Newswire: President Biden announces first nominees for Board to Review Civil Rights Era Cold Cases

Poster for three murdered Civil Rights Workers in Mississippi

By Stacy M. Brown NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent

Fourteen years ago, thesent the FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice a list of 74 cold cases involving African Americans allegedly murdered in racially motivated circumstances by White people between 1952 and 1968. Most of the crimes took place in Mississippi, which contained nearly half of the 74 cases. Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee all made up the rest. All went cold, and the victims’ families never received justice. Today, a new path to justice has opened to crack these cold cases. On Friday, June 11, President Joe Biden announced the first set of nominees for the Civil Rights Cold Case Records Review Board. The panel would have the power to declassify government files and subpoena new testimony that could reopen cases and reveal publicly why many racially motivated lynchings and killings of Black people were never adequately investigated. “The White House hopes that the Senate moves quickly to [confirm] these nominees,” an administration official told the National Newspaper Publishers Association. “The Board was established with nearly unanimous bipartisan support in 2019,” the official noted. President Biden’s nominees are: • Clayborne Carson has devoted most of his professional life to the study of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the movements Dr. King inspired. Since receiving his doctorate from UCLA in 1975, Dr. Carson has taught at Stanford University as the Martin Luther King, Jr., Centennial Professor of History (Emeritus). • Gabrielle M. Dudley, an Instruction Archivist at the Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library at Emory University. In this role, she partners with faculty and other instructors to develop courses and archives research assignments for undergraduate and graduate students. • Hank Klibanoff, a veteran journalist who won a Pulitzer Prize in History in 2007 for a book he co-wrote about the news coverage of the civil rights struggle in the South. Klibanoff is the creator and host of Buried Truths, a narrative history podcast produced by WABE (NPR) in Atlanta. • Margaret Burnham has served as a state court judge (appointed by Governor Michael Dukakis, 1977), civil rights lawyer, and human rights commissioner. A graduate of Tougaloo College in Jackson, Mississippi, and the University of Pennsylvania Law School, Burnham has been on the Northeastern University faculty since 2002. She was named to the 2016 class of Andrew Carnegie Fellows, an honor recognizing a select group of scholars for their significant work in the social sciences and humanities. The panel could consider cases like the three civil rights workers in Mississippi – James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner – killed by the Ku Klux Klan in June 1964. Two months later, the activists’ bodies were riddled with bullets, burned, and buried in a dam in Neshoba County. The “Mississippi Burning” case has largely gone unsolved and primarily unpunished. In 2005, Edgar Ray Killen was convicted of three counts of manslaughter and sentenced to 60 years in prison, but authorities closed the case and put an end to hopes of prosecuting others involved. In Lowndes County, Alabama, there is the case of 18-year-old Rogers Hamilton. On a brisk night in October 1957, two white men arrived at Rogers’ home, summoned him outside, and put him in a truck. His mother, Beatrice Hamilton, trailed the truck on a dusty road and watched in horror as they pulled Rogers out of the vehicle and shot him in the head. When she notified the sheriff, he told her she didn’t see what she “thought she saw” and closed the case. “No one cared, except his extended family, now scattered from Chicago to New York,” John Fleming, an editor at the Center for Sustainable Journalism, wrote in a 2011 column. “The case remains open, though the reality is that this case will never be prosecuted,” Fleming decided. “Though the family wants justice, even if it means getting the local district attorney to indict a dead deputy, what’s equally important to them is the fact that the story of a long-dead [man] in faraway Alabama has finally been told.”

Newswire : Supreme Court ruled against lowering sentences for crack cocaine convictions

Supreme Court building

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent

On Monday, June 14, the Supreme Court ruled that those convicted of possessing small amounts of crack cocaine are prohibited from seeking sentence reductions. Activists complained that the ruling is just another slap in the face to minority defendants who were disproportionately sentenced to lengthy prison sentences during the 1980s crack epidemic. Congress passed laws in the 1980s in response to the crack epidemic that mandated that anyone arrested and convicted for possessing small amounts of crack would face sentences as long as someone caught with heavier weights of powder cocaine. African Americans and Latinos found possessing small amounts of crack received sentences longer than White suspects who had power cocaine. “This is still White America, and the Supreme Court reflects this ‘White privilege’ mindset,” stated Tremaine Powell, an Alexandria, Va., resident who recently was released after a 15-year-to-life sentence for crack cocaine possession. “I’m on probation for the rest of my life,” Powell complained. “Some White Wall Street executive caught with zip-lock bags full of cocaine only gets probation.” Tarahrick Terry, who lives in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, brought the case to the Supreme Court. Terry served a little more than 15 years for possessing less than 4 grams of crack cocaine, which reports noted weighs about the same as four paper clips. Terry sought relief from his sentence under the First Step Act, but a lower court ruled that the law did not apply to low-level offenses. In December of 2018, Congress passed the First Step Act, and the law was viewed as a measure to correct the injustice tied to crack cocaine sentences and other criminal activity that otherwise should not have led to long prison terms. According to the nonprofit Red Restorative Justice Program, the goal of the law was to “give deserving prisoners the opportunity to get a shortened sentence for positive behavior and job training and giving judges and juries the power that the Constitution intended to grant them in sentencing.”

