EDITORIAL : Vote in the Democratic Primary on August 15 for Doug Jones for U. S. Senate

 

Doug JonesWe strongly urge all of our readers to vote next Tuesday, August 15, 2017 in the Democratic Primary for Doug Jones for U. S. Senate. This is a special election to fill the seat vacated by Jeff Sessions when he resigned to become Attorney General. This seat is currently held by Luther Strange, a Republican.
Doug Jones is a proven progressive candidate that can serve as a voice for all Alabama citizens in the U. S. Senate. Doug Jones when he served as U. S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama, under President Bill Clinton, successfully prosecuted two of the Klu Klux Klansmen who bombed the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham.
Doug Jones is not afraid to stand up for a better multi-racial Alabama with fairness and justice for all. He wants to vote for quality, affordable health care, including a public option for all Alabamians. He supports an increase in the minimum wage to a livable wage. He wants to place college education within reach for all families without burdening students with overwhelming debt.
There are seven candidates running in the Democratic Primary, all are better than Luther Strange, Mo Brooks and Judge Roy Moore. Doug Jones was enthusiastically endorsed by Alabama New South Alliance, Alabama Democratic Conference, labor unions and civic groups. Doug Jones is the best, most experienced and electable of the candidates in the Democratic field.
We are placing our editorial supporting Doug Jones on the front page because of the importance of this election next Tuesday, August 15, to the future of Alabama. Please turnout to vote next week for Doug Jones in the Democratic Primary for U. S. Senate.

School system and Children’s Policy Council hold Tie Tying Ceremony for 9th Grade Academy

The Greene County School System held its second annual Tie Tying Ceremony for the students entering the 9th Grade Academy. This event commenced last year with the formation of the Academy to high light the students’ Rites of Passage from Middle School to High School. The Academy is designed to give special attention to students as they transition and prepare for college and career. The designated attire of navy blue jackets, white shirts and ties identifies the 9th grade students as they pursue their academic mission. The ceremony was co-sponsored by the Greene County Children’s Policy Council, where District Judge Lillie Jones Osborne is President. The CPC also donated the ties for the students. School officials and community leaders volunteered to teach and assist the students in the tie tying process.

Black Belt Folk Roots Festival celebrates 42nd year

festival story.jpgWhere else can you smile and sway to ole timey blues, enjoy the delicacies of right-off-the grill barbecue and polish sausages, feast on freshly cooked country dinners with assorted pies and cakes and then top it all off with hand churned homemade ice cream.
All this and more is happening at the annual Black Belt Folk Roots Festival on Saturday, August 26 and Sunday August 27 on the Old Courthouse Square in Eutaw, AL.
In its 42nd year of community celebration, the festival will again feature down home blues music, old timey gospel, traditional foods, handmade crafts and special events for the young people.

Saturday’s events are scheduled from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. with Ole Timey Blues and dancing featuring musicians Clarence Davis, The Liberators, Jock Webb, Davey Williams, Russell Gulley, Terry “Harmonica” Bean, Jock Webb, Lil’ Jimmie Reed and others.
The handmade crafts available at the festival are traditional quilts and other needle works; baskets from white oak, pine needles and corn shucks. The assortments of down-home foods include soul food dinners, barbecue, fried fish, chicken and skins, Polish sausage, homemade ice cream, cakes and pies; snow cones, Italian ice, and more.
Ole Timey Gospel is reserved for Sunday’s festival beginning at 2:00 p.m. and featuring the The Echo Juniors, The Melody Kings, The Mississippi Traveling Stars, The Golden Gates, New Generation Men of Promise, Sons of Zion, Greene County Mass Choir and many others. “The Black Belt Folk Roots Festival is home coming time in the region. Many families, class reunions and social clubs plan their annual activities to coincide with the festival’s schedule,” stated Dr. Carol P. Zippert, festival coordinator. “The festival brings together musicians, craftspersons, storytellers, food specialists, community workers – all who are considered bearers of the traditions and folkways of the West Alabama region,” she explained. “This is a festival where people truly celebrate themselves – their joys and struggles and especially ‘how we made it over,’” Zippert states.
According to Dr. Zippert, the two day festival is open to the public free of charge. The hours are Saturday, August 26, 11:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. and Sunday August 27, 2:00 p.m.- 7:00 p.m.
The Black Belt Folk Roots Festival is supported in part by the Black Belt Community Foundation, and other local contributors.
The festival is produced by the Society of Folk Arts & Culture. There is no admission fee for the festival events. For more information contact Carol P. Zippert at 205-372-0525;
Email: carolxzippert@aol.com

