky river for nearly 200 years. When the ferry service was suddenly discontinued in 1962 in an effort to prevent the community from peacefully marching for its civil rights, Gee’s Bend was further removed from the education, work, supplies and medical care it desperately needed. But decades later, former segregationist, judge and journalist Hollis Curl had a change of heart and worked to return the ferry—building a united lifeline of freedom and opportunity.
* The story of Harlem’s Vy Higginsen and Missouri cattle rancher Marion West’s independent research of their family history and roots led them to find more than common blood.
* Killed by a single bullet while walking home from work, Johnnie Mae Chappell—a married mother of 10 young children—was murdered in a senseless act of racial violence during the civil rights unrest in Jacksonville, Florida. For the past decade, the white detective originally on her murder case and Chappell’s youngest son have come together in their joint pursuit of justice.
* Once illegal in nearly half of the country, interracial marriage was often just a dream for some couples in the 1960s. Deneta and Bryan Sells from Atlanta, Georgia share how their common interest in civil rights eventually prompted their journey to the altar, four decades after the Supreme Court ruled in Loving v. Virginia.
* Los Angeles school bus driver Tanya Walters saw the need for the borderline students she drives everyday to dream bigger than their inner-city neighborhood and to see important civil rights landmarks and historical sites across America.

Sponsored by Target, this episode "The Oprah Winfrey Show – The Dream Lives: A Martin Luther King Day Special” premieres Monday, January 21 (check local listings).

"The Oprah Winfrey Show" has remained the number one talk show for 21 consecutive seasons, winning every sweep since its debut in 1986.* It is produced in Chicago by Harpo Productions, Inc. and syndicated to 212 domestic markets by CBS Television Distribution Group and to 135 countries by CBS Paramount International Television.

*Nielsen Cassandra Ranking Report - Nov'86 to July '99 and Wrap Sweeps, Nov '99 to July '07. Primary Telecasts Only.