Jan. 13, 2020 (GIN) – When Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo pronounced 2019 as the Year of Return, his words resounded with warmth and joy to all people of African descent.
So began a year-long calendar of events including concerts, art shows, visits to heritage sites, fashion shows, movie premieres and creative economy and trade conferences, organized on the occasion of the 400th anniversary of the arrival of African slaves in America.
Thus far, Akufo-Addo’s call has been a great success, observed Ghanaian author and journalist Kwabena Agyare Yeboah in a recent online issue of African Arguments.
Americans arriving in Ghana increased by 26% to their highest ever rate between January and September 2019.
Similarly, the numbers of visitors grew from the UK (24%), Germany (22%), South Africa (10%) and Liberia (14%). All told, Ghana reportedly issued 800,000 visas this year and this week announced that all nationalities will be eligible to receive a visa on arrival for the next month or so due to the heavy demand.
It was exhaustive, writes Agyare Yeboah, but could they have done more? Was the exclusive focus on the transatlantic slave trade, with the US at the center, a pardonable weakness? Or did it erase other crucially important aspects and legacies of Ghana’s history of slavery?
Missing, he maintains, is the trans-Saharan slave trade in which an estimated 6-7 million people, including from the Sokoto Caliphate and Borno, were forcibly transported to North Africa, Europe and the Middle East, a period ranging over 1,250 years,” he says.
“The legacy of this trade is still palpable in Mauritania where slavery is still a present-day reality,”Agyare Yeboah says. “The country only formally abolished slavery in 1981 and local activists estimate that 20% of the population – all black – are still enslaved.
“Where are the calls for these descendants to return? Where are the African descendants outside of the US, the Jamaicans, Cubans and Brazilians?” he asks rhetorically.
The failure to fully engage with the history of slavery and the focus on just a select portion of African descendants compromises its credibility, he charges.
“The Year of Return campaign had the opportunity, and a whole year, to critically engage with the history of Africans and people of African descent in its entirety. On this, it must do more.”
By Mike Schneider, Associated Press
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Calling preparations for the 2020 Census “conspicuously deficient,” the NAACP is suing the U.S. Census Bureau, demanding that the agency send more workers into the field and spend more money on encouraging people to participate in the once-a-decade head count.
The civil rights group and Prince George’s County, a majority African American county in Maryland, filed the lawsuit last Friday in federal court in Maryland. It claims the Census Bureau wasn’t planning to put enough workers in the field and hadn’t opened up a sufficient number of field offices.
The lawsuit also faulted the bureau for conducting limited testing, particularly when, for the first time, it is encouraging most respondents to answer the questionnaire online.
The 2020 census will help determine the distribution of $1.5 trillion in federal spending and how many congressional seats each state gets. It starts for a few residents next week in a remote part of Alaska, but most people won’t be able to begin answering the questionnaire until mid-March.
“These deficiencies will result in a massive and differential undercount of communities of color,” the lawsuit said. “Such a dramatic undercount will especially dilute the votes of racial and ethnic minorities, deprive their communities of critical federal funds, and undervalue their voices and interests in the political arena.”
The Census Bureau didn’t immediately respond to an email for comment on Monday. The bureau plans to hire as many as 500,000 temporary workers, mostly to help knock on the doors of homes where people haven’t yet responded to the census. Although that is less than in 2010, the agency has said it doesn’t need as many workers this year because of technological advances, such as the ability of workers to collect information on their mobile devices.
An earlier version of the lawsuit was first filed in 2018, but it was dismissed by the district court. An appellate court last month ruled some of the claims could be raised again in the amended complaint filed Friday. In previous court papers, the Census Bureau has called the lawsuit “meritless.””
By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior Correspondent
The importance of Black voter turnout, the Reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act, bipartisan politics, the Futures Act and environmental justice, counted among the topics candidly tackled during a historic fireside chat between National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) President and CEO Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr., and Alabama’s Senator Doug Jones, a Democrat.
Held inside the Hart Building at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., the engaging hour-long conversation marked the first time that a sitting U.S. Senator sat down for a live-streamed video with the Black Press of America.
During the discussion, Jones said that voter turnout – particularly that of African Americans – was crucial to his stunning upset of Republican Roy Moore in the 2017 Alabama Special Election.
“The right to vote was hard fought for African Americans in this country, and I think too many people take that for granted. I think we proved that in the special election in 2017, that every vote counts,” said Jones.