Newswire: Pulitzer Board issues special citation to Darnella Frazier, the teen who recorded George Floyd’s murder

Darnella Frazier takes video of George Floyd’s murder

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent

 Pulitzer Prize to the list of awards and recognition bestowed upon Darnella Frazier, the teen who bravely videotaped the murder of George Floyd in 2020. The Pulitzer Prize board issued a special citation to Darnella, who is now 18. “For courageously recording the murder of George Floyd, a video that spurred protests against police brutality around the world, highlighting the crucial role of citizens in journalists’ quest for truth and justice,” the Pulitzer Board wrote. For her efforts, Darnella is also receiving the National Newspaper Publishers Association’s (NNPA) highest journalism award and a monetary scholarship at the NNPA’s annual convention, which begins on Wednesday, June 23. NNPA is the trade association of the hundreds of African American-owned newspapers and media companies that comprise the Black Press of America. NNPA President and CEO Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr., applauded Darnella and called her a “freedom fighter” who ensured justice was finally done in the case of a police officer killing an unarmed African American. “We salute this brave young woman, who had the courage to keep on filming even as the officers tried to intimidate her,” Dr. Chavis stated. Floyd family Attorney Benjamin Crump told the Black Press that there would be no civil settlement or a trial and conviction of former officer Derek Chauvin had it not been for Darnella’s actions. “It was Darnella Frazier who stepped up,” Crump asserted. Officials in Minneapolis reached a record $27 million civil settlement with Floyd’s family, and Chauvin faces as much as 40 years in prison when he’s sentenced on June 25. “We wouldn’t have any of that without Darnella Frazier taking that video,” Crump reiterated. The video was the most damning piece of evidence during Chauvin’s trial, and Darnella took the witness stand and offered powerful testimony to back up the recording. “Even though this was a traumatic life-changing experience for me, I’m proud of myself,” Frazier wrote in an Instagram post on the one-year anniversary of Floyd’s murder. “If it weren’t for my video, the world wouldn’t have known the truth.” “My video didn’t save George Floyd,” she added, “but it put his murderer away and off the streets.”

Newswire: Dr. Fauci supports “Shot at the Barber Shop” as part of nationwide vaccination plan

Dr. Anthony Fauci

By Stacy M. Brown NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent

Dr. Anthony Fauci said he wholeheartedly supports President Joe Biden’s initiative with Black-owned barbershops and beauty salons to get more African Americans vaccinated. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director and the nation’s foremost authority on the coronavirus, Dr. Fauci, called the president’s tactic solid. In a discussion with the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), Dr. Fauci added that medical and administration officials have a laser-like focus on meeting the president’s goal of having 70 percent of all adults vaccinated by Independence Day. “That’s the reason why you see what [President Biden] is doing, and all of us are doing to get people vaccinated,” Dr. Fauci asserted. “We want to make it very easy for people to get the vaccine.” President Biden declared June as a month of action and announced a “Shots at the Shop” initiative that unites 1,000 African American-owned barbershops and beauty salons in the country to serve as vaccination hubs. The initiative comes with incentives like free child-care for parents and other perks. “We want to give incentives and do whatever we can to get people to get vaccinated,” Dr. Fauci stated. He noted that the NNPA, the trade association of the hundreds of Black-owned newspaper and media companies, is a trusted voice in the nation’s African American communities. “That’s why I am speaking with you today,” Dr. Fauci insisted. “The Black Press is vital, it is trusted, and we need to get the word out and get everyone vaccinated.” To view Dr. Fauci’s entire interview with the Black Press, register today and tune into the NNPA’s annual summer convention. It is free to register at http://www.virtualnnpa2021.com. Headlined by music icon Chaka Khan, the convention begins on Wednesday, June 23.