 

Newswire : Mike Espy to receive Witherspoon Award at Federation’s 50th Annual Meeting celebration

Mike Espy
Mike Espy

The Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund will celebrate its 50th. Annual Meeting on August 17 to 19, 2017. The organization was founded in 1967, by 22 cooperatives and credit unions, arising from the Civil Rights Movement, serving low-income farmers and rural people in the South.
On Thursday evening, August 17, Attorney Mike Espy of Jackson, Mississippi will receive the 16th annual Estelle Witherspoon Lifetime Achievement Award at a fundraising banquet at the Hyatt Regency Hotel on Interstate 495 in Birmingham. Estelle Witherspoon was the Manager of the Freedom Quilting Bee in Alberta, Alabama and a founding member of the Federation.

Mike Espy served as the first Black Congressman from Mississippi since Reconstruction, from 1987 to 1993. In 1993, President Bill Clinton selected him to be the first African-American and the first Secretary of Agriculture from the Deep South. Today, Espy heads the Mississippi office of the law firm of Morgan and Morgan and was involved in the Pigford Black Farmer Discrimination lawsuits against USDA.

Espy has worked closely with the Federation in all of his professional pursuits. As a Mississippi Congressman he co-sponsored the “Minority Farers Rights Bill” and helped to get several of its major components, including the Section 2501 Outreach Program, into the 1990 Farm Bill. As Secretary of Agriculture, he worked closely with the Federation on the efforts to bring greater civil rights concern to the department. As a lawyer, he worked closely with the Federation and our members on the Pigford lawsuit.

On Friday and Saturday, August 18 and 19, the Federation’s Annual Meeting will shift to the organization’s Rural Training and Research Center, near Epes in Sumter County. Friday will be a day of workshops, presentations and celebration of the Federation’s half century of work and achievements on behalf of Black farmers and landowners. Friday evening there will be a fish-fry, wild game tasting and other dishes from the regional membership of the Federation.

On Saturday, the Federation will hold a prayer breakfast followed by the organization’s business meeting, which includes reports from the Board of Directors, Cornelius Blanding, Executive Director, and state caucuses of the membership.

Cornelius Blanding said, “For five decades, the Federation has served its membership of Black farmers and other low income rural people across the South. We have held true to our mission and worked at the grassroots level to transform people and communities, many times in the face of racial hostility and economic exploitation, to win a better future with social and economic justice for our membership. I am proud to be part of the continuing legacy of the Federation and hope to lead it into the next half century of progress.”

Persons interested in attending the Estelle Witherspoon Awards Banquet and the 50th Annual Meeting should go to the organization’s website at http://www.federation.coop to register. Information is also available from the Federation’s offices in Atlanta (404/765-0991) and Epes, Alabama (205/652-9676).

Newswire : President Obama’s policies still drive economic growth

By Lauren Victoria Burke (NNPA Newswire Contributor)

