Newswire: Germany agrees to return ancient stone cross taken from Namibia

Namibia Stone Cross

May 20, 2019 (GIN) – The German Historical Museum in Berlin has announced the return to Namibia of a 15th century artifact known as the Stone Cross of Cape Cross. Namibia has demanded the object’s return since June 2017.

Germany’s State Secretary for Culture and Media, Monika Grьtters, admitted that dealing with the country’s colonial legacy in Namibia had been a “blind spot” for Germany for too long.

The restitution, planned for August, was sparked in part by a 2018 symposium the museum held on the history of the object.

The 11 foot, 1.1 ton cross had been placed on Namibia’s coast by Portuguese explorers in 1486 and was seen as a symbol of the country’s colonial past.

It came into Germany’s possession in 1893, when a sailor discovered it and ordered it removed and returned with it to Germany.

The object was presented to Kaiser Wilhelm II, who used it to serve his propaganda purposes regarding the empire’s naval superiority. The Kaiser also ordered a new cross, emblazoned this time with the German imperial eagle and a German inscription, to replace the original.

The object entered the collection of East Germany’s Museum of German History in 1953, and then the German Historical Museum after reunification. It has been part of the museum’s permanent exhibition since 2006.

The museum acknowledged the “outstanding significance which an artifact like this pillar has to the people of Namibia and the special contribution it can make on site in the future to understanding Namibia’s history.”

The artifact was originally erected by explorer Diogo Cao in 1486 on the coastline of present-day Namibia to signify Portuguese territorial claims, as well as serve as a navigational marker.

Namibia, which was previously known as German South-West Africa, was a German colony from 1884 to 1915.

Germany has been slow to fully acknowledge the darkest chapters of its colonial past, but has recently made steps in that direction. Though the German government announced a planned apology for the genocide of tens of thousands of Herero and Nama men, women, and children between 1904 and 1908, it has refused to pay reparations, pointing to the millions that it has given Namibia in development aid over the years.

Newswire: Obamas go Hollywood, set to launch films with Netflix

Michelle and Barack Obama

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Correspondent

When Former President Barack Obama occupied the White House, it wasn’t uncommon to see a myriad of celebrities meeting with the Commander in Chief and First Lady Michelle Obama.
Some even called Washington, D.C., “Hollywood East,” because of the popularity of the Obamas even among superstars.
Now, one year after launching their production company, “Higher Ground Productions,” the Obamas have officially gone Hollywood.
The former president and First Lady have announced seven projects that are scheduled to be developed and released in the years to come.
The projects include “American Factory,” a documentary from this year’s Sundance Film Festival that examines the clash of cultures in Ohio when a Chinese billionaire sets up a new factory in the old General Motors plant and hires some 2,000 blue-collar Americans.
The film was acquired by Higher Ground Productions in partnership with Netflix, where the Obamas have a content deal.
“Crip Camp” is also a documentary acquired by Higher Ground and Netflix, currently in production with support from the Sundance Institute, according to Entertainment Weekly which reported that the film will follow a ramshackle summer camp for disabled teenagers in the early 1970s that helped set in motion the disability rights movement in America.
“We created Higher Ground to harness the power of storytelling. That’s why we couldn’t be more excited about these projects,” President Obama said in a statement from Higher Ground.
“Touching on issues of race and class, democracy and civil rights, and much more, we believe each of these productions won’t just entertain, but will educate, connect, and inspire us all.”
Michelle Obama added: “We love this slate because it spans so many different interests and experiences, yet it’s all woven together with stories that are relevant to our daily lives.”
According to Entertainment Weekly, other projects include a non-fiction series based on Michael Lewis’ best-selling book “Fifth Risk,”a damning examination of the Trump administration’s impacton America’s key government agencies; “Bloom,” a period drama exploring the upstairs-downstairs worlds of women and people of color in a post-WWII New York; a scripted anthology series called “Overlooked,” based on the New York Times’ obituary column about people whose deaths were not initially reported by the paper; and a feature film adaptation of author David W. Blight’s Pulitzer Prize-winning biography, “Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom.”
There is also a preschool series with the title, “Listen to Your Vegetables & Eat Your Parents.”
That series is described as taking young children and their families on a global adventure to learn where their food comes from.
It’s a project that’s reportedly closely connected with Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” initiative that she spearheaded during her tenure as First Lady to get all Americans more access and education to eating and living healthily.

