What Kind Of Free Is This?

 On a day like today, the realities of this country’s past, who we are, and where we are headed must not be forgotten. This is a powerful piece. I encourage you take the time to read it, in its entirety.




Goldie Taylor: Growing up in East St. Louis, the Fourth of July holidays hold some of my fondest memories.  My cousin Booky and I woke at daybreak to help my Uncle Ross clean the grill and get a first crack at the box of fireworks. When Aunt Gerry wasn’t looking, he’d sneak us a few boxes of sparklers and a book of matches he knew we weren’t supposed to have. Booky, a crafty Svengali, always managed to come up with a cache of forbidden bottle rockets.

Uncle Ross placed the large American flag into a metal bracket affixed to a freshly-painted white column on our front porch.  He was proud of that flag, proud of his Army, proud to have served his country in the Korean War. Back in 1976, we were brown, small and indifferent to the world swirling around us. Unbeknownst to us, we were living history too, the children of the Great Migration. Our grandparents had joined the movement of six million African-Americans out of the rural South, in search of good paying jobs, housing and a basic fairness they had never known.  My mother’s family had come north from Tunica, Mississippi, my father’s family from tiny Spadra, Arkansas. Some took jobs in factories, others as domestic workers. But that was everybody’s story. It wasn’t unusual for somebody’s cousin to be visiting from “down South.”

We were 134 years beyond the Declaration of Independence when the migration began around 1910. However, it had to be abundantly clear to my grandparents that despite the passage of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments, rights on paper did not always equate to rights in practice. Today, East St. Louis is nearly 98 percent black, largely impoverished and mostly forgotten. It is no longer useful to measure how many students don’t graduate from high school.  Many do not reach the 9th grade.  The cycle of poverty begins and is perpetuated in the halls of a junior high school. That Fourth of July night in 1976, Grandma Alice and I sat at the windowsill in her upper room, listening to the Cardinal game on a transistor radio, then watching the fireworks over Busch Stadium. “What kind of free is this?” she said, stroking my head. “What kind of free is this, child?”

More of this emotionally riveting piece here


“I leave you, hoping that the lamp of liberty will burn in your bosoms until there shall no longer be a doubt that all men are created free and equal.” – Abraham Lincoln, July 1858 in Chicago, IL





101 Responses to “What Kind Of Free Is This?”

  1. 1 Betsy
    July 4, 2013 at 11:57 am

    Did you guys know about this? #scandal

  2. 10 jacquelineoboomer
    July 4, 2013 at 12:11 pm

    Beautiful, moving, heartfelt post, UT, and why are we not surprised! Thank you for all you share (along with Chips and the mini-multitude of others) to enrich our lives, and keep us informed. Thanks especially for opening up and sharing your good heart.

    Happy Fourth of July!

    • 11 utaustinliberal
      July 4, 2013 at 12:13 pm

      Glad you liked it Jacqueline. Thanks for taking the time to read it. Goldie Taylor wrote a wonderful piece.

      Happy 4th to you too! 😀

      • 12 jacquelineoboomer
        July 4, 2013 at 12:20 pm

        My comment was more directed at you than Goldie, and was meant to cover ALL of your posts! Nothing like witnessing “a job well done,” right before me eyes, from you and the others.

        But I shall be reading her piece, over coffee. Thanks.

    • 14 daisydem
      July 4, 2013 at 12:53 pm

      Yes, utaustinliberal. That is a moving post you shared with us from Goldie Taylor. I read it and now with tears in my eyes, it explains a lot about what I saw and did not see in St. Louis even last year on my second visit there. I was looking for the “neighborhoods,” and they were hard to find; so many houses/buildings boarded up; streets barricaded with round concrete pieces. I could not make sense of it. I walked downtown mid-morning on a Friday and it was almost deserted. My mother-in-law was born in St. Louis to Irish immigrants. On a previous trip, we tried to find her street address but it was no longer. I still want to get to “know” St. Louis.

      • 15 yardarm756
        July 4, 2013 at 1:26 pm

        Hiya Daisy. I can relate to you and Goldie as I still have relatives and friends in the area. In case you didn’t know, East St Louis is in Illinois and at the very bottom of the economic scale. A real study in a depressed area that even rivals Detroit.

  3. 16 Layla
    July 4, 2013 at 12:13 pm

    “What kind of free is this” Great poster to use from now up to 2014 elections re the aborting of voting rights, women’s choice and availability of health care services!

