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Associated Press
Ruby Dee poses in 2008 with her Screen Actors Guild award for her work in “American Gangster.”

Furthermore …

Chelesa Fearce

Piece by piece, Obamacare is gaining favor

A new Ball State University survey on Hoosiers’ views on Obamacare reinforces the Indiana governor’s rebranding effort. Indiana residents seem to like everything about the Affordable Care Act but its name, making Gov. Mike Pence’s Healthy Indiana Plan 2.0 a wise makeover of the Medicaid expansion.

The study, conducted for BioMed Research International, surveyed 600 people over 2010-12 and found that 42 percent of Hoosiers held an unfavorable view of the Affordable Care Act, down from 51 percent in 2011. When the researchers asked about specific provisions of the federal health care act, however, they found an enthusiastic response in 2012:

•81 percent of Hoosiers supported ensuring coverage for everyone.

•90 percent believed insurance companies should cover pre-existing conditions.

•93 percent said affordable health care coverage is important.

•77 percent said children should be covered until age 26.

•63 percent supported the individual mandate requiring people to buy health insurance.

“Overall, from 2010 to 2012, despite a general negative attitude toward the ACA, the majority of Indiana residents consistently support key elements of the legislation,” according to the survey’s authors.

A shared Struggle

The story of Ruby Dee, who died Wednesday at 91, was in so many ways the story of her times. She and her husband, Ossie Davis, were groundbreaking black actors who were married from 1948 until Davis’ death in 2005. Both of them consummate artists, they brought memorable characters to life on stage, film and television. But they also were social activists who fought against the Red Scare in the 1950s and were prominent in the battle for civil rights.

Dee and Davis co-emceed the 1963 March on Washington, at which Martin Luther King Jr. delivered the “I Have a Dream” speech. They co-wrote the fiery Malcolm X’s eulogy after he was gunned down in 1965.

In 1998, they produced a book about their life of challenges and triumphs, but it was not a conventional autobiography. Their voices alternated throughout, with one of them looking back and the other adding other details – or sometimes disagreeing. The book is both a portrait of an era and an explanation of how two such strong-willed artists, a couple constantly in the public eye, could sustain a 57-year marriage.

Clearly, their deeply shared belief in social justice helped get them through. In one monologue, Dee recalled how it felt to be embroiled in the movement for black equality.

“The four-century war against discrimination feels eternal,” she wrote. “Is there a time in life when it will be won? I believe so. This costly, dangerous tool of separation hurts everybody. It’s like a poisonous snake wrapping around us body and soul, and only the Struggle keeps it from tightening its coils in a death squeeze.”

Homeless grad offers additional inspiration

Be courageous and change the world.

Stand up against the violence that has taken some of our peers.

Stand up and take charge of your education.

Stand up and face hunger and poverty.

Pretty standard valedictory-speech fare, huh? But the words have a bit more force coming from a girl who became her high school’s top graduate this week despite being part of a homeless family for the past six years.

Sometimes, when it was lights-out in the homeless shelter, Chelesa Fearce would study by the light of her mother’s cellphone.

In her graduation speech, Fearce recalled sleeping on mats on the floor and a daily struggle for meals, clean clothes and a shower.

When she graduated this week from Charles Drew High School in Clayton County, Georgia, Fearce had not only been named valedictorian, her grades and tests were so good, she will start as a junior when she begins studying biology and pre-med at Spelman College this fall.

Her sister, the similarly named Chelsea, graduated from a different high school in nearby Atlanta as salutatorian and also will go on to college.

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