Author: Leslie Boyd

Leslie spent more than 25 years as a reporter for daily newspapers in New York, New Jersey and finally in Asheville, NC, covering social justice issues, religion and nonprofits for most of that time. After the death of her younger son, Mike Danforth, on April 1, 2008, from not having access to health care, she founded Life o’ Mike to pursue the cause of getting affordable access to quality health care for all Americans. Life o’ Mike became WNC Health Partners in October, 2012, to reflect what we do.

In August 2009, Leslie left her career as a journalist to advocate full-time and to develop services that will help people who have serious illnesses or disabilities and their families. Leslie is married and has one surviving son, four grandchildren and a great-granddaughter.

Step up or shut up

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Yesterday’s crowd at the Women’s March in Asheville.

Yesterday’s Women’s March in Asheville was enormous — by all reports, as big as last year’s (I was in Washington last year, so I can’t verify personally, but I believe the people who were here). The entire block surrounding the Vance Monument was packed with people, and the crowd stretched down the hill past the Fire Department.

Still, before the march was over, people were all over social media complaining that it was poorly organized.

The march here, which drew between 8,000 and 12,000 people, was organized by a small group of Asheville High School students who saw that no adults were stepping up to organize one. They arranged to get Memorial Stadium a half mile from downtown, although they didn’t have the money for proper amplification or parade permits to close down the streets between the stadium and the Vance Monument.

These are new organizers with no experience putting together an event of this size, yet they stepped up and put on a massive march.

The first complaint I saw was a post from a veteran protester/organizer and I called him out in the comments. I asked whether he had offered his help, which I already …read more

Why NOT Oprah for president?

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I love Oprah — as an entertainer, as a human being, but not as a candidate for president.

I don’t want Oprah to run for president.

I know, I know, now you think I’m being racist, but hear me out.

We don’t need another entertainer in the White House. The two we’ve had –Ronald Reagan and the current occupant have both been disasters.

I’m not saying Oprah is in this class; I’m saying she’s a consummate entertainer. She’s charismatic and brilliant, and by accounts I’ve read, a kind and compassionate woman who has experienced poverty and tragedy in her life.

But she’s not who we need in the White House right now.

What we need is someone with political and public policy experience, not someone who knows how to make a good speech. If my pipes burst, I’m going to call an experienced plumber, not someone who is willing to learn on the job. My basement is flooded now and I want someone who knows how to deal with it now.

Abraham Lincoln is said to have had a squeaky, high-pitched voice. So, although he was brilliant and eloquent, his voice probably made his speeches less than rousing. What made him great was his political …read more

All I want for Christmas is social and economic justice

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This is not a joyous day for too many of us.

Some of us are without loved ones, perhaps for the first time.

Some of us are without a job and therefore without the means to participate in the way convention tells us we must — there is joy in giving, so we must consume, consume, consume, spend, spend, spend.

I spent a part of yesterday — Christmas Eve — talking to people who don’t even have a home, nevermind a tree all lit up in splendor.
We live in a time of historic economic and social inequality. Those of us who have something are encouraged to belittle and discriminate against people who have less — even against people who have nothing at all.

I’m working on an article about how cash bail keeps people incarcerated because we in this culture assume poverty equals guilt, if not of the crime for which we throw you in jail, then of being “lazy,” of wanting a “handout.”

One woman said to me, “I don’t have any way of knowing the date or even the time. I live under a bridge.”

But she spent 23 days in jail for the crime of missing a court date for sleeping in public.

“I …read more