  4. 17 utaustinliberal
    July 4, 2013 at 12:14 pm

  5. 18 jackiegrumbacher
    July 4, 2013 at 12:16 pm

    UT, this is a beautiful and perfect 4th of July post. Too often this day is sentimentalized into gooey ideas of freedom and we forget that freedom is still an illusion for many and that the laws we put on paper–even documents like the constitution– don’t ‘guarantee’ anything unless we as a people commit to them in our heart. We may fly the flag and talk about fairness and justice, but too often Americans give in to restricting and confining the rights of others. Every single day is a struggle for fairness and a battle to realize the promise inherent in our Constitution. When we grow tired and give up the fight, the forces of suppression and hatred win. It’s nice to celebrate a day of historical independence; it’s better to fight for it every day.

    • 19 utaustinliberal
      July 4, 2013 at 12:28 pm

      Bravo Jackie. Couldn’t agree more.

    • 20 jacquelineoboomer
      July 4, 2013 at 1:07 pm

      Jackie – That was totally on point. The traditional patriotic holidays like the Fourth of July should continue to be celebrated in spirited fashion for our children and grandchildren and great grandchildren! But those of us who have been around for a “little while longer” than they must continue to keep our eye on the prize for them, because we’re not there yet. Not even close!

      The only thing I’m beginning to think we can hang onto, without feeling defeated (in addition to hanging around our friends and loved ones), is the historical context that President Obama gives us every time he mentions that we are still “perfecting our union.”

  6. 21 jacquelineoboomer
    July 4, 2013 at 12:18 pm

    FDR – The Four Freedoms Speech

    Note the date of his speech is Jan. 6, 1941, and note – in this millennium – we are all still striving for these freedoms, “everywhere in the world.”

    • 22 Dudette
      July 4, 2013 at 12:21 pm

      God, I love this blog and the people who make it what it is!
      Thank you Jackie! Thank you UI! Thank you Chips! Thank you Everyone!

      • 23 jacquelineoboomer
        July 4, 2013 at 12:41 pm

        Thank YOU, Dudette!

      • 24 utaustinliberal
        July 4, 2013 at 12:46 pm

        Right back at ya!

      • 25 isonprize
        July 4, 2013 at 2:49 pm

        And you, Dudette! You and everyone who contributes to make The Obama Diary what it is!

        From Jackiegrumbacher…

        It’s nice to celebrate a day of historical independence; it’s better to fight for it every day.

        This comment is so on point, it’s just ridiculous!!

  7. July 4, 2013 at 12:19 pm

    UTAL thank you for this centerpiece to our day.
    I say we must cherish the freedoms we do have,
    and not for one minute think that they are experienced
    by everyone in our own towns, counties, states, our country.

    It takes guts to look at that, to own it,
    but for at least some of us, that’s our calling.
    so: yes we can, and we must.
    We’re not free until every person is free.

    love to you. take care of your health. [i’m not kidding about this]
    we need you. xoxox

  8. 28 desertflower
    July 4, 2013 at 12:20 pm

    Congratulations on passing 20 million, Chips! Happy Birthday, Malia 🙂 The Goldie Taylor piece is a MUST READ. What kind of free is this, is right. We have so much more work to do..and while we seem to take steps forward, we take more steps back. We can not be an exceptional country until EVERYONE has rights and freedoms!

  9. July 4, 2013 at 12:20 pm

    Courtesy of Smartypants:

  10. 31 amk for obama
    July 4, 2013 at 12:20 pm

    • 32 desertflower
      July 4, 2013 at 12:32 pm

      wonder if the brave men and women there know that he’s voted against them forever….except, of course, to send them there.

  11. July 4, 2013 at 12:21 pm

    Thank you some much, ut, for bringing this to our attention. A powerful story, sadly shared by so many.

  12. July 4, 2013 at 12:22 pm

    So incredibly cool:

    Michelle Obama told People magazine that before the first family traveled to Africa she prepared briefing books for the girls.
    “We brief them like I’m briefed and like the president is briefed. They get a little packet of material so they understand the history of the country,” the first lady said. “I want my girls to get the entire feel of what it means to be in countries that are not the United States.
    “I want my kids to be educated and have as much information as they can about the countries that they’re visiting.”


  13. 41 Dudette
    July 4, 2013 at 12:23 pm

    Now that’s a Fourth of July picnic! Wow, what feast! 🙂

  14. 42 Judith Fardig
    July 4, 2013 at 12:28 pm

    Happy Independence Day everyone. Appreciate you all so much!

