Newswire : Ava DuVernay’s Central Park Five Documentary debuts on Netflix

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Correspondent@StacyBrownMedia

Scene from ‘Central Park Five’


The morning after Ava DuVernay’s four-part Netflix miniseries about the Central Park Five, “When They See Us,” premiered at Harlem’s legendary Apollo Theater, she was in a daze. “I don’t drink, and I don’t do any other kinds of substances,” she told Rolling Stone, “but I think I have a hangover.”
She had the headache, but also the hazy memory of the community she’d felt the previous night, screening her labor of love in the neighborhood that raised the five teenagers wrongfully convicted of brutally raping jogger Trisha Meili on April 19, 1989.
It was a whirlwind of fellowship that involved “a lot of smiles, hugs, and a lot of tears,” DuVernay said.
“When They See Us,” debuts on Netflix on Friday, May 31.
The true and gripping tale of five boys of color between the ages of 14 and 16 who were forced to falsely confess to the rape of a white woman in New York’s Central Park, has received critical acclaim with reviewers noting that it’s “impassioned,” and “moving.”
One critic said it’s “must-see TV.”
We already have a category of movies that we expect to artfully, if painfully edify – think of 12 Years a Slave, or Schindler’s List – but we’re not acculturated to it on television, said Willa Paskin of Slate Magazine.
On April 19, 1989, the lives of Antron McCray, Raymond Santana, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, and Korey Wise changed forever.
News media described them as “a wolf pack,” and “animals,” and then-citizen Donald Trump took out a full-page ad in four New York City area newspapers attacking the youth and calling for the return of the death penalty.
Decades after they’d been exonerated, Trump still has refused to rescind his damning words against the men and he even denounced a multi-million civil settlement reached between New York City and the five men.
“Trump was the fire starter,” Salaam said. “Common citizens were being manipulated and swayed into believing that we were guilty.”
The police-coerced confessions were the only evidence against them, but racism made the boys convenient scapegoats and metaphors for all that had gone wrong in a stratified, corrupt, crime-ridden, rape-infested, and fearful New York City, according to Slate.
DuVernay, who took on the project after Santana suggested it to her via tweet, wants to dramatize what the criminal justice system and New York City stole from these innocent teenagers.
The series begins on the day of the rape. Antron (Caleel Harris and, as an adult, Jovan Adepo), Raymond (Marquis Rodriguez and Freddy Miyares), Kevin (Asante Blackk and Justin Cunningham) , Yusef (Ethan Herisse and Chris Chalk), and Korey (Jharrel Jerome) are going about their regular lives: talking about the Yankees with a father and dreaming of becoming a shortstop; kissing a girlfriend; lugging an instrument around after school.
Though they don’t know each other particularly well, they all wind up in a group of about 25 boys who head into the park that night, where some goof around, while others harass bikers or a homeless guy.
The police descend, arresting a handful of them, but the cops don’t consider any of them suspects in anything particularly serious.
That changes after the rape victim is discovered in the early hours of the morning and Assistant District Attorney Linda Fairstein decides the boys’ presence in the park that night can’t be a coincidence.
Despite there being no physical evidence that the boys were involved, the police set out to make the facts fit the theory of the case. They start trying to get confessions and names, which they use to pick up additional suspects.
Korey Wise, whose name is not on the police’s list, goes down to the precinct with Yusef just to be a good friend. He won’t leave police custody for more than a decade.
For his act of kindness, he will spend years at Rikers Island awaiting trial and then 13 years in an adult prison, the only one of the five who was 16 and so sentenced as an adult.
When Rolling Stone noted that this story had never been told from the perspective of the five men, DuVernay said she started just speaking with the men first.
“That was my first way in. And from there I folded in all of the court transcripts, different records and files that we were able to get a hold of through public means or private transfer,” DuVernay said.
“We then read every single stitch of press coverage to really get an understanding of the ways in which this was being reported, to understand the propaganda around this case. You know, there was a study done that 89 percent of the articles that were written at the time, by the New York papers, didn’t even use the word ‘alleged,’” DuVernay said.
She continued:
“I also talked with academics to get underneath the state of New York City at the time. What were the political motivations?
“But it always came back to the men and then their families. Over a four-year period, it was just exhaustive. Interviews, but sometimes just spending time. Lunches, dinners, just getting to know them. Sometimes it’s the little things more than just the core stories.”

Newswire : African National Congress sees victory in May 8 South African election while acknowledging mistakes

ANC political rally

May 6, 2019 (GIN) – Three political parties are pulling out all the stops to win the last undecided voters going to the polls on May 8 to elect the nation’s leaders.

