MLK celebration in Greene County

Pictured : Mrs. Katie Jones Powell, retired Sumter County Schools Superintendent, was keynote speaker at the Educational Seminar focused on Greene County High School juniors and seniors, sponsored by the Alabama Civil Rights Freedom Museum and held at New Peace Baptist Church on Friday, Jan. 12, 2018. This event was part of the annual Martin Luther King, Jr. birthday celebration.
Rev. Joe N. Webb was keynote speaker at the Unity Breakfast held at the Eutaw Activity Center on Jan. 15, 2018, honoring Dr. Martin L. King, Jr.’s birthday.
Dr. Cynthia Warrick, President of Stillman College in Tuscaloosa brought the message at the Godly Women of West Alabama Religious Freedom Rally Celebration, held Jan. 15, 2018 at the William M. Branch Courthouse. The event recognized many women who have contributed to building a just and free society.
Men and Women in the West Alabama Region were honored for their roles in building community and participating in the struggles for justice, equity and freedom. The awards were presented by Mr. Spiver Gordon and the Alabama Civil Rights Freedom Museum at the Martin L. King, Jr. Program held at the William M. Branch Courthouse in Eutaw, Monday, Jan. 15, 2018

The Alabama Civil Rights Museum, ANSC and other groups sponsored the annual Greene County weekend celebration of Martin Luther King’s Birthday. Spiver Gordon, President of the Museum presided at the programs.
On Monday the annual birthday breakfast was held at the Eutaw Activity Center, followed by a march and caravan to the William M. Branch Courthouse in Eutaw.
Rev. Joe Webb, Pastor of New Generation Church, was the guest speaker at the breakfast and challenged the audience to get involved in helping each other and the community instead of sitting on the sidelines complaining, back-biting and finding excuses for inaction.
At the Courthouse, Dr. Cynthia Warrick, President of Stillman College in Tuscaloosa, gave the keynote address in a program honoring the role of “godly women in the struggle for human rights”.
A group of men from Greene and surrounding counties were honored at the breakfast and a group of women at the Courthouse.

Newswire : Pastor blasts Trump’s ‘Shithole’ comments in front of Mike Pence

By Nina Golgowski, Huffington Post

Vice President Mike Pence reportedly got an earful at church on Sunday, when a pastor blasted President Donald Trump’s reported disparagement of Haiti and African countries.
Pence and his wife, Karen, were guests at the Metropolitan Baptist Church, a historically black church in Largo, Maryland. The church’s pastor, Maurice Watson, told his congregation that he felt “led by God” to speak out against the president’s comments, which he called “dehumanizing” and “ugly.”
Pastor Maurice Watson of the Metropolitan Baptist Church in Largo, Maryland, spoke out against comments that Donald Trump allegedly made against Haitians and Africans this week.
Trump reportedly told lawmakers last Thursday that he preferred immigrants from places like Norway instead of “shithole countries” like Haiti and nations in Africa ― remarks the president has subsequently denied.
Watson noted that many of his congregants come from Haiti and Africa. “I stand today as your pastor to vehemently denounce and reject any such characterizations of the nations of Africa and of our brothers and sisters in Haiti,” Watson said as the audience stood and clapped, according to a video posted to the church’s Facebook page.
“And I further say: Whoever made such a statement, whoever used such a visceral, disrespectful, dehumanizing adjective to characterize the nations of Africa, whoever said it, is wrong. And they ought to be held accountable.”
Local station WUSA-TV reported that Pence was red-faced during the sermon. The vice president’s office disputed that description to The Associated Press on Monday.

