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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

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    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

    Read more »
  • ,

    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.”

    Read more »
  • 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.

    Read more »
  • 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.

    Read more »
  • 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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