Newswire: African ministers foresee ‘ break the glass moment’ without major debt relief

African debt relief poster

Mar. 30, 2020 (GIN) – Multilateral lenders and investors are being asked to pony up a modest stimulus package that would halt the spread of the coronavirus in Africa and keep economies from crashing under the weight of debt-servicing costs.

African finance ministers, at a meeting last week, calculated that an injection of $100 billion – including $44 billion in debt-servicing wavers – would put off the likelihood of a recession and protect growth rates from falling further behind – now at 1.8% from 3.2% earlier this month.

Ken Ofori-Atta, chair of a World Bank-IMF committee called it a “break the glass moment.” The package is about 5% of the agreed upon stimulus package agreed to this week by U.S. legislators and signed by the President.

“There is a big likelihood of a recession,” said Bartholomew Armah of the U.N. Economic Commission for Africa (Uneca) in a press interview. “Our previous forecast should be seen as conservative because it was done at a time when the actual number of (corona) cases in Africa was low.”

South African Finance Minister Tito Mboweni put a fine point on the matter. “To say we are not trembling in our boots about what might be in the coming weeks and months is an understatement.”

Once a borrower from wealthy countries and institutions, Africa is now saddled with crushing debts to China ($143 billion), international debt markets ($55 billion), other banks, commodity traders and the so-called vulture funds.

An international activist group has seen it before. Inspired by universal faith traditions, Jubilee USA, a coalition of Jewish, Christian and Muslim religious groups, maintains that instead of paying debt, resources should go to reducing poverty and providing healthcare and education for those most in need.

“African finance ministers are right to call for a moratorium on all interest payments,” wrote Tim Jones of Jubilee UK, a partner group. “In the face of a huge health and economic crisis, halting debt payments is the fastest way to keep money in African countries.”

On news that the IMF will cancel some debt payments for poor countries, Jones wrote: “All poor countries that are being hit by the economic impacts of coronavirus need to benefit from this debt relief, regardless of the extent of the outbreak of the virus within their own country.

“Many countries are already in debt crisis and the economic impact of coronavirus is only going to make that worse. The IMF needs to ensure its loans are not used to bail out previous lenders, but instead help countries restructure debts. Otherwise, people will suffer through austerity and public spending cuts.”

School board holds emergency meeting, confirming plans to provide for students during virus epidemic

Robert Brown Middle School personnel review instructional packets for students. Shown L to R: Principal Owens, 4th Grade Teacher, Annie Howard and Assistant Principal Harris.
Child Nutrition Program personnel distribute meals for students outside Robert Brown Middle School.
CNP school personnel gather meals packaged for distribution from Robert Brown Middle School.
LaTonya Fowler, Board’s Central Office personnel, assists in distributing food packets to children.

The Greene County Board of Education held an emergency meeting, Thursday, March 19, 2020, to consider resolutions joining the state and federal government in declaring an emergency due to the COVID-19 Coronavirus epidemic. The resolutions authorized the school superintendent to take all actions, including the provision of food for schools children and instructional materials consistent with the declared emergency and the needs of the Greene County Board of Education during this emergency from March 19, 2020 until further notice.
The resolutions adopted by the board also declare that schools are closed in compliance with Governor Kay Ivey’s order until further notice and the March 24, 2020 scheduled meeting of the board is also cancelled.
In his update to the board, Superintendent Dr. Corey Jones stated that during Spring break week of March 16, all school facilities were given a thorough cleaning and sanitizing stations were set up in classroom and hallways for the future return of students and personnel.
According to Dr. Jones, the school system will provide two meals per day for all students in the duration of the school shutdown. He indicated that USDA has authorized the school system to operate the food distribution comparable to the Summer Feeding Program which allows meals to be served to youth ages 1-18.
In compliance with Superintendent Jones guidance, each school has instituted plans for delivering food and instructional materials to students. In the food program, students are provided two meals each day with distributions scheduled for Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Parents may drive to the schools for meals and some meals will be delivered to various designated venues in the community. The detailed delivery schedule is listed in this newspaper as well as on the school’s web site and other relevant social media.
For Greene County High School students, the majority of teachers sent enrichment activities via email or Google Classroom. A few teachers prepared instructional packets which were delivered on Monday.
Eutaw Primary School delivered instructional packets on Monday and Tuesday. Robert Brown Middle School had packets available for parents to pick up on Wednesday. Instructional packets can be delivered in any situation where parents are not able to come to the school.
Dr. Jones informed the board that the system will continue its financial obligations. Payroll and bills will be paid in a timely manner. Personnel not on direct deposit plans will have paychecks sent through postal mail. “Traditional business of the school system will be handled as efficiently as possible,” Jones stated. He clarified that usual bid laws can be suspended regarding emergency purchases.
Superintendent Jones indicated that no determination can be made at this time as to meeting schedules for particular school activities such as prom and graduation. “We just don’t know how long this medical emergency will last. I urged our community to take every precaution to keep safe and avoid contracting the virus.”