Newswire : Martin Luther King, Jr. was a champion for equity in education

By Stacy M. Brown (NNPA Newswire Contributor)

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Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King, at march in Selma, with children of Rev. Ralph Abernathy
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s influence on the Civil Rights Movement is indisputable, but his fight for equity in education remains a mystery to some. That fight began with his own education.
“He clearly had an advanced, refined educational foundation from Booker T. Washington High School, Morehouse College, Crozer Theological Seminary, and Boston University,” said Reverend Jesse Jackson, Sr., the founder of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition. “His education in his speeches and sermons and writings were apparent and he wanted us all to have that type of education.”
King completed high school at 15, college at 19, seminary school at 22 and earned a doctorate at 26.
“Dr. King laid down the case for affordable education for all Americans, including Polish children—from the ghetto and the barrios, to the Appalachian mountains and the reservations—he was a proponent for education for all and he believed that strong minds break strong chains and once you learn your lesson well, the oppressor could not unlearn you.”
Rev. Al Sharpton, the founder and president of the National Action Network (NAN), said that NAN works with Education for a Better America to partner with school districts, universities, community colleges, churches, and community organizations around the country to conduct educational programming for students and parents.
“The mission of the organization has been to build bridges between policymakers and the classrooms by supporting innovations in education and creating a dialogue between policymakers, community leaders, educators, parents, and students,” Sharpton said. “We’re promoting student health, financial literacy, and college readiness in our communities, just like Dr. King did.”
King was a figure to look up to in both civil rights and academia, Sharpton told the NNPA Newswire.
“Then, when you look at his values, he always saw education, especially in the Black community, as a tool to uplift and inspire to action,” Sharpton said. “It’s definitely no coincidence that a number of prominent civil rights groups that emerged during Dr. King’s time, were based on college campuses.”
Sharpton added that King routinely pushed for equality to access to education.
“Just as importantly, he always made a point to refer education back to character—that we shouldn’t sacrifice efficiency and speed for morals,” Sharpton said. “A great student not only has the reason and education, but a moral compass to do what’s right with his or her gifts. It’s not just important to be smart, you have to know what’s right and what’s wrong.”
Dr. Wornie Reed, the director of Race and Social Policy Research Center at Virginia Tech who marched with King, said when he thinks of King and education, he immediately considers the late civil rights leader’s advocating that “we should be the best that we could be.”
“King certainly prepared himself educationally…early on he saw that education played a crucial role in society, but perceived it as often being misused,” Reed said. “In a famous essay that he wrote for the student newspaper at Morehouse in 1947, he argued against a strictly utilitarian approach to education, one that advanced the individual and not society.”
Maryland Democratic Congressman Elijah Cummings, who remembers running home from church on Sundays to listen to King’s speeches on radio, said King had a tremendous impact on education in the Black community.
“Dr. King worked tirelessly to ensure that African Americans would gain the rights they had long been denied, including the right to a quality education,” said Cummings. “His fight for equality in educational opportunities helped to tear down walls of segregation in our nation’s schools.”
Cummings continued: “He instilled hope in us that we can achieve our dreams no matter the color of our skin. He instilled in us the notion that everyone can be great, because everyone can serve and there are so many great advocates, who embody this lesson.”
In support of education equality, civil rights leaders across the country are still working to ensure all students, regardless of color, receive access to experienced teachers, equitable classroom resources and quality education, Cummings noted further.
For example, the NAACP has done a tremendous amount, across the country, to increase retention rates, ensure students have the resources they need, and prepare students for success after graduation—whether it be for college or a specific career path, Cummings said.
During his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech in Oslo, Norway, King said: “I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality, and freedom for their spirits.”
The need for high quality education in the Black community is universal and the route to get there may be different, but education does matter, Jackson said.
“Dr. King told me he read a fiction and a non-fiction book once a week. He was an avid reader and, in the spirit of Dr. King, today we fight for equal, high-quality education,” said Jackson. “We fight for skilled trade training, affordable college education and beyond.”

Newswire : Senators Kamala Harris and Cory Booker join powerful Judiciary Committee