Newswire : Supreme Court to decide soon on Census question

By Shaleen Shah

Special to the Trice Edney News Wire from Howard University
News Service

( – The Supreme Court is poised to decide if the Trump administration acted improperly when it added a citizenship question to the 2020 Census, following oral arguments in which the court’s conservative majority appeared likely to say that the administration did not.
Commerce Secretary Wilbur L. Ross Jr. added the question last year, saying it would provide information to better enforce the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Critics have challenged that explanation, saying the real reason for adding the question was to discourage participation by noncitizens and persons living in Hispanic communities.
Judges in three lower federal courts have blocked the addition of the question, but the administration sought a definitive determination by the high court before the court’s current session ends in June, which also is when the Census questionnaires are to be printed.
“In an expanded, 80-minute oral argument [April 23] that exposed huge divisions among the justices, the court’s conservatives didn’t buy arguments that …Ross’ plan was illegal or unconstitutional,” USA Today reported. “They didn’t question his motives or reasoning despite three lower court rulings against him.”
“By the argument’s end,” The Los Angeles Times reported, “it appeared the high court would hand down a 5-4 ruling for the Trump administration…”
At the heart of the dispute is the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, which was passed after the Civil War, and prescribed how seats in the House of Representatives should be allocated.
Section 2 of the Amendment contains what is called the Enumeration Clause, stating the purpose of the once-every-10-years tally: “Representatives shall be apportioned among the several states according to their numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each state, excluding Indians not taxed.”
In the years since, the Supreme Court has consistently ruled that “the whole number of persons in each state” makes no distinction between those who are citizens and those who are not.
When Ross announced the addition of the question last March, he said that the Justice Department had requested the information in order to help it determine if state, local and federal governments were in compliance with the guidelines of the Voting Rights Act.
Judges in the three lower court cases ruled that linking the question to the voting rights measure was only an excuse to inject into the census a question that would discourage many from filling out the questionnaire and result in a less accurate count.
The resulting undercount could lead to a reduction of voting strength and a loss of federal funds to areas with significant Hispanic populations—areas that have voted more Democratic than Republican.
“The Administrative Record is rife with both quantitative and qualitative evidence, from the Census Bureau itself, demonstrating that the addition of a citizenship question to the census questionnaire would indeed materially reduce response rates among immigrant and Hispanic households,” U.S. District Court Judge Jesse M. Furman in New York wrote in January.
Two months later, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Seeborg in San Francisco said that “the decision to include the citizenship question was arbitrary and capricious, represented an abuse of discretion, and was otherwise not in accordance with the law.”
Seeborg said Ross “insisted” on adding the citizenship question, even though professional staffers in the Census Bureau warned that including it “would likely result in a significant differential decline in self-response rates within noncitizen and Latino communities and that the requested data could be obtained by other means.”
The third lower court ruling came in late March from U.S. District Court Judge George J. Hazel in Maryland, who said the government failed to properly follow administrative law when it added the question.
“The unreasonableness of Defendants’ addition of a citizenship question to the Census is underscored by the lack of any genuine need for the citizenship question, the woefully deficient process that led to it, the mysterious and potentially improper political consideration that motivated the decision and the clear pretext offered
to the public,” Hazel wrote.
The administration has stood its ground. “Reinstating the citizenship question ultimately protects the right to vote and helps ensure free and fair elections for all Americans,” Kelly Laco, a Justice Department spokeswoman, said in the wake of the New York ruling.
The administration has repeatedly asserted that Ross, as commerce secretary, had the authority to add a question to the census and that in all but one census from 1820 to 2000, there was a query about citizenship or country of origin.
The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is conducting its own investigation of the procedure Ross followed.
“You have testified that you added the question ‘solely’ in response to a December 2017 request from the Department of Justice,” Committee Chairman Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.) wrote in a March letter to the secretary, “but the record contradicts your claim, showing that you began orchestrating a campaign to add the citizenship question just days after taking office” much earlier in that year.
The committee issued subpoenas April 2 to Ross and Attorney General William P. Barr for more data on the decision to add the question, and for a deposition by a deputy attorney general in the civil rights division of the Justice Department.
The department responded that it would not comply with the subpoena to depose John Gore, the deputy attorney general unless a department lawyer could be present at the deposition.
Cummings has said that Gore could bring a personal attorney with him, but that “the Committee’s rules—which have been in place for more than a decade under both Republican and Democratic chairmen—prohibit Department of Justice lawyers from attending.”
All 22 Democrats on the committee voted to issue subpoenas. “The Democrats want to interfere with the court case,” Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), the ranking minority member of the committee, complained. “Why don’t Democrats want to know if you’re a citizen of this country or not?” Republican Justin Amash of Michiganwas the only Republican to vote with the majority.
The judge in the San Francisco case pointedly suggested that an intentional effort to produce a less accurate count could be seen as a willful violation of a Constitutional directive.
“[If] the Secretary’s decision to include a question affirmatively interferes with the actual enumeration and fulfills no reasonable governmental purpose, it may form the basis for a cognizable Enumeration Clause challenge,” Judge Seeborg wrote.
The Supreme Court announced shortly after Seeborg’s ruling that it would decide on the Constitutional issues involved in addition to those pertaining to administrative procedure. Judge Hazel, presiding in the Maryland case, rejected claims by the plaintiffs that addition of the question was intended to discriminate against communities of color, and was also a deliberate effort to undercut the Constitutional rights of noncitizens.
The Associated Press has reported that the Census Bureau plans to augment the data it collects next year with information from the Department of Homeland Security on the citizenship status, birth dates, Social Security numbers, and addresses of millions of immigrants, including those who are not citizens.
Analysts in the bureau had told Ross during internal discussions regarding a citizenship question that this information was readily available and more accurate than responses to a question on the Census might be.
“This type of information-sharing agreement is a customary, long-standing practice among federal agencies and is permitted under the law,” DHS spokeswoman Jessica Collins told The Washington Post.
“The information is protected and safeguarded under applicable laws and will not be used for adjudicative or law enforcement purposes,” Collins said.
Nevertheless, some maintain that inclusion of a citizenship question in and of itself could be frightening to some.
“It’s understandable that it’s alarming,” Terri Ann Lowenthal, a former member of a House committee overseeing the Census who has advised some of the groups opposed to the citizenship question, told The New York Times.
“Given the anti-immigration policies of the administration, people who are fearful for their security and their status would see this as another possible effort to harm them.”