  15. 46 isonprize
    July 4, 2013 at 12:29 pm

    Happy Birthday, Malia Ann Obama!! I believe she’s turning 15 today. Happy Birthday sweet girl. You have grown into such a lovely, smart, well-rounded girl. You are a blessing to your family, a great big sister, and a wonderful example to girls everywhere. I know that’s a lot that you didn’t ask for, but you ‘wear it well’ Enjoy your birthday.

  16. July 4, 2013 at 12:30 pm

    Huh, like I missed the 20 million moment? 😳

    Thank you everyone for the good wishes earlier, which I’m only spotting now-ish.

    And thank you UT for this beautiful post, Goldie’s piece is a gem.

    Back later with the cheesy puffs!

    • 48 desertflower
      July 4, 2013 at 12:34 pm

      I missed it too….outside in the oven doing yard crap. Never ends. Hope I don’t miss the cheesy puffs though:) Congrats and thanks for this blissful oasis. Love all of you.

      • 49 HZ
        July 4, 2013 at 4:26 pm

        DF, first a beautiful 4th celebration to you and your lovely family. Df, please stay hydrated and wear your sunscreen, and hat. Make sure you remember if any medication that you might be taking warn you of not being in the sun while taking that prescribed medication.

        I had a close call yesterday. I forgot that one of my meds., does not allow me to be exposed to the sun too long. Completely forgot about it; so I wanted to speak with the gardeners about a front flower bed in front of my place and of course, I went out to do just that. But knowing me, I had to get in the mix and show them what needed to be done. I have always been a very hard worker in my yard as well as my home.. But after bleeding from one touch of one plant and raking the cuttings out of the bed, I felt faint. I sat on the bench at the front door, drank some water and did a few more pick up. They were very nice. I always respect all workers who come into my space.

        Then I come into the house and my heart began to hurt. I rested for a while after grabbing my heart medication, prayed more, and kept making sure that I was drinking my water. It took hours to stabilize myself, but it was scary for a while.

        Please, my love do not over do it and drink your liquids and wear that hat.(((((((((((((((((( Lots of cool hugs, my dear DF))))))))))))))))))))HZ

    • 50 utaustinliberal
      July 4, 2013 at 12:34 pm

      Congratulations Mrs. Rooney! 😀

    • 51 amk for obama
      July 4, 2013 at 12:38 pm

      yeah, what else is new?

    • July 4, 2013 at 12:48 pm

      Congrats! When did it happen?

  17. July 4, 2013 at 12:30 pm

    Congratulations Chips on 20 million hits. You are the BEST.

  18. 54 carolyn
    July 4, 2013 at 12:38 pm

    Goldie’s piece hit me right in the stomach! I know I have lived a life of privilege, purely by the happenstance of my birth, nothing more. I am so glad utaustin brought this to us. I needed that strong, heartbreaking reminder. Also, the letter from Betsy to Rachel Maddow on the previous post is a must read and desperately important.
    Twenty million……!!! Wow! I remember so many other milestones that seemed impossible…..this is amazing.

    Not a surprise though; this is the first place I come for news every day.

    • 55 utaustinliberal
      July 4, 2013 at 12:45 pm

      Thanks for reading Carolyn. It hit me right in the gut too. So heartbreakingly beautiful due to its confrontation of the reality that we face and a call for us to do better in ensuring that all men truly are created equal.

  19. 56 africa
    July 4, 2013 at 12:38 pm

    • 57 utaustinliberal
      July 4, 2013 at 12:43 pm

      Wow. I’m glad you passed it on Africa. The piece is indeed powerful and emotional. The last two paragraphs had me choked up.

  20. July 4, 2013 at 12:40 pm

    Wow, I blinked and Chips is well on her way to 21,000,000!!

  21. 59 amk for obama
    July 4, 2013 at 12:44 pm

    Plenty of concern trolling by gardner.

    • 60 57andfemale
      July 4, 2013 at 12:58 pm

      The election wasn’t all that democratic. I know this from Coptic Christians who have family in Egypt. There was a great deal of intimidation and fear for their lives if they didn’t vote the right way. Morsi’s people would come through and force people to sign ballots.

  22. July 4, 2013 at 12:53 pm

    Thanks so much UT for this powerful and reflective piece by Goldie. I echo the heart-felt sentiments expressed by Jackie, Sara, Carolyn and others.

  23. 63 Dudette
    July 4, 2013 at 12:56 pm

    CHIPS! CHIPS! CHIPS!!!! Wooooooooooot!!!

