Newswire: Vigil and makes hit memorial near place where George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis

WASHINGTON – The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and 400 other civil rights organizations today called on congressional leadership to swiftly rectify the legacy of white supremacy and anti-black racism that has led to police violence against Black people across our country. The group requested a meeting with congressional leadership to discuss urgently needed reforms that ensure police officers live up to their oath to protect and serve all people in the United States.
“Now is the time for Congress to pass meaningful police reform legislation. While we appreciate hearings and resolutions, we need comprehensive measures to happen. We need Congress to truly step up to the plate and protect Black communities from the systemic perils of over policing, police brutality, misconduct, and harassment, and end the impunity in which officers operate in taking the lives of Black people. It is your moral and ethical duty to ensure Black people and communities are free from the harm and threats from law enforcement and to curtail state sanctioned police violence and militarized police responses,” the groups said in the letter.
The federal reforms addressed in the letter include:
Require a federal standard that use of force be reserved for only when necessary as a last resort after exhausting reasonable options, and incentivize states to implement this standard;
Require the use of de-escalation techniques, and the duty to intervene; ban the use of force as a punitive measure or means of retaliation against individuals who only verbally confront officers, or against individuals who pose a danger only to themselves; and require all officers to accurately report all uses of force;
Prohibit all maneuvers that restrict the flow of blood or oxygen to the brain, including neck holds, chokeholds, and similar excessive force, deeming the use of such force a federal civil rights violation;
• Prohibit racial profiling with robust data collection on police-community encounters and law enforcement activities. Data should capture all demographic categories and be disaggregated; • Eliminate federal programs that provide military equipment to law enforcement; • Prohibit the use of no-knock warrants, especially for drug searches • Change the 18 U.S.C. Sec. 242 mens rea requirement from willfulness to recklessness, permitting prosecutors to successfully hold law enforcement accountable for the deprivation of civil rights and civil liberties; • Develop a national public database that would cover all police agencies in the United States and its territories; and, • End the qualified immunity doctrine that prevents police from being held legally accountable when they break the law.
The Leadership Conference on Civill and Human Rights is a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 220 national organizations to promote and protect the rights of all persons in the United States. The Leadership Conference works toward an America as good as its ideals. For more information on The Leadership Conference and its member organizations, visit

Newswire : Trump says he’ll deploy military to states if they don’t stop violent protests

By Alana Wise, NPR

Police guarding White House during Saturday night’s demonstrations

Escalating his rhetoric during a period of roiling national crises, President Trump on Monday threatened to deploy the U.S. military to cities or states that don’t take “necessary” actions to halt violent protests, saying the armed forces will “quickly solve the problem for them.”
Trump’s Rose Garden remarks came as just across the street, law enforcement officers deployed tear gas and shot rubber bullets to forcefully disperse peaceful protesters. Washington, D.C., had set a curfew Monday of 7 p.m. ET.
The protesters were removed from the Lafayette Square area across from the White House, apparently to clear the way for the president to walk to St. John’s Church, where he posed briefly for photographers, holding a Bible. Parts of the church compound were damaged by rioters on Sunday night.
In a statement, Judd Deere, the White House’s deputy press secretary, said: “The perimeter was expanded to help enforce the 7 p.m. curfew in the same area where rioters attempted to burn down one of our nation’s most historic churches the night before. Protesters were given three warnings by the U.S. Park Police.”
Trump’s remarks, which lasted less than seven minutes, came after days of protests in dozens of cities across the U.S. following the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody in Minneapolis a week ago.
During the remarks, Trump declared himself “a law-and-order president” and “ally of all peaceful protesters,” but he called violent unrest that has accompanied many demonstrations “acts of domestic terror.”
“These are not acts of peaceful protests. These are acts of domestic terror. The destruction of innocent life, and the spilling of innocent blood, is an offense to humanity and a crime against God,” Trump said.
He added: “Our country always wins. That is why I am taking immediate presidential action to stop the violence.”
Trump said he had mobilized “thousands and thousands” of “heavily armed” military personnel to put an end to the protests, which were born from criticisms of excessive force by law enforcement.
It was not immediately clear, however, what precise changes might be in store for the personnel who have been responding to the demonstrations across the country.
The Justice Department said in a statement that beginning Monday night, it had deployed all of its law enforcement components and is coordinating with the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security and local authorities to “maximize federal security presence throughout the District [of Columbia].”
Threatening state governors who have declined to deploy the National Guard, Trump said he would dispatch the U.S. military to “quickly solve the problem for them.”
After the stop at St. John’s Church, Trump and a retinue of advisers and staffers then returned to the secure enclave within the White House complex.
Nation in crisis
Protests, which have at times broken out into violence and looting, continued from the weekend into Monday, following the video-recorded death of Floyd, who died after a white officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.
Protesters — many of whom have worn masks because of the coronavirus pandemic — have demanded that the officers involved be held accountable for Floyd’s death.
Derek Chauvin, the officer who knelt on Floyd’s neck, has been arrested and charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Three other officers who were involved in the incident have been fired but have not been charged.
Several major cities, including Washington, D.C., were placed under curfews following the unrest. Trump’s walk to the nearby church, which he does not typically visit, technically violated the District of Columbia’s Monday curfew for a little time.
The National Guard has been deployed in many states, and the president on Monday called for governors to “dominate” in their states to put an end to the protests.
His remarks Monday stand in stark contrast to the position he took toward heavily armed majority-white protesters last month, who stormed the Michigan statehouse in defiance of stay-at-home orders to demand a reopening of the state economy amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Trump described those protesters as “very good people” and called on the governor to “give a little” to appease them.
The protests against police violence come against the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic, which has caused more than 100,000 deaths in the U.S., with black Americans disproportionately affected.

