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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

 

For Students Of Color At Parkland, More Security Doesn’t Mean More Safety

By Rebecca Klein, Huffington Post

Students Gabrielle Benzaken, left, Brielle Pitterson, center, and Falynn Kiernan, right, sit at makeshift memorial for Martin Duque, one of the victims of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, at Pine Trails Park, Wednesday, March 14, 2018, in Parkland, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission unanimously approved its final report last week, with hundreds of pages’ worth of investigation and recommendations now going to the governor’s office and the Florida legislature for action…

The report is an in-depth analysis of the Parkland shooting in February 2018 that left 17 students and staff members dead. It documents extensive shortcomings in the school’s security measures prior to the shooting, and outlines deficiencies in the police response. It offers a searing critique of the school and sheriff department’s ability to stymie the bloodshed.

The commission was formed in March by the Florida legislature, and its 16 members include sheriffs, school board members, academics and parents of students murdered in the shooting. Its report offers dozens of recommendations about how the high school ― and school districts around the state ― could improve safety. It calls for increased funding for school police officers and training teachers to carry firearms…

“We don’t necessarily trust police. We have a lot of reasons to not trust them,” said Aalayah Eastmond, a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas who survived last year’s shooting. “So having them at school makes it ten times worse and heightens the problem.”

Eastmond told HuffPost the school has already started to feel less welcoming for students of color with an increase in police presence. She describes seeing “new people on campus every day with really big guns.”

“Some of them are really nice, but not all of them are nice,” she said. “We don’t really know them. It’s uncomfortable for a lot of people.”

While there have been a handful of instances where police officers prevented or mitigated school shootings, there is no comprehensive research suggesting that school police officers deter school shootings overall.

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NEWS RELEASE: Abele Issues $100K Challenge Grant to Support New ABHM!

NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:  Nancy Ketchman, development@abhmuseum.org, cell: 414-305-6923

Dr. James Cameron Legacy Foundation

Milwaukee philanthropist and County Executive, Chris Abele

Chris Abele Issues a $100,000 Personal Challenge Grant on Behalf of America’s Black Holocaust Museum

Milwaukee, WI —Chris Abele, Milwaukee philanthropist and County Executive of Milwaukee County, has personally issued a $100,000 challenge grant to support the reopening of America’s Black Holocaust Museum (ABHM) at 401 W. North Avenue in Milwaukee’s Bronzeville African American Cultural and Entertainment District. Abele’s grant will match dollar-for-dollar all donations and pledges made by February 25, 2019. This is a special day: it is the 105th birthday of museum founder Dr. James Cameron, who passed away in 2006 at age 92. A donation or pledge makes a wonderful birthday gift in honor of Dr. Cameron.

Written pledges submitted by February 25, 2019 can be paid through the end of calendar year 2021 (up to a 3-year pledge). Donations will support the museum’s educational programming and operations. The new museum, which is reopening soon, is a program of the Dr. James Cameron Legacy Foundation (DJCLF). Abele’s challenge grant is a catalyst to help raise the remaining $400,000 of DJCLF’s $1.5 million fundraising goal for 2018.

Four views of the new ABHM building at 401 W. North Avenue, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Like the original museum (which operated from 1988 to 2008), the new ABHM will include exhibits on African people before captivity, the trans-Atlantic slave trade, auction blocks, the civil rights movement (both past and present), as well as local and national civil rights leaders. One of the primary goals of the museum is to share the under-told stories that are an integral part of U.S. history.

New exhibits await you at the new ABHM galleries at 401 W. North Avenue, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

“I’m grateful to have the opportunity to support this amazing and important museum,” said Abele.  “I truly believe that clarity and openness about this chapter of our nation’s history is more important now than it ever has been.  Milwaukee will be a stronger community for both knowing that history and, in particular, celebrating Dr. Cameron’s courage and profound commitment – along with many other advocates and activists from diverse backgrounds – to repairing and healing our racial divisions. It is my hope that this challenge grant inspires others, not only to help support this museum, but to re-dedicate themselves to the more just, equitable, and compassionate community that we all know Milwaukee can and must be.”

