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    Civil Rights Attorney Ben Crump launches law firm with national scope

    TALLAHASSEE—With the aim of more effective activism to promote individual and social justice in America, renowned civil rights advocate and attorney Ben Crump  this week launched a new law firm with a nationwide network of top lawyers. Well known for his work representing the families of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Corey Jones, Tamir Rice and others, Crump said the new firm will have the scale to seek justice for individuals across the nation and broadly extend his advocacy for social justice causes.

    Ben Crump Law PLLC, will focus on civil rights, employment law, personal injury, workers’ compensation, medical malpractice and wrongful death cases, as well as mass torts and class actions.

    “We are at a pivotal time in American history, when the hunger for social justice is spurring a renewal in our civil rights movement,” Crump said. “Tapping into a nationwide team of talent gives us the scale to help individuals across the country and the ability to bring class actions and mass tort cases that can spur the progress toward real change.”

    Offices will be in Washington, D.C., Los Angeles and Tallahassee. Ben Crump Law has established an affiliation with the Morgan & Morgan law firm to create linkages with some of the top lawyers in the country, allowing the firm to handle cases anywhere in the country as part of the Ben Crump Law network.

    People of color are disproportionately affected by environmental racism, discriminatory practices and lack of access to quality schools and the internet — causes that all may be addressed by uniting the interests of many plaintiffs, Crump said.

    “Crump speaks truth to power and gives hope to the hopeless,” said John Morgan, founder of Morgan & Morgan. “He is today’s seminal civil rights lawyer. The go-to guy. A modern-day Johnny Cochran.”

    Crump will host TVOne’s “Evidence of Innocence,” which is based on wrongfully convicted citizens who have been exonerated by clear and convincing evidence. He is also will lead the investigation on A&E’s upcoming documentary series “Who Killed Tupac?” and can be seen on the new film “Marshall,” set to release October 13.

    A distinguished civil rights advocate, Crump has been honored with the Henry Latimer Diversity Award, The Florida Association of Fundraising Professionals, Outstanding Philanthropist of the Year, National Newspaper Publishers Association Newsmaker of the Year, and The Root 100 Top Black Influencers. Crump also has served as president of the National Bar Association. He has been recognized by Ebony magazine as one of the 100 Most Influential African Americans and has received the National Civil Rights Museum’s Freedom Award, the American Association for Justice Johnny Cochran Award, the NAACP Thurgood Marshall Award, and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference’s Martin Luther King Servant Leader Award.

    Visit Ben Crump Law online at www.bencrump.com.

     

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    Families believe inequality growing in schools, ESSA plans could worsen laws

    Black families overwhelmingly believe that their schools are underfunded, and that racial inequality is growing, according to a poll conducted by The Leadership Conference Education Fund and the Anzalone Liszt Grove Research firm.

    The Leadership Conference Education Fund, which is the education and research arm of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, developed the poll to “explore how Black and Latino parents and families view the American education system’s success in educating their children,” according to a press release about the survey.

    The poll revealed that 90 percent of Black parents and families believe schools in Black communities are underfunded compared to White communities.

    The poll also showed that almost 75 percent of Black parents and families believe that the education Black students receive is worse than what White students.

    A report about the poll said that, “Among Black parents and family members whose child’s teachers are mostly White, only 42 percent believe that schools are trying their best to educate Black students, 16 points below the share of those whose children have mostly Black teachers.”

    Liz King, the senior policy analyst and the director of education policy for The Leadership Conference Education Fund, said that there has been a lot of research that’s come out lately that suggests an implicit bias that educators, who are mostly White, have towards Black and Latino children.

    The press release stated the findings come at a critically important time for public education in the United States as states are currently developing education plans as part of their obligations under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

    “These plans are states’ opportunities to make a clear declaration about their belief in the education of all children and a commitment to ensuring children get the education they deserve,” the press release stated.

    Republicans in the United States Congress continue to chip away at ESSA, making it harder for states to clearly define those commitments.

    In March, Republicans voted to rollback accountability measures established by the Obama Administration, Education Week reported.

    “The Obama-era accountability rules, finalized late last year, set ground rules for how schools must be rated for school-improvement purposes, specified the requirements of (and flexibility for) states dealing with high testing opt-out rates in individual schools, and outlined how states would have to handle the ‘school quality’ indicator in accountability systems,” according to the Education Week blog post.

    Opponents of the Republican-led rules change said, “that the move was unnecessary, would create confusion in states about whether and to what extent their ESSA accountability plans comply with the law, and could endanger crucial protections for disadvantaged students.”

    In the report, researchers with the Leadership Conference Education Fund said that the findings of the “New Education Majority” poll, should be a clarion call for advocates and policy makers who must come to terms with the fact that a successful education policy must be responsive to the needs of Black, Latino and Asian children, who make up a majority of public school students in America.

    Researchers recommended opening the decision-making processes around educational policies to Black and Latino families, especially decisions regarding priorities and funding; integrating implicit bias and cultural responsiveness training into teacher preparation and professional development; preparing, hiring, supporting and retaining strong Black and Latino teachers; designing accountability systems that focus on high academic achievement, especially for Black and Latino children; and supporting and improving any school where Black or Latino children are not being effectively educated.

    Given the context of ESSA implementation, King said that the federal government, states, school districts and schools have a great opportunity to put policies into place that are responsive to the needs and values of the new majority of public school children.

    “We need to ensure that every single school is organized around excellence for every single child,” said King. “Parents in this poll spoke to the value of a state’s rating of a school’s success in educating children well, a central piece of ESSA’s accountability requirements, as well as the need to ensure that educators have the [resources] and preparation to support every child’s success and to overcome historic barriers to opportunity.”

    The “New Education Majority” national poll conducted by The Leadership Conference Education Fund suggests that Black families believe that racial inequality is growing.

    By Bria Nicole Stone
    NNPA Newswire Contributing Writer

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    COMMENTARY: Trump telling police ‘Don’t be too nice’ is unsettling at least

    Donald Trump, showed up on Long Island recently spewing his propensity for violence and promoting his disdain for former President Barack Obama to the Suffolk County Police department. Turns out the audience was comprised of officers in a police department that has been scrutinized for racial profiling and whose former chief was recently sentenced to prison for beating a man.

    Trump has a burning desire to discredit Barack Obama and a commitment to destroying his pristine image and presidential legacy by whatever means at his disposal.

    Under Obama, the Justice Department opened investigations into more than two dozen police departments, and worked out formal reform agreements known as consent decrees with 14 of them including the Suffolk County Police Department. These agreements were reached in the wake of several nationwide high-profile fatal shootings of Black men by police.

    Upon being appointed Attorney General, probably upon orders from Trump, Jeff Sessions ordered Justice Department officials to review reform agreements with troubled police forces nationwide, saying it was necessary to ensure that these pacts do not work against the Trump administration’s goals of promoting officer safety and morale while fighting violent crime.

    In his address to the Long Island crowd, Trump suggested police shouldn’t worry about roughing up suspects. This was Trump’s subtle attempt to erase the effects of Obama’s policing reform agreements.

    In reference to M13, a violent gang of young men mostly of Salvadorian decent, Trump suggested that police should ignore arrest guidelines and not be “nice” to the suspects. The president spoke dismissively of arresting officers who protect suspects’ heads while putting them in police cars.

    Trump: “I said, ‘Please don’t be too nice.’ Like when you guys put somebody in the car and you’re protecting the head. You know? The way you put the hand over the head, like ‘Don’t hit their head’ and they’ve just killed somebody, ‘Don’t hit their head.’ “I said, ‘You can take the hand away,’ OK?”  Officers in the audience responded to Trump’s remarks with thunderous applause.

    Such a reaction is, at the very least, unsettling given the allegations of discrimination against the department. The Suffolk County Police Department was investigated for discriminatory policing against Latinos, including an indifference toward immigrant residents that discouraged reporting crimes and cooperation with law enforcement, failing to thoroughly investigate hate crimes, and enforcing immigration policies in a way that encouraged racial profiling. A reform agreement reached between the DOJ and Suffolk County in 2013 required the department to institute a range of reforms. Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions sent a disturbing message to these officers and they relished the news.

    The Long Island gang known as Mara Salvatrucha or MS 13 is known to have about 10,000 members and it’s one of the most dangerous and violent gangs in operation today. They are operational in over 40 cities around the United States. This is one of hundreds of dangerous street gangs operating in North and South America.

    Donald Trump seems to revel in violent and dissident environments.

    During the presidential primaries of 2016, he encouraged violence among his supporters against protesters at his rallies. He encouraged a crowd of supporters to “knock the hell” out of anyone who looked like they might throw anything at him, and promised to pay the legal fees for anyone who took him up on his suggestion. All succeeding rallies were accompanied by some sort of Trump inspired violence. When confronted with the possibility to make good on the promise to pay the legal fees of a man who admitted to punching a protester at a Trump rally in North Carolina, Trump said “No, I didn’t say that, I never said I was going to pay for fees.”

    In a recent attempt to discredit Obama, he asked a group of teenage boys attending their annual Boy Scout Jamboree, “Did Barack Obama ever attend a Boy Scout Jamboree?” He answered his own question with a no but Obama did attend the Jamboree in 2010 via video. He had no interest in other presidents who had or had not attended the Jamboree, he either researched the issue or had someone do it for him and he knew Obama had not attended in person. However he got his expected results when he popped the question, boos and cheers.

    Scouts learn the importance of being “trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.” How few of those adjectives apply to Donald Trump. A man who can’t control himself to act in a manner befitting the setting, is a man without the steadiness of character to run a nation. A grown man who is so insecure as to seek affirmation in a group of teenagers is not a man with the maturity to lead a nation. A man who is so self-absorbed as to make every utterance about himself and his needs is not a man with the vision to elevate a nation.

    Trump’s remarks has been repudiated by the Suffolk County Police. The Department said they will not tolerate such behavior from their officers. The SCPD has strict rules & procedures relating to the handling of prisoners. Violations of those rules are treated extremely seriously. As a department, we do not and will not tolerate roughing up of prisoners.

    The failure of “Repeal and Replace” Obamacare is a direct result of Trump’s obsession with discrediting Barack Obama.

    His 30 million supporters was not aware that the Affordable Care Act, which they loved and subscribed to, and Obamacare was one and the same. The pushback on “Trumpcare” came directly from them.

    When will the US congress wake up and rid themselves and the American people of this  narcissist, arrogant, manipulative, vindictive, delusional, overbearing, ill-informed, deceitful, inarticulate, and pessimistic aberration to America’s image and reputation?.

    By Walter Smith
    Publisher, Philadelphia Observer

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    Baton Rouge youth dominate, claim World Championship

    Baton Rouge youth poetry slam team, the Forward Arts All Stars, are now world poetry slam champions after having won the 2017 Brave New Voices International Youth Poetry Slam Festival in San Francisco.

    The team of teens, ages 16-19, emerged victorious after two days of competition consisting of 60 youth teams from around the world. A poetry slam is a spoken word competition in which poets are scored by five randomly-selected judges on a scale of 0-10 based on the written and performative quality of their work. Baton Rouge edged out teams from Boston, Atlanta and Philadelphia at the BNV finals.

    This victory comes on the one year anniversary of the death of former All Star slam team member, Kaiya Smith, who competed last year when the team ranked fifth at the 2016 BNV. Smith passed away one week after the 2016 festival. The 2017 team opened their final stage performance with a tribute to Smith, followed by witty and funny poems that showed range and creativity.

    This is the 11th year Baton Rouge has sent a team to BNV, and its first final stage appearance. The winning team members are Imani Sundiata, Chazzi Hayes, Jazmyne Smith, Kalvin Morris, Olivia Williams and Imani McCullam. They were coached by Forward Arts program director, Desireé Dallagiacomo.
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    Forward Arts fosters personal and social transformation by providing arts instruction, literary education and youth development in southeastern Louisiana. This year’s 20th anniversary festival took place July 19-22 and hosted more than 600 teenage poets from around the world at events held across the Bay Area.

    The Drum asked the Forward Arts All Stars about their experience:
    “Brave New Voices was a fantastic experience. I got the opportunity to speak my mind and be supported every step of the way, not only when I was on stage but when I was in town halls and workshops also. It’s always great to be surrounded by artists and people who have similar interests, but at Brave New Voices the other poets are actually interested in your work. It’s not about the competition, it’s about sharing stories. The highlight of Brave New Voices was having other teams tell us how much our poems meant to them personally. Brave New Voices was a beautiful experience.”
    Jazmyne Smith, 19
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    “Going to Brave New Voices was the most invaluable experience of my life so far. I had always been exposed to a number of things thanks to my parents, but BNV brought so many different cultures I had only seen on television screens together. We were all so different but we were also under the same sun, the one that burns over quirky teen artists. You don’t meet many people like that in Baton Rouge simply because being an artist isn’t really encouraged here or incentivized for youth. It meant a lot to me to meet people who were so brave and willing to share their stories on a world showcase. A distinctive moment was when someone asked where I was from. I told them I was from Baton Rouge, and they asked if that was a city in New Orleans. I felt a little shame, but in the end, winning and putting our small city on the map was the greatest reward. I wouldn’t trade the experience for the world.”
    Olivia Williams, 16

    Going to Brave New Voices is an experience that I will never forget! Meeting hundreds of beautiful and inspiring poets and people who respect the art of poetry is something that I have never experienced and I thank BNV for that. Being there with my team bettered me as a poet and as a person; alongside of bringing back a bunch of inside jokes and wild, but hilarious memories. The support and love that we had from everyone at home and from poets at BNV made me forget that it was even a competition and I truly respected that. I loved knowing that my truth made someone feel good about themselves and I also loved being moved by other poets’ truth. The best part about being at BNV was connecting closer with my teammates and connecting with other poets across the world who made me see the ultimate power behind words and how words can truly bring people together.”
    Imani McCullam, 16

    “BNV was so magical. It was the one place I could be myself and not have to worry about the backlash… I didn’t have to worry if I was being weird or anything because I have found that everyone is and poets just happen to be extra weird. There was so much love and support coming from competing team. I have found that BNV is the only competition where you support the people you are competing against. There are no words in which can explain the extraordinary time I have and no words to explain how grateful I am to Forward Arts for giving me this opportunity.”

    Imani Sundiata, 18

    “By attending Brave New Voices, I stepped into a world filled with love and support I did not know existed. Being around other youth who care so much about growing as poets and performers inspired me to grow as an artist. Engaging in dialogues with other poets and hearing how my team and I have inspired them is so humbling and makes me want to continue to improve my craft to be worthy of their respect and present them with my best art and best self. The community and family I’ve found due to Brave New Voices is something I will always cherish. The support and love I experienced at the festival is something I will always value and work hard to preserve.”

    Kalvin Morris, 17

    Chazzi Hayes

    Chazzi Hayes

    “Brave New Voices was like coming home for me. Meeting so many poets from all over that had so much in common with me was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. You could feel the love and acceptance in every room you entered as well as when you went on stage to perform. A great part of Brave New Voices was knowing that our voices were being heard by both our peers and the adults there. It felt like we were all coming together to listen, learn, and make change. At final stage it didn’t even feel like we were there to compete it just felt like a gigantic open mic where everyone could share their truths. The best part was when the last poem was said on final stage and all the poets went backstage and hugged each other and told each other which poems they really liked.”
    Chazzi Hayes, 17

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    Historians celebrate, share Buffalo Soldiers’ Louisiana legacy

    Donning original Buffalo Soldiers uniforms, Ponchatoula historians Melvin McElwee and Bobby Marten took to the stage of Zion Outreach Center to tell eager listeners of the role Louisiana slaves and freed Blacks played in  the Civil War.

    They spoke to a large number of students on June 19.

    “I’m going to introduce you to another perspective of history, it very important to know where we came from. History is sometime positive and sometime negative,” McElwee said. “Louisiana has a rich history. We are talking about the Buffalo Soldiers.”

    McElwee, who is president of the Louisiana Native Guard Association, said, “The 9th and 10th Horse Cavalry was formed in New Orleans in the Greenville subsection of New Orleans where Audubon Park and Audubon Gulf Course is located today. The men of the Louisiana Native Guards came from New Orleans. Most free men of mixed race bloodline.

    On July 28, 1866, there was massacre in New Orleans at Mechanic Hall on Canal Street as a retaliation against the Civil War and against rights for Blacks.

    The Louisiana Native Guard was used to restore order and later used by the military to expand the Western Front. This laid the foundation for the birth of the Buffalo Soldiers.

    He said when the white officers left New Orleans, the Native Guard was left behind under the command of Maj. Gen. Benjamin Franklin Butler. Butler burned New Orleans and marched toward a little important railroad town of Ponchatoula.

    The Union forces captured and burned Ponchatoula in March 1863 and the soldiers marched toward Camp Moore in Tangipahoa.

    Trooper McElwee answered more questions:

    Is the Louisiana Native Guard the same as the Buffalo Soldiers?

    Civil War veterans were among the first enlisted soldiers to be a part of the organization of the 9th (Horse) Cavalry Unit founded in Greenville, LA (At Audubon Parks golf course).

    How did they get the names LNG and BS?

    Louisiana Governor Thomas D. Moore, in which Camp Moore is named after in Tangipahoa, LA, issued a resolution to organize an African American unit during the Civil War.  The resolution was named “Defenders of the Native Land.” After the Civil War, the 9th (Horse) Cavalry along with 10th (Horse) cavalry were used by the Federal government to occupy lands in the west.  The Cheyenne Indians observed the Negro soldier’s coarse hair, calm demeanor, and agile fighting abilities and stated that they resembled the buffalo’s mane and protection instincts, thus naming the Negro Soldier, :Buffalo Soldier.”

    In Louisiana were more escaped slaves Buffalo Soldiers or free Blacks?

    The Civil War fighting efforts were comprised of both slaves and free Blacks.  The statistics of composition is unknown to me. Refer to The Louisiana Native Guards written by James G. Hollandsworth Jr., produced by Louisiana State University Press.

    Since the soldiers were allies of the Union, did this mean victory in burning Ponchatoula?

    It aided in the continuation of efforts to bring civil rights to white women, and the Negro race.  Victory has never been reached.  Racism still continues this day.

    Did Louisiana soldiers go on to enlist in the United States Colored Troops?

    The United States Colored Troops was the name given to the United States new effort to grow the number of colored units.  It was comprised of former slaves, and free people of color.

    Is the 9th and 10th Horse Calvary a division of the Louisiana Native Guard, the Union, or the Buffalo Soldiers?

    The Louisiana Native Guard is one of, if not the first, Negro unit of soldiers organized during the Civil War.  It was in existence before the 54th Massachusetts regiment.  General Benjamin Butler, a lawyer from Massachusetts, was responsible for waging arguments that aided the Union in enlisting slaves into the Union’s war effort. The Buffalo Soldiers were remnants of the Civil War effort, and beneficiaries of the newly formed United States.

    How was the chapter formed? 

    Trooper McElwee, a retired U.S. Army lieutenant, is also a member of the 9th and 10th (Horse) Cavalry Association.  As president he is leading the Louisiana Native Guard Association’s request to become an official chapter of the 9th & 10th (Horse) Cavalry Association.  The Louisiana Native Guard Association came into existence as non-profit in the State of Louisiana on July 22, 2016. The 9th and 10th (Horse) Cavalry Association has at least 41 active chapters across the United States.

    Does the chapter focus on the 9th and 10th Troop only?

    No.  The Louisiana Native Guard Association focuses on all elements of its role that aided in the development of the 9th and 10th (Horse) Cavalry Association. Each chapter compiles historical education for its particular area.

    Why is this group—and the history of the soldiers– valuable to our community a century later?

    The study of American History aids in understanding the relationships of the present day. Understanding is the principal thing.  With understanding comes tolerance for coexistence.

    How can the history and legacy of the Buffalo Soldiers be continued from a military standpoint?

    It has and will continue.  It is the United States Military that has lead the way in creating understanding. The mission has always b­een to create an understanding for coexistence.

    ONLINE:dccbuffalosoldiers.wix.com/9th-10th-bs

    By Eddie Ponds
    The Drum Founding Publisher

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    Connect2Black launches in New Orleans

    Launching next month from New Orleans is another tool to help consumers buy from local, Black-owned businesses.

    Connect2Black is a mobile app that includes a Black business directory, city travel aide, and resource guide for and about Black-owned businesses.

    The app has a multiplex user-friendly platform for all mobile devices. It connects “conscientious Black people with other like-minded people doing positive progressive things within Black commerce, culture, and community. Yet, it is available for all ethnic and cultural groups to use for their pleasure and resource,” developers said.

    “Our principle focus is on the bold act of recognizing and understanding the responsibility that we must encourage our family and community to buy Black. Thus, the frequent use of this app as a way of life can help strengthen the sustainability of Black wealth.”

    The app is designed to help users connect to Black-owned enterprises, entertainment venues, barbers or beauty salons, shopping strip malls, church revivals, festivals, or Pleasure Club parades using Geo-Mapping features.

    Connect2Black also serves as a personal concierge and tour guide to help establish a well-planned itinerary.  Special features include:

    • Licensed tour guides, natives ambassador of Black culture, sharing untold stories;
    • C2B Ride Sharing–Black owned taxi, limo, tour buses;
    • Pop-Up notifications of side street parades and major citywide events occurring in real time;
    • Black Press News Stand
    • Handy person work force and job posting; and
    • Black History trivia.

    ONLINE:connect2black.com

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    Genealogy Gathering scheduled for Georgetown 272 descendants, June 24

    The GU272 Descendants Association and the River Road African American Museum are co-hosting a Genealogy Gathering at the Ascension Parish Courthouse, 300 Houmas St., Donaldsonville, Saturday, June 24, 9am-3pm

    “This Genealogy Gathering to help descendants with the process of researching their family tree and learning more about the history of the Jesuits of Georgetown University and their sale of our ancestors to Louisiana. Descendants will meet other descendants and share family information as they figure out how they may be related to each other. You are encouraged to bring your laptop if applicable, note paper, your family tree information and any other information you may want to share at this gathering,” said organizers.

    “272 slaves were sold to save Georgetown. What Does It Owe Their Descendants? In 1838, the Jesuit priests who ran the country’s top Catholic university needed money to keep it alive. Now comes the task of making amends.”Gen-Gathering-6_24_17

    The meeting is free to the public, but registration required. Learn more and find your ancestors. You may be a descendant, if your family surnames are: Hill, Harris, Butler, West, Ford, Queen, Hawkins, Dorsey, Ware, Lewis, Henry, Green, or Brown.

    ONLINE: The GU272 Descendants Association,
    Georgetown University Slavery Archive, http://slaveryarchive.georgetown.edu/

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    Medicare can help patients manage chronic illnesses

    Caring for yourself when you have a chronic illness like diabetes or heart disease is hard work. When you have more than one such illness, it can sometimes seem overwhelming.

    Seventy percent of Louisiana residents with Medicare have at least two chronic conditions. They often must juggle visits to several doctors, as well as the separate trips for follow-up tests. Then they must make sure they’re taking the right medications at the right times.

    Managing a number of chronic illnesses all at once can quickly become a full-time job. Unless it’s done right, you can compromise your quality of life and possibly increase your risk of a long-term disability or an earlier-than-expected death.

    That’s why Medicare is encouraging your health care providers to work together more closely to coordinate the treatment of your chronic conditions, so that you can spend less time sitting in medical offices and more time doing whatever you enjoy.

    To keep you healthy, Medicare has expanded a benefit called chronic care management. It provides higher payments to doctors and other providers to help you live with chronic disease.

    Through this benefit, your health care practitioner will assist you in keeping track of your medical history, your medications and all of the other health care providers you see. You’ll receive a comprehensive care plan that outlines your treatments and goals.

    You’ll also have 24-hour-a-day, 7-day-a-week access to health care professionals for urgent needs from the comfort of your home. Does that sound like something that might interest you?

    To qualify for chronic care management services, you must be enrolled in Medicare’s traditional fee-for-service program, or you must be in the Medicaid program and receiving Medicare benefits. You also must have at least two chronic illnesses that pose a serious threat.

    The list of eligible diseases includes asthma, chronic kidney disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, depression, hepatitis, heart failure, high blood pressure, HIV/AIDS, osteoporosis, schizophrenia and stroke, among others.

    If you think you might benefit, ask your doctor to explain the various services you’d receive, such as:

    • At least 20 minutes a month of chronic care management services
    • Personalized assistance from a dedicated health care professional who will work with you to create your care plan
    • Coordination of care between your pharmacy, specialists, testing centers, hospitals and more
    • Phone check-ins between visits to keep you on track
    • 24/7 emergency access to a health care professional
    • Expert assistance with setting and meeting your health goals

    Your out-of-pocket cost for chronic care management will be the same as your share for other Medicare Part B services, so you may have a deductible or co-payment. But if you have Medigap or retiree supplemental health insurance, you may not have to pay those out-of-pocket expenses.

    Also, chronic care management can help you avoid the need for more costly services. By acting now and managing your health, you may be able to head off hospitalization and more serious treatment in the future.

    Chronic care management means having a continuous relationship with a dedicated health care professional who knows you and your history, provides personal attention and helps you make the best choices for your health. For more about the program, call Medicare at 1-800-633-4227 or visit http://go.cms.gov/ccm.

    Navigating your way through the health care system can often be bewildering and time-consuming. Medicare’s chronic care benefit gives you and your loved ones the assistance you need to manage your medical conditions so that you can focus on the things you love.

    If that sounds right for you, talk with your doctor or nurse about the program.

    By Bob Moos
    Southwest public affairs officer for the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services

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    Louisiana genealogist finds Black boys at Florida reform school were modern day slaves

    Antoinette Harrell is a genealogist, activist, and peonage detective in Harvey, Louisiana, who spent decades tracking down slavery in the deep south. The peonage research of Harrell led her to investigate peonage at the Arthur G. Dozier Reform School in Marianna, Florida – also called the Florida Industrial School for Boys. Her research led her to dig deep into Dozier files at the Tallahassee State Archives in the sunshine state of Florida in search of signs of peonage practices on the campus. The school opened its doors in 1900 and closed the doors in 2011 after operating for 111 years. More than 500 former students have alleged they were brutally beaten, sexually abused, as well as mentally abused by Dozier’s staff. Some even alleged that they were used as modern day slaves, working to grow crops, raise livestock and cut timber.

