Newswire : Rev. Frederick D. Reese, one of the Selma ‘Elite Eight’ that invited ML King to Selma, Alabama for voting rights movement passes


Rev. F. D. Reese

Frederick Douglas Reese, or F. D. Reese (November 28, 1929 – April 5, 2018), was an American civil rights activist, educator and minister from Selma, Alabama. Known as a member of Selma’s “Courageous Eight”, Reese was the president of the Dallas County Voters League (DCVL) when it invited the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and Martin Luther King Jr. to Selma to amplify the city’s local voting rights campaign. This campaign eventually gave birth to the Selma to Montgomery marches, which later led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act.
Reese was also president of the Selma Teachers Association, and in January 1965 he mobilized Selma’s teachers to march as a group for their right to vote.
Reese retired from teaching and from February 2015 and until his death in April 2018, he was active as a minister at Selma’s Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church.
Reese was born in Selma, Alabama. He graduated from Alabama State University, where he majored in math and science where he received a Master’s degree.
Reese spent nine years in Millers Ferry, Alabama, ending in 1960.  This is where he began his teaching career, teaching science and serving as assistant principal.
In 1960, Reese moved home to Selma, started teaching science and math at R. B. Hudson High School, and joined the Dallas County Voters League(DCVL), the major civil rights organization in Selma since the state of Alabama started actively suppressing the NAACP in 1956. Two years after joining the DCVL, he was elected its president.
In 1962, while Reese was a DCVL member, the organization encouraged Bernard Lafayette of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee to come to Selma to assist in the voting rights struggle by educating black citizens about their right to vote.
As president of the DCVL, Reese signed and sent the DCVL’s invitation to Martin Luther King Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) to come to Selma to lend their support to the voting rights campaign there.[2] King and the SCLC agreed to come, and they started their public engagement in Selma’s voting rights campaign on January 2, 1965, with a mass meeting in violation of an injunction against large gatherings.
On January 18, about 400 people marched on the county courthouse to register to vote; on January 19, the people marched again, and this time police violence towards DCVL’s Amelia Boynton and the arrest of 67 marchers brought the movement to national headlines.
Teachers’ March
In 1965, Reese held the simultaneous leadership positions of DCVL president and president of the Selma Teachers Association.  The first act he made as the Teachers Association president was to sign a proclamation in the presence of the superintendent and assistant superintendent, declaring that teachers should register to vote.  Reese even asked that the superintendent allow black teachers to use their free period during the school day to register to vote, though he knew it was an “abominable thing to ask” in that political and social climate.  Reese and fellow teacher and DCVL member Margaret Moore challenged their colleagues, “How can we teach American civics if we ourselves cannot vote?”
On January 22, three days after Amelia Boynton’s encounter with police, and three days before another demonstration in front of the county courthouse where Annie Lee Cooper (portrayed by Oprah Winfrey in the 2014 film Selma) had a violent encounter with Sheriff Jim Clark, Reese gathered 105 teachers—almost every black teacher in Selma—to march on the courthouse.[6] The teachers climbed the steps but were barred from entering to register.  They were pushed down the steps twice, the police jabbing them with nightsticks.
Officials reportedly urged against the teachers’ arrest, saying, “Don’t arrest these people because what you going do with the 7,000 students that we have running around here when they go back to school Monday?”  It was the first time in Civil Rights Movement that teachers in the South publicly marched as teachers; they were the largest black professional group in Dallas County, and their actions inspired involvement from their students and others who were unsure about participating in demonstrations.
Selma to Montgomery march
During the time the SCLC spent organizing and protesting in Selma, Reese coordinated meetings and often played the role of mediator when differences of opinion arose.
In photographs from the historic Selma to Montgomery marches, which were initiated and organized by SCLC’s Director of Direct Action James Bevel, Reese is pictured in a dark suit, coat, and hat, most often in the front of the march with Martin Luther King, Jr. and some of his closest associates.