Jones said voting rights had been under attack since the 2013 Shelby V. Holder decision, which eliminated a lot of voter protections. “It’s not the same as the old Jim Crow laws, but there’s still efforts out there to suppress votes and keep people from having that free access to the booths,” he stated.
Jones noted that he’s working to restore “teeth” in the Voting Rights Act, but doubts that the current GOP-led Senate and President Trump’s administration would approve. “I don’t see it happening, so it’s all the more important to get out and vote in the 2020 elections,” Jones stated.
Chavis asked Jones about the role Black women played in his winning election to the Senate. “It was critical. We focused on making sure that we got the African American vote out,” Jones stated.
“We did get more African Americans as a percentage out than even when President Obama did in his first race, a fact that I was very proud. The Black community came out and worked hard. It’s community engagement; it’s a 365-days a year job. And, that’s why the Black Press is so important because it keeps the community engaged,” he stated.
Late last year, Trump signed the Futures Act, a bipartisan measure that would put more funding into Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and other minority-serving institutions.
“It was incredibly important. When it comes to federal dollars, there are two pots of money HBCUs get: Mandatory funding and discretionary funding,” said Jones.
“The mandatory funding is absolutely critical so they can plan each year. There’s a lot of budgetary tugs that fought us, it wasn’t easy, but we were just persistent, and that’s the key in legislation in Washington, to be persistent,” he noted.
Jones continued: “So we were able to get that mandatory funding so that a base amount of money would go to HBCUs. In my two years in Washington, we have been able to get about a 30 percent increase in discretionary funding for HBCUs and other minority-serving institutions.
“Providing that base is important to them and the economy of states like Alabama and North Carolina, and others.”
Chavis spoke to Jones about race relations and asked about the senator’s forecast for the South and whether he sees a more inclusive and diverse South rising. “So many of the divisions we see in the country started in the South. It can also be a place of healing and bringing people back together, and I see tremendous opportunity in the South,” Jones stated.
“I think my election was something that people looked at and said the South was changing. The demographics are changing to some extent, but I think people’s hearts and minds are changing,” he added.
“We went from a one-party state in Alabama with Democrats, to a one-party state with Republicans. There was never anything in between. When you get competitive political parties, you get people who have to talk to each other, and that’s what you need.
“These young people coming up don’t have the same kind of biases and prejudices you saw when I was growing up. They also are beginning to see that the state is better off when everybody in that state benefits from it. I think the South can lead the nation in healing.”
Jones also spoke of the importance of closing the achievement gap, although he said it’s a complicated issue. He said education and getting broadband into rural communities are keys to helping close the gap.
The senator also noted that he’s a proponent of raising the federal minimum wage, but conceded it couldn’t be done overnight. He stated that Trump’s 2017 tax cuts have helped to provide businesses with the needed resources to make a minimum wage hike possible.
With climate change a serious and growing issue, Jones stated the importance of the Black Press to continue to cover topics of environmental justice.“A lot of work needs to be done,” he stated. “But, I don’t have much confidence in the Environmental Protection Agency under this administration, which is why the 2020 election is very important.”
Jones concluded the chat by noting the critical role of the Black Press, his disappointment in mainstream media, and his message to veterans in the wake of the new conflict with Iran.
“I think the press, in general, is critical. Overall, I’m a little disappointed in mainstream media, and I think the Black Press has a unique role, so the Black Press must stay focused on the issues,” Jones stated.
The Black Belt Community Foundation 14th Annual Community Associates Retreat was held at the Embassy Suites Downtown Tuscaloosa on December 8-10, 2019. This year’s theme was, “Building and Expanding Civic Engagement and Participation to Transform the Alabama Black Belt Region.”
The Community Associates are local grassroots leaders, concerned citizens, and volunteers who support the philanthropic efforts of the Black Belt Community Foundation
Felicia Lucky, President of the BBCF stated, “The Community Associates are considered the ‘heart and soul’ of the Black Belt Community Foundation. The annual retreat provides an opportunity for each county to share successes and failures over the past year. The retreat gives the staff of the BBCF and others an opportunity to provide meaningful staff development for each community associate.”
One of the main highlights of the annual retreat is held on day three of the retreat. The BBCF staff shares with each county the amount of funds raised by their county. This is important to each county because the BBCF Board of Directors has agreed to match up to $5,000 to be use for 2020 Community Grants within each county. Therefore, the more money raised locally through grassroots fundraising, the more grants the foundation will be able to fund in that county.
