Michelle Obama Declares ‘Black Girls Rock!’

By Nekesa Mumbi Moody, the Huffington Post

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Michelle Obama celebrated the beauty, power and tenacity of black women while spreading her own message of education for girls at Black Girls Rock!, an annual event honoring trailblazing women of color from all walks of life.

2015 Black Girls Rock! - Show

“No matter who you are, no matter where you come from, you are beautiful,” Obama told the crowd, which included many young black girls.

“I am so proud of you. My husband, your president, is so proud of you,” she added. “We have so much hope and dreams for you.”

…Obama got among the night’s loudest ovations as she came on stage and declared “Black girls rock!” – the slogan and name of the organization founded by Beverly Bond, which is designed to uplift young black girls, a group that often has difficulty finding positive and reaffirming images of themselves in the world.

Obama acknowledged as much in her speech to celebrate three young honorees.

“I know there are voices that you are not good enough,” she said, acknowledging that she often lacked self-confidence growing up despite encouraging parents.

“Each of those doubts was like a test,” she said, “that I either shrink away from or rise to meet. And I decided to rise.”

…Obama, who recently completed a trip to Japan and Cambodia as part of her worldwide push for better educational opportunities for girls, lauded the young honorees for excelling in their studies….

Obama’s speech was just one of many highlights of the nearly four-hour event, which will be shown Saturday, April 5, on BET.

Read the full article here.

Read more Breaking News here.


Ole Miss Student Indicted For Hanging Noose Around Statue Honoring School’s First Black Enrollee

By Lilly Workneh, the Huffington Post

A federal grand jury indicted a student at the University of Mississippi on two separate civil rights charges on Friday for hanging a noose and a flag depicting a Confederate symbol around a campus statue honoring James Meredith, the first African-American student to attend the university.

Statue of James Meredith, the first black student to attend the University of Mississippi.

Statue of James Meredith, the first black student to attend the University of Mississippi.

Ole Miss student Graeme Phillip Harris was indicted on one count of conspiracy to violate civil rights and one count of using a threat of force to intimidate black students because of their race or color, prosecutors said…

Prosecutors said Harris conspired with other students and draped the racially offensive items around the statue on the morning of Feb. 16, 2014. The Mississippi NAACP described the act as a “racial hate crime.”

The FBI and the University of Mississippi Police Department are currently investigating the case, which is being prosecuted by the DOJ’s civil rights division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Mississippi.

Read the full article here.

Read more Breaking News here.

George Zimmerman Says God and Justice Are on His Side

By Kirsten West Savali, theRoot.com

In a new video released by his law firm, Trayvon Martin’s killer says he feels no survivor’s remorse because it was God’s plan for the teenager to die.

If the moral arc of the universe really did bend toward justice, I would be reporting on George Zimmerman’s incarceration for one of the numerous crimes he’s committed since he gunned down unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin on that rainy night in Sanford, Fla.

Trayvon Martin

Trayvon Martin, the 17 year old boy who was shot and killed by George Zimmerman in Florida in 2012. Martin’s killing began the recent national outcry against the murders of unarmed black men and boys by white authorities and pseudo-authorities like Zimmerman, who was a acting as a self-appointed neighborhood watchman.

Instead he’s in the news for a disturbing interview in which he once again exposes his delusion and depravity. Zimmerman claims that he was afraid to “speak his mind” during his 2012 interview with Sean Hannity because he feared retaliation from President Barack Hussein Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder and, apparently, the entire federal government. Now, though, he wants the world to know about the many injustices he faced after profiling, following and killing Trayvon…

“To me that was clearly a dereliction of duty pitting Americans against each other solely based on race,” Zimmerman says in the video. “… I’m also my parent’s child and my life matters as well. And for him to make incendiary comments as he did and direct the Department of Justice to pursue a baseless prosecution, he, by far, overstretched, overreached, even broke the law in certain aspects to where you have an innocent American being prosecuted by the federal government, which should never happen.”

Not surprisingly, he also reiterates his claim that God’s plan was for Trayvon Martin to die so that he could live: “As a Christian I believe that God does everything for a purpose, and he had his plans and for me to second-guess them would be hypocritical and almost blasphemous.”

This is the language of structural racism: This idea that God protects and privileges whiteness in the face of seething, unbridled black rage and innate criminality; this ugly, cruel belief that our freedom to navigate society is a grudging favor that can be taken away with one bullet of a bigot’s gun. The entrenched notion that once God protects the life of the white killer, the black families left to mourn should do what Jesus did and “forgive”.

Read the full article here.

Read more Breaking News here.


Confronting Past, Mississippi Town Erects Emmett Till Museum 60 Years After His Killing

By Bryn Stole, Reuters

Six decades after the brutal slaying of Emmett Till, a 14-year-old black boy, the small Mississippi Delta town where two white men were acquitted of his murder is dedicating a museum to the event credited with helping spark the U.S. civil rights movement.

Emmett Till, a teenager murdered in 1955 after whistling at a white woman.

Emmett Till, a teenager murdered in 1955 after whistling at a white woman.