    Harrell focused her research on child labor and wanted to follow the money trails. Boys as young as seven years old worked at Dozier’s child labor camp. They grew everything from sweet potatoes, butter beans, string beans, turnips, okra and other agricultural produce. They raised and slaughtered livestock for sale. Each division made its own money and was headed by school staff. What happened to the money? Who was buying the produce? A general farm produce report on October 1958 from the poultry, dairy, garden and swine division documented the money that was made from each division. A total of $10,980.36 was made that quarter. The reports were made quarterly each year.

    A sale report of proceeds items for the period ending March 31, 1966 showed that for that year, Dozier made $118,160 in swine and $156,108 in beef sales. Each item of produce and livestock was itemized. Harrell interviewed Johnny Lee Gaddy who was 11-years old in 1957 when he was sent to Arthur G. Dozier Reform School for skipping school because he had a speech impediment and was tired of the other students in his class teasing him. He was picked up by a police officer and placed in a jail cell for one night. The next morning Gaddy was sent directly to Dozier without appearing before a juvenile court.

    Gaddy informed Harrell of the hard work he did at Dozier. He said he cut down timber in the swamps; he worked in the fields planting and harvesting the produce. Harrell asked Gaddy if he knew where the produce was going? “I saw the trucks coming and going,” said Gaddy. “But I couldn’t tell you where they were taking the produce or meat. You better not asked any questions. If you want to live and didn’t want to get a bad beating for questioning the overseers, you better keep your mouth shut.”

    The campus was segregated up until the late 60′s.

    Over the years, Harrell has helped the African-American male victims to organize a group called “Black Boys at Dozier” and she helped them to bring their plight of abuse and modern day slavery to the eyes of the public. She also helped them gain national and international attention for their stories. She even took the men back to the Dozier campus for a press conference. It was the first time that the men set foot back on the campus in over 50 years.

    Harrell is always on the hunt for new stories of slavery and peonage that have been swept under the rug in America. She has spent hundreds of hours researching private collections and public documents from the National Archives in Washington, D.C. on peonage. She had climbed in dark and dusty courthouse attics to search for any evidence that pointed to peonage practices. Sometimes driving late night hours on back dusty roads that seem never ending, looking for modern day plantations, and in search of people live in peonage.

    A resolution acknowledged that treatment of boys sent to Dozier and Okeechobee was cruel, unjust and “a violation of fundamental human decency.” Within the first 13 years of Dozier School’s operation, six states led investigations were conducted in response to reports of children being chained to walls in iron, severely beaten, and used for child labor.

    Sen. Darryl Rouson (D-St. Petersburg) carried the Senate resolution, apologizing to the men who say they endured physical, sexual, and emotional abuse at Dozier Reform School and Okeechobee in the state of Florida. Senate Resolution 1440 recognized the widespread abuse. “The bill expressed regret for this shameful part of our history, sincerely apologizes on behalf of the legislature, and declares a commitment to make sure that these atrocities and tragedies never occur again.”

    By

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  • ,,

    Responsibility rests with Cassidy, Kennedy to stop health care bill

    “Today’s vote is deeply troubling news for hundreds of thousands of Louisiana families who struggle to afford health coverage or who suffer from pre-existing medical conditions. Congress rushed its vote on the American Health Care Act without getting an independent analysis of its impact from the Congressional Budget Office. That means we have no idea how much worse the bill has gotten, or how many people would lose coverage,” wrote Louisiana Budget Project director Jan Moller on the passage of the American Health Care Act.

    He added:

    What we do know is this: At a minimum, the bill would strip coverage from 24 million Americans - including 466,500 in Louisiana - over a decade. It would decimate the Medicaid program by cutting $800 billion, and increase pressure on the state budget to make up the lost revenue. It would strip away legal protections for people who suffer from pre-existing medical conditions such as cancer or diabetes, resulting in premium hikes that would make coverage unaffordable for those who need it most.

    The Affordable Care Act is not perfect, but it has been a godsend for Louisiana patients and the state’s economy. It has pumped billions of dollars into Louisiana and brought the state’s uninsured rate to a record low.

    It’s critical to remember that the AHCA is not yet law. The responsibility now rests with Sens. Bill Cassidy and John Kennedy to stop this bad bill, and work to strengthen the historic health care progress that’s been made in Louisiana.

    Read more »
  • ,

    Congressman Graves: ‘this decision should have been issued sooner’

     Congressman Garret Graves (R – Baton Rouge) released the following statement today regarding the Department of Justice’s Alton Sterling decision:

     We cannot allow the tragic shootings of 2016 or the fallout to define us or our community, but we can learn from those experiences.

    All loss of life is tragic.  We’ve already lost Deputy Brad Garafola, Officer Matthew Gerald, Officer Montrell Jackson and Alton Sterling.  Deputy Nick Tullier is an amazing warrior overcoming all obstacles, but his life is forever changed and Deputy Bruce Simmons continues to recover from being shot.  Nothing good has resulted from these shootings.  Right or wrong, each loss represents a loved one, a friend, a confident, a husband, a community member – a life or part of life suddenly, prematurely, and in many cases, senselessly taken.

    The abundant evidence in this case –video footage, eyewitness accounts and other sources – faced the extensive scrutiny of both President Obama’s Department of Justice and the current Administration’s. Due to the prolific evidence, this decision should have been issued sooner; however, we trust that this decision is the product of a meticulous and fair investigation.

    The Capital Region has endured tremendous hardship – this tragedy, an ambush attack on law enforcement, historical flooding and the recent fatal shooting of a Baton Rouge Deputy.  We now have two choices:  1) We can come together as a community, be neighbors and lift one another up as we did in the August flood, or 2) We can, once again, go down the path of violence, death and loss.  Only one makes sense.

    I was born and raised in the Baton Rouge area.  What I experienced on July 17 when our officers were shot was unrecognizable.  It was like we were in a foreign country – not home.  An outsider spread his evil and hatred here.  Someone from out of state hijacked our community.  While Baton Rouge has its share of imperfections, we are better than that.

    From here, let’s work with our new mayor to convert the city we have into the city we want. I urge our community to continue to pray for the victims and their families and to pray for peace and understanding.

    Read more »
  • ,,,

    Urban League supports investigation by Louisiana Attorney General, state police in Alton Sterling case

    The Urban League of Louisiana released this official statement regarding the Alton Sterling decision, May 3:

    The world is watching. Our community is on high alert. Tensions are high. Hearts are broken.  And “justice” continues to evade us. 

    For ten months, the family of Alton Sterling has patiently waited to learn about the fate of Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake, the Baton Rouge Police Department (BRPD) officers involved in their loved one’s murder. Yesterday, the family and the rest of the world learned through an article published by the Washington Post that the officers would face no federal civil rights charges. The Sterling family deserved to be notified directly by the Department of Justice long before this decision became front-page news in a national media outlet.

    Many have become desensitized to police shootings, and do not feign shock when officers are not held accountable.  Instead, it’s chalked up to flaws in the system. However, we must confront the real criminal justice reform that’s needed in this country so that our laws do more to actually provide justice rather than shield those with the greatest responsibility to the public from the law. It is incumbent upon us to give our voices and our votes to the continuing battle for equity and justice.  As the Sterling family said today, the battle is not over; it has only just begun.

    While bitterly disappointing, the DOJ’s announcement comes as no surprise. According to Kelley et. al, (2016) charges are filed in only one percent of fatal shootings involving police. [1] This precedent equates to government sanctioned murder, a status quo the community and the Urban League at large is simply unwilling to accept. So, now all eyes are on Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, who has released a statement announcing that the Louisiana State Police will launch its own investigation into the conduct of the officers and the appointment of a special prosecutor who will determine if officers Salamoni and Lake will face criminal charges by the state. While the Urban League fully supports this step, we will be vigilant in our commitment to ensure that a fair and neutral process is conducted in the pursuit of justice for Alton Sterling, his family, and the city of Baton Rouge. We also encourage the BRPD to examine the conduct of these officers to determine if it meets the expectations of the departments’ standard of professionalism. Based on new details released in today’s press conference by the Sterling family and their attorneys, it appears that there may be grounds for the officers’ termination.

    ULLA is actively involved in advocating for criminal justice reform and is encouraged by Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome’s work to establish new policies within the BRPD regarding use of force guidelines. The League is continuing to pursue its own reform-centered, criminal justice policy agenda, which includes a push for expanded trainings on de-escalation, bias police recognition, crisis intervention, and other pertinent issues.[2] The cost to implement these trainings is far less than the cost of losing a life, settling civil suits, and losing public trust. By providing the law enforcement community with this training, those who are entrusted with securing our public safety will have the tools to execute their role more effectively and safely.  We are also reigniting our call for the establishment of an independent, civilian review board or an independent agency to monitor excessive force complaints, officer-involved shootings and fatal force incidents in East Baton Rouge.

    For the past five months, ULLA staff has convened hundreds of community members including law enforcement officials, youth, young professionals, community leaders and a cadre of African American residents in East Baton Rouge to facilitate dialogues generating community-based solutions to address public safety and community-police relations. The League surveyed approximately 200 East Baton Rouge residents about their perceptions and experiences with police. Over 60% of respondents indicated that police do not treat all citizens equally according to the law, 67% agreed that the police do not make enough contact with residents and about 80% indicated that they want police to partner with community members and groups to solve problems in their communities. The Urban League of Louisiana is committed to working with the community to develop partnerships with law enforcement to bring about the necessary change.

    The world is watching. Our hearts are broken, but our resolve is strong. And we will not stop our fight until the status quo is transformed into justice for all.

    Read more »
  • ,,,

    COMMENTARY: #BlackWomenatWork will be respected, not intimidated

    “She can’t be the owner.”

    “Can you be a little less aggressive?”

    “We can only pay you this amount.”

    These are the phrases that echo in the ears of many working African-American women. The sly remarks of their superiors, colleagues, and sometimes, even friends, all cause African-American women to perform daily self-assessments. So, it wasn’t by chance that the moment White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer attacked journalist April Ryan and Bill O’Reilly commented about U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters, we all fell to our knees in disgust and understanding. It was by chance the first time the feminist voice met the racism cry accompanied by the “Black head nod”. Because, quite frankly, we knew that experience of inferiority and unsolicited comedy, with the focus on us all too well.

    I guess you would think it wouldn’t be such a big deal. How could a hashtag draw so much attention? Well, for the degreed sister, the one who had to climb the corporate ladder alone; the one who consistently holds the Angry Black Woman stereotype under a professional subtle demeanor; the one who over dresses daily and under asserts her authority; the one with the alphabets behind her name or the desire to open that business;  the one who contemplates braids versus a relaxer;  who tries desperately not order poultry at the fancy dinner and commits to ensuring that her colloquialisms are far from connected to the urban area she grew up in…. she finally found relief in seeing the #BlackWomenatWork hashtag. The hashtag meant that she wasn’t alone and neither were her inner most feelings.

    #BlackWomenatWork

    So, for clarity, Black women are not insecure. In fact, we are extremely educated and many times over qualified.  Yet, in the doors of the corporation, African-American women are immediately and unapologetically mistaken for “The Help” and, quite frankly, we’re tired. It is time that every Black woman garner the respect and credibility that we’ve worked hard to achieve. We can’t let a Trump administration infused with misogyny and racism, or the boss that is only succeeding because of your work ethic, or the looks received on your corporate trip from the concierge allow you to give in to the  ridiculous labeling of the Black woman.

    See we admit and concede to the fact that our femininity connects us to the same struggles as our sisters of other races. We don’t down play their struggle, but even Hillary Clinton had to step out in outrage over the attacks received by the Black woman in the public view. Let’s examine the attacks: not one experienced by Representative Waters or Ms. Ryan have been embedded with anything more than focus on physical appearance and gestures. Why is that? It’s because there is nothing else to attack her on. Not her education. Not her qualifications. Not her experience. So, the oppressor resorts to low blows and calls out the things that only an immature bully can get others to see.

    What does this all do to us? Well, we start a fight among ourselves, better known as “double consciousness,” as coined by the great W.E.B. DeBois. We feel so marginalized that our inner fight grows to conducting ourselves to be accepted; and we sometimes silence our voice and accept being underpaid, however, the one thing we do and we do well is keep pushing. We outwork our counterparts. We quit jobs that never valued our work ethic. We start our own businesses. We stay in positions to help the next Black girl get in.  You’ll probably never hear us complain because we’ve learned a long time ago that doesn’t solve anything. But this year, we’ve screamed enough. We’ve banned together with a measly hashtag and demanded everyone realize that #BlackWomenatWork WILL be respected and NOT intimidated.
     Erika Green

    Erika L Green, ESQ

    I’m reminded of a statement written a century ago that summarizes the conflict that the Black woman experiences. Soujourner Truth said, “I could work as much and eat as much as a man – when I could get it – and bear the lash as well! And ain’t I a woman?” We will continue to work and eat just as much as our counterparts but the lash ends today!

    By Erika L. Green
    Guest columnist

    Erika Green is managing attorney at Law Office of Erika Green  and Baton Rouge City Councilmember District 5. Follow her @erikalgreenesq

    Read more »
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    Omarosa shocks, angers publishers as she walks out of ‘Black Press Week’ breakfast

    Omarosa Manigault, President Donald Trump’s director of communications for public liaison, walked out of a breakfast meeting she had requested to attend, hosted by the National Newspaper Publishers Association last week.

    The sudden move by the minister and reality star clearly shocked NNPA members and their guests in the March 23 meeting; especially since Manigault had called the chair of the historic group the night before and “asked to attend”, according to NNPA Chair Denise Rolark Barnes. During opening remarks, Manigault had praised Black journalists for historically asking “the tough questions”.

    Manigault became agitated after a reporter asked a question following up on a story published by the Trice Edney News Wire Jan. 8. The story quoted civil rights lawyer Barbara Arnwine as stating that Manigault promised the “first interview” with Trump to NNPA President Benjamin Chavis during a Jan. 4 Trump transition team meeting with Black leaders.

    Manigault doesn’t dispute having promised the interview. However, she was incensed because the story said she promised Chavis “the first” interview.

    The Jan. 8 story reports:

    ‘”Manigault’s promise of the interview was disclosed after a representative of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) stressed the importance of Black reporters interfacing with the president. Both Chavis and NABJ representatives participated in the closed door meeting held Jan. 4 at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank in North West DC.
    Trump aide Omarosa Manigault listens to question from reporter Hazel Trice Edney. Photo: Shevry Lassiter

    ‘”When NABJ said we need to make sure that somebody Black interviews the President first, [Omarosa] said, ‘Oh no.  Ben Chavis and I have already spoken and he’s going to be the first interview,’” recounted Arnwine, president/CEO of the Transformative Justice Coalition, in an interview. Arnwine said Chavis then “acknowledged that that was correct – that they had already been in touch with him about it.’”

    Hearing of Manigault’s denial this week, Arnwine seemed puzzled.  “It was to me a highlight. I had hoped that it really meant that African-American journalists were being repositioned into a higher priority for the incoming administration,” she said. “And I am surprised that this representation is unfortunately being dropped or not followed through. I was in the room and it was not said once. It was said twice.”

    It is not clear whether the Trump staff recorded the meeting since it was off the record. Since the meeting, some have speculated that perhaps Manigault meant Chavis would be the first Black Press representative to interview Trump rather than the first journalist.

    After seeing one White media reporter after another interview the President, this reporter, a former NNPA editor-in-chief invited to the breakfast by Barnes, followed up on the Jan. 8 story:

    The first question pertains to “the promise that Ben Chavis would get the first interview with the president; then I have another question,” this reporter said after being acknowledged by Manigault.
    Manigault strongly responded, “Ben Chavis was never promised the first interview. He was promised an interview, but not the first. And I was very surprised because we’ve always had a great working relationship, Hazel, that you wrote such a dishonest story about a closed off the record meeting that I invited NNPA to to make sure that we had a great relationship, that we started early. I was really surprised that you made that a press story because that was inaccurate. And moreover, you weren’t in the room.”
    The publishers were in Washington observing NNPA’s annual Black Press Week, this year celebrating the 190th anniversary of the Black Press. The exchange, during a breakfast meeting at the Dupont Circle Hotel, quickly went downhill with both professionals clearly agitated.
    “It was not inaccurate, and I have my sources right here. The question is when is the interview going to take place? That’s the question,” this reporter insisted.
    Manigault responded, “We’ve been working for months because we have that kind of relationship…We had been working very closely to make sure that NNPA was on the front row and at the forefront of what happened. Your article did more damage to NNPA and their relationship with the White House because it’s not just me. So you attack me, they circle the wagons. So you can keep attacking me and they will continue to circle the wagons, but that does not advance the agenda of what NNPA is doing,” Manigault said. “I’m going to continue to work with Ben Chavis, who I adore, to make sure that we do what we said we were going to do. Interestingly enough, we were just talking about this privately over here. And so, if you want to make another headline or do another story about it, I think that is really not professional journalism.”
    This reporter responded, “It’s professional journalism.”
    Actually, the Jan. 8 story did not attack Manigault. In fact it quoted Bishop Harry Jackson of Hope Christian Church as calling her a “great leader” and NAACP Vice President Hilary Shelton as saying, “I have a lot of respect for her.”
    Chavis, in the Jan. 8 story, had made it clear that the meeting was off the record for him and the other dozens of organizational leaders in the room Jan. 4, including several non-working journalists.
    This reporter and CNN’s Betsy Klein staked out the Jan. 4 meeting for more than three hours standing in winter weather outside the building on the sidewalk. Some organizational leaders spoke guardedly after the meeting that day while most, including Chavis, declined comment.
    Neither Manigault – nor any of her colleagues – would speak on the record Jan. 4 and this reporter has not been able to reach Manigault for comment since. Also, until the March 23 breakfast, Manigault had said nothing to this reporter about disagreeing with the article.
    At one point during the breakfast back and forth, Manigault turned to Chavis saying, “He’s right here. The source is here.”
    This reporter said she would not divulge her sources; then asked Chavis to recount what he had “told me”. He repeated, “What I told you was it was an off the record meeting.” He told Manigault that she had promised him an interview. She stressed that she had not said “the first.”
    This reporter’s question was not isolated as it pertained to Black Press access.
    Stacy Brown, a reporter for the Washington Informer and NNPA contributor had actually asked the first question at the breakfast, noting Manigault’s opening words about the importance of Black Press coverage. “Just as important for us is access,” Brown stated, “What kind of access can we expect from this administration? When I say we, I’m talking about the Black Press,” Brown asked.
    Manigault responded, “I know that [White House Press Secretary] Sean Spicer and the rest of the press team are working to make sure that the NNPA gets access so I think it is important that they stay engaged.”
    Referring to President Trump’s March 22 meeting with Congressional Black Caucus leaders, Manigault said she believed the White House “had a historical number of African-American journalists covering it and given access to that particular event.”
    But, Washington Informer photographer Shevry Lassiter, quickly responded, “Except us.” Lassiter said she was told that too many people had signed up for coverage, giving her the impression that “We were too late.”
    When Manigault responded, “Your paper work has got to be right,” Lassiter clarified, “It was right. We got notice and sent it in; then couldn’t get in. She said they had too many,” Lassiter said, referring to a staffer.
    “Are you bashing my young staffer?” Manigault asked. “I’m not going to let you do that. I’m not going to let you do that. I’m not going to let you do that.”
    That exchange was just before this reporter’s question and the brouhaha that followed. When this reporter asked to move on to the second question, Manigault abruptly walked out with staffers in tow a little more than 10 minutes after arriving.
    Publishers were aghast.
    “Did she just walk out? Did she leave?” someone in the audience said quietly.
    “How is she going to come in here and just walk out?” asked Chicago Crusader Publisher Dorothy Leavell, standing. The former NNPA president and NABJ Hall of Fame Inductee said, “And any other Black Press person ought to be insulted by what she did,” said Leavell. “It was totally disrespectful.”
    A man’s voice called out, “We are insulted!”
    “That’s how the Trump people act. This is Trumpism! This is Trumpism!” said another publisher.
    The criticism was not just aimed at Manigault. Some in the room said this reporter was as much at fault in the way the question was posed.
    GOP political commentator and consultant Paris Dennard, also present at the breakfast meeting, said in an interview that the question was adversarial.
    “With all due respect to you Hazel, it came off as a bit confrontational,” Dennard said. “It came off as being a little bit on the attack.”
    Dennard continued, “What I know is it was a priority for Omarosa to be here…I know that it was not her intention to come in and leave. No one gets up, comes to NNPA with people that she’s known and worked with to make a scene and leave. That wasn’t her intention.”
    Barnes had given Manigault a glowing introduction, calling her a “top strategist” who helped get Trump elected.
    “There’s so many things that I could say about Rev. Omarosa Manigault and I just want to say that some of us really do consider her a great friend. I know that she’s a supporter of NNPA. And that is why she asked to come to speak to us this morning.”
    Chavis sought to calm the group after Manigault walked out, stating that he believes the interview is still on.
    “Let’s collect ourselves,” he said. “It’s in our interest to have an interview with the President of the United States. And that’s what we’re trying to accomplish and I believe we will accomplish…If Omarosa can help us facilitate that engagement, I think it’s in our interest. But as journalists, I know you have to ask your questions.”
    Barnes, clarifying that she was speaking momentarily as publisher of the Washington Informer instead of NNPA chair, concluded that Manigault’s conduct was unacceptable.  “That was totally unnecessarily. She doesn’t start a conversation saying ask the ‘tough questions’ and then run away from the tough questions…And so we’re going to have to bypass her. She’s not the only person in the White House if we want to deal with the White House.”
    Later, in an interview speaking as NNPA chair, Barnes said, “To me, I almost feel as if we were baited…I expected a different presentation from her, which would have led us into asking a different set of questions about the issues she was going to raise and not get into this personal confrontation with a journalist. So, I’m disappointed that she didn’t – in my opinion – come in and speak on the President’s and on the administrations’ behalf about things that are important to this administration that the Black Press should be focusing on. That didn’t happen. It was a lost opportunity for the President. And it was definitely a waste of time for NNPA.”
    By Hazel Trice Edney
    TriceEdneyWire.com
    Photo by Shevry Lassiter. NNPA President Ben Chavis discusses prospective interview with Manigault during heated exchange. 
    Read more »
  • ,,

    Lawmakers attack Obama’s education law

    Educators nationwide are voicing concern following a push by Republicans in Congress to overturn accountability regulations for ESSA which could have far-reaching consequences for how the law works in states.

    Groups supporting the move argue that it would free schools from unnecessary burdens, while opponents contend that overturning the rules could hurt vulnerable students and create turmoil in states and districts trying to finalize their transition to ESSA.

    ESSA, which also reauthorizes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), received bipartisan support and was signed into law by President Barack Obama on December 10, 2015. The regulations are administered by the U.S. Department of Education and ESSA goes into full effect at the beginning of the 2017-2018 school year.

    Under the 2015 law that replaced the No Child Left Behind Act, each state will adhere to more flexible federal regulations that provide for improved elementary and secondary education in the nation’s public schools.

    “The ESSA law was established to help increase the effectiveness of public education in every state,” said Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr., the president and CEO of the National Newspaper Publishers Association. “Our task is to inform, inspire, and encourage parents, students, teachers, and administrators to fulfill the intent and objectives of ESSA with special focus on those students and communities that have been marginalized and underserved by the education system across the nation.”

    Last week, the House of Representatives approved a joint resolution that would overturn ESSA accountability rules issued by the Obama administration.

    Those rules, which became final in November, are intended to detail for states the timeline for addressing underperforming schools, how schools must be rated, the ways English-language learners must be considered in state accountability plans, and other policy issues.

     

    “One of the things that should be included in any modification of ESSA is the fifth criteria for schools which is about school climate,” said Helen Levy-Myers, founder and CEO of Athena’s Workshop, Inc., a texting application for educators. School attendance is often dependent on other factors, like the friendliness of the staff, school leadership, safety of the school and neighborhood, health of the community, and the level of engagement between students and teachers, she said.

    A white paper presented by Levy-Myers noted that the “cold, hard truth is that chronically absent children end up leading harder lives.”

    Students who miss just two or three days each month in kindergarten and first grade never catch up. They become chronically absent, defined as missing 10 percent or more of the school year.

    While many Republican lawmakers have moved to strike down the implementation of ESSA, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos told state school officers around the country that despite a delay, several regulations will be reviewed and changed by March 21.

    DeVos told the officers that state ESSA plans will still be accepted either in April or in September.

    In a memo to state school heads DeVos wrote: “Due to the regulatory delay and review, and the potential repeal of recent regulations by Congress, the Department is currently reviewing the regulatory requirements of consolidated State plans, as reflected in the current template, to ensure that they require only descriptions, information, assurances, and other materials that are absolutely necessary for consideration of a consolidated State plan.”

    Read more »
  • ,

    Top summer internship programs announced for 2017

    Many companies and organizations are already announcing that they are accepting applications for their upcoming internship programs.

