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.””
Pope Francis speaks with Deontay Wilder
Urban News Service – Pope Francis named Deontay Wilder, a current heavyweight champion, the Boxers’ Representative and Ambassador for Peace through Sport in a private ceremony in Vatican City.
Wilder, a native of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, met the pontiff earlier this week while on a tour of Rome and the city’s surrounding areas.
“He’s truly a remarkable man that represents true love, happiness, and world peace for all human race. He also enjoys pizza and is a huge boxing fan. And you know he’s a part of the BombZquad family baby,” Wilder later said about the meeting on Twitter.
“BombZquad” refers to the Deontay Wilder’s fans base. The fighter was nicknamed the “Bronze Bomber” after winning a Bronze Medal at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. When Wilder won his World Boxing Council (WBC) heavyweight title in 2015. In doing so he became the first American heavyweight champion in nine years — the longest stretch without an American champion in the sport’s modern history. While soccer is the most popular sport in Pope Francis’s native Argentina, boxing is also quite popular and the country has produced several world champions.
Wilder met the pontiff inside Vatican City. The heavyweight champion made the stop while touring the greater area of Rome. The tour was planned and sponsored by the Italian Boxing Federation and WBC as part of an effort to increase international cultural diplomacy through boxing.
The award Deontay received was recommended to Pope Francis by Scholas Occurentes, the non-religious social awareness organization he founded as an archbishop in Argentina.
“Since its inception, Pope Francis dreamed of Scholas as the possibility of giving a concrete response to the call of this era, conferring on him the task of educating in the openness to the other, upon hearing that gathering the pieces of an atomized and empty of meaning world, and start creating a new culture: the Culture of Encounter,” according to a statement posted on the website of Scholas.
The organization focuses on giving children from impoverished areas opportunities to commit themselves to sports — the group particularly pushes the sports of soccer and boxing, which they believe can teach children discipline and other important values.
“Through the teaching of various boxing techniques, learning experiences are generated linked to values that are at stake: overcoming, effort, respect, companionship.”
Scholas’s goal is not simply getting children off the streets. They aim to use sports as a means of teaching morality and life lessons.
“By means of these two experiences, and through several disciplines and sports techniques, the purpose is to generate learning spaces and time to develop values such as resilience, team work, respect, honesty, effort and spirit of solidarity.”
Wilder’s own story reflects the values promoted by Scholas. As a youth Wilder was a high school football star who dreamed of playing for the University of Alabama’s Crimson Tide and later a promising college basketball player. All of that changed when he became a father in 2005 at age 19. His eldest daughter was born with a life-threatening spina bifida. He put education aside to make money for his family and her treatments. He worked a variety of jobs from an IHOP to a Red Lobster. He also worked as the driver of a Budweiser truck while taking up boxing, a path which eventually lead him to great success.
Wilder was extremely vocal in his respect for Pope Francis, who he can be seen shaking hands with in several photos of the event.
Known for his bombastic attitude in the ring, Wilder has a humble persona outside of the squared circle. He has not posted any non-Vatican related content since the meeting.
“Much love from me Pope Francis and I’m wishing you many many blessings your way,” said Wilder after the event on Twitter.“What [an] honor it was to meet the #Pope @franciscus today,” Wilder later posted on social media.
In February of next year, Wilder will be fighting another big fan of Pope Francis — British heavyweight Tyson Fury.
The pair fought once before in a 2018 match. Contested in Los Angeles, Fury recovered from two knockdowns and the fight was scored a draw. The two are scheduled to meet in a rematch in February 2020. Neither fighter has suffered a defeat as a professional.
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 George Copeland Jr., NNPA News Service
(TriceEdneyWire.com) – The fate of a federal lawsuit brought by the Hanover County Branch NAACP in a bid to force the Hanover County School Board to rename two schools currently named for Confederate leaders could be decided on Jan. 14.
That’s when U.S. District Court Judge Robert E. Payne will hear arguments on the School Board’s request to dismiss the NAACP’s suit seeking a court order requiring new names for Lee-Davis
High School and Stonewall Jackson Middle School.
Judge Payne, who will hear the case at the courthouse in Downtown
Richmond, Va., has already expressed concerns about the suit that he
wants attorneys for the Hanover NAACP to address.
In a preliminary order, he directed those attorneys to show that this is a genuine dispute over which the branch is entitled to sue. Judge Payne also ordered the NAACP lawyers to identify any cases that support its arguments or to show that their argument is based “on the extension of existing legal principles.”
The lawsuit was launched on Aug. 16 by the Hanover NAACP led by
President Robert N. Barnette Jr., who also is president of the Virginia
State Conference of the NAACP.
The suit aims to “eradicate the vestiges of a shameful, racist educational system in Hanover County that forces African-American students to champion a legacy of segregation and oppression”
by attending schools named for rebels who fought to maintain slavery.
The lawsuit argues that the names contribute to a “hostile and
discriminatory environment for African-American students” enrolled at the
The suit cites incidents of racial harassment against African-American
students on the part of staff and other students.The main argument,
though, is that the Hanover County School Board is violating the First and
14th amendments of the U.S. Constitution by forcing African- American
students to attend schools with such names.
The lawsuit argues that this amounts to government-compelled speech in an “unequal learning environment” and that African-American students are harmed by being forced to experience such speech in everything from school sporting events to graduation ceremonies.
Lee-Davis, named for Confederate General Robert E. Lee and Confederate President Jefferson Davis, opened in 1958, and Stonewall Jackson opened in 1969 at a time of heightened racial conflict in a county that was one of the last in Virginia to desegregate its public schools.
When the lawsuit was launched, Barnette urged the School Board to come up with a resolution to avoid the cost of a lawsuit. The board, though, has declined and decided just before Thanksgiving
not to change the names.
“The board is not taking any action on this item,” School Board Chairman
Roger Bourassa announced on Nov. 22 following a closed-door discuss
ion. Like most governmental entities, the School Board did not comment
on pending litigation. In statements made before the Nov. 22 decision,
Bourassa said that Lee-Davis High and Stonewall Jackson Middle School eventually would be rebuilt and renamed, in order to comply with current School Board policy that bars any school in the
county from being named after a person, living or dead.
Barnette questioned the board’s choice to “continue to spend thousands
of dollars on a lawsuit” rather than take the initiative to change the school
names and forego expensive litigation, particularly in light of Bourassa’s
Barnette said, “I guess you could say the ball is in their court.”
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.