Newswire: Billionaire to pay off student loans for all 400 2019 graduates of Morehouse College

By Frederick H Lowe

Billionaire Robert F. Smith

Special to the Trice Edney News Wire from
( – Black billionaire Robert F. Smith has awarded the class of 2019 at Morehouse College for Men a gift graduating seniors and their parents won’t ever forget.

Smith, founder, and chair of Vista Equity Partners and a philanthropist announced on Sunday that he would pay off student loan debt for all of the 400 2019 graduates, which is estimated to be $40 million.
“My family is going to create a grant to eliminate your student loans,” Smith told seniors during Morehouse’s 135th Commencement address. “You great Morehouse men are bound by only the limits of your conviction and your own creativity.”
After he made the announcement, students chanted “MVP.”

Morehouse College was founded in 1867 in the basement of Springfield Baptist Church in Augusta, Georgia. The school moved to Atlanta in 1885. Well-known graduates include filmmaker and actor Spike Lee, actor Samuel L. Jackson, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Forbes estimates that Vista has assets of $5 billion, making Smith the wealthiest African-American man in the U.S. Along with Warren Buffet and Bill and Melinda Gates, Smith is part of a group of American billionaires committed to dispersing their wealth to improve the lives of others. Smith urged graduates to help others.
Smith’s decision to pay off the student loan debt followed his earlier announcement that he would donate $1.5 million to Morehouse.