Newswire : 50th anniversary of King assassination: Coretta King’s last wish to expose secrets about her husband’s killing is yet unfulfilled


By Dr. Barbara A. Reynolds

Coretta Scott King : Library of Congress

( – Efforts must be increased to break down the wall of secrecy surrounding the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who was gunned down on April 4, 1968 as he stepped out onto the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis.
That was one of the lasting wishes of his wife, Coretta Scott King. It was underscored by the findings of a rarely discussed December 9, 1999 jury trial in Memphis which concluded that King was the victim of assassination by a conspiracy involving the Memphis Police Department as well as local, state and federal government agencies, movement insiders and the Mafia. Mrs. King died on January 31, 2006. The secrecy shrouding the death of Dr. King is still in place.
As the nation prepares to commemorate the death of the martyred leader hopefully there should be a renewed effort to bare submerged information that could finally set the record straight about the role of U.S. governmental agencies in a plan to eliminate King who had emerged as one who millions perceive as the most successful African-American protest leader of the 21st Century.
In a civil suit filed by Mrs. King in Memphis, a jury of six Whites and six Blacks, affirmed the trial’s evidence which identified someone else, not James Earl Ray, as the shooter and agreed that Ray had been set up to take the blame.
“The trial only proved what our family had maintained all along,” Mrs. King told me in her memoir Coretta, “My Life, My Live, My Legacy.”
The jury’s proceeding went on for four weeks. The 2,735-page transcript contains the sworn testimony and dispositions of more than 70 law enforcement agents, reporters, civil rights leaders and witnesses, some of whose statements contrasted starkly with official reports.
Of particular interest was Loyd Jowers, owner of Jim’s Grill, which was located beneath the rooming house where the shots were supposedly fired. Jowers said that he had been given $100,000 by a man with Mafia connections to help provide a cover for the shooting. Jowers said he took the rifle from a man named Raul, moments after Dr. King was shot and hid it under his counter until it was picked up the next morning by the shooter, a Memphis police officer.
More than 2,000 reporters covered the O.J. Simpson trial, but the mainstream media virtually ignored the sworn testimony of law enforcement agents and others who provided important insight into the assassination of Dr. King. The testimony included:

Ed Redditt, a Memphis detective and fireman Floyd Newsum, the only two Blacks assigned to provide security for Dr. King were reassigned on April 3, the day before the assassination. Redditt said he was guarded by a man, who identified himself as a Secret Service agent, which raised questions of why an agent would, whose job is usually to focus on the president. be concerned with a lowly Memphis police detective.
Judge Joe Brown, an experienced Memphis court official as well as a seasoned hunter, told the jury he believed the rifle that prosecutors used to implicate Ray was not the rifle used to kill Dr. King. “That weapon literally could not have hit the broad side of a barn,” he said.
Don Wilson, an FBI agent working in the Atlanta Bureau, said that in searching Ray’s car, several days after the assassination he found pieces of a handwritten note with the name “Raul” on it ,the same name of the man who had handed Jowers the rifle for safekeeping after the assassination. Wilson, who is presently retired, also told me how the agents laughed and joked about the murder of Dr. King.

The assassination of Dr. King raises serious question about FBI involvement. After King questioned the FBI’s sincerity in investigating the murder of civil rights activists, Hoover in a November 1965 press conference, shot back with a war of words, condemning King as “the most notorious liar in the country,” as well as a communist.
King quickly became a target of the FBI’s COINTELPRO, an acronym for Counter Intelligence Program that had the stated mission to surveil, infiltrate, discredit and disrupt domestic groups that the FBI deemed subversive. (This was the same high-profile program that led to the dismantling and murder of several Black Panthers.)
One well-reported incident of COINTELPRO was a suicide letter and an audio tape the FBI secretly sent to the home of Dr. King on Nov. 3, 1964, shortly before he was to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. It accused him of committing indecent sexual acts and suggested that the only way King could save himself from national disgrace was to commit suicide. Mrs. King played the tape and said she heard people telling dirty jokes, but there was no reference to her husband.
A 1977 court order resulted in the King papers being sealed for 50 years and despite several inquiries from various groups, the King files reportedly numbering about 700,000 pages are not scheduled to be opened until the year 2027. The sealing only increases fears that many pertinent records will be destroyed before that date leaving many questions unanswered.
Old fears are being rekindled as several reports suggest that the FBI’s COINTELPRO is being reincarnated to monitor, surveil and contain so called, “black identity extremists.” This information using that label was obtained by Foreign Policy Magazine from an unofficial FBI report.
The document, according to the magazine, warns that “black identity extremists” pose a growing threat to law enforcement and that police attacks on Black Americans could spur “premeditated, retaliatory lethal violence” against the police. As confirmed in The Root, the August 2014 shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., was the catalyst for widespread violence, the FBI report says, concluding that continued “alleged” police abuses have fueled more violence.
While the report didn’t specifically mention Black Lives Matters, it is difficult not to connect the dots. There are several Black Lives Matter activists who report being put under surveillance, which sounds like the tactics of CONINTELPRO created to neutralize the activities of Black activists.
Mrs. King called for all files to be opened to finally lay out all the “facts pertinent to the truth of who killed my beloved Martin.” So far, her wish has been denied. And like in so many denials, history could well be on the way to being repeated.