Supt. Jones gives update on students academic arrangement School system proposes 2020 high school graduation in July with precautions

Shown L to R: GCHS Counselor Tameka Thompson, GCHS senior Jasmine Bevelle and Superintendent Corey Jones display 2020 seniors yard signs.

The Greene County Board of Education held its regular meeting Monday, May 18, 2020, observing the required COVID-19 physical arrangements with limited participants wearing masks and seated 6ft. apart. The board’s quorum consisted of C. Zippert, L. Branch and W. Morgan.
In a key announcement, Superintendent Dr. Corey Jones stated that the school system is tentatively planning to hold Greene County High School graduation on Friday, July 24 utilizing the stadium and football field at Robert Brown Middle School. He stated that his executive committee is planning the arrangements where graduates will be spaced appropriately from each other and each student will be allowed only four guests who will also be distanced according to guidelines. Other specific logistics will be announced at a later date.
Superintendent Jones noted that GCHS graduates received their caps and gowns and personalized yard signs Monday afternoon in a drive-through at the high school prior to the board meeting, with numerous faculty, staff and board president available to present the attire and congratulatory gestures. (See photo display on page 8)
In a COVID-19 academic arrangement update, Jones reported on each school regarding teachers’ contacts with students and students’ compliance in submitting completed assignments.
Eutaw Primary reported 100% teacher contact with students and 80% packets returned by students. Robert Brown Middle School reported 93% teacher contact and 85% packets return. Greene County High reported 95% teacher contact and 95 % packets return. The Career Center reported 100% teachers contact and 80% packets return.Regarding additional technology for students’ virtual learning, Superintendent Jones announced that the school system was awarded a $30,000 grant from Alabama Power Foundation toward the $167,000 cost of 600 Chrome Books and hot spots for students, which are on order. He added that the school system is exploring various internet carriers to service our outlying areas, including AT& T and Verizon. “These technological improvements will allow us to extend learning time and provide optional arrangements for the teaching-learning process” he stated.
Jones indicated that because of the COVID-19 uncertainties, his executive staff is investigating a possible blended schedule for the next school term, where various grades could attend on-site classes in shifts and participate in classes virtually off-site.
The school system has ended its regular meals program having provided 66,540 meals to families with children 1-18 years of age, however, families can continue to receive meals for students through the USDA Meals-To-You Program. Each family must sign-up for the program through the following website: Meals will be delivered to parents who sign up.
CSFO Lavonda Blair reported that the State Audit Exit Conference was held vitally last week with board members. There were no findings. A final on-site report will be scheduled at a later date. She also noted that the school system’s income is decreasing, as tax revenue decreases, however expenses are increasing.
According to Blair, the water bills at the various school sites have had considerable increases even though the facilities are closed. At GCHS there was a $2,000 plus increase in the water bill in a month’s period; At RBM there was a $700 plus increase water bill; and at Eutaw Primary there was a $300 plus increase. Superintendent Jones indicated he has attempted to reach Mayor Raymond Steele to investigate these increases and obtain an explanation. If the Mayor does not respond, Dr. Jones indicated he will approach the City Council.
The board has tentatively scheduled its required annual Superintendent and CSFO Evaluations for June 15 and June 8, respectively.
The board also discussed the AASB Whole Board Training for 2020, but no definite decision was determined since all board members were not present.
The superintendent noted that his office has taken appropriate actions to alleviate the Bat problem at RBMS.
The board approved the superintendent’s recommendation to hire Mr. James Gaines as Interim Transportation Supervisor for the school system.
In a traditional process, the board approved the superintendent’s recommendations to non-renew various non-tenured and contract personnel. Dr. Jones indicated that most will be called back.