The three are running in a field of 48. The long-ruling ANC (since 1994) is expected to vanquish the competition despite having let down much of the electorate with a slew of high-profile corruption scandals.

At the party’s final rally at a stadium in Johannesburg, President Cyril Ramaphosa, confessed: “We made mistakes (yet) we put ourselves before our people and say, Yes, we have made mistakes, but it is only those who are doing nothing who don’t make mistakes.”

According to some analysts, however, voters are seriously conflicted.

“I don’t think there’s a clear choice because the main parties, and even some of the smaller parties are bringing enormous baggage into this election in terms of their own internal dynamics,” Ivor Sarakinsky of the University of the Witwatersrand told the BBC.

“We focus on the ANC’s baggage and dynamics, but all the parties have their own baggage. The Democratic Alliance and the controversies in terms of internal leadership, the Economic Freedom Fighters in terms of internal leadership and questions about financial flows into the party. There’s controversy around all of them.”

“Why are these elections important?” asked Vauldi Carelse, a young BBC reporter asked in a Twitter video. “It’s 25 years since all races were allowed to vote for the first time.

“There are 26 million voters but 6 million young eligible people did not register. So what are the battleground issues? Jobs, land ownership, public services – or lack thereof, crime, race. Yes, a generation of from the fall of apartheid, race remains a divisive issue in South Africa.”

Meanwhile, South Africans living abroad are also voting in this 2019 general election. South African citizens living abroad went to the polls last Saturday. According to the Independent Electoral Commission, there are 29 000 eligible voters living abroad and this democratic exercise has been their most successful since 1994.

Isa Mdingi, a South African voting in China, wrote on Twitter: “As a young person in the Diaspora I will be casting my vote at the Beijing mission. 25 years ago on April 27, people of South Africa cast their votes for the 1sttime. 25 years later I will be casting mine too! What a time to be alive!”

BBCF awards $60,000 for community arts projects

Shown L to R: Lillian Wideman, Arts Grants Committee Chairperson; Spiver Gordon, President Alabama Civil Rights Education and Freedom Museum; Carol P. Zippert, Director of the Society of Folk Arts & Culture; Teresa Atkins, President of Broader Horizons-Brighter Futures and Darlene Robinson, BBCF Board Chairperson.

In a ceremony held Saturday, April 27, 2019, the Black Belt Community Foundation awarded 19 arts grants to community groups in its 12 county service area, totaling $60,000. Seventeen of the grant awards ranged from $1,500 to $3,000. Two of the awards were for community Arts Education Projects which received $10,000 each.In Greene County three project were awarded a total of $7,500. The Society of Folk Arts & Culture received $3,000 toward the production of the annual Black Belt Folk Roots Festival. Broader Horizons-Brighter Futures received $3,000 to implement an arts appreciation program for youth and adults. The Alabama Civil Rights Education Center and Freedom Museum received $1,500 toward equipment and supplies to preserve museum holdings.
The Arts Education Grants of $10,000 each were awarded to Bullock County Social Justice Foundation to support a year long program teaching music theory, instruments and performing to students and adults and to the Hale County Library to support a year-long Natural Dye and Textile Workshop incorporating history and science to students and adults.
Grants awarded to counties in BBCF’s service area included Choctaw County $2,000; Bullock County $2,550; Dallas County $6,000; Lowndes County $3,000; Macon County $6,000; Marengo County $2,200; Perry County $2,000; WilcoxCounty $5,680.