Foot Soldiers Breakfast always a high point of Selma Bridge Crossing Jubilee

Special to the Democrat:
John Zippert, Co-Publisher

IMG_0755There are many exciting and challenging events at the Bridge Crossing Jubilee, each year, but the event that I consider best is the ‘Foot Soldiers Breakfast’ held on Saturday morning at R. B. Hudson School on Summerfield Road in Selma.
The Foot Soldiers Breakfast is coordinated by Charles Mauldin, JoAnn Bland and Richard Smilee, who themselves ‘foot-soldiers’ and are veteran participants in the Selma Voting Rights Movement starting in 1965. Their goal is to bring back actual participants in the “Bloody Sunday March” and related marches that were part of the Selma Movement and resulted in the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.The Foot Soldiers Breakfast presents the testimonies of persons who participated in the history-making events in Selma. Many of the past breakfast speakers like Amelia Boyton Robinson, Marie Foster, Attorney J. L. Chestnut and others have passed onto glory.
Leroy Moton, a 19-year-old African-American man who accompanied Viola Luizzo, when she was killed on Highway 80 in Lowndes County by Klu Klux Klansmen at the end of the Selma-to-Montgomery March was to be the main speaker at this year’s Foot Soldiers Breakfast.
Due to illness, Leroy Moton, was unable to attend. Deanna Morton, his sister, who now resides in South Carolina attended and gave his story and her own. She said, “the car carrying the Klansmen passed Ms. Luizzo and her brother, on Highway 80, which was two lanes at that time. The car turned around and came back and found the car that Luizzo was driving. The Klansmen fired into the car killing Luizzo. Moton was alive and covered in blood but pretended to be dead until the Klansmen left. When they left, he flagged down a car to get help.”
Deanna Morton said as a 14-year-old girl she marched on Bloody Sunday. She said, “ When we came across the bridge, I never saw so many troopers in all my life; but I was willing to give my life for freedom. We learned how to outrun horses, cattle prods and billy clubs that day. I ran back across the bridge and hid behind some buildings.” She thanked the teachers at R. B. Hudson for supporting the young people.
Moton also said she was present for the ‘Turnaround Tuesday’ march which was led by Dr. King after Bloody Sunday. King agreed to turn around on the bridge because he did not have an official permit to march and he did not want to risk another beating of the marchers. Dr. King and SCLC later secured a permit and Federal protection to march from Selma to Montgomery later that month. Viola Luizzo was murdered on Highway 80, together with her brother – Leroy, in the aftermath of the successful march.
John Moton, another foot soldier said, “Do not make up excuses for not voting. We marched in the rain, in the mud and in the sunshine for you to have the right to vote.”
Richard Smilee said, “When I was on the bridge in 1965, you knew God was there. We were not afraid. We were looking forward to a brighter future. Tell the young people, the millennial to stand up; that your vote counts. Stand up for what you believe even if the current President wants to send us back. We will not go back!”
Willie ‘Mustafa’ Ricks, a SNCC worker who was in Selma for the voting rights campaign said, “ We are still catching hell. The Black man is still on the bot tom. We have been raped and robbed but we still have to keep marching. Bring your children and grandchildren to march. Revolution is the answer not giving people food stamps. Africans must be united!’
Herman Johnson said after SNCC workers came to the school to organize us, we marched from his high school school in Marion Junction to Selma (about ten miles) to participate in the movement.
Calvin Thomas, another foot soldier said he was arrested in Selma and taken to the old National Guard Amory. “There were too many people there so the took us to a camp in Thomaston. They let the prisoners out of the camp to watch us and put us in the camp.”
Horace Huggins, a retired teacher, commented on the January 21, 1965, ‘Teachers March’ in Selma. “This is the forgotten march, when 200 teachers from Selma and Dallas County marched for voting rights. Very few teachers took part in the movement for fear of loosing their jobs, but many teachers walked in this march to support the right to vote.
Joel Ellwanger, a white Lutheran minister from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, reported on the march of 72 concerned white people on March 6, the day before Bloody Sunday, who marched in support of Black people in downtown Selma. Ellwanger has written a book about this march.
There was so much to learn at the Foot Soldier Breakfast about the depth and breath of the Selma voting rights movement. I am planning to go again next year!

