Joining Together in Justice

By Charles Blow, New York Times

Proponents of equality have reason to both cheer and cry this week….

Charles M. Blow is The New York Times's visual Op-Ed columnist. Photo by Damon Winter, NYT.

Charles M. Blow is The New York Times’s visual Op-Ed columnist. Photo by Damon Winter, NYT.

One movement for equality [Gay Rights] had its spirits lifted and another [Civil Rights] had them crushed.

But the truth is that these movements are not wholly dissimilar. All combatants for justice are cousins. Jim Crow and Jim Queer are of a kind. So, given what happened on the racial civil rights front this week, the LGBT civil rights movement would be wise to take heed.

Overcoming blatantly unconstitutional laws is only a first step in the never-ending march toward justice. It is in the decades that follow that discriminatory policies can become more illusory….

[T]he changing of laws does not work in tandem with the changing of hearts, which means that minority groups are always vulnerable. When the laws change, some things simply become subterfuge.

All Rights for AllJust ask black civil rights leaders still fighting a huge prison industrial complex, police policies like stop-and-frisk and predatory lending practices. Ask women’s rights leaders still fighting for equal pay, defending a woman’s right to sovereign authority of her own body — including full access to a wide range of reproductive options. Ask pro-immigration groups fighting a wave of anti-immigrant sentiment.

…[I]t is no coincidence that there is quite a bit of overlap among the states that were covered by the Voting Rights Act, those that have constitutional bans on same-sex marriage, those with some of the most restrictive abortion laws and those that have considered or passed some of the strictest anti-immigrant bills.

Civil rights activist Andrew Young famously said: "We may have come here on different ships, but we're in the same boat now." The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote from the Birmingham jail: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

Civil rights activist Andrew Young famously said: “We may have come here on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.” The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote from the Birmingham jail: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

Racial hostility, homophobia and misogyny are braided together like strands of the same rope. When we fight one, we fight them all.

Engaging in combat as a coalition reinforces and expands everyone’s power, reach and influence. We must realize that if everyone can see the sameness in these struggles, rather than the differences, we will be able to see that America is already a majority minority country.

Read Blow’s full opinion here.

Read more Breaking News here.

Paula’s Worst Ingredients

By Frank Bruni, the New York Times

Paula Deen is where sass meets crass, where the homespun and folksy curdle into something with a sour aftertaste.

Paula Deen, Southern cooking mogul

Paula Deen, Southern cooking mogul

Her manner may be as sugary as her cooking, her smile as big as the hams she hawked for Smithfield. But she doesn’t pause when she should. Doesn’t question herself when she must….

A fresh illustration of this traveled through cyberspace on Monday, a video that shows Deen at The New York Times last October, being interviewed onstage by my colleague Kim Severson. The subject of race comes up. [Begin viewing at 47:45.]

“I feel like the South is almost less prejudiced,” Deen says, “because black folks played such an integral part in our lives. They were like our family.”

Paula Deen introduces her young "friend" who is "black as this board." As she declaims that "race has nothing to do with it," she and Hollis embrace.

Paula Deen introduces her young “friend” who is “black as this board.” As she declaims that “race has nothing to do with it,” she and Hollis embrace.

That statement alone is awkward — she’s referring to servants, presumably — but she doesn’t stop there. Motioning to the inky backdrop behind her and Severson, she notes that her beloved driver, bodyguard and assistant, Hollis Johnson, is as “black as that board.”

“Come out here, Hollis,” she adds, looking offstage and directing the audience’s attention there. “We can’t see you standing against that dark board.”…

[Some] have urged clemency, noting that she’s 66 years old and has lived her life far south of the Mason-Dixon line.

Please. All of her adult years postdate the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and she’s a citizen of the world, traveling wide and far to peddle her wares. If she can leave Georgia for the sake of commerce, she can leave Georgia in the realm of consciousness.

Beyond which, people can change, growing past wrongful ways in the name of what’s right…

To read the full opinion piece, click here.

To read more Breaking News, click here.