  24. 64 jacquelineoboomer
    July 4, 2013 at 12:57 pm

    James Earl Jones gives us excerpts of “The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro,” the July 5, 1852, speech of Frederick Douglass.

    We still need to put ALL of our freedoms in historical context, as in “who we were, where we were, when.” And then – hopefully – continue to move forward, together.

  25. 66 57andfemale
    July 4, 2013 at 1:02 pm

  26. 67 Dudette
    July 4, 2013 at 1:04 pm

    Haha! ESPN is airing Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest on Coney Island! 😀

    Go Joey Chestnut!

    Oy! Anybody got some Pepto Bismol?

    • 68 desertflower
      July 4, 2013 at 1:31 pm

      I can’t STAND to see them stuffing their faces like that. Makes me sick to even watch

  27. 69 57andfemale
    July 4, 2013 at 1:16 pm

    I met my husband on the 4th of July, 33 years ago. We were married 6 weeks later, to the day. So the 4th will always be my anniversary.

    Happy anniversary, honey.

  28. 79 Indie Liberal
    July 4, 2013 at 1:21 pm

    Happy Independence Day, TOD!

    And Happy Birthday Malia! Have a great one! 🙂

  29. 80 amk for obama
    July 4, 2013 at 1:25 pm

    Egypt’s military has moved against the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood a day after deposing President Mohammed Morsi.

    Mr Morsi is being detained, as well as senior figures in the Islamist group of which he is a member. Hundreds more are being sought.


    Gehad el-Haddad, a spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood, earlier told the BBC that Mr Morsi had been put under house arrest and the “entire presidential team” was in detention.

    The army said Mr Morsi, Egypt’s first freely elected leader, had “failed to meet the demands of the people”.


    Mr Haddad’s father, senior Morsi aide Essam el-Haddad, and Saad al-Katatni, head of the FJP, are among those being held.

    On Thursday afternoon unnamed officials said Mohammed Badie, supreme leader of the Brotherhood, had been arrested in Marsa Matrouh, a Mediterranean coastal city to the west of Cairo.

    Arrest warrants have reportedly been issued for some 300 other members of the Muslim Brotherhood, including Mr Badie’s deputy, Khairat al-Shater.

    Several TV stations sympathetic to the Brotherhood have been taken off the air, and a state-owned printing press is said to be refusing to print a newspaper run by the FJP.


  30. 81 LunarSea
    July 4, 2013 at 1:43 pm

    Happy 4th of july to everyone. Don’t post much anymore cause no matter how I try to be ‘timely’ here, I’m always playing catch up. To everyone here thanks for keeping me informed, amused, encouraged, beguiled and yes even angered.

    Congrats for the millions of hits to this site. As the lame street media’s counts are going down, site’s like this keep increasing. Show the public’s thirst for truth and honest discussion.

    Can’t catch up today as I’m heading out again but just had to wish everyone the happiest of days.

    I #trustObama because he’s earned it! ((((hugs all around))))

    • 83 yardarm756
      July 4, 2013 at 1:55 pm

      This one is even better.

      • 84 EDP4BHO
        July 4, 2013 at 3:43 pm

        Hello TOD, and yardarm…..thanks for this video. Malcolm was truly one of my greatest heroes, and reminds me alot of PBO in that they both were/are respectively, serious, deep thinkers with compassion and commitment to justice, yet had/have the uncanny ability to smile easily in the face of adversity. Beautiful men, these two.

        • 85 yardarm756
          July 4, 2013 at 4:10 pm


          • 86 HZ
            July 4, 2013 at 4:57 pm

            Yardarm756, thank you for both of these. As EDP4BHO stated, a hero of “compassion, commonsense and a heart of commitment for justice. ” Yes, POB and Malcolm hearts reveal a deep compassion for the truth of standing up for justice and compassion. HZ

  31. 87 desertflower
    July 4, 2013 at 1:52 pm

    THIS is AWESOME! Thinking out of the box! If they can figure out how to incorporate other majors and extend this to other colleges/ univ….think of the possibilities!!


    PORTLAND, Ore. — On college campuses across the United States, the eternal optimism of youth has been throttled out by a fear of crushing student debt. That’s certainly the case in Oregon, where the cost of tuition has soared as public funding for higher education has declined.

    But the state Legislature this week approved an idea that might ease the economic dread for future philosophy and art history majors. The concept – called Pay It Forward – calls for students to attend public universities tuition free and loan free. In exchange, students would have 3 percent deducted from their post-graduation paychecks for about a quarter-century. The money would go into a fund to pay for future students.

