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When the past is present…

“…The great force of history comes from the fact that we carry it within us, are unconsciously controlled by it in many ways, and history is literally present in all that we do.” James Baldwin


African-Americans Who Attended Desegregated Schools Have Better Language Skills Years Later

By Rebecca Klein, the Huffington Post

African-Americans who attended racially diverse schools have better cognitive abilities decades after graduation, according to a new study.

The first black students to attend Central High School in Little Rock, AK receive awards on June 12, 1958.

The first black students to attend Central High School in Little Rock, AK receive awards on June 12, 1958.

The study, published around the time of the recent 61st anniversary of Supreme Court’s historic Brown v. Board of Education decision, surveyed African-Americans older than 50 who attended desegregated Baltimore schools and compares their cognitive abilities with a group that attended segregated schools. Researchers from Duke University, University of South Florida, University of Delaware and North Carolina State University didn’t find a difference in the rate of cognitive decline, but they did find that those who attended desegregated schools performed slightly better on measures of language and perceptual speed.

Adrienne Aiken Morgan, from Duke’s Center on Biobehavioral Health Disparities Research, said she’s not surprised the people who attended desegregated schools performed slightly better on cognitive measures.

“Education plays such a key role — both the number of years of education and quality of education — we know that plays such a huge role in cognitive performance,” Aiken Morgan said. “But it is fascinating to consider that this issue wasn’t related to any differential rate of decline over time.”

The study may hold implications for the education of African-Americans, as many U.S. schools have become more segregated in recent years.

“As segregated schooling is a proxy for inequalities in resource allocation for schools, it makes me concerned,” Aiken Morgan told HuffPost. “The disadvantages that you have in early life can very well affect you across time…”

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Tear down the ‘blue wall of silence’: New York Dem destroys sheriff who blames police violence on blacks

By Travis Gettys,

A New York Democrat shut down a black conservative Wisconsin sheriff who blamed police violence on black criminality.

David Clarke, the Milwaukee County sheriff, described “black-on-black crime” as the “elephant in the room” Tuesday during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on the rising tensions between police officers and African-Americans.

“The conversation should be about transforming black underclass subculture behavior,” said Clarke, who frequently appears on Fox News. “The discussion must start with addressing the behavior of people who have no respect for authority, who fight with and try to disarm the police, who flee the police, and who engage in other flawed lifestyle choices.”

“Bashing the police is the low-hanging fruit,” the sheriff added. “It is easier to talk about the rare killing of a black male by police because emotion can be exploited for political advantage.”

Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke

Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) agreed that black-on-black crime was a problem – but he pointed out that 83 percent of white homicide victims were killed by other white people. “Is white-on-white violence also a problem that we should have a robust discussion about?” the lawmaker asked the sheriff.

“It was mentioned that there was a cooperation issue in the black-on-black violence context – but I don’t think I’ve heard the phrase mentioned, ‘blue wall of silence,’” Jeffries said. “If we’re going to have a conversation about cooperation when someone crosses the line, seems to me to make sense that we also have to deal with what may be another elephant in the room, to use your term…”

“If we are going to have a responsible conversation, we’ve got to at least be able to agree on a common set of reasonable facts that all Americans can interpret,” Jeffries said…

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If You Type ‘N—- House’ Into Google Maps, It Will Take You To The White House

By Julia Craven and Amber Ferguson, the Huffington Post

President Barack Obama is no stranger to Internet racism, but this is just ridiculous: typing “nigga house” into Google Maps can land you at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

A screenshot of the glitch, confirmed by HuffPost Politics, was posted to Twitter by a user named Bomani Buckhalter.


“The screenshot first appeared from a fellow Howard University alum in our alumni GroupMe. I tested it out myself, and it started to spread rapidly in the other Howard University/DMV area GroupMe,” Buckhalter told The Huffington Post…

As Buckhalter noted, results can vary depending on a user’s location. One Twitter user found that typing the term into Google Maps took her straight to a Waffle House.NationalNHouse

It’s unclear exactly what’s happening here. Reached for comment, a company spokesperson told HuffPost, “Some inappropriate results are surfacing in Google Maps that should not be, and we apologise for any offence this may have caused. Our teams are working to fix this issue quickly.”

The spokesperson did not explain why the results are popping up…

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Military Weapons Used in Ferguson to Be Restricted by Obama Task Force

By Lauren Victoria Burke,

Civilian law enforcement will be prohibited from receiving certain military weapons—including tanklike vehicles, assault rifles and grenade launchers.