By Frederick H. Lowe


 Sen. Kamala Harris and Sen Cory Booker

(TriceEdneyWire.com) – Senator Kamala Harris (D-California) and Senator Cory Booker (D-New Jersey) yesterday were selected to join the Senate Judiciary Committee, a very powerful committee that plays a key role in considering U.S. Supreme Court, federal appeals court and district court nominations.
Harris replaces former Senator Al Franken (D-Minnesota) who resigned from office on January 2 after several allegations of sexual misconduct had been leveled against him. Booker’s appointment was made possible by Democrat Doug Jones’s election to the U.S. Senate following a special election in Alabama. The election gave Democrats another seat in the Senate.
Harris is the second black woman to serve on the Judiciary Committee. Former Senator Carol Moseley Braun (D-Illinois) was the first. Booker is the first black man to serve on the committee.
Booker tweeted from @corybooker : “Excited to join the Judiciary Committee. It’ll be my mission to check awful actions by Trump & Sessions; keep working to advance the cause of reforming our broken justice system; and to bend the arc of history closer toward equal justice for all.”
Harris tweeted from @SenKamalaHarris: “Thrilled to share that I’ve been appointed to the Senate Judiciary Committee. You have my commitment that I will fight for justice on behalf of Californians and all Americans.”
Republicans still have a one-seat advantage on the committee of 11 to 10. Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) is committee chair and Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California) is the ranking Democrat.
The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies hailed both appointments. “The appointment of Senators Harris and Booker to the Senate Judiciary Committee is another important step in the movement to create a more representative Senate and will have a meaningful impact on how policy is made,” said Spencer Overton, president and CEO of the Joint Center, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank for black-elected officials.
The Judiciary Committee has oversight over the Department of Justice, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and components of the Department of Homeland Security.
The committee considers legislation that impacts immigration, criminal justice and intellectual property.

Newswire : Read Oprah Winfrey’s Golden Globes Speech

By GIOVANNI RUSSONELLO, New York Times
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Oprah Winfrey accepting Golden Globes award

Oprah Winfrey accepted the Golden Globes’ Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement with a rousing acceptance speech that began as a personal reflection and ended as a call to arms.
After being introduced by Reese Witherspoon, she acknowledged the significance of becoming the first black woman to win the award, and said she hoped that the raised voices of her fellow actresses might lead to a world in which “nobody ever has to say, ‘Me too,’ again.”
Here is a full transcript of Ms. Winfrey’s speech:
Ah! Thank you. Thank you all. O.K., O.K. Thank you, Reese. In 1964, I was a little girl sitting on the linoleum floor of my mother’s house in Milwaukee, watching Anne Bancroft present the Oscar for best actor at the 36th Academy Awards. She opened the envelope and said five words that literally made history: “The winner is Sidney Poitier.” Up to the stage came the most elegant man I had ever seen. I remember his tie was white, and of course his skin was black. And I’d never seen a black man being celebrated like that. And I’ve tried many, many, many times to explain what a moment like that means to a little girl — a kid watching from the cheap seats, as my mom came through the door bone-tired from cleaning other people’s houses. But all I can do is quote and say that the explanation’s in Sidney’s performance in “Lilies of the Field”: “Amen, amen. Amen, amen.” In 1982, Sidney received the Cecil B. DeMille Award right here at the Golden Globes, and it is not lost on me that at this moment there are some little girls watching as I become the first Black woman to be given this same award.
It is an honor, and it is a privilege to share the evening with all of them, and also with the incredible men and women who’ve inspired me, who’ve challenged me, who’ve sustained me and made my journey to this stage possible. Dennis Swanson, who took a chance on me for “A.M. Chicago”; Quincy Jones, who saw me on that show and said to Steven Spielberg, “Yes, she is Sophia in ‘The Color Purple’”; Gayle, who’s been the definition of what a friend is; and Stedman, who’s been my rock — just a few to name. I’d like to thank the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, because we all know that the press is under siege these days.
But we also know that it is the insatiable dedication to uncovering the absolute truth that keeps us from turning a blind eye to corruption and to injustice. To tyrants and victims and secrets and lies. I want to say that I value the press more than ever before, as we try to navigate these complicated times. Which brings me to this: What I know for sure is that speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we all have. And I’m especially proud and inspired by all the women who have felt strong enough and empowered enough to speak up and share their personal stories. Each of us in this room are celebrated because of the stories that we tell. And this year we became the story. But it’s not just a story affecting the entertainment industry. It’s one that transcends any culture, geography, race, religion, politics or workplace.
So I want tonight to express gratitude to all the women who have endured years of abuse and assault, because they — like my mother — had children to feed and bills to pay and dreams to pursue. They’re the women whose names we’ll never know. They are domestic workers and farmworkers; they are working in factories and they work in restaurants, and they’re in academia and engineering and medicine and science; they’re part of the world of tech and politics and business; they’re our athletes in the Olympics and they’re our soldiers in the military.
And they’re someone else: Recy Taylor, a name I know and I think you should know, too. In 1944, Recy Taylor was a young wife and a mother. She was just walking home from a church service she’d attended in Abbeville, Ala., when she was abducted by six armed white men, raped and left blindfolded by the side of the road, coming home from church. They threatened to kill her if she ever told anyone, but her story was reported to the N.A.A.C.P., where a young worker by the name of Rosa Parks became the lead investigator on her case and together they sought justice. But justice wasn’t an option in the era of Jim Crow. The men who tried to destroy her were never persecuted. Recy Taylor died 10 days ago, just shy of her 98th birthday. She lived, as we all have lived, too many years in a culture broken by brutally powerful men. And for too long, women have not been heard or believed if they dared to speak their truth to the power of those men. But their time is up. Their time is up. Their time is up.
And I just hope that Recy Taylor died knowing that her truth — like the truth of so many other women who were tormented in those years, and even now tormented — goes marching on. It was somewhere in Rosa Parks’s heart almost 11 years later, when she made the decision to stay seated on that bus in Montgomery. And it’s here with every woman who chooses to say, “Me too.” And every man — every man — who chooses to listen. In my career, what I’ve always tried my best to do, whether on television or through film, is to say something about how men and women really behave: to say how we experience shame, how we love and how we rage, how we fail, how we retreat, persevere, and how we overcome. And I’ve interviewed and portrayed people who’ve withstood some of the ugliest things life can throw at you, but the one quality all of them seem to share is an ability to maintain hope for a brighter morning — even during our darkest nights.
So I want all the girls watching here and now to know that a new day is on the horizon! And when that new day finally dawns, it will be because of a lot of magnificent women, many of whom are right here in this room tonight, and some pretty phenomenal men, fighting hard to make sure that they become the leaders who take us to the time when nobody ever has to say, ‘Me too’ again. Thank you.”

