Saturday, April 4, 2015

AUDIO: Remarks of Representative Craig V. Hickman on the Joint Resolution Recognizing the 50th Anniversary of the March from Selma to Montgomery

Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. led marchers across the Alabama River on the first of a five-day, 50-mile march up Route 80 from Selma to the state Capitol at Montgomery, Alabama, on March 21, 1965. (Associated Press file photo)



Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. addresses the crowd March 29, 1965, at the concluding event of the Capitol march. A huge crowd massed in front of the state building for the demonstration. (The Birmingham News file photo)

President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act of 1964 with the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. looking over his shoulder in the Capitol Rotunda, Washington, DC, July 2, 1964. (White House Press Office photo)

President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the Voting Rights Act of 1965 as Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., with other Civil Rights Leaders, in the Capitol Rotunda, Washington, DC, August 6, 1965. (US National Archives photo.)


Floor Speech: Remarks of Representative Craig Von Hickman of Winthrop, Maine, on the Joint Resolution Recognizing the 50th Anniversary of the March from Selma to Montgomery – Maine House of Representatives, March 25, 2015 (AUDIO COURTESY OF MAINE PUBLIC BROADCASTING NETWORK. PLEASE DO NOT BROADCAST, PUBLISH, OR SHARE WITHOUT CREDIT.)

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Floor Speech: 50th Anniversary of Selma to Montgomery March

Remarks of Representative Craig Hickman on the Joint Resolution Recognizing the 50th Anniversary of the March from Selma to Montgomery – March 25, 2015

Mr. Speaker, women and men of the House, “in a murderous time/ the heart breaks and breaks/ and lives by breaking.” Those are the words of two-time Poet Laureate and National Book Award recipient Stanley Kunitz. “The heart breaks and breaks and lives by breaking.” 

My heart has been breaking a lot lately. Not just because I recently buried my beloved mother, but also because recent events throughout the nation and even here at home are ripping my heart to shreds. But today, I want to go back and remember words of wisdom. Words of inspiration to a nation divided. I wasn’t here 50 years ago and I won’t be here 50 years from now. And so, if you would indulge me, Mr. Speaker, I would like to deliver some excerpts from the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “How Long, Not Long” speech in Montgomery, Alabama, at the culmination of the Selma to Montgomery March on March 25, 1965.

 And so I quote:

My dear and abiding friends, Ralph Abernathy, and to all of the distinguished Americans seated here on the rostrum, my friends and co-workers of the state of Alabama, and to all of the freedom-loving people who have assembled here this afternoon from all over our nation and from all over the world: Last Sunday, more than eight thousand of us started on a mighty walk from Selma, Alabama. We have walked through desolate valleys and across the trying hills. We have walked on meandering highways and rested our bodies on rocky byways. Some of our faces are burned from the outpourings of the sweltering sun. Some have literally slept in the mud. We have been drenched by the rains.
But today as I stand before you and think back over that great march, I can say, as Sister Pollard said—a seventy-year-old Negro woman who lived in this community during the bus boycott—and one day, she was asked while walking if she didn’t want [a] ride. And when she answered, "No," the person said, "Well, aren’t you tired?" And with her ungrammatical profundity, she said, "My feets is tired, but my soul is rested." And in a real sense this afternoon, we can say that our feet are tired, but our souls are rested.

They told us we wouldn’t get here. And there were those who said that we would get here only over their dead bodies, but all the world today knows that we are here and we are standing before the forces of power in the state of Alabama saying, "We ain’t goin’ let nobody turn us around." 

(…)

[Now] strangely, the climactic conflicts always were fought and won on Alabama soil. After Montgomery’s, heroic confrontations loomed up in Mississippi, Arkansas, Georgia, and elsewhere. But not until the colossus of segregation was challenged in Birmingham did the conscience of America begin to bleed…. America was profoundly aroused by Birmingham because it witnessed the whole community of Negroes facing terror and brutality with majestic scorn and heroic courage. And from the wells of this democratic spirit, the nation finally forced Congress to write legislation in the hope that it would eradicate the stain of Birmingham. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 gave Negroes some part of their rightful dignity, but without the vote it was dignity without strength. 