After all the training and development activities were completed, President Felicia Lucky and her financial team handed Chris Spencer, Community Outreach Director, the totals for each county’s fundraising for 2019. After each county’s total was announced, Spencer stated that the total amount raised to date was $60,435 with another $31,700 committed in the budgets of eight local county commissions across the Alabama Black Belt region. The Community Associates were instrumental in requesting funds from their county commissions and having an allocation for support of the Black Belt Community Foundation included in their county’s annual budget.
Miriam Leftwich, Coordinator of the Greene County Community Associates said, “ We reached our fundraising goals for Greene County last year. We held several raffles, a yard sale, a shoe drive for slightly used shoes, a meat sale at Easter and other activities that raised funds at the local level, which will be coming back as community grants from the Black Belt Community Foundation. We have not yet convinced our Greene County Commission to make a contribution but we are going to try again in 2020, since we can now point to the work of associates in other counties who were successful in getting financial support from their county commissions.”
President Lucky stated, “We are very grateful for our local grassroots fundraising efforts and thankful for the giving of eight our local county commissions for placing the BBCF in their annual budgets. The BBCF will match up to $5,000 for funds raised in each county for the 2020 Community Grants cycle. Funds raised will return back to each county to fund community projects. If each county received the maximum match of $5,000, the BBCF will fund over $152,000 in community grants in 2020. We are ‘Taking What We Have To Make What We Need’ just as our motto says!”
In addition to fundraising, the BBCF retreat also had informational sessions on the importance of counting everyone in the 2020 Census; a session on the work of Black Voters Matter to help register all people in the state, especially those who have been incarcerated or have outstanding waivers against them; a session on the new ‘Alabama Literacy Law’ which will require 3rd grade students to reach 3rd grade reading level or not be promoted to the next grade; and a session on the work of the Gear-Up Program to help young people in the Black Belt finish high school and go on to post-secondary education.
The Sumter County Sheriff’s Office has charged a man with murder after a fatal shooting at a nightclub on New Year’s Eve.
Gregory L. Williams, 26, of Greene County has been charged with murder for the death of 24-year-old Donnell Ireland, as well as two counts of attempted murder and second-degree criminal mischief. He is being held in Sumter County Jail on a $68,000 cash bond.
Deputies say they received a call early Jan. 1 about a shooting at the Miller Hill nightclub. Arriving deputies found one victim dead and learned two other victims had been transported to different hospitals by personal vehicles.
The victim was identified as 24-year old Donnell Ireland of Emelle.
Witnesses told deputies a verbal argument started inside the nightclub and eventually spilled outside to the parking lot, where the shooting happened.
Deputies say more arrests are expected.
The Greene County Sheriff’s Department reported a total distribution of $359,660 for the month of November 2019 from four licensed bingo gaming operations in the county. The bingo distributions for November are contributed by Greenetrack, Inc., Frontier, River’s Edge and Palace. The recipients of the monthly distributions from bingo gaming designated by Sheriff Benison in his Bingo Rules and Regulations include the Greene County Sheriff’s Department, the cities of Eutaw, Forkland, Union, Boligee, the Greene County Board of Education and the Greene County Hospital (Health System).
Greenetrack, Inc. gave a total of $67,500 to the following: Greene County Commission, $-0-no distribution; Greene County Sheriff’s Department, $9,000; City of Eutaw, $4,500; and the Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $3,000; Greene County Board of Education, $13,500, the Greene County Health System, $7,500. Included in Greenetrack’s November contribution is $24,000 for undesignated recipient.
Frontier (Dream, Inc.) gave a total of $67,500 to the following: Greene County Commission, $-0-no distribution); Greene County Sheriff’s Department, $9,000; City of Eutaw, $4,500; and the Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $3,000; Greene County Board of Education, $13,500, Greene County Health System, $7,500. Included in Frontier’s November contribution is $24,000 for undesignated recipient.
River’s Edge (Next Level Leaders and Tishabee Community Center Tutorial Program) gave a total of $73,300 to the following: Greene County Commission, $-0-no distribution); Greene County Sheriff’s Department, $9,000; City of Eutaw, $4,500; and the Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $3,000; Greene County Board of Education, $13,500, and the Greene County Health System, $13,300. Included in River’s Edge November contribution is $24,000 for undesignated recipient.