Senator Doug Jones chooses Dana Gresham, an African-American with legislative experience, as Chief of Staff

 

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Sen.-elect Doug Jones (AL) announced on Tuesday that he has hired Dana Gresham as his chief of staff, which will make him the only Democratic senator to have an African-American in that position.
Gresham, a Birmingham native, has served in leadership roles in presidential administrations and for members of Congress. He led the Legislative Affairs Office at the Department of Transportation during all eight years of the Obama administration and has also worked on Capitol Hill for 14 years. He previously served as chief of staff for Congressman Artur Davis of Alabama. He also worked in the congressional offices of Bud Cramer of Alabama and Eva Clayton of North Carolina.
The two other Black chiefs of staff in the U.S. Senate both work for Republicans—Jennifer DeCasper in the office of Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) and Brennan Britton in the office of Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS).
Although African Americans account for 23% of Democratic voters, before this announcement they accounted for just 1% of top Democratic Senate staff, both of whom are legislative directors (Clint Odom in Senator Harris’s office and Roscoe Jones in Senator Feinstein’s office).  According to a 2016 report from Roll Call, only 5 percent of nearly 3,600 Senate staffers are Black.

Jones also announced three other senior staff hires Tuesday, including Mark Libell as legislative director, Ann Berry as transition adviser and Katie Campbell as deputy legislative director. All three are Alabama natives and have extensive experience working for Senators and House members.
“Today I’m proud to announce that we have recruited four outstanding individuals to join our team,” Jones said in a statement. “Each of them possesses long and impressive careers in public service, and as Alabama natives, share my commitment to the people of our state.”
The Joint Center for Political And Economic Studies, a Washington D. C. think-tank, which last week had urged Senator-elect Jones to employ a diverse staff was quick to commend his actions. Don Bell, Director of the Black Talent Initiative for the Joint Center said, “ We commend Senator-elect Jones for his leadership and commitment to diversity. This is an important moment in the movement to make the Senate truly representative of all Americans. The Joint Center looks forward to continuing to work with Senator-elect Jones as he makes diversity a priority in building the rest of his staff.”
Senator-elect Doug Jones will be filling other positions in his Washington D. C. office and district offices in the state and welcomes applicants to submit their resumes to: senatordougjonestransition.com.

Newswire : Activist Erica Garner remembered for her relentless campaign for justice

By Stacy M. Brown (NNPA Newswire Contributor)

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Erica Garner
Erica Garner, who became an activist for all who were wronged by the American justice system, died on Saturday, December 30. She was 27.
Twitter account associated with Erica Garner spoke of her compassion for humanity. CNN reported that her family is controlling the account. “When you report this you remember she was human: mother, daughter, sister, Garner’s account tweeted. “Her heart was bigger than the world. It really, really was. She cared when most people wouldn’t have. She was good. She only pursued right, no matter what. No one gave her justice.”
Garner famously and fiercely sought justice for her father, Eric Garner, who died from a police chokehold in Staten Island, New York on July 17, 2014.
She led marches and demonstrations in New York City and other places, and even appeared on national television imploring the Department of Justice to review the circumstances that led up to her father’s death.
Erica Garner’s mother, Esaw Snipes, said, “She was a fighter, she was a warrior and she lost the battle. She never recovered from when her father died,” according to CNN. Snipes said that Garner suffered from the effects of an enlarged heart after giving birth to her son three months ago, CNN reported.
“I warned her everyday, you have to slow down, you have to relax and slow down,” Snipes said.
According to Erica Garner’s Twitter account, the activist went into cardiac arrest and suffered major brain damage from a lack of oxygen.

In a statement about Erica Garner’s work as an advocate for criminal justice reform, Rev. Al Sharpton called her a warrior. Sharpton famously joined the Garner family in their push for justice against the New York City Police Department.
“Many will say that Erica died of a heart attack, but that’s only partially true because her heart was already broken when she couldn’t get justice for her father,” Sharpton said. “Her heart was attacked by a system that would choke her dad and not hold accountable those that did it.”
On a summer day in July 2014, officers approached Eric Garner whom they said was selling loose cigarettes near a store in Staten Island.
A video released showed Officer Daniel Pantaleo grabbing Garner from behind and applying a chokehold while other officers helped tackle Garner, whom family members said had asthma. On the video, in a plea that has resonated around the world, Garner is heard saying, “I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe,” repeatedly. He died shortly after the incident. A grand jury failed to indict Pantaleo and, in 2015, the city settled a civil claim by Garner’s family against New York for nearly $6 million.

Before and despite the settlement, Erica Garner pushed for justice and, with a national platform, her voice became as big as any in the fight for freedom, justice and equality.
“I had the honor of getting to know Erica and I was inspired by the commitment she made working towards a more just world for her children and future generations,” Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders tweeted. “She was a fighter for justice and will not be forgotten.” Erica Garner supported Sanders’ 2016 campaign for president, even appearing in an ad for his campaign.
“Though Erica didn’t ask to be an activist, she responded to the personal tragedy of seeing her father die while being arrested in New York City by becoming a leading proponent for criminal justice reform and for an end to police brutality,” Sanders said.
The police “killed her unarmed, nonviolent father with an illegal chokehold and got off with nary a word,” activist Brittany Packnett wrote in a Twitter post. “Erica had to fight for justice. Then for her own life…she didn’t deserve this, her father didn’t deserve this. Her family doesn’t deserve this. All this for being Black in America. I can’t.”
In a March 2015 interview on NBC News, Erica Garner spoke passionately about the Black Lives Matter movement and other protests that sought justice. She recalled the August 2014 shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., and how it wasn’t until months later, when the video of her father’s death was released, that the Eric Garner incident received national attention.
Garner described seeing her father die via a cellphone video “a thousand-million times,” and when a grand jury failed to indict police officers, she said it was time to take her fight for justice to the streets. “To me, it was just saying, ‘you know what? I’m just going to march,” she told NBC News.
Even when there weren’t television news cameras, Garner said she was determined to keep marching, to keep fighting. “That’s the most annoying question I get. People ask, ‘when will you stop marching? What do you want from marching?’ He was my father,” Erica Garner said during the interview. “I will always march.”