44th Annual Black Belt Folk Roots Festival Saturday, August 24 & Sunday, August 25, Old Courthouse Square, Eutaw, AL

Come to the only show in town where you can smile and sway to ole timey blues, enjoy the delicacies of right-off-the grill barbecue and polish sausages, feast on freshly cooked country dinners with assorted pies and cakes and then top it all off with hand churned homemade ice cream.
All this and more is happening at the annual Black Belt Folk Roots Festival on Saturday, August 24 and Sunday August 25 on the Old Courthouse Square in Eutaw, AL.
The festival features down home blues music, old timey gospel, traditional foods, handmade crafts and special events for the young people. Saturday’s events are scheduled from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. with Ole Timey Blues and dancing featuring musicians Clarence Davis, The Liberators, Russell Gulley, Terry “Harmonica” Bean, Jock Webb, Roadhouse Blues Band, Willie Halbert and the Fingerprint Band, and others.
The handmade crafts available at the festival are traditional quilts and other needle works; baskets from white oak, pine needles and corn shucks.

The assortments of down-home foods include soul food dinners, barbecue, fried fish, chicken and skins, Polish sausage, homemade ice cream, cakes and pies; snow cones, Italian ice, and more.
Ole Timey Gospel is reserved for Sunday’s festival beginning at 2:00 p.m. and featuring the The Echo Juniors, Son of Zion, The Melody Kings, The Mississippi Traveling Stars, The Golden Gates, New Generation Men of Promise, Greene County Mass Choir, The American Travelers and many others.
The Festival will also feature hands-on arts activities for the children.
“The Black Belt Folk Roots Festival is home coming time in the region. Many families, class reunions and social clubs plan their annual activities to coincide with the festival’s schedule,” stated Dr. Carol P. Zippert, festival coordinator. “The festival brings together folk artists who are considered bearers of the traditions and folkways of the West Alabama region,” she explained. “This is a festival where people truly celebrate themselves – their joys and struggles and especially ‘how we made it over,’” Zippert states.
According to Dr. Zippert, the two day festival is open to the public free of charge. The hours are Saturday, August 24, 11:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. and Sunday August 25, 2:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
The Black Belt Folk Roots Festival is supported in part by the Black Belt Community Foundation, Alabama Power Foundation and other local contributors.
The festival is produced by the Society of Folk Arts & Culture.
There is no admission fee for the Festival events.
For more information contact Carol P. Zippert at 205-372-0525;
Email: carolxzippert@aol.com

Newswire : Simone Biles smashes records, drives fans wild with Triple-Double during floor exercise

The five-time Olympic medalist became the first woman to perfect the triple-twist, double-flip move in her first pass on floor.

By Jenna Amatulli, Huffington Post

Simone Biles doing flip in the air

Simone Biles just can’t stop flipping herself into the record books.
On Saturday at the 2019 U.S. Gymnastics Championship in Kansas City, Missouri, the five-time Olympic medalist made history, becoming the first gymnast to land a double-twisting, double somersault dismount from the balance beam in a match.
Simone Biles just can’t stop flipping herself into the record books.
On Saturday at the 2019 U.S. Gymnastics Championship in Kansas City, Missouri, the five-time Olympic medalist made history, becoming the first gymnast to land a double-twisting, double somersault dismount from the balance beam in a match.
The 22-year-old had tried the move in preliminaries on Friday and didn’t exactly nail it. After shorting on the triple-twist, double-flip, she told ESPN: “I still get really frustrated because I know how good I am and how well I can do. So I just want to do the best routine for the audience and for myself out here.”
Biles’ nailing the tricky move on Sunday made her the first female gymnast to land two new moves in competition andher sixth title at the championships, tying Clara Schroth Lomady’s record set in 1952.
If Biles throws either one of her history-making moves at October’s world championships, it will be named after her.