Newswire :Shooting death in Georgia of Ahmaud Arbery, is defined as a “Modern Day Lynching”

By Lauren Victoria Burke, NNPA Newswire Contributor

Ahmaud Arbery

Months after the U.S. House passed a new lynching law, which has been held up by the Republican led U.S. Senate, and a day after investigative journalist Ida B. Wells was posthumously awarded a Pulitzer Prize — a lynching story dated February 23, 2020 is in the news.
The shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery, 25, went viral on social media on May 6, months after his murder. The video shows Arbery jogging down a street in Brunswick, Georgia. It appears to demonstrate the involvement of three men — two on a pickup truck and another filming the scene from behind.
Arbery’s death took place on February 23rd about three miles from where he lived. Arbery was an avid jogger and played football.
The two men on the pickup truck have been identified through numerous media reports as Greg McMichael, a retired investigator in the Brunswick District Attorney’s office, and his son Travis McMichael. They appear to follow Arbery from behind as he is jogging down a suburban street. Travis McMichael, the alleged shooter, is seen confronting Arbery and part of a struggle ensues in and outside of the camera’s range. The sound of shotgun fire is heard. Arbery is then seen on video collapsing after the sound of the gunshot in front of the truck.
Brunswick District Attorney Jackie Johnson recused herself because one of the men seen in the video of the fatal shooting pointing a gun at Arbery worked in the district attorney’s office.
During an exclusive interview on Roland Martin Unfiltered on May 7th with Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones confirmed there was no support of her from anyone in the small Georgia community after her son died. That is changing. Since the viral video has been widely seen everyone from LeBron James to former Vice President Biden and President Trump has commented on Arbery’s death.
“Initially I was told there was a burglary and a struggle over a firearm,” Cooper-Jones said on Roland Martin Unfiltered. She confirmed she has not watched the video of her son’s death but the description of it from others did not line up with what authorities told her after her son died.
“I need to get these men indicted. They need to go to jail. Two months has been too long,” said Jones on Martin’s show answering a question from Dr. Gregg Carr, the Chairman of the African American Studies Department at Howard University.
Late on May 7, Greg and Travis McMichael were finally arrested. Many observers of the breaking news warned that the exotic charges and where any future court case is likely to take place matters.
The Congressional Black Caucus had demanded arrests the day before and released a statement that in part read, “the killing of Ahmaud Arbery shows us that the spirit of lynching is still alive and well in our nation and something that we cannot tolerate.”
“The scary thing for me is the they thought the video would help his client. The culture is so backwards down there they actually thought that,” said Arbery family attorney Lee Merritt on Roland Martin Unfiltered. The case has widely been compared to the 2012 murder of Trayvon Martin in Florida by George Zimmerman.
“What happened to #AhmaudArbery is a MODERN DAY LYNCHING. This February, the House overwhelmingly passed the Emmett Till Antilynching Act, which would make lynching a federal crime,” wrote Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL)
South Carolina Republican U.S. Senator Tim Scott wrote, “ Every.single.time. The excuses pour in – ‘he looked suspicious’… ‘we thought he was committing a crime”…The fact remains, #AhmaudArbery was hunted down from a pickup truck and murdered in cold blood. My heart breaks for his family, and justice must be served.”
Likely Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said, Arbery was “shot down in cold blood,” and his killing reflected a “rising pandemic of hate.”
“AhmaudArbery should still be alive right now. This is tragic and unacceptable. It should ignite us all in demands for justice. I’m calling on the Department of Justice to investigate. We need justice for Ahmaud and his family,” wrote Sen. Cory Booker on twitter.
Lauren Victoria Burke is an independent journalist for NNPA and the host of the podcast BURKEFILE. She is also a political strategist as Principal of Win Digital Media LLC. She may be contacted at and on twitter at @LVBurke

