Bernie Sanders asks Betsy Devos – Would You Be Sitting Here Today if You Were Not a Billionaire?

Betsy Devos – Secretary of Education, Nominee


I found myself in one of those rare moments of screaming at my smart phone, “Have you, Bernie Sanders, ever seen a dying 7-year-old at the Helen Devos Children’s Hospital? What would that 7-year-old sitting in heaven, be thinking of you sitting here today, and how would she answer your question posed to Betsy Devos.


Nominated as Education Secretary, Betsy Devos had to face the music from an elite group of Senators. “How much have you donated to the Republicans over the years. Will you commit that you will not work to privatize, or cut funding” for public schools, “Guns, do they have any place in or around schools?”



With the rapidity of a machine gun, the questions kept coming, and with grace she answered politely. When Senator Elizabeth Warren asked, if she or any of her children had ever had to take out a student loan to help pay for college. “They have been fortunate not to,” DeVos stated humbly.


The elite attitude from a group of elite Senators was apparent today. Regardless of any position on school vouchers or gun control, the spirit of the questions, I think, were apparent and wrong. I hope that my thoughts are not skewed by my knowledge of the good Betsy Devos and her family have contributed to Michigan throughout the years, but there has to be a better way of asking questions apart from grandstanding.


Betsy’s biggest critics argue that she is for school vouchers. These are vouchers paid for by taxpayers, given to private companies, for public education. The detractors contend that taxpayer dollars should not be used for private companies, even it is for the intended public good. The greater fear of her opposers, perhaps, is that voucher policies will do away with public schools. It is a fair argument. Let’s have the discussion. The naysayers, also point to Michigan’s voucher policy implementation, utilized by charter schools, as an example of voucher’s inherent failures. Over forty percent, critics claim, of Michigan’s Charter schools are a dismal failure. Again, this is a fair argument. Let’s have the discussion.


I suspect further that many of her detractors are weary that she is a conservative Christian and is willing to force her views on others under the name of vouchers and private schools. Let’s have the discussion.


I am in no means advocating that the Senate shun their responsibilities as an advise and consent body, but it easy to be self-righteous, argumentative, and even fearful of another when you have not walked in their shoes. It is timely for the senators to be reminded of the words of Martin Luther King, Jr. “People fail to get along because they fear each other; and they fear each other because they don’t know each other; and they don’t know each other because they have not communicated with each other.”


Well, I do know the Devos’s, and I suppose, like all of us, there is good at the very core. The good that I see coming from the core of Betsy Devos, I love.


Khalique-Vialva and Mom


The Dick and Betsy Devos website states, “Our faith motivates our giving; it is integral to who we are and what we do. Our giving is centered in cultivating leadership, accelerating transformation and leveraging support in five areas:


Justice: Fundamentally, we believe all people have the right and access to justice. We support organizations that help free, rescue, or provide access to the oppressed and the vulnerable.


Education: We strive to be a catalyst for positive change by expanding choices and improving access opportunities primarily in K-12 education.


Community: We endeavor to make West Michigan a desirable place to live by supporting efforts that lead to community transformation, improve community health and provide support for essential community needs.


Arts: Nationally and internationally, we build capacity in arts leaders and equip them to effectively manage and lead their organizations.


Leadership: With intention, we aim to train, equip, support and develop leaders.


Rather than screaming at grandstanding senators, that cannot hear me, it may be better for me to holler, and advocate until the words of Dick and Betsy Devos become reality.

A Wise Man and a Basketball – A Tribute

Harry, Nevil Shed, Billy Jo Hill


Young Harry team photo


Harry and wife at the White House with President George and Laura Bush


Harry Flournroy, Jr., a man of great royalty. Far above his physical stature, he stood tall. A man above other men. All who encountered him were engulfed in his greatness. Great, not because of his basketball prowess, not because he is a Naismith Basketball Hall of Famer, but great for who he was as a person. A great husband, father, friend and mentor. He made a difference in community and the world.

I remember first meeting him. I stood in awe. I stared at him as if I were in a world-famous museum. Admiring not only what he accomplished on the basketball court, but in admiration of the class and royal spirit that emanated from him. As I stood in the crowd admiring, I was pleasantly surprise and struck when this giant of a man walk up to me and said, “friend. He began to converse with me, as if I had known him for years. So easy to talk to, he was. Offering me, unsolicited, life advice, “Life is what you make it, he said to me.” Not knowing his words meant a lot to me, or maybe he did, I often thought.

Harry passed away today, November 26, 2016. We will miss him, the world will miss him, but the great thing, we will see him again.

Harry remember you are my friend, save me a spot at court side.

A short Bio of his greatness:

“Born in 1943, Harry Flournoy, Jr. was a former American college basketball player, originally from Gary, Indiana where he graduated from Emerson High in 1962. He played college basketball for Texas Western College, later called the University of Texas at El Paso, or UTEP; he made history when his team won an NCAA Division I National Championship with the first ever all African-American starting lineup under Hall of Fame coach Don Haskins in 1966.” It is considered by many the game that changed America. “He only played for six minutes in the championship game before twisting his knee, but following the victory he was on the cover of Sports Illustrated rebounding a ball over Pat Riley.

After his career at Texas Western, Flournoy became a teacher and basketball coach at an elementary school in El Paso, TX. Harry has 6 children; 1 daughter from his first marriage, and 3 daughters and 2 sons from his second marriage; and no children from his 3rd (current) marriage. Harry and his current wife reside in McDonough, GA, a suburb of Atlanta.

In the 2006 film Glory Road about the 1966 Championship team, Flournoy was portrayed by Mehcad Brooks.”

Along with the 1966 Texas Western College team, Harry was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.

Flournoy, Harry, Jr. (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved November 26, 2016.