Newswire: Rep. Waters secures State Dept action for 3000 Americans stranded in Morocco

Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D.CA)

LOS ANGELES – Within 24 hours of demanding immediate assistance on behalf of her constituent and 3000 Americans who were stranded in Morocco, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (CA-43), Chair of the House Committee on Financial Services, received notice that the U.S. State Department had heeded her calls and chartered special emergency flights for all U.S. citizens in Morocco.
The Moroccan government had previously announced the suspension of all international flights to and from its airports as a protective measure against the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus). The special return flights, which were chartered by the State Department through American Airlines partner British Airways, began transporting Americans home from Morocco on Friday, March 20.
“I am elated that my constituent and all Americans who were stranded in Morocco will now be able to safely return home to the United States,” said Congresswoman Maxine Waters. “The lack of response and distress that these U.S. citizens endured is absolutely unthinkable. I am pleased that the State Department has decided to uphold its responsibility to protect American citizens who are stranded abroad as we confront the coronavirus pandemic, and I commend American Airlines for their assistance with this matter. I urge my colleagues in Congress to continue to monitor reports of Americans who may be stranded in other countries and ensure that the Trump administration is providing assistance and safe passage home to all Americans who are stranded abroad.”
On Tuesday, March 17, Congresswoman Waters received a call from her constituent requesting help with reaching the State Department and U.S. Embassy in Morocco, which had ignored requests for assistance from Americans who were stranded in Morocco. Congresswoman Waters immediately directed her staff to investigate the matter and further learned that approximately 3000 Americans were facing the same plight in Morocco.
On Wednesday, March 18, Congresswoman Waters sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo demanding an immediate explanation as to how and when the State Department, as well as United States Ambassador to Morocco David T. Fischer, would implement a plan to repatriate stranded Americans in Morocco, including but not limited to State Department chartered flights leaving the region. She also made numerous phone calls directly to the State Department and the U.S. Embassy in Morocco requesting answers and immediate assistance for her constituent.
On Thursday, March 19, the State Department and the U.S. Mission to Morocco announced the arrangement of American Airlines (British Airways) flights for U.S. citizens and permanent residents beginning on Friday, March 20 from Marrakech International Airport in Morocco.
On Friday, March 20, Congresswoman Waters also penned a “Dear Colleague” letter to House Members alerting them of the plight facing Americans who were stranded in Morocco, Peru, Guatemala, and other countries, and urged them to continue to work with the State Department to ensure the safe return of all Americans who are stranded abroad.

Newswire: Congressional Black Caucus’ Coronavirus stimulus proposals protect those who are most at-risk