Newswire : Congresswoman Maxine Waters Statement on Capital One Data Breach

Congresswoman Maxine Waters

WASHINGTON – Today, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Chairwoman of the House Committee on Financial Services, issued the following statement on a data breach which exposed account information of over 100 million Capital One customers.
“This data breach shows that it’s not just big technology companies and credit reporting agencies like Equifax that are vulnerable to hacking and data breaches – big banks are vulnerable targets as well. As this is not the first incident in which Capital One’s customer data was exposed, we need to understand what bank regulators have been doing to ensure that this bank, and other banks, have strong cybersecurity policies and practices. We must also understand what bank regulators are doing to ensure strong oversight of third-party technology providers that banks work with.
“As we learn more about this incident, I plan to work with my colleagues and take action in the Financial Services Committee on legislation to improve oversight of the cybersecurity of financial institutions.
“This massive data breach also underscores how important it is that the consumer credit reporting bills that the Financial Services Committee recently passed become law so that any consumer affected by a data breach is not further harmed. Among other things, the bills the Committee passed ensure that consumers can get a free copy of their credit score, provide better tools for victims of fraud, and make it easier for consumers to get errors on their reports corrected.”
On July 11 and July 16, the Financial Services Committee passed a series of consumer credit reporting bills, including:

H.R. 3642, the “Improving Credit Reporting for All Consumers Act,” introduced by Representative Alma Adams (D-NC)
Rep. Adams’ bill addresses burdens consumers experience when removing errors from their consumer reports, including by providing a new right to appeal the results of initial reviews about the accuracy or completeness of disputed items on the report. The bill empowers consumers by clarifying injunctive relief is available to ensure reporting errors are actually fixed when a consumer is harmed.
H.R. 3618, the “Free Credit Scores for Consumers Act of 2019,” introduced by Representative Joyce Beatty (D-OH)
Rep. Beatty’s bill directs the nationwide CRAs to give consumers free copies of their credit scores that are used by creditors in making credit decisions, as determined by the Consumer Bureau, or if not practicable, educational credit scores whenever consumers obtain their free annual consumer reports. A consumer can get their free credit score once a year, and they can get a free credit score if they have reason to believe that their file contains inaccurate information due to fraud.
H.R. 3622, the “Restoring Unfairly Impaired Credit and Protecting Consumers Act,” introduced by Representative Rashida Tlaib (D-MI)
Rep. Tlaib’s bill would, among other things, establish the right to free credit monitoring and identity theft protection services if a consumer is a victim of identity theft, fraud, or a related crime, or harmed by the unauthorized disclosure of the consumer’s financial or personally identifiable information.
H.R. 3614, the “Restricting Use of Credit Checks for Employment Decisions Act,” introduced by Representative Al Lawson (D-FL)
Rep. Lawson’s bill would generally prohibit employers from using credit reports for employment decisions, except when a credit report is required by local, state, or Federal law or for a national security clearance.
H.R. 3621, the “Student Borrower Credit Improvement Act,” introduced by Representative Ayanna Pressley (D-MA)
Rep. Pressley’s bill would remove adverse credit file information relating to defaulted or delinquent private education loans for borrowers who demonstrate a history of timely loan repayments for these loans. The bill would require repayment plans be affordable and reasonable, and permits reasonable interruptions in the consecutive repayment periods for those facing unique and extenuating life events, such as service members who are receiving imminent danger or other special pay duty when deployed.
H.R. 3629, the “Clarity in Credit Score Formation Act of 2019,” introduced by Representative Stephen Lynch (D-MA)
Rep. Lynch’s bill would clarify oversight of the development of credit scoring models by directing the Consumer Bureau to set standards for validating the accuracy and predictive value of credit scoring models. The bill would also require the Consumer Bureau to study the impact of having more non-traditional data on consumer reports and the use of alternative data in credit scoring models.