President Barack Obama is moving to restrict the type of military-style equipment that police departments can have, according to a report from the President’s Task Force on 21st-Century Policing.

The task force was established Dec. 18, 2014, after the issue of police brutality received international attention in the wake of Michael Brown’s death by a Ferguson, Mo., police officer. Police used armored vehicles, assault rifles and other military gear in the small city of Ferguson during protests after Brown’s death.

Police confront demonstrators in Ferguson, MO on August 15, 2014.

Police confront demonstrators in Ferguson, MO on August 15, 2014.

In the report, which is to be released later on Monday, the task force takes aim at police militarization. The report outlines a list of military equipment that is now prohibited for transfer to civilian law enforcement, including armored, tanklike vehicles that use a track system instead of wheels; grenade launchers; weaponized aircraft; and firearms over .50 caliber.

“Our review found that there wasn’t a single federal strategy but, rather, a different set of standards and a different set of rules by agencies for different programs, and no consistent standards for law-enforcement agencies that were seeking and requesting the equipment,” said Cecilia Muñoz, President Obama’s highest-ranking official on domestic policy, during a media call Sunday…

“The idea is to make sure that we strike a balance in providing the equipment which is appropriate and useful and important to keep local communities safe, while at the same time putting standards in place so that there’s a clear reason there was a transfer of that equipment, and so that there is clear training and safety procedures in place,” Muñoz said to reporters.

President Obama will also speak about communities that will be working to implement his task force’s recommendations, which include a focus on community policing, implementing body-camera pilot programs and better data collection…

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Post-Baltimore, Most Americans Believe Unrest Was Just One Big Criminal Act

By Charles D. Ellison,

The results are in: A majority of Americans think the Baltimore unrest was just another mad, black riot. The Pew Research Center surveyed the top five reasons an anxious public considered for the unrest, including anger over Freddie Gray’s death, frustration with police-community relations and the socioeconomic challenges. The poverty narrative didn’t stick, with 61 percent believing that “people were taking advantage of the situation to engage in criminal behavior.”

Demonstrators in Baltimor climb on a destroyed police car on April 27, 2915.

Demonstrators in Baltimore climb on a destroyed police car on April 27, 2915.

As expected, those attitudes differ sharply by race, with 50 percent of blacks blaming poverty as the reason, compared with 40 percent of whites (interestingly enough, a majority of African Americans—54 percent—also viewed the unrest as “criminal”). There’s also a nearly 10-point gap between whites and blacks when comparing perceptions on police-community relations: Most African Americans, 65 percent, believe that “tensions between the black community and police” contributed to the unrest, while just 56 percent of whites did. Instead, 66 percent of whites support the notion that it was just one more “wile out” in the hood.

These numbers are significant because they help in our routine evaluation of America on race, police conduct and a #BlackLivesMatter movement trying to find itself ahead of the next election. Polls help us put these experiences into context, especially as we struggle to understand the post-Baltimore public mood…

A just-released Public Religion Research Institute survey finds that there is massive disagreement between blacks (17 percent) and whites (46 percent) on whether people of color receive “equal treatment in the criminal-justice system.” But that is far fewer whites who agree that blacks get fair treatment than the 62 percent who believed it in the late ’90s.

Still, only 49 percent of whites, according to the Public Religion poll, think Freddie Gray’s death was part of a broader pattern of vicious anti-black police treatment, compared with 74 percent of blacks who do…

…America, for the most part, may not be as sympathetic to the broader discussion on poverty, as well as the criminal-justice challenges resulting from it. Most whites, especially, don’t want to hear it. Brothers smashing police cars on infinite news loops didn’t help the cause, either, and there’s a larger concern that both Democratic and Republican presidential candidates in the next election cycle will sidestep systemic issues in favor of coddling white fear. Most polled (96 percent in the NBC/WSJ survey) are more worried about bracing for a long, hot summer of urban unrest than they are about finding solutions to prevent that from happening in the first place.

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Legendary Blues Musician B.B. King Dead At 89

By , The Huffington Post

…Born Riley B. King in Berclair, Mississippi, and raised by his grandmother, the future “King of the Blues” purchased his first guitar for $15 when he was just 12 years old. He dropped out of school in the 10th grade, and spent much of his early years picking cotton and working as a tractor driver.

While he began singing in a gospel choir at church, the blues took root in King during his teen years. The blues is considered by many to be the only truly indigenous American music, and over time, King would become its foremost ambassador….

