WHO NEEDS THE PRESS FOR A PRESS CONFERENCE?
A Call to Action By: Tammie Lang Campbell
February 28, 2011, the last day of Black History Month and the first day of the Texas State Black Caucus’ Summit will remain embedded in my mind. This was the date that I ignored conventional wisdom that says a press conference can’t be held without the press and preceded with my press conference on the steps of the Texas State Capital. I had planned to announce to the world that the n-word is not in dark skinned people’s DNA or Newsouth Books’ revised edition of Mark Twain’s Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn; however, I was thrown a curve ball when the press didn’t show. Apparently, a proactive black denouncing the n-word and promoting school literature sensitive to all children’s cultural needs didn’t interest the media. The media’s no show would’ve devastated most, but I remembered that God: Called me to petition Merriam Webster and Random House dictionaries to remove or redefine the n-word in 1991(view petition. Chose me to hold a symbolic n-word burial that was featured nationally on CNN (view story), in Manhattan City Council News and all local/state media outlets including the Houston Chronicle’s front page Moved to get my anti-n-word campaign op. ed. featured in the Houston Chronicle on 10/31/10 called, “N-word Remains far too Pervasive”. Urged Dr. Gribben to take a stand for humanity and appeal to Newsouth Books to replace the n-word with slave appealed to Rep. Dr. Alma Allen and had her to enlist the support of Texas Black Caucus Chairman, Rep. Sylvester Turner, for Newsouth Books’ revised edition of Mark Twain’s Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. Inspired Friends of Humanity to help sponsor 100 of Newsouth Books’ revised edition of Mark Twain’s Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn to be donated to schools and youth organizations with these aforementioned blessings in mind, I proceeded with my anti-n-word declaration on the steps of the Texas State Capitol. <Excerpts from Speech> (View Event Video) “Good afternoon, to God goes all the glory and praise in His precious Son’s name Jesus Christ. I’m pleased to join you with Rep. Dr. Alma Allen; my husband, Dennis Campbell, Sr. and our children; Shar-day and Dennis Jr. I thank all of you for being here today in support of Dr. Gribben and Newsouth Books’ revised edition of Mark Twain’s Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, which replaces the n-word with slave. To the curious who may be wondering why we are here, well an event like this one that has a profound effect upon the lives of people doesn’t just happen. It is an accumulation of events. For 20 years, I have been working to reclaim blacks’ good name. During this journey, I have heard the cries of my foreparents urging me to let everyone know who we are and who we are not. I have been encouraged by the words of Solomon in Proverb 21:1 that states, “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches…” Therefore, it is not by accident that God has led me to the steps of the Texas State Capitol. It is in fact by God’s divine plan that we, the people, are here to: Reclaim blacks’ good name Declare that when God created dark skinned people, He didn’t create the n-word Announce to the world that the n-word is not in any dark skinned person’s DNA or Newsouth Books’ revised edition of Mark Twain’s Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn And inform those who have erroneously defined dark skinned people as the n-word in reference books like: Webster, Random House and Oxford, that their erroneous definitions have caused great harm among humanity Furthermore, we, the people, want the nation and the world to know that we support Dr. Gribben and New South Books for being sensitive and respectful of others. In addition, we commend him for: Replacing the n-word with slave while citing the story of Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer to his students Recognizing and embracing his daughter’s best friend, a black girl, as a person worthy of giving and receiving friendship Promoting mutual respect among his students And being proactive in healing our nation” Now it was a four year old little Mexican American girl, Abby, who set this historic press conference without the press aside. During Rep. Dr. Alma Allen’s presentation of HR 587 to honor and acknowledge my service to the community (View Resolution), Abby told her grandmother that she wanted to stay for the presentation. As I proceeded to get on the elevator, her grandmother, Yvonne, stopped me so that Abby could take a picture with me and get a copy of the revised edition of Mark Twain’s Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. At that moment, God reminded me that this event was about sharing the anti-n-word message with the people. In closing, history tells us that people of different ethnicities and backgrounds have been subjected to slavery, but it didn’t make them any less as a people. In Galatians 3:28 Paul wrote, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus,” which means God created every person equally. Having a black president of the United States is a reminder of America’s progress in race relations. However, being defined by reference books in our educational system as the n-word demonstrates how blacks are still disrespected. When I think of the great contributions blacks have made to our nation, I am personally saddened that our schoolchildren know more about the n-word than blacks’ contributions to America. For example, only a few are familiar with Thomas Greene Wiggins, a blind 10 year old slave who was the first African American to perform at the White House in 1859. The epidemic of offensive, sexist and racial language runs rapid in our society, which can’t be blamed on black rappers. They didn’t create the n-word and are not selling their n-word CD’s to our schools. If our educational system was using our tax dollars to purchase racially laced CD’s, I would denounce it. President Thomas Jefferson said, “A nation can never be ignorant and free.” This racial slur fosters a climate of ignorance and oppression in our nation, which we, the people, must move beyond to fully celebrate our diversity, freedom and independence. We must never accept racism, sexism and terrorism as a cultural norm. Although the media didn’t show, I will remain steadfast in my divine appointment to eradicate racism by promoting racial healing. Will you please join me in this campaign? ABOUT ACTIVIST TAMMIE LANG CAMPBELL: Believing that liberty is God’s gift to humanity and that everyone should be equally valued, Campbell petitioned Merriam Webster and Random House dictionaries to remove or redefine the n-word in 1991. In 2007, Campbell held a symbolic n-word burial that was featured nationally on CNN (view story), in Manhattan City Council News and all local/state media outlets including the Houston Chronicle’s front page. To advance this effort, she created an anti-n-word campaign and wrote an op. ed. in the Houston Chronicle on 10/ 31/10 called, “N-word Remains far too Pervasive.” Her anti-n-word initiative has gained national support from New York City Councilman Leroy Cormier and Hawaii State Rep. John Mizuno. For additional information about Tammie Lang Campbell’s work, please visit the Foundation’s website at: www.honeybrownhope.org. ABOUT NEWSOUTH PUBLISHER’S REVISION: Suzanne La Rosa, publisher of NewSouth Books, says the idea for this project originated with Dr. Alan Gribben. “Gribben wanted to give readers an opportunity to experience the literature he so loved and had spent a lifetime championing. He pitched the idea for an edition of Twain’s boy books with the hurtful epithets swapped out. An educator and Twain scholar, Gribben perceived that teachers were increasingly avoiding the texts because it was difficult to hold discussions about the novels for reasons of the N-word.”