Newswire: Coalition pressuring Twitter to shut down White Supremacist accounts

By Barrington M. Salmon

(Official White House Photo by Tia Dufour)

White House with flag at half staff to honor victim of racially motivated violence

(TriceEdneyWire.com) – A coalition of racial justice and civil rights organizations, based in Charlottesville, Va., has launched a campaign to force Twitter to respond to widespread concerns that Twitter allows White supremacists to flourish on its platform.
The Change the Terms Coalition was deliberate in timing the launch on the eve of the second anniversary of the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville that led to the murder of activist Heather Heyer on August 12, 2017. The 32-year-old paralegal civil rights activist, was struck and killed by 22-year-old James Fields, a Neo-Nazi White supremacist who drove a car into a crowd of counter-protesters. Fields is serving a life sentence plus 419 years for the murder.
The announcement also comes on the heels of two mass shootings that killed at least 31 people in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio August 3rd and 4th respectively. The massacres have exacerbated the group’s concerns about racially motivated attacks fueled by inflammatory online hate. They say President Donald Trump is fueling the violence and called for an uprising against it.
“Donald Trump has legitimized violence and it’s time for people to stand up,” said Jessica J. González, co-founder of Change the Terms and vice president of Strategy and Senior Counsel at Free Press.
The coalition, which held a press conference by phone August 7, is demanding that Twitter ban White supremacists and adopt model corporate policies.
“White supremacists fundraise, recruit and normalize the murder of marginalized people,” said González. “We’ve been working with Big Tech to accept our demands. But Twitter is slow to change. It’s the only platform that has failed to commit to banning White supremacists. David Duke, a former grand wizard of the KKK, is one there as is Richard Spencer and key organizers.”
Richard Spencer is a widely known neo-Nazi and president of the National Policy Institute, a White Supremacist Think Tank. Spencer was the leader of the torch-lit march in Charlottesville the evening before the death of Heather Heyer.
The Change the Terms Coalition includes more than 55 human-rights, civil-rights and digital-rights groups. They include Free Press, the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Center for American Progress, Color of Change, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, MediaJustice, Muslim Advocates and the National Hispanic Media Coalition. It has called on Twitter and other online companies to develop more comprehensive policies to disrupt hate and racism on their platforms and has also urged these platforms to adopt the model corporate policies that Change the Terms has developed.
“When Twitter gives well-known White supremacists a platform, even after they have been deemed too extreme by Facebook and YouTube, their company becomes complicit in normalizing racism and the hateful acts inspired by it,” said González, vice president of strategy and senior counsel at Free Press and co-founder of Change the Terms. “Twitter must tell White supremacists they cannot rely on the platform to espouse harmful rhetoric, intimidate, and plan more attacks.”
Brandi Collins-Dexter, senior campaign director of Color of Change, agreed.
“From Charlottesville two years ago to El Paso this week, we’ve seen the tragic outcomes of White nationalism spreading on Twitter, made even more dangerous every time Trump is allowed to tweet his bigoted rhetoric,” she said. “White nationalists use Twitter every day to harass Black people and users from marginalized communities, to build power and organizational strength, and to amplify violent ideologies in this country. It’s time for Jack Dorsey and Twitter’s leadership to get over their fear of conservative backlash and fully stamp out discrimination on the platform. Our civil rights should not be negotiable.”