Newswire: Trump, media assaults on Omar a new low for American Politics

Congresswoman Ilhan Omar

American politics appears to have hit a new low.
According to reports, Congresswoman Ilhan Omar has beefed up security following the vicious attacks she’s received and even news reports that paint her as un-American. What’s worse, the attacks stem from tweets made against her by President Donald Trump.
“The criticisms of Congresswoman Omar, what Trump has been saying about her, is reprehensible,” said New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, a Democratic presidential candidate. “It is trafficking in Islamophobia, and should be condemned by everyone,” Booker said.
One of the first Muslim women to serve in Congress, Omar has come under repeated attack from the president and others, including Fox News as a result of her questioning America’s relationship with Israel.
“We will never forget,” Trump tweeted in all-capital letters recently, attaching a video that spliced together comments Omar made with footage of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks.
Some media favorable to the president have also attacked Omar and despite death threats made against her, Trump has continued his assault by calling her –without any supporting evidence and against her denials – “anti-Semitic,” and “anti-Israel.”
Booker noted that Trump has also attacked other African American women leaders like California Rep. Maxine Waters. “The kind of language this president uses, especially about black women in power, is toxic,” Booker said.
That Trump claims he’s not racist isn’t satisfactory, Booker said. “It’s not enough to say, I’m not a racist. We must all be anti-racist,” he said. The rhetoric by Trump and his allies against Omar have resulted in the Senator ramping up security, particularly as she’s received death threats.
Recently, a Rhode Island man allegedly threatened to “kill every Democrat in the world,” federal officials said. Matthew Haviland, 30, of North Kingstown was charged after sending approximately 28 threatening emails on March 10 to a college professor, whose name and affiliation was withheld by federal officials. Haviland is facing federal threat charges and cyberstalking.
In an affidavit, FBI task force officer Richard Laft, Jr. wrote that the professor told authorities Haviland’s “views regarding abortion and politics have become more extreme” within the last year.
The professor, who had been friends with Haviland for about 11 years, believed Haviland’s views changed because “of the way the news media portrays” President Donald Trump, Laft wrote.
Authorities said Omar was among the Democrats whom Haviland threatened to kill.
Latagia Copeland-Tyronce, a writer and journalist out of Detroit, said as a black woman and social justice advocate, she knows “all too well what it feels like to be attacked for speaking up and out.”
“And, as such, I believe that there should be a zero-tolerance policy in regards to our black representatives in Congress,” Copeland-Tyronce said.
“We, as a people, cannot allow our black leaders to be attacked for their advocacy. I am a proponent of freedom of speech and freedom of the press, however, abuse and racism crosses the line and should be called out when and where it rears its ugly head,” she said.
Dr. Omekongo Dibinga, an American University professor and director of Upstander International, said it’s imperative that all stand up to bigotry.
“We need to fight fire with facts. I know that President Trump has ushered in the era of fake news and alternative facts, but I believe at the end of the day, the reality of his policies of lies and dissension will do him in, even with his followers as the effects of [Former President] Barack Obama’s positive economy begin to dwindle and they realized he never cared about them in the first place,” Dibinga said.
Shiwon Oh of Sogang University in Seoul, South Korea, said Trump’s presidency exposes a racist underbelly of America that has always been there from the beginning.
“He just gave validation to their opinions and beliefs that its influence is now seeping into mainstream media channels like Fox News,” Oh said.
“All people can do is continue countering the lies with facts, voicing their opposition to racial oppression, and urging their communities to be on the right side of history, even if it means being ridiculed by some,” she said.

Newswire : The 2019 Masters: Tiger’s incredible improbable comeback to win

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

Tiger Woods celebrates win at Masters


After 11 years, multiple surgeries and a myriad of personal drama, Tiger Woods won his fifth Masters Championship and his 15th career major on a sun-soaked Sunday at Augusta National.
It was the first time Woods had won at Augusta after he was trailing after 54 holes.
The victory also came following years of doubting whether he would ever be able to play at a high level.
“It’s overwhelming because of what has transpired,” Woods told reporters after he shot a -2 under 72 for -13 under overall to seal the victory. “It’s unreal for me to be experiencing this. I’m kind of at a loss for words really,” he said.
The victory, one of the greatest comebacks in sports history, had social media abuzz.
“The National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) congratulates and salutes Tiger Woods as he wins the Masters Golf Tournament for the fifth time,” NNPA President and CEO Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr., tweeted.
Chavis also noted the tough road Woods had to take to re-emerge as Golf’s biggest star. “Resilience is in our DNA,” Chavis said, referring to African American and other minorities and certainly acknowledging the challenges overcome by Woods.
Golden State Warriors superstar guard Stephen Curry called Woods’ victory, “the greatest comeback story in sports. “Congrats Tiger Woods, let me hold one of those 5 jackets one time,” Curry wrote on Twitter.
Tennis great Serena Williams said the win moved her to tears. “I’m literally in tears watching Tiger Woods. This is greatness like no other,” Williams Tweeted. “Knowing all you have been through physically to come back and do what you just did today? Wow. Congrats a million times. I am so inspired. Than you buddy,” Williams said.
Former President Barack Obama also offered his congratulations via Twitter. “Tiger! To come back and win the Masters after all the highs and lows is a testament to excellence, grit, and determination,” Obama said.
Fellow golfers like Phil Mickleson, Luke Donaldson, Gary Player and Bubba Watson also tweeted out their respects and congratulations to the 43-year-old Woods.
And, the “Golden Bear,” Jack Nicklaus also expressed his appreciation and awe of Woods. “A big ‘well done’ from me to Tiger Woods,” wrote Nicklaus, whose all-time record of 18 Major Championships is certainly within the reach of Woods, who now has 15. “I am so happy for him and for the game of golf,” Nicklaus wrote on Twitter. “This is just fantastic.”