(…)

[And so] our whole campaign in Alabama has been centered around the right to vote. In focusing the attention of the nation and the world today on the flagrant denial of the right to vote, we are exposing the very origin, the root cause, of racial segregation in the Southland. Racial segregation as a way of life did not come about as a natural result of hatred between the races immediately after the Civil War. There were no laws segregating the races then. And as the noted historian, C. Vann Woodward, in his book, The Strange Career of Jim Crow, clearly points out, the segregation of the races was really a political stratagem employed by the emerging Bourbon interests in the South to keep the southern masses divided and southern labor the cheapest in the land. You see, it was a simple thing to keep the poor white masses working for near-starvation wages in the years that followed the Civil War. Why, if the poor white plantation or mill worker became dissatisfied with his low wages, the plantation or mill owner would merely threaten to fire him and hire former Negro slaves and pay him even less. Thus, the southern wage level was kept almost unbearably low.

(…) 

If it may be said of the slavery era that the white man took the world and gave the Negro Jesus, then it may be said of the Reconstruction era that the southern aristocracy took the world and gave the poor white man Jim Crow. He gave him Jim Crow. And when his wrinkled stomach cried out for the food that his empty pockets could not provide, he ate Jim Crow, a psychological bird that told him that no matter how bad off he was, at least he was a white man, better than the black man. And he ate Jim Crow. And when his undernourished children cried out for the necessities that his low wages could not provide, he showed them the Jim Crow signs on the buses and in the stores, on the streets and in the public buildings. And his children, too, learned to feed upon Jim Crow, their last outpost of psychological oblivion.

Thus, the threat of the free exercise of the ballot by the Negro and the white masses alike resulted in the establishment of a segregated society. They segregated southern money from the poor whites; they segregated southern mores from the rich whites; they segregated southern churches from Christianity; they segregated southern minds from honest thinking; and they segregated the Negro from everything. That’s what happened when the Negro and white masses of the South threatened to unite and build a great society: a society of justice where none would pray upon the weakness of others; a society of plenty where greed and poverty would be done away; a society of brotherhood where every man would respect the dignity and worth of human personality. 

Today I want to tell the city of Selma, today I want to say to the state of Alabama, today I want to say to the people of America and the nations of the world, that we are not about to turn around. We are on the move now. 

Yes, we are on the move and no wave of racism can stop us. We are on the move now. The burning of our churches will not deter us. The bombing of our homes will not dissuade us. We are on the move now. The beating and killing of our clergymen and young people will not divert us. We are on the move now…. Like an idea whose time has come, not even the marching of mighty armies can halt us. We are moving to the land of freedom. 

Let us therefore continue our triumphant march to the realization of the American dream….

Let us march on segregated schools until every vestige of segregated and inferior education becomes a thing of the past…

Let us march on poverty until no American parent has to skip a meal so that their children may eat. March on poverty until no starved man walks the streets of our cities and towns in search of jobs that do not exist. Let us march on poverty until wrinkled stomachs in Mississippi are filled, and the idle industries of Appalachia are realized and revitalized, and broken lives in sweltering ghettos are mended and remolded.

Let us march on ballot boxes… until race-baiters disappear from the political arena.

Let us march on ballot boxes until the salient misdeeds of bloodthirsty mobs will be transformed into the calculated good deeds of orderly citizens. 

Let us march on ballot boxes until the [George] Wallaces of our nation tremble away in silence.

Let us march on ballot boxes until we send to our city councils, state legislatures, and the United States Congress, men who will not fear to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with thy God.

Let us march on ballot boxes until brotherhood becomes more than a meaningless word in an opening prayer, but the order of the day on every legislative agenda….

 (…)

The only normalcy that we will settle for is the normalcy that recognizes the dignity and worth of all of God’s children. The only normalcy that we will settle for is the normalcy that allows judgment to run down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream. The only normalcy that we will settle for is….the normalcy of true peace, the normalcy of justice.

And so as we go away this afternoon, let us go away more than ever before committed to this struggle and committed to nonviolence.… Our aim must never be to defeat or humiliate the white man, but to win his friendship and understanding. We must come to see that the end we seek is a society at peace with itself, a society that can live with its conscience. 

I know you are asking today, "How long will it take?" Somebody’s asking, "How long will prejudice blind the visions of men, darken their understanding, and drive bright-eyed wisdom from her sacred throne?" Somebody’s asking, "When will wounded justice, lying prostrate on the streets of Selma and Birmingham and communities all over the South, be lifted from this dust of shame to reign supreme among the children of men?" Somebody’s asking, "When will the radiant star of hope be plunged against the nocturnal bosom of this lonely night, plucked from weary souls with chains of fear and the manacles of death? How long will justice be crucified, and truth bear it?" 