Dr. Avis Jones-DeWeever, president of the diversity consultant firm, Incite Unlimited, cites statistics which illustrate the danger White extremism poses:
According to the most recent FBI data, the number of hate crimes in America has increased three years in a row, jumping about 17 percent in one year alone.
The number of White supremacist groups in America has soared 30 percent in the last four years.
White supremacists account for nearly three out of four murderous terrorist acts in the U.S.
Counties that hosted a Trump rally during his run for president in 2016 have subsequently experienced a 226 percent jump in hate crimes.
“It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see the correlation between the political rise of Trump (his campaign run in the primaries, the general election and his time in office), his specific policy negligence around white terrorism, the white supremacist language he infuses in his rhetoric on a daily basis, and the rise in white nationalist violence that has ensued,” Jones-DeWeever said. “When we refuse to speak this truth, we fuel white terrorism. We not only allow it to exist, we also allow it to thrive.”
González, who moderated the August 7 conference call, said Twitter is a space that allows key White nationalist influencers to operate. Reportedly, there are at least 100,000 verified accounts of racists and White extremists who are sophisticated and organized.
“There are 173,000 tweets, 4,000 per white supremacist account and twitter has not removed them,” González said. “Twitter talks a good game while vile, racist extremists continue to spew hate. Latinos have been targeted because of Donald Trump. People are scared to go to school, grocery store, other places because of the color of our skins.”
González said Latino communities including where she lives have been profoundly affected by the shooting in El Paso on August 3. Patrick Crusius, a 21-year-old White man drove more than six hours from Dallas to El Paso “to kill Mexicans.”
González said fear has increased exponentially among her friends, family and neighbors and in Latino communities since the killer, who admitted that he is an anti-immigrant white nationalist and Trump supporter, opened fire in a Walmart, killing 22 people and wounded dozens of others.
The coalition notes that a range of Unite the Right organizers and associated White-nationalist influencers continue to benefit from their presence on Twitter. This includes key rally organizers like Richard Spencer, Evan McLaren and Tony Hovater; so-called alt-right podcasters and YouTubers who broadcast live from the rally like Faith Goldy and Mike Peinovich; and figureheads of hate like former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke, who attended and broadcast from the deadly rally, and continue to enjoy unfettered use of their Twitter accounts.
Twitter, for its part, released a statement last week saying that it is researching whether white supremacists should be banned or allowed to continue operating on its platform. Vijaya Gadde, Twitter’s head of trust and safety, legal and public policy said in published reports that the research aims to understand the effectiveness of both removing such individuals, as well as allowing them to remain online to be debated by others.
Gadde said in an interview with Motherboard that Twitter is working with academics to see if it can be confirmed that “counter-speech and conversation are a force for good” and “can act as a basis for de-radicalization,” which is Twitter’s current position. She also added that Twitter has seen evidence on other platforms that radical viewpoints can change through an exchange of ideas.