Newswire: Catastrophic floods, linked to human activities, submerge Lake Victoria region in Africa

Map of Africa, showing countries bordering Lake Victoria and man bailing water out of house near Lake Victoria

May 4, 2020 (GIN) – Pounding rains over the last two months have set off catastrophic flooding of biblical proportions, surging over the weekend into some 20 of the 47 Kenyan counties bordering Lake Victoria – a massive trans-boundary body of water shared by Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. Some 23 rivers empty water into the lake.
“These floods are the worst to hit the country since 1997 when heavy rains linked to the El Niño phenomenon killed more than 80 people in 24 hours”, said Abbas Gullet, Secretary General of the Kenya Red Cross after viewing the disaster area.
Hundreds have been displaced and farmland is underwater, ruining prospects for food self-sufficiency.
For decades, scientists have warned of the impact of human activities and climate variability causing unusual levels of rainfall.
“Loss of forest cover, encroachment on wetlands, lakeshores and river banks including poor land use practices, have resulted in soil erosion leading to siltation of our water bodies,” Uganda’s water and environment minister, Sam Cheptoris, said. “This has resulted in the rapid movement of water into the lakes and rivers with a lot of silt, which reduced water storage capacities of our water bodies.”
“The level is going up. We cannot stop the water,” warned Dr. Callist Tindimugaya, Ugandan commissioner for water resources planning. “Move to other areas if you are near the shores. Because water levels will increase as we release the water (from the Nalubaale Power Station) in Jinja.”
“People have built all around the lake because the level had gone down previously,” he continued. “People encroached on the protection zone… The water is coming back to reclaim its position.”
“It is eroding shorelines, altering ecosystems and causing flooding and economic damage,” Raphael Kapiyo, an environmental scientist in Kenya, told the Standard Media.
There is special concern about villages and towns near the Tana River where three hydroelectric dams could be topped over by water running down from Mount Kenya.
Waterfront properties, luxury hotels and a Protea Hotel, part of Marriott International, have also been submerged in the last few weeks.
Leonard Ogolla, a village elder, is still counting losses incurred from the flooding.
“Everything I owned, including my house, has been swept away. We are hoping that we can get some help to get back on our feet,” he said.
Kenya’s meteorological department has warned the rains could continue for the next two months.

Newswire: Coalition of civil rights leaders support CBC in protecting Black health

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior Correspondent

WASHINGTON, D.C., May 3, 2020 – National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) President and CEO, Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr., National Action Network (NAN) Founder Rev. Al Sharpton, Dr. Julianne Malveaux, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), National Coalition of 100 Black Women, and the Black Women’s Health Imperative, are up in arms because they say too many Washington politicians are protecting insurance company profits over health care for African Americans.
Collectively, they argue that too often, insurance companies refuse to cover emergency services, and either patients are forced to pay bills they cannot afford, or hospitals are shuttering.
Congress claims to be tackling this challenge, but until the Congressional Black Caucus got involved, Congress focused only on protecting insurer profits, not people, according to the coalition.
Chavis, Sharpton, and others are throwing their support behind the CBC.
They’re asking that others also support the CBC.
Led by Chair Karen Bass (D-Calif.), the 55-member CBC has worked almost non-stop in fighting for health equity in the African American community.
The CBC works to protect and expand voting rights, comprehensive criminal justice reform, building a more inclusive economy, and ensuring access to quality and affordable healthcare.
A primary focus of the CBC remains to target insurance companies that have disproportionately neglected the needs of African Americans while also providing below standard care.
“This outrageous situation benefits one group and one group alone: powerful insurance executives, who have managed to get off the financial hook for such bills, even as insurers shrink insurance coverage networks to wring more and more profits out of the system,” Chavis has stated.
He and the other leaders have continued to express strong opposition to any legislation that would give insurers more control over health care prices.
In their continued push for health equality, the group is working to ensure that insurance companies expand their networks and cover more emergency services. This will maintain access to care in hard-hit Black communities. “The status quo means hospitals in our communities close first,” the group noted in a statement.
“We cannot let this happen. Together, we can ensure that the old way of doing business – putting insurance company profits over people – STOPS.”
They continued: Join us and support the CBC. Help us work to make sure Congress passes a bill that keeps us healthy and alive by allowing insurance networks to grow and cover lifesaving services.”