Newswire: Sen. Vivian Davis Figures introduces bill to repeal Alabama’s extreme Abortion Ban

Kirsten J. Barnes, Communications Director for Alabama Senate Minority

In response to the negative reactions to Alabama’s Abortion Ban not only from Alabamians, but worldwide, Sen. Vivian Davis Figures (D-Mobile) took a bold step on Tuesday, May 21, 2019, by introducing a senate bill to repeal the state’s extreme abortion ban.
“There are consequences for every decision we make as legislators, and for every vote we cast there are ramifications,” Sen. Figures said. “However, some of these effects are unintended and I truly believe this has been the case for SB314. I do not believe my Republican colleagues had any idea what the consequences for passing this bill would be.”
Since the passing of the bill, Alabama lawmakers have been inundated with calls from people nationwide expressing their concern that the bill goes too far. Not only have Democrats come out against the bill, put top Republicans such as President Donald Trump, U.S. Senator Mitt Romney, 700 Club Founder Pat Robertson, and Chairwoman of the Republican National Committee Ronna McDaniel have all expressed outrage by the passing of this extreme law which seeks to force women and girls impregnated through rape and incest to carry those babies to term.
“I felt that the least I could do was to offer a bill to repeal HB314 with the hopes that it would help to heal some of the wounds that my Republican brothers and sisters have inflicted on the great state of Alabama,” Sen. Figures said. “Unfortunately this bill is serving as a detriment to the entire state of Alabama in terms of revenues and in terms of healthcare, particularly for women.”
Although, Alabama is known for its increase of visitors during the summer months, but that could change drastically this year.
“I have heard from people all over the country saying they planned a vacation to Alabama’s beautiful beaches, but when this extreme abortion ban was signed into law, they immediately canceled those plans,” Sen. Figures. “If we care about the future and well-being of our state, this law must be repealed.”

Board selects Dr. Corey Jones for position of school superintendent

Dr. Corey Jones

Dr. Corey Jones of Newbern, AL was unanimously selected as superintendent for the Greene County School System at a called meeting of the board, Thursday, May 9, 2019. Dr. Jones will officially assume his duties in Greene County on July 1, 2019, however, he has expressed an interest in setting up a transition initiative with outgoing school superintendent, Dr. James H. Carter, Sr.
The board’s decision followed several days of intense interviews of the finalist candidates. The system’s superintendent search process involved the Alabama Association of School Boards (AASB) vetting 24 applicants and presenting six finalists to the board for interviews and final selection. Five of the finalists completed the interview process.
Dr. Jones is currently a school administrator with the Perry County School System, where he has been employed since 1994, first as a Biology teacher for nine years, then as a Central Office Administrator in various roles including Assessment/Accountability Coordinator, Special Education Director, Capital Planner, Secondary Curriculum Coordinator, At Risk Coordinator, 504 Coordinator and other related duties.
In sharing his educational philosophy with the board, Dr. Jones emphasized school safety as a priority. “It is my educational philosophy that a student must feel safe in order for learning to take place. This can be accomplished by assuring that the district has clear policies and procedures focused on school safety and ensuring that these are implemented and followed with fidelity,” Jones explained.
He stated that another priority for student achievement is engagement of students, teachers, parents and community stakeholders. “Student engagement is essential to learning taking place in all successful school systems, and student engagement starts with good teaching. Attracting highly qualified and dedicated teachers and staff and providing them high quality professional development is essential to the engagement. In addition, parents, community and other stakeholders must be continuously engaged for a school system to be successful,” Jones explained.
Dr. Jones said that he is deeply committed to utilizing the system’s data. “In my initial assessment, I would go deep into the data for the last five years, working with principals and teachers as we analyze where the system is. Students must also have access to their data. This is important for them to have a buy-in in the school’s achievement plan,” he said.
Dr. Jones received his Bachelor and Master’s Degrees in Biology from Troy University and his Ed.D. in Education, Leadership, Policy and Law from Alabama State University.

SOS holds rally at State House to support Medicaid Expansion

The Save Ourselves Coalition for Justice and Democracy held a rally on May 14, 2019 at the Alabama State House in Montgomery, Alabama to urge the Legislature to approve Medicaid Expansion for 300,000 working poor people in the state who are currently uninsured, The group said they would return each week until the Governor and State Legislature approves Medicaid Expansion.