Newswire: Company-inspired violence on Warrior Met coal strike picket lines increasing

Striking mine workers gather weekly for solidarity rallies on Wednesday evenings at 6:00 PM in Tannehill State Park  

[BROOKWOOD, ALA.] Three separate incidents of vehicular assault by persons working for Warrior Met Coal, Inc. have occurred on legal picket lines set up by members of the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) in the last three days, raising questions as to whether the company has determined that violence and the threat of bodily harm are its best responses to the ongoing strike by UMWA miners at the company. Videos of the incidents are available on the UMWA website.
1,100 miners, members of the UMWA have been on strike since April 1st. against Warrior Met Coal at four underground mines north of Tuscaloosa. The ten-week strike, the first coal miner’s strike in Alabama in forty years, is centered on the company’s unwillingness to bargain fairly over wages and benefits. There are also safety concerns and complaints of required long work hours.
Five years ago, the UMWA made major concessions to help the company, owned by Wall Street hedge funds, to emerge from bankruptcy. Since then the workers have helped restore the company to profitable operations but the company has reneged on its promises to restore wage and benefit cuts. Warrior has been bringing “scab labor” to cross the union picket lines which has resulted in some of the recent violent incidents.
“Warrior Met personnel, either management or nonunion workers, have repeatedly struck our members who were engaging in legal picket line activities, with their vehicles,” UMWA International President Cecil E. Roberts said today. “We have members in casts, we have members in the hospital, we have members who are concerned about their families and potential of violence against them if they come to the picket line.
“We have been to court on multiple occasions regarding what we can and cannot do on the picket lines and our members respect the guidance of the court,” Roberts said. “Warrior Met seems to believe that it is all right to strike people with cars as they engage in legal, protected activity. This is a dangerous course of action that can swiftly lead to events spiraling out of control. That is the last thing anyone should want.
“I call on Warrior Met to back away from violence and finally come to the bargaining table in good faith, ready to hammer out a fair and reasonable agreement,” Roberts said. “But if Warrior Met decides to continue inspiring violence on the picket lines, their leadership should understand that UMWA members have been subjected to company violence for 131 years and will not be deterred from seeking a fair contract for them and their families. We are still here and we will remain here long after those leaders have gone.”

 

Newswire: More coffins found in Tulsa Race Massacre victim search

Excavation of mass grave site begins at Tulsa’s Oaklawn Cemetery

By The Associated Press

Crews searching a Tulsa cemetery for victims of the 1921 Race Massacre found five more coffins on Thursday, bringing to 20 the number of coffins found at a mass grave feature there, city officials said Thursday. After much of the excavation and analysis is completed this week at Oaklawn Cemetery, city officials say a formal exhumation process started on Monday of this week. The search began last year, and researchers in October found at least 12 sets of remains in coffins, although the remains were covered back up for further study at a later date and authorities haven’t yet confirmed they are those of massacre victims. State archaeologist Kary Stackelbeck has estimated as many as 30 or more bodies could be in the site. Not long after the massacre, the state officially declared the death toll to be only 36 people, including 12 who were white. But for various reasons, including contemporaneous news reports, witness accounts and looser standards for tracking deaths, most historians who have studied the event estimate it to be between 75 and 300. The past week has been a commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Massacre of May 31 to June 1, 1921, with many events to recall the devasting details of the largest massacre of Black people in the United States.

Newswire: Vice President Kamala Harris becomes highest ranking Black woman from U.S. to make foreign trip