Palace (TS Police Support League) gave a total of $151,360 to the following: Greene County Commission, $-0- (no distribution); Greene County Sheriff’s Department, $80,960; City of Eutaw, $24,640; and the Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $7,040; Greene County Board of Education, $7,040 and the Greene County Health System, $17,600. There was no amount reported for an undesignated recipient.
Jan. 6, 2020 (GIN) – From a cell inside the court in Khartoum, Sudan’s former President Omar al-Bashir heard the judgement against him – two years in detention for money laundering and corruption.
It was a dramatic fall for the former regional power broker who rose through the ranks from paratroop officer to colonel in the Sudanese Army, from Chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council for National Salvation to finally all the posts of chief of state, prime minister, chief of the armed forces, and minister of defense. He served as president of Sudan for 30 years.
As a brigadier in the Sudanese Army, he led a group of officers in a military coup that ousted the democratically elected government of prime minister Sadiq al-Mahdi.
He ruled with an iron fist – his 30-year dictatorship was marked by oppression, genocide, and human rights abuses.
In the Darfur region, he fought a war against south Sudanese that resulted in death tolls estimated between 200,000 and 400,000, according to the U.N., from either combat, starvation or disease. This produced an arrest warrant in 2010 for the crime of genocide but it was dismissed by the Sudanese government and opposed by the African Union, League of Arab States and the Non-Aligned Movement as well as the governments of Russia and China.
Eight years later, price increases in fuel and bread set off angry protests and finally a demand for Mr. Bashir’s removal from power. After months of unrest, Sudan’s military stepped in and toppled Mr Bashir on April 11, 2019.
Al Bashir was finally done in by corruption. Millions of dollars were discovered stuffed in suitcases and a large hoard of foreign currency was found at his home.
As Mr. Bashir is over 70, he will serve his 2-year sentence in a state-run reform center. An appeal is being mounted, say his lawyers who called the verdict ‘political.’
Still, many are unsatisfied with the short sentence. “It’s just a slap on the wrist,” said a spokeswoman for the Sudanese Professionals Association. “Bashir needs to answer for his role in the 1989 coup, torture and killings including crimes against humanity in Darfur.”
Jehanne Henry of a Human Rights Watch who focuses on Sudan, added” “The trial for these charges of financial crimes does not address the human rights violations that so many Sudanese have experienced. So the sentence will not likely satisfy the many thousands of victims of abuses under al-Bashir’s 30 year rule.”
By WSFA Staff
Gov. Kay Ivey of Alabama has appointed Lowndes County Chief Deputy Christopher West as the county’s new sheriff. (Source: Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office)
According to Gina Maiola with the governor’s office, Christopher West will be the new sheriff. West was Lowndes County’s chief deputy and has served in law enforcement for 24 years, according to his biography on the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office website. He’s served in Lowndes County, as well as Fort Deposit as the chief of police.
Prior to his law enforcement career, West served for five years in the United States Marine Corps. He is also a graduate of Herzig University in Birmingham.
According to the governor’s office, he is the current administrative assistant to the Fort Deposit chief of police. He left his position as deputy sheriff in Lowndes County in 2018.
He’s got big shoes to fill but I’m very confident that he can do that and he certainly is excited to serve,” said Ivey. West was appointed after the shooting death of Sheriff John “Big John” Williams at a Hayneville shopping mall in November.
Clyburn Effort to Expand Community Health Centers
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn hailed House passage of H.R. 3, the Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act. This landmark legislation gives Medicare the power to negotiate directly with drug companies and extends those lower prices to Americans with private insurance too.
“This is an important step toward providing American consumers more accessible and affordable prescription drugs,” Congressman Clyburn said. “In the United States, our drug prices are nearly four times higher than in similar countries, and this legislation will provide real price reductions that will put significant money back in the pocket of consumers.”
Negotiating lower prescription drug prices has the added benefit of cost savings to American taxpayers. A portion of those savings will be reinvested in the National Institutes of Health to research new cures and treatments. Cost savings will also support an expansion of Medicare benefits to cover dental, vision, and hearing needs and sets a $2,000 out-of-pocket limit on prescription drug costs for those on Medicare.
In addition, cost savings will be used to fund provisions of Congressman Clyburn’s H.R. 1943 – Community Health Center and Primary Care Workforce Expansion Act of 2019. H.R. 3 will provide a $10 billion funding boost to community health centers, which serve 28 million Americans in communities across the United States, including over 350,000 veterans, 8 million children, and 1.4 million homeless patients.