    Nationwide — Many companies and organizations are already announcing that they are accepting applications for their upcoming internship programs. Here’s a list of the top 2017 summer internship programs for African Americans:

    #1 – The NBA Internship Program offers college students an exciting opportunity to use their skills and classroom learning within a national sports environment. Learn more at www.findinternships.com/2013/10/nba-internship-program.html

    #2 – The NASCAR Diversity Internship Program is a 10-week, full-time, paid summer work opportunity for deserving students with an interest in the NASCAR industry. Learn more at www.findinternships.com/2013/03/nascar-diversity-internship-program.html

    #3 – Black Enterprise Internships are designed to provide real-life work experiences for college students interested in a career in the media industry. Learn more at www.findinternships.com/2013/10/black-enterprise-internships.html

    #4 – The NCAA Ethnic Minority and Women’s Internship offers an opportunity for a minority, female college student to be chosen for a unique two-year internship program. Learn more at www.findinternships.com/2013/10/ncaa-ethnic-minority-and-womens.html

    #5 – The Minority Access Internship Program offers spring, summer and fall internships for college sophomores, juniors, seniors, graduates and professionals. Learn more at www.findinternships.com/2013/05/minority-access-internship-program.html

    #6 – Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Internships are available for college students pursuing undergraduate associates or bachelors degrees. Learn more at www.findinternships.com/2013/09/congressional-black-caucus-foundation.html

    #7 – Explore Microsoft Internship Program is for current college undergraduate minority students pursuing a degree in computer science or software engineering. Learn more at www.findinternships.com/2013/04/Explore-Microsoft-Internship-Program.html

    #8 – BET Networks Internships provides paid internships for both undergraduate and graduate college students at five different locations.
    Learn more at www.findinternships.com/2013/09/bet-networks-internships.html

    #9 – The UNCF/NAACP Gateway to Leadership Internship Program is a 10-week paid summer internship for undergraduate students attending Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Learn more at www.findinternships.com/2013/04/uncf-naacp-gateway-to-leadership-internship-program.html

    #10 – Google Internships is rated No. 1 by Forbes as the best internship opportunity for college students interested in a career in software engineering. Google offers an open culture and rich learning experience as well as good pay. Learn more at www.findinternships.com/2013/02/google-internships_15.html

    #11 – The TV One Internship Program is open to full-time or part-time students attending an accredited college or university with an interest in a career in the media industry. TV One, one of the largest African American cable networks. Internships are offered to undergraduate college students in the Fall, Spring and Summer. Learn more at www.findinternships.com/2013/09/tv-one-internship-program_12.html

    #12 – Oracle offers a 8-week, paid internship for students who attend one of the 39-member historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). The internships help students to gain knowledge and experience in the field of technology. Learn more at www.findinternships.com/2014/01/oracle-diversity-internships_95.html

    #13 – The National Urban League Summer Internship Program offers internships to students who are interested in a career in the non-profit industry. The program provides an 8-week paid internship for college students in either New York City or Washington, D.C. Learn more at www.findinternships.com/2013/04/national-urban-league-summer-internship_8.html

    #14 – The National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) offers internships to minority students interested in pursuing a future career in journalism. Applicants selected for a 10-week internship will be offered positions in print, broadcast or online disciplines at selected news organizations across the country. Learn more at www.findinternships.com/2016/11/nabj-internships.html

    #15 – The Essence Communications Internship is a 9-week, paid internship is open to both undergraduate and graduate students who are interested in a career in the media industry. Candidates must have a strong interest in issues among African American women.
    Learn more at www.findinternships.com/2013/10/essence-communications-internship_73.html

    #16 – The Multicultural Advertising Intern Program (MAIP) offers a full-time summer work experience for college students pursuing a career in advertising. Eligible students must be Asian/Asian American, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, Hispanic/Latino, Black/African American, American Indian or Alaska Native, Multiracial or Multi-ethnic. Learn more at www.findinternships.com/2013/05/multicultural-advertising-intern-program_5.html

    #17 – Merck offers 9-11 week internships are available to college students in the areas of research & development, sales & marketing, information technology, human resources, communications, finance and legal, as well as internships in biology and chemistry. Learn more at www.findinternships.com/2013/03/merck-internships_1.html

    #18 – General Motors offers internships in the areas of communications, finance, information technology, marketing, engineering, manufacturing, health and safety. The internships offer a paid opportunity for students to receive a challenging work experience in the automotive industry. Learn more at www.findinternships.com/2013/04/general-motors-internships_33.html

    #19 – DELL Computers offers 10-12 week internships during the summer for undergraduate and graduate students in the areas of marketing and sales, finance and accounting, IT and more. Internships provide real-world experience for college students while they are still in school. Learn more at www.findinternships.com/2014/01/dell-internships_9.html

    #20 – PricewaterhouseCoopers offers more than 700 internships each year across 29 countries for college students majoring in accounting and finance. Students will work with highly skilled professionals and receive a realistic insight into the accounting and finance profession. Learn more at www.findinternships.com/2013/03/pricewaterhousecoopers-internships_67.html

    To view more 2017 minority summer internships, visit:
    www.findinternships.com/search/label/Minorities

    To search hundreds of other 2017 summer internships, visit:
    www.FindInternships.com

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  • ,

    FEMA releases Louisiana recovery numbers

    About $4.7 billion in federal disaster assistance has flowed to Louisiana after the August flood.

    • The National Flood Insurance Program has paid more than $2.3 billion in claims
    • SBA loans have been approved for more than $1.2 billion to help businesses, private nonprofits, homeowners and renters.
    • FEMA has obligated $756 million to individuals and households and $294 million to public assistance.
    • The U.S. Department of Agriculture approved $133 million in food benefits to flood survivors.

    Individuals and Housing Program (IHP)

    • $755 million has been approved for individual and housing assistance.
    • Other Needs Assistance (ONA)
    • 42,227 households have been approved for $161 million in other needs assistance.

    Rental Assistance

    • $134 million cumulative total for approved rental assistance.
    • 66,805 households are eligible.

    Home Repair Assistance

    • 34,757 households are eligible for $456 million.

    Public Assistance (PA)

    • 301 project worksheets have been obligated for $294 million.
    • $60 million of that amount pays for temporary facilities for schools and to clean and remove flood debris.

    Transitional Sheltering Assistance

    • 4,332 cumulative survivors have been checked in for TSA.
    • 968 households are checked into 175 hotels in three states.

    Department of Agriculture

    • USDA approved $133 million in food benefits to flood survivors.

    National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)

    • More than $2.3 billion in claims has been paid.
    • More than 28,000 claims have been closed.

    Small Business Administration (SBA)

    • 17,223 SBA loans have been approved for more than $1.2 billion to help businesses, private nonprofits, homeowners and renters.

    Manufactured Housing Units (MHUs)

    • 4,060 households licensed-into 4,192 manufactured housing units.

    Total projection for MHU installation is 4,502.

    Read more »
  • ,,,

    ‘Bloodline’ earns Kenny Neal Grammy nomination

    Louisiana’s swamp blues master and multi-instrumentalist Kenny Neal’s latest album “Bloodline” has clinched a 2017 Grammy nomination for best contemporary blues album.

    Born in 1957 in New Orleans and raised in Baton Rouge, Neal began playing music at a very young age, learning the basics from his father, singer and blues harmonica player, Raful Neal. Family friends like Lazy Lester, Buddy Guy and Slim Harpo contributed to Kenny’s early musical education. At 13, he joined his father’s band and, four years later, he was recruited and toured extensively as Buddy Guy’s bass player.

    image

    Kenny Neal horizontal by James Terry III.jpg

    A member of the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame and a multi-award winning talent, Neal has shared the stage or worked with a who’s-who list of blues and R&B greats, including B.B. King, Bonnie Raitt, Muddy Waters, Aaron Neville, Buddy Guy and John Lee Hooker. Since signing with Alligator Records in 1988, Neal has released a series of consistently lauded albums featuring his laid-back, Baton Rouge blues, with a modern spin on the Louisiana sound he grew up with.

    “One of a mere handful of truly inventive young contemporary guitarists, Neal has something fresh to say and the chops with which to say it,” wrote The Chicago Tribune.

    Blues Revue agreed, calling Kenny “one of the brightest young stars on the blues horizon, and a gifted artist.”

    According to Cleopatra Records, Neal has never sounded better than he does on ‘Bloodline,’ offering some of the most moving songwriting and electric performances of his incredible career. Eight members of the Neal clan lend their musical talents to the album, making it a true family affair and proving beyond doubt that the blues is most definitely in Neal’s Bloodline.

    ONLINE: http://kennyneal.net

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Historians rank President Obama’s legacy highly

    Supporters and critics alike may eventually come to view President Barack Obama’s two-term White House tenure the same way.

    His determination for change never appeared to cause him to stumble on his goals, be it Obamacare or commuting the sentences of so many who were imprisoned for so long — primarily because of antiquated laws that punished mostly low-level minority drug offenders.

    Even as Obama is set to leave office, he took unprecedented steps to retaliate against alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election.

    Obama labeled Russia’s action as significant, malicious and cyber-enabled and sanctioned six Russian individuals and five Russian entities while ordering dozens of Russian diplomats to leave the country.

    The president also gave them and their families just three days to pack up and leave.

    “These actions follow repeated private and public warnings that we have issued to the Russian government, and are a necessary and appropriate response to efforts to harm U.S. interests in violation of established international norms of behavior,” Obama said in the statement released by the White House.

    It’s the kind of action that some said will make them miss the progress of the past eight years and critics will come to realize that Obama’s place in history will be a lofty one.

    “The biggest tragedy of the Obama presidency was the relentless and often irrational unwillingness of Republican lawmakers to work with him to achieve meaningful objectives,” said Mario Almonte, a public relations specialist who also blogs about politics and social issues. “Even so, many years from now, when the history of his presidency comes into better focus, our society will come to recognize the enormous impact Barack Obama had on American culture and possibly world culture as the first Black president of the United States.”

    And, as Kevin Drum a writer for Mother Jones wrote, Obama has moved forward on eight substantial executive actions over the past month – aside from the Russian sanctions – including enacting a permanent ban on offshore oil and gas drilling in areas of the Arctic and the Atlantic Seaboard; he’s refused to veto a UN resolution condemning Israel’s settlements in the West Bank; designated two new national monuments totaling more than 1.6 million acres – Bears Ears Buttes in southeastern Utah and Gold Butte in Nevada; and he’s instructed the Department of Homeland Security to formally end the long-discussed NSEERs database.

    Obama has also instructed the Army Corps of Engineers to deny final permits for the Dakota Access Pipeline where it crosses the Missouri River near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation and he’s issued a final rule that bans the practice among some red states of withholding federal family-planning funds from Planned Parenthood and other health clinics that provide abortions.

    Also, the outgoing president completed rules to determine whether schools were succeeding or failing under the Every Student Succeeds Act.

    “He was most effective as a normal president, and he helped put the presidency back on a human scale,” said Stephen Walt, a professor of international affairs at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. “He was a devoted and involved father, a loving husband, a man with acknowledged – albeit – vices, and someone who made it clear that he did not regard himself as omniscient.”

    “As president, he showed that effective governing requires careful deliberation, discipline, and the willingness to make hard and imperfect decisions, and he let us all watch him do just that.” Walt said future historians will give President Obama “full marks” for never acting impulsively or cavalier.

    Daniel Rodgers, the Henry Charles Lea Professor of History, emeritus and historian of American ideas and culture who taught at Princeton University, wrote that what buoyed Obama’s aspirations was not a program, but a dream that in his person, the people might come together and shape politics to their will and common aspirations.

    “That was what the ‘we’ in the brilliant ‘Yes We Can’ slogan in the 2008 campaign was essentially about,” Rodgers said. “He has not called the nation to new feats of courage — ala Kennedy — to make war on poverty — as Johnson did — even to dream more freely than ever before — as stated by Reagan. What Obama’s words have called for is for Americans to be the people they already are.”

    The single, biggest impact on Obama’s presidency has been the shattering of psychological obstacles in the American psyche toward electing a non-White president, Almonte said.

    “When Hillary Clinton first ran for president, her gender was a major issue among voters. The second time around, it was not,” Almonte said. “With this psychological barrier removed, in future elections, we will see candidates from all walks of life, genders, nationalities, and possibly even lifestyles pursue the presidency with greater ease than they could have before.”

    Even as Donald Trump and other Republicans promise to do all they can to repeal the Affordable Care Act, known as Obama’s signature piece of legislation, historians wrote in New York magazine that it has been the president’s greatest accomplishment.

    They noted that presidents from Harry Truman to Bill Clinton failed to accomplish a passable affordable health care law.

    “Obamacare is easily the signal accomplishment of this president, assuming current efforts to unravel it will be defeated,” said Thomas Holt, the James Westfall Thompson Professor of American and African-American History at the University of Chicago.

    “It’s an achievement that will put Obama in the ranks of [President Franklin Delano Roosevelt] with social security and Lyndon B. Johnson with Medicare because of its enduring impact on the average American’s well-being,” Holt said. “He won’t need bridges and airports named after him since opponents already did him the favor of naming it ‘Obamacare.’”

    The Affordable Care Act’s progressivism stands out as the embodiment of Obama’s best intentions, said Nell Painter, an American historian notable for her works on southern history of the nineteenth century and a retired professor at Princeton University.

    “Some three million poor people have gained access to health care, thanks to the extension of Medicaid. But those people will not be in deep-southern states where poor people are numerous, but Republicans rule,” Painter said. “I see this convergence as a consequence of watermelon politics, as unsavory a legacy of Obama’s time as Obamacare is fine.”

    Finally, one historic trend-break that occurred during Obama’s presidency that has major significance for the well-being of African-Americans has been the beginnings of a decline in the national prison population, after decades of expansion, said Gavin Wright, professor of American Economic History at Stanford University.

    “The Obama Administration deserves a fair share of credit,” Wright said. “In 2010, Obama signed the Fair Sentencing Act, reducing prison time for convictions involving crack cocaine.”

    Wright said, “Under Attorney General Eric Holder, sentencing guidelines were made retroactive, leading to the release of thousands. To date, the reductions have been small compared to the total incarcerated population, but the reversal is historic, and its disproportionate significance for African-Americans is evident.”

     

    By Stacy M. Brown
    NNPA News Wire Contributor

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Toldson named ‘most influential’

    Ivory Toldson, Ph.D., has been named one of the 30 Most Influential Forensic Psychologists by Emergency Management Degree Program Guide. He completed a doctorate in counseling psychology from Temple University and later became a forensic psychologist at the United States Penitentiary. His dissertation focused on black men in the criminal justice system. His ongoing work includes research regarding misled media statistics and the link between Black males to crime and their ability to learn. The Baton Rouge native is executive director of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities. He is also editor of the Journal of Negro Education.

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Punch TV Studios becomes the only Black-owned media company to sell stock

    Media company Punch TV Studios, known for providing a unique selection of original and creative television programming, recently announced its qualification of its stock offering from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission under Regulation A, the Jumpstart Our Business Startup (JOBS) Act which was signed into law by President Obama. Based on this law Punch TV Studios is now authorized to sell stock in the company.

    “By signing the JOBS Act into law President Obama made it easier for startup companies such as Punch TV Studios to go public and to raise capital privately. That was no minor feat. It was a major stand for a sitting President to take and a historical change in the way America does business. Although there is always more to be done, let us not forget that Punch TV Studios is the media legacy that President Obama leaves behind,” said Punch TV Studios CEO Joseph Collins.

    “We look forward to the day that President Obama is able to do more. In fact, we welcome President Obama to begin his post White House initiatives with Punch TV Studios. We know that whether he’s in the streets of Chicago, Ferguson, Charlotte, Flint, Baltimore, Milwaukee or any town USA; whether he’s exploring the issues of police brutality, economic disparity or gang violence Punch TV Studios is the only publicly traded media company that can provide the true, real, unaltered, unedited, unfiltered voice of the people!”

    As one of the few African American CEOs of a publicly traded company, Collins has an unmatched understanding of what the urban community is looking for and a keen eye on the pulse of the people. Punch TV Studios is currently developing new, original TV content for the urban community and is the first to develop a digital broadcast & Internet streaming network specifically designed to meet their unique entertainment needs.

    Punch TV Studios launched its Initial Public Offering (IPO) on June 19, 2016. According to its business model Punch TV Studios is projected to generate more than half a billion dollars in annual revenue by year three post IPO. With an opening price of only $1 per share, Punch TV Studios’ primary focus was to make their stock available and affordable to the average American. Early investors, Punch TV Studios supporters and television aficionados are able to get in on the ground floor and purchase stock directly from the company.

    ONLINE: PunchTVStudios.com

    Read more »
  • ,,,

    The Drum readers show solidarity with #WhatADoctorLooksLike

    Black doctor asks to help Delta passenger, denied by flight attendant

    On October 9, Dr. Tamika Cross was more than a Delta Air Lines passenger heading to Minneapolis. Cross, a physician from Houston, was a sympathetic medical professional who “jumped into doctor mode” to aid an unresponsive passenger. But, her effort to assist was shunned by a flight attendant because she did not look like a doctor.

    In a detailed Facebook post, Cross wrote, “the attendant said, ‘Oh no sweetie put your hand down, we are looking for actual physicians or nurses or some type of medical personnel, we don’t have time to talk to you’. ”

    Cross, a resident OBGYN physician at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, said when a second call was made for a physician on board to “press your button” to assist, she did. While the man was still in need of help, the same flight attendant then asked to see her credentials and bombarded her with question such as, “What type of doctor are you? Where do you work? Why were you in Detroit?,” Cross said.

    Then, when a “seasoned white male approached the row and said he is a physician,” the flight attendant told her “thanks for your help, but he can help us, and he has his credentials.” 10 Cover doctors

    In her post, Cross explained that the flight attendant shunned her because of her race and was confident in the abilities of the white male doctor who also did not present credentials.

    Cross said that about 10 minutes later, when the ill passenger’s health began to improve, the flight attendant actually asked her advice about what to do next. Cross complied with the request and said vitals were needed and a glucometer to test blood sugar levels. The flight attendant eventually apologized several times to her, even offering her SkyMiles.

    “I kindly refused,” Cross wrote. “This is going higher than her. I don’t want SkyMiles in exchange for blatant discrimination. Whether this was race, age, gender discrimination, it’s not right.”

    In a written statement, Delta Airlines said it reached out to the doctor and is investigating the incident. “We are committed to treating all passengers with kindness and respect,” it stated.

    Diversity magazine wrote, “Many Black doctors have had similar experiences when their abilities have been questioned due to appearance.”

    Cross’s post went viral with more than 88,000 likes and 42,000 shares. Black female doctors stood in solidarity with Cross and began posting pictures of themselves using the hashtag: #WhatADoctorLooksLike.

    The Drum readers proudly shared photos and names of South Louisiana doctors, giving local awareness to the tag.

    Read more »
  • ,,,

    McGuire, leader in student education, wins national chemical award

    For more than 46 years, Saundra Yancy McGuire, PhD. has been helping students realize their academic potential. A nationally recognized chemical educator, author and lecturer, she has travelled the globe promoting sure-fire strategies to help students, including those underrepresented in science and math professions, to be successful in their coursework and careers. In recognition of her work and the thousands of students she has impacted, McGuire has been awarded the 2017 American Chemical Society, or ACS, Award for Encouraging Disadvantaged Students into Careers in the Chemical Sciences, sponsored by the Camille & Henry Dreyfus Foundation.

    “I’m very humbled to be the recipient of the ACS Dreyfus Award for Encouraging Disadvantaged Students into Careers in the Chemical Sciences. I gratefully accept this honor on behalf of all of the individuals who made it possible. They include my nominator, LSU Professor Isiah Warner, and all of the colleagues and students who supported the nomination,” said McGuire, director emerita of LSU’s Center for Academic Success and retired assistant vice chancellor and professor of chemistry. “When I look at the previous winners of this award, I am very honored to join this distinguished group, and I am even more determined to ensure that all students, especially disadvantaged students, are encouraged to pursue and reach their dreams.”

    As a chemistry major at Southern University and A&M College, McGuire learned early on that the right support can make the difference between failure and success. She enrolled at Southern University with plans to major in chemistry despite the fact that she had not taken chemistry in high school (she skipped her senior year).

    “I was successful because of wonderful faculty members and supportive peers who helped me overcome the gaps in my preparation and excel,” said McGuire.

    Later in graduate school, McGuire decided to give extra support to the students in the introductory chemistry course for which she was a teaching assistant during her first year at Cornell University.

    “I knew that these underprepared students were capable of success, but I doubted they would excel without someone working with them to help them learn how to understand the concepts and develop effective problem solving strategies,” said McGuire.

    McGuire is the author of “Teach Students How to Learn: Strategies You Can Incorporate into Any Course to Improve Student Metacognition, Study Skills, and Motivation.” She spent 11 years at Cornell University, where she received the coveted Clark Distinguished Teaching Award. She joined LSU in 1999, and has delivered her widely acclaimed faculty-development workshops on teaching students how to learn at more than 250 institutions in 43 states and eight countries.

    “My effectiveness with students increased exponentially while at LSU. I learned so much from Sarah Baird and other learning strategists at the Center for Academic Success, and I developed what we now refer to as the metacognitive approach to learning,” McGuire said.

    Metacognition allows students to analyze their own learning and take control of their study behaviors. This approach has proved to be a remarkably successful way of helping students make the transition from being memorizers who regurgitate information to being critical thinkers who can solve novel problems. 

    “I’ve always found student transformation intoxicating, and I love celebrating student success,” said McGuire. “My inspiration comes from the reactions of students when they see that they can succeed and that they don’t have to give up their dreams.”

    McGuire earned her bachelor’s degree in chemistry, magna cum laude, from Southern University in 1970, and her master’s degree in chemical education from Cornell University in 1971. She earned her PhD in chemical education from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, in 1983. Her many other honors and awards include the 2014 Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers and the 2002 Dr. Henry C. McBay Outstanding Chemical Educator Award from the same organization. In January, she was awarded the Lifetime Mentor Award from the American Association for the Advancement of Science, or AAAS.

    McGuire has been very active in the ACS for over 40 years beginning as a member of the ACS student organization during her senior year at Southern University. She was named an ACS Fellow in 2010, chaired the ACS Committee on Minority Affairs from 2002-2004 and was a member of the committee from 1999 to 2004.

    McGuire will be honored at the awards ceremony on Tuesday, April 4, 2017 in conjunction with the 253rd ACS National Meeting in San Francisco.

    Read more »

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    Groups helping Great Flood victims may receive funds

    According to a news release from FEMA, there may be funds to help certain organizations get back to the business of helping others.

    • Community, volunteer, faith-based and private nonprofit organizations that had damage from Louisiana’s recent severe storms and floods may be able to receive FEMA Public Assistance (PA) grants to repair or replace their facilities so they can continue offering critical and essential community services.
    • Critical community service organizations that may qualify for FEMA PA grants include:
      • Faith-based and private schools
      • Hospitals and other medical-treatment facilities
      • Utilities like water, sewer and electrical systems
    • Non-critical, essential service organizations may also receive PA grants. However, they must first apply for a low-interest disaster loan from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) before they may be considered for a PA grant.
      • The SBA may provide up to $2 million to most private nonprofits in the form of low-interest disaster loans.
      • Learn more about and apply for an SBA loan by going online to sba.gov/disaster. If you cannot access the website, call 800-659-2955. If you use TTY call 800-877-8339.
    • PA grants may be able to cover repair or replacement costs the SBA doesn’t.
    • Non-critical, essential service organizations include:
      • Community centers
      • Daycare centers
      • Disability advocacy and service providers
      • Homeless shelters
      • Museums
      • Performing arts centers
      • Rehabilitation facilities
      • Senior citizen centers
      • Zoos
    • Only organizations that can prove state or IRS tax exempt status may be considered.
    • Facilities established or primarily used for religious activities may not be considered.
    • The first step to receive a FEMA PA grant for your community, volunteer or faith-based or private nonprofit organization is to submit a Request for Public Assistance (RPA) to the State of Louisiana.
    • For more information on applying for PA grants, contact your parish’s emergency management office. You can find their contact information online at gohsep.la.gov/about/parishpa
    Read more »
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    Baton Rouge Black journalists group wins national award

    The National Association of Black Journalists presented the Professional Chapter of the Year Award to the Baton Rouge Area Association of Black Journalists, this week during the association’s annual meeting in Washington DC.The NABJ Chapter of the Year Award is presented to a professional affiliate chapter for its accomplishments during the eligibility period. The criteria include but is not limited to the number of new members who have joined the chapter and NABJ, the chapter’s community activities and programs and the number and size of scholarships awarded by the chapter.

    The Baton Rouge Area Association of Black Journalists has worked tirelessly to ensure that both local journalists and the community at large are engaged in an ongoing basis. The chapter hosted a breakfast meeting with New York TimesExecutive editor Dean Baquet, the first Black American to hold that position. There was also a very successful “Secrets to Accessing the Media” workshop, designed to help nonprofits and small business owners be successful in getting their events covered by the press, learn how to write a news release and how to conduct themselves during an interview. The event has drawn more than 70 people each year. To engage students, there was a mentoring workshop with students from both Southern University and Louisiana State University.  The community has also turned out in force for the chapter’s annual scholarship luncheon in April, where they honored pioneering journalists and raised money for student scholarships. This year they raised nearly $14,000.

    “Local chapters are the backbone of NABJ and help keep its mission alive. The chapter’s talented members form a vital fellowship for black journalists across the country,” said NABJ President Sarah Glover. “Local chapters help working journalists identify allies and advocates who live and work in the same market, formulating an indispensable network.”

    Read more »
  • ,

    Princeton to host academy for minority teen girls

    NEW YORK–For the sixth straight year, the At the Well Young Women’s Leadership Academy will be held on the campus of Princeton University in Princeton, New Jersey. The Academy is one of the only summer institutes for minority teen girls to be held on an Ivy League campus.

    At the Well Academy is geared towards building leadership skills for minority girls entering the eleventh or twelfth grades of high school. This year’s Academy is scheduled for July 24 – August 5, 2016 at Princeton’s Friend Center. In 2015, almost 50 teenage scholars attended the competitive program.

    The Academy provides on-campus housing at Princeton University that allows the students to experience college life in an Ivy League setting. The curriculum has been developed to encourage critical thinking and problem-solving skills along with increasing leadership confidence. Facilitators include business leaders, entrepreneurs, and Princeton University staff who teach select classes.

    Admission is competitive and teens must possess a 3.0 G.P.A, and offer an essay as well as academic recommendations. Scholarships are available and need-based financial aid is available on a first-come basis. The deadline to submit an application is March 31, 2015.

    The Academy offers dynamic speakers, standardized test-taking strategies, critical reading courses, college essay writing classes, tutoring, group activities, and field trips. Each year, special guests provide dynamic presentations. The 2015 roster of speakers included marketing guru Terrie Williams, Brandi Harvey, Executive Director of the Steve Harvey Foundation and Yandy Smith executive producer of the television show “Love and Hip Hop.” 2014 roster included husband and wife actors, Boris Kodjoe and Nicole Ari Parker. Our guest professors were Dr. Imani Perry from Princeton University and Dr. Brittney Cooper from Rutgers University.
    The academic achievement gap between minority teen students and their white counterparts along with the lack of female senior leadership in corporate America prompted Jacqueline B. Glass, CEO and Founder of At the Well Conferences, Inc., to create the Academy. According to Glass, “The U. S. Department of Education statistics state African Americans account for about 13% of the entire college enrollment. The low performance of African American students on standardized tests is alarming. Our preparatory program addresses these issues head-on.”