Newswire: African National Congress wins South African elections by lower margin of 57.5% of vote

EFF opposition party poster

May 13, 2019 (GIN) – Frustrated with the failures of the ruling African National Congress, South Africans gave the ANC its lowest turnout since 2004 when it took a record 69% of the vote.

The ANC won a sixth straight term but with the worst ever electoral showing for the iconic party.

Voter turnout was low. Thousands of youth did not even bother to register.

After announcing the elections to be free and fair, President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the party faithful: “Our people have spoken and spoken emphatically. They have voted for a more equal society, free from poverty, hunger and want.”

He vowed to purge his party of “bad and deviant tendencies” as he prepares to appoint a new cabinet that will not work merely to fill their own pockets.

The party always knew this would be a tough election. Ramaphosa is leading a divided party, criticized for its slowness in delivering basic services

Ramaphosa is also believed to be facing a revolt within the party by Zuma allies, one that could surface in the coming weeks as he decides on the makeup of his new government.

Observers have said South Africa’s economy, the most developed in sub-Saharan Africa, would be further weakened if Ramaphosa is removed by his own party. He narrowly won the party leadership in late 2017, weeks before Zuma was pushed out.

Ramaphosa urged ANC leaders not to hang the party’s “dirty linen in public” and said the party must be renewed “so that we cleanse it of all the bad and deviant tendencies.”

Meanwhile, at least one political grouping was celebrating this week. South Africa’s Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) thanked voters for giving them more seats in the next National Assembly.

In its second presidential and parliamentary election, the party grossed 10.7% of the vote, up from 6.3% five years ago.

EFF spokesman Mbuyiseni Ndlozi offered “deep and sincere gratitude” to the party’s supporters. “In each of the 9 provinces more people believe in the EFF than they did in 2016 and 2014. It is a sign that our revolution is on course and soon it shall be realized and accomplished,” he said.

The ruling ANC despite winning the polls, slipped to holding 230 parliament seats, while the main opposition Democratic Alliance now holds 84, the EFF’s 44 means they maintain their spot as the second main opposition party.

Newswire: Facebook bans Minister Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam

By Frederick H. Lowe

Minister Louis Farrakhan
Special to the Trice Edney News Wire from
( – Facebook and Instagram have banned Minister Louis Farrakhan, the highly regarded leader of the Chicago-based Nation of Islam, after lumping him together with paranoid White right-wing nuts who spew racial hatred and conspiracy theories.
Facebook announced May 2 that it banned Minister Farrakhan who has been criticized for his anti-Semitic remarks, although members of Jewish groups sometimes appear on the Nation of Islam’s television show that is broadcast from Chicago.
“We always banned individuals or organizations that promote or engage in violence and hate regardless of ideology,” a Facebook spokesperson told Variety, a publication that covers the entertainment industry. “The process for evaluating potential violators is extensive and that’s what led to our decision to remove these accounts today.”
The Southern Poverty Law Center, which is based in Montgomery, Ala., also has long listed the Nation of Islam as a hate group.
Any criticism of Jews is considered hate speech by members of the White-owned media, which knows little about Minister Farrakhan. They know so little that on Thursday, May 2, CBS called Farrakhan the founder of the Nation of Islam. Master W. Fard Muhammad of Detroit founded the organization on July 4, 1930 in Detroit. The Honorable Elijah Muhammad, Fard Muhammad’s successor, moved the Nation of Islam to Chicago.
The White House and Jewish groups have severely criticized Minnesota Democratic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar for her comments, yet recent deadly attacks of Jewish synagogues have been carried out by White men who have self-identified as White supremacists.
Minister Farrakhan has battled African-Americans whom he charged are agents of Jewish groups, working against the interest of African-Americans.
In March 2018, The Nation of Islam published an open letter to Gregory Meeks, Danny K. Davis and Barbara Lee, all members of the Congressional Black Caucus, because of their criticism of Minister Farrakhan’s 2018 Founders Day speech.
He accused the three of acting at the behest of the Republican Jewish Coalition, the anti-Defamation League and others who represent White supremacy and want to destroy the Black community.
Black men highly regard minister Farrakhan for many reasons, one of which is that The Nation works with recently released black-male prison inmates, helping them to re-enter the community after incarceration.
Also, The Nation urges Black men to live better lives to improve their communities. Although not every Black man belongs to The Nation of Islam, they are continually under assault by police and followed in stores by security guards—some of whom are Black women—who immediately regard them as criminals.
As a result, Black men suffer from high rates of high blood pressure which can lead to stroke, a blockage of blood to the brain that killed filmmaker John Singleton.
The Nation of Islam also urges Black people to become self-sufficient and support each other instead of giving our money away to Whites and others.
Even in a booming economy, the jobless rate for Black men 20 and over was 6.8 percent in April, much higher when compared with other racial and ethnic groups. These are some of the reasons that The Nation of Islam has a strong yet silent following.
Books published by the Nation of Islam are sometimes available for sale in large Black Christian
churches. Facebook confused Minister Farrakhan with the likes of Alex Jones, Milo Yiannopoulos, Laura Loomer, Paul Nehlen, a white nationalist, and Paul Joseph Watson, editor of Infowars.