This $10 billion includes $5 billion for capital improvements and construction to expand the footprint of community health centers and an additional $5 billion in funding over the next five years for community health center grants, allowing them to serve more people, including Americans living in rural areas, where half of the Centers are located.
“Providing robust funding to build on the success of community health centers is critically important to providing quality health care in hard-to-reach communities,” Congressman Clyburn continued. “In my district alone, where three rural hospitals have closed, there are eight federally-funded community health centers working to serve almost 190,000 patients.”
H.R. 3 passed the House on a bipartisan vote, 230-192, and was sent to the Senate for consideration.
Analysis by: Rev. Jesse Jackson
(TriceEdneyWire.com) – It has come to this. An impeached president — still pending trial in the Senate — orders the assassination of a leading Iranian general as he is meeting with the leader of Iraq, a supposed ally. He does so without consultation, much less approval, of Congress. Besieged at home, he lashes out abroad.
This president ran on the promise to end the “endless wars “in the Middle East. Earlier, he ordered and then wisely called off bombing strikes on Iran, saying that he did not want a war. Now he claims that he has acted to stop a war, not start one.
He is either deliberately misleading the American people or deluding himself. Assassination of a foreign official is not the road to peace; violence almost inevitably begets violence. He has acted on what his own officials call “razor-thin” evidence, shocking his own military advisers. U.S. presidents now claim the right — and have the capability — to target and assassinate anyone in any place, foreigner or citizen, if they decide — on the basis of secret and often scanty intelligence — that the person may be considering an attack on U.S. allies or soldiers or representatives in the future. They call this potential threat evidence of an “imminent attack,” to pay mock respect to the international law that they are trampling.
General Qassim Soleimani is portrayed as a terrorist with American blood on his hands. But he was not a stateless terrorist. He was a high official in a foreign government with which we are not at war. Assassinating him is an act of war. Ironically, Iran and the Shiite militias in Iraq that Soleimani guided were leading, if unacknowledged, allies in the fight against ISIS, who are largely Sunnis.
Similarly, those who attacked the U.S. on 9/11 were Sunnis, almost all from Saudi Arabia, funded largely by Saudi money. Taliban in Afghanistan are Sunni. The attack on Yemen was led by Saudi Arabia, which is Sunni. Iran fought against ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Yet, somehow, it has become Trump’s leading target.
The road to this escalating conflict can be traced back to Trump’s perverse hatred of all things achieved by former President Barack Obama. One of Trump’s first acts was to pull the U.S. out of the Iran nuclear pact, over the objections of our allies and his own military advisers.
He ramped up sanctions on Iran, seeking to force them to surrender to a “better deal.” The result has been escalating tension and violence, as Iran has demonstrated — in attacks on Saudi oil facilities and on tankers in the Persian Gulf — that it has the capacity to strike back. Now, after the assassination, the entire region girds itself for the retaliation that has already been promised. This is utter folly.
Under George Bush, the U.S. destabilized this region by invading Iraq. That calamity has fostered escalating violence. Obama added to the mess seeking regime change in Syria and in Libya, spreading the chaos. Trump was right when he said it was time for the U.S. to get out of the Middle East.
We have no stake in the spreading conflict between Sunnis and Shiites. We have no desire to send the hundreds of thousands of troops needed to win a war or enforce a peace. All we are doing is squandering American lives and resources in an armed presence that simply adds to the violence without leading to a resolution. Why has Trump abandoned his campaign promise? Why did he abandon his wise decision not to strike Iran earlier? The only thing that has changed is that he has been impeached. Is he ramping up violence abroad to distract from the overwhelming evidence of his offenses? Is he using the U.S. military as a political campaign prop?
The next move is in Iran’s hands. If the regime reacts predictably by striking back, the assassination will lead to escalating violence. Eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth, and soon all are left without sight and without teeth. Iran could — if its leaders can rise above their grief and their anger — use this moment to take an initiative for peace, calling on our allies to join in convening a negotiation, opening a path to less violence and greater exchange.
Trump may not wish to respond, but surely our allies in Europe would jump at the chance. Clearly Congress must assert its constitutional war powers and limit the license of this or any president to wage war or assassinate foreign leaders on a whim. It must insist on public hearings to review the basis for the assassination. We need hearings on what we are doing in the Middle East and how we begin to bring the troops home.
Congress needs to pass a renewed war powers resolution instructing the president to bring the troops home, not send more of them to the region. If Congress cannot curb a rogue president, then this republic is in deep trouble. And the American people and its soldiers are