    The bill, which passed unanimously and is expected to be signed this month by Gov. John Kitzhaber, directs the state’s Higher Education Coordination Commission to develop a Pay It Forward pilot project for consideration by the 2015 Legislature. One question that must be resolved is how to fund the program’s start-up costs, estimated at $9 billion, since the initial students who attend tuition-free would be years away from entering the labor force.

    • 88 ber6964
      July 4, 2013 at 7:45 pm

      So If Everyone in America contributed a few bucks to gift the University for being as Kid President says….”Awesome”……???

  32. July 4, 2013 at 1:53 pm

    Good Afternoon All and Chips congrats on your 20,000,000 achievement!

    Lurk alot, rarely comment but is informed each day by comming here.

    Thanks for this space to read and voice our opinion each day.

  33. 90 desertflower
    July 4, 2013 at 2:00 pm

    Oh dear. This is not sounding very good at all.

    Piers Morgan ‏@piersmorgan 33m
    BREAKING: Very sad news, doctors say Nelson Mandela is now in ‘permanent vegetative state’ & have advised family to turn off life support.
    Retweeted by Jeff Gauvin
    Expand Reply Retweet Favorite More

    Thoughts and prayers to his family during this difficult time.

  34. 91 Bill R.
    July 4, 2013 at 2:05 pm

    Goldie Taylor is a jewell of a human being!

    • 92 Bill
      July 4, 2013 at 2:14 pm

      She certainly is. She is also a Marine, once a Marine always a Marine as they say.

      • 93 HZ
        July 4, 2013 at 5:04 pm

        Goldie Taylor’s writing reminded me of so much that brought again tears to my eyes. A must read. Thanks so much UT for this. My heart is full, but I have hope in the hard work that is still out there that the young people will continue to bring just down to a balance and fair place in our country. I hope. I have hope, and I will continue to hope. HZ

  35. 95 jacquelineoboomer
    July 4, 2013 at 2:14 pm

    The “Catholic Democrats” organization – which fully supported President Obama’s election and re-election – put out a nice Fourth of July message in an e-mail today, which I can’t link to … but it touched on some similarities between President George Washington and Pope Francis.

    Both tossed away the “trappings of office,” in receiving their offices, not only through the clothes they wore upon their installations, but also in how they wished to be seen and judged. “Washington rejected the idea, advanced by some, to crown him king. He instead chose the term ‘Mr. President’ as his official manner of address as head of state.” The Pope wore a simple white cassock to his inauguration. He “has forsaken the Papal Palace for a humble apartment, has also declined to describe himself in monarchical terms, preferring the humble title of ‘Bishop of Rome.’ He recently said, ‘I am not a Renaissance prince, who listens to music instead of working.'”

    There’s a long way to go for the Pope to make a lasting impact, of course. But, in our country, this similarly reminds me of President Obama’s total persona of being “one of us.”

    The Catholic Dems’ email also mentioned George Washington’s “Letter to the Roman Catholics,” dated March 15, 1790. I’ll link to that. Here’s an excerpt, that has withstood the test of time:

    “As mankind become more liberal they will be more apt to allow that all those who conduct themselves as worthy members of the community are equally entitled to the protection of civil government. I hope ever to see America among the foremost nations in examples of justice and liberality.”


    • 96 jackiegrumbacher
      July 4, 2013 at 4:21 pm

      JOB, thank you for this. What that quote from George Washington tells us is that 223 years ago in the 18th century when slavery still existed and women were deemed chattel, our first president was more liberal than today’s GOP. If today’s misguided tea party had any idea of what George Washington believed in and stood for, they would realize how backward their idiotic movement would have seemed to the man who knew a thing or two about the real tea party in Boston.

  36. 98 Dakota's
    July 4, 2013 at 2:21 pm

    Happy 4th of July to my TOD Family. Please have a safe and enjoyable day.

    Happy Birthday to 1st Daughter Malia Obama! Such a delight seeing the wonderful young woman she’s growing into.

    And Chips! Congratulations on passing 20million mark! Woo! Hoo! Receive those Blessings darlin’! And as always, thank you for all that you do for us…and the world.

  37. 100 Claire
    July 4, 2013 at 2:27 pm

    Happy 4th of July TODers! Will be enjoying my favorite Maryland steamed crabs and of course lots of cold beer today. Later the party heads to our friend’s roof top terrace to enjoy the fireworks from our nation’s capitol! Happy birthday Malia and America!

  38. 101 Dakota's
    July 4, 2013 at 2:29 pm

    Uh oh…in moderation again…

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