Written By Royce Dunmore

Rep. Karen Bass, Chair on the Congressional Black Caucus
The Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) has submitted a sweeping list of proposals that it says elected officials must implement to specifically protect Black people in America and their best interests as the country grapples with the coronavirus crisis.
The group of influential officials from Congress and the Senate sent a letter to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer with suggestions centered on healthcare, protecting Black-owned businesses and voting rights to be considered as part of the estimated $1 trillion stimulus package to help with the economy during the coronavirus outbreak.
Many of the asks from the list of suggestions were already being discussed in Congress and among local governments, including giving all workers access to paid sick days and paid family and medical leave so that people can seek treatment without fear of losing their jobs or paychecks. The CBC also proposed a nationwide suspension on utility shut-offs as well as a ban of all evictions, foreclosures and repossessions, which has already happened in some parts of the country but not all.
The proposal also got more specific when it comes to Black-owned businesses. For example, it called for a 90-day moratorium on all consumer and small business credit payments (student loans, credit cards, mortgages, car notes, small business loans, personal loans). The CBC also called for $50 billion in new grants for the Small Business Administration to help negatively impacted small businesses, including those that are “minority- and women-owned.” In addition, the CBC proposed government-backed interest-free loans to entrepreneurs, businesses, nonprofits and independent contractors to cover operating expenses and payroll needs in order to keep workers fully employed.
On the voting front, CBC asked for a change of procedure for casting ballots in the midst of the coronavirus crisis. That includes establishing a National Vote-By-Mail system for all remaining primaries and the general election. The group is also seeking an end to voter suppression by restoring Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
For prisoners’ safety, the CBC suggested releasing all juveniles who’ve committed non-violent crimes, ensuring all inmates and staff get coronavirus testing and “releasing incarcerated individuals in prisons, jails, and detention centers through clemency, commutations and compassionate release.”
The CBC also said it wanted additional funding for the expansion of broadband access to ensure all students, including those in rural and urban communities, have access to tele-learning resources since many schools have canceled in-person education. The CBC also reiterated its demands made before the coronavirus hit, such as canceling student debt and providing funding for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), especially in this time of the coronavirus.
As of Sunday evening, a massive $1 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill failed to pass the Senate, according to NBC News. Republicans, who needed 60 votes to move forward on the bill, weren’t able to win over Democrats who felt dissatisfied with worker protections in the bill, which was drafted by Republicans. Democrats also felt the rules on corporate bailouts were too lax.
Negotiations on the now proposed $2 trillion stimulus bill are continuing between Senate and House Democrats and Treasury Secretary Manuchin representing the Trump Administration.

Newswire: People facing new ways of life as Corvid 19 has changed everything

By Hamil R. Harris

Bishop T. D. Jakes stands before about 30 people in his Potter’s House sanctuary that seats 8,200 in Dallas.


(TriceEdneyWire.com) – Rev. Grainger Browning, pastor of the Ebenezer African Methodist Episcopal Church in Fort Washington, Md., is used to preaching to two packed sanctuaries every Sunday. But on Sunday, March 22, Browning and a skeletal staff preached to a mostly empty sanctuary while his members watched on the Internet.
“I feel like a spiritual first responder,” Browning said. “It’s called Live from the Church. We try to duplicate church as much as we can. We have members of the praise team and a skeletal staff.”
Browning’s situation is one example of a new reality for churches around the nation. Even the 8,200-seat sanctuary of Bishop T. D. Jakes’ Potter’s House in Dallas has been virtually empty. As the Coronavirus spread around the nation and world and as state governments and health experts increasingly issue stay at home orders and suggest social distancing, life as usual has become non-existent.
Members of the Class of 2020 are still hoping for their proms, commencement exercises and celebrations that are normal milestones for generations past.
In sports, there are no NBA basketball games, NCAA tournaments or baseball Spring training. And in terms of mass gatherings, going to the movies, eating out, and even worshipping God in church pews has been forbidden for a season. Even weddings and funerals have been curtailed.
As a result of the Corvid 19 virus, this lethal strain of the Corona flu, America is a stranger to herself with frightened and helpless citizens “sheltering in place” behind locked doors in a society where toilet paper has become priceless as indicated by the empty shelves in grocery stores.
“People are losing it. My brother drives a bread truck and he said that his colleague was robbed, said Sean Brown, 39, a financial manager in Severn, Md. “They took his entire bread truck.”
As of this writing, March 22, America had nearly 30,000 people diagnosed with COVID 19, which means America is now number three in the world in terms of a disease that has now killed more than 13,000 around the globe. This is despite glaring headlines and weekly White House briefings that produced more arguments than solutions.
“If ever there is a time to practice humanity — it is now,” said New York Governor Andrew Cuomo in a tweet on Sunday. “The time to show kindness, to show compassion. New Yorkers are tough — but we are also the most courageous community that you have ever seen.”
On Sunday, Sean Brown, the financial manager, a husband and father of two, watched a taped worship service from the University Park Church of Christ. Despite the change, he still has hope through his faith. “It is important to remember who is in control. God is still in control.”
COVID 19 has ushered in an era of “social distancing.” And yet it is easy to find examples of hope in cities and towns and communities across America in terms of faith, family and every aspect of life.
On Twitter, there was a video of a group of Cuban doctors of color in White lab coats and masks arriving in Italy and being greeted by people waiting in the international airport. As restaurants closed, many soup kitchens that regularly feed the homeless, such as Miriam’s Kitchen in Northwest Washington, DC, kept their doors open. But among the most notable changes are the churches which quickly adjusted their empty sanctuaries to computer screens and conference calls.
Rev. Dr. Leslie Copeland Tune, Chief Operating Officer for the National Council of Churches, said despite the Corona Virus “Most churches are using creatives to remain connected. They are using zoom, video conferencing, prayer calls. My home church in New York is having prayer callers at 6 am.”
With Easter two weeks away, Browning said that he will have Lenten services every morning between six and seven AM that will be rebroadcast “people can start their day,” but Browning added, “I really missing the people it is like being away from your wife.”
“My concern is for the people. There is concern about people dying but I don’t think I hear a heart for the people who survive. They literally don’t know how they are going to eat.”
Browning of Ebenezer in Maryland said he is really concerned about conducting funerals when there is a restriction. “Right now, can’t have more than ten people. I can’t imagine having a love one dying and there are only 10 people there.”
Even medical doctors are taken aback by the new realities. “We had our church by telephone conference,” said Tracey Burney, a retired urologist who attends Bethany CME Church in Clearwater, Florida. “Being a physician, we are always ready for the worst. But I have never seen anything like this in my wildest dreams.”