Newswire: Coronavirus has made incarceration a potential death sentence

A news Analysis by: Rev Jesse Jackson

( – This week, the New York Times featured the story of how the coronavirus savaged the Federal Correctional Complex in Oakdale, Louisiana. On March 28, Patrick Jones, 49, serving a 27-year sentence for possession of crack cocaine with the intent to distribute, became the first federal inmate to die of the virus.
Barely three weeks later, seven inmates had died, at least 100 inmates and staff members had been infected, with more than 20 hospitalized — and an entire community terrorized. The prisoners died, unreported, unknown, their bodies essentially owned by the federal government that imprisoned them.
According to corrections officers there, the warden was slow to act, saying that “we live in the South and it’s warm here. We won’t have any problems,” a haunting illustration of the dangers of loose rhetoric and tall tales from the president, amplified on social media.
The horrors of the Andover, New Jersey nursing home — with at least 70 residents dead and dozens more testing positive — has dramatized the vulnerability of the elderly in nursing homes, where over 7,000 have died. Our grossly overpopulated prisons and jails are quickly becoming the next centers to be ravaged by the disease.
Cook County Jail, the largest in the country, is already one of the nation’s largest sources of infections, with more confirmed cases than the USS Theodore Roosevelt or the New Rochelle, New York cluster. Four inmates are dead and 215 have tested positive, as have 191 correctional officers and 34 other sheriff’s office employees. One employee just died.
We know the most about Cook County because Sheriff Tom Dart has been the most open. Many are suffering and dying of COVID-19 because sheriff’s offices around the county have not been very open and are not testing. The jail is overwhelmed. The sheriff and jail workers need more hands on deck. For every shift change, the virus is recycled in the community.
A state prison in Ohio is now the largest reported source of coronavirus infection in the United States. I called President Trump and urged him to make testing, tracing and social distancing a priority for those in jails, nursing homes and prisons. The workers, inmates and communities where the workers live all need help.
In Ohio, 2,300 prisoners in three prisons have tested positive. In prisons and jails across the country, inmates locked up for nonviolent crimes or while awaiting trial, and older, vulnerable inmates near the end of their term, among others, sit in terror, fearful that they face a death sentence.
Prisons and jails are virtual petri dishes for the virus. Social distancing is impossible. Soap and water are often not available.
Correctional officers have no choice but to mix with inmates. Many inmates are poor, often with health problems — asthma, diabetes, heart conditions, stress — that make them more vulnerable to the virus.
Prisons and jails have begun — although far too slowly — to react. Cook County Jail has reduced its population from 10,000 to 4,200, partly because of bail reform, some from courts sentencing fewer nonviolent offenders to prison, some from early release. Soap and disinfectants have been made available. Those with symptoms are isolated from the general population. Visitors and volunteers are not allowed, often at great psychic cost to inmates.
Facilities are cleaned more frequently. In some prisons, inmates have been locked in their cells for 22 hours a day to limit human interactions.
But — as is true for the general population — testing is often not available. Too few are tested too seldom. That puts not only prisoners but corrections officers and their families, and the people they interact with at risk.
Not surprisingly, prison uprisings have begun, as terrorized inmates demand protection and more information. Corrections officers have joined in lawsuits to get adequate protective equipment, information, and testing. Too often, it is too little and too late.
There is no defense. Clearly, at the federal and state level, prison officials should speed the release of nonviolent offenders, of the elderly and the vulnerable. Universal testing is an imperative. Prisoners need more access to soap and water. And both prisoners and corrections officials need protective gear — from masks to gloves — and, most of all, information on how to protect themselves.
Donald Trump informed me that he had made his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, the point person on prison reform. The time for aggressive action is long past. Prisons should be made a priority for supplies, for tests, and for early release of as many inmates as possible, particularly the elderly and the vulnerable.
If the pandemic continues to spread through prisons, the toll in lives will soar.
As the pandemic exposes once more, it is a moral outrage that the U.S. locks up more people than any other country, including China. Prisoners are disproportionately poor and people of color, too often victims of institutionalized racism that still puts African American young men at greater risk of being stopped by police, charged, and jailed if convicted.
Even without the virus, that is a disgrace. Now the virus is turning incarceration into a potential death sentence.