Newswire : Linda Brown, named plaintiff in landmark school desegregation case, has died

By Frederick H. Lowe


 Linda Brown in front of school
Linda Brown, the named plaintiff in the 1954 landmark civil rights case “Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka” in which the U.S. Supreme Court ordered the nation’s public schools to desegregate, has died.
Ms. Brown died Sunday, March 25, in Topeka, Kansas, where she was born on February 20, 1942. She was 76 and had lived in Topeka most of her life. Tyson Williams, a spokesman for Peaceful Rest Funeral Chapel, confirmed her death.
She became part of American history on May 17, 1954, when a unanimous Supreme Court overturned Plessy v. Ferguson, the court’s 1896 decision that declared separate but equal facilities were constitutional.
In its 1954 ruling, the Supreme Court ruled that segregated schools were inherently unequal and ordered the desegregation of the public schools with “all deliberate speed.”
The fight to overturn Plessy v. Ferguson began years earlier. In 1950, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund Inc. asked group of black parents if they would attempt to enroll their children in all-white schools knowing they would be denied admission because of school segregation.
Brown, who was in third-grade, lived in an ethnically diverse neighborhood but like the area’s other black children, Brown had to walk four miles to a school that was segregated for black children although Sumner Elementary, an all-white school, was only four blocks away.
Her mother and father were Leola and Oliver Brown. They were parents of three girls. Brown said her father, a pastor, questioned why his daughter had to walk so far to attend school. “My father pondered, ‘Why? Why should my child walk four miles when there is a school only four blocks away,” she recalled.
The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund Inc. wanted to file a lawsuit on behalf of 13 families nationwide, challenging De Jure school segregation, which is based on laws or actions of the state. It is unlike De facto segregation which happens by fact rather than by legal requirement.
Thurgood Marshall, who in 1967 would become the first African-American Associate Justice on the U.S. Supreme Court, was one of two lead attorneys and strategists. The other was Charles Hamilton Houston, former dean of Howard University Law School.
In 1952, the NAACP filed a lawsuit consolidating five cases. Linda Brown’s name was alphabetically at the top of the list of plaintiffs, making her the named plaintiff in the consolidated case.
When the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision, Linda Brown was in junior high school and at a grade level that had been integrated before the 1954 decision.
In the late 1970s, Brown worked with the ACLU. She argued the district’s schools were still segregated. The Court of Appeals ordered three new schools constructed.
Although she was a civil rights activist, speaker and education consultant, Brown complained that the media treated her as a lofty historical figure, not a human being.
After the Supreme Court ruling, the family moved in 1959 to Springfield, Missouri. Two years later, her father died. Remaining members of the family returned to Topeka.
She attended Washburn University and Kansas State University
Linda Brown was married three times. She was divorced and later widowed. She married William Thompson in the mid-1990s.
Sherrilyn Ifill, president and Director-Counsel at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, said “Linda Brown is one of that special band of heroic young people who, along with her family, courageously fought to end the ultimate symbol of white supremacy-racial segregation in the public schools.”
Kansas Governor Jeff Colyer tweeted: “Linda Brown’s life reminds us that sometimes the most unlikely people can have an incredible impact and that by serving our community we can truly change the world.”

Newswire: Parents and Black publishers discuss excellence in public education during ‘Black Press Week’

By Stacey M. Brown, NNPA contributor


nnpaessabreakfast_bpw18_2550_fallen_web120.jpgPanelists discuss the role of the Black Press in education during a breakfast session hosted by the NNPA ESSA Public Awareness Campaign, during Black Press Week in Washington, D.C. (Freddie Allen/AMG/NNPA)