Although he originally played to all-black audiences, King’s distinctive voice soon won him fans the world over. Between the release of his landmark album “Live at the Regal” in 1965 — which would later be declared a recording worthy of preservation by the Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry — and the charting of his 1969 LP “Live and Well,” King became a true star. And by the late 1960s, he was making appearances on the “Ed Sullivan Show” and “The Tonight Show.”

B.B. King and his guitar, Lucille, are in the Halls of Fame of the Grammy Awards, the Blues, the Rock and Roll, and the R&B Music. He is considered one of the 100 greatest guitarists of all times.

B.B. King and his guitar, Lucille, are in the Halls of Fame of the Grammy Awards, the Blues, the Rock and Roll, and the R&B Music. He is considered one of the 100 greatest guitarists of all times.

Playing on a Gibson ES-355 guitar he lovingly named Lucille, King would weave a musical tapestry of heartfelt soul and pain that masterfully fused elements of blues and jazz. These passionate sounds would not only enrapture audiences but influence many other artists, including Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Stevie Ray Vaughn and Jimi Hendrix.

“When I’m singing, I don’t want you to just hear the melody,” King told the AP in 2006. “I want you to relive the story, because most of the songs have pretty good storytelling.”

King won the first of his 15 Grammy Awards in 1951 and joined the Grammy Hall of Fame 47 years later. He was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1980, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987 and the R&B Music Hall of Fame in 2014. Rolling Stone magazine also ranked him at No. 3 in its 2003 list of the 100 greatest guitarist of all time….

When he wasn’t making music, King loved to fly. He was a licensed pilot and until he turned 70, would fly himself to many of his gigs. The indefatigable performer was known for appearing in 250 to 300 concerts a year well into his 70s. Only declining health made him cut back his workload to about 100 shows annually, and those were not as well-received as his earlier shows. King officially launched a “farewell” world tour in 2006, yet remained active until almost the very end, appearing on television program and in music festivals.

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Black Man Found Hanging From Tree In Georgia Committed Suicide: Officials

By Kim Bellware, the Huffington Post

The death of Roosevelt Champion III, the black Georgia man who on Monday was found hanging from a tree, has been ruled a suicide by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

Roosevelt Champion III, whose death by hanging was ruled a suicide.

Roosevelt Champion III, whose death by hanging was ruled a suicide.

A forensic autopsy was performed on Champion Tuesday morning, the GBI told The Huffington Post in a statement, noting:

The results of the autopsy are that the manner of death is suicide and the cause of death is hanging. After a thorough autopsy examination, there was no evidence of any inflicted trauma to Champion’s body.”

Champion, 43, was found hanging from a tree behind a residence that was not his own, the Greensboro Police Department told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Investigators initially found no signs of struggle or other trauma on Champion’s body, which could indicate foul play, according to Rusty Andrews, deputy director at the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, talking to Action 2 News Monday.

Champion had been interviewed in connection with the murder of a woman on May 2 but had not been charged, Andrews told the station.

GBI Special Agent Joe Wooten told NBC Monday that several people had already been interviewed in connection with Champion’s death.

“I understand that there is a lot of concern” raised by the news of a black man being hanged in the Deep South, Wooten said. “Because of that, we’re going to be as transparent as we can be.”

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Michelle Obama Tells Grads Not to Let Hate and Insults Stand in Their Way

By the staff of

In her commencement speech to the graduating class of Tuskegee University, the first lady shared what she has overcome at the White House and encouraged members of the senior class to have faith in themselves. The First Lady’s speech is excerpted below.


Before I begin, I just want to say that my heart goes out to everyone who knew and loved Eric Marks Jr. I understand he was such a talented young man, a promising aerospace engineer who was well on his way to achieving his dream of following in the footsteps of the Tuskegee Airmen. And Eric was taken from us far too soon. And our thoughts and prayers will continue to be with his family, his friends and this entire community…”

Just think about the arc of this university’s history. Back in the late 1800s, the school needed a new dormitory, but there was no money to pay for it. So Booker T. Washington pawned his pocket watch to buy a kiln, and students used their bare hands to make bricks to build that dorm—and a few other buildings along the way…

Generation after generation, students here have shown that same grit, that same resilience to soar past obstacles and outrages—past the threat of countryside lynchings; past the humiliation of Jim Crow; past the turmoil of the civil rights era. And then they went on to become scientists, engineers, nurses and teachers in communities all across the country—and continued to lift others up along the way.

And while the history of this campus isn’t perfect, the defining story of Tuskegee is the story of rising hopes and fortunes for all African Americans.