Vice-President Harris arrives in Guatemala

By Bruce C.T. Wright, NewsOne

There is no shortage of Black history being made in the year 2021. This time around, Vice President Kamala Harris has become the highest-ranking Black woman government official in U.S. history to make a foreign trip. Guatemala literally rolled out the red carpet as the first woman and first Black vice president of the United States touched down on Sunday for her maiden trip abroad for President Joe Biden‘s administration to address the immigration crisis at America’s southern border. However, not everybody in Guatemala was happy that Harris was visiting. The trip is part of Harris’ duties as assigned by Biden to figure out how to effectively — and humanely — handle the influx of migrants seeking citizenship following the massive failure in that arena by President Donald Trump and his administration, which separated families at the border, caged the children and deported the adults. Harris met with Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei during a bilateral meeting to address the root causes of migration from Central America. The vice president was among multiple government officials from both countries to meet at the Palacio Nacional de la Cultura in Guatemala City. “The goal of the vice president’s trip is to deepen our strategic partnership and bilateral relationship with both the Guatemalan and Mexican governments to advance a comprehensive strategy to tackle the causes of migration,” Harris’ spokesperson, Symone Sanders, told CNN. While the talks got underway inside the opulent building that is the equivalent of Guatemala’s White House, protesters outside demonstrated against Harris’ presence in their country. Photos showed protesters carrying signs in English as well as Spanish that implored Harris to “mind your own business” and “go home” and saying she was “not welcome.” Back home in the U.S., Harris was the subject of false media reports centered on her new immigration role. A reporter with the conservative tabloid New York Post was forced to quit in April after writing without offering any proof that undocumented migrant minors arriving at the border were being greeted by American officials with copies of a children’s book written by the vice president. Previously, Harris hosted a virtual bilateral meeting on the same topic with Giammattei in the Vice President’s Ceremonial Office in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building of the White House on April 26. Following the meeting in Guatemala, Harris was scheduled to travel to Mexico to meet with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador to “attend roundtable discussions with entrepreneurs and labor leaders,” NBC News reported. But considering the important role that Mexico plays with immigration to the U.S. — migrants traveling through Central America typically must pass through Guatemala before getting to Mexico, from where they cross into any number of border states like Texas, Arizona and California — chances are those talks will also address America’s migrant crisis while the vice president is in Central America. The meeting in Mexico may even touch on Trump’s infamous border wall that Democrats and the Mexican government alike vehemently opposed. Prior to Harris’ trip this week, other high-ranking Black American women to travel abroad for the U.S. government include Condoleezza Rice, President George W. Bush’s Secretary of State, and Susan Rice, who served as former President Barack Obama‘s national security adviser and ambassador to the United Nations.

COVID-19

As of June 9, 2021 at 10:00 AM (according to Alabama Political Reporter) Alabama had 546,845 confirmed cases of coronavirus,(2,800) more than last week with 11,249 deaths (93) more than last week)

Greene County had 934 confirmed cases, (4 more cases than last week), with 34 deaths

Sumter Co. had 1,057 cases with 32 deaths

Hale Co. had 2,262 cases with 78 deaths

Note: Greene County Physicians Clinic has Johnson and Johnson, one dose vaccination for COVID-19; Call for appointments at 205/372-3388, Ext. 142; ages 18 and up.

Letter to Editor

Dear Editor:

A letter from an Alabama striking mine workers wife

Editors Note: Last week we had a letter from the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) Women’s Auxiliary, who are operating a Food Pantry to provide food and essential supplies to the 1,100 mine worker families . These miners have been on strike for ten weeks since April 1, 2021, against Warrior Met in Brookwood, Alabama. This letter is from a miner’s wife who has been helped by the Food Pantry. This program and the UMWA Strike Fund overall need the help of other working people.

Dear Editor:

The union strike against Warrior Met Coal is bigger than all of us. Amazon in Alabama recently attempted to unionize. When Warrior Met Coal filed bankruptcy 6 years ago they put miners in a corner. After 9 months being laid off the “new” company said we can get back to work IF you take a $6 an hour pay cut, no paid lunches, and insurance coverage drop from 100% to 80/20. Miners agreed with the promise that after 5 years the next contract would give back everything they sacrificed. Within 5 years these men and women took that company from bankruptcy and into some of the highest grossing years of profit. My husband is our only income and luckily we saved to prepare but savings go quickly with children to raise. We’re pressured on every side between company, company paid police, drones watching our every move, court rulings against us that only 10 can picket at a time, stress of keeping our homes, food on the table, and finding jobs while striking, marching, and attending rallies. My girls have seen even less of their daddy than usual. He’s picking up any jobs he can, working 7am to 7pm then going the hour drive to strike, march, rally, and picket. After all night on the picket line, he drives the hour back to go straight to working the temporary job which is many hours of hard labor and little pay. We can’t get the financial aid we paid into from our checks but WMC didn’t claim that part of income for those months because they knew it would “starve us out” which is why the pantry and donations are so important. When I opened our first pantry bag I immediately felt the love in it. Each item had a match for a meal the whole family would like. We even received diapers for our baby! A week of stress about food and diapers was taken off our shoulders. This strike has brought many of us together in a way I never expected.. The brotherhood and sisterhood of the UMWA is our strength, it is what will help us win this fight. We are achieving a lot here but we need the help of our fellow unions and community supporters. You might think this doesn’t concern you but if we fail this could be your future strike too. Other companies will follow suit. This is too important. We must come together. If you can donate it will help put food on union families’ tables. Bags of food put together with a lot of love and solidarity. We will get through this because we are union!

Brittney Wright, A striking miner’s wife, — 

 

DONATE HERE: https://www.paypal.com/paypalme/UMWAStrikePantry