Newswire: Census self-response: the antidote to coronavirus impact

Activists aim to maximize Black census response through education campaign
By Khalil Abdullah


TriceEdneyWire.com) – Jeri Green, 2020 Census Senior Advisor for the National Urban League’s Census Black Roundtable, is encouraging African-Americans, and indeed all Americans, to self-respond to the census, in part to allay fears the novel corona virus could be spread to households by a census enumerator, the person who knocks on your door with blank census forms and clipboard in hand.
Even as the Census Bureau has announced a package of strategies to delay door-to-door enumeration and counting the homeless, among other initiatives, eventually the hard work will resume toward fulfilling the constitutional mandate on which so many aspects of American life depends.
This is the first decennial census utilizing the Internet. Phone response is an option as well. Green encouraged using either method as an alternative to the standard nine-question paper census form now arriving at many homes. The paper form, addressed to “Resident” – and not to be mistaken for junk mail — is to be filled out and returned to the Census Bureau by mail. Non-responding addresses trigger a visit by a census enumerator.
“In many of our communities, especially the Black community, a significant portion of our community waits for that knock on the door,” Green said during a national media telebriefing: Addressing Security Information and Privacy Issues, Census2020. The event was sponsored by the Leadership Conference Education Fund in partnership with Ethnic Media Services.
Green was joined by Beth Lynk, LCEF’s Census Counts Campaign Director; Lizette Escobedo, Director of National Census Program, NALEO Educational Fund; John Yang, President and Executive Director, Asian Americans Advancing Justice; Ditas Katague, Director, California Complete Count Committee; and Lycia Maddox, Vice President of External Affairs, National Congress of American Indians.
These speakers explained the often similar but also unique obstacles to marshalling their constituents’ responses to the census, one they agree will be one of the most challenging in America’s history and “one of the most urgent civil rights issues facing the country,” Beth Lynk observed.
Yang said concern about the privacy of census responses among Asian American families, particularly those with mixed immigrant status households, was heightened by the Department of Commerce’s efforts to include a question on citizenship on the 2020 census form. He said surveys have shown that a significant percentage of Asian Americans, as high as 30 percent in one poll, still incorrectly think the question is on the form.
Similarly, the citizenship question has roiled the Latino community. Some surveys showed that about half of Latinos still thought it would be included on the form, said Escobedo. “This is a significant concern for us.”
Green also cited the historic lack of trust within the Black community, of how the federal government may use census information, as a looming impediment to a successful count. That same sentiment may depress the response rate from African and Caribbean immigrant residents who are increasingly becoming a percentage of the National Urban League’s constituency.
The NUL and its 90 affiliates now have a presence in 36 states and the District of Columbia with the capacity to potentially reach two million American residents, Green reported. The NUL’s Make Black Count campaign, a collaboration with other organizations and religious leaders, has held national phone telebriefings. March’s event drew well over a thousand participants.
Make Black Count is designed to increase awareness and understanding about elected congressional and state representation as well as the allocation of monetary benefits derived from the census. These tax-derived funds are returned, by population-driven formulas, to states, counties, cities, and towns. The federal contribution to rural hospitals, for example, has moved to the forefront of concerns as the demand for adequate bed space and equipment spike in the throes of the corona virus pandemic.
With the corona virus dominating the news, the census is at risk of being pushed to the margins of the public consciousness. By following the Center for Disease Control’s guidance, Yang said his organization, as are the other telebriefing participants, is factoring in recommendations on how to improve public outreach.
“A number of our grassroots-based organizations are moving more toward phone banks, text banks, to create more of a presence on-line because, certainly tabling opportunities, in-person opportunities are becoming restricted and we want to exercise caution and ensure the safety and health of our volunteers,” Yang said. Escobedo said NALEO, for example, is reaching many Latinos through Facebook.
Yang also is concerned about how messaging about the virus and disease is being distorted. “Getting the facts right matter,” Yang emphasized. “We, unfortunately, are seeing a significant increase in hate incidents around Covid-19, corona virus, directed against the Asian community and this is something we need to stand up against. The reality is that this is a health hazard. It is not specific to one ethnic community. One ethnic community is not the carrier of this health hazard in a manner that is genetically based.”
Lycia Maddox, Vice President of External Affairs, National Congress of American Indians, spoke about the uphill climb to achieving accurate representation of the Native American population. “Indian Country has the highest undercount of 4.9 percent, almost double the next population group,” she said of the 2010 census.
Maddox said NCAI has partnered with other Native American organizations and tribal leaders in efforts to boost the response rate in communities that typically qualify as Hard to Count. HTC is a designation that applies to census tracts where the past history of responses to the census have lagged. Immigrant households, and ones where English is not the primary language, consistently fall under that rubric. But other descriptors — low-income households, rural communities, and lack of robust Internet access — apply to a significant percentage of the Native American presence.
As a consequence, tribal nations also comprise part of California’s 11 million Hard to Count population in a state of 40 million residents. The size of California’s population alone sets it apart from the rest of the country, Katague explained. She said Los Angeles County, where 192 languages are spoken, has a population larger than 42 states. California has committed $187.2 million to achieving a complete count, funding that surpasses the combined financial commitment of the 49 remaining states.
Maddox said the corona virus has made its presence felt among Native Americans in other ways. There are instances of some tribes limiting physical access by outsiders to reservations and communities in order to limit the potential of exposure to the virus. Another concern is that the recruitment of Native American enumerators, already difficult enough, will be negatively impacted. Jeri Green and the NUL are painfully aware of this possibility as well.
“We are concerned about hiring,” Green said. “We know that the Census Bureau has to recruit 2.5 million people to hire 500,000 enumerators. We now worry about a greater attrition rate than they’ve had, where people might just say, ‘Okay, well, I’m out of here. I don’t want to knock on doors because of this virus.’ We don’t know.
“But we have been, all along, trying to shift the dynamic and move the needle in the other way, even before this virus came on, and push self-response. And that’s what we’ve been doing, pushing the telephone lines and self-response because we don’t want those great numbers out there in the non-response universe.”
Yet, one estimate is, at the acme of the census response, there could be as many as eight million hits a day on the census website.
“We just have to hope and pray that the Census Bureau’s infrastructure for telephone questionnaire assistance and Internet response are all functioning,” Green said. “They seem to be all systems go.”
Green, a former census employee, now retired from federal service, said, “We are fighting collectively to ensure that the Black population loses no ground–political, economic or civil rights as a result of the 2020 census. The stakes are too high. We must Make Black Count in the 2020 Census.”

Newswire: Coronavirus reaches African shores – but numbers remain low

South African President Ramaphosa demonstrating greeting by elbow

Mar. 16, 2020 (GIN) – Only a few weeks ago, African leaders were breathing a sigh of relief as the new coronavirus skipped the continent to lodge in Italy, Spain and other European countries.
“Whether it’s a matter of faulty detection, climatic factors or simple fluke, the remarkably low rate of coronavirus infection in African countries, with their fragile health systems, continues to puzzle,” said Amadou Alpha Sall, head of the Pasteur Institute in Dakar, Senegal.
Then a test turned up one positive and then another, giving signs of a new crisis emerging in at least 30 of Africa’s 54 countries, officials said this week.
The most worrying confirmation of a first case came from Somalia, with one of the continent’s weakest health systems after nearly three decades of conflict. Tanzania, Liberia and Benin also announced their first cases.
Moving with all deliberate speed, African nations began imposing travel restrictions as most confirmed cases came from abroad. Algeria cut off all air and sea contact with Europe, and Botswana barred travelers from 18 high-risk countries. French citizens visiting South Africa have been urged to leave as soon as possible.
“Countries like South Korea and China have managed to control this outbreak,” commented Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, regional director for Africa, World Health Organization. “We are learning… Limiting contact between people when you have local transmission is a good thing to do…
“The South African government is striking a good balance,” she added. “Gatherings of people increase the chances of infections spreading. But we must have a balance… I think 100 [maximum number of people allowed to gather in South Africa] is a reasonable number…
“Greeting, hugging, kissing – no!” Dr. Moeti said. “Even elbow bumps require you to come close to somebody… Smile and bow instead… it’s a good thing to do.”
“The reality is this,” said South Africa’s health minister, Zweli Mkhize, commenting on the 62 documented cases, all from abroad. “Individuals that have been infected thus far are people who can afford going on holiday abroad or they travel for business. Those individuals also have accommodation for self-quarantine.
“However, when this outbreak starts affecting our poor communities where families do not have enough rooms or spaces to quarantine those affected, we will experience a crisis.”
The WHO says it has now shifted from “readiness” to “response” mode on the continent with 147 confirmed cases in 15 countries.

Newswire : Rory Gamble named first African American President of the UAW

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

Rory Gamble


The International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW) is one of the largest and most diverse unions in North America, with members in virtually every sector of the economy.
Representing nearly 1 million current and retired members of all ethnicities and backgrounds in the United States, Canada, and Mexico, the UAW has never had an African American president.
Until now.
“I was sitting at home and brainstorming on things that I needed to do, and then the phone started to ring,” stated Rory Gamble, a welder fixture repairman, who joined the UAW in 1974 when he worked at the Ford Motor Co. Dearborn (Mich.) Frame Plant.
“The local NAACP chapter president called, and others,” noted Gamble, who in December was named the 13th president of the 85-year-old union. “It hit me then that, ‘Hey, you’re the first African American president,’” Gamble recalled. “It struck me like a rock. It’s a great accomplishment.”
Gamble observed a distinct and frequently-used quote that dates back to Winston Churchill: ‘With great power, comes great responsibility’.
“There is a great weight that comes with being the first African American president,” Gamble said. “I want to be an example where no one can question my leadership and not use anything against another African American brother or sister to prevent them from being able to ascend to a position like this.”
Gamble accepted the job after his predecessor, Gary Jones, resigned amid a corruption scandal. Despite the cloud of suspicion left behind, Gamble observed that the union must continue to move forward.
“Being an African American already means you have a great deal of responsibility and so I want to make sure that the way I carry myself will keep the doors open for others to follow,” Gamble expressed during an exclusive interview with NNPA Newswire.
“I’ve been blessed. I was able to come up during a time where there was a lot of activism. Unlike today, where a lot of our brothers and sisters get caught up in the digital world, I came up when everything was more hands-on and personal,” Gamble continued.
“You couldn’t hide behind a keyboard. You had to get up and see people and look them in the eye. Looking folks in the eye shows that you have a lot more of yourself invested.” That doesn’t mean Gamble is technologically challenged. “I had to get social media because you have to engage and keep up with the times,” he said.
“I’m very personal, and I love engaging with the members. I try hard to make sure that our union doesn’t get away from that even though we have this digital and electronic stuff. That’s fine, but the downside is that it can be icy when it comes to human relationships, so I like the eye-to-eye contact.”
Gamble, 64, started his UAW career as a welder fixture repairman. Before that, he was a defensive tackle at Northwestern High School in Detroit, where he credited his father, a former elected officer of Local 600, as an early mentor.
In 1975, Local 600 members elected Gamble to serve as a plant trustee. From 1976 to 1979, he was the local’s alternate benefit representative and, later, he served as a bargaining committee chair.
In 1988 Gamble earned an appointment as staff director and administrative assistant for Local 600’s president, with responsibilities for third-stage grievance agendas for all Ford Rouge plants and as editor of UAW Facts, the local’s newspaper, according to his biography.
Since 1987 Gamble’s assignments have included local union health and safety coordinator, employee support services program, education director, civil rights coordinator, fitness center coordinator, and family services and learning center coordinator.
He has served as director of Local 600 Ford units, including Dearborn Engine and Fuel Tank, Dearborn Truck Plant, Milan, Industrial Athlete, and Dearborn Frame. Other assignments have included retirees’ liaison and coordinator of the Rouge Rehabilitation Center.
In 1998 and 2003, Gamble served on the UAW-Ford National Negotiating Team. From 1993 to 2002, he was elected for three terms as the local’s recording secretary. Gamble was elected first vice president of Local 600 in 2002 and re-elected in 2005.
In 1999 Gamble received the Spirit of Detroit award; the 2006 Horace L. Sheffield Jr. Humanitarian Award; and the 2008 Minority Women’s Network (Detroit chapter) Man of the Year award.
“Labor unions have raised the standards of living, that’s pure and simple,” Gamble observed.
“If someone’s family gets into a major health scare, the family could be put into major financial jeopardy. So, the union has provided employees with job security, increased wages and enhanced health care benefits. You can plan for your kids to attend college and other important milestones that you might not otherwise be able to do if you didn’t have that protected status that unions provide.”
Gamble continued:
“I have never sat across the table from a CEO of any major company who didn’t have a contract with that company that guarantees their wages and benefits and even a golden parachute. That same worker will tell the worker in the plant on the floor that they don’t need a union, but every major CEO has his wages and benefits contracted. That’s a big irony.”
Gamble also noted the UAW’s relationship with the Black Press of America had spanned decades because the union and publishers share a common belief in social justice and civil rights.
“People need to know how important the Black Press is and how important the union is,” Gamble said. “Both have accomplished so much together. We do this by making sure that we use all of the available resources to educate our people and let them know how important and relevant the Black Press and the union is especially when they are functioning together. The things we’ve accomplished to uplift society and our people, in general, is something we need to continue to do together.”