In rejecting Voting Rights Act, Supreme Court says the South is no different than rest of country on race

By theGrio.com

…[Today’s voting rights] opinion by Chief Justice John Roberts takes great pains to reject the notion that the South of today has any lingering challenges that bar minorities from voting. Roberts argues that the nine states covered fully by Section 4b of the law don’t discriminate against minority voters any more or less than other places in the country….

supreme-court-justices

Justices (L to R): Thomas, Sotomayor, Scalia, Breyer, Roberts, Alito, Kennedy, Kagan, Ginsberg

“The coverage formula met that test in 1965, but no longer does so. Coverage today is based on decades-old data and eradicated practices. The formula captures States by reference to literacy tests and low voter registration and turnout in the 1960s and early 1970s. But such tests have been banned nationwide for over 40 years,” Roberts writes. “And voter registration and turnout numbers in the covered States have risen dramatically in [that time]. Racial disparity in those numbers was compelling evidence justifying the preclearance remedy and the coverage formula. There is no longer such a disparity. In 1965, the States could be divided into two groups: those with a recent history of voting tests and low voter registration and turnout, and those without those characteristics. Congress based its coverage formula on that distinction. Today the Nation is no longer divided along those lines, yet the Voting Rights Act continues to treat it as if it were.”

The Court’s liberals were outraged at such logic. In a dissent joined by the Court’s four Democratic appointees, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg delivered a long, exhaustive list of controversial voting laws passed just in the last decade in some of the southern States covered by the law….vote-suppression12

Further, Ginsburg argues that the states in the Deep South have a particular reason to get heightened scrutiny in the future: politics. The states covered by Section 5, such as Alabama, have highly racialized voting patterns, with most blacks supporting Democrats and Republicans earning white voters. That divide, Ginsburg argues, creates an obvious incentive for laws that would limit the votes of blacks.

“Racial polarization means that racial minorities are at risk of being systematically outvoted and having their interests underrepresented in legislatures. Second, when political preferences fall along racial lines, the natural inclinations of incumbents and ruling parties to entrench themselves have predictable racial effects. Under circumstances of severe racial polarization, efforts to gain political advantage translate into race-specific disadvantages.”

Read the full article and watch the video here.

Read more Breaking News here.

Jim Crow Returns: The Voting Rights Act Gutted Today!

A rally against voter supression at Centennial Park in Tampa Bay, Florida, on August 28, 2012. Photo by George Zornick Read more: Republicans Boast About Voter Suppression in Tampa, but the Ground Is Shifting | The Nation http://www.thenation.com/blog/169642/republicans-boast-about-voter-suppression-tampa-ground-shifting#ixzz2XFlg6bWZ Follow us: @thenation on Twitter | TheNationMagazine on Facebook

A rally against voter suppression at Centennial Park in Tampa Bay, Florida, on August 28, 2012. Photo by George Zornick

This morning the Supreme Court cut out the heart of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. It ended the practice of “coverage.”  Covered states (mostly in the South), with a history of racial discrimination, must receive clearance from the federal government before changing their voting laws. The Court’s decision made unconstitutional the formula that determines which states are “covered” (monitored by Washington).

The vote was 5 to 4, with the five conservative-leaning judges in the majority and the four liberal-leaning justices in the minority. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote the decision.

Congressman John Lewis, who was severely beaten during the voting rights march from Selma to Montgomery, watches Voting Rights decision with @abc. He says he is "sad and dismayed."

Congressman John Lewis, who was severely beaten during the voting rights march from Selma to Montgomery, watches today’s voting rights decision. He says he is “sad and dismayed.”

Congress could chooses to pass a new bill for determining which states would be covered. However, reaching agreement on a new formula will likely be impossible, given its partisan gridlock. Even if such a bill were to pass, it would probably be immediately contested in court.

Just two hours after the Supreme Court announced its decision, the formerly “covered” state of Texas announced that a voter identification law – blocked last year by the federal government – would go into effect immediately.

Today Breaking News will focus on the consequences of this decision for our country and on the past history which, it seems, we are about to relive.

Here is a 3-minute video history of the Voting Rights Act that many famous and many unsung civil rights activists risked (and sometimes lost) their lives for.

Read more Breaking News about the Supreme Court’s decision, the Voting Rights Act, and the Civil Rights workers whose struggle gave birth to the Act.