Speaking to the Senate and families of lynching victims on the occasion of the Senate apology for failing to outlaw lynching. Courtesy of the Cameron Family.

Speaking to the Senate and families of lynching victims on the occasion of the Senate apology for failing to outlaw lynching. Courtesy of the Cameron Family.

ABHM was founded in 1988 by Dr. James Cameron.  He survived a brutal 1930 lynching in Marion, IN when he was just 16 years old.  Dr. Cameron went on to devote his life to civil rights and promoting a just and peaceful society.  He founded ABHM to teach others about the forgotten history and harmful legacy of slavery, as well as promote racial repair, reconciliation, and healing. Until 2008, ABHM was a beloved cultural institution that welcomed thousands of visitors from around the world, with an emphasis on young people from local schools and universities.  The original museum closed two years after Dr. Cameron’s passing in 2006. The new museum is built upon the same footprint as its predecessor on the corner of Vel R. Phillips Ave. (formerly 4th St.) and North Ave.

To have your financial gift matched by Abele’s challenge grant, please submit all donations or pledge commitments by February 25, 2019. 

You can donate on-line at ABHM 2018 Campaign [https://abhmuseum.org/support/] or mail a pledge commitment or check payable to the Dr. James Cameron Legacy Foundation at 11933 W. Burleigh St., Suite 100, Wauwatosa, WI 53222.

Download the pledge/donation form here [https://tinyurl.com/MyPledge2ABHM] For other ways to give, including underwriting opportunities, please contact us at 414-374-5353 or email development@abhmuseum.org.

ABOUT DR. JAMES CAMERON LEGACY FOUNDATION, INC.

The nonprofit Dr. James Cameron Legacy Foundation (DJCLF) was founded in 2012 by friends and supporters of Dr. James Cameron to continue his legacy. Its mission is to build public awareness of the harmful legacies of slavery in America and promote racial repair, reconciliation, and healing. We envision a society that remembers its past in order to shape a better future – a nation undivided by race where every person matters equally. The new physical museum will complement DJCLF’s virtual museum (www.abhmuseum.org), which was created in 2012 to share Dr. Cameron’s story and museum exhibits to a broader national and international audience. Each year more than 5 million visitors from over 200 countries visit ABHM’s Virtual Museum. For more information and to donate, visit www.abhmuseum.org/support.

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Pledge Form:

To make your pledge using a check or credit card, please download, complete, and mail this Pledge Form – or call 414-305-6923. Thank you for your generosity!

 

America Is Racist. So What Do We Do Now? Activist Lawyer Bryan Stevenson Has Some Answers

Hopelessness is the enemy of justice,” says Stevenson, in front of monuments at the National Memorial For Peace and Justice in Montgomery. Alabama. Each of the monuments represents one of the over 800 counties where lynching occurred. The names of the victim or victims are etched on the surface. Joshua Cogan for Newsweek

By Mary Kaye Schilling, Newsweek

Montgomery is the capital of Alabama. It is also a ghost town.

The trip from the airport to the city proper takes 20 minutes, and after you leave the freeway the traffic disappears and the ironies pile up. My taxi driver points out the home of Jefferson Davis, the only president of the Confederacy. A block later, we pass the Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church, where the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. presided between 1954 and 1960, followed soon after by the Alabama Confederate Monument. I’m reminded that this is a state where the day celebrating King is shared with Robert E. Lee, commander of the Confederate Army, and where the largest high schools, named for Davis and Lee, are 99 percent African-American…

