Showing posts from March, 2023


  ©Wendell Griffen, 2023   Senator Bill Lewellen and Randall Robinson recently joined the ancestors. Both men were Black lawyers. Both were unflinching civil rights activists. We should honor their lives and work. Bill Lewellen was one of two Black lawyers from Lee County – the other being retired Court of Appeals Judge Olly Neal – who challenged white supremacy and race discrimination in Lee County, other Southeast Arkansas communities, and in Arkansas public policies. Like Olly Neal, Bill Lewellen commuted daily from Marianna to attend law school at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. As a state senator, he sponsored the legislation that created the Arkansas Minority Health Commission so that Arkansas could focus on racial disparities in health. He was one of the lead lawyers for the plaintiffs in the landmark Lakeview School District lawsuit that challenged the way state funding was distributed for public school districts. Lewellen’s work to improve life for people in L


  ©Wendell Griffen, 2023   A recent news article in The Guardian newspaper about the January 18, 2023, killing of 26 year-old Forest Defender Manuel Esteban Paez Teran (nicknamed “Tortuguita”) by Georgia State Troopers several weeks ago ( ) touched one of my most painful memories as a retired judge. The article reports that Georgia police agencies have yet to release the official autopsy report of the slain environmental activist. However, an independent autopsy has concluded that the activist had been shot at least a dozen times. During my 24-year experience as a state court judge – 13 years on the Arkansas Court of Appeals and 11 years as an Arkansas circuit judge hearing civil and criminal cases – I read numerous police reports. The police reports that I found least reliable, and which I approached with the greatest caution and skepticism, involved encounters bet


  ©Wendell Griffen, 2023 March 9, 2023 Pastors for Florida Children Sheraton Four Points (316 W. Tennessee Street) Tallahassee, Florida   REVEREND RACHEL SHAPARD REVEREND JAMES GOLDEN REVEREND CLERGY PUBLIC OFFICIALS EDUCATORS PARENTS AND CHILDREN           Thank you for inviting me to join Diane Ravitch in addressing you today during this Prayer Breakfast based on the theme of Uniting in Spirit for Public Education in Florida. I was pleasantly surprised when Rev. Shapard and Rev. Golden approached me in January with the invitation and am grateful to them and to you for making my participation possible today. I have titled my keynote address Facing the Threat to Public Education. I am a product of public education. I was born September 23, 1952 – making me 70 years old – when Jim Crow public segregation was required by law in Arkansas, as in Florida. Although my family lived less than three miles from Delight High School, I didn’t know where it was until


  ©Wendell Griffen, 2023   Their names are Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Gregg Abbott, Tate Reeves, Ron DeSantis, Brian Kemp, and Glenn Youngkin. They are governors, respectively, of Arkansas (Sanders), Texas (Abbott), Mississippi (Reeves), Florida (DeSantis), Georgia (Kemp), and Virginia (Youngkin). They are the current faces of fascism and white supremacy in their states, and are competing to become the Fascist and White Supremacist in Chief, figuratively if not literally, because they each aspire to seek higher offices, perhaps the US presidency. Do not believe them when they deny such aspirations. They will continue to do so even while building political campaign, policy, and media relations networks geared towards elevating their national profiles. Despite their self-professed commitment to justice and inclusion, none of these politicians has a public record for supporting social justice. Abbott and DeSantis have been openly xenophobic towards immigrants. Youngkin, DeSantis, a