 

Paula Deen Scandal Continues As Employees Tell Rainbow/PUSH Coalition Of Alleged Discrimination

By Fran Jeffries and Wayne Washington, Atlanta Journal Constitution

An attorney for the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition said current and former Paula Deen employees told him the famous cook and her brother discriminated against black employees, one of whom was consistently referred to as “my little monkey.”

Paula Ann Hiers Deen is an American cook, former cooking show host, restaurateur, author, actress and Emmy Award-winning television personality.

Paula Ann Hiers Deen is an American cook, former cooking show host, restaurateur, author, actress and Emmy Award-winning television personality.

After Deen acknowledged using a racial slur, the story went viral and the Food Network announced on Friday that it would not renew her contract when it expires at the end of June.

Deen and her brother, Bubba Hiers, are being sued by Lisa T. Jackson, a former employee who claims she endured a hostile work environment replete with racial slurs….

Scores of people vented on the Food Network’s Facebook page. On Facebook, a ‘We Support Paula Deen’ page had more than 128,000 likes. A ‘Bring Back Paula Deen’ page started at 5 p.m. Friday by Jimmy Beck, of Carrollton, had more than 1,200 likes. “I am only 20, but I know what forgiveness is. I think it’s time we move away from this crazy political correctness,” Beck wrote in an email to the AJC [Atlanta Journal Constitution].

More than 100 people have commented in AJC’s The Buzz column.

An AJC Twitter call-out netted numerous emails and phone calls.

From Deen's website: "As a young girl growing up in Albany, Georgia, Paula Deen never dreamed she would become an American icon. As a young mother, Paula was living the American dream—married to her high school sweetheart, raising two adorable boys; when tragedy struck....Paula turned around her life by sharing what she knew best, traditional Southern cooking. Overcoming poverty, self doubt and health challenges to achieve success and acclaim she could never have imagined, Paula has become one of the best-known personalities in the world of cooking. Yet the most remarkable part of Paula Deen’s journey from her kitchen to fame and fortune is that Paula has remained every bit as genuine, real and full of love as she was the day that the first meals left her kitchen.

From Deen’s website: “As a young girl growing up in Albany, Georgia, Paula Deen never dreamed she would become an American icon. As a young mother, Paula was living the American dream—married to her high school sweetheart, raising two adorable boys; when tragedy struck….Paula turned around her life by sharing what she knew best, traditional Southern cooking.
                                                                                                          Overcoming poverty, self doubt and health challenges to achieve success and acclaim she could never have imagined, Paula has become one of the best-known personalities in the world of cooking. Yet the most remarkable part of Paula Deen’s journey from her kitchen to fame and fortune is that Paula has remained every bit as genuine, real and full of love as she was the day that the first meals left her kitchen.”

 

 

“I don’t think Paula should ever use the N-word, but I don’t think it merited her being fired from the Food Network,” said Wilbur E. Jordan, Jr., a 28-year old Augusta resident. “I do feel her apology was heartfelt.”

Learell Faulk, 33, of Calhoun, was critical of the decision not to renew Deen’s contract.

“I understand that Food Network is a business with an image to protect and anything short of firing Paula Deen would appear to support her past mistakes,” said Faulk, who is white. “The fact that Food Network is being forced by society into this decision is nothing less than hogwash.”

Darah Cubit, who described herself as a 22-year-old black woman from the West Coast, said she was not surprised to learn that Deen had used a racial slur.

“After all, she is an older white woman in one of the most notorious slave states in the country,” Cubit said. “However, my problem is that for years the people around her had been condoning this behavior and accepting the clearly biased opinions she had communicated off camera. Her personal beliefs and biases obviously would have affected how most of her viewers, being of slave descent, support her restaurants, shows, and special appearances.”

Read the full article here.

Watch the Daily Show’s “report” on Deen’s problem and its cure here.

Read more Breaking News here.

Racially Biased Arrests for Pot

By the Editorial Board, New York Times

weed2Researchers have long known that African-Americans are more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than whites, even though studies have repeatedly shown that the two groups use the drug at similar rates.

New federal data, included in a study by the American Civil Liberties Union, now shows that the problem of racially biased arrests is far more extensive that was previously known — and is getting worse. The costly, ill-advised “war on marijuana” might fairly be described as a tool of racial oppression.

