Heard on the Hill: Arrested Development

Posted December 14, 2009 at 6:37pm

HOH has never been arrested, but we’re guessing that most people who wind up in handcuffs — especially Members of Congress — don’t particularly care to return to the scene of their ordeal.

[IMGCAP(1)]But for former D.C. Del. Walter Fauntroy (D), going back to the spot where he was arrested 25 years ago will offer a moment for celebration.

In fact, when he looks back on his arrest, he calls it a “privilege.—

The former Delegate and founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus is scheduled to join D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D), actor Danny Glover, musician/actor Harry Belafonte and a slew of government officials at the South African Embassy today. There, he’ll mark the 25th anniversary of the arrest that launched the Free South Africa Movement, which inspired hundreds of people to get arrested in peaceful protests against apartheid.

It all began on the day before Thanksgiving in 1984, when Fauntroy — then D.C.’s official, nonvoting representative in Congress — joined activists Mary Frances Berry and Randall Robinson at the South African Embassy. The trio asked the ambassador to release political prisoners in South African jails and take steps to end apartheid, but their request was denied.

In objection, the three refused to leave the embassy and were forcibly removed and arrested.

But, as Fauntroy recalled to HOH, those arrests only sparked action: Norton alerted her media contacts, who were sitting outside the embassy with cameras when the trio walked out in handcuffs.

“Within a matter of minutes, it was news all over the country and in South Africa. You know why? It was a slow day,— Fauntroy said, laughing. “Because it was a slow day, all day on Thanksgiving Day, I was going into living rooms all over the country.—

The trio’s arrests soon started a trend — both Glover and Belafonte were eventually handcuffed in similar protests, as were civil rights icon Rosa Parks, musician Stevie Wonder and actor Paul Newman. “Before you knew it, everybody had to get arrested,— Fauntroy joked.

Fauntroy doesn’t plan to get arrested today — in fact, the current South African ambassador will be there to welcome him at the door of the embassy.

Praise for the Good Doctor (of Education). Everybody’s favorite sweater-wearing, Jell-O-pudding-pop-eating dad got his due on the House floor last week.

Rep. Dennis Kucinich on the floor Friday praised entertainer Bill Cosby, who recently took home the Kennedy Center’s Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. The Ohio Democrat praised the 72-year-old’s “brilliant artistry, unwavering activism and volunteer spirit.—

“Mr. Cosby is a rare comedic genius. He is intelligent, creative and never relies on profanity,— Kucinich added. “His popular stand-up comedy performances are drawn from personal experiences such as a childhood spent on the streets of Philadelphia and his experiences as a husband and father. His thought-provoking performances feature themes of family, love and human fallibilities.—

Kucinich highlighted specific points from Cosby’s lengthy career, including his roles on “I Spy,— the cartoon comedy “Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids— and “The Cosby Show.—

“Even today, Dr. Huxtable continues to be the most beloved television father of all time,— Kucinich said. “Moreover, Mr. Cosby continues to be a mentor and voice of empowerment in urban and black communities. He uplifts and inspires young and old.—

No ‘Bah Humbugs’ Allowed. Rep. Bill Posey is using the greedy Ebenezer Scrooge as a way to raise money for his Congressional campaign.

The Florida Republican is scheduled to host a fundraiser during a performance of the classic holiday tale “A Christmas Carol— tonight at Ford’s Theatre. Tickets to the campaign event start at $1,000.

But Posey and his wife won’t embody the mean spirit of Scrooge. They’re set to welcome their guests with a “hot chocolate and desserts— reception at a nearby Starbucks before heading to the historic theater for the performance.

God bless us, everyone!

It’s a Good Thing. Fans of Martha Stewart can join the domestic goddess today as she decorates the presidential guest residence, as Stewart’s recent trip to the historic Blair House is scheduled to air on her television show.

Stewart’s lifestyle magazine, Martha Stewart Living, was one of six publications whose representatives were invited by the State Department to give the house a holiday-themed makeover. Her crew was in charge of the Blair front entrance hall, Lee drawing room and Blair dining room. Highlights of their work include a Blair House-replica gingerbread house “adorned with peppermints,— according to a news release. In the drawing room, there are “trees and tables with flocks of glittered birds — a great complement to the amazing 250-year-old hand painted bird wallpaper.—

“Our goal was to bring the holiday spirit to Blair House while staying true to the home’s architecture and historic relevance,— Stewart said. “Our design was whimsical and elegant and truly is a celebration of the season.—

Overheard on the Hill. “My plane is still suck [sic] on the runway (after 3 hours) so they took the 8 cans of almonds and divided them up between 50 people, kind of sweet.—

“… We finally completed our journey, 8 hours for a trip that usually takes about 1, grateful for my laptop.—

— Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine), on the woes of airplane travel in two tweets posted Monday afternoon.

Submit your hot tips, juicy gossip or comments here.