obamaeconomy_fallen_web120_0155.jpg
Former President Barack Obama
In May of 2017, the Black unemployment rate hit its lowest level in 17 years: 7.5 percent. Then, in June, the jobless rate for Blacks fell to 7.1 percent, before rising to 7.4 percent in July, according to the latest jobs report.
The jobs numbers over the last six months have generally been impressive. It’s fascinating to note that, suddenly, all the accusations that low jobs numbers were “fake” when President Barack Obama was in office have suddenly vanished.
The Black unemployment rate hit 16.7 percent in September 2011—the highest Black unemployment since Ronald Reagan was in office pushing “trickle down” economics. Overall, the Black unemployment numbers were higher, on average, under President Obama than President George W. Bush or President Bill Clinton.
The 30 year-high for Black joblessness in late 2011 prompted members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) to embark on an August 2011 jobs tour. That same year, President Obama barked at members of the CBC at their annual gala to “put on your marching shoes…and stop whining and complaining.”
The Black unemployment rate, in general, was lower under President George W. Bush than it was under President Obama. Economists agree that the high jobless numbers, under President Obama, were largely driven by the economic downturn known as the Great Recession. Now, Obama’s economic policies are continuing to bear fruit during Trump’s first six months as the Black jobless numbers improve.
Black unemployment still remains double than it is for Whites. July’s numbers showed Black unemployment at 7.4 percent, Hispanics at 5.1 percent and Whites at 3.8.
In 2013, AFL-CIO Chief economist Bill Spriggs wrote: “A big puzzle in looking at the changes in the Black unemployment rate is the fact the Black labor force is older now than during past major downturns in the mid-1970s and early 1980s. In 1975, the Black unemployment rate spiked to 15.4 percent. In 1982 and 1983, the Black unemployment rate skyrocketed to above 20 percent for a nine-month period starting in October 1982.”
Several political observers pointed out that many jobs being added to the U.S. economy are in the service sector, such as restaurants and healthcare. “Ensuring workers have better jobs and better wages also means they should be trained with the tools they need to succeed in our economy,” said Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.) the top Democrat on the Education & Workforce Committee in the House, in a statement on August 4.
The economy added 209,000 jobs in July.
Though the reasons for rising and falling Black unemployment over the last six months are not clear, it is clear that the current numbers reflect Obama’s economic policies; President Donald Trump has yet to implement any economic strategy and his proposed budget won’t take effect until next year, at the earliest. Additionally, Congress has passed nothing related to the economy regarding taxes or jobs.

 

 

Newswire: Segregated Valley: the ugly truth about Google and diversity in tech

By: Julie Carrie Wong, The Guardian
Google headquarters
 The Google campus in Mountain View, California.