    About the program
    At the Well Young Women’s Leadership Academy is a program of At the Well Conferences, Inc., a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization empowering teens since 2009. “The Academy seeks to empower young women locally to become effective leaders globally. By promoting excellence in education, these young women will transform their communities,” states Glass. For more information, go to www.atthewellconferences.org

    Read more »
  • ,

    National Black chamber group endorses Hillary Clinton for president

    The US Black Chambers, Inc. announced it’s support for presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, Friday, Jan. 15.

    Ron Busby, President of the US Black Chambers Inc., released the following statement on behalf of the of the chamber’s President’s Circle which is comprised of an elite group of successful Black business owners with annualized revenues of at least $10 million; along with representing more than 100 national Black Chambers of Commerce.

    “In order for there to be a strong America, there must be a strong Black America, and in order for there to be a strong Black America, there must be strong Black businesses. 

    With this in mind, we believe it’s of crucial importance to endorse a candidate who intends to expand access to capital, provide tax relief, and expand access to new markets for Black business owners.

    We unequivocally believe Hillary Clinton is the candidate that has the best understanding of the economic challenges facing Black business owners and has forward thinking priorities to alleviate the economic conditions facing Black Americans and Black Businesses. 

    On behalf of the US Black Chambers Inc. we endorse and stand by Hillary Clinton as an ally of Black business and as the next President of the United States.”

     

    The US Black Chambers Inc. is the national voice for Black business owners and is committed to the economic empowerment of Black Americans through entrepreneurship.

    In response to the endorsement, Clinton released this statement:

    “I am honored to have the support of the U.S. Black Chambers, Inc. which does important work supporting African-American entrepreneurs nationwide. They serve close to 250,000 small businesses, helping them with issues relating to professional development resources, business development, capital formation, government contracting and much more. That’s important, because black-owned businesses are a vital source of jobs and prosperity for Americans of all races and backgrounds.

    “As President, I’ll make sure America’s small businesses – including black-owned small businesses – get more support. I’ll fight to cut red tape, improve access to capital, provide tax relief and increase access to new markets around the world. America works best when all its citizens get the chance to develop their talents and chase their dreams. That’s what the U.S. Black Chambers strives every day to achieve. I’m thrilled to join them in their fight for fairness and opportunity for African-American entrepreneurs and families.”

    Read more »
  • ,,,

    Hundreds gather inside McKinley High School gym for town talk with President Obama

    More than 700 people, including elected officials, participated in a Town Hall with President Barack Obama, Thursday, Jan. 14. Hundreds more lined the streets or waited at the airport for a glimpse of the outgoing president. But what did he tell the citizens?

    “I heard loudly and clearly today talk of taking ownership of development by committing to learning how to control and master the process of personal and community development,” said attorney Donovan Hudson.

    Here’s the transcript from the meeting:

         THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, Louisiana!  (Applause.)  Hello, Baton Rouge!  Geaux Tigers!  (Applause.)  For those of you who are not aware, that’s “geaux” with an “x.”  I got it.

         Can everybody give Che a big round of applause?  (Applause.)  We could not be more proud of her.  I was backstage — I asked her, “Are you nervous?”  She said, no, I got this — (laughter) — I’m fine.  That is a serious leader of the future. And we are so proud of her.  And I want to thank everybody at McKinley for hosting us today.

    image

    President Obama hugs Che'dra Joseph, McKinley High Student of the Year


         There are a couple of people I want to make sure we acknowledge.  Your Mayor, Kip Holden, is in the house.  (Applause.)  There he is.  We got Congressman Cedric Richmond here — (applause) — who’s got a really cute little boy.  (Laughter.)  And New Orleans Mayor and great friend of mine, Mitch Landrieu is in the house — (applause) — whose son is not so little, but looks pretty cool.  I want to congratulate your new governor who’s going to do outstanding work — (applause) — John Bel Edwards is in the house, and his lovely family.  We are so grateful to have them here.

         Since LSU has pretty good sports teams, historically, I thought I might mention you got an okay basketball player named Ben Simmons in the house.  (Applause.)  His dad played in Australia with my Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan.  So they can hoop.  But I think they would both acknowledge that Ben is better.  (Laughter.)  And it’s wonderful to have him here.

         Now, it is my intention not to give a long speech, because this is sort of a town hall.  I want to spend a little time having a conversation with all of you.  (Applause.)  But I do want to make mention of what your incoming governor is already doing.  He’s already delivering for the people of Louisiana.  This week, he took the bold and wise step to expand Medicaid — (applause) — to cover hundreds of thousands of hardworking Louisianans, providing them with the financial security of health care.  It was the right thing to do.  And, by the way, it will actually help the state’s finances.  And it shows you why elections matter.

    And, right now, we’re hoping to encourage more states to do the right thing.  One of the ways we’re doing that is proposing additional funding to support new states that choose, as John did, to expand Medicaid.  So, I’m just proud of him, and I’m confident that he’s going to do great work. He’s going to do great work.  (Applause.)  And everybody here needs to get behind him because it’s not going to be easy.  He’s coming in a little like I came in, sort of got to clean up some stuff.  (Applause.) 

         Now, I love Louisiana.  (Applause.)  I love Baton Rouge, but this is the first time I’ve been here as President.  I’ve been trying to pack all my fun trips into my last year.  And although I missed the Tigers beating Ole Miss last night, maybe I’ll come back for football season.
    image

    Some of you know I gave my final State of the Union address this week.  (Applause.)  I focused on the fact that we’re going through a time of extraordinary change.  And that’s unsettling.  It can seem sometimes, especially during political season, where everybody is running around saying, oh, everything is terrible and let’s find somebody to blame, that our politics won’t meet the moment.  But what I want folks to know — that’s right, if you have a chair, go ahead and sit down.  If you don’t have a chair, don’t sit down.  (Laughter.)  I don’t want you falling down.  Whoever the first one was who did that, you’re a leader.  (Laughter.) 

    AUDIENCE MEMBER:  We love you!

    THE PRESIDENT:  Love you back.  Thank you.  (Applause.) 

    But what I want people to know is, is that we’ve been through big changes before.  And America always comes out stronger and better, as long as we make decisions together that are designed to seize the future instead of run away from it.  And we’re uniquely positioned to do that.  We’ve got the strongest economy in the world.  We’ve gone through the worst economic crisis of our lifetime, and we have bounced back with 14 million new jobs, cut the unemployment rate in half.  We’re the most powerful country on Earth, capable of meeting any threat.  Our commitment to science, and education, and entrepreneurship, and our diversity make us a perfect match for what’s needed in this new century.

    But our progress is not inevitable.  So we’ve got to answer some big questions. 

    Number one:  How do we make sure that we create an economy where everybody is benefitting, everybody feels secure, everybody has a shot at success, not just some?  That’s question number one. 

    Question number two:  How do we make sure we’ve got an innovation economy and we embrace science and reason and facts, instead of running away from it?

    Number three:  How do we make sure that we keep America safe, not through trying to talk tough, but by being smart?

    Number four:  How do we make sure our politics works, not in a way where everybody agrees — because in a big country like ours, people aren’t going to agree on everything — but so that it is civil and so that it is constructive, and so that we can work together to find solutions to the problems that are not just going to face us, but our kids and our grandkids?

    Now, I tried to give you a sense of how I think we need to answer those questions going forward, but I promised I wasn’t going to talk long because I want to have a chance to hear from you.  I just want to make this point.  We’re pretty close to New Orleans, and I had a chance to go back and travel with Mitch as we were commemorating the anniversary of Katrina.  And if you have any doubt about America’s capacity to overcome anything, you just visit some of those neighborhoods, and you talk to some of those families, and you see the businesses that are thriving and the homes that have been built, and the parishes that have pulled together. 

    And it’s just a reminder of the fact that when we work together, we cannot be stopped.  We cannot be stopped.  We work best as a team.  And it is my ardent hope that, during the course of this year, as long as I have this extraordinary privilege to be your President, that I’m going to be able to encourage more and more of you to get involved and feel that optimism and confidence about where America is headed. 

    So with that, let’s start this conversation.  (Applause.)  And let me say this.  We’ve got mics in the audience.  And we’re going to go boy, girl, boy, girl, so it’s fair.  (Laughter.)  Or girl, boy, girl, boy.  That’s fine.  (Laughter.) 

    AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Girl, girl, girl!

    THE PRESIDENT:  (Laughter.)  She said girl, girl, girl.  Now, that’s not fair.  (Laughter.)  Come on. 

    So what I’m going to do is, people just raise their hands, I will call on you.  A couple things — wait until the mic gets there.  Number two, introduce yourself so we know who you are. Number three, if you keep your question or comment relatively short, then my response, I can’t guarantee I’ll keep it short, but I’ll keep it shorter.  And that way we have a chance to hear from more people.  All right?

    Okay, so let’s see who’s going to go first.  Where’s my mic?  Here we go.  All right, let’s see.  This is a good-looking crowd, too.  (Applause.)

    I don’t know who to call on. That young lady right there in the brown jacket.  Right there.  Yes, you. 

    Okay, hold on.  Wait for the mic.  You didn’t follow instructions.  You’re already — (laughter) — careful.  Careful.  She didn’t go to McKinley, is that what happened?

    Q    No, I didn’t.  (Laughter.) 

    THE PRESIDENT:  All right, go ahead, go ahead.

    Q    My name is Rachel.  I’m from Texas.  And my question — I don’t have one — I just wanted to tell you thank you.

    THE PRESIDENT:  Oh.  Okay, well, that’s sweet.  (Laughter.)  All right, well, she just — she didn’t really have a question, so I’m going to go back to — I’m going to go to this young lady right here in the black and white jacket.  Right there.  Hold on a second.  The mic is coming to you.  It’s just that we’re so packed in, it may take — you can go ahead and pass her the mic.  She looks like she’ll give it back.

    Q    Hi, Mr. President.  My name is Jasmine Elliott (ph), and I am a 10th grade cheerleader here at McKinley High School.  (Applause.)

    THE PRESIDENT:  Yay, all right!  Go Panthers!

    Q    And I love you — me and my family love you so much.  And I want to thank you.

    THE PRESIDENT:  Oh, that’s sweet.

    Q    And as a future broadcast journalist, I would like to ask you two questions.

    THE PRESIDENT:  Okay.

    Q    My first question is:  What are your plans to do when you leave office?  And can you please give my grandmother a hug? (Laughter.)

    THE PRESIDENT:  See, now first of all, I know your grandma put you up to that.  (Laughter.)  So I will give your grandma a hug because you did such a nice job asking the question.  (Applause.)

    In terms of my plans, look, I’ve got so much work to do this next year that — Michelle and I, we haven’t had a chance to really step back and think about it.  But as I said at the State of Union, when I get out, I’m still holding the most important job in a democracy, and that is the office of citizen.  So I will continue to work on the things that Michelle and I care so deeply about.  We want to encourage young people to get involved.  We want to improve education.  We want to make sure that our criminal justice system works the way it should.  We want to make sure that we are promoting science education and learning.  We want to work internationally to help other countries develop. 

    So we’re going to have a busy agenda, but I’m not overthinking that right now because I’ve got a whole bunch of stuff to do between now and next year.  All right?  But thank you for the question.

    All right, it’s a gentleman’s turn.  This man, because he’s got such a sharp bowtie.  Right here.  Yes, all right.  Go ahead.

    Q    Good morning.

         THE PRESIDENT:  Good morning.

         Q    This is a pleasure, sir.

    THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.

    Q    My name is Tremayne Sterling (ph).  I’m from Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  Through your entire two terms as President, what would be your biggest regret and why? 

    THE PRESIDENT:  I think it’s a great question.  Although had you been watching my State of Union on Tuesday — (laughter) — he might have known that I actually already answered that question.  (Laughter.)  But that’s okay.  I’m sure there was a good ballgame on that night.  (Laughter.) 

    No, what I told the country — except for you — (laughter) — was that my biggest regret was the fact that politics has become more rancorous during my presidency and more polarized than it was when I came in.  And keeping mind, when I ran, my belief was that there were no red states and blue states.  There wasn’t a black or white or Latino America.  There was a United States of America.  And that continues to be my belief. 

    Now, I have, as President, obviously done soul searching about what are things I could do differently to help bridge some of those divides.  I think part of it had to with when I came in we had a real emergency, and we had to act quickly.  And people in Washington sometimes weren’t always as focused on getting the job done as they were how is this going to position us for future elections. 

    But as I said at the State of Union, I have no doubt that there are things I could have done better.  But what I also say is that this is not something a President can do by him or herself.  When it comes to how we work together, the main impetus for better politics is going to be the American people.  They have to demand it.

    And so if we have voters who are not getting involved, then the people who tend to determine the agenda are the special interests, or money, or power, or the loudest voices, or the most polarizing voices, because a lot of folks — some of the best people, they’re just sitting at home.  And they’re getting cynical about politics, and they don’t get involved.  And then the people who do get involved end up being the folks who aren’t willing to work together.

    It’s important for voters to insist that their elected officials are strong on principle, but also are willing to compromise with people who don’t agree with them.  And if you punish an elected official for even talking to the other side, then it’s going to produce the kind of politics that we have seen in Washington too often.

    So this is an area where I regret.  I’m going to keep on working at it, try to see what more we can do to reach across the aisle to get things done.  I said on Tuesday that I think at the end of last year, maybe we surprised the cynics by getting a budget done.  And we extended tax cuts for working families that were due to expire.  And we were able to continue funding for transportation.  I know that your mayor was talking about how the interstate here narrows, and we may need to do something about it to relieve some traffic.  (Applause.) 

    And those things are not things that should be subject to a lot of Republican and Democratic argument.  Maybe that’s something that we can carry over into this year.

    One area, for example, that there’s been genuine bipartisan interest and support is the idea that we’ve got to reform our criminal justice system.  (Applause.)  That we have to be tough on violent crime, but also be smart when we think about how can we prevent young people from getting into the criminal justice system in the first place.  (Applause.)  How can we provide alternatives for low-level, non-violent drug offenders.  How can we make sure that the sentencing is proportional.  How do we make sure that we’re training folks while they’re incarcerated to get a skill that would allow them to be gainfully employed.  How do we make sure that when they’re released that there is a transition process for them.  How do we lift up all the outstanding employers who are willing to give people second chances.  So there’s a whole slew of work that we could be doing there. 

    And to their credit, we’ve seen some very conservative Republicans and some very liberal Democrats sitting down at the table and trying to work it out.  And that’s an example of where we see some promise.

         Another area is — and I mentioned this at the State of the Union.  Some of you have heard of the Earned Income Tax Credit.  Now, this is a program historically that is supported by Democrats and Republicans.  And it’s a pretty simple idea.  If you work, you shouldn’t be in poverty.  And so we should provide tax breaks to low-income working families so that they don’t say I might as well just be on welfare because I’ll get more benefits than if I’m working.

         Well, the Earned Income Tax Credit creates an incentive to say if you work hard, you’re working full time, but it’s, say, a minimum-wage job, we’re going to give you a chance, if you’ve got kids, to raise that income level, get a tax break.

        The problem is that it does not apply to individuals without children.  And that means a lot of men in that category don’t benefit and young people don’t benefit.  And one of the things we’ve been talking about is if we expand that to reach workers who don’t have children but are also working hard and are in poverty, that could be helpful.

         And these are areas where Cedric — he’s been a leader on criminal justice reform.  He’s working on this, as well.  I know that Mitch has been doing great work when it comes to the criminal justice system in New Orleans.  These are the kinds of areas where just common sense can prevail if we’ve all got a spirit of trying to solve problems instead of just winning elections.

        Okay?  All right.  (Applause.)

         Okay, it’s a young lady’s turn.  You know what, I’m going to call on that little young lady right there.  Yes.  She’s in her daddy’s lap.  And my daughter — my oldest daughter is about to go to college next year.  (Applause.)  And I can’t really talk about it a lot because I start to cry.  (Laughter.)

         Q    My name is Noelle Remeny (ph).  And I’m in the fourth grade, and I’m 10 years old.  And do you think there’s going to be a cure for cancer?  (Applause.)

         THE PRESIDENT:  Well, there you go.  Are you interested in math and science?

         Q    A little bit.

         THE PRESIDENT:  A little bit?  (Laughter.)  I tell you what, it’s going to be young people like you that are going to help cure cancer.  So you better study up on your math and study up on your science.

         But I do think that we are seeing medical breakthroughs right now that we have not seen in my lifetime.  Part of the reason is because — some of you heard of the Human Genome Project.  What happens is that we’re now able to look at not just how cells work, but we’re actually able to track how individual DNA and genetics operates.  And when you do that, it turns out that a cancer cell that I have may be different than a cancer cell that John or somebody else has, and may require different cures.  And certain treatments might work better than other treatments.  And because we’re able to get into the really nitty-gritty of how our bodies work in ways that we haven’t before, we’re starting to see more effective treatments.

         But we have to make a big investment.  And my Vice President, Joe Biden, who I love, suffered the kind of tragedy last year that is unbelievable.  And he managed it with grace.  His son Beau Biden was one of the finest men I knew.  And so I thought it was entirely appropriate for Joe Biden, who has seen this and gone through it, to lead this effort like a moon launch.  We’re going to double down on medical research.  We’re going to look at the best — we’re going to gather the best researchers, the best scientists, and we are going to go after this thing.

         It probably won’t be cured in my lifetime.  But I think ti will be cured in yours.  And that’s why we got to get started now.  (Applause.)

         All right?  Okay, it’s a gentleman’s turn.  This gentleman back here.  Right there.  Yes, sir.  You.  (Laughter.)  Hold on. The mic is coming.  The mic is coming.

         Q    Mr. President, first of all, I’m Greg Gavins (ph).  I’m the proud father of one of your special, great Secret Service.

         THE PRESIDENT:  Outstanding.

         Q    I have a question for you.  Since you can’t run again for another term, is there any way that we as a group can talk the First Lady into running?

         THE PRESIDENT:  No.  (Laughter and applause.)  No, no, no.  No, no.

         Q    I know that’s right.  (Laughter.)

         THE PRESIDENT:  Let me tell you, there are three things that are certain in life.  (Laughter.) Death, taxes, and Michelle is not running for President.  (Laughter.)  That I can tell you.

         But you know what, the First Lady, though, the work she’s done around reducing childhood obesity, the work that she and Jill Biden have done on military families and making sure they get support, I could not be prouder of her.  And I am certain that she’s going to be really active as a First Lady.

         Not only is she going to be a very young ex-First Lady, but unlike me, she looks young.  (Laughter.)  I was looking at a wedding picture — actually, we found the old video from our wedding.  We’ve been married 23 years now.  (Applause.)  And so my mother-in-law had been going through some storage stuff and found our wedding video.  And I popped it in — and I look like a teenager — and realized, boy, I sure have aged.  (Laughter.)

    AUDIENCE MEMBER:  (Inaudible.)

    THE PRESIDENT:  I know that, though.  (Laughter.)

         But Michelle looked — she looked identical.  Looked identical.

         Q    We’re proud of her.

         THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I’m proud of her, too, because most importantly she’s been an unbelievable mom, which is why my daughters turned out so well.  (Applause.)

         All right, it is a young woman’s turn.  This young lady right here.  Go ahead.  Yes, you. Yes, you’ve been raising your hand.  (Laughter.)  Okay.  But hold on.  The mic is coming.  Go ahead.

         Q    Hi, my name is Imani Maxberry (ph).  I’m a coastal environmental science major at LSU.

         THE PRESIDENT:  Outstanding.

         Q    One, I want to say thank you for rejecting Keystone pipeline.  (Applause.)  And two, I want to ask:  While you’ve been in office, what environmental impact — what environmental issue do you think has impacted you the most and should be more brought to the public?

         THE PRESIDENT:  Okay.  That’s a great question, and I’m proud that you’re doing that work.  That’s important.  (Applause.)

         First of all, it’s important for us to understand how much environmental progress we’ve made in my lifetime.  And the reason is, sometimes when we talk about the environment, it sounds like something far away.  But we don’t realize — we don’t remember what we’ve accomplished already.

         In the 1970s, in California, there would be regular days where people did not go outside.  When Ronald Reagan was governor in California, there were regularly days where the smog was so bad, it was like it is in Beijing now. People just wouldn’t go outside.  And if you had asthma or some respiratory disease, you might die.

         I remember as recently as 1979, when I first started college — I started college in Los Angeles — when I went running, the first week I was there, after about five minutes I’d start feeling a burning in my chest.  And it was just me sucking in soot and smog.  And now you go there and that smog isn’t there.  And the reason is because we instituted things like catalytic converters and unleaded gasoline.  And we changed the technologies to reduce smog.

         It used to be that places like the Cuyahoga River around Cleveland caught fire it was so polluted.  Caught fire.  No, this is no joke.  And now you go there and people are able to use it.  Same thing with the Chicago River.  Now people are kayaking and fishing.

         So the point is, is that we actually can make progress when we make an effort because of our technology and our innovation.  And every time we’ve taken a step to try to clean up our air or our water or our environment, there are all kinds of people who say this is going to kill jobs, we can’t afford it, can’t do it, it’s going to cost too much.  And then, after we do it, we look back and say, you know, that didn’t cost as much as we thought, it happened quicker than we did.  Our businesses figured out how to do it and to make money doing it at the same time.  That’s what I mean when I say an innovation economy.  We’ve got to be confident about our ability to solve any problem if we put our minds to it.

         Now, the answer to your question right now is, what I am very much concerned about is climate change.  And there are folks who are still denying that this is a problem or that we can do anything about it.  Look, if 99 doctors told you that you have diabetes and you need to change your eating habits and get some exercise and lose some weight, you may decide not to do it because you’re stubborn.  But don’t say they’re wrong because the science in unsure.  This is happening.  And, by the way, if you live in Louisiana, you should especially be concerned about this because you are right next to some water that has a tendency to heat up, and that then creates hurricanes.  And as oceans rise, that means that the amount of land that is getting gobbled up continuously in this state is shrinking — the land mass — and it’s going to have an impact.

         Now, we can build things and we can fortify things, and we can do things smarter, and we can control how development happens, and we can restore wetlands.  All those things make a difference.  But ultimately, we got to do something about making sure that ocean levels don’t rise four, five, six, eight feet, because if they do, this state is going to have some big problems — bigger problems.

         So what we’ve done is, we’ve gotten together with 200 other nations, American leadership, to say all of us have to start bringing down the carbon pollution that we send in the atmosphere.  And here in the United States, there are two main ways we can do that.  Number one is our power plants; we’ve got to start using cleaner energy.  Number two, we’ve got to start promoting solar and wind, which create jobs.  And we’re a leader in this technology as long as we start investing in it.

         And that transition from old, dirty fuels to clean fuels, that’s going to be tough.  A lot of people make money in the coal industry, for example.  A lot of people have worked there, historically.  But now you have actually have more people working in solar than you do in coal.  Those communities that are reliant on coal, we should help them get a jump on making money in wind power and solar power.  Those are hardworking, good people.  Let’s not have them stuck in old jobs that are going to be slowly declining.  Let’s get them in the new jobs that are going to be going up.

         And then, in our transportation sector, we need to continue to build on the things we’ve done since I’ve been President — doubling fuel efficiency standards on cars, promoting electric cars.  All this stuff adds up.  And the goods new is businesses can succeed and we can make money doing it at the same time.  But don’t think that this is not a problem for all of us.  This is the main message I have.  That young lady was asking about curing cancer — well, we might cure cancer, but if temperatures have gone up two, three degrees around the planet, four degrees, and oceans are rising, we’re going to have more problems than medical science can cure.  We got to make that investment now.  And we can do it.

         All right.  Good question.  This gentleman right here.  Hold on, I got a mic right there.  How you doing?

         Q    I can hold it.

         THE PRESIDENT:  Go ahead.

         Q    I’m a big kid.  (Laughter.)  Well, maybe I’m not a big kid.  My name is Alan Turum (ph) from Youngstown, Ohio.  You’ve been here many times in helping with the steel mills get back on track.  That’s all good.  And in your defense, my business is doing good, making money, growing for the last 10 years.  And I got a lot of friends that have businesses, and they’re doing real well, too.  For a lot of people that are complaining, there’s a lot of people doing well.  So I think if you hustle, you can make good.

         THE PRESIDENT:  Absolutely.

         Q    But my question to you is, you’re on your last year — is there any one big thing that you’d like to see happen before you leave the office?

         THE PRESIDENT:  Good.  Well, first of all, what’s your business?

         Q    I got a couple of businesses.  I manufacture Halloween props, and I own a haunted house and hay ride in Lordstown, Ohio, which you’ve been there many times, to the car plant.

         THE PRESIDENT:  I’ve been, yeah.

         Q    It’s called Fear Forest.  Maybe if you make it back into Youngstown in October, you can come check it out.  But I make Halloween props and I like to scare people.

         THE PRESIDENT:  (Laughter.)  So that’s kind of interesting.  That’s fun.  You sell a lot of Obama masks?  (Laughter.)

         Q    Hey, Obama is not scary.  So –

         THE PRESIDENT:  There you go, all right.  (Applause.)  I don’t think so.

         The things that I talked about in the State of the Union are all things that I think are possible.  Some of them I can get done on my own.  So I’ll give you a couple of examples.

         We need to revamp how our information systems, our IT systems in government work.  This is one of the areas where we’re — the biggest gap between government and the private sector is — if you just want to order a pizza, you’ve got your smartphone and you just — and the pizza shows up.  You want to buy an airline ticket, you punch in a couple things and suddenly if you go to the airport it’s all printing out.  And the systems in government are really old.

         Now, that causes two problems.  Number one is, they’re less safe and secure than they should be because they’re old.  They’re outdated systems.  So it’s easier for folks to try to hack into them, break into them, and we’re constantly putting patches up.

         The second thing is, it just means that things are slower for customers.  And I want to make sure government is in the 21st century — and we’re systematically going agency through agency.  If you want to get a small business loan from the SBA, I want you to be able to go to one website, in English, be able to figure out what you need to do, apply online, get that money, start that business, put people to work.  (Applause.)  And right now, we’re continually trying to streamline that process.

         And we’ve made some good progress.  But that’s an example of something that we can do administratively.  The same is true, by the way, for the VA.  You’ll remember — we are so proud of our veterans and our young men and women who served.  (Applause.)  And we got some folks here looking sharp in uniform that we are grateful for their service.  (Applause.)  And we have put more resources and provided more support to — and increased budgets for the VA than any administration in history.  We have cut backlogs.  We included folks who had been affected by Agent Orange.  We have boosted the resources available for folks suffering from PTSD.  We are ending veterans’ homelessness.  We’ve made some huge investments, made really good progress.