The study, based on law enforcement data from 50 states and the District of Columbia, is the most detailed of its kind so far. Marijuana arrests have risen sharply over the last two decades and now make up about half of all drug arrests in the United States….

 Nationally, African-Americans are nearly four times as likely to be arrested for marijuana possession as whites. The disparity is even more pronounced in some states, including Illinois, Iowa and Minnesota, where African-Americans are about eight times as likely to be arrested. And in some counties around the country, blacks are 10, 15 or even 30 times as likely to be arrested.

Read the full article here.

Read more Breaking News here.

Juneteenth: A New Birth of Freedom

From the Smithsonian Magazine

The Fourth of July isn’t the only Independence Day in America.

Juneteenth celebration in Austin, Texas, on June 19, 1900.

Juneteenth celebration in Austin, Texas, on June 19, 1900.

On June 19, 1865, Union General Gordon Granger arrived at Galveston, Texas, bringing news to the town that the Civil War had ended and that all slaves were free. This was nearly two and a half years after President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. Before long, the former slaves in southeastern Texas began to celebrate June 19th as Emancipation Day. Eventually, they shortened the name to Juneteenth….

But Juneteenth isn’t just a historical holiday; modern celebrations are increasing throughout the country, said Cliff Robinson, founder of Juneteenth.com, a Web site that allows individuals or groups to post information and photos from Juneteenth celebrations.

“We’ve had people from all 50 states and around the world posting on our site,” Robinson said. “I’ve seen some celebrations that try to make it historic in terms of costume, but today it can be anything: a family dinner, a backyard barbecue and everything to a concert downtown or a citywide parade. It has expanded.”

By order of General Granger, freed slaves were told to remain quietly at their "homes." "All colored persons are earnestly enjoined to remain with their former masters until permanent arrangements can be made and thus secure the crop of the present season and at the same time promote the interests of themselves, their employer and the Commonwealth."

By order of General Granger, “freedmen are advised to remain quietly at their homes, and work for wages….All colored persons are earnestly enjoined to remain with their former masters until permanent arrangements can be made and thus secure the crop of the present season and at the same time promote the interests of themselves, their employer and the Commonwealth.”

I spoke with Dr. William Wiggins Jr., professor Emeritus of Folklore at Indiana University and author of Jubilation: African-American Celebrations in the Southeast, about the history and future of Juneteenth.

Why did it take so long for word of the Emancipation Proclamation to reach Texas?

One of the popular legends associated with that is that Lincoln dispatched Union soldiers to move throughout the South to spread the word, and it took until the 19th of June.

But I think on the other end, you could perhaps say it took so long because of the resistance to emancipation itself. Texas was one of the last outposts of slavery and Galveston is sort of the epicenter. In fact, one of the last fights in the Civil War was done in Galveston and the Union forces were repelled. There had been a big resistance all along and it was because of this fact that word got slowly to east Texas. Then Gordon Granger was dispatched with a group of Union soldiers and landed at Galveston and spread the word and proceeded to go up into east Texas. He gave the executive order that slavery was no longer official and people had to compensate slaves for their labor. Texas was just sort of the outlier and took some time….

How did Juneteenth celebrations spread out of Texas?

The movement of this celebration was part of a larger group of emancipation days across the south. The first movement, right around WWII, was westward. So where you had black families moving to California from east Texas, and southwest Arkansas and Oklahoma, to work in the shipyards, or to work in the airplane factories, then Juneteenth started cropping up in those states.

Black cowboy in the Juneteenth Parade in San Francisco.

Black cowboy in the Juneteenth Parade in San Francisco.

When Dr. King had the Poor People’s March and Ralph Abernathy promised King (who died April 4, 1968) that this march would be completed and it was. So they made it to Washington and they set up a camp on the mall. Everything that could go wrong did and they had to leave at the end of the summer. So how can you leave with some sense of honor? It was late June and there were people from all different states in that village for that summer, so they had a group from Texas and someone said ‘Why don’t we have a Juneteenth celebration,’ which again is a way to address poverty and freedom and harkening back to our past. They had this closing celebration, which was held on that day, and a large number of entertainers performed.