I come to say to you this afternoon, however difficult the moment, however frustrating the hour, it will not be long, because "truth crushed to earth will rise again." 

How long? Not long, because "no lie can live forever." 

How long? Not long, because "you shall reap what you sow." 

(…)

How long? Not long, because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.

How long? Not long, because:

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord; 

He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored; 

He has loosed the fateful lightning of his terrible swift sword; 

His truth is marching on. 

Glory, glory, hallelujah!  Glory, glory, hallelujah!  Glory, glory, hallelujah!

His truth is marching on. 

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Maine State Forester Sharply Questioned On Public Lands Report


From the March Maine Forest Products Council Newsletter:

About halfway through the Bureau of Public Lands’ annual report, Rep. Craig Hickman leaned into his microphone and, as one onlooker put it later, “tipped over a beehive.”

"The ACF Committee room was unusually crowded March 10, perhaps because of the controversy last session over Gov. LePage’s unsuccessful proposal to expand harvesting on public lands to fund heating efficiency programs. But LePage has not given up on his plan, saying he’ll withhold $11.4 million in bonds for the Land for Maine’s Future program until timber harvesting on state-owned lands is increased to aid efficiency programs. The governor’s budget also would move public lands to the Maine Forest Service (MFS), which also is raising concerns.

"The March 9th meeting started quietly. For the first hour, Doug Denico, MFS director, simply went through the BPL report, page by page. He’d reached Page 24, when Hickman, D-Winthrop, who is House chair said, “Mr. Denico, I just have a question. I was looking forward to asking the acting director of Public Lands the question that I asked at the public hearing, but he is not here today. Is he still employed?” (Read more)


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Floor Speech: Honoring a Hero


Senator Earle McCormick and Representative Craig Hickman present a sentiment to Sharon Wise of Winthrop

REMARKS OF REPRESENTATIVE CRAIG HICKMAN ON THE SENTIMENT TO HONOR THE HEROISM OF SHARON WISE OF WINTHROP – MARCH 17, 2015

Mr. Speaker, women and men of the House, I rise to honor the heroism of Ms. Sharon Wise of Winthrop, who, back in December, was ready to fight to keep a young girl from being abducted, but first, I would like to read from the Posting Guidance for Federal Agencies as presented by the U.S. General Services Administration Missing Child Notice Program. And I quote:
  • At the beginning of each month, all notices from the previous month should be removed and replaced with new notices. It is important that new notices are not added to existing notices. Listing more than ten at a time reduces the impact of the program.
  • When selecting a site within your building to display notices, choose wisely. Ensure that notices are posted in public areas and offer maximum exposure to the public.
  • Missing child notices present a powerful and emotional message, therefore, keep all hardcopy displays tasteful and modest in size out of respect for employees who may see the pictures repeatedly.
End quote.

The compassion on display in this guidance underscores an alarming statistic:

Every 40 seconds in the United States, a child goes missing or is abducted. Every 40 seconds.

And so, yes, missing child notices present a powerful and emotional message. I’m sure we’ve all seen them. Children’s faces plastered on the walls of the post office or the grocery store.

Every 40 seconds.

According to the most recent published statistics here in Maine, since 1971, seven children reported missing have not been found. Their families have no closure. There is a grief that knows no outlet. Can you imagine the emotional turmoil of mother who goes every single day to the last place her son was seen hoping to find him right there calling out for her? Can you imagine the desperation of a father, who, every time he hears the wind blow open the gate to the back yard, runs to a window hoping to see his daughter walking up to the back door. Can you imagine?

Later today or tomorrow or the next, I say go hug your children or grandchildren, your young nieces and nephews and godchildren. Embrace them as often as you can. Let them know that they are special little angels and that you love them from the bottom of your heart. For in the blink of an eye, any one of them could go missing. We wouldn’t wish that heart-shattering tragedy on any parent or grandparent or uncle or aunt. And so when you hold your children close and tell them how special they are, think of those whose vigilance, responsiveness and bravery have kept families whole. 

And so, Mr. Speaker, women and men of the House, I rise also to say this:

Let us honor Ms. Sharon Wise of Winthrop, who, as far as our research could take us, prevented the first abduction of a child by a stranger in the State of Maine. 