Google has spent much of the past 72 hours insisting its commitment to diversity is “unequivocal” after the internal publication and subsequent leak of an anti-diversity polemic by a Google engineer. The unidentified software engineer argued, among other things, that biological differences between men and women account for the extreme gender imbalance at Google and other technology companies.
“We are unequivocal in our belief that diversity and inclusion are critical to our success as a company,” said Danielle Brown, Google’s vice-president of diversity, integrity and governance.
“Building an open, inclusive environment is core to who we are, and the right thing to do,” added Ari Balogh, the company’s vice-president of engineering, “‘Nuff said.”
Google might prefer the discussion to end there, but the reality is there is a lot more to say about the company’s commitment to diversity.
The public relations blitz may be a corporate necessity given the virulent backlash against the document by many of Google’s own employees. On Monday night, Bloomberg reported that the engineer said he had been fired; Google declined to comment on individual employee cases.
But public commitments to diversity from Google executives do not tally with the company’s workforce data.
Google’s workforce is, by its own accounting, 69% male and just 2% African American. Just 20% of technical jobs are held by women. Google may be unequivocal in its “belief” about diversity, but the figures make its shortcomings clear. The company tends to hire white and Asian men over women and other racial minorities.
Lack of diversity in Silicon Valley is an old story. Eighteen years ago, civil rights leader Jesse Jackson first launched a campaign to encourage the region’s tech companies to hire black and Latino workers. At the time, he was accused of “terrorism” by Scott McNealy, the co-founder of early Silicon Valley giant Sun Microsystems.
Tech leaders may have changed their tune in the intervening decades – all the top CEOs today loudly proclaim a commitment to “diversity and inclusion” – but in other ways not much has changed in almost two decades.
McNealy, now the chairman of a digital marketing startup, stands by his statements on Jackson, though he concedes that “terrorism” might have been an overstatement. “Probably the right word is blackmail,” he told the Guardian. “I just don’t have time for race baiters. Stop baiting me.”
Google is the subject of an investigation by the US Department of Labor, which has accused the technology corporation of systematically discriminating against women (the company denies the charge.) Much of Uber’s top tier of executives has left the company amid complaints of systematic sexual harassment and gender discrimination. And the tech industry has lately been shaken by allegations that high-profile venture capitalists have abused their position to prey on female startup entrepreneurs.
Meanwhile, the representation of black, Latino, and female employees at top Silicon Valley technology firms remains so disproportionately low that a government report published last year described the problem with the same word that Jackson uses: “segregation”. For all its forward looking technologies, Silicon Valley is in many ways mired in the ugliest practices of the American past.
A tale of two tech cities
Picture a technology hub where more than 17% of high-tech workers – from programmers to security analysts to software and web developers – are African American.
This isn’t some kind of utopian diversity thought experiment. It is the greater Washington DC metropolitan area, home to more than 200,000 high tech jobs, many of them with the federal government or government contractors.
“You’d be hard pressed to have someone out here who thinks that blacks doing computer work is weird,” said William Spriggs, a professor of economics at Howard University. And lest you think that the computing in DC is less advanced than that in Silicon Valley, he adds: “We don’t do Mickey Mouse stuff out here. This is the number one place if you want to do cyber security.”
The DC area is a kind of mirror image to Silicon Valley when it comes to hiring African Americans. Overall, blacks make up 14.4% of the workforce nationwide and 7.4% of high-tech employment. In the DC metro area, which includes parts of Virginia, Maryland, and West Virginia, blacks hold 17.3% of the jobs in 12 computing occupations, according to government employment data.
But cross over to the west coast, and in Silicon Valley African Americans hold just 2.7% of the jobs in the same categories. At premiere employers like Google and Facebook, black representation in technical jobs drops below 2%.
To Spriggs, there is simply no excuse for Silicon Valley’s failure to hire a more diverse workforce. “The thing that always irritates me is that they say, ‘We can’t find them,’” he said. “You run a freaking search engine!”
So how did Silicon Valley end up with fewer than 5,000 black people in highly technical jobs, while DC has more than 35,000?
One obvious difference between northern California and the mid-Atlantic region is the underlying demographics. The DC metro area is approximately 25% black, while Silicon Valley is about 6.5% black.
But companies like Google, Facebook and Apple are known to recruit aggressively across the country – and throughout the world. And the fact that northern California’s workforce is heavily Latino (more than 20%) is not reflected in the area’s tech companies (about 6% Latino).
Spriggs argued that a significant difference is that in DC, the tech industry grew up around the federal government. Affirmative action provisions for federal contracting encouraged African Americans to start businesses in computing or data processing in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The first domain name registrar for the internet, for example, was the black-owned company, Network Solutions, which was founded in northern Virginia in 1979.
“Having black-owned companies helped get people in,” Spriggs said. “It’s partly entrepreneurship, partly because the federal government does not discriminate, partly because you have to have [security] clearance, which favors American citizens, and partly because the area is heavily black.”
Schools in the region focused on preparing their students for technology jobs with government contractors as well.

Newswire : Sunday August 6: Voting Rights Rededication at Bridge in Selma 4:00 to 6:00 PM

SELMA, AL, The Bridge Crossing Jubilee and S.O.S will commemorate the 52nd Anniversary of the signing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 with a series of activities including: A re-enactment of the signing of the Act, a scavenger hunt for school supplies that will require students to find voting rights history facts to earn various school supplies; and a recommitment service to reignite the movement to secure Voting Rights.
All citizens young and old are encouraged to attend this fun but important event on Aug 6, 2017 at 4pm-6pm at the foot of the Edmund Pettus Bridge on the Montgomery side. This historic site is where marchers were beaten on March 7, 1965 as they attempted to march from Selma to Montgomery to demand the right to vote for millions of disenfranchised Americans. This historic event is celebrated annually in the month of March at the Bridge Crossing Jubilee event.

“There will be little to celebrate if we don’t unite to restore Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act”, said Senator Hank Sanders. , a co founder of the BCJ. The US Supreme Court gutted the preclearance provisions of Section 5 of the act in 2013. S.O.S and BCJ lead a ride to revive Section 5 last month to support a bill to restore Section 5 of the act. The sunrise sunset commemoration on Aug 6, 2017 is important in the struggle to revive Sec 5. For more information, please call 334-526-2626.