Milwaukee's Miss Juneteenth Pageant 2010

Milwaukee’s Miss Juneteenth Pageant 2010

My theory is that these delegates for the summer took that idea of the celebration back to their respective communities. So I know, for example, there was one in Milwaukee1,and looking at the newspapers after that summer, they started having regular Juneteenth celebrations. The Chicago Defender had an editorial that it should be a regular idea. My feeling is that because it was used to close the Poor Peoples Campaign that the idea and so forth was taken back by different participants in that march and it took root around the country. It has taken on a life of its own.

1Milwaukee, Wisconsin, home of America’s Black Holocaust Museum, has been celebrating Juneteenth for 42 years.

To read the full article, click here.

Read more about Juneteenth here.

Read more Breaking News here.

Frederick Douglass Statue to Be Unveiled in Capitol on Juneteenth Day

 

douglassyoung-495x341On Wednesday, June 19, a statue of famous abolitionist Frederick Douglass (1818-1895) will be unveiled in the United States Capitol Visitor Center at a ceremony.  After escaping slavery, Douglass became a leader of the abolitionist movement and a prolific writer.  District of Columbia Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton has been pushing for the statue for years.  All 50 states are represented in the Capitol by a famous person. But not Washington DC.

Douglass will be the fourth African American to be depicted in the U.S. Capitol complex.

The last African American to be unveiled was Rosa Parks (1913-2005).  Her statue [is] in statuary hall.  A statue of Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) stands in the Capitol rotunda and a statue of abolisionist Sojourner Truth (1797-1883) was unveiled in the  the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center in 2012.

“I welcome the announcement that the District of Columbia’s statue of Frederick Douglass will be unveiled in the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center next month. This statue, which will be the third statue or bust of an African American on display in the U.S. Capitol, will represent more than 600,000 District of Columbia residents and serve as tribute to a great Marylander and civil rights leader,” said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer.

Read more Breaking News here.

Race vs. Class: The False Dichotomy

By Sherrilyn A. Ifill, New York Times

The decision is in. All consideration of race in college admissions is over.

Cameron Clarke hopes to attend Princeton University next year.

Cameron Clarke hopes to attend Princeton University next year.

No, the Supreme Court has not yet announced its decision in the landmark case of Fisher v. University of Texas; that ruling is expected any day now. But an alarming number of scholars, pundits and columnists — many of them liberal — have declared that economic class, not race, should be the appropriate focus of university affirmative-action efforts.

How can we explain this decision to throw in the towel on race-based affirmative action? Are we witnessing a surrender in advance of sure defeat? Or just an early weariness with a debate that, a decade ago, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor predicted would last another 25 years?

Perhaps it is the presence of a black president that has encouraged so many to believe that race is simply no longer a significant factor in American life. It is true that we have come a long way since the days of Jim Crow segregation. But the plain fact is that race still matters….

If the Supreme Court reverses its 2003 decision to uphold affirmative action on campus and outlaw any consideration of race in admissions decisions, it would be radical — a tragic culmination of decades of backtracking on racial justice.

Read the rest of Ifill’s opinion piece here.

Read more Breaking News here.

Reception to be Held for ABHM’s International Advisory Committee in Milwaukee on June 14, 2013

Members of ABHM’s International Advisory Committee are coming to town to meet the people who helped renew the museum.

The museum’s board and staff is holding a reception open to our supporters. We have several exciting developments at the museum to present, too, so…

For release in June 2013: An anthology about lynching compiled by ABHM staff for Biblioboard.com.

For release in late June 2013: An anthology about the history of lynching compiled by ABHM staff for Biblioboard.com. It will be available in libraries around the world and to individual consumers using iPads and, eventually, other tablets.

Please come meet and mingle with our International Advisors, Volunteers, Donors, and Other VIPs!

• June 14, 2013 • 4:00 to 6:00pm

• Place: Duncan Entertainment Group, 777 N. Jefferson 

             (street parking, lot and garage on Jefferson and Mason)

• Refreshments

• Short Program at 5:00 pm

Help support ABHM! Collect and bring old cell phones, iPads, iPods for recycling – yours, your brother’s, your friends’, etc. No phone too old!

Please RSVP to dr.fran@abhmuseum.org !

Click here to learn about our International Advisors: http://www.abhmuseum.org/international-advisory-committee/