Greene County Children’s Policy Council holds annual Civil Rights Trailblazers program

Last Friday night, over 250 people attended the Greene County Children’s Policy Council annual ‘Civil Rights Movement Trailblazers’ program, which honored six Greene County people who participated in the county’s civil rights struggle.
Each year the students in the Greene County after school tutorial and mentoring programs research and interview individuals in the Black Belt that played a role in the Civil Rights Movement. Friday’s program was the culmination of the student’s efforts during the 2018-2019 school term.

Seven persons, two still living and five posthumously, were honored at the program. These persons were: Lue Birtha Crawford, Elberta Outland Miles, Lillie Mae Webb, Annie Brown, Rosmond and Maggie Kimbrough and Booker T. Cooke Jr. Students from the program introduced each person and what they had done in the Civil Rights Movement based on research and interviews with the person and family members.
Judge Lillie Osborne said, “Ordinary people did extraordinary things during the Civil Rights Movement. Not everyone was a leader, some just marched, others cooked meals and cakes for the marchers, some help find places for people to stay after they were evicted or dismissed by their white employers, others helped in many different ways, as they could, which made it a movement.”
Mrs. Lue Birtha Crawford of the Knoxville community in north Greene County, now in her eighties, spoke about her efforts to register people to vote in the 1960’s and 1970’s and get them to the polls. “I would talk to people about voting and candidates. For some people, I had to go back more than once. I had to backtrack on some people, visiting them several times to get them to vote.
“I went to some places where people were partying and playing cards and dominoes and I had to stop them to get them to go to vote. Some people went and did the right thing and voted just to get rid of me but we were successful.”
Mrs. Elberta Outland Miles, at 93, from the Tishabee community attended the program but asked her son, Henry Miles to speak for her. Miles said his mother as a teacher was always promoting the value and power of education in helping people move forward to reach and realize goals of the movement.
Mrs. Lillie Mae Webb, was honored posthumously by some of her 16 surviving children, who are part of the Webb Family Singers. They indicated that their mother helped the movement by participating and singing at mass meetings. Members of the family sang a song in tribute to their mother and the program.
Mrs. Annie Brown of the Union-Mantua community was honored by some of her 14 children attending the program. Commissioner Lester Brown spoke for the family saying they appreciated the Children’s Policy Council for recognizing their mother. Brown spoke to his mother’s courage and efforts to integrate the schools in Greene County.
Mr. Rosmond and Mrs. Maggie Kimbrough of the Forkland community were honored for their work in the community during the movement. Carolyn Kimbrough Branch, speaking for the community said, “My mother insisted that we go to every mass meeting during the Movement. My family helped to find places to stay for people who were evicted from plantations for registering and voting in the 1960’s.
Mr. Booker T. Cooke Jr. was honored for his work in organizing precinct efforts in political campaigns to turn-out the vote, proposal writing for projects like the Greene County Water Authority and new Courthouse and for his service as Chief of Staff for the Greene County Commission from the 1970’s to the 1990’s.
At the end of the program, a delicious dinner was served for all in attendance.

Newswire: Lori Lightfoot will be Chicago’s 1st Black, female mayor

By: Herbert G. McCann and Sara Burnett, Associated Press

Lori Lightfoot, Mayor of Chicago

     CHICAGO — Former federal prosecutor Lori Lightfoot defeated a longtime political insider Tuesday to become Chicago's next mayor, the first black woman and openly gay person to lead the nation's third-largest city.

Lightfoot, who had never been elected to public office, easily defeated Toni Preckwinkle, who served in the City Council for 19 years before becoming Cook County Board president. Preckwinkle also is chairwoman of the county Democratic Party.
Lightfoot promised to rid City Hall of corruption and help low-income and working-class people she said had been “left behind and ignored” by Chicago’s political ruling class. It was a message that resonated with voters weary of political scandal and insider deals, and who said the city’s leaders for too long have invested in downtown at the expense of neighborhoods.
Chicago will become the largest U.S. city to have a black woman serve as mayor when Lightfoot is sworn in May 20. She will join seven other black women currently serving as mayors in major U.S. cities, including Atlanta and New Orleans and will be the second woman to lead Chicago.
Lightfoot, 56, and her wife have one daughter.