Newswire” Beyoncé highlights disproportionately deadly impact of pandemic on Black communities

By Dominique Mosbergen, Huffington Post

Beyonce Knowles Carter

Beyoncé made a surprise appearance on Saturday during “One World: Together At Home,” a two-hour concert special organized by the anti-poverty movement Global Citizen to benefit the World Health Organization’s coronavirus efforts.
The superstar singer delivered a poignant message to viewers, celebrating the “true heroes” of the pandemic — “those who are making the ultimate sacrifice to keep us all safe, fed and healthy,” she said.
She also highlighted the disproportionately deadly impact of the virus on Black communities, and urged viewers to “keep the faith.”
“To the doctors, the nurses and other health care workers who are away from their families, taking care of ours, we continue to pray for your safety,” Beyoncé said. “To those in the food industry, delivery workers, mail carriers and sanitation employees, who are working so that we can be safe in our homes, we thank you for your selfless service.”
“Black Americans disproportionately belong to these essential parts of the workforce that do not have the luxury of working from home,” she said. “And African-American communities at large have been severely affected in this crisis.”
The singer pointed to a recent report showing that 57% of coronavirus deaths in her home city of Houston were African-American people.
“This virus is killing Black people at an alarmingly high rate here in America,” she said.
Beyoncé concluded her message by asking fans to “stay encouraged.”
“Please protect yourselves,” she said. “We are one family and we need you. We need your voices, your abilities and your strength all over this world. I know it’s very hard, but please be patient and stay encouraged, keep the faith, stay positive and continue to pray for our heroes. Good night and God bless you.”
Beyoncé was one of many celebrities who lent their voices to the “One World” event.
Comedians Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Kimmel and Jimmy Fallon co-hosted the TV extravaganza. Lady Gaga, Elton John, Taylor Swift and the Rolling Stones were among those who performed, and Michelle Obama, Laura Bush, Oprah Winfrey and Bill Gates offered words of hope and wisdom.
Global Citizen said Sunday that the event raised at least $127 million to go toward vaccine development and supporting health care workers. The organization said the funds will also support more than 100 local and regional charities.

Newswire: Biden says he won’t commit to picking a woman of color for VP running mate

By Bruce C.T. Wright, Newsone

Black voters for Biden

In a move that is sure to stun some of his most ardent supporters, Joe Biden said on Monday that he would not commit to choosing a woman of color to be his vice-presidential running mate. The moment of candor ran contrary to the presumptive narrative that Biden was intent on selecting a Black woman to be his running mate.
Biden’s interview with Pittsburgh’s KDKA commanded attention when he said he would readily have Michelle Obama as his running mate “in a heartbeat.” But it was his comments later in the interview that may have raised the antennae of some of the Black voters who pushed Biden to victory in the early primaries. Biden said he would stay true to his vow to pick a woman candidate, but that’s it.
“I’ll commit to that be a woman because it is very important that my administration look like the public, look like the nation,” Biden told KDKA. “And there will be, committed that there will be a woman of color on the Supreme Court, that doesn’t mean there won’t be a vice president, as well.”
Those seemed to be his most explicit comments about his future running mate to date, but it was unclear how that strategy might affect his campaign that was already nearly $187 million behind Donald Trump in terms of fundraising. A poll last week found that Biden running with a Black candidate could boost his chances of winning the 2020 election.
Stacey Abrams and Kamala Harris have been the two Black women at the center of Biden’s running mate rumors for months now, but his comments on Monday put those chances into doubt. If Biden did choose a woman who is not Black to be his running mate, that could affect how Black women voters — the backbone of the Democratic Party — will react. In fact, that may be true for Black voters as a whole, who could take the selection of Amy Klobuchar (or any non-Black person) as a slap in the face since Black folks have been largely credited with propelling Biden’s candidacy after Sanders jumped out to an early lead following the Iowa Caucuses and the New Hampshire primary in two very white states.
The GRIO put it more plainly last week with its headline: “If Biden doesn’t pick Stacey Abrams, he can kiss Black folks goodbye.”
Biden has even gone so far as to boast on the debate stage, at rallies and, really, anywhere else, that he has the undying support of Black voters.
No, this isn’t a quid pro quo with Black voters expecting a Black woman running mate to be blindly selected in exchange for their support. On the contrary, the calls for a Black woman vice-presidential candidate are consistent with those from well before there were any 2020 Democratic candidates when the narrative was that the Party’s presidential ticket should include some semblance of diversity. While Klobuchar being a woman would technically fulfill that demand, the unspoken expectation has been that if the nominee was not a Black person, then the running mate should be.
The logic behind choosing a Black woman/person as a running mate stems from the 2016 election when Hillary Clinton failed to turn out Black voters. In particular, 4.4 million voters decided against voting at all, including one-third of them who were Black, according to the Washington Post. If the Democratic nominee chooses a Black running mate, that should in theory spur more of those voters who sat out the last election to participate this time around with most of them, in all likelihood, casting ballots against Trump.
Of course, that’s the end game for Democrats — to vote out Trump — so it’s doubtful that Black voters would rather see the incumbent win instead of electing a new president and his running mate, regardless of who or what color those people are. But in 2020, with the stakes so high and the world witnessing an American president who has no idea how to stop the coronavirus, would Biden really take that chance? Only time will tell.