         But you’ll remember that story that came out last year, or a year and a half ago, in Phoenix, where folks were waiting so long to try to get an appointment that — and many of these were elderly, aging folks, and they were dying before they got an appointment.  And it was unacceptable.

         When we did an investigation of what had happened — and what was worse was some of the administrators there were hiding what was going on, and manipulating sort of records in ways that meant they had to be fired.  But when you looked at what was going on, a lot of it had to do with the fact that they had a system where a veteran would call in trying to get an appointment, somebody was writing it down on paper, then they were tapping it into some 30-year-old computer system that would then print out something that then would get walked over to someplace, that then they’d have to — it was a mess.

         And so we’ve had to make big investments in trying to clean up that whole process.  So that’s what we can do without Congress.

         Some things I think we can do with Congress I’ve already mentioned.  I think we can get criminal justice reform passed.  I think that we can potentially do some work on what I just identified, the Earned Income Tax Credit, that would help millions of people around the country who are working hard get out of poverty.  And on the issue of medicine, I think that we’re seeing some bipartisan work to try to bring together all the resources we have around these new medical breakthroughs that could potentially — not just affect things like cancer, but also Alzheimer and Parkinson’s, and a lot of diseases that people suffer from.  It’s a good story, and it’s not as politically controversial as some other issues.

         Now, there are some things I’d love to do, like raising the minimum wage for everybody.  (Applause.)  I’d love to get immigration reform passed.  But I’m realistic that Congress probably will not act on some of those more controversial issues.  That’s where people are going to have to make a decision in this election.  That’s what elections are about.  You’ve got to decide which direction America needs to go in.

         Okay.  Let’s see.  These folks have been neglected, so I’ve got to pay them a little attention here.  It’s a young lady’s turn.  Well, you’ve got a beautiful dress on.  Let’s just call on you.  There you go.  (Applause.)

         Q    Mr. President, I’m Judge Trudy M. White, and I’m the district court judge here in the 19th judicial district court.  (Applause.)

         THE PRESIDENT:  Good to see you, Judge.

         Q    I am also the reentry court judge for our parish.  And I did notice when you spoke at the State of the Union, you made your address, that the first issue that you did address was criminal justice reform.  I’d like to know, as reentry court judge, what incentives could you offer our governor — our new governor and governors across the United States that would provide opportunities for felons who are returning as they exit the criminal justice system?  (Applause.)

         THE PRESIDENT:  Well, Judge, you probably know more than I do. (Laughter.)

         Q    Can my people get with your people to get those incentives down here?  (Laughter and applause.)

         THE PRESIDENT:  Absolutely.  I’ll have my people call your people.  (Laughter.)  But I will tell you what I know I’ve seen with my own eyes.

         I was in Camden with a fellow federal district court judge who had taken — who had worked with the U.S. attorney there to supplement some of the reentry programs that were already there with some grants.  And this judge, she’s a wonderful woman, just like you.  And she had this terrific lead probation officer.  And together, what they had done is just made sure that anybody who got released, the day they were out, they were getting a call from the probation officer.  And the probation officer was saying, all right, what do you need?  Do you need clothes?  What are you doing in terms of a place to stay?   How are you going to think about getting your résumé together?  Do you have an alarm clock?  Just basic stuff.  How are you going to get around?

         Because so often, what happens is these young people are getting released and they’re just dropped off in the neighborhood where they were.  Oftentimes, part of the reason they got down a wrong path in the first place is the — mom and dad might not have been there, or they might have moved by now and so they’re literally all alone.

         And so this young man who was there, who had gone through this process, he had been arrested when he was 17, and had a record that accumulated, then arrested at 27; spent 10 years in federal prison.  Was released at 37.  And he really decided, I want to change my life.  He had a spiritual awakening.  And he started just pounding the pavement, and got a job at a fast food place.  And he was describing what it was like — he had been doing this about three months and he still didn’t have enough money for rent, and the halfway house that he was staying at, it was about to kick him out because they only have a certain number of slots, and you don’t stay there long enough.

         And he was saying how his old friends, the drug dealers and the gang bangers who he had used to run with, they would come up every once in a while, and he’d be sitting there in his uniform flipping burgers and serving food, and they’d be talking to him — hey, man, any time you’re ready.  Those are the only clothes you got?  Those are the same shoes we saw you in 10 years ago; this is the new style.  And that temptation for him was powerful.

         Now, this is where a well-designed reentry program comes in, because what happened was, the judge, the probation officer, they worked with him, signed him up.  The judge, unfortunately, because the program didn’t have a lot of money, had to basically do a collection, dig into her own pocket.  But they got the fees to have him go study at a community college to be an emergency medical technician.  And he ended up graduating from this class, working for a private health firm, and then by the time he was sitting next to me three or four years later — or maybe five years later, he’s now working for the county as an EMT, fully trained, saving lives.  (Applause.)

         But the point is that it required intensive intervention and support and help.  But what a smart investment that was.  Because if we spent whatever it cost during those one, two, three years of transition to help that person get their life straight, we might have just saved ourselves another 10 years or 15 years or 20 years of incarcerating him on taxpayer expense.  (Applause.)

         So it made me realize that if we really want to be smart on crime — you’ve got, let’s say, a maximum minimum sentence — mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years for some drug-related drug — if we reduce the amount of time that they’re incarcerated, took all those savings and we took just some of that for one, two years of reentry programs that are highly supervised, then we’re going to get better results — safer streets, better citizens — because he’s now paying taxes as an EMT instead of taking taxes as a ward of the state.  Less violence.  More hope.  He’s got an opportunity now to be a father, as opposed to an absent presence in a child’s life.  That’s how we rebuild communities.  And that’s why this is such a promising area.

    And as I said I want to make sure to acknowledge, this is an area where there’s been some really powerful bipartisan, interesting coalitions.  I think the evangelical community, because they have a lot of strong prison ministries, they care about this, they believe in redemption and second chances.  And so they’ve gotten involved.  And you’ve got libertarians who just don’t like the idea of the state spending that much money on prisons.  They’ve gotten involved.  And so there’s a lot of good work.  And as I said, Cedric has been a leader in this process, so we’ve got to see if we can make this happen, all right?  But my people will get with your people.  (Applause.)

    That redhead right there.  It’s good having hair like that.  You stand out in a crowd.

    Q    My name is Martin Brown (ph).  I’m from Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  And my question is about education.  Education is one of the most important things in achieving equal opportunity.  And in the past decades, we’ve seen desegregation orders lifted and we’ve seen a re-segregation in the South.  Furthermore, there’s huge disparities in resources for different students in different school districts and parishes.  And I was wondering what can the federal government do, what have you done, and what do you think should happen in the future to resolve these issues that we have been fighting for decades.

    THE PRESIDENT:  Are you a teacher, by the way?

    Q    I’m not — I’m a student.

    THE PRESIDENT:  Where are you going to school?

    Q    LSU.

    THE PRESIDENT:  Fantastic.  What are you studying?

    Q    Math and economics.

    THE PRESIDENT:  All right.  Well, maybe you’ll solve this problem.  (Laughter.)  Well, thanks for the question.  It’s a great question.

    I talked about this at the town hall — or in the State of the Union.  This economy will become more and more knowledge-based during the course of our lifetimes, our children’s lifetimes, our grandchildren’s lifetimes.  There’s no denying it.  That is not going to change. And so when people talk about how the economy is changing and how come we can’t have it the way it was back in the ‘50s and ‘60s, it used to be that if you were willing to work hard, you could drop out of high school, walk into the factory, say “I’m ready to work,” and if you showed yourself to be a hard worker, you could actually build a middle-class life on the factory floor.  And that’s great.

    But if you go into a factory today, it’s full of computers and robots.  And if you don’t know math and you don’t know science, you can’t get that job on the factory floor.  And, by the way, because of automation and technology, when I go to a car plant — and we sold more cars — U.S. automakers sold more cars last year than any time in history.  (Applause.)  It has come all the way back.  It has rehired hundreds of thousands of folks.  We created 900,000 manufacturing jobs.  But you go into a plant, and it’s just quiet and clean, and probably — if you used to have a thousand people in that plant, now you’ve got a hundred, just because it’s so automated.

    And the point is, you are not going to be able to build a middle-class life in this society unless you have some education and skills that you can continually enhance and retool throughout your career.  So, young people, I’m going to be honest — I’m not going to call him out — but if you’re Ben Simmons, maybe you’ll do fine not hitting the books — although he’s a very fine student, I’m sure.  But my point is, unless you are one in a million, you better be working hard.  You better be studying.  (Applause.)  And it’s not going to stop.

    Now, the point you made is exactly right.  How do we make sure everybody gets that opportunity?  Because we know what the ingredients are.  We know that early childhood education makes a huge difference, the kind of start that young people get.  (Applause.)  We know that poor kids oftentimes are not starting off in school with the same vocabulary because they haven’t heard as many words, which means we’ve got to train parents, not just teachers, to help get kids rolling.  We know that schools that have great teachers and high standards, and are creative and have the best technologies that are used the right way make a difference.  That high expectations make a difference.  So, we know all these things.
    image


    But the way that education is America has been organized is local school districts, local control, and local property funding as the primary way of supporting schools.  And that has led to big disparities in every state in the country.  So the federal government can’t get at that.  What the federal government has done and can do is, through programs like Title I funding, we provide additional money to school districts that have a high proportion of low-income kids to try to give them more resources.  The federal government — what I’ve done during my administration is worked with states and local school districts to give them incentives to adopt best practices to help develop and train teachers to more effectively teach kids to make sure that we’ve got high expectations and high standards.

    I just signed, last year, a reform of No Child Left Behind that had led to a lot of over-testing and stress among teachers, but had not necessarily improved learning.  But ultimately, it’s going to be up to states and local school districts to make a decision about how much do we care about equities in funding within states.  That’s not something the federal government can force states to do.

         There was a case way back in the ‘70s that was brought before the U.S. Supreme Court making the argument that it was unconstitutional to have this property tax-based system of funding education.  And the Supreme Court said it’s not unconstitutional; it’s up to states to make a decision on what they want to do.  Some state supreme courts have said it’s unconstitutional to fund education that way.

    But if you don’t have states making those decisions, the federal government can’t force them to.  We can help.  We can give incentives.  But federal funding for education accounts only about for 7 percent of total education funding.  The main thing we can do is hold up best practices, show people this is what works, this is what doesn’t, and then the people of those communities have to determine this is what we want to do to make a real serious change.

         Now, one last point I’m going to make on education — making sure folks like Che can afford college is critical.  (Applause.)  And if I had my wish about what I could get Congress to do — I mentioned a whole bunch of issues — one of them also would be the proposal I put forward:  two years of community college at no cost for responsible students.  (Applause.)

    Tennessee has already adopted this.  Tennessee has already adopted this proposal.  The city of Chicago is working to adopt it.  So you’ve got Democrats and Republicans who have seen the wisdom of this.  If young people can go to a community college for two years at no cost, that means they can get a lot of credits out of the way.  They can then transfer to a four-year institution.  But they’ve cut their costs in half.  And this is an affordable proposal.  We propose paying for it essentially by closing some corporate tax loopholes and some tax breaks for hedge funds.  And it’s enough money to actually make sure that every young person has at least that baseline.  And that’s part of the reason why America became an economic superpower — because earlier than anybody else, we said we’re going to give everybody universal high school education.  Now, the next step is everybody in addition to high school education should be able to get that two years of post-secondary education, as well.  (Applause.)

    All right?  How much time do I have?  I got to check with my people.  One or two more questions.  Okay, this young lady right there.  You can stop jumping.  (Laughter.)  Yes, I just called — but do you actually have a question, or were you just jumping?  (Laughter.)  All right, where is the mic?  Right here.  Right here.  Yes, you.  I don’t know why you’re surprised.  (Laughter.)  You raised your hand.

    Q    Thank you so much for taking my question.  First off, my name is Angenay Turner (ph).  I’m a law student at Tulane, in New Orleans, in the Big Easy.

    THE PRESIDENT:  There you go.

    Q    I’m here with my little sister and one of my other friends from Tulane who also went to Columbia for undergrad.

    THE PRESIDENT:  Okay.

    Q    First off, I just want to say that we’re very inspired by you and the First Lady.

         THE PRESIDENT:  That’s nice.

         Q    And you are our biggest inspirations.  And we want to be just like you guys, so can you help us?  Give us some tips.  (Laughter.)

         THE PRESIDENT:  I’m sorry, what was the question?  (Laughter.)

         Q    The question is, can you help us be more like you and the First Lady and give us some tips to be –

         THE PRESIDENT:  Some tips?

         Q    Yes.

         THE PRESIDENT:  Well, look, I will say this — Michelle and I, we’ve been through an extraordinary journey.  When we think about where we’ve come from, Michelle grew up on the South Side of Chicago.  Her mom was a secretary.  Her dad worked at the water filtration plant.  Neither of them ever went to college.  They lived on the second floor of her mom’s sister’s house, a little bungalow.  She was — we were talking the other day, she was watching HGTV.  She likes watching HGTV.  And for those of you who don’t know, Home and Garden TV.  (Laughter.)

         And I guess there was this show about this so-called movement or trend towards tiny houses.  So people get these little, tiny — some of them they put on — hitch on the back of their car, some of them they’re already there.  She said, I didn’t know this was a movement because we lived in a tiny house. (Laughter.)  We just thought that’s how you live.  We didn’t know this was a — we were cutting edge.  (Laughter.)

         And so Michelle, her brother, her dad, her mom — her dad, by the way, had Multiple Sclerosis, so he’s going to work every day — he had to wake up an hour early to get to work because it took a long time for him to just button his shirt and get in the car, and then get out of the car, and then get to his job.

         And in that second floor, with — and I know, because Michelle and I, right after we got married, we stayed in that same place before we were able to save up enough to buy our place.  These two folks were able to raise these incredible young people, Michelle and her brother, who both ended up going to college and both had these extraordinary careers.
       
         Now, I say all that because Michelle would be the first to say — and I certainly would be the first to say — the only reason this happened was because there were people who invested in us.  (Applause.)  So there were park programs in Chicago, public park programs where she could be part of dance classes, and her brother could be in Little League.  And there were accelerated programs at her public elementary school where she had teachers who really took extra time.  And then there was a magnet school that she was able to attend, and that was able to get her prepared for college.  And then she got student loans and support in order to be able to go to college and go to law school.  Although she tells the story about how her dad, he couldn’t really contribute much, but he insisted on writing something, a check, to help support that college education for her and her brother because he knew what it was worth.

         And so when you ask sort of the main tip I have — look, we benefitted because somebody invested in us.  (Applause.)  The most important tip I would have is make sure not only are you working hard to deserve that investment, but that you’re also investing in the next generation coming up behind you.  (Applause.)  If you do that, then you’re going to do great things.  Your sister will do great things.


         And the one other thing I tell young people all the time — don’t worry so much about what you want to be, worry about what you want to do.  (Applause.)  Worry about the kind of person you want to be and what you want to accomplish.  And the reason I say that is because a lot of times people ask me, oh, I’m interested in politics, how can I get — I say, well, let me tell you, the people who are most successful in politics and business and whatever, they don’t start off saying, I want to be President or governor; they start off by saying, I want to give people an education, or I want to make sure that folks have jobs, or I believe in justice under the law.  And they pursue a goal.  They’re trying to get something done.

         A byproduct of that is that they may find themselves in positions of authority or power or influence.  But even if you never get elected to something, if you’re interested in the environment, you don’t have to be the head of the EPA to make a difference.  You might organize in a local community to clean up a site and plant gardens and make sure that the water is clean.  (Applause.)  And you can look back and then say, wow, what an amazing life I’ve had and look at all the difference that I’ve made.
    image


         And I’ll tell you, the same is true in business.  The most successful business people — if you talk to somebody like a Bill Gates, they don’t start off saying “I want to be the second-richest man in the world.”  They start off saying, “I really want to figure out this computer thing.”  “I want to make this thing work better.”  “I’m excited or interested in how we can solve this problem.”  And then, because they’re so passionate about it and they’ve worked so hard at it, it turns out they make something really good, and everybody else says, I want to be part of that.  That, I think, is a good tip as well.

         All right.  I’ve only got time for one more question.  It’s a young man’s turn and he’s right in front, and he looks very sharp.  He’s got his tie on and everything.

         Q    How you doing, Mr. President?

         THE PRESIDENT:  How you doing?  What’s your name?

         Q    My name is Anthony King (ph).  I am an 18-year-old mass communications major and I go to the Southern University and A&M College.  (Applause.)

         THE PRESIDENT:  Okay.

         Q    Mr. President, first I wanted to say thanks for being an inspiration, because I aspire to be what you are in the next 30 years, and I know I will be there.

         THE PRESIDENT:  Okay.

         Q    But one of my main questions for you, sir, Mr. President — I’m going to an HBCU institute — Southern University. Most times, when I go recruit off of high schools, most of the time a lot of them say, oh, I don’t want to go to an HBCU college; I feel like if I go to an HBCU, I won’t get as many opportunities as a student at university as LSU or Tulane.  So what is your take of — or advice to students like me, thousands of students like me who go to HBCUs, and us finishing the course in order to be great leaders in this society?  (Applause.)

         THE PRESIDENT:  Okay.  See, you got some folks voting for you already.

         Well, first of all, the role of the historically black colleges and universities in producing our leadership and expanding opportunity — training doctors and teachers and lawyers and ministers who change the landscape of America — I hope most people know that story, and if not, you better learn it.  Because it has been powerful and continues to be a powerful tradition.

         And I will tell you that if you have done well at an HBCU and graduated, and you go to an employer and are making the kind of presentation you make or a Morehouse man makes or a Spelman young lady makes, you will do just fine.  I don’t think it’s true that actually people don’t take — or discount that tradition.  And you will be credentialed.  You’ll succeed.

         I do think that there’s a range of challenges that HBCUs face.  Some are doing great; some are having more difficulty.  And some of that’s good.  Look — or some of it is the result of good things.  We don’t live in a society where African Americans are restricted in what colleges they can go to.  And I want them to be able to go to an LSU or a Tulane as well as a Southern, as well as a Morehouse, as well as a Howard or a Spelman.  So more opportunities open up — that’s good.

    We have been very supportive of HBCUs over the last several years.  And to their credit, the previous administration had supported them, as well.  There are some HBCUs that are having trouble with graduation rates.  And that is a source of concern.  And what we’ve said to those HBCUs is we want to work with you, but we don’t want a situation in which young people are taking out loans, getting in debt, thinking that they’re going to get a great education and then halfway through they’re dropping out.

         Now, some of it is those HBCUs may be taking chances on some kids that other schools might not.  And that’s a positive thing, and that has to be taken into account.  But we also have to make sure that colleges — any college, HBCU or non-HBCU — take seriously the need to graduate that student and not load them up with debt.

         Everybody needs a college education or a secondary — an education beyond high school.  If it’s a community college, if it’s a technical school, if it’s a training program, you’re going to need more training as your career goes on.

         But I don’t want you taking out a Pell grant or a bunch of — not a Pell grant — like a federal loan or a private loan, and you walk out with $50,000, $60,000, $100,000 worth of debt, and you didn’t get your degree.  So we are working very hard with every school, all colleges and universities, not just to reduce costs, but also to increase graduation rates, give students a better sense as they come in — here’s what it’s going to take for you to finish; here’s why you got to not lollygag and not take enough credits and think going to college is about partying, because it’s actually about getting your degree.  (Applause.) And we want students and parents to be better informed about that process ahead of time.

         All right, listen, you guys have been wonderful.  (Applause.) Michelle, Sasha, Malia, Bo, Sunny, they all send their love.  But I want — before we go, I want to remind you of what I said.  Our system of government only works when you are involved not just by voting, but by being informed and staying involved throughout the process.  Your governor, your mayor, your congressman — they all want to do right by you.  But there are going to be challenges.  There are going to be folks who want to stop progress.  There are going to be people who like the status quo.  There’s always going to be in this democracy countervailing pressures.  And if you want to see change, you’ve got to help make it happen.

         When I ran for office in 2007, 2008, I did not say, “Yes, I can.”  I said –

         AUDIENCE:  Yes, we can!

         THE PRESIDENT:  Yes, we can, people.  God bless you.  Love you.  (Applause.)  Thank you, New Orleans.  God bless America.  (Applause)

    Video of the town hall is available at https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ZLA5OX3MQc4

    ONLINE: See photos at the Jozef Syndicate.

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  • ,,

    Resolutions that will challenge Black America in 2016

    Whenever we begin a new calendar year, it can be useful to make New Year’s Resolutions to prioritize and focus for the immediate future. Beyond the traditional litany of making very personal and oftentimes private resolutions at the beginning of a new year, Black America as a whole, I believe, should be vocal and public about our determination to keep pushing forward for freedom, justice, equality and economic empowerment.

    What should be our collective goals and strategic objectives over the next 12 months? Recent academic studies by the Dominican University of California on the importance of “goal setting” to overcome individual and social procrastination revealed that writing down your resolutions and sharing your goals with others that you care about will help you work more diligently to achieve those goals.

    Every time I pick up and read a Black-owned newspaper in America during this season of annual proclamation, it is always informative to see a written list of New Year Resolutions that challenge Black America to continue strive for excellence and achievement in all fields of endeavor. I am obviously proud of the trusted impact of the Black Press of America. Check us out at www.NNPA.org and www.BlackPressUSA.com.

    We have another critical election year coming up in 2016 and the Black American vote will have to be mobilized in every primary election and across the nation next November in elections in every precinct in every state, county by county. Get-Out-The-Vote (GOTV) efforts, therefore, will be a top priority and we must collectively resolve that in 2016 we will ensure the largest voter turnout of Black voters in the history of the United States.

    Remember, we had a record voter turnout of Black voters both in 2008 and in 2012. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, “66.2 percent of Blacks who voted in the 2012 presidential election, higher than the 64.1 percent of non-Hispanic Whites who did so…This marks the first time that Blacks have voted at a higher rate than Whites since the Census Bureau started publishing statistics on voting by the eligible citizen population in 1996.”

    We cannot afford to let the Black vote be taken for granted in 2016.

    Politics and economics are inseparable in the United States. Yet, even though Black Americans spend in excess of $1.2 trillion annually in the nation’s economy, that kind of spending volume has not translated into real economic power: increasing the ownership of global businesses and billion-dollar revenue-generating investments. We still have a long way to go to achieve economic equality and parity in America.

    We should resolve, therefore, in 2016 to improve and expand the economic development of Black American families and communities. Although the American economy continues to recover under the Obama Administration, for Black Americans we have not closed the wealth gap. White Americans today have 12 times the wealth of Black Americans. We must, without hesitation and without apology, be more determined to end poverty and to generate more wealth for Black America. Therefore, we join in complete solidarity with the resolve of the National Association of Real Estate Brokers (NAREB) in the goal of striving to increase Black homeownership in 2016.

    We are very encouraged that the 2016 NAACP Image Awards will once again be broadcast on TV One. We all should support Radio One, TV One and Interactive One. We all also should support The Impact Network and other Black-owned media companies as well as the publishers of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA).

    Ending mass incarceration, reforming the criminal justice system, and stopping police brutality are related urgent matters that demand the resolve and activist involvement of Black America. Yes, in 2016 our national outcry will continue to be “Black Lives Matter!”

    The highest quality education for our children and our young adults requires our vocal support and energetic involvement from pre-school to post graduate higher education. At every level of the educational process and journey we must be vigilant in our demands and commitments to attain the best education for our families.

    Thus let’s renew and strengthen our dedication to support the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education (NAFEO), the United Negro College Fund (UNCF), and the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) as well as work to sustain all of our Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and predominantly Black institutions (PBIs). Lastly, we are a spiritual people. All African people are spiritual. We resolve lastly to support and strengthen our religiously institutions: churches, temples, mosques and synagogues.

    I asked the Chairman of the NNPA, Denise Rolark Barnes, who publishes the Washington Informer for her perspective about 2016 New Year Resolutions. She emphasized resolutely, “In 2016, our first priority should be to commit our lives and our dollars to those individuals and institutions that represent our best interests. Let’s strive to be the ones that will make a difference in our own communities. Be mindful that ‘If it is to be, it is up to me.’”

    Benjamin ChavisBy Benjamin F. Chavis Jr.
    Columnist

    Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis  Jr. is the president and CEO of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) and can be reached for national advertisement sales and partnership proposals at: dr.bchavis@nnpa.org; and for lectures and other professional consultations at: http://drbenjaminfchavisjr.wix.com/drbfc.

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  • ,,

    Louisiana to reinstate SCLC charter

    Charles Steele Jr., president of the National Southern Christian Leadership
    Conference, announced the official return of the historic civil rights organization to Louisiana.

    Under the leadership of the Reverend Reginald Pitcher, Louisiana has met all of the requirements to have its charter reinstated.

    Steele, officers, members and friends will mark the return of the SCLC with 11 am, Jan. 5, 2016, at New Zion Baptist Church, 2319 Third St, New Orleans, LA 70113, where C.S. Gordon, Jr. is pastor.

    Sixty years ago in the same church, Dr. Martin Luther King Jrl, Rev. T.J. Jemison, and attorney Israel Augustine of New Orleans signed documents to incorporate the organization.

    Elected officials and state leaders of many civic, social, and religious organizations, including the National Baptist Convention, the NAACP, National Urban League, Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus, MICAH, Nation of Islam, the AFL-CIO and more, are expected to be in attendance.

    ONLINE: www.sclcnational.org

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  • ,,,,

    Poet plans to sail into Black history

    ASTORIA, OREGON — The port of Astoria on the Columbia River is the home of Black History in the making as Niccolea Miouo Nance prepares to set sail with The Emuna Endeavor. The Oregon-born, Arizona-raised poet and artist has put her creative work on hold to learn seamanship and navigation at Clatsop Community College in preparation for the June 2016 departure date.

    Sometimes we as individuals going about our daily lives fall accidentally into something much larger than ourselves. This is one of those stories.

    In July of 2012, Niccolea’s  (pronounced “nick-cole-yah”) best friend Dovid, who was planning on sailing around the world, knew she wanted to travel so he invited her to join him. Since then she has been researching others who have done the journey and discovered that there are no Black American women on record who have sailed around the world.