And now, graduates, it’s your turn to take up that cause. And let me tell you, you should feel so proud of making it to this day. And I hope that you’re excited to get started on that next chapter. But I also imagine that you might think about all that history, all those heroes who came before you—you might also feel a little pressure, you know—pressure to live up to the legacy of those who came before you; pressure to meet the expectations of others…

as potentially the first African American first lady, I was also the focus of another set of questions and speculations; conversations sometimes rooted in the fears and misperceptions of others. Was I too loud, or too angry, or too emasculating? [Applause.] Or was I too soft, too much of a mom, not enough of a career woman? …

Or you might remember the onstage celebratory fist bump between me and my husband after a primary win that was referred to as a “terrorist fist jab.” And over the years, folks have used plenty of interesting words to describe me. One said I exhibited “a little bit of uppity-ism.” Another noted that I was one of my husband’s “cronies of color.” Cable news once charmingly referred to me as “Obama’s baby mama…”

So throughout this journey, I have learned to block everything out and focus on my truth. I had to answer some basic questions for myself: Who am I? No, really, who am I? What do I care about?…

So, graduates, that’s what I want for all of you. I want you all to stay true to the most real, most sincere, most authentic parts of yourselves. I want you to ask those basic questions: Who do you want to be? What inspires you? How do you want to give back? And then I want you to take a deep breath and trust yourselves to chart your own course and make your mark on the world…

And all of that is going to be a heavy burden to carry. It can feel isolating. It can make you feel like your life somehow doesn’t matter—that you’re like the invisible man that Tuskegee grad Ralph Ellison wrote about all those years ago. And as we’ve seen over the past few years, those feelings are real. They’re rooted in decades of structural challenges that have made too many folks feel frustrated and invisible. And those feelings are playing out in communities like Baltimore and Ferguson and so many others across this country.

But graduates, today, I want to be very clear that those feelings are not an excuse to just throw up our hands and give up. Not an excuse. They are not an excuse to lose hope. To succumb to feelings of despair and anger only means that in the end, we lose. ..

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Officer in Freddie Gray case demanded man’s arrest as part of personal dispute

By the Guardian Staff

The most senior Baltimore police officer charged over the death of Freddie Gray used his position to order the arrest of a man as part of a personal dispute just two weeks before the fatal incident, prompting an internal inquiry by Baltimore police department.

Funeral of Freddie Gray

Funeral of Freddie Gray

During an erratic late-night episode in March, Brian Rice boasted he was a Baltimore police lieutenant and warned “heads will roll” if officers in a nearby city did not “go arrest” his ex-girlfriend’s husband, according to a police report obtained by the Guardian.

The incident is the latest in a series… that raised questions over Rice’s ability to perform his duties as a supervising officer and the Baltimore department’s decision to keep him on front line patrols.

Two weeks later, it was Rice who initiated the arrest of Gray after the 25-year-old “made eye contact” with the lieutenant in a west Baltimore street and ran away. Gray was chased and subjected to a fatal arrest that was declared unlawful by the city’s top prosecutor

It was previously disclosed that Rice was accused of threatening to kill Andrew McAleer, his former girlfriend’s husband, and himself during an alleged campaign of harassment between 2012 and 2013, which earned him a temporary restraining order. Rice was twice disciplined in this period by Baltimore chiefs and consigned to paperwork with his police gun and badge revoked, according to police sources.

Lt. Brian Rice

Lt. Brian Rice

Prosecutors allege he and his colleagues illegally arrested Gray because a knife discovered in the 25-year-old’s pocket was lawful. Rice and some of the other six officers involved are accused of being culpable for Gray’s death after failing to seatbelt him in the police van or answer his pleas for medical attention. Rice, 41, is charged with manslaughter, assault and misconduct in office.

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Baltimore mayor seeks federal investigation of police department

By Luke Broadwater, the Baltimore Sun

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake asked the Justice Department on Wednesday to conduct a full-scale civil rights investigation into the pattern and practices of the Baltimore Police Department — a probe that would examine excessive force, discriminatory harassment, false arrests, and unlawful stops, searches or arrests.

“We all know that Baltimore continues to have a fractured relationship between the police and the community,” Rawlings-Blake said. “I’m willing to do what it takes to reform my department.”

In the kind of inquiry Rawlings-Blake and the council are seeking, the Justice Department’s civil rights division examines whether officers have a history of discrimination or of using force beyond standard guidelines. Such investigations can lead to consent decrees and years of court monitoring.

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake