COVID-19

As of January 5, 2023 at 10:00 AM
(According to Alabama Political Reporter)

Alabama had 1,587, 224 confirmed cases of coronavirus, (23,290) more than last report, with 20,776 deaths (39) more
than last report.

Greene County had 2,219 confirmed cases, 34 more cases than last report), with 53 deaths

Sumter Co. had 3,035 cases with 55 deaths
Hale Co. had 5,574 cases with 110 deaths

Note: Greene County Physicians Clinic has testing and vaccination for COVID-19;
Call for appointments at 205/372-3388, Ext. 142; ages 5 and up.

COVID- 19 Vaccines & Boosters

As of December 21, 2022, at 10:00 AM
(According to Alabama Political Reporter)

Alabama had 1,568,934 confirmed cases of coronavirus,
(19,605) more than last report, with 20,737 deaths (129) more
than last report.

Greene County had 2,175 confirmed cases, 24 more cases than last report), with 53 deaths

Sumter Co. had 3,011 cases with 55 deaths

Hale Co. had 5,469 cases with 110 deaths

Note: Greene County Physicians Clinic has testing and vaccination for COVID-19;
Call for appointments at 205/372-3388, Ext. 142; ages 5 and up.

Newswire : Dutch Court upholds $15 million payout to Nigerian communities damaged by spills

Oil spill damage in Nigeria


 
Jan. 1, 2023 (GIN) – A Dutch court has upheld a payout to residents of the Niger Delta of US$15.9 million for oil spills that contaminated land and waterways in three communities.
 
In the case brought by Friends of the Earth, Shell’s Nigerian subsidiary was found to be responsible for the spills that occurred between 2004 and 2007. The payout will benefit the communities of Oruma, Goi and Ikot Ada Udo that were impacted by the four spills.
 
“The settlement is on a no admission of liability basis, and settles all claims and ends all pending litigation related to the spills,” Shell said.
 
The case was brought in 2008 by four farmers seeking reparations for lost income from contaminated land and waterways in the region, the heart of Nigeria’s oil industry.
 
After the appeals court’s final ruling last year, Shell said it continued to believe the spills were caused by sabotage. But the court sided with the farmers, saying Shell had not proven “beyond reasonable doubt” that sabotage had caused the spill, rather than poor maintenance.
 
Shell is the largest oil operator in the Niger Delta, Africa’s largest oil-producing region. Its residents face high poverty rates and a largely degraded environment, owing to hundreds of spills every year.
 
“We have groundwater polluted with benzene 900 times above World Health Organization level, we have farmlands with poor yields, rivers that are barely fishable, neonatal deaths numbering thousands yearly as a result of spills. We have reduced neuroplasticity of the brain as a result of oil pollution,” Niger Delta activist Saatah Nubari told CNN. 
 
“The Niger Delta is a graveyard of the living,” said Nubari, “and we will never know how much harm has been done until we audit the entire environment”.
 
In 2012, in a similar case, members of the Bodo community in Nigeria filed a lawsuit against Shell for two oil spills and losses suffered to their health, livelihoods, and land.
 
They also requested clean-up of the oil pollution. In 2015, Shell accepted responsibility for the spill and agreed to pay US$83 million in an out of court settlement and to assist in clean up.
 
An earlier offer by Shell of less than $5,000 to settle the case was rejected unanimously as “derisory” by the community.  Some 15,600 Bodo residents have benefited from the larger settlement, receiving over $2,500 each. 
 
Meanwhile, Donald Pols from Friends of the Earth Netherlands commented on the compensation award. “It’s the most beautiful experience to see all the happy faces. Everybody is enormously happy.”
 
 

Newswire : Record number of people signed up for Obamacare during 2022

Doctor talking to patient

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent

President Joe Biden said he promised to lower costs for families and ensure that all Americans have access to quality affordable health care.
On Tuesday, Dec. 27, the president proclaimed that he’d delivered on that promise.
A record number of people – nearly 11.5 million – signed up for insurance on HealthCare.gov – about 1.8 million more and an 18% increase over last year.
With enrollment remaining open through Jan. 15, and not counting those who signed up for coverage through their state marketplaces, Biden said gains like those have helped to drive down the uninsured rate to eight percent, the lowest level in U.S. history.
“In recent days, we received further proof that our efforts are delivering record results and bringing families the peace of mind that comes with health insurance,” the President stated.
“Right now, four out of five people who sign up for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act can find health care coverage for $10 a month or less. These lower rates were set to expire at the end of this year, but thanks to the Inflation Reduction Act, we were able to extend them and save millions of Americans on Obamacare an average of $800 a year.”
The Biden administration noted that, on Jan. 1, Americans will see the benefits of additional cost-saving measures because of the Inflation Reduction Act. That includes seniors realizing a month’s supply of insulin capped at $35, Medicare beneficiaries paying $0 out of pocket for recommended adult vaccines covered by their Part D plan, and prescription drug companies needing to pay Medicare a rebate if they try to raise their prices faster than inflation for drugs administered at a doctor’s office.
“We’re not finished working to make health care a right, not a privilege,” Biden declared.
The administration continues to encourage individuals to visit HealthCare.gov by Jan. 15 to take advantage of lower rates and sign up for health care for the coming year.

ADECA holds meeting in Greene County to prepare for broadband

Diagram of Elements of a Broadband Network
from presentation at meeting
By: John Zippert, 
Co-Publisher
 
The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA) sponsored an informational and introductory meeting on their Broadband Technical Assistance Program on December 14, 2022, at the Robert H. Young Community Center.
ADECA is working with the Greene County Commission and Greene County Industrial Development Authority (GCIDA) and CTC Technology and Energy, a well-respected consulting firm, to bring information and initiate a planning process to ensure that broadband is brought to all parts of the county at an affordable price.
Joanne Hovis with CTC Technology explained, “There are substantial resources in the CARES Act, American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and the Infrastructure bills passed by Congress to extend broadband throughout the nation. $42 billion has already been allocated and $100 billion more will be coming over the next two years. People in Alabama, particularly in underserved rural areas like Greene County, need to be aware and vigilant that these resources are coming and are used wisely to provide broadband to all the people, especially those who have been neglected in the past.”
The CTC Consultants called broadband, ‘the electricity of the 21st century’ meaning that fiber optic connections to the residential level will be needed for work, recreation, education, medical care, home security and many other functions as time goes forward in this century. Digital equity in terms of access and affordability for broadband with greater speeds will be a necessary utility for the future.
The speed of broadband is a critical factor in its future development. Faster speeds will be needed to transmit more complex data, like x-rays for tele-medicine, presentations with pictures and interactive maps, and complex video games played by groups of people.
 Currently the FCC definition is 25 megabits per second down and 3 megabits per second up. Congress set a new standard of 100/20 megabits in the ARPA and Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Alabama has set a 100/100 Mbps standard for future infrastructure funded by the state. Fiber optic connections will be needed for services provided by to meet these standards.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has recently issued a new map, available on its website, of currently available broadband connections. The ADECA consultants urged local officials to study these maps and make challenges where the maps are incorrect, so the state planning process will be grounded in true data.
The State of Alabama expects to receive more than a $100 million dollars, from Federal sources) over the next two years to work with local communities and Internet Service Providers (ISP’s) to provide a broadband network, down to the residential level. This will provide broadband services to all people, especially in underserved rural areas, like Greene County with large populations of African American and poor people.
Several representatives of ISP’s were represented at the meeting, including Charter Communications, A. T & T, Eagle Wireless, Meridian Wireless Manufacturing and Tallis Communications, a broadband equipment manufacturer. These ISP’s introduced themselves and said they were working with ADECA to bring broadband to Greene County. Conspicuously absent was any representation from Black Warrior Electric Cooperative. In several parts of the state of Alabama, electrical cooperatives have taken the lead in bringing broadband to their rural residents.
Another aspect of providing broadband services involves making them affordable to people of low and modest incomes. The CTC Consultants said there was an existing Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) which provides $30 per month subsidy to assist low-income residents to afford internet services. The program includes support for discounts to acquire devises like tablets, laptop computers and smart phones. 75% of the eligible households in Greene County have yet to enroll in this program. This statistic is also a measure of the current limitation of access to broadband in Greene County.
Unless replenished by increased Federal appropriations, the Affordable Connectivity Program will run out of funding in two years. This of course is right about the time that broadband access is projected for Greene County residents through other programs.
ADECA representatives explained that this was the first of several meetings to prepare for and plan for broadband access in Greene County.
Between this meeting and the next in the Spring of 2023, they recommended that the County officials review the FCC map of broadband access and report any errors and omissions, since these maps will be used to plan future services based on greatest need. Secondly, they suggested a continuing dialog with ISP’s to determine ways to collaborate to insure services to all areas of the county.
ADECA and the consultants also urged officials present to help encourage eligible people to enroll in the Affordable Connectivity Program, to get the $30 per month subsidy on the cost of broadband. They also suggested that local officials and organizations study the Rural Digital Opportunities Fund for ways to help people get the devices needed to connect to the internet, including services that would lend people tablets and laptops to use to connect to the Internet.
Persons interested in learning more about the Broadband Technical Assistance Program, may contact: Mac Underwood, CFO, Greene County Commission, 205-372-3349; or Phillis Belcher, Executive Director GCIDA at 205-372-9769 org cida@uwa.edu.

Newswire : Only three African women on Forbes List of ‘100 Most Powerful Women’

Samia Suluhu Hassan, President of Tanzania


 
Dec. 25, 2022 (GIN) – Tanzanian president Samia Suluhu Hassan, Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala who is the current Director General of the World Trade Organization and Nigerian media mogul Mosunmola Abudu are the only African women featuring in the list of the World’s Most Powerful 100 Women by Forbes.
 
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is the top-ranked African woman at position 91. The Director-General of the World Trade Organization since March 2021, she is the first woman and first African to lead the World Trade Organization as Director-General.
 
In 95th place on the list is Samia Suluhu Hassan, president of Tanzania since March 2021. She became president following the death of President John Pombe Magufuli and is the first female president of Tanzania.
 
Mosunmola Abudu at age 58 is the youngest of the African women on the Forbes list. A media mogul, philanthropist and a former human resources management consultant, she is highly ranked among the 25 most powerful women in global television.
 
Despite the minimal representation in platforms such as Forbes, the continent has demonstrated a commitment to promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women. Almost all countries have ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women; more than half have ratified the African Union’s Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa. Other milestones include the African Union’s declaration of 2010–2020 as the African Women’s Decade.
 
Although Africa includes both low- and middle-income countries, poverty rates are still high. The majority of women work in insecure, poorly paid jobs, with few opportunities for advancement. Democratic elections are increasing, and a record number of women have successfully run for seats. But electoral-related violence is a growing concern.
 
In contrast, the United States has 50 women on the same Forbes list, including Vice President Kamala Harris, philanthropist Melinda Gates, media star Oprah Winfrey and  former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
 
“The list was determined by four main metrics: money, media, impact and spheres of influence. For political leaders, “ noted Forbes. “We weighed gross domestic products and populations; for corporate leaders, revenues and employee counts; and media mentions and reach of all. The result is a collection of women who are fighting the status quo.”
 
Iranian woman Jina “Mahsa” Amini also made it to the list at position 100, albeit posthumously. Her death in September sparked the unprecedented women-led revolution in Iran. W/pix of Tanzanian president Samia Suluhu Hassan
 
 

Four bingo facilities distribute $616,999 for month of November

  The  Greene County Sheriff Department issued a listing of the bingo distributions for November, totaling $616,999.28 from four licensed bingo gaming facilities.  The bingo facilities regularly distributing through the sheriff include Frontier, River’s Edge, Palace and Bama Bingo.  The recipients of the November distributions from bingo gaming include Greene County Sheriff’s Department, the cities of Eutaw, Forkland, Union, and Boligee, the Greene County Board of Education and the Greene County Hospital (Health System). 
     Sub charities include Children’s Policy Council, Guadalupan Multicultural Services, Greene County Golf Course, Housing Authority of Greene County (Branch Heights), Department of Human Resources, the Greene County Library, Eutaw Housing Authority, Historical Society, REACH, Inc., Headstart  Community Service and This Belong To US. 
     Bama Bingo gave a total of $117,157.87 to the following: Greene County Sheriff’s Department, $48,070; City of Eutaw, $9,250; and the Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $3,875; Greene County Board of Education, $10,500, and the Greene County Health System, $12,500. Sub Charities, each received $1,034.22 including REACH, Inc.  Community Service received $470.10 and This Belong to Us received $94.02. 
   Frontier (Dream, Inc.) gave a total of $114,994.97 to the following: Greene County Sheriff’s Department, $48,070; City of Eutaw, $9,250; and the Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $3,875; Greene County Board of Education, $10,500; Greene County Health System, $12,500. Sub Charities each received $1,034.22, including the Historical Society and REACH, Inc.  Community Service received $470.10 and This Belong to Us received $94.02.
     River’s Edge (Next Level Leaders and Tishabee Community Center Tutorial Program) gave a total of  $118,288 to the following:  Greene County Sheriff’s Department, $48,070; City of Eutaw, $12,500; and the Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee  each, $3,875; Greene County Board of Education, $10,500; Greene County Health System, $12,500. Sub Charities each, $1,027,, including the Historical Society and REACH, Inc.  Community Service received $467 and This Belong to Us received $92.
     Palace (TS Police Support League) gave a total of $266,558.44 to the following:  Greene County Sheriff’s Department, $111,426.26; City of Eutaw, $21,441.50; and the Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $8,982.25; Greene County Board of Education, $24,339, and the Greene County Health System, $28,975. Sub Charities received $2,017.89, including the Historical Society and REACH, Inc. Community Service received $917.22 and This Belong to Us received $183.44. The sheriff’s supplement for November from four bingo facilities totaled $81,048.23

Newswire: House committee details the charges referred to DOJ against Donald Trump

U. S. Capitol under attack on Jan. 6, 2021

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent

Donald Trump, who holds the ignominious distinction of being the only twice-impeached U.S. president, has become the first commander-in-chief to have criminal charges referred against him.
The dubious achievement occurred on Monday, Dec. 19, when the House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol formally requested that the U.S. Department of Justice charge Trump with inciting, assisting, or engaging in insurrection against the United States and “giving aid or comfort” to an insurrection.
Chaired by Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Mississippi) and vice chair Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyoming), the committee released a 161-page summary that focused on Trump’s involvement in the effort to overturn his 2020 election loss to President Joe Biden.
The committee concluded that Trump’s efforts “makes him responsible for the violence that unfolded, and unfit to hold office.”
The panel then laid out a criminal case for the Justice Department, including a cache of evidence. Based upon the assembled evidence, the committee has reached a series of specific findings, including the following 17 powerful conclusions against Trump:
• Beginning election night and continuing through January 6th and thereafter, Trump purposely disseminated false allegations of fraud related to the 2020 Presidential election to aid his effort to overturn the election and for purposes of soliciting contributions. “These false claims provoked his supporters to violence on January 6th,” the committee determined.


• Knowing that he and his supporters had lost dozens of election lawsuits, and despite his own senior advisors refuting his election fraud claims and urging him to concede his election loss, Trump refused to accept the lawful result of the 2020 election. Rather than honor his constitutional obligation to “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed,” President Trump instead plotted to overturn the election outcome.
• Despite knowing that such an action would be illegal, and that no State had or would submit an altered electoral slate, Trump corruptly pressured Vice President Mike Pence to refuse to count electoral votes during Congress’s joint session on January 6th.


• Trump sought to corrupt the U.S. Department of Justice by attempting to enlist Department officials to make purposely false statements and thereby aid his effort to overturn the Presidential election. After that effort failed, Trump offered the position of Acting Attorney General to Jeff Clark knowing that Clark intended to disseminate false information aimed at overturning the election.
• Without any evidentiary basis and contrary to State and Federal law, Trump unlawfully pressured State officials and legislators to change the results of the election in their States.


• Trump oversaw an effort to obtain and transmit false electoral certificates to Congress and the National Archives.
• Trump pressured Members of Congress to object to valid slates of electors from several States.


• Trump purposely verified false information filed in Federal court.
• Based on false allegations that the election was stolen, Trump summoned tens of thousands of supporters to Washington for January 6th. Although these supporters were angry and some were armed, Trump instructed them to march to the Capitol on January 6th to “take back” their country.


• Knowing that a violent attack on the Capitol was underway and knowing that his words would incite further violence, Trump purposely sent a social media message publicly condemning Vice President Pence at 2:24 p.m. on January 6th.


• Knowing that violence was underway at the Capitol, and despite his duty to ensure that the laws are faithfully executed, Trump refused repeated requests over a multiple hour period that he instruct his violent supporters to disperse and leave the Capitol, and instead watched the violent attack unfold on television. This failure to act perpetuated the violence at the Capitol and obstructed Congress’s proceeding to count electoral votes.


• Each of these actions by Trump was taken in support of a multi-part conspiracy to overturn the lawful results of the 2020 Presidential election.


• The intelligence community and law enforcement agencies did successfully detect the planning for potential violence on January 6th, including planning specifically by the Proud Boys and Oath Keeper militia groups who ultimately led the attack on the Capitol. As January 6th approached, the intelligence specifically identified the potential for violence at the U.S. Capitol. This intelligence was shared within the executive branch, including with the Secret Service and the President’s National Security Council.


• Intelligence gathered in advance of January 6th did not support a conclusion that Antifa or other left-wing groups would likely engage in a violent counter demonstration, or attack Trump supporters on January 6th. Indeed, intelligence from January 5th indicated that some left-wing groups were instructing their members to “stay at home” and not attend on January 6th.20 Ultimately, none of these groups was involved to any material extent with the attack on the Capitol on January 6th.
• Neither the intelligence community nor law enforcement obtained intelligence in advance of January 6th on the full extent of the ongoing planning by President Trump, John Eastman, Rudolph Giuliani and their associates to overturn the certified election results. Such agencies apparently did not (and potentially could not) anticipate the provocation President Trump would offer the crowd in his Ellipse speech, that President Trump would “spontaneously” instruct the crowd to march to the Capitol, that President Trump would exacerbate the violent riot by sending his 2:24 p.m. tweet condemning Vice President Pence, or the full scale of the violence and lawlessness that would ensue. Nor did law enforcement anticipate that President Trump would refuse to direct his supporters to leave the Capitol once violence began. No intelligence community advance analysis predicted exactly how President Trump would behave; no such analysis recognized the full scale and extent of the threat to the Capitol on January 6th.


• Hundreds of Capitol and DC Metropolitan police officers performed their duties bravely on January 6th, and America owes those individual immense gratitude for their courage in the defense of Congress and our Constitution. Without their bravery, January 6th would have been far worse. Although certain members of the Capitol Police leadership regarded their approach to January 6th as “all hands-on deck,” the Capitol Police leadership did not have sufficient assets in place to address the violent and lawless crowd.


• Capitol Police leadership did not anticipate the scale of the violence that would ensue after President Trump instructed tens of thousands of his supporters in the Ellipse crowd to march to the Capitol, and then tweeted at 2:24 p.m. Although Chief Steven Sund raised the idea of National Guard support, the Capitol Police Board did not request Guard assistance prior to January 6th. The Metropolitan Police took an even more proactive approach to January 6th, and deployed roughly 800 officers, including responding to the emergency calls for help at the Capitol. Rioters still managed to break their line in certain locations, when the crowd surged forward in the immediate aftermath of Trump’s 2:24 p.m. tweet. The Department of Justice readied a group of Federal agents at Quantico and in the District of Columbia, anticipating that January 6th could become violent, and then deployed those agents once it became clear that police at the Capitol were overwhelmed. Agents from the Department of Homeland Security were also deployed to assist.


• President Trump had authority and responsibility to direct deployment of the National Guard in the District of Columbia, but never gave any order to deploy the National Guard on January 6th or on any other day. Nor did he instruct any Federal law enforcement agency to assist. Because the authority to deploy the National Guard had been delegated to the Department of Defense, the Secretary of Defense could, and ultimately did deploy the Guard. Although evidence identifies a likely miscommunication between members of the civilian leadership in the Department of Defense impacting the timing of deployment, the Committee has found no evidence that the Department of Defense intentionally delayed deployment of the National Guard.
“An insurrection is a rebellion against the authority of the United States,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Maryland). “It is a grave federal offense anchored in the Constitution. … Anyone who incites others to engage in rebelling, assists them in doing so or gives aid and comfort to those engaged in insurrection is guilty of a federal crime.”
Raskin continued:“The Committee believes that more than sufficient evidence exists for a criminal referral of former President Trump for assisting or aiding and comforting those at the Capitol who engaged in a violent attack on the United States,” Raskin continued.
“The Committee has developed significant evidence that President Trump intended to disrupt the peaceful transition of power.”

Newswire: 16 incarcerated men die in the past 3 weeks at Donaldson Correctional Facility in Jefferson County, AL

By: John H. Glenn, Alabama Political Reporter

Another incarcerated individual has died at Donaldson Correctional Facility, according to the Jefferson County Coroner’s Office.
Guy Jeffery Baker, a 60-year-old incarcerated man at the Jefferson County facility, was found unresponsive by correctional staff in a dorm inside the prison early on Sunday morning. He was pronounced dead 13 minutes later.
According to the coroner’s office, Baker’s death “is believed to be of natural causes,” with no foul play suspected. The Alabama Department of Corrections Law Enforcement Services Division is investigating the circumstances surrounding Baker’s death, as with all other deaths in the state prison system.
On Thursday of last week, a second incarcerated man died at Donaldson Correctional Facility, with the coroner’s office stating that death was also due to natural causes.
The deceased name was Eddie Robertson Jr, and he was found unresponsive in the infirmary by medical staff on Dec. 7. He was 71.
With Baker’s death on Sunday, at least 15 other individuals have died in state prison facilities over the past three weeks.
The state of Alabama incarcerated almost 2,400 incarcerated individuals over the age of 60, according to a recent study from Alabama Appleseed. The same study postulates that the increasing number of elderly incarcerated individuals places financial strains on a prison system already suffering from understaffing, rampant deaths related to narcotics, and investigations by the U.S. Department of Justice for its ongoing lawsuit against the state and the ADOC.
The study shows that the percentage of incarcerated individuals at and above the age of 50 has an incredible 3,640 percent, pushing a prison cohort that in the past numbered only 181 to well over 6,750 incarcerated individuals.

Newswire : Advocates say increasing Black teachers should be a national concern

Teacher Ja’Quan Evans with students. Courtesy Men of CHS Teach and Ashley Reeves with students at George and Veronica Phalen Leadership  Academy in Indianapolis. Courtesy Ashley Reeves

By: Char Adams, NBC News

 

