John McCaslin

Among the participants are Academy Award-winning actor Louis Gossett Jr., best-selling author Deepak Chopra, U.S. District Court Judge Harold Kennedy and Joshua Packwood, the first white valedictorian to graduate from the historically black Morehouse College in the school's 141-year history.

Also attending will be Simeon Wright, cousin of Emmett Till, whose 1955 murder in Mississippi helped spawn America's civil rights movement. A reading of Mrs. Cohen's new play "Anne and Emmett," an imagined conversation between Holocaust victim Anne Frank and Till, will be featured at the conference.


One congressman calls it the "Post Office Congress," noting almost 30 percent of legislation passed by lawmakers in this 110th Congress "has been naming federal buildings."

"Today, I see we will be naming two more post offices," observed Rep. Ted Poe, Texas Republican, referring to the Bishop Ralph E. Brower Post Office and the Minnie Cox Post Office Building, both approved this week.

"Almost every morning I talk to my parents who are both in their 80s and are very inquisitive about what goes on in Congress," he said. "I tell them we are working on postal legislation. I don't really go further and tell them the legislation actually is just naming post office buildings throughout the vast plains and prairies of America. After all, we have named 72 federal buildings in [the current] Congress."

As for insult to injury, the congressman added: "Today Mom said she can't even afford gas to get to the post office."

John McCaslin

John McCaslin is a contributing columnist on and author of Inside The Beltway: Offbeat Stories, Scoops, and Shenanigans from around the Nation's Capital .

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