I get to chatting with the driver, an African-American who looks to be in his 60s. He tells me that he grew up and raised his children in Montgomery, that he loves it here, particularly the slow pace and the barbecue. He asks the reason for my visit. I explain that I’ll be interviewing Bryan Stevenson, the lawyer, activist and director of the nonprofit Equal Justice Initiative. He nods in recognition. I ask if he’s been to EJI’s three-month-old National Memorial for Peace and Justice, which remembers the thousands of lynched African-Americans. “No,” he says. “I don’t need to go. I lived it.” Has racism in Montgomery improved since his childhood? “A little,” he says evenly, “but it will always be here. I don’t expect that will change in my lifetime…”

A few months into Barack Obama’s presidency, Jimmy Carter told NBC Nightly News that he felt “an overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity toward Obama is based on the fact that he’s a black man.” He got hammered by the media—America wasn’t racist anymore!—but African-Americans knew what he was talking about. Bigotry had merely been pushed into the closet. And with the surprisingly successful campaign of Donald Trump, and his subsequent administration, that entrenched hatred emerged with a vengeance…

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Senate Unanimously Passes Bill Making Lynching a Federal Crime

Sarah Silbiger/The New York Times

By Mihir Zaveri, The New York Times

The Senate on Wednesday unanimously passed a bill that would, for the first time, explicitly make lynching a federal crime.

“For over a century, members of Congress have attempted to pass some version of a bill that would recognize lynching for what it is: a bias-motivated act of terror,” Senator Cory Booker, a New Jersey Democrat who introduced the bill, said in a statement. “Today, we have righted that wrong and taken corrective action that recognizes this stain on our country’s history.”

More than 4,700 people, the vast majority of them black, were lynched in the United States between 1882 and 1968, according to the N.A.A.C.P. Perpetrators were rarely prosecuted. Congress has tried and failed some 200 times to pass similar anti-lynching legislation since 1882, according to the bill.

The bill, titled the Justice for Victims of Lynching Act of 2018, was introduced in June by the Senate’s three black members: Kamala Harris, a California Democrat; Tim Scott, a South Carolina Republican; and Mr. Booker. A spokeswoman for Ms. Harris said her office was trying to get the House to schedule a vote on the bill before Congress adjourns this week.

“Lynchings were needless and horrendous acts of violence that were motivated by racism,” Ms. Harris said in a statement. “And we must acknowledge that fact, lest we repeat it…”

Frank Pezzella, a professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said the bill’s passage also carries a message of deterrence — that lynching or actions similar to it will not be tolerated by society. Reported hate crimes rose for the third consecutive year in 2017, according to the F.B.I.

“It was taken for granted in the South that whites could use force against any African-Americans who became overbearing,” he said. “How do we connect that with hate crimes in the present? Hate offenders really want to kind of go back to that place.”

The bill comes as the country has increasingly confronted the history of lynching…

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Video  https://nyti.ms/2RfR38E

 

First Step – One of the Biggest Criminal Justice Reforms in Decades

By Anne Branigin, TheRoot.com

Credit – IStock

First Step Is One of the Biggest Criminal Justice Reforms in Decades. But How Great Will Its Effect Be?

On Tuesday night, a Republican-dominated Senate passed First Step, paving the way for the criminal justice reform bill to clear the House and be signed into law by Donald Trump. The bipartisan bill, which was overwhelmingly passed in an 87-12 vote, is widely considered to the most substantial legislation affecting the federal prison system in decades….

Under the bill, thousands of federal inmates will be able to have their sentences reduced immediately, and early-release programs and job training will be expanded. Mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenders would also be reduced, and judges will be given more freedom to go around mandatory minimums. The bill also ends the practice of shackling pregnant inmates in federal prison, as well as prohibits juvenile solitary confinement in “almost all cases” according to the Times….

Because race and America’s penal system are so deeply intertwined, the First Step bill would theoretically have a disproportionate impact on communities of color. The Times noted that one provision of the bill could decrease the sentences of “several thousand drug offenders serving lengthy sentences for crack-cocaine offenses.” During the “War on Drugs” era, black crack dealers were punished far more heavily than white offenders dealing coke….