Educators and education experts discussed parental engagement, equity in education and teacher diversity, during a special breakfast session for the NNPA’s Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Public Awareness Campaign in Washington, D.C.
The session took place during the National Newspaper Publishers Association’s (NNPA) Black Press Week, an annual celebration of the relevance and lasting legacy of Black publishers.
Panelists included Washington Informer Publisher Denise Rolark Barnes; DNA Educational Solutions and Support CEO Dr. Robert L. Kirton Jr.; NAACP Washington Bureau Chief Hilary O. Shelton; Prince George’s County School Board Member Curtis Valentine; and Dr. Lannette Woodruff, an ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act) taskforce member for the Office of the State Superintendent of Education in Washington, D.C.
Dr. Elizabeth Primas, the project manager for the NNPA’s ESSA Public Awareness Campaign, served as moderator for the session titled, “Striving for African American Excellence in Public Education: The Role of the Black Press” at the Dupont Circle Hotel in Washington, D.C. on Friday, March 16. “I’m pretty fired up about education,” Rolark Barnes said of the current state of education in the Black community. “As we celebrate 191 years of the Black Press in America, it’s important to remember that the education of Black people is rooted in the Black Press and the Black Church.”
Rolark Barnes also reminded the audience that one of the founders of the Black Press, Samuel Cornish, graduated from the Free African School and became a minister, before he started the Freedom’s Journal.
Shelton noted that the Black Press has been the voice of the Black community for a very long time; the NAACP Washington bureau chief also said that education is the bridge over troubled waters.
Kirton recounted a false, yet familiar adage that suggested that “The best way to hide something from Black people is to put it in a book.” Kirton used the saying to shine a light on the paucity of high-quality education options in the Black community.
“I got into the [education] fight, because I want to make a difference,” Kirton said.
Valentine advocated for increased parental engagement in our schools at every level. “We need policies that are more welcoming for our parents to come in,” Valentine said.
Woodruff agreed. “We want programs in our schools, so that children understand what [parental engagement] is all about,” Woodruff said.
In 2017, the NNPA received a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to support a three-year, multi-media public awareness campaign focusing on the unique opportunities and challenges related to the implementation of ESSA, according to a press release about the campaign.
Under the ESSA, states have more flexibility under federal regulations to design customized solutions to improve elementary and secondary education in the nation’s public schools. The law also ensures that every child, regardless of race, income, background, or where they live have the opportunity to obtain a high-quality education; ESSA received bipartisan support and was signed into law by President Barack Obama on December 10, 2015.
The NNPA selected Primas, a decorated and award-winning educator, as program manager and she famously refers to all of her students as ‘her children’.
“My children’” are all of the children in schools that have been underserved, undereducated, and for all intents and purposes, forgotten about,” Primas said.


Newswire : NAACP concerned with HUD Secretary Ben Carson’s efforts to change agency mission

By: Malik Russell, NAACP Director of Communications

BALTIMORE (March 8, 2018)—The NAACP is deeply concerned by Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson’s move to dilute the agency’s long-standing mission.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development Act, which established HUD as a cabinet-level agency, declared a purpose: “[T]o provide for full and appropriate consideration, at the national level, of the needs and interests of the Nation’s communities and of the people who live and work in them.” This purpose is sustained through the agency’s mission to “build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination.” Secretary Carson’s action not only threatens HUD’s founding purpose, but also reveals plans of regression.

“Dr. Carson’s attempt to diminish HUD’s mission comes on the heels of the 50th anniversary of the Kerner Commission’s report which affirmed that discrimination and segregation had long permeated much of American Life and continues to threaten the future of every American; and at a time when the Trump administration seeks to cut billions of dollars in housing aid for low-income families,” said NAACP’s Sr. Director of Economic Programs, Marvin J. Owens, Jr.

Despite these attempts, the promise of discrimination-free practices lives on in the Fair Housing Act which has the central objective of prohibiting race discrimination in sales and rentals of housing. The hope of continued progress in America rests in the hands of communities across the country that continue to push their elected leaders to preserve programs designed to help disadvantaged communities and promote policies that make economic inclusion a reality.

The NAACP recognizes the importance of an inclusive economy and economic policies that address the challenging realities facing our country including poverty, lack of jobs and disproportionate high unemployment, lack of affordable housing, and foreclosures. The NAACP Economic Department’s work enhances the capacity of African Americans and other under-served groups through financial economic education; individual and community asset building initiatives; diversity and inclusion in business hiring, career advancement and procurement; and monitoring financial banking practices.

Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation’s oldest and largest nonpartisan civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities. You can read more about the NAACP’s work and our six “Game Changer” issue areas by visiting

Bridge Crossing Jubilee to be this weekend in Selma, Alabama

The 53rd commemoration of the “Bloody Sunday Selma-to-Montgomery March for Voting Rights” will take place in Selma from Thursday, March 1 to Sunday, March 4, 2018. This will also be the 25th anniversary of the Bridge Crossing Jubilee, featuring over 40 events to celebrate voting rights and plan for future actions to maintain and expand voting rights.
The theme of this year’s Bridge Crossing Jubilee is Many More Bridges to Cross. Most of the events being held over the four-day period are free to the public.
The initial event is the Old Fashioned Mass Meeting at Tabernacle Baptist Church on Broad Street from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. Thursday, March 1, 2018. Bishop Staccato Powell of AME Zion Church is the main speaker. Tabernacle is the site of the first mass meetings of the Selma Voting Rights Struggle more than half a century ago. The Miss Jubilee Pageant for youth is also that same evening from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. at the School of Discovery.
On Friday, March 2, 2018, there is an Educational Summit to deal with major issues facing the education of young people, a Mock Trial on an important issue and a special rally for the “Poor People’s Campaign – A National Moral Revival” featuring Rev. William Barber. The Jubilee Golf Tournament begins early Friday morning and the day ends with a “Stomp Out the Vote” Step Show.

On Saturday, March 3, 2018, there will be a parade, the Foot Soldiers Breakfast, to honor pioneers of the Civil Rights Movement, an Intergenerational Summit, with Congresswoman Maxine Waters, the Jubilee Street Festival, to be held on Water Street close to the bridge, and the Freedom Flame Awards Banquet.
On Saturday there will also be two major workshops on “Human Rights Violation is a Devastation to Our Nation” and “What Democracy Looks Like and Making Democracy Work for US”. Many speakers including Cornel West, Ruby Sales, Raymond Winbush, Anthony Browder and others will participate. These workshops will be held at the Dallas County Courthouse.
Sunday, March 4, 2018, will begin at 7:30AM with the Martin and Coretta Scott King Unity Breakfast at Wallace Community College. Kamala Harris, U. S. Senator from California will be the keynote speaker for the breakfast. She will be joined by new Alabama U. S. Senator Doug Jones, Congresswoman Terri Sewell, Rev. Jesse Jackson and many others. After breakfast, marchers are encouraged to join church services around Selma.
At 1:30 PM Sunday, there will be a pre-march rally at the Browns Chapel Church, followed by a re-enactment of the historic Selma-to-Montgomery Voting Rights March starting at 2:30 PM. Thousands are expected to attend and follow the original march route across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. A post-march rally and other activities will be held later that afternoon.
Faya Rose Toure, organizer of the Selma Bridge Crossing Jubilee said, “We invite everyone who supports and celebrates the right to vote to come to this largest annual continuing Civil Rights Celebration, but we also must rededicate ourselves to working on the next necessary steps to carry the movement for voting rights, civil rights and human rights forward!”
Alabama State Senator Hank Sanders said: “Tens of thousands come to Selma every year to be a part of these events. There is something for everyone of all ages and all backgrounds. See you in Selma!”
For more information and a detailed schedule of all events, check the website:

Newswire : Students across nation march for gun control

By Amiyah King, Howard University News Service

Classmates, from left, Sally Egan, Emma McMillan and Avery Brooks are classmates display their signs seeking better gun control.  And students rally against guns