Ashley Reeves, an Indiana school teacher, dreamed of getting her teaching license but could not afford the high price of certification. She settled for a renewable teaching permit, which allows educators to work for one year, to teach at George and Veronica Phalen Leadership Academy, a kindergarten through eighth grade school in Indianapolis. However, Reeves’ aspirations were revitalized when she saw a flier for the Educate ME Foundation, an organization focused on helping Black people become teachers. 
Reeves said she joined the program in August and got one-on-one support for test preparation and financial help to cover the costs of certification tests. Reeves received her license in November and returned to the classroom a certified teacher. 
“It was like a relief. It was a blessing. It’s always been one of my goals,” Reeves, 31, said. “I’ve been in education for quite some time; it’s been six years. The program itself is just great for first-time teachers or teachers who’ve been in education for a long time.”
Blake Nathan launched the Educate ME Foundation in 2014 in Indianapolis to recruit and retain more Black teachers. Today, the foundation works to mentor and support high school and college students looking to pursue careers in education. It teaches Black students about the value of becoming teachers and helps existing teachers through training and certification programs. Reeves is one of dozens of Black people who have used the foundation’s programs to reach their career goals. Nathan said the work they do ultimately benefits students.
“If you are being educated by a same-race teacher, academically, emotionally, you perform better in the classroom,” Nathan said. “Having a Black teacher in the school building decreases school discipline rates. And if you can decrease school discipline rates, you can decrease the school-to-prison pipeline.”
Before Covid changed the education landscape, Black students were already at a disadvantage due to the dismal number of Black teachers in the classroom and other effects of systemic racism. Black people represented just 7% of teachers in the 2017-18 school year, with white teachers making up 79% of the field, according to the most recent data from the National Center for Education Statistics.
This is a dire situation as research shows that when Black students have teachers who look like them, they’re less likely to be over-disciplined and more likely to finish high school and consider college. Therefore, experts say, hiring Black teachers is necessary to address the racial disparities that lead to poor educational outcomes and criminalization for Black children. 
But there are many barriers to Black people entering the teaching field. Costly certification tests and exams, called Praxis tests, are a major roadblock for Black teachers trying to become certified, as Black people are more likely than whites to fail these tests, according to a Chalkbeat report. Meanwhile, for Black people who are able to enter the profession, failing these tests can get them booted from their teaching jobs.
Critics believe that these tests, first implemented decades ago, simply work to exclude Black teachers and don’t adequately measure a person’s teaching ability. And there’s little evidence that these tests predict teacher effectiveness at all. And research has shown that, in some cases, Black students perform better academically with a Black teacher who failed the Praxis exam than with a white teacher who passed.
Furthermore, advocates say that Black students who don’t have Black teachers are less likely to become teachers themselves, so commitments to diversifying the industry must start early on in the classroom. 
The Educate Me Foundation is one of many programs across the country that aim to train and recruit more Black people into the teaching profession. The programs may use different methods, with some focusing on breaking down the field’s financial barriers and others prioritizing the need to remove implicit biases in credentialing processes (or promoting cultural inclusivity in schools). But they all ultimately aim to improve the educational experience for Black children.
Call Me MISTER, a Clemson University development program for Black men to become elementary school teachers, has produced some 367 educators since 2004, said program field coordinator Winston Holton. Participants are required to work at a South Carolina K-12 public school between one and four years after completing the program, which usually lasts four years, Holton said. Students from “socioeconomically disadvantaged and educationally at-risk communities” receive tuition assistance, mentorship and support for navigating the education industry, and help with job placement. 
Founder Tom Parks decided to launch the program in 2000 after learning about the troubling incarceration rates and dismal educational opportunities for Black men. Holton joined the program in 2001 and now serves as a mentor to participants like Caleb Brown, a 20-year-old in his third year of the program, who hopes to become a middle school teacher. 
“Representation in the classroom is important,” Brown said. “In the sense of the level of relationships and connections I’ve made, getting this experience early on, that wouldn’t have been possible without the help of Call Me MISTER.” 
Many of these development and recruitment programs cater to all genders, but some — like Call Me MISTER and Men of CHS Teach, a Charleston, South Carolina, program inspired by Call Me MISTER — focus on producing more Black male teachers. Just 2% of the country’s teachers are Black men. 
That startling statistic, advocates say, is why programs offering different pathways to certification are important. 
“Minority males face a lot of barriers in their K-12 experience,” said Eric Stallings, who works with Men of CHS Teach to recruit and support teachers. Men of CHS Teach, which prioritizes men of color, is a partnership between the University of South Carolina and the Charleston County School District. 
“They may go into business or marketing, but something always tugs at your heart and you say, ‘I’ve always wanted to be a teacher. I just don’t know,’” he said. “Us creating pathways for that to happen has allowed some of them to come back as educators and truly make a difference. I think that speaks a lot about alternative certification.” 
Sharif El-Mekki, founder and CEO of the Center for Black Educator Development based in Philadelphia, said the center’s mission is to build a “national Black teacher pipeline” through policy and advocacy efforts, programs, and partnering with school districts, colleges and similar programs across the country. The center works with school districts to facilitate a course for high school students interested in teaching “but from a Black pedagogical framework, as opposed to what students typically get, all-white educational theory,” El-Mekki said. 
“If you try to pursue and reform education without having a deep understanding of the racism that exists to create these disparities, you’re never going to achieve what you purport you want to achieve,” he said. 
The center also provides training and mentorship programs for high school and college students, professional development for everyone from college professors to administrators, and consultation services for school districts across the country looking to retain Black teachers.  Since its founding in 2019, the center has produced at least 30 teachers, who are now educators or in teacher residency programs.
While some groups focus on getting more Black teachers into classrooms, others focus on the cultural inclusivity that they believe is necessary for tearing down implicit bias in schools — whether in the classroom or the administration offices. The Black Teacher Project in Oakland, California, works with Black teachers to “reimagine schools as communities of liberated learning,” the Project’s website reads. The project offers an 18-month fellowship for Black teachers where they explore Black identity, wellness and culturally competent teaching (or “instruction rooted in Blackness,” according to the site). It also teaches educators how to implement restorative practices in their classrooms and invites them to retreats to foster community among Black teachers. 
This, advocates say, will have a positive impact on Black students. “BTP’s vision is that every student will benefit from the diversity, excellence, and leadership of an empowered Black teaching force,” the website states. “Therefore, the Black Teacher Project’s motto is ‘Every child deserves a Black teacher.’”