But even with these caveats, the changes introduced in the First Step bill are significant, bolstering a trend that has emerged in cities like Tulsa, Okla., and St. Louis, where mass incarceration has had such devastating effects on communities and resources that it’s become a bipartisan issue. And while the bill has its limits, criminal justice advocates believe the reforms it brings to the federal prison system could push more states to adopt similar changes.

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The Quiet Crisis Killing Black Women

By Melissa Jeltsen, The Huffington Post

Sharon Jefferson, 43, holds her grandson Ray Ray Rainey ,2. Her daughter , Delashon Jefferson, was murdered by her boyfriend in September. The baby that her daughter was pregnant with is in ICU at Baylor Hospital in Dallas, Texas.

DALLAS ― Before she died, Delashon Jefferson tacked a certificate to her bedroom wall.

The piece of paper, edged in gold like a diploma, was proof that her boyfriend had completed an anger management program. For Delashon, 20, it was more than that. It was a promise that her boyfriend was getting better…

Earlier this fall, police say, Rainey shot Delashon inside her bedroom when she was eight months pregnant. She was killed in front of her son…

In death, Delashon became one of the three women killed by their boyfriends, husbands and lovers every day in the United States. Domestic violence does not discriminate, and victims span all races, ages, ethnicities and religions.

The suffering, though, is not equally distributed.

In the U.S., black women face higher rates of domestic violence than do women of all other races, except Native women. In Dallas County, the most likely type of person to be killed by a romantic partner is a black woman, age 20 to 29, just like Delashon. Black women are four times more likely than their white peers to be murdered by a boyfriend or girlfriend, and twice as likely to be killed by a spouse. And they are seven times more likely to be slain while pregnant than white women.

Experts say this is not because black men are more violent. Rather, black women are more vulnerable to domestic violence due to a constellation of factors, including high rates of poverty, lack of access to resources and systemic racism within systems designed to help victims of abuse.

Since the passage of the Violence Against Women Act in 1994, the central response to domestic violence in the U.S. has been criminal. Victims are told to call the cops, press charges and help prosecutors put their abusers behind bars.

But relying on police can leave black women facing an impossible quandary: How can they trust a historically racist criminal justice system, one that systematically imprisoned their brothers and fathers, to protect them?

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Henrietta Lacks: The Mother of Modern Medicine

By Anna MacDonald, Technology Networks.com

Henrietta Lacks (HeLa): The Mother of Modern Medicine” by Kadir Nelson, oil on linen, 2017. Collection of the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery and National Museum of African American History and Culture, Gift from Kadir Nelson and the JKBN Group LLC.

A portrait of Henrietta Lacks has recently been unveiled at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, to recognize her life and the vital contributions HeLa cells have made to science. The oil on linen painting, The Mother of Modern Medicine, was produced by artist Kadir Nelson in 2017, and will be on view until November 4th. Commissioned by HBO, the painting will be jointly shared with the National Museum of African American History and Culture. “It is fitting that Henrietta Lacks be honored at two Smithsonian museums, as each approaches American history from unique and complementary perspectives,” Kim Sajet, director of the National Portrait Gallery said in a press release.

Who was Henrietta Lacks?

Unlike the HeLa cell line named after her, Henrietta Lacks was little heard of until Rebecca Skloot’s book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, published in 2010, brought her story into the spotlight. Born in 1920 in Virginia, Henrietta was an African American tobacco farmer, a wife and mother to 5 children. In 1951, aged just 31 years, Henrietta died from an aggressive form of cervical cancer, only 10 months after first seeking treatment at Johns Hopkins for a “knot” in her womb. During her treatment at the hospital, samples of cancerous tissue were taken from her cervix. These cells went on to become the immortal cell line known as HeLa.