    Nance was born in a land locked small town in the southern part of Oregon just north of the California border. She grew up in Tucson, Arizona and was a desert dweller pretty much all of her life. As such she didn’t have a rich nautical background so she enrolled in maritime studies at the community college.

    Niccolea said, “My whole life has been a lesson in diversity and tolerance (or lack thereof). I am a Black-white biracial so since birth I have been an example of the unification of different people from different backgrounds. Being raised by my Caucasian stepfather and white mother gave me a perspective on race relations that is totally different from my friends who were raised in totally Black families, neighborhoods, etc. I have seen racism first hand, but I have also seen great tolerance and love firsthand. I choose to focus on the good in life and people. I want to continue to be someone who adds to the positivity in this world.”

    Even with the lessons she learned in her life, she said she is filled with cultural stereotypes of pretty much every place in the world and would like to shed that. “I believe that travel will help me to be a better person overall by experiencing things outside my norm. This trip will be a means to becoming a more culturally aware and more life-educated person.” With modern technology it also gives her a chance to show others what she is learning so we can all learn together via her blog and the trip site and YouTube channel.

    “This is more than just a trip for me… It is the beginning step to a goal of creating a bridge between like-minded people with this project as a catalyst. It’s more than a vacation, this is more than just a grand adventure and a test of my physical and mental strength and stamina… it is a chance to learn about the world and the people in it and hopefully create a chain of positivity on a global scale.”

    According to the website, the Emuna Endeavor is the journey of two friends who’s cause is to take you along vicariously on a world wide sailing trip making stops to create community and hopefully unity along the way.

    Then Nance found out that she will inadvertently be a part of history. So far only one Black woman of any nationality has sailed around the world. There was a single sentence in a Wikipedia article about circumnavigation records (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_circumnavigations) that mentioned a woman named Maria Victor; 2007-2013; first woman of African descent (Barbados) to perform a circumnavigation (with stops, past Cape of good Hope, through Panama Canal). There is one other Black woman named Katia who plans to sail around the world who is from Cape Verde and left from Brazil recently (within the past year). As of this writing, she is approximately half the way around. Katia is sailing with her boyfriend Josh (who is from the Netherlands) on SV Hope (http://www.joshandhope.org/). Even with these two ladies, Niccolea will still be the first American of African descent to take on the task.

    ONLINE:  http://emunaendeavor.org/
    Contact: info@emunaendeavor.org/

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  • President Obama gives six-point answer on Baltimore during press conference with Japan

    During joint press conference with Japan’s Prime Minister, President Barack Obama responded to journalist Chris Jansing’s questions on Baltimore with six points.

    Here’s the transcript:

    Chris Jansing. (NBC Senior White House Correspondent)

    Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  As you know, the National Guard is now on the streets of Baltimore — the latest aftermath in a series of what have been high-profile confrontations between black men and police officers.  And there seems to be growing frustration among African American leaders that not enough is being done quickly enough.  Marc Morial of the Urban League said, “The U.S. is in a state of emergency of tremendous proportions.”  The president of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund says, “We are in the throes of a national crisis.” 

    Are we in the throes of a national crisis?  What are you prepared to do about it, both in terms of Baltimore and the larger picture?  And what do you say to critics who say that since the death of Trayvon Martin, you have not been aggressive enough in your response? 

    And to Prime Minister Abe, how important is a Pacific trade deal to keeping the influence of China in check, both economically and militarily?  And do you agree with President Obama when he says that failing to complete a deal will simply further China’s influence?  Thank you.

    PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Before I answer the question about Baltimore, I’m going to horn in on your question to Prime Minister Abe.

    I’ve been very clear that TPP is good for American businesses and American workers, regardless of what China is doing.  And we will make the case on the merits as to why it will open up markets for American goods, American exports, and create American jobs.  So this is not simply a defensive agreement, this is something that is going to be part and parcel of our broader economic agenda moving forward.  And when 95 percent of the world’s markets are outside our shores, we’ve got to make sure that we’re out there competing.  And I’m confident we can compete.

    With respect to Baltimore, let me make a couple of points.  First, obviously our thoughts continue to be with the family of Freddie Gray.  Understandably, they want answers.  And DOJ has opened an investigation.  It is working with local law enforcement to find out exactly what happened, and I think there should be full transparency and accountability.

    Second, my thoughts are with the police officers who were injured in last night’s disturbances.  It underscores that that’s a tough job and we have to keep that in mind, and my hope is that they can heal and get back to work as soon as possible.

    Point number three, there’s no excuse for the kind of violence that we saw yesterday.  It is counterproductive.  When individuals get crowbars and start prying open doors to loot, they’re not protesting, they’re not making a statement — they’re stealing.  When they burn down a building, they’re committing arson.  And they’re destroying and undermining businesses and opportunities in their own communities that rob jobs and opportunity from people in that area.

    So it is entirely appropriate that the mayor of Baltimore, who I spoke to yesterday, and the governor, who I spoke to yesterday, work to stop that kind of senseless violence and destruction.  That is not a protest.  That is not a statement.  It’s people — a handful of people taking advantage of a situation for their own purposes, and they need to be treated as criminals.

    Point number four, the violence that happened yesterday distracted from the fact that you had seen multiple days of peaceful protests that were focused on entirely legitimate concerns of these communities in Baltimore, led by clergy and community leaders.  And they were constructive and they were thoughtful, and frankly, didn’t get that much attention.  And one burning building will be looped on television over and over and over again, and the thousands of demonstrators who did it the right way I think have been lost in the discussion. 

    The overwhelming majority of the community in Baltimore I think have handled this appropriately, expressing real concern and outrage over the possibility that our laws were not applied evenly in the case of Mr. Gray, and that accountability needs to exist.  And I think we have to give them credit.  My understanding is, is you’ve got some of the same organizers now going back into these communities to try to clean up in the aftermath of a handful of criminals and thugs who tore up the place.  What they were doing, what those community leaders and clergy and others were doing, that is a statement.  That’s the kind of organizing that needs to take place if we’re going to tackle this problem.  And they deserve credit for it, and we should be lifting them up.

    Point number five — and I’ve got six, because this is important.  Since Ferguson, and the task force that we put together, we have seen too many instances of what appears to be police officers interacting with individuals — primarily African American, often poor — in ways that have raised troubling questions.  And it comes up, it seems like, once a week now, or once every couple of weeks.  And so I think it’s pretty understandable why the leaders of civil rights organizations but, more importantly, moms and dads across the country, might start saying this is a crisis.  What I’d say is this has been a slow-rolling crisis.  This has been going on for a long time.  This is not new, and we shouldn’t pretend that it’s new.

    The good news is, is that perhaps there’s some newfound awareness because of social media and video cameras and so forth that there are problems and challenges when it comes to how policing and our laws are applied in certain communities, and we have to pay attention to it and respond. 

    What’s also good news is the task force that was made up of law enforcement and community activists that we brought together here in the White House have come up with very constructive concrete proposals that, if adopted by local communities and by states and by counties, by law enforcement generally, would make a difference.  It wouldn’t solve every problem, but would make a concrete difference in rebuilding trust and making sure that the overwhelming majority of effective, honest and fair law enforcement officers, that they’re able to do their job better because it will weed out or retrain or put a stop to those handful who may be not doing what they’re supposed to be doing.

    Now, the challenge for us as the federal government is, is that we don’t run these police forces.  I can’t federalize every police force in the country and force them to retrain.  But what I can do is to start working with them collaboratively so that they can begin this process of change themselves. 

    And coming out of the task force that we put together, we’re now working with local communities.  The Department of Justice has just announced a grant program for those jurisdictions that want to purchase body cameras.  We are going to be issuing grants for those jurisdictions that are prepared to start trying to implement some of the new training and data collection and other things that can make a difference.  And we’re going to keep on working with those local jurisdictions so that they can begin to make the changes that are necessary. 

    I think it’s going to be important for organizations like the Fraternal Order of Police and other police unions and organization to acknowledge that this is not good for police.  We have to own up to the fact that occasionally there are going to be problems here, just as there are in every other occupation.  There are some bad politicians who are corrupt.  There are folks in the business community or on Wall Street who don’t do the right thing.  Well, there’s some police who aren’t doing the right thing.  And rather than close ranks, what we’ve seen is a number of thoughtful police chiefs and commissioners and others recognize they got to get their arms around this thing and work together with the community to solve the problem.  And we’re committed to facilitating that process.

    So the heads of our COPS agency that helps with community policing, they’re already out in Baltimore.  Our Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division is already out in Baltimore.  But we’re going to be working systematically with every city and jurisdiction around the country to try to help them implement some solutions that we know work. 

    And I’ll make my final point — I’m sorry, Mr. Prime Minister, but this is a pretty important issue for us. 

    We can’t just leave this to the police.  I think there are police departments that have to do some soul searching.  I think there are some communities that have to do some soul searching.  But I think we, as a country, have to do some soul searching.  This is not new.  It’s been going on for decades. 

    And without making any excuses for criminal activities that take place in these communities, what we also know is that if you have impoverished communities that have been stripped away of opportunity, where children are born into abject poverty; they’ve got parents — often because of substance-abuse problems or incarceration or lack of education themselves — can’t do right by their kids; if it’s more likely that those kids end up in jail or dead, than they go to college.  In communities where there are no fathers who can provide guidance to young men; communities where there’s no investment, and manufacturing has been stripped away; and drugs have flooded the community, and the drug industry ends up being the primary employer for a whole lot of folks — in those environments, if we think that we’re just going to send the police to do the dirty work of containing the problems that arise there without as a nation and as a society saying what can we do to change those communities, to help lift up those communities and give those kids opportunity, then we’re not going to solve this problem.  And we’ll go through the same cycles of periodic conflicts between the police and communities and the occasional riots in the streets, and everybody will feign concern until it goes away, and then we go about our business as usual.

    If we are serious about solving this problem, then we’re going to not only have to help the police, we’re going to have to think about what can we do — the rest of us — to make sure that we’re providing early education to these kids; to make sure that we’re reforming our criminal justice system so it’s not just a pipeline from schools to prisons; so that we’re not rendering men in these communities unemployable because of a felony record for a nonviolent drug offense; that we’re making investments so that they can get the training they need to find jobs.  That’s hard.  That requires more than just the occasional news report or task force.  And there’s a bunch of my agenda that would make a difference right now in that.

    Now, I’m under no illusion that out of this Congress we’re going to get massive investments in urban communities, and so we’ll try to find areas where we can make a difference around school reform and around job training, and around some investments in infrastructure in these communities trying to attract new businesses in.

    But if we really want to solve the problem, if our society really wanted to solve the problem, we could.  It’s just it would require everybody saying this is important, this is significant — and that we don’t just pay attention to these communities when a CVS burns, and we don’t just pay attention when a young man gets shot or has his spine snapped.  We’re paying attention all the time because we consider those kids our kids, and we think they’re important.  And they shouldn’t be living in poverty and violence. 

    That’s how I feel.  I think there are a lot of good-meaning people around the country that feel that way.  But that kind of political mobilization I think we haven’t seen in quite some time.  And what I’ve tried to do is to promote those ideas that would make a difference.  But I think we all understand that the politics of that are tough because it’s easy to ignore those problems or to treat them just as a law and order issue, as opposed to a broader social issue.

    That was a really long answer, but I felt pretty strongly about it.

    The press conference continued discussing the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP. Read it in it’s entirety at www.whitehouse.gov.

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  • ,

    Cassidy votes against Loretta Lynch

    Louisiana’s U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy’s office said the Congressman “chose to protect the U.S. Constitution and vote against confirmation of attorney Loretta Lynch to be the next U.S. Attorney General.” Cassidy himself offered the following statement:

    “Key decisions the president has made are wrong, like executive amnesty. Although Loretta Lynch is well qualified, it’s hard for me to support someone who supports that decision.”

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  • ,

    HBCU climate change conference comes to New Orleans, March 26-29

    Dillard University’s Deep South Center for Environmental Justice in collaboration with the Texas Southern University Barbara Jordan-Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs will host the Third Annual HBCU Student Climate Change Conference March 26-29 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The conference is designed to strengthen the partnerships between students and faculty at historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and organization leaders from climate-impacted communities. It is a response to the call for HBCUs to step up and lead on climate justice since many of the schools are located in communities that are on the frontline of climate assault. The Third Annual HBCU Student Climate Change Conference theme is “Bridging the Gap between Theory and Experience.”

    ,Ph.D., known as the father of environmental justice, will be the keynote speaker. He is the author of image001seventeen books that address sustainable development, environmental racism, urban land use, industrial facility siting, community reinvestment, housing, transportation, climate justice, emergency response, smart growth, and regional equity. Professor Bullard was featured in the July 2007 CNN People You Should Know, Bullard: Green Issue is Black and White. In 2008, Newsweek named him one of 13 Environmental Leaders of the Century. And that same year, Co-op America honored him with its Building Economic Alternatives Award.
    More than 80 percent of the 104 HBCUs are located in the Southern United States. Forty-three HBCUs are located in the Gulf Coast States: TX (9), LA (7), AL (15), MS (8), and FL (4)–in cities like New Orleans and Houston that are at ground zero in the fight for climate justice. Nearly a decade ago, flooding from Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans drowned that city’s three HBCUs (Dillard University, Xavier University and Southern University at New Orleans) in 2005. Three years later, Hurricane Ike caused major property damage to Texas Southern University in Houston–the nation’s fourth largest HBCU. Read more at: OpEdNews.com
    Read more »
  • FBI accepting applications for special agent candidates

    The FBI will accept applications for Special Agent candidates through March 16. All interested candidates must apply viawww.FBIJobs.gov by 11:59pm, March 16, according to the time zone of the applicant’s local field office. Specific skills and backgrounds being sought include:

    • Cyber Security
    • Intelligence
    • Computer Engineering
    • Computer Science
    • Computer Forensics
    • Network Administration
    • Information Technology
    • Laboratory Sciences
    • Electrical Engineering
    • Mechanical Engineering
    • Certified Public Accountants
    • Bar Certified Attorneys
    • Police/Detectives
    • Military
    • Pilots

    Speakers of foreign languages are also highly sought, with a priority for Arabic, Farsi, Pashto, Maghreb (Moroccan/Algerian), Yemeni, Afghani, Pakistani, Somali, Uighur, Chinese (all dialects), and Uzbek.

    • To qualify, each Special Agent applicant must:
    • Be a U.S. citizen
    • Be at least 23 years of age, but younger than 37 at the time of hiring; exceptions are given for:

    Federal Law Enforcement Officers (1811s)Veterans eligible for Veterans Preference

    • Have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university
    • Have lived in the U.S. for three out of the last five years unless directly deployed overseas by the U.S. government or military (this includes military spouses)
    • Have a valid driver’s license and at least six months of driving experience

    Applicants must also have three years of full-time (at least 36 hours per week) professional work experience. Exceptions to this requirement include:

    • Applicants with eligible computer science or IT backgrounds
    • Preferred foreign language speakers who score 3 or higher on an FBI language test
    • Former FBI Honors Interns with at least a 3.0 GPA are eligible for Phase I testing and then must complete three years of work experience before advancing to Phase II
    • Applicants with a Juris Doctor degree
    • Applicants with master’s and/or doctoral degrees can qualify with only two years of full-time professional work experience

    For more information about the Special Agent application process, visit www.fbijobs.gov.

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  • ,

    BLM chapters, movement grow nationwide

    WASHINGTON– The last several months have seen an outpouring of activism, with slogans coming in waves: “Justice for Mike Brown,” “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot,” and “I Can’t Breathe.” But the phrase “Black Lives Matter” has emerged to bind each flashpoint into one cause.

    www.blacklivesmatter.com

    www.blacklivesmatter.com

    The 2012 murder of Trayvon Martin and acquittal of George Zimmerman served as the first of these flashpoints, snowballing in August with the murder of Michael Brown. “Ferguson is the birthplace of what’s happening right now. In many ways, Ferguson is like ground zero of these protests,” said DeRay McKesson, who has been protesting and organizing in Ferguson since August. He also co-produces a daily Ferguson newsletter with Johnetta Elzie.

    “When I think of Black Lives Matter, that’s the way people talk about the work as it spreads. It’s easier to say, ‘Black lives matter,’ but I think the Ferguson Movement and Black Lives Matter are one in the same.” Although McKesson is currently focused on ending police brutality and unaccountability, he said he believes in the importance of eventually dismantling all social and political oppression, particularly the types that target Black communities. “If all lives mattered, we wouldn’t have to be here talking about Black lives matter,” he explained. “What we’re seeing is people confronting injustice. You see a collective confrontation against injustice…it’s a creating of a radical new space in Black politics.”

    Black Lives Matter has also become an organization. Three activists, Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi co-founded the project in the wake of the Zimmerman’s acquittal in 2013. Initially, the partners set up BlackLivesMatter.tumblr.com and encouraged activists and organizations to share tactics and broadcast their efforts to uplift Black communities via the website. “[The website] was an interactive project and a way to really promote the need for Black organizing in our communities,” said Tometi, who also serves as the executive director of the Black Alliance for Just Immigration, based in Brooklyn, N.Y. “Even if you’re not working on police brutality explicitly, there are many other issues that are impacting our communities.”

    Today, there are approximately 15 chapters of Black Lives Matter across the nation and one in Canada that are focused on a range of concerns in Black communities, including housing, youth activism, and LGBTQ rights. Its other website, BlackLivesMatter.com, allows Black organizations to meet, network, and collaborate. The project has also adopted a list of demands, including the arrest of Darren Wilson, an end to supplying law enforcement with military weapons, and reinvestment in Black communities devastated by poverty. “Our lives are being systematically attacked all across the board…it is not just at the hands of police,” Tometi said. “Black Lives Matter is a movement about bringing some of those issues and people who are on the margins to the center, and not forgetting about the Black undocumented immigrants, the Black trans person or Black queer person, or disabled people. All Black lives matter. It’s not just having a movement that’s solely about Black heterosexual men, but about all of us.”

    For Chinyere Tutashinda, founding member of the Bay Area-based BlackOUT Collective, the movement is about love for Black people and a desire for justice. “It [started] around dealing with deaths, dealing with the murders, because that’s right there in your face – a life has been taken, there’s a sense of urgency to that,” she said. “But it is beyond that as well. It’s also really about how are we ending the war on Black people, and ending the way Black people are oppressed in this country.”

    On November 28, members of the Collective chained themselves to a BART train as part of a series of actions to disrupt Black Friday consumerism. The Black Lives Matter movement had declared a national day of protest and economic boycott, with some groups successfully causing the closure of shopping malls, Wal-Marts, and other retailers. The news of these protests, and the Black Lives Matter movement in general, has primarily spread through social media and Black media instead of  White-owned major mainstream outlets. Even when retailers saw an 11 percent drop in Black Friday sales, most mainstream media outlets did not include the movement’s efforts in their analyses of the profit loss. “The media follows where the fire is. They have followed the fire really well… but I think that they’ve only done that because we made sure people were out on the streets,” Tutashinda explained. “The reason that Black media and Black journalism came to be was because we understood as a people and as a community that our stories weren’t being told. It’s ok [for Black journalists] to know that their role is to help this [movement] move forward.”

    essence black outBlack media has not only amplified the voices of those on the ground, but has also attempted to further conversations, most recently seen in Essence’s February 2015 issue. The magazine dedicated its 45th anniversary issue to the Black Lives Matter movement, featuring 15 essays from luminaries such as Angela Davis, Melissa Harris-Perry, and Al Sharpton. It is the first time in the publication’s history that its cover did not feature an image, opting instead for bold words against an all-black cover. “Black media has always brought attention to conversations that are happening throughout our community, and sometimes we’ve been the only source for some of the issues that are important. But what’s happening right now is that Black social media has not only been driving the conversation, but also the movement,” said Essence editor-in-chief Vanessa K. De Luca. “A number of the people included in the package, they’re all saying that this isn’t just a movement emerging out of chaos. There really is a lot of organization and planning and thought around this whole movement,” she said. “What I think is so important, especially for Black media, is that we can surface that information.”

    In addition to the issue, the publication is launching a new Civil Rights Watch series to chronicle the movement’s developments, wins, and losses moving forward. A few gains have already been made. The Justice Department is investigating police conduct in a few cities. Seven bills aimed at police regulation and accountability have been introduced in Congress. One was signed into law: the Death in Custody Reporting Act requires states receiving certain federal funds to record all citizen deaths in police custody, and for state Attorney Generals to analyze this information and develop a plan to reduce such deaths. A handful of police indictments have also been attained, for the shootings of Rekia Boyd, Levar Jones, and recently Bernard Bailey, who was killed by a police officer four years ago in South Carolina.

    “It’s great to see publications such as Essence magazine…have a special edition issue called Black Lives Matter. Media plays such a critical role in informing our people. And NNPA publications are so important for our communities especially in rural areas and big cities; this might be the only thing that they read about this movement for black lives,” Tometi said. “[Media] thinks they have to do a balanced story… but in giving two sides equal platform it skews our understanding of how many people really agree with what. The way press culture operates provides a false sense of balance, when overwhelmingly, there’s support for the movement.”

    By Jazelle Hunt
    NNPA Washington Correspondent

    Read more »
  • ,

    DRUM CALL: The Ferguson Decision highlights a house divided

    On Monday, December 1, 2014, President Barack Obama was forced to, again, weigh in to assert the citizenship and humanity of the African American Community.  Why, in 2014, was that necessary? Well, the immediate answer is because, despite overwhelming evidence of the use of excessive force by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, in the death of an unarmed, 18-year-old Black male, a grand jury could not find probable cause to charge Officer Darren Wilson with Michael Brown’s murder.

    The larger question, however, is why is it that police officers believe that they can use excessive force, and even murder unarmed Black people with impunity– in broad open daylight, with multiple witnesses who testified that the victim had his hands up in the universal symbol of surrender?  The simple answer is the believe it because, in practice, police officers literally get away with murder nearly every time they use lethal force on African American people. They know, because of their training that all they have to do is SAY  “I feared for my life”, or that “I  feared that this person would inflict great bodily harm upon me.”  With those few boiler plate words, our court system almost always finds that the use of force was “justified” under the circumstances described by the officer.  That’s it!!! Over and out– officer exonerated!!!

    Nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.  US Const, Amt 14

     

    In 1985, in Tennessee v. Garner,(471 U.S. 1), the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that: “deadly force may not be used [by a police officer] unless it is necessary to prevent the escape and the officer has probable cause to believe that the suspect poses a significant threat of death or serious physical injury to the officer or others.”

    Even when the officer has no reasonable or probable cause to believe that he would be injured, no charges are likely to be brought.  He just has to say that he thought he might be harmed, flash a picture of the dead person, and– oh, let us not forget the third piece of the exoneration process– attempt to destroy the character of the dead person. So, good Lawyers who know that this is a bastardization of the law must keep fighting.

    My condolences, my deepest sympathies, and my apologies to the families of Michael Brown, and to every other person who has been the victim of excessive force at the hands of police officers.  These people who take an oath to protect and serve, act under color of law to mete out what amounts to state-sanctioned street executions without due process of law– and seemingly, without any thought that they might be held accountable. So, good lawyers must keep fighting!!!

    Before anyone starts to believe that there is nothing positive here, as you will often hear me say, I believe that all things work together for Good….  I am heartened by the diversity of the people who have showed up all over the country to peacefully protest the decision of the Ferguson Grand Jury.  There are men, women, young people, seniors, black, brown and white people.  News accounts have shown college professors, journalists, lawyers, teachers, business owners, etc., all express outrage– both at the decision of the grand jury and the inexplicable violence and looting that ensued.

    Many have asked why we are so outraged when a white officer murders one of our children, but seemingly accept it as a fact of life when a young African American male murders someone in our community– generally another young African American male.  The truth is that we are outraged at both.  However, there is a higher expectation in our police officers who are sworn to protect and serve ALL persons within their respective jurisdictions.  Some of the apprehension about reporting Black on Black Crime results not only from fear of the criminals, but also from mistrust of the police.  That mistrust does not happen in a vacuum.  There is a long and storied history in this country of why people of color do not trust police.  It does not help when the lives of people of color are blatantly devalued; nor when we are marginalized and dehumanized on a regular basis in the court system.

    Today, as prior to the enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, police officers in the United States may, with impunity, murder members of the public, especially people of color, and to get away with it.  Again, all they have to say is that they feared for their lives. But what is left every time no justice is sought in these cases is a segment of  society that feels  they have no choice but to take matters into their own hands. Citizens have a First Amendment Right to peacefully protest, and good lawyers must keep fighting!!!

    There is no reason that a clearly biased prosecutor like Robert McCullough, in Ferguson, MO, should be in office. In fact, McCullough’s failure to recuse himself from the prosecution of Darren Wilson, his passive-aggressive stance in presenting the evidence, and his failure to even ask the grand jury to indict Wilson, at best denied Michael Brown’s family due process and equal protection of law.  At worst, it was blatant, egregious malfeasance.

    “…Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand….”  Matthew 12:25

    Peaceful protests are good and an integral part of civil disobedience.  It is utilized to bring attention to an injustice, to bring about unity, and to prevent “desolation”.

    The bottom line, however, is that there is a very simple solution for elected officials who refuse to hear our calls for justice.  VOTE THEM OUT!!!  People of good will, including people of color, must vote in every election.  Every Election!!!  No one, including the prosecutor in Ferguson, MO, is concerned about a community that does not vote.

    What McCullough and Missouri Governor Jay Nixon (in occupying domestic streets with military force) told the people of Ferguson in handling the Michael Brown case was, if you don’t vote, you don’t count!!!

     By Alfreda Tillman Bester
    The Drum Guest Columnist

    Alfreda Tillman Bester is an attorney in private practice in Baton Rouge, LA.  She serves as General Counsel for the Louisiana State Conference of the NAACP and Host of Perspective, an interactive community interest radio program which airs on WTQT, 106.1 fm in Baton Rouge every Tuesday from 5:30 -6:30 p.m.  Listen live at www.wtqt.org

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  • We’re collecting bandages – they’re collecting bullets

    AN OPEN LETTER FROM FERGUSON, MO

    Huddled together in the woods – coughing, and eyes burning – we were panicked. I was protesting in Fe

    rguson on the afternoon of August 11, 2014, with my friend and Congresswoman – Senator Maria Chapelle Nadal – when the police launched teargas into our crowd gathered peacefully. They knew that we were trapped on a dead end street and that we had no way out – yet they teargassed us for 3 hours.

