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Catholic girls school fires gay teacher after he gets legally married
04:23 pm

The wrong side of history

civil rights

One step forward, one step back… Ken Bencomo, a gay San Bernadino, CA man who teaches at an all girls Catholic high school was fired after his wedding was covered by local news. Bencomo and his husband, Christopher Persky were amongst the very first same-sex couples to get married in San Bernardino county, CA after Prop 8 was repealed and their wedding announcement and marriage were covered in local papers. An outpouring of community well-wishes came for the newlyweds, many from Mr. Bencomo’s students over the years.

Less than two weeks after their big day, Mr. Bencomo was handed his walking papers from his longtime job at St. Lucy’s Priory High School in Glendora, as reported by KCAL, Los Angeles:

School administrators declined to discuss the firing on camera. But they did issue a statement that read, in part, “We respect and protect privacy interests and, to be respectful of those involved, the school does not comment on confidential matters. St. Lucy’s wishes to reassure all in our community that upholding its mission to educate students in the tradition of the Catholic faith is of paramount importance.”

[Ken] Bencomo, 45, had been a teacher at St. Lucy’s for 17 years. He was head of the English department and he coached the dance squad. His attorney says the school knew Bencomo was gay and continued to renew his contract every year — until he got married.

Which is now legal in the state of California. So what’s THIS?

An online petition has been started by former St. Lucy’s student Brittany Littleton demanding that the school reinstate Mr. Bencomo. Over 9000 people have signed as I type this. Ken’s lawyers have said that he hasn’t decided yet what the best outcome could be from this unfortunate event. I say sue the fuckers—he’ll win—and set a legal precedent against this sort of outdated, small-minded bullshit happening again to someone else.

Via Joe.My.God


Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Media Reacts To Conan’s Same-Sex Wedding News

Johnny Carson’s comic psychic “Carnac the Magnificent” merely held an envelope to his head, but Conan O’Brien? He really pushes the envelope. As you’ll see.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Nina Simone: in the name of freedom

Eunice Kathleen Waymon was born 77 years ago today in the tiny town of Tryon, North Carolina. As Nina Simone, she’d go on to become the most powerful singer/songwriter of the Civil Rights era, blending the rawest aspects of jazz, blues, soul, and gospel into a unique style that buoyed her message of liberation.

As a generation of despots falls in the Middle East and people confront the forces of greed in Wisconsin, it seems apropos to recall what Simone bestowed on the world…

After the jump: Simone repossesses the Beatles’ “Revolution” and Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit” in the name of avant-garde freedom blues…

Posted by Ron Nachmann | Leave a comment
Martin Luther King Jr. in roots

In terms of political philosophy, reggae has leaned largely towards Marcus Garvey, Paul Bogle, Malcolm X and the Black Panthers. Here are a couple of exceptions, salutes to the man who we celebrate today in the U.S.

First, “Martin Luther King” by Max Romeo from Reconstruction, his 1979 follow up to his landmark album War Ina Babylon.

Here’s “Martin Luther King”, one of the tracks on studio wizard Scientist’s 1983 album International Heroes Dub with the Forces of Music band. Other track titles include “George Jackson”, “Ho Chi Minh”, “Malcolm X” and “Desmond Tutu”...

Posted by Ron Nachmann | Leave a comment
Abbey Lincoln Lives!

Abbey Lincoln died today at the age of 80. She mattered in the world because she was a female jazz singer who stood up and became active in the civil rights struggle in the ‘60s when she could have remained neutral and safe.

She made great art. Nat Chinen wrote an excellent obit for her in the New York Times.

Here she is with her then-new husband, the drummer Max Roach, performing “Driva’ Man” from their 1960 album We Insist! Max Roach’s Freedom Now Suite.

This was a dangerous mind.

Abbey Lincoln and Max Roach

Get: We Insist! Max Roach’s Freedom Now Suite [CD]


Posted by Ron Nachmann | Leave a comment
Remembering the Watts Riots

The Watts riots happened 45 years ago today. Sparked by the arrest and beating of young African-American Marquette Frye and the detention of objecting Frye family members, the 1965 unrest happened in a context of extreme racial tension in California.

Along with the growing poverty that accompanied the post-War closing of factories in South Central L.A., the riots also happened in a context West Coast segregationist politics. By funding the passage of Proposition 14, the California Real Estate Association had just successfully cancelled out the Mumford Act, which was the part of the 1964 Civil Rights Act that prevented housing discrimination on the basis of race.

The week of rioting left 34 dead, over 1,000 injured and more than 200 businesses destroyed, with property damage was estimated at $40 million. Urban politics would never be the same. For some perspective, read Second District Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas’s reflections on how the riots connect with the building and revitalization of the area’s Martin Luther King Jr. Hospital.

After the jump: From Stacy Peralta’s 2008 documentary Crips and Bloods: Made in America, Kumasi, a former member of the street squad The Slausons, breaks down the strategy of dealing with the National Guard presence during the riots…

Posted by Ron Nachmann | Leave a comment