The opening in Sumner on Saturday of the Emmett Till Interpretive Center is timed to coincide with the reopening across the town square of the refurbished Tallahatchie County Courthouse, where an all-white jury set Roy Bryant and J.W. Milan free after deliberating for one hour.

The museum’s exhibits detail the 1955 murder and key moments in the trial, which attracted wide attention at the time…

Work on both projects in the struggling town of a few hundred people began after the Tallahatchie Board of Supervisors issued a formal apology over the Till affair in 2006. It also established the Emmett Till Memorial Commission to bring attention to a racially charged incident that had for decades gone mostly undiscussed locally, said commission co-chairman John Wilchie.

“For a long time, the people in Tallahatchie County were afraid to even talk about it,” he said…

Museum director Patrick Weems said his facility, which features the only publicly available library in town, together with the restoration of the courthouse, has helped foster a long overdue sense of racial reconciliation in the area…

Read the full article here.

Read more Breaking News here.

Black Man Found Hanging From Tree in Miss. Reportedly Robbed and Murdered Woman in 1980: Report

By Stephen A. Crockett Jr., theRoot.com

The body of a black man believed to be Otis Byrd was found hanging from a tree. Byrd served 25 years in prison for reportedly robbing and killing a woman.

A 2014 photograph of Otis Byrd.

A 2014 photograph of Otis Byrd.

On March 2 a friend dropped off Otis Byrd at the Riverwalk Casino in Vicksburg, Miss. On March 8, members of the Byrd family reported the 54-year-old missing. On Thursday, Claiborne County, Miss., authorities found a man’s body, believed to be Byrd’s, hanged from a tree by a bed sheet, causing many in the area to wonder whether the hanging was a homicide and, if so, whether it could be retaliation for a killing some 25 years ago.

Authorities have not confirmed the man’s identity, but the Claiborne County NAACP and family members have said that it was Byrd…

FBI Supervisory Special Agent Jason Pack told CNN that the man’s hands were not bound and that he was wearing a skull cap. It’s unclear whether the hanging was a suicide or a homicide. “We don’t know what happened out there—if it is a suicide, a homicide. That is why we investigate these types of cases to determine exactly what happened,” he said.

The Byrd family and the state NAACP are calling for a full investigation into the death. “Considering Mr. Byrd’s body was found hanging from a tree, we are calling on federal authorities to immediately investigate to determine whether his death is a result of a racial hate crime,” Derrick Johnson, president of the Mississippi NAACP, told the Clarion-Ledger…

“The sheriff’s department contacted the [Mississippi Bureau of Investigation] and FBI for forensic and investigative assistance. Investigators are currently processing the scene for evidence to determine the cause and manner of death,” according to the FBI.

Read the full article here.

Read more Breaking News here.

Jesse Jackson: Access to Technology Is the Goal of Our Next Big Movement

By Julie Walker, theRoot.com

Speaking at South by Southwest, the veteran activist said that opening the doors to the tech industry for people of color is the first step.

Van Jones and Jesse Jackson at South by Southwest.

Van Jones and Jesse Jackson at South by Southwest.

Fresh off the 50th anniversary of the “Bloody Sunday” march over the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., the Rev. Jesse Jackson brought his message of going “beyond the bridge” to the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas.

Jackson said that while the 1965 march was a major moment in the struggle to get blacks the right to vote, the new challenge will be opening up access to technology and Silicon Valley.

“Voting has its place, but the fastest-growing industry, I believe, is high tech, so we need to get in there,” he said. “We must make access to technology and this new machinery a crusade for everybody, not just a campaign for the few.”

Jackson has been instrumental in convincing major technology companies to release their diversity figures, which have shown that on average, just 2 percent of their workforce is black.

When #YesWeCode founder Van Jones, who moderated the conversation with Jackson, asked how many in the SXSW audience knew that the veteran activist has been pivotal in making this happen, very few people raised their hands.

How Jackson went about getting companies to cooperate illustrated a new way of taking protest from the pavement to the boardroom, he explained.

“The magic is going from a protester to a shareholder,” said Jackson, whose organization the Rainbow PUSH Coalition bought shares in tech companies to push for change from the inside…

Jackson pointed out that blacks can be just innovative as whites and have been demonstrating this since the beginning of time…

“If you start telling African-American and Latino and Native American grandmamas alone that their grandkids can make $70,000 a year if they work hard and study well for just six months, you’re not going to have a problem in terms of people wanting to be part of this,” Jones said…

Read the full article here.

Read more breaking news here.

Who Gets Food Stamps? White People, Mostly

By Arthur Delaney and Alissa Scheller, the Huffington Post

WASHINGTON — Gene Alday, a Republican member of the Mississippi state legislature, apologized last week for telling a reporter that all the African-Americans in his hometown of Walls, Mississippi, are unemployed and on food stamps.


“I come from a town where all the blacks are getting food stamps and what I call ‘welfare crazy checks,'” Alday said to a reporter for The Clarion-Ledger, a Mississippi newspaper, earlier this month. “They don’t work.”