    Our entire city is now trapped again as Gov. Jay Nixon is showing up ready for war, mobilizing the National Guard ahead of the grand jury decision about whether or not to charge Officer Darren Wilson for killing Mike Brown. In this moment, we need all of our brothers and sisters across the country to raise your voices with us, calling on Gov. Nixon to serve and protect us as he is sworn to.

    Will you help us? Call Gov. Nixon today: Tell him that the world is watching his actions of militarized escalation in response to peaceful protesters. This is a reflection of his leadership and concern for people. Tell him that we expect him to exercise respect and restraint, protecting the safety of our clergy and youth activists as we exercise our first amendment rights.

    Cornered in the woods and being teargassed, we repeatedly called out for help and no one came to us. Our fear was so great, Maria had an anxiety attack – all I could do was hold her until it stopped.

    Now facing the imminent Grand Jury announcement, I am again afraid of the potential aggressive and violent police response as we gather in protest. But I have to show up because I can’t un-see Mike’s body lying in the street, baking on the hot pavement for four and a half hours, surrounded by more blood than I’ve ever seen before. We have to raise our voices together because our community has suffered too long from racist police and justice systems, and because we believe that anyone who kills an unarmed child of God should be tried.

    In the past two weeks, we have trained 500 of our community members in non-violent direct action. We have spent thousands of hours developing teams and strategies that will amplify our voices loudly but peacefully. Yet as we have been collecting bandages, our Governor and police have been collecting bullets.

    Will you stand with us today by calling Governor Nixon, telling him that as people of faith you demand respect and restraint for local youth activists and clergy? Tell him to de-escalate the militarized police response to our non-violent demonstrations. Tell him that you hold him responsible for all police actions towards peaceful protesters.

    Call Governor Nixon using the script provided by PICO at:
    http://salsa3.salsalabs.com/o/2115/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=15181

    Thank you for standing with us in this time!

    Rika Tyler
    Youth leader and activist in Ferguson, Missouri
    Partnering with the PICO National Network

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  • ,

    Open enrollment begins with improved Medicare plans

    Fall is a wonderful time of year. Changing leaves. Cooler weather. It’s also the season for people with Medicare to review their current Medicare coverage, as Medicare Open Enrollment begins.

    As we prepare for Medicare Open Enrollment, which began on October 15 and ends on December 7, Medicare wants everyone to know that quality continues to improve both in Medicare Advantage and in the Part D Prescription Drug Program.

    Each year, plan costs and coverage can change. During open enrollment, seniors and people with disabilities across the country have the opportunity to review their current Medicare coverage and see if they want to make any changes for the next year. It’s important for people with Medicare to take the time to make sure their current situation still meets their health care needs best.

    To help people choose a plan, Medicare calculates plan “star ratings” for Medicare health and prescription drug plans. Each plan gets a number of stars on a scale of 1 to 5—with 5 being the best—based on quality and performance. These ratings are designed to help people with Medicare, their families, and caregivers compare plans, in addition to information on their premiums and benefits.

    This year, people with Medicare who choose to enroll in a Medicare health or prescription drug plan will have access to more high-rated, four- and five-star plans than ever before. Approximately 60 percent of Medicare Advantage enrollees are in a Medicare Advantage Plan earning four or more stars in 2015, compared to an estimated 17 percent back in 2009. Likewise, about 53 percent of Part D enrollees are currently enrolled in stand-alone prescription drug plans with four or more stars for 2015, compared to just 16 percent in 2009. Since the passage of the Affordable Care Act, enrollment in Medicare Advantage will increase to 42 percent to an all- time high of over 16 million and Medicare Advantage premiums will have decreased by 6 percent.

    For people with Medicare, this is good news in how they receive care. Plans that are higher rated deliver a high-level of care, such as improving the coordination of care, managing diabetes or other chronic conditions more efficiently, screening for and preventing illnesses, making sure people get much-needed prescription drugs, or getting appointments and care quickly. A high rating also means these plans give better customer service, with fewer complaints or long waits for care.

    If you have Medicare and need assistance, you can visit Medicare.gov, call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), or contact your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP). You should have received the 2015 “Medicare & You” Handbook and important notices from your current plan, Medicare, or Social Security about changes to your coverage. If you’re satisfied with your current coverage, there’s nothing you need to do.

    Better quality in Medicare health and prescription drug plans isn’t the only good news for people with Medicare. For most seniors who have Original Medicare, the 2015 Part B premium will stay unchanged for a second consecutive year at $104.90. This means more of seniors’ retirement income and any increase in Social Security benefits will stay in their pockets. The Part B deductible will stay the same as well.

    Medicare is working hard to make sure this good news continues so that seniors and people with disabilities will continue to get the health care coverage they deserve.

    By Marilyn Tavenner
    Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator

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    Hundreds bring solutions for closing wealth gap

    As the racial wealth gap in the United States continues to broaden, the Southern Regional Asset Building Coalition arrived in New Orleans late September equipped with viable solutions for improving and sustaining communities that have historically high poverty rates and few assets.

    From September 24 – 26, the SRABC hosted its seventh annual conference, “Closing the Racial Wealth Gap: Innovative Solutions for Change,” with a record number of advocates, researchers, activists, and elected officials gathering to share solutions for asset building that would close the national racial wealth gap.

    The conference charged each participant with the mission to engage new stakeholders and discuss challenges and solutions for economic growth for the southern region.

    “Conferences of this nature are designed to bring new and trending information to the southern region. What this conference offers participants is current information that they may not get in any other venue in the country. The conference offers information that is specific to people of color,” said Gena G. McClendon, project director and director of asset building in states and coalitions at the Center for Social Development at Washington University in St. Louis. “We designed this conference with an outcome that would draw participants to take action,” said McClendon.

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    Participants discussed historical data and existing social and economic policy structures that contribute to the growing racial wealth gap. The conference challenged participants to take the solutions back to their communities, begin implementing policies, and establish systems that will close the racial wealth gap.

    “This conference has been a form of empowerment for me. I love the power and knowledge that is at these conferences,” said Sheila Jackson, program coordinator for the Campaign for Working Families with the United Way of Volusia-Flaglar Counties in Florida.

    Closing the Racial Wealth Gap: History, Research and Stories

    “The notion persists that hard work is rewarded with the prosperity of the American Dream, but it is not true for all racial groups,” according to Meizhu Lui, former director of the Closing the Racial Wealth Gap Initiative at the Insight Center for Community Economic Development in Oakland.

    Lui said, “The wealth gap is not behavioral, but structural,” and therefore is not a byproduct of individual action or inaction. “Wealth doesn’t mean being wealthy, but being financially secure…and is generated by investing in assets that appreciate over time.”

    This includes assets such as homeownership, which Derrick Johnson, state president for the Mississippi State Conference NAACP and executive director of One Voice Inc., said is the biggest wealth builder in any community, especially the Black community.

    In fact, “two-thirds of every single dollar in wealth is [gained] through homeownership,” revealed Thomas Shapiro, director of the Institute on Assets and Social Policy at Brandeis University.

    Even with such strong data in support of homeownership as a means of accumulating wealth, the gap between Black Americans and Whites endures.

    According to Shapiro, there is a 27 percent difference in growth rate between Black Americans and Whites, and there remains a widening gap in wealth since the recession.

    Darrick Hamilton, associate professor of economics and urban policy at the Milano School for International Affairs, Management, and Urban Policy at The New School for Public Engagement in New York, NY, said that the typical Black household has a lower median wealth. “Homeownership is an outcome measure…there are potentially other drivers [of wealth accumulation, such as] intergenerational transfers to purchase an asset,” he said.

    “Wealth is an indicator of economic opportunity, security and overall well-being—an indicator in which Blacks and communities of color are most disparate…Policies and seizure have prevented people of color from accumulating wealth as an aggregate,” Hamilton said.

    Though the same issues affect economic growth among Black Americans nationwide, Hamilton said the issues should be looked at from a local perspective. “Asset markets are local [and we] need to look at asset difference from a local context.”

    Data collected by Hamilton revealed that sub-groups of people of color fared differently depending on the area of the country in which they lived. However, no matter how well or how poorly the group fared, the racial wealth gap still existed between people of color and Whites, regardless of the area in which they lived.

    In the presentation, “Social Innovations and Working and Living in the Shadow of Economic Fragility,” Michael Sherraden, founder and director of the Center for Social Development at Washington University in St. Louis, presented how assets play a role in the stability of households. He said incomes are declining among the bottom part of the population and race strongly affects income and inequality. Sherraden stressed that the nation must understand these dynamics to address the issue of economic disparities.

    The panelists encouraged SRABC advocates to return to their communities and address local policies that adversely affect rates of homeownership as a first solution to closing the racial wealth gap.

    The Impending Issues

    After a comprehensive review of historical and contemporary economic trends, conference presenters educated attendees on two issues that disproportionately hinder asset accumulation in communities of color: payday loans and child support payments.

    During the “Building Strong Family Legacies” panel discussion, experts addressed the persistent issue of child support and how it plays a major role in diminishing Black families’ ability to generate and sustain wealth. Expert panelists proposed enacting laws that allow for affordable payments. These laws would allow parents remitting payment to sustain themselves, lessen the likelihood of affecting other family members and increase their ability to generate and pass along wealth across generations.

    Gabriela Sandoval, director of policy and research with the Insight Center for Community Economic Development and panel moderator, provided the example of how child support not only fails to build wealth but also destroys the possibility of wealth accumulation. “Nate has a four-year-old daughter, Crystal. Her mother Sarah had to sign over rights to the government to receive assistance. Nate’s earned income credit was intercepted and he had his license revoked for child support. He is faced with chronic unemployment. Because his license is revoked, he has no ability to drive, which threatens the piece of job he does have and it limits his income.”

    There are numerous examples of men and women like Nate. Mississippi State Representative and assistant public defender, Adrienne Wooten, added further insight to the child-support discussion and revealed how it is a systemic problem designed to hold back people of color. According to Wooten, “There are two million non-custodial parents in prison, and half of the non-custodial parents who are not in prison are unemployed.”

    Jacqueline Boggess, co-director of the Center for Family Policy and Practice, added that fathers go to jail if they don’t pay child support. Further, burdensome child support falls disproportionately on non-custodial parents least able to pay. The vast majority of parents who owe child support have no job or reported earnings, and those who work make $10,000 or less per year. Of the parents who earned $10,000 or less, the median child-support order was for 83 percent of their income.

    Boggess emphasized that any hope for improvement and positive outcomes must come from the federal government. States have minimal reach regarding child-support issues.

    Outside of child support, the other prevailing issue that inhibits asset accumulation is predatory lending, especially payday loans. A number of legislators, including Alabama State Representative Rod Scott and Louisiana State Representative Sharon Weston Broome, have taken up the cause to fight predatory lending in their respective states, but there is still important work to do.

    With interest rates that soar as high as 400 to 500 percent, “Payday loans do not mitigate financial stress; [payday loans] cause financial difficulty and a higher rate of bankruptcy,” according to Haydar Kurban, associate professor of economics at Howard University.

    A panel of emerging leaders presented original research and proposed solutions for curbing predatory lending, including limiting accessibility, developing alternative loan products and expanding financial education. The presenters were Sienna Mitchell, MBA student at Florida A&M University; Jazmyne Simmons, recent graduate of the Florida A&M University Institute of Public Health; Shantell White, recent graduate of Florida A&M University; Alex S. James, sophomore finance student at Louisiana State University; and Leah Wooden, doctoral candidate of educational administration at the University of New Orleans.

    The conference was capped off by a call-to-action message by the Rev. Dr. William Barber II, organizer of the Moral Mondays movement and president of the North Carolina state conference NAACP. Via video, he admonished, “Movements are not built from the top down, but from the bottom up. From Birmingham up. From Greensboro up… That’s what we’ve learned. We must be in a coalition that is transformative and not transactional, and not until just your issue is won. When we make the issues not about Black and White, or conservative versus liberal, but we actually go deeper, into our deeper values, we can build unlikely allies… With the new demographic in the South, and a new language, and homegrown indigenous leadership, with transformative movements that are deeply moral and deeply constitutional, anti-racist and anti-poverty, connecting these together we can, in fact, change, state by state. We can change the South. We can break through the old White southern strategy that has for too long divided us and save the very heart and soul of America.”

    The conference ended with attendees breaking off into individual state coalition sessions lead by the Alabama Asset Building Coalition, RAISE Florida Network, Louisiana Building Economic Security Together, and the Coalition for a Prosperous Mississippi. Attendees met each of the sessions with excitement and the strong urge to forge ahead, bearing the charge to overcome existing barriers and implement initiatives designed to aid individuals to accumulate assets and sustain wealth that can be passed down from generation to generation.

    “I’ve never experienced anything like this. My view of how to help low-income people of color has widened and I feel a connectedness that I’ve never felt before. I’m just amazed at this whole atmosphere,” said first-time conference attendee, Dorothy Maddox, family self-sufficiency services coordinator at the Daytona Florida Housing Authority. “I would like to reference [Meizhu Lui’s] rule number three, which uses housing to bring people out of poverty. Really, this conference is changing my life and how I go back to teach and impart.”

    “My challenge is to get those with influence to be a part of this movement by working with the RAISE Florida Network and War on Poverty in Jacksonville, Florida,” said Shelia Jackson.

    As Meizhu Lui reminded us, “[It’s about] lifting as we climb.” With the leadership and solutions of the SRABC as its foundation, the South is prepared to lead the way.

    By Traneisha Jones
    Special to The Drum

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    SU Ag Center launches Ebola information webpage

    The Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center is making it easier for the clients in its 64-parish area to access information about the Ebola Virus.

    The Center has launched a page on its website (www.suagcenter.com) with up to date information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on the transmission, signs and symptoms and prevention methods for the virus.

    “With three Ebola infections in our neighboring state of Texas, it is paramount that the Southern University Ag Center provides the citizens of Louisiana with the information they need to make informed decisions about the virus and take note of the prevention methods that are available,” said Southern University Ag Center Chancellor Leodrey Williams, Ph.D.

    According to the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals website, the state has been working to ready its public health and medical infrastructure. “While we certainly hope that we never have an Ebola case in Louisiana, we are committed to ensuring that our health care system and our emergency responders are prepared,” stated the website.

    To view the Southern University Ag Center’s Ebola information page, visit http:// www.suagcenter.com.

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    Holder appoints Vanita Gupta to DOJ post

    WASHINGTON DC–U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has appointed Vanita Gupta Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General and Acting Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights at the U.S. Justice Department. 

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    Gupta began her legal career at the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund (LDF), after graduating from New York University Law School and Yale University. LDF is the leading civil rights law firm and a separate entity from the  NAACP.

    Her first case at LDF was to challenge the wrongful convictions of 40 Black Americans in Tulia, TX, who were convicted of selling drugs solely on the testimony of one White undercover officer with a history of racial hostility and misconduct.  Her clients were eventually pardoned by Texas Governor Rick Perry and received six million dollars in a monetary settlement for their civil rights violations.  Gupta has received numerous awards and honors for her outstanding work, including the Reebok Human Rights Award.  

    Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of LDF said, “Even among the incredibly talented lawyers who have worked for LDF over the years, Vanita stands out.  Fresh out of law school, she shined a national light on the miscarriage of justice in Tulia and single-handedly amassed and led the legal team which won freedom and restitution for those convicted.  The Tulia case, and Vanita’s leadership of it, will be known to history as a turning point for racial fairness in the criminal justice system.”

    Ifill also said Gupta’s appointment was incredibly fitting for the times:  “The events in Ferguson provide a stark example of the challenges facing our nation when it comes to ensuring racial equality in the criminal justice system.  Vanita’s expertise in bringing law enforcement and communities of color to the same table, in pursuit of common goals of fairness and accountability, is precisely the type of leadership needed in the Civil Rights Division at this critical time.”

    “(Gupta) is a rock star in the civil rights bar.  We are al extraordinarily lucky that Vanita has chosen to serve her country,” said Leslie Proll, director of LDF’s Washington office.

     

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    La. Attorney General blocks Ebola waste disposal in state landfill

    A temporary restraining order has been granted blocking the disposal of incinerated waste from the Dallas Ebola victim’s personal items and belongings at a Louisiana landfill, announced Attorney General Buddy Caldwell.

    It was reported that six truckloads of potential Ebola contaminated material collected from the apartment where the Dallas Ebola victim became ill were brought to Port Arthur, Texas late last week to be processed at the Veolia Environmental Services incinerator. From there the incinerated material was slated to be transported to the Chemical Waste Management hazardous material landfill in Calcasieu Parish for final disposal.

    The temporary restraining order, signed by Judge Bob Downing Monday afternoon in Louisiana’s 19th Judicial District Court, requires Veolia to cease and desist any transport of the incinerator ash from the treated Ebola contaminated waste in Texas to the State of Louisiana.  It also requires the company to provide the State of Louisiana with information regarding the transportation and treatment of the waste, as well as well as provide a listing of Texas waste landfills authorized to accept such potentially hazardous materials.  While Chemical Waste Management has publicly stated it would not accept the ash content, the temporary restraining order makes the declaration legally binding by commanding the company not to accept or dispose of any incinerated ash or other medical waste originating from Ebola contaminated materials. 

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  • ,,

    Will Ferguson be a tipping point?

    Civil rights leaders across the nation hope to increase Blacks youth voter turnout by citing the police shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., a city where only 12 percent of registered voters turned out to vote in the last city council elections.

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    Community organizers in New Orleans and Houston — two cities with a long history of confrontations between Blacks and the police — have mixed views on whether outrage over Ferguson will translate into voter participation. Ferguson may be a rallying call in New Orleans, but it won’t be the dominant theme for staff and volunteers as they work voter registration tables around the city, said Erica Buher of VAYLA-New Orleans, a multi-ethnic community organization focused on youth empowerment. Big Easy youth are attuned and empathetic to Brown’s killing on August 9, but, according to Buher “what happened in Ferguson happens frequently in New Orleans.” Young people have their own Michael Browns to focus on. Their names, Buher said, are virtually unknown outside the city.

    Buher said she remembers when the police officer — convicted of shooting Ronald Madison on Danziger Bridge in Hurricane Katrina’s wake — was freed after a court upheld his appeal in September of 2013. James Brissette, 17, also died on the bridge from police gunfire. Henry Glover was killed in a separate Katrina incident. The police officer charged in his death was also acquitted on appeal last year in December.

    “The court’s reversal [in the Glover case] hit the community hard,” Buher said.

    Just weeks ago, Armand Bennett, a 26-year-old Black man, was shot twice in the head during a NOPD traffic stop by an officer who allegedly turned off her camera before the confrontation. The incident initially went unreported to the public by the police superintendent’s office. Buher said it reminds people all over again of the NOPD’s lack of transparency.

    “We will work to register voters through National Voter Registration Day up until October 6 which is the last day for us,” Buher said.

    Some 23 sites include college and university campuses as well as organizations like Covenant House and Liberty’s Kitchen, which offer services to the homeless and formerly incarcerated juveniles, respectively.

    “We work hard to reach that 18 to 24-year-old transitional age group because they’re such a critical age and they’re the hardest to reach,” Buher said that In Louisiana, “you can actually register to vote when you’re 16. A lot of that under-18 age group is pushing back on the concept that voting is the only way you can be civically engaged.”

    Yet, in Houston, Christina Sanders, the director of the Texas League of Young Voters Education Fund, is convinced that Ferguson has been an “aha moment” for some of her city’s youth and a catalyst that may yield an increase in voter registration rolls.

    “This is a time when I’ve seen more young people connect to the power of the ballot,” Sanders said. She attributes increased interest to social media. “Social media, like Facebook, and the ability to connect with people around the country who are saying the same thing, feeling the same way, that changes the conversation.”

    Sanders agreed with Buher that voter registration is not a panacea or silver bullet to foster change, but the Houston native sees voter registration as the gateway for young people to become more involved in determining how to define and address critical concerns within their communities.

    “Youth should not expect everything to happen overnight, because things didn’t get the way they are overnight,” Sanders said. “Voter registration isn’t sexy, but if you connect with young people about Ferguson and how it affects people’s lives on so many different levels, you have the capacity to build on the fire in people’s bellies. You can build these small fires into a firestorm. What I say to young people is that voting is an opportunity, but your job is to constantly participate.”

    Sanders maintains that Ferguson has brought out a higher level of interest among African American youth in Houston than any single recent incident, an observation about other cities that is shared by Hazel Trice Edney, former editor-in-chief of the National Newspaper Publishers Association and current president of the Capital Press Club in the District of Columbia.

    After a recent visit to Ferguson, Edney said she had intense discussions with the media writing class she occasionally teaches at Howard University as an adjunct professor.

    “The students are extremely interested in what’s going on in Ferguson,” she said. “They wanted to know about the disposition of the people, about the next steps the community plans to take. Even more than the Trayvon Martin shooting almost two years ago, Michael Brown’s death has been a wake-up call to many communities.”

    Edney found the stories Ferguson residents told her about police abuse to be appalling, but Brown’s death seems to be a tipping point. “People are in a mood for action. They feel it’s time to do something.”

    By Khalil Abdullah
    New America Media

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    Report finds banks, others discriminate against communities of color

    WASHINGTON DC – The National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) and 17 of its local member organizations announced the results of a major undercover investigation into the failure of banks and property preservation companies to maintain and market foreclosed homes in African-American and Latino neighborhoods. The investigation of Real Estate Owned (REO) homes in 30 major metropolitan areas found disturbing incidents of discrimination in how these banks and Fannie Mae’s preservation management companies fail to secure the doors and windows, mow lawns, fix gutters and downspouts, remove trash, and provide other maintenance for REOs in African American and Latino neighborhoods, while providing these services for their REOs located in White neighborhoods.

    A report detailing the findings of the investigation, “Zip Code Inequality: Discrimination by Banks in the Maintenance of Foreclosed Homes in Neighborhoods of Color,” was released today. It details the results of the investigation of more than 2,400 REO properties located in and around 30 major U.S. cities. The report is the third released by NFHA (similar reports and results were published in 2011 and 2012) and provides information about the broadest investigation to date into REO discrimination. Both the White neighborhoods and neighborhoods of color investigated were middle and working class communities with high foreclosure rates and high owner-occupancy rates. The investigation avoided zip codes with high levels of renters or investor-ownership.

    “This report documents the ongoing threat to communities of color across America: that zip code determines whether banks properly maintain and market the homes titled in their names,” said Shanna L. Smith, President and CEO of the National Fair Housing Alliance. “The banks and property preservation companies are under contract to maintain these homes. They are supposed to get the best price when selling a foreclosed home. Banks and Fannie Mae are obligated to make sure lawns are mowed, shrubs are trimmed, mail is stopped, and flyers are removed from the porch. They are also responsible for ensuring that the gutters are cleaned to stop water or ice damage, windows and doors are secured and repaired, trash and dead animals are removed, emergency numbers that actually work are posted, and professional “For Sale” signs are placed in the yard. Banks fulfill these obligations in predominantly White neighborhoods but overwhelmingly fail to perform these simple routine maintenance chores in middle and working class African-American and Latino neighborhoods.”

    Read the report: http://bit.ly/reo2014.

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  • ,

    Blacks experience more bullying

    By Jazelle Hunt
    NNPA Correspondent

    WASHINGTON–Blacks, who are already more likely than other racial groups to be involved in situations that involve bullying, both as a victim and as a perpetrator, are subjected to additional bullying because of other complicating factors, including poverty, according to scholars and experts on the subject.

    “African Americans have higher rates of bullying. When I looked at the factors, they were all overlapping with health and social disparity,” said Maha Mohammad Albdour, who is examining bullying as part of her doctoral studies in Community Health Nursing at Wayne State University. Her re­search findings were published this month in the Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Nursing.

    “There is a lot of interest in bullying, but…. [t]his population has a lot going on related to social and health disparities, so maybe the experience is different from other populations,” Albdour said.

    According to her research, Black children are more likely to be involved in bullying (as aggressor, victim, or bystander) than other groups. Additionally, Stop­bullying.gov, a federal resource, found that Black and Hispanic children who are bullied are more likely to do poorly in school than their white counterparts.

    They are also more likely to possess characteristics that make them a target for bullying. According to some studies, children who are perceived as “different” – through sexuality or gender identity, lower socio-economic status than their peers, or pronounced weight differences (over or under), are more likely to be bullied.

    As of 2010, 51 percent of Black children ages two to 19 had been told by a doctor that they were overweight, according to the Office of Minority Health. But such factors and the effects they bring can be mitigated by a trusted adult’s presence.

    “For African-American children, family was a strong predicting factor,” Albdour said. “[Family] can even act as a buffer for community violence. If there is communication, cohesion, and the parents are involved in the child’s school life, it has a huge preventative effect.”

    Albdour’s research mirrors a newly released report, “Peer Victimization in Fifth Grade and Health in Tenth Grade.”

    The report, which appears in the March issue of Pediatrics, tracked more than 4,000 students’ experiences over time, surveying them in fifth grade (when the prevalence of bullying peaks), in seventh grade, and in 10th grade.

    While the study did nog specifically examine race, the researchers found that kids who are bullied, especially for prolonged periods, are more likely to experience poor mental and physical health in adolescence and beyond.

    As fifth-graders, almost a third of students questioned who reported being victims of bullying exhibited poor psychological health, compared to the 4.3 percent who were not bullied.

    By seventh grade, those who reported being bullied in the past were better off—the percentage of students exhibiting signs of a poor quality of life as fifth-graders was cut in half if the bullying had stopped by seventh grade.

    However, the rate of emotional trouble was highest among 10th-graders who reported being bullied both in t he past and present, with nearly 45 percent showing signs of serious distress. This group of chronically bullied 10th-graders had the highest rates of low self-worth, depression, and poor quality of life (and the second-highest rates of poor physical health, after those who were being bullied in the present only).

    “Any victimization is bad, but it has stronger effects depending on whether it continues or not,” said Laura Bogart, the author of the study. “If the bullying experience happens in fifth grade, you can still see effects in 10th grade.”

    Those effects manifest in myriad detrimental ways for children involved in bullying—but the repercussions differ depending on how the child is involved.

    Stopbullying.gov says that kids who bully others are more likely to be violent, vandalize property, drop out of school, and have sex early. As adults, they are more likely to have criminal convictions and traffic citations, and abuse romantic partners. Warning signs include aggression, difficulty accepting responsibility for one’s own actions, and a competitive spirit that is concerned with reputation or popularity.