Eutaw Area Chamber of Commerce presents awards at Sue Vance Memorial Dinner

The Eutaw Area Chamber of Commerce presented awards at its annual membership meeting and Sue Vance Memorial Dinner on Thursday, March 21, 2019, held at the LAW Center. Among the award recipients were: (L to R) Rev. Christopher Spencer, Pastor of St. Matthew Watson Baptist Church for Religion, Mayor Raymond Steele of Eutaw for Government, Dr. Marcia Pugh, CEO of Greene County Health System for Health Care, Dr. Carol and John Zippert, Co-Publishers of the Greene County Democrat for Communications, Beverly Gordon, Chamber President, Dan Williams, WestRock Paper Co. for Business, Nancy Cole for Education, District Judge Lillie Jones Osborne for Community Service, Delphine McKenzie for the Sue Vance Service Award. Not shown Luther ‘Nat’ Winn, Greenetrack for the Leadership Award. Before a delicious dinner of Italian food specialties, the group heard an inspirational address by Attorney John Stamps III of the Black Belt Law Center in Bessemer, Alabama, who also co-sponsored the event.

Newswire : Senator Doug Jones speaks out against latest attempt by Trump to roll back Affordable Care Act

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-Ala.), a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, today denounced the latest effort by the Administration to dismantle federal health reforms.

In a filing with a federal appeals court on Monday, the Trump Justice Department said it agreed with the ruling of a federal judge in Texas that the 2010 health care reform law is unconstitutional, continuing a years-long assault on the law and supporting a path forward that would potentially cause millions of Americans to lose the insurance coverage that they rely on. At issue is a lawsuit filed by 20 state attorneys general, including Alabama, challenging the constitutionality of the law. Until this week, the Administration had refused to defend portions of the health law, but the Justice Department’s new position goes further by supporting a complete invalidation of the law without any practical alternative to replace it.

“If the courts dismantle this law, Alabama is one of the states with the most to lose,” said Senator Jones, who has been a vocal advocate to maintain protections in the federal health law. “It’s already a challenge for many Alabamians to access the health care they need, particularly in our rural communities. Instead of making that even more difficult, we need to be focusing on making some much-needed improvements to our current system, like lowering the cost of prescription drugs, combating the opioid epidemic, increasing access to rural health care and finally expanding Medicaid in the state of Alabama. The Administration is playing politics with health care and we have to stand up to protect folks from losing their coverage and the vital protections that the federal health law guarantees.”

If the law is struck down, more than 166,000 Alabamians could lose their health insurance. More than 942,000 Alabamians who have a pre-existing condition could be denied coverage or charged more for health care, which represents one-third of people under the age of 65 in Alabama. Insurers could reinstate annual and lifetime limits on coverage, and women could again be charged more than men for the same care. Young adults would no longer be able to stay on their parents’ health care plans until the age of 26, which would cause the approximately 35,000 young adults in Alabama who gained coverage under this provision to lose their health insurance.

Earlier this year, Senator Jones introduced legislation to incentivize Alabama to expand Medicaid by offering states the same deal from the federal government to expand Medicaid that was originally offered in 2010. He also recently re-introduced a bill that would quantify the impact of Medicaid expansion for the states that expanded and those that did not. Medicaid expansion was a key provision of the 2010 health reform law and is vital in the effort to sustain rural hospitals. Since 2011, thirteen hospitals have closed in Alabama, seven of which were in rural areas.

Greene County Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. celebrates 40th Anniversary

In a three day celebration that included a Grand Ball on Friday, March 8, Community Impact Day, Saturday, March 9 and A Sisterhood Luncheon, Sunday, March 10 at Embassy Suits in Tuscaloosa, the Greene County Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority observed its 40th chapter anniversary. The chapter, organized in 1978 currently has an active membership of 32. Isaac N. Atkins serves as chapter president. Nancy Cole served as 40th Anniversary Committee chairperson. Photo above shows the majority of participants at the Sisterhood Luncheon on Sunday, with chapter members and guests. The Greene County DST Chapter sponsored a Community Impact Day, as part of its 40th year celebration, for local residents in appreciation of the support the chapter receives for its projects and programs. Impact Day, held at the Eutaw Activity Center, included service booths, games, food and fellowship. The Sisterhood Luncheon gave tribute to charter members of the chapter and the former chapter presidents. — Photo by Cythina Crawford