Sonny's Corner


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Sonny's Corner

By Dick Herman

It has never happened before.

It almost certainly will never happen again.


Calling it a fluke is hardly unreasonable. Calling it a rare confluence of circumstances in 2008 would, however, be reasonable, and certainly accurate.

“It” was the unprecedented general election triumph in Nebraska’s Second Congressional District (Douglas County and roughly the northeast half of neighboring Sarpy County) by Barack Obama, the Democratic presidential nominee. An unofficial final count had Obama winning the district by 3,325 votes.

Sonny's Corner - Early voting in Nebraska: Modest proposals

By John Berge

During the late summer and fall of 2008, I had the honor of serving as the state director for the Obama for America campaign in Nebraska. From several different standpoints, the campaign in Nebraska was a historic one. History was made just by virtue of the ballots—it was an election that included a black American at the top of the ticket as my party’s nominee, and had a woman vice presidential nominee on the other side.

Sonny's Corner - Lawyers, low incomes and legal aid: The case for making sure people have access to our justice system

By Douglas K. German

Legal aid is one of the best-kept secrets in town. It can go a long way toward solving some of the challenges confronting communities. It can save us some money and make us some money. (For example, for every dollar Nebraskans invest in Legal Aid of Nebraska returns $4 to the local economy.)

Sonny's Corner: "The Nebraska Civil Rights Initiative: A 'Teachable' Moment"

By Linda M. Kalbach

“So what petition is going around town?” the express line clerk asked.

It was a moment a former social studies teacher could not ignore, a young person asking political questions, even as he rang up groceries.

“Hmm, I am guessing it is the one designed to eliminate affirmative action in the state of Nebraska,” I replied.

Sonny's Corner

By Dick Fellman I miss Sonny. We were friends for 35 years or more, we had lunch or dinner together from time to time,; we went to Nebraska football games together and spent the day; but most of all, we talked; and the best of our conversations were not about football. We talked politics.

Sonny's Corner

By Chris Rodgers As I have read this section during its inception, I have seen many approaches to how people have gone about sharing their thoughts about Sonny, and all of them reflected their own personal accounts of the man, his thoughts and his passion. So I figured the best route for me to take in this edition of “Sonny’s Corner” was to recount how I met him and how he has and continues to influence my brief and evolving role in local politics.

Sonny's Corner: What does it mean to be human?

By Rev. Karla J. Cooper There is a question that is as old as humankind itself. This question was even explored by our earliest bipedal ancestors through the first generation of Adam and Eve, pondered intentionally when Cain wondered if he was his brother Abel’s keeper. This is a question that not even the most astute academician could even engage in an objective intellectual discourse without conjuring up emotions, empathy and passions. It is a question that the most boisterous biblical scholar or theoretical theologian could not even constrict to words nor confine to common experience.

Sonny's Corner

By Ben Nelson This may be “Sonny’s Corner” but what the column is really about is Sonny’s life and the impact it continues to have on other people, because everything Sonny did in life was to make sure others had all the opportunities available to them that he was able to carve out for himself.

Sonny's Corner

By Larry Williams My mother was born and raised in Memphis, Tenn., and lived in an area called Whitehaven. She attended an all-black school that was about 2.5 miles from her house. The closest school, Whitehaven High, was less than a mile away, but as the names suggests, it was a school for whites and as a black girl she could not attend. Although blacks and whites lived relatively close to each other in this part of Memphis, there were schools, churches, movie theaters, restaurants and all kinds of places throughout the area that were strictly for whites. That was just how things were in this part of the South, but despite this, my mother looks upon her years in this community with generally fond memories.

Sonny's Corner

New cocaine guidelines are an improvement

For decades now, federal judges have been forced to hand down tougher sentences for offenses involving crack cocaine than for those involving powder cocaine. Now it seems likely that the unequal punishment will be lessened. The change is appropriate and overdue.

Sonny's Corner

By Jane Erdenberger In August a letter to the editor to a Nebraska newspaper stated that "In the Millard School District and the United States as a whole, average ACT scores by Asians were actually superior to those of white students," and begged the question: "Why are the Asians able to pass through the identical school systems that other minorities pass through and obtain such drastically higher scores?" The author of the letter (who need not be named, as he or she could be any of hundreds of thousands of Americans) concluded that at least part of the blame for low test scores should be assigned to Hispanic and black American minorities themselves.

Sonny's Corner - Omaha Healthy Kids Alliance

By Kara Henner Eastman The Omaha Lead Site (OLS) Community Advisory Group (CAG) was formed to ensure the community affected by lead issues has an opportunity to ask questions and stay informed about activities within the OLS. The CAG is made up of community members, technical advisors, and various agency and government representatives. The CAG closely follows the EPA Superfund process and meets on a regular basis to discuss progress at the OLS, pertinent research and information from other cities and Superfund sites in the United States dealing with similar issues.

Sonny's Corner - New Orleans

“New Orleans is open for business,” was the buzz phrase that many were repeating before we departed for a relief trip to New Orleans. It was nearly a full two years after Hurricane Katrina and the subsequent floodwaters, but the call to assist still came out loud and clear. The Times Picayune published an article while we were there that exclaimed that, though the French Quarter was back in operation and tourism was almost back to full steam, it was important to remember that the lives of everyday, ordinary residents of the New Orleans metropolitan community were decidedly not returning to normal, and it would take years and billions of dollars before they did. It would also take the interest and dedication of Americans like my group and me to exact lasting change to systematic problems that continue to be the obstacle to relief, rebuilding and moving on.

Sonny's Corner

"Sonny's Corner" will be a regular column in Prairie Fire, featuring commentary on civil rights and justice issues. Our friend and Omaha colleague, Joseph P. "Sonny" Foster, died suddenly at age 54 in the autumn of 2006. He left an uncompleted agenda, as did many of our civil rights and justice mentors and heroes. We shall attempt to move forward on that unfinished agenda through this column. One of Sonny's earliest political mentors, former Nebraska Congressman John Cavanaugh, has written the first installment. We anxiously await many more calls to action. -W. Don Nelson


Immigration in Nebraska

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