    The site advises that kids who are bullied “are more likely to experience depression and anxiety, increased feelings of sadness and loneliness, changes in sleep and eating patterns, and loss of interest in activities they used to enjoy.”

    “There are subtle signs,” Bogart says. “If a child doesn’t want to go to school all of a sudden, or if they’re in their room a lot. If they’re sad or angry, or if they’re not talking about other kids and friends from school [for example].”

    The kids who experience the most far-reaching consequences are bully-victims—kids who are victims in one area of their lives, and victimize others in another.

    “Bully-victims are the most afflicted. They have more substance abuse, more social problems…and this is true across ethnicities,” Albdour explains. “You can expect bully-victims to internalize problems, then act out. It results in them being an aggressive person as an adult.”

    Parents can play a vital role.

    “One argument is that there should be immediate and early intervention, and parents should be aware of what’s going on in their child’s life through good communication with their child,” Bogart said.

    In the case of Black children, anti-discrimination/civil rights laws can be applied if harassment is race-based. As StopBullying.gov explains, “There is no federal law that specifically applies to bullying. In some cases, when bullying is based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, or religion, bullying overlaps with harassment and schools are legally obligated to address it.”

    States seem to be showing more sensitivity in addressing bullying.

    “In almost every state there is a law that schools have to have anti-bullying policy, and it usually involves parents,” Bogart said. “Now, there’s a lot less talk of ‘kids just do that’ or ‘boys will be boys.’ We are evolving as a nation.”

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  • BRING BACK OUR GIRLS AN OPEN LETTER

      Bring back our girls. Bring back our daughters. Bring back what was stolen and taken to be used unapologetically in a way that no girl or woman should ever have to experience. How do you go on living your day-to -day lives knowing the hard truth about our daughters, nieces, granddaughters, and cousins? Our […]

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  • National museum to feature Bayou Classic, HBCUs

    WASHINGTON—Southern University, Grambling State University, and other historically Black universi- ties will be featured in the National Museum of Afri- can American History and Culture when it opens in Washington DC in spring 2016.

    The museum is the only national museum devoted to documenting the history and culture of Black Americans.

    With a primary focus on its legendary football program, GSU will be joined by a section featuring longtime GSU head football coach Eddie G. Robinson. In addition, there will be an area dedicated to the Bayou Classic.

    Other historically Black universities scheduled to be featured in the museum include Howard, Florida A&M, Tennessee State, and Tuskegee universities.

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  • Wright Museum in jeopardy

    DETROIT’S CHARLES H. WRIGHT Museum, the largest mu- seum of African American history, faces an uncertain future following the city’s bankruptcy.

    Referred to as the most financially challenged cul- tural center in the city, the 49-year-old museum made national headlines when it was announced it would have to sell of its fine art to help reduce the city’s $18 billion debt owed to bond- holders and pensioners.

    Kevyn Orr, the city’s emergency manager, pub- lished a plan proposing a $100 million fundraising deal and $350 million from the state that could possibly keep the museum from auc- tioning off a fraction of its collection. No other fund- raising plans for the Wright museum have yet to be seen, placing the predomi- nantly Black city’s commu- nity cultural centerpiece in financial jeopardy.

    According to blackamericaweb.com: the city of Detroit went from contributing more than $2 million annually to the museum’s budget of roughly $7 million to– post-recession–offering $900,000 to a current budget of $4.5 million.

    A majority of funding

    previously came from the city’s auto industry philanthropies, but provisions have been drastically lower from some, such as GM, and non-existent from others like former benefactor, Chrysler.

    In addition to a wave of salary cuts and even larger staff cuts, the museum has had to turn to non-traditional partnerships with external groups.

    Museum membership has dropped from 20,000 to 7,000 in recent years, a decline attributed to the lack of foundation money covering school children’s memberships.

    Founded in 1965 in the offices of civil rights activist and Black obstetrician Charles H. Wright, the museum is home to more than 20 thousand items ranging from letters of Malcolm X and Rosa Parks to several prototypes of inventions, like the stoplight and gas mask, created by African American scientists.

    Although impressive none of the museum’s items hold enough monetary value to help significantly reduce the city’s overwhelming debt.

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  • BE gives A.G. Gaston Lifetime Achievement Award

    AT THE FIRST BLACK ENTER- prise Entrepreneurs Con- ference held at Disney’s Contemporary Resort in 1996, BE introduced the A.G. Gaston Lifetime Achievement Award – its highest honor for entre- preneurial excellence – by presenting the honor to ad- vertising industry visionary Thomas J. Burrell, founder and CEO of Burrell Communications Group.

    The reason: Burrell’s “reputation for sharing his knowledge and expertise [as well as the fact] that he is an inspirational leader of the African American community.” His stellar achievements were found to be in keeping with the tradition of the legendary business trailblazer in which the award is named.

    Burrell became known as the “Dean of Black Advertising” after gaining a track record for breaking barriers within the media industry. He started his advertising career as a copywriter for Chicago- based Wade Advertising and then Leo Burnett in the early 1960s.

    By 1967, he took a position in Foot Cone & Belding’s London Office, and when he returned to American shores a year later he quickly rose to become a copy supervisor at Needham Harper & Steers.

    In 1971, he decided to launch an agency with a partner, who would depart a few years later, and transformed it into an advertising powerhouse.

     

    BY DEREK T. DINGLE

    BLACK ENTERPRISE 

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    Remainsof 55 bodies found

    THE REMAINS OF 55 BODIES were found in makeshift graveyard at a former Florida reform school.

    University of South Florida announced that an excavation of a makeshift graveyard near a now- closed reform school in the Florida Panhandle yielded almost twice the number bodies official records said were there.

    “Locating 55 burials is a significant finding which opens up a whole new set of questions for our team,” said USF professor Erin Kimmerle, head of the research project.

    The Dozier School for Boys was closed by the state in 2011, but a university was commissioned to look into deaths after the Florida Department of LawnEnforcement announced the presence of 31 official grave sites in 2010.

    Located in the Panhandle city of Marianna; former inmates claim the school became infamous for accounts of brutality.

    The team of more than 50 searchers from nine agencies dug up the graves to check out local legends and family tales of boys, mostly black, who died or disappeared without explanation.

    “The only way to truly establish the facts about the deaths and burials at the school is to follow scientific processes,” Kimmerle said.

    Excavation began last September with several artifacts from gravesites sent to the University of North Texas Science Center for DNA testing.

    Members of 11 families who lost boys at Dozier have been located by the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office for DNA sampling. Researchers hope to find 42 more families for possible matching.

    Research will continue in areas adjacent to the graveyard, dubbed “boot hill” by school officials and inmates a century ago.

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  • Remains of 55 bodies found

    THE REMAINS OF 55 BODIES were found in makeshift graveyard at a former Florida reform school.

    University of South Florida announced that an excavation of a makeshift graveyard near a now- closed reform school in the Florida Panhandle yielded almost twice the number bodies official records said were there.

    “Locating 55 burials is a significant finding which opens up a whole new set of questions for our team,” said USF professor Erin Kimmerle, head of the research project.

    The Dozier School for Boys was closed by the state in 2011, but a university was commissioned to look into deaths after the Florida Department of Law Enforcement announced the presence of 31 official gravesites in 2010.

    Located in the Panhandle city of Marianna; former inmates claim the school became infamous for accounts of brutality.

    The team of more than 50 searchers from nine agencies dug up the graves to check out local legends and family tales of boys, mostly black, who died or disappeared without explanation.

    “The only way to truly establish the facts about the deaths and burials at the school is to follow scientific processes,” Kimmerle said.

    Excavation began last September with several artifacts from gravesites sent to the University of North Texas Science Center for DNA testing.

    Members of 11 families who lost boys at Dozier have been located by the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office for DNA sampling. Researchers hope to find 42 more families for possible matching.

    Research will continue in areas adjacent to the graveyard, dubbed “boot hill” by school officials and inmates a century ago.

    Read more »
  • Students, teachers required to pray in Alabama schools

    THE ALABAMA HOUSE OF Rep- resentatives approved a bill requiring teachers and students at all of the state’s public schools to spend ev- ery morning in Christian prayer.

    Alabama’s Chamber of EducationCommittee passed thepolicy Feb. 20. It requires teachers to be- gin each day by reading the

    same opening prayers –ver- batim – recited before ses- sions of the U.S. Congress. Teachers would be allowed to devote up to 15 minutes a day to the prayer.

    Gallup, a Washington, D.C.-based polling firm, ranked Alabama the second most religious state last year.

    Alabama State Rep.Steve Hurst introduced the legislation. The bill is already legal,but a majority of Alabama residents don’t know it is.

    Only two Republicans on the panel actually voted yes on the bill. Two Republicans and one. Democrat insisted that they said no, and three legislators weren’t even present for the vote.

    A bill that would allow students to initiate prayer in school and express their religious views in schoolwork was also voted through.

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  • Calif. considers driving laws, enforcement for marijuana use

    AS SUPPORT FOR MARIJUANA legalization expands throughout the country, California, the first state to legalize the drug, is working to de- termine how its use can be regulated among drivers.

    Research done by the National Institute on Drug Abuse has determined af- ter using marijuana, peo- ple generally have more

    trouble staying in lanes, they struggle to do multiple tasks at once and have seri- ous problems maintaining concentration on long, mo- notonous drives.

    Los Angeles is now at the forefront of law enforce- ment’s responses regulating the amount of marijuana

    that drivers have in their system before hitting the road. The city has also received a federal grant to try out a new roadside drug test: oral swabs.

    This new test can be performed at the time of a traffic stop. It seeks to provide the officer with an immediate result as to whether drugs are present in the driver’s system by testing his or her saliva.

    Evidence found by the Insurance In- stitute for Highway Safety shows that al- cohol has a stronger effect than marijuana on crash risk but that there is simply a larg- er body of research on the strong association between blood-alcohol concentrations and crash risk.

    Washington and Colorado are among the few states that have established a legal limit on the amount of marijuana in a driver’s blood.

    For alcohol, po- lice around the coun- try carry hand-held Breathalyzers. Law enforcement’s abil- ity to test drivers for marijuana is not quite as easy because most marijuana testing must be performed in a lab.

    According to a study at the Univer- sity of California, Los Angeles, it’s tough to interpret exactly what those tests mean for driving ability.

    Those who are in favor of marijuana legalization say they agree that people should know their limits and should not drive while impaired, but they’re concerned that police officers will substitute this new technology and a legal limit with their own judgment.

    The Drum Staff Report

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  • Ga. agrees to continue Confederate flag license plate.

    ATLANTA—THE STATE OF GEORGIA’S recent approval of a specialized license plate has civil rights leaders throughout the state up in arms.

    The state has agreed to sell an updated Sons of Confederate Veteran’s license plate displaying a larger Confederate flag. Supporters of the new license said the flag honors the state’s Confederate heritage and is not a celebration of racial injustice.

    A spokesman for the Georgia Division of the SCV, said people have a right to observe their heritage, and the state would be discriminating if it rejected the group’s application.

    However, representatives of the local Southern Christian Leadership Conference disagree.

    “We don’t have license plates saying ‘Black Power’ and the state should have stepped in to stop the design of the Confederate flag from becoming available to Georgia drivers,” said Maynard Eaton, spokesman for the SCLC. “To display this is reprehensible.”

    Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal told the Atlanta Journal Constitution that he was not aware of the plate which the department of motor vehicles said is an update to an existing license already bearing the controversial flag.

    The SCV will receive $10 from each $80 plate sold.

    According to the SCV Georgia Division website, funds from the sale of the license will be used “to promote Southern Heritage through educational activities and preservation efforts around the state.”

     

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  • Nearly half Black men arrested by age 23

    Nearly 50 percent of Black men and 40 percent of white men are arrested at least once on non-traffic-related crimes by the time they turn 23, according to a new study published in the January 2104 issue of the journal “Crime & Delinquency”.

    The peer-reviewed estimates didn’t rely on arrest records but instead on an annual federal Bureau of Labor Statistics survey of about 7,000 young people who answered questions each year from 1997 to 2008 on a range of issues — including if they had ever been taken into custody for something other than a traffic offense.

    Self-reported crimes ranged from underage drinking to violent assaults.

    The authors found that by age 18, 30 percent of Black men, 26 percent of Hispanic men and 22 percent of white men have been arrested.

    By 23, those numbers climb to 49 percent for Black men, 44 percent for Hispanic men and 38 percent for white men.

    Among women, 20 percent of Blacks, 18 percent of whites and 16 percent of Hispanics were arrested at least once by age 23.

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  • McComb, Miss. native gets marker on Freedom Trail

    JACKSON, MISS.  – ON MONDAY, Jan. 20, the Mississippi Freedom Trail honored C.C. Bryant with a marker on the  Trail. This will be the 15th marker on the Mississippi Freedom Trail.

    It is very appropriate to recognize one of Mississippi’s own heroes of the Civil Rights Movement with a marker on the Mississippi Freedom Trail,” said Malcolm White, director of the Mississippi Development Authority’s Tourism Divi-sion, which oversees the trail program. “C. C. Bryant was an instrumental part of building a more just and peaceful society for Mississippians and certainly deserves this honor.”

    Bryant was born January 15, 1917, in Tylertown. Miss. He was the fourth of 11 children born to Monroe and Anna Bryant. He married Emogene Gooden in 1941, and they had three children. Bryant is best known for his contributions to the Civil Rights and Voter Registration Movement, both in Mississippi and across the nation.

    In 1954, he was elected president of the Pike County Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, followed by his election as vice president of Mississippi State Conference of the NAACP under the leadership of Aaron E. Henry and Field Secretary Medgar Evers.

    In 1965, he testified before the Civil Rights Commission to eliminate discriminatory voting practices. His testimony, along with that of other civil rights leaders, helped pave the way for the passing and signing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

    Bryant continued his legacy of social justice by maintaining an extensive civil rights archive collection. He served on various boards and committees at the local, state and national levels.

    During his lifetime, Bryant received numerous awards and honors, including the Medgar Evers Medallion and the Aaron Henry Award. In 2005, the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation honored him by naming the Institute Award for Community Organiz-ing for him.Bryant passed away in December 2007.

    The Mississippi Freedom Trail is a cultural initiative designed to commemorate the state’s Civil Rights heritage. The trail offers a virtual tour of the state and those sites that played a key role in the Civil Rights Movement. Led by a task force of scholars, historians and veterans of the Civil Rights Movement, the Mississippi Development Authority’s Tourism Division helped to coordinate the taskforce’s work of selecting 25 initial sites for the trail from nearly 300 submissions from communities around the state.

    The first four markers were funded with donations from Tougaloo College. MDA and local private and public contributions. Sub- sequent markers are being funded through community funds and the 2010 Civil Rights Historic Sites Grant Program passed by the Mississippi Legislature (HB 1701) and administered by the Mississippi Department of Archives and History

     

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  • ACA offers $50 or less rates

    A NEW REPORT RELEASED by the Department of Health Human Services shows that nearly half of single young adults who are uninsured and may be eligible for coverage in the Health Insurance Marketplace could get coverage for $50 or less per month.

    Young adults can purchase coverage and get lower costs on monthly premiums through tax credits. The amount an individual can save depends on family size.

    The report found that out of 2.9 million sing young adults ages 18 to 34 who may be eligible, 1.3 million could have purchase a bronze plan for $50 a month.

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  • President Obama Appoints First Female Admiral

    NAVY VICE ADM. MICHELLE J. Howard has been nominated for appointment to the rank of admiral and assignment as vice chief of naval operations, Pentagon, Washington, D.C. Howard is currently serving as deputy chief of naval operations for operations, plans, and strategy, N3/N5, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Pentagon, Washington, D.C.

    In 2012, Vice Adm. Michelle Janine Howard became the fi rst African- American woman to receive a third star in flag rank within the Defense Department when she was promoted Aug. 24. Howard is currently serving as
    deputy commander for U.S. Fleet Forces Command.

    In 2006, she waselected for the rank of Rear Admiral (lower half),[4] making her the fi rst admiral selected from the U.S. Naval Academy class of 1982 and the first female graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy selected for admiral.

    In 1999, she became the first African American woman to command a ship in the U.S. Navy when she
    took command of USS Rushmore

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  • David Duke expelled from Italy for plans to ‘exterminate’ Blacks, Jews

    ITALY—ACCORDING TO REPORTS BY IB Times, former Ku Klux Klan leaders David Duke was expelled from Italy earlier this month after authorities deemed him as “socially dangerous” for he allegedly planned to set up a pan-European neo-Nazi group. IB Times wrote: A Venice court has upheld a decision to deny a permit of residence renewal to the former Republican member of the Louisiana House of Representative and holocaust denier, who was found living under false pretences near the northern town of Belluno.

    “Offi cial reliable sources have revealed [Duke] plans to establish an organization aiming to exterminate the Black and Jewish races in Europe,” the sentence read. “He was also previously arrested and expelled from the Czech Republic as suspected of promoting the launch of a movement for the suppression of human rights and fundamental freedoms.”

    Duke was initially banned from Switzerland over his activities related to the white supremacist movement in 2009. Swiss authorities also designated him as persona non grata in all the European states including Italy.

     

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  • Report Finds Black Men not Fairing Better After College

    ACCORDING TO WASHINGTON D.C-based Center for Economic and Policy Research, graduating high school as well as college is no longer enough for

    Black men to receive a good paying job the offer benefits. In their “Has Education Paid Off for Black Workers?” report, Janelle Jones and John Schmitt, stated, “Between

    1979 and 2011, the share of black men with a high school degree or less fell almost by half (from 72.6 % to 43.4 %), and the share with a college degree nearly tripled (from

    8.1 % to 23.4 %). Despite this massive improvement at both ends of the education spectrum, black men overall and at every education level – less than high school, high

    school, some college but short of a four-year degree, and at least a four-year degree – are less likely to be in a good job today than three decades ago.” Center officials define

    a “good job” as one that pays a minimum of $19 per hour or $40,000 annually. “The seasonally ad- justed unemployment rate for Black men ages 20 and older is always

    higher than those of any other race or ethnic group.” In 1979, the average age of Black workers was 33, in 2011 the age rose to 39 making the Black work- force older, more

    experienced and therefore more compatible.

     

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  • Site Helps Customers Buy Black

    PurchaseBlack.com, a new Amazon-style marketplace that specializes in selling African American products, is looking to increase the number of Black e-commerce sites by offering qualified businesses free use of their e-commerce platform. ecommerce

    PurchaseBlack.com is bridging the gap between Black online customers, and a wide array of African American focused businesses,” said Purchase Black founder Brian Williams. “To attract more Black owned businesses, we are giving them web stores–complete with their own web address–for free, and only charging a commission after the business actually makes money on our platform.“

    Purchase Black wants to attract Black-owned and Black-operated businesses; they also want to attract businesses that, while maybe not Black-owned, still have a significant Black clientele.

    “We are focused on African American products and businesses, but not at the exclusion of [everyone] else. We want [all businesses] to know that you can buy or sell African American products on PurchaseBlack.com, regardless of [their] background.”

    The company’s target businesses are small, medium, and large-sized businesses that sell hair care, skin care, art, gifts, clothing and accessories, Black greek letter organization items, and much, much more.

    “A lot of people have been waiting for something like this for a long time…and we hope that our offer will attract those businesses to sell their products on [our site],” said Williams.

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  • Nelson Mandela Dies at Age 95

    Former South African president Nelson Mandela , who served 27 years in prison for anti-apartheid activities and helped end racial segregation on his continent,Thursday, December 6th.

    Mandela battled South Africa’s imposed racial segregation through a combination of peaceful demonstration and through military means and was sentenced to life in prison on treason charges.

    Mandela was freed in 1989 after 27 years of hard labor in a stone quarry, when South African president F.W. de Klerk would assume power.

    Former President Mandela speaking at Southern University's Spring 2000 commencement ceromony

    Former President Mandela speaking at Southern University’s spring 2000 commencement ceremony.

    De Klerk and Mandela worked together following his release to end racial strife in South Africa; and went on to win the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993.

    In April 1994, Mandela was elected president of South Africa. Mandela’s victory symbolized a dramatic change in South African politics and race relations.

    Mandela died at age 95. He is survived by Machel; his daughter Makaziwe by his first marriage, and daughters Zindzi and Zenani by his second.

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  • U.S. District Judge Temporarily Restrains Release of Malcom X Diary

    U.S District judge issued a temporary restraining order preventing Chicago’s third world press company from releasing a diary of Malcolm X life which he started after he left the Nation of Islam. Chicago Third World Press company said the rights was sold to them by his daughter Ilyasah Al-Shabazz, who is also the book’s co-editor along with journalist Herb Boyd. Ilyasah signed the contract with the press company as the agent for X Legacy (a company formed in 2011 to protect Malcolm X and his wife Dr. Betty Shabazz assets). In addition to deciding if Ilyasah had the jurisdiction to release the rights to her father diary the judge must also decide if Third World Press has the right to publish the diary.

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  • A New White House Report Highlights the Need for a Food, Farm and Jobs Bill

     

    This week, the White House released a new report showing the critical need for Congressional passage of a new Food, Farm and Jobs Bill. This comprehensive report highlights how the thriving business of agriculture is a cornerstone of America’s economy, creating jobs and boosting opportunity.

    Agricultural production and its related sectors contributed $743 billion to U.S. GDP in 2011, accounting for nearly 5 percent of economic output. Today about one out of every 12 jobs in the United States are connected in some way to agriculture.

    Meanwhile, driven by the productivity of our farmers and ranchers, agricultural exports reached their highest mark ever in 2013 at more than $140 billion. Due in part to trade promotion programs in the Farm Bill, the five-year period from 2009-2013 is the strongest in history for agricultural exports. Compared to the previous five-year period, the U.S. is exporting an average of four million tons more bulk commodities each year. These exports alone support more than a million jobs.

    A new Farm Bill would give producers the tools they need to continue fueling agriculture to new heights, while promoting quality U.S. products abroad. Ultimately, as shown in this week’s report, those efforts have a positive impact across our entire economy.

    At the same time, the White House report notes continuing economic challenges in rural areas that would be addressed, in part, by investments in the new Farm Bill.  Eighty-five percent of persistent poverty counties in America—counties where poverty has been high for decades—are in rural areas. And between 2010 and 2012, rural America actually lost population.

    A new Farm Bill would provide needed investment in rural infrastructure that would create jobs and boost quality of life in rural America.  It would invest in the growing biobased economy that holds a promising future for our small towns – both through the creation of clean, renewable energy and the manufacture of advanced biobased products. It would strengthen conservation activities on America’s farms and ranches that expand opportunity for outdoor recreation and help to boost income in rural communities. All of these activities would help to revitalize rural areas.

    And a new Farm Bill would provide critical nutrition assistance for American families who are working hard but struggling to make ends meet.

    For more than two years, the Obama Administration has advocated for passage of a comprehensive, multiyear Food, Farm and Jobs Bill.  This week’s report is just another reminder: Americans can’t be left without a Farm Bill any longer. The stakes for our national economy, our agricultural production, and our rural communities are simply too high for inaction – and Congress should finish its work on the Farm Bill without delay.

     

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  • Voting Rights Champion to Lead DOJ Division

    Former NAACP Legal Defense Fund attorney Debo Adegbile has been tapped by the Obama Administration to serve as Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights of the US Department of Justice.

    President Barack Obama nominate Adegbile, senior counsel for the US Senate Judiciary Committee, to take over as head of the  Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.

    Debo Adegbile

    Debo Adegbile

    He is best known as the attorney who argued on behalf of preserving the Voting Rights Act before the US Supreme Court. Adegbile defended it twice successfully when it was challenged in 2006 and again this past February before Chief John Roberts; court removed key provisions of the landmark civil rights bill.

    Adegbile also represented Hurricane Katrina evacuees in a federal voting rights lawsuit shortly after the storm.

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  • ,

    Jesse Owens’ 1936 Olympic Gold Medal Sells in Online Auction

    ONE OF THREE OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALS won by  Jesse Owens at the 1936 Berlin Games has sold for a record $1.4 million in an nline auction. The medal was sold by

    the estate of Robinson’s late widow, Elaine Plaines-Robinson. Owens won gold in the 100- and 200-meters, 400 relay and long jump at the games attended by Adolph

    Hitler,The whereabouts of the other three originals is unknown, but Owens was issued a replacement set that is part of an exhibit at Ohio State, his alma mater.

    A portion of the proceeds from the sale of the medal will be donated to the  Jesse Owens Foundation.

     

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  • Affordable Care Tips for Louisiana Residents

    The Affordable Care Act was enacted with the goal of increasing the quality and affordability of health insurance, lower the uninsured rate by expanding public and private insurance coverage, and reduce the costs of healthcare for individuals and the government.

    The Affordable Care Act is made up of two separate pieces of legislation, the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act and the Education Reconciliation act, that together expand Medicaid coverage to millions of low-income Americans and will improve Medicaid the Children’s Health insurance program (CHIP).

    Its goal is to make health care access more available to those who aren’t on Medicaid and do not have jobs that provide health benefits.

    The millions of Americans who fall into this category are encouraged to visit healthcare.gov. The Web site also includes information on preventive care and how to compare the quality of care patients receive at local facilities, and apply for government assistance but its most notable feature is the marketplace.

    Through healthcare.gov’s market place patrons can compare private health insurance plans, side by side. Plans offered in the Healthcare Marketplace will offer the same set of essential health benefits; which are minimum requirements for all plans in the Marketplace.Plans applied for by December 15, coverage can start as soon as January 1, 2014.  Open enrollment for 2014 health insurance closes March 30th

    These essential health benefits include at least the following items and services: ambulatory patient services (outpatient care you get without being admitted to a hospital), prescription drugs, pediatric services, new born care.

    Here are the facts about ACA:

    • If you own a company you apply for packages for your staff

    • You can apply online or by phone

    • You can apply alone or along with members of your household

    •If you apply online you must have an email address

    • The Baton Rouge Primary Care Collaborative, Inc., 2013 Central Rd, has ACA-certified application counselors who can help with the process.

    The Affordable Health Care Act will provide Americans with better health security by, expanding coverage, holding insurance companies accountable, lower healthcare cost, guarantee more choice and enhance quality for all Americans.

     

     

    ONLINE:HealthCare.gov

    PHONE: 800-318-2596

     

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