Newswire: Cornelius Blanding, Executive Director of the Federation of Southern Cooperatives receives prestigious James Beard Leadership Award for his work with Black farmers and cooperatives

Cornelius Blanding

East Point, GA (May 13, 2019)- Cornelius Blanding was honored at the 9th annual Leadership Awards ceremony and dinner in Chicago on Sunday, May 5, 2019 along with three other leadership honorees. The Leadership Awards are part of the James Beard Foundation’s Impact Programs, which works to establish a more sustainable food system through education, advocacy, and thought leadership. Referred to as the Oscars of the food world, the prestigious award will hopefully shed light on the plight of black farmers, landowners and cooperatives in the South as well as provide new opportunities for partnerships throughout the food system.

Blanding has been the Executive Director of the Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund, since 2015. The Federation is a non-profit, cooperative association involving over 20,000 low-income rural families organized into more than 75 cooperatives, credit unions, and community-based economic development groups across the rural South. It is chartered to work in 13 southern states in some of the most economically depressed communities in the Black Belt Region.

Long before transitioning to the director, he served in many capacities within the Federation for 18 years providing education, technical assistance to farmers and developing agricultural cooperatives. For 23 years, he’s been an energetic advocate for Black land loss prevention, economic advancement for rural farmers through cooperative development, and policies that support farmers. According to Blanding, “Cooperatives are still being formed out of necessity to combat issues that are relevant to today’s economic, social, and political landscape. Access to credit and markets, food security, land preservation, and climate change are all issues directly impacting the longevity of southern black farm families.”

Under Blanding’s leadership, the Federation is focused on cooperative development, land retention, and advocacy in the US and around the world. In Cuba, his leadership led to creating an open market for Federation farmers to grow and export black beans to meet the diet demands of Cubans. In the United States Virgin Islands, he assisted small farmers in creating the first farm cooperative to help increase food production to reduce and address the exponential rates of food imports promoting greater food sovereignty.

The other 2019 honorees also included: The Pioneer Valley Workers Center Women’s Collective; Leah Penniman, Co-Executive Director & Program Manager, Soul Fire Farm; Sean Sherman, Founder & CEO, The Sioux Chef; and Anim Steel, Co-Founder & Executive Director, Real Food Generation. This 2019 group was recognized for showing emerging promise or specific outstanding initiatives, as well as for bodies of work or lifetime achievement, excellence of work, innovation of approach, and scale of impact within a community or the nation were among the criteria used to choose this year’s honorees, selected by ballots submitted by past

More information is available at the Federation’s website:

The Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund, entering its 52thyear, assists limited resource farmers, landowners, and cooperatives across the South with business planning, debt restructuring, marketing expertise, and a whole range of other services to ensure the retention of land ownership and cooperatives as a tool for social and economic justice. The overall mission is to reverse the trend of black land loss and be a catalyst for the development of self supporting communities via cooperative economic development, land retention and