50th anniversary commemoration of Greene County Freedom Day honors footsoldiers of the civil rights movement

Special to the Democrat by: John Zippert,
Co-Publisher

On the weekend of July 27 and 28, the Alabama Civil Rights Movement Museum sponsored a series of events to commemorate ‘Greene County Freedom Day’ on July 29, 1969.
This is the date of a special election ordered by the U. S. Supreme Court in which four Black county commissioners and two Black school board members were elected countywide in Greene County.
With this election, Greene County became the first county in America where Black people took political control of a county government since passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
Over the years, many other counties in the Black Belt of Alabama and other southern states also elected Black officials and some took control of their local governments. As Rev. Wendell Paris, guest speaker at the Sunday mass meeting said,
“What the people of Greene County did fifty years ago was what democracy is all about – openly and fairly voting – to choose your own political leaders.”
Spiver W. Gordon, President of the Movement Museum said, ”We want this celebration to honor the footsoldiers, the ordinary grassroots people of Greene County who summoned the courage and did the organizing work, precinct by precinct,to elect their own folks to political offices that made decisions for the entire county.”
On Saturday, the Museum unveiled two monuments to young people who boycotted the schools in 1965 and started the movement and for two African-American sisters – Annie Thomas and Rosie Carpenter – who allowed their home to be used as a resting and meeting place for civil rights workers.
At the Saturday banquet and the Sunday mass meeting the work of footsoldiers was highlighted and many received certificates of appreciation for fifty years of work and involvement in the civil rights struggle.
At the banquet on Saturday at the Eutaw Activity Center, Veronica Morton Jones, Circuit Clerk, gave the welcome and said, “ I brought my children to the program at the monument unveiling this morning and we learned so much history of our home county that we did not know about.”
Bill Edwards, who worked with Dr. John Cashin and the National Democratic Party of Alabama at the time of the 1969 Special Election, pointed out, “Judge Herndon deliberately left the names of the NDPA Black candidates off the November 1968 General Election ballot. Dr. Cashin had to carry Greene County officials to court for this injustice against democracy. The case went to the Supreme Court on appeal and the highest court in the land ordered a new special election on July 29, 1969. This is what we are here to celebrate tonight.”
Circuit Judge John H. England, who served as legal counsel for the new commission gave greetings and told of his experiences in working with Greene County. “ I learned from Greene County and pursued a career as a Tuscaloosa City Councilman, Circuit Judge, Alabama Supreme Court Justice and a member of the Board of Trustees of the University of Alabama,” said England.
Lanz Alexander an SCLC Board member from Los Angeles, and Johnnie Knott, former Circuit Clerk of the county, also brought greetings. Judge Dexter Wimbush of Griffin, Georgia gave a keynote stressing the themes of jobs, justice and Jesus.
Renetta Gail Brown, daughter of Dr. Robert Brown, the first Black School Superintendent of Greene County spoke about her experiences integrating the schools. “Greene County deserves to have a movie made about our contributions to the civil rights movement, just like Selma, we should have a movie,” she said.
Sunday’s Mass Meeting was held at the William McKinley Branch Courthouse, name in honor of our first Black Probate Judge. Current Probate Judge, Rolanda Wedgeworth, gave the welcome.
Sarah Duncan, a footsoldier made remarks saying, “ It has been a long hard journey to freedom; don’t stop now; keep on going, we made Greene County a better place for all people.” Jaqueline B. Allen, Rev. John Kennard and Commissioner Lester “Bop” Brown also gave greetings.
Former State Senator Hank Sanders of Selma, said, ”I commend Brother Spiver Gordon for working to preserve the history of Greene County. If we do not study and recognize our history, we will not know where we were, where we are or where we are going. If we don’t stand on our history, our history will stand on us.”
Chief Warhorse Gillum of Slidell, Louisiana brought greetings on behalf of the Black Indians. She said, “You need to look around you to see the contributions of the Black Indians in the mounds at Moundville and the name of Tuscaloosa, the Black Warrior chieftain.”
Dr. Carol P. Zippert introduced Wendell H. Paris the guest speaker. As part of her introduction she said, “The Greene County Board of Education has passed a policy that Black history and Greene County history be incorporated across the curriculum in every subject. But, we are having problems getting our teachers to understand and incorporate this history into their lesson plans. We must teach our history in our homes, churches and communities.”
Rev. Wendell H. Paris, Director of Member’s Care for the New Hope Baptist Church of Jackson, Mississippi gave the message. He highlighted three points, first, that the providential hand of God was involved in changing Greene County, second, that God helped people to see and participate in his political will, and third Greene County was one of the pockets of power, than Dr. King pointed out and God worked his will in changing. Greene County helped set an example for many other counties in the Black Belt.”
Persons interested in supporting the continuing work of the Alabama Civil Rights Movement Museum, may contact: Spiver W. Gordon, P. O. Box 385, Eutaw, Alabama 35462, phone 205-372-3446; or email: spriverwgordon@hotmail.com.