(Trice Edney News Wire/Howard University News Service) – Tens of thousands of high school students across America were marked with an unexcused absence Wednesday, but everyone knew where they were.
In the Washington area, high school students from DC. Public Schools and from public schools in Maryland marched to the Capitol and then to the White House to demand Congress and the president institute gun control legislation that will keep them safe. The march was organized by students from Richard Montgomery High School in Rockville, Md., and Bethesda-Chevy Chase in Montgomery County, Md., in response to the recent shooting in Parkland, Fla.
It was exactly one week ago Wednesday that 19-year-olf Nikolas Cruz opened fire at Stoneman Douglas High School, killing 17 students and wounding dozens more. Cruz, who had been expelled from the school, was charged with 17 accounts of murder of his classmates, teachers and other school officials. The shooting was the 18th school shooting in the first two months of this year.
Student survivors at the school have launched a nationwide effort to focus attention on gun control in the wake of the shooting. Other student demonstrations were reported in Illinois, Florida and Texas.
Washington-area students walked out of their classes at 9:30 a.m. where they followed each other in procession to Union Station where they joined other protestors who took public transportation from Maryland. From Union Station, thousands of high schoolers marched to Capitol Hill and later participated in a sit-in demonstration outside the White House.
During the sit-in, students gathered in a semi-circle to hear leaders talk about why they were there.
“No more thoughts and prayers,” said student leader Daniel Shepard. “If this isn’t the last school shooting, we’ll be out here every opportunity we get.”
In response to the speakers, students shouted, “No more silence and gun violence. Hey, hey. Ho, ho. the NRA (National Rifle Association) has got to go. ”Teachers and parents were mixed with the crowd of demonstrations either as chaperones or to provide support for their children and their cause.
“I don’t think they need my help,” said Mandi Mader, mother of three who attended the march in support of her children. “I’m just one more body to represent them here.”
Most students said they were advocating for the implementation of gun control laws in Congress as a solution to the crisis.
Talia Fleischer, a sophomore at her high school, said she hopes to see “a sign that something will be done in Congress.”
“Countries like Australia and England have great gun control laws, and they have no mass shootings,” she said.
In 1996, Australia passed the National Firearms Agreement after a mass shooting in Tasmania in April of that year. In that incident, a 28-year-old man, armed with a semi-automatic rifle, shot and killed 35 people, and injured 18 others<>, in what was known as the Port Arthur Massacre.Under the 1996 law, Australia banned certain semi-automatic, self-loading rifles and shotguns, and imposed stricter licensing and registration requirements.
Paul DeVries and his daughter, Brechje DeVries, were among the demonstrators. Brechje DeVries, 17, moved from the Netherlands to the United States a year ago and attends high school in Maine. Her father was in the U.S. for one of her sports activities in the Washington, and the two decided to attend the demonstration.
Brechje DeVries said mass shootings are almost unheard of in her country. Her country has experienced only one mass shooting in its history. She said she is stunned and frightened by their frequency in the United States.
“It’s scary,” she said. “There have been threats at schools near me, so it definitely comes close to me. ”Her father said he is worried for his daughter. “I feel the frustration,” he said. “There are a lot of teenagers here. and I think that speaks for itself.”
Joseph Byler, a senior at his school, said the Florida shooting is what sparked him to attend.
“[I hope] the inability of Congress to pass gun control policies disappears,” Byler said. “I hope after today, we get universal background checks on gun purchases.”
Since the shooting in Florida, President Trump has flirted with the idea of proposing restrictions to purchasing guns, from more intense background checks for gun purchasers to the elimination of bump stocks, the tool the Las Vegas shooter used to kill more than 50 people. Via Twitter, Trump said, “Whether we are Republican or Democrat, we must now focus on strengthening Background Checks!”
Trump, who received millions of dollars in support from the National Rifle Association in his run for presidency, until now has consistently backed away from any restrictions on guns.

Newswire : Concordia College in Selma, AL closing its doors, collapsing under a challenge that many HBCUs face

By Nigel Roberts, Newsone

Concordia College logo
After nearly a century of educating Black students, Concordia College in Selma, Alabama announced last Wednesday that it will cease operations at the end of the spring semester.

“It was the toughest thing I’ve had to do in my 50 years of higher education,” Dr. James Lyons, the interim president of Concordia, told the Selma Times Journal, adding that the students “were quite shocked” by the news.

Like Concordia, many of the more than 100 HBCUs across the nation have dire financial problems, partly because operating costs are increasing while enrollment and financial aid decrease. Students at HBCUs are disproportionately low-income. About 70 percent of all HBCU students rely on federal grants and work-study programs to finance their education at a time when the Trump administration seeks ways to cut higher education funding
Concordia, which opened in 1922, needed a minimum of $8 million to pay its debts and keep the doors open for at least one year—just enough money to buy time to find major investors. “It’s very difficult to operate an institution with the lowest possible tuition and fees when you are faced with escalating costs,” Lyons stated.

HBCUs are worth fight for because, despite the challenges, they educate scores of Black students who would otherwise not attend college. These institutions accept scores of “at risk” students who need remedial academic work after graduating from public school systems that failed to educate them. Although they represent just 3 percent of all colleges and universities, HBCUs graduate more than 20 percent of Black college students and a disproportionately higher percentage of students who earn STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) degrees, compared to majority white institutions.