Nationally, most of the people who receive benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program are white. According to 2013 data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which administers the program, 40.2 percent of SNAP recipients are white, 25.7 percent are black, 10.3 percent are Hispanic, 2.1 percent are Asian and 1.2 percent are Native American…

Twenty-three million households and 47 million Americans received benefits on an average month in 2013; enrollment declined slightly to 22 million households and 46 million individuals in 2014. Three-quarters of those households included a child, an elderly person or someone with a disability. The average monthly benefit per household was $274 in 2013 and $256 last year.


Republicans are conducting a review of nutrition assistance with an eye toward figuring out how to nudge more people into the workforce. In recent years Republicans have lamented that a growing share of recipients are able-bodied adults without children — a group that made up 10.2 percent of beneficiaries in 2011, up from 6.6 percent before the onset of the Great Recession in 2007. (The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimates that 1 million people will be kicked off the rolls by next year as states reimpose time limits on childless, non-disabled adults.)

Nearly one-third of food stamp beneficiaries lived in a household where at least one member had some earned income in 2013… Many SNAP recipients qualify based on their participation in another means-tested program, such as Medicaid or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.

Read the full article here.

Read more Breaking News here.

Changes in Wikipedia Pages on Police-Brutality Cases Linked to NYPD: Report

By Breanna Edwards, theRoot.com

The NYPD’s computer network at 1 Police Plaza headquarters has been used to make changes or attempt to delete Wikipedia pages about controversial cases from Sean Bell to Eric Garner.

A protest against the death of Eric Garner on July 19, 2014.

A Staten Island protest against the death of Eric Garner on July 19, 2014.

…IP addresses in the computer network at the NYPD’s 1 Police Plaza headquarters have been linked to edits and changes (even attempted deletions) to pages surrounding cases such as Eric Garner, Sean Bell and Amadou Diallo, all of whom lost their lives in officer-involved incidents.

…At least 85 NYPD IP addresses… have edited Wikipedia pages, but it is uncertain as to how many people are involved.

The IP addresses have also been used to edit posts on stop and frisk and other controversial topics.

Specific changes made to the entry relating to the death of Staten Island dad Eric Garner… include the word “chokehold” being changed twice, once to “respiratory distress” and in another case to “chokehold or headlock.”

Read the full article here.

Read more Breaking News here.

Ferguson police chief resigns after scathing Justice Dept. report

By Carey Gilliam, Reuters.com

The police chief of Ferguson, Missouri, resigned on Wednesday, following a scathing U.S. Justice Department report that found widespread racially biased abuses in the city’s police department and municipal court.

Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson at a press conference held August 13, 2014.

Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson at a press conference held August 13, 2014.

The resignation of Chief Thomas Jackson, which the city announced in a brief statement, is the latest in a string of departures since the Justice Department… probe had uncovered a range of unlawful and unconstitutional practices.

Protesters had called for Jackson’s removal since the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager by a white Ferguson police officer on Aug. 9…

But it was the Justice Department findings that the police department was routinely targeting African-Americans for arrests and ticketing, largely to raise revenue for the city, that led to what the city called a “mutual decision” for Jackson to resign.

Jackson’s departure follows those of Ferguson City Manager John Shaw and Municipal Judge Ronald Brockmeyer earlier this week…

“Chief Jackson stepping down is long overdue,” said Patricia Bynes, a local Democratic leader. “It should not have gotten to this point. All the things that the Justice Department found that happened under his watch, you really have to question what made him think he could still be chief of police.”

Read the full article here.

Read more Breaking News here.

‘Bloody Sunday’ Anniversary Commemorated With March Across Selma Bridge

By Tami Chapelle, Reuters News Service

SELMA, Ala., March 8 (Reuters) – Tens of thousands of people paraded across a Selma, Alabama bridge on Sunday to commemorate the 1965 “Bloody Sunday” march, not waiting for dignitaries who had planned to lead them in marking the 50th anniversary of a turning point in the U.S. civil rights movement.

Marchers cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge in imitation of the 1965 "Bloody Sunday" march.

Marchers cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge in imitation of the 1965 “Bloody Sunday” march.

In contrast to the police violence that marked the original march half a century ago, the mood was often celebratory, at times festive, as an estimated 70,000 demonstrators cheered, sang “We Shall Overcome” and carried signs as they walked across the Edmund Pettus Bridge.

Bloody Sunday on March 7, 1965, took its name from the beating that roughly 600 peaceful civil rights activists sustained at the hands of white state troopers and police who attacked them with batons and sprayed them with tear gas…

A large throng of people started walking across the bridge at the appointed time, before dignitaries could be brought to the front to lead them.

Among the throng were demonstrators who took part in the 1965 march, as well as others calling for immigration and gay rights.

President Barack Obama visited Selma on Saturday and declared the work of the U.S. civil rights movement advanced but unfinished in the face of ongoing racial tensions.

“Fifty years from Bloody Sunday, our march is not yet finished, but we’re getting closer,” said Obama, the first black president of the United States.

The anniversary comes at a time of renewed focus on racial disparities in the United States and anger over the treatment of black civilians, among them 18-year-old Michael Brown, whose killing by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, last year sparked widespread protests…

Read the full article here.

Read more Breaking News here.