Nancy Reagan

I’ve visited the White House several times for meetings and events. But my first was to a Just Say No (to drugs) program hosted by First Lady Nancy Reagan.

Since that day, I’ve met Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama. And had the pleasure to meet their First Ladies.

But I never met President Ronald Reagan. That day, I got a glimpse of him through her.

It was 1984 or 85. Lots of kids were there. And like me, we were all excited to see Mrs. Reagan.

In person, she was smaller than on television. But she had a presence that was regal and captivating.  And she was soft and powerful at the same time.

She called the President, Ronnie and it humanized the man we saw as President. In her voice, was love and unwavering support for her man.

I remember and an thankful for that experience. Thank you Mrs. Reagan for being an amazing First Lady, and my first invitation to the White House!


Thinking Outside the Box

Sanctions lifted on Iran has oil prices going down. A gas station in Michigan last week’s price per gallon, went as low as 47 cents. Economists and business advisors are warning of an impending recession. 


What if producers brought the price of goods down along w gas prices i.e. Airfare, car sales, food, clothes etc.? Would sales rocket and revenue from product and taxes increase?

Instead of companies cutting jobs before and during a recession, why not withstand some of the challenges a recession brings? Along as they’re still making profit even if not astronomical instead of putting burden on the government. 

But what about bank loans and the stock market? Banks and the government have worked together in the past to move toxic debt off their books. Why not be proactive and think out of the box now to do that? 

The US stock market has steadily grown and the Dow is strong. Other countries financial instability is going to impact ours. Declining oil prices have already impacted smaller countries whose main source of exports are oil. Check out Gabon in Africa.

The global economy is going to stabilize.

Why not take time to bring more people along with it? Raise the minimum wage and cut inflation? Keep interest rates low so that Main Street can catch up to Wall Street. 

Finally, wondering was this part of Obama’s plan when sanctions on Iran were lifted? If so brilliant. If not, together can we make it brilliant. 

What about thinking outside the box?

We Need an Oval Office Address


In a relationship or friendship, when you’re upset or disappointed with the girlfriend, boyfriend, friend or spouse etc. do you go tell someone else and hope they tell it to the appropriate person? Or do you say it to someone and hope that they tweet it, blog or put it on Facebook!

No, you tell it directly to the person, right? Well, Mr. President WE the PEOPLE need to hear you speak directly to us from the Oval Office on the issue of the debt ceiling and the potential of a government shutdown.

THE PEOPLE have a right to hear it, directly from you.

As the only person in the country voted for by the entire nation, we need to hear from you. We may not agree with everything, but we have to all agree on this, you are THE PRESIDENT of THE UNITED STATES of AMERICA. We need to hear you speak directly to us, not from the EAST ROOM, not from the PRESS ROOM, but from the one stage only you can, THE OVAL OFFICE.

And to your advisors who may think its a bad idea. Fire them! They are hurting you!

From the OVAL OFFICE you speak from a position of strength. It is not the seat of a mediator. It is the seat where you make the most difficult decisions. It is the seat where the leader of our country sits, whether we agree or not.

When you speak from this seat, the Message is directed to your constituents, The American people.

That’s why we need to hear you explain what is going on with the debt ceiling and why you’re taking the position you are to possibly let the government shutdown because your opposition has a bad plan. We need to hear you, from your office, THE OVAL OFFICE where you can best explain why there’s a looming government shutdown and why the opposition’s plan is not in the best interest of the nation.

As a nation some voted for you, some didn’t. Others didn’t vote at all. But as a nation by a popular vote mandate, WE the people elected YOU.

Therefore, we are in this relationship for the long haul. You were elected and reelected because the majority of the nation trusts you. Now trust us with the message and let us decide. Let us hear you, from The Oval Office.

Part II: One Nation Under God — Happy 237th Birthday America

Part II: Sweet Apple Pie — Happy 237th Birthday America

I am, as Maya Angelou said, “the hope and the dream of the slave.” That slave who worked the fields dreaming of freedom, of owning a business, a home and farm their own land. My great-great-great grandparents on both sides of my family shared that dream. On both, my mother and father’s side, their great-great-grandparents and great-grandparents and grandparents and parents owned hundreds of acres of land in North Carolina and Virginia. Some of that land remains in our family. The grandparents of my aunt Elberta Armstrong, who died earlier this year, two days after her 104th birthday, were former slaves who bought hundreds of acres of land in North Carolina. This is part of the American story.

I am an American and the descendant of slaves. One of them was the first African-American invited as a guest into the White House. His name was Frederick Douglass. I am also a descendant of a man who led the South’s Confederate troops during the Civil War. His name was General Robert E. Lee. I am a part of the American story.

This is why America, I embrace you as an American and not a minority. I identify with that part of me that connects to the majority. When you look on me, you are reminded that I am a descendant of slaves. I look at you with forgiveness because I am as much entitled to sweet apple pie as anyone. My ancestors built this country even when others tried to tear it apart. You see my ancestors built buildings here that are symbols of freedom that dignitaries and ordinary citizens come from near and far to visit.

The more I embrace the whole, the more I smell sweet apple pie. The more I smell, the more I want for our nation to be better, and the bigger my heart becomes. The better I see you for the sum of your parts. The wider the path becomes, and the brighter the light on the path guiding me to sweet apple pie.

You see instead of relying on the government, my role is to help the government make a level playing field for everyone and that includes working so we can make bake a bigger, sweeter apple pie for the growing needs of a growing nation. Happiness in the words “pursuit of happiness” is the pursuit of that sweet apple pie. And the framers were wise to put language there saying “the pursuit of happiness” not entitled to happiness…” Too many today stay at home waiting for their entitlement, while others work hard and still find the pie too hard to get.

Recently, I visited the Lincoln Memorial with a very open heart. I was moved more than ever by President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and better recognized this one thing, the price for freedom has never come without a cost.

I could see Lincoln on the battlefield, as I read his words, days after thousands of Union and Confederate soldiers died.

“It is for us the living, rather, to dedicate here, to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us – that from these honored dead we take increased devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

That struggle goes on every day here and around the world on battlefields near and far. We are blessed today to witness forms of peaceful demonstration like the one in Egypt where the people came together to overthrow not one president but now two. We are blessed in our lifetime to witness someone like Nelson Mandela keep a nation together and lead it to reconciliation in a way Lincoln was unable to avoid. And I believe in some way, Mandela and Lincoln are intangibly responsible for America electing President Barack Obama as our first African-American president.

So today on the Fourth of July, as you eat your sweet apple pie at your barbeques and family gatherings, envision having your share of the pie every day. Let’s today celebrate our nation’s birthday, remembering Mandela’s words after being released from prison:

“As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.”

Let’s let the bitterness that divides us go and become the United States of America. Whether it is race, gender, religion, cultural or political differences that divide, let’s move toward a collective spirit where we choose unity over division, love over hate, nation over race and humanity over all other things.

Let us be “One nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for All.”