Newswire: Renew commitment to environment on 50th anniversary of Earth Day

Michele S. Byers, USA Today

Fifty years ago, people took to streets and campuses across America to sound the alarm on pollution and demand stronger environmental protections.
The occasion was the first Earth Day on April 22, 1970, an idea conceived by U.S. Sen. Gaylord Nelson after witnessing the ecological damage caused by a massive oil spill in California the year before.
Across the country, an estimated 20 million people celebrated the inaugural Earth Day by taking part in cleanups, teach-ins, lectures and peaceful demonstrations. In New Jersey, the state officially launched the Department of Environmental Protection.
The journalist Peter Benchley (who later went on to write “Jaws”) reported at the time, “Earth Day has accomplished what no individual or organization has been able to do in years — the unification of large and diverse segments of the American populace in common purpose.”
Over the last 50 years, Earth Day has become a spring ritual, a time to teach children about the environment, plant trees and gardens, pick up litter in parks and on beaches, renew calls for environmental protection, and look for ways to live more sustainably.
This year, Earth Day will be a subdued occasion due to the coronavirus pandemic. Schools are closed and organized cleanups and public celebrations — like the one planned in Trenton, New Jersey, for the Department of Environmental Protection’s 50th anniversary — have been postponed.
Over the last 50 years, Earth Day has become a spring ritual, a time to teach children about the environment, plant trees and gardens, pick up litter in parks and on beaches, renew calls for environmental protection, and look for ways to live more sustainably.
This year, Earth Day will be a subdued occasion due to the coronavirus pandemic. Schools are closed and organized cleanups and public celebrations — like the one planned in Trenton for the Department of Environmental Protection’s 50th anniversary — have been postponed.
Proposed rollbacks include weakening automobile fuel efficiency standards, loosening controls on toxic ash from coal plants, relaxing restrictions on mercury emissions, eliminating some protections for migratory birds, and weakening the consideration of climate change in environmental reviews for most infrastructure projects.
All told, these rollbacks could significantly increase greenhouse gas emissions and lead to thousands of more deaths from poor air quality every year, according to a report by New York University Law School’s State Energy and Environmental Impact Center. Given the threat to our health from COVID-19, we can ill afford to roll back regulations that protect the public from the impacts of pollution.
“The coronavirus is obviously not a good thing, and this catastrophe is not the way any reasonable person would plan on having the world lower its carbon footprint,” said Robert Routh, an attorney with the Clean Air Council, in an interview with PBS station WHYY. “But if anything, it should demonstrate that climate change is driven by human activity and our actions and behaviors, on a wide scale, affect emissions.”
Why not put the right plans and policies in place to transition our electric, transportation, building and industrial sectors away from fossil fuels to clean sources of energy? This would rapidly and significantly reduce the emissions that harm our health and climate. Investing in a clean energy economy would also create thousands of good, local jobs and help put people back to work.