The Significance of HeLa Cells

Multiphoton fluorescence image of HeLa cells stained with the actin binding toxin phalloidin (red), microtubules (cyan) and cell nuclei (blue). Credit: National Institutes of Health (Creator: Tom Deerinck, NIGMS, NIH)

Inscribed on Henrietta’s gravestone, (which was donated nearly 60 years after her death), are the words ‘Her immortal cells will continue to help mankind forever.’ And indeed, Henrietta’s cells have already helped to advance numerous fields of science and medicine. The cells were the first that were observed to divide multiple times without dying and enabled Dr. George Gey to start the first immortal  Subsequent discoveries and developments resulting from their use include the polio vaccine, AIDS research, gene mapping, IVF, and cloning to name a few. HeLa cells have also traveled to space to test the effects of micro-gravity on cells…

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Facebook Removed A Former Employee’s Post Accusing It Of ‘Failing’ Black People

By David Barden, Huffington Post

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

Mark Luckie said the tech giant “has a black people problem.”

Facebook temporarily removed comments made by a former employee who accused the tech giant of “failing” black people.

As previously reported by HuffPost, the company’s former strategic partner manager for global influencers, Mark Luckie, alleged Facebook regularly removed the content of black users without notice and suspended their accounts indefinitely.

“Black people are finding that their attempts to create “safe spaces” on Facebook for conversation among themselves are being derailed by the platform itself,” Luckie wrote.

Seemingly proving his point, Facebook removed Luckie’s post Monday because it reportedly went against its community standards.

“Turns out Facebook took down my post challenging discrimination at the company, disabling users’ ability to share or read it,” Luckie tweeted. “Further proves my point.”

The post was later restored by Facebook, despite Luckie’s claim he “never appealed” its original decision to remove it….

“I feel like Facebook can tackle a lot of issues … but when you talk about black people, all of a sudden there is silence,” he said. “There are a lot of black employees who express that they feel the same way….”

“But we’re talking about a company that affects billions of lives around the world. It has to be held accountable for its actions,” he tweeted Tuesday….

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Shirley Chisholm NYC statue to help ‘correct glaring inequity in public spaces’

By: Dawn Onley, thegrio.com

Fifty years after Shirley Chisholm became the first Black woman elected to Congress, New York City has announced it will erect a statue in honor of the congresswoman by 2020.

Born on Nov. 30, 1924, Chisholm died in 2005 at 80 years old. In 1972, the congresswoman from Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn became the first Black woman to seek a presidential nomination and the first woman to run for the top post as a Democrat—even without the official backing of the party.

Chisholm leaves behind a rich legacy. She promoted racial and gender equality efforts through the NAACP and the League of Women Voters, among other organizations. As a congresswoman, Chisholm advocated for an end to the Vietnam War, she fought for working class people, and was the first black woman to join the House Rules Committee.

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GOP Senator Who Made ‘Hanging’ Remark Attended ‘Segregated’ Academy

By Sara Boboltz, The Huffington Post

Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss., campaigns with Teresa Carter, a old friend from Kentucky, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018, at Mama Hamil’s Restaurant in Madison, Miss. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

Cindy Hyde-Smith, the Republican Mississippi senator who made comments condoning “public hangings,” attended a “segregated” school when she was younger, the Jackson Free Press reported Friday after unearthing a 1975 yearbook photo.

The school, Lawrence County Academy, was set up for white parents to avoid sending their children to school with black children, according to the Free Press. Many such schools, dubbed “segregation academies,” were created in the South following desegregation as inexpensive, private educational options…

The senator faces Democratic challenger Mike Espy in a special election Nov. 27. She was appointed by Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant to fill the seat vacated in April by former Sen. Thad Cochran, who stepped down for health reasons.

Hyde-Smith has been heavily criticized this month for making racist comments on the Confederate South.

In a state with an ugly history of terrorizing African-Americans with lynchings, Hyde-Smith said of a local rancher in early November, “If he invited me to a public hanging, I’d be on the front row.” Espy called the comment “reprehensible…”

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