I’m going to say it again:

Because of the vigilance, responsiveness and bravery of Ms. Sharon Wise of Winthrop, the first abduction of a child by a stranger in the State of Maine was stopped, while it was happening. The man could have drawn a weapon on her as she pulled the child back from his grip, and even if that crossed her mind, she was undeterred and kept a 2-year-old girl from being taken from her grandmother in plain daylight. And she did it all on a bad knee.

Talk about going above and beyond.

“Generations,” wrote James Baldwin, “do not cease to be born and we are responsible to them because we are the only witnesses they have.”

Today, we thank Ms. Wise for bearing witness. Today, we honor her for her heroism. Today, we are most grateful to Sharon Wise for her brave act of love. Her example is a blessing. Her example is an inspiration.

May we all be so vigilant, so responsive, and so brave.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

The Oath of Office


On Wednesday, December 3, 2014, I took the Oath of Office to serve another term in the Maine House of Representatives. After the official results from the November election were recorded, I received nearly two-thirds of the vote. I never would have imagined such a margin of victory. I thank Mr. Fellman for running a positive campaign and wish him and his wife all the best as they prepare for the birth of their baby girl. I remain grateful for the trust and confidence the citizens of Winthrop, Readfield and a part of North Monmouth have bestowed upon me. I will continue to fight, above all else, for the people of the State and do my best to keep Maine the way life should be.


Monday, November 3, 2014

I Ask For Your Vote

With my friend Senator Patrick Flood at Swearing-In Ceremonies, December 5, 2012.

Dear Neighbor,

My name is Craig Hickman. If you live in Readfield or Winthrop, I am your Representative to the Legislature. If you live in the part of North Monmouth, because of redistricting, you will become part of the district I currently represent in the Maine House of Representatives. If we haven’t yet had a chance to meet in person, I’m the hard-working, organic-farming, small-business-owning poet, author, and chef with a Harvard degree in government that you elected two years ago.

I ask for your vote for re-election on Tuesday, November 4, 2014. It would be my great pleasure to serve another term as your State Representative in the 127th Legislature.

I will remain forever grateful to be part of this awesome community; I won’t ever turn my back on you. Currently, I serve as Chair of the Winthrop Area Rotary Foundation, Director of the Winthrop Community Gardens & Fresh Food Bank at Annabessacook Farm, and Secretary of the Winthrop Hot Meal Kitchen. I also serve on the boards of the Annabessacook Lake Improvement Association, Theater at Monmouth, and the Western Kennebec Economic Development Alliance. I enjoy memberships in the Sons of the American Legion, Kennebec Land Trust, Kennebec Valley Chamber of Commerce, the Readfield and Winthrop Historical Societies, the Winthrop Area Federal Credit Union, Maine Farm Bureau, Maine Farmland Trust, and Maine Tourism Association.

Preparing the smoker for the Winthrop Rotary Family Barbecue & Gumbo Festival to End Hunger, August 16, 2014. (Photo from KJ)

It has been the highest honor of my life to represent you in the 126th Legislature. What an unbelievably rewarding and humbling experience. To this day, I have moments when I have to ask my family if this is real. It was always my father’s dream that I become a public servant, and while I wish he were here to see me living (and loving) his dream, I believe he’s smiling down from heaven. I can almost hear his oft-repeated caveat right now: “Don’t get so comfortable with what you think you know that you fix your mind to stop learning, young man.”

I have learned that there’s more to a piece of legislation than the title; that the devil is in the details; and that lawmakers don’t always read every word of the laws we take roll-call votes on.

I have learned that too many political reporters don’t read the laws they report on; that they consistently frame every issue through the lens of partisanship; and that too much of what they write may include the facts but is nowhere near the entire truth.

I have learned that industry and special interest lobbyists have more access to the administration than lawmakers; that far too many deals on so many vital matters are made behind closed doors.

I have learned that mendacity can rule the day under the dome in Augusta; that too many people will lie to your face, repeatedly; and that bravery is a rarity in the legislative process.

Students from Maranacook Student Health Center at the State House for the suicide prevention bill.