Newswire: Voting Rights advocates call on Georgia election officials to protect voters’ rights in the wake of postponing the Presidential Primary Election

Georgia state sign


March 16, 2020 (Atlanta, GA) – ProGeorgia, a group of community-based, civic engagement organizations, called on Georgia election officials to protect voters’ rights in the wake of Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensberger’s announcement that the presidential primary election would be moved from March 24th to May 19th.
The groups said: “The Secretary of State’s decision to move the presidential preference primary to May 19th, which was informed by important public health concerns emanating from the spread of COVID-19, has significant ramifications for Georgia voters. Moving an election midstream, when hundreds of thousands of Georgians have already cast ballots during early voting, is not an easy endeavor in the best of circumstances.
In these challenging times, Georgia election officials are going to have to make difficult decisions and change their processes in order to properly implement this unprecedented change. The devil is in the details, and we are concerned that many voters’ rights will be at risk if Georgia election officials fail to address critical issues in implementing such a significant change in the middle of an election period.
“Postponing the election does not diminish the State’s obligation to ensure that voters have adequate accessible and available means to vote. There are concrete steps that Georgia election officials can take immediately to protect the right to vote in the consolidated May 19th primary election. We recommend that the State increase the time to request and return vote by mail ballots, work with local election officials to educate voters and poll workers, offer more flexible methods for return and collection of ballots based on the potential for postal service delays and reduced staffing, and extend voter registration opportunities to ensure all eligible voters can participate.
“To ensure a successful and inclusive election, we call on Georgia election officials to employ an open and transparent process that allows all voices to be heard and protects voters’ rights during the May 19th primary. We are deeply committed to seeing Georgia through a safe and complete primary election process and welcome the opportunity to work with state and local election officials to ensure that all Georgians have a full and fair chance to exercise their right to vote.”
The following ProGeorgia members have joined ProGeorgia in calling on the Secretary of State to protect voters’ rights: ACLU of Georgia, All Voting is Local – Georgia, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Atlanta, Common Cause GA, Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials (GALEO), Georgia Coalition for People’s Agenda, Georgia NAACP, Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the League of Women Voters Georgia, Inc, and State Voices.