Even still, there are times when we do the right thing, when pragmatic policy prevails over partisan politics, when the people of this great State are served well. Both the House and the Senate voted unanimously to pass a teen suicide prevention bill. We strengthened privacy rights by requiring a warrant before anyone can monitor your cell phone, becoming the first state in the nation to do so. We heard you loud and clear and voted overwhelmingly to require GMO labeling on most packaged food sold in Maine. We passed a responsible bipartisan budget that respected our civil servants, increased investments in education, and prevented a State shutdown. It would have been a profound failure of governance—the height of irresponsibility—if the Legislature had allowed that to happen.

For my part, most of the ten bills I presented were about creating a more robust food economy and protecting the long-term viability of small farms and homesteads. Four of them became public law: An Act To Expand Wild Turkey Hunting; An Act To Amend the Medical Marijuana Act at the request of two licensed caregivers in Readfield and Winthrop; An Act To Encourage Edible Landscaping in a Portion of Capitol Park; and a Resolve, To Establish a Veteran-to-Farmer Training Pilot Program.

I am proud that my resolve, under the outstanding leadership of Stephanie Gilbert of the Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry and Tori Lee Jackson of University of Maine Cooperative Extension, brought together representatives from six governmental and three nongovernmental agencies to craft an education and training program out of existing resources for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans interested in agricultural careers.

With the O'Keefe Family at the Freedom Salute for 133rd Engineer Battalion and 1025th Survey and Design Team, August 17, 2014.

I am proud of my work with Senator Thomas Saviello and Senator Patrick Flood on a bill that helped save a family farm and small business in Readfield. In a letter to me, Jon Olson, Executive Secretary of the Maine Farm Bureau Association, wrote:
“I strongly feel one of the reasons LD696—An Act To Include Raising Equines in the Definition of Agriculture for the Purpose of the Maine Workers’ Compensation Act of 1992—passed was because of your involvement. Not only did you testify at the public hearing, you also participated at the work session. From my experience being involved in the legislative process, it’s unusual for a cosponsor of a bill to do both. … LD696 was one of the most significant agricultural bills passed this session…. [It] will positively benefit all horse farms that provide boarding services as part of their operations. I know on the [Readfield] farm the cost of having to purchase Workers’ Compensation Insurance would have forced them to close. There are dozens of horse farms in Maine that would have been placed in the same financial straits. Your action is appreciated by all these farmers.”

Finally, I am proud that my bill, An Act To Increase Consumption of Maine Foods in All State Institutions, overcame the difficult threshold of a two-thirds supermajority vote of both Chambers. The legislation was held over and vetoed at the opening of the Second Regular Session this past January. So I went to work to keep this rural economic development bill—this job-creating bill—alive. The House overrode the veto with the exact number of votes required. “Freshmen don’t override vetoes in either chamber, Hickman,” said a veteran newscaster. The Senate, however, sustained the veto by a two-vote margin. If we are going to incentivize state government to invest more of our own money in Maine’s farms and fisheries in order for Maine to become more food self-sufficient, a State policy my bill would help to implement, then we will have to try once more. And so it’s time to step up again.

Harvesting Garlic Scapes at Annabessacook Farm, July 9, 2014. (Photo from PPH)

I ask for your vote because we have more work to do. I have sown some seeds. A few of our ideas have taken root. I would love to see them bear fruit.

I take great pride in earning the respect of legislators from across the political spectrum in both the House and the Senate; in listening to every point of view and reading every word of all the bills and amendments before I vote on them; in voting my conscience even when it goes against my party. I take great pride in admitting when I make a mistake or drop the ball; in answering every phone message (377-FARM) and email (craighickman@rocketmail.com) and letter that I receive. Yes, legislators represent the people of our districts, but at the end of the day, our votes affect the people of the entire State. And so if someone from Madawaska or Kittery or anywhere in between takes the time to reach out to me, I will respond and do my best to help. The people deserve nothing less.


We are at a crossroads. If you believe we need to elect a Representative who listens, who thinks critically, independently, and values personal liberty; a Representative who asks the hard questions and honors the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth; a Representative who isn’t afraid to stand up for what he believes and will never be for sale, then I believe this Representative is the best choice for these tough times.

The Oath of Office, December 5, 2012.

I ask for your vote. On Tuesday, November 4, 2014, please go to the polls and vote Hickman back in the House. It has been the highest honor of my life to represent you. I will continue to work hard for you every single day. I humbly ask for more time in Augusta to help craft creative, pragmatic policies that will rebuild this beautiful state and grow Maine’s economy from the ground up.

Thank you. Take care of your blessings.



Craig V. Hickman
Winthrop