School board hires additional personnel

At an emergency call meeting held July 31, 2019, the Greene County Board of Education added additional personnel to its school rosters. The board approved the following personnel recommendations of Superintendent Dr. Corey Jones:
Valerie Moore, Physical Education Teacher, Eutaw Primary School; Lakeisha Johnson, Pre-k Auxiliary Teacher, Eutaw Primary School; Dotha Williams, Long-term Substitute Special Needs Teacher, Robert Brown Middle School; Glenda Hodges, Long-Term Substitute, Special Education Collaborate Teacher; Sanjanika Prince, Long-term Substitute Elementary Teacher, Robert Brown Middle School; Andrea Perry, from 10 ½ month employee to 11 month employee; Dorothy Branch, Long-term Substitute 4th Grade Teacher, Robert Brown Middle School; Ginger Glass, English Teacher, Robert Brown Middle School; Tyler Mitchell, Social Science Teacher, Greene County High School; Mattie Underwood, Bus Aide, Department of Transportation; Frances McGee, CNP Manager, Greene County High School; Nkenge Reynolds, Social Studies, Robert Brown Middle School; Russell Rivers, Automotive, Greene County Career Center.
The board approved the voluntary transfer of Gwendolyn Webb, Pre-K 2 Auxiliary Teacher to Pre-K Auxiliary 1 Teacher, at Eutaw Primary School.
The following resignations were approved by the board: Shequeria Wright, Pre-K Auxiliary Teacher, Eutaw Primary School, effective immediately; Katlin Whittle, Visual Art Teacher, Eutaw Primary School; Ruby Bell, Social Science Teacher, Greene County High School, effective immediately; Korto Dapolar, Science Teacher, Greene County High School, effective July 16, 2019; Barbara Burroughs, Bus Driver, Department of Transportation, effective August 31, 2019; Cheerleader Sponsor, Supplemental Contract, Linda Little, for the 2019-2020 school year.
A supplemental contract was approved for Lurena Smith as Greene County High School Cheerleader Sponsor for the 2019-2020 school year.

Newswire : Unexpected struggles in the fight against Ebola

By Global Information Network

Health educator shows Ebola fighter

The battle to knock out the Ebola virus should have its eyes on the goal. Instead, politics and a divisive struggle between two drug makers has interfered. A key health minister in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has resigned in protest.
In his resignation letter, Health Minister Oly Ilunga Kalenga condemned President Felix Tshisekedi ‘s takeover of the country’s Ebola response, removing him as head of the Ebola response team.
He also criticized what he described as outside pressure to roll out a second experimental Ebola vaccine.
Oly Ilunga Kalenga defended the work of his ministry, saying it had communicated daily on the situation in the ongoing outbreak “to reassure and show the world that the country is managing this epidemic.”
But on Saturday, Tshisekedi’s administration announced that direct supervision of the Ebola response was being placed with a team of experts under the direction of Jean Jacques Muyembe Tamfum, director-general of the DRC’s National Institute for Biomedical Research (NIBR) and a microbiologist at the University of Kinshasa’s medical school. Tamfum has studied Ebola and responded to outbreaks for more than 40 years.
The change in leadership came days after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the Ebola outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. “There is no sign of this epidemic slowing down. We therefore welcome the DRC President’s bold decision to change strategy and bring the Ebola response under his direct supervision,” Peter Piot, director of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said in a statement.
Since August 2018, the DRC has recorded more than 2,500 cases of Ebola and, among them, more than 1,700 deaths.
In his resignation letter, Kalenga attacked efforts to launch trials of an experimental vaccine made by Johnson & Johnson (J&J) in the country. A Merck & Co. vaccine is already in use there.
Groups backing the use of the J&J vaccine include the Wellcome Trust, Doctors Without Borders, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), WHO, J&J, and NIBR.
But there are important differences from Merck’s vaccine that have to be taken into account, he said. Made from a live, replicating virus, Merck’s vaccine mounts protection against Ebola in about 10 days. While the J&J immunization appears to raise the body’s defenses for the long-term, it’s administered in two shots, about two months apart.
“We have developed a vaccine for a time of peace,” said Paul Stoffels, J&J’s chief scientific officer. He worked in clinics in poor African communities in Congo and elsewhere for years before coming to the company.
How much, if any, protection a person gets from the first shot before getting the second isn’t clear. Ensuring people are fully vaccinated with the two-shot regimen would be challenging among mobile populations, especially in people fleeing conflict, and could stoke suspicions.

Newswire: Homes of Harriet Tubman, Langston Hughes among sites to be reserved by 1.6 million grant

By The Oakland Post

Harriet Tubman’s home in Auburn, NY


The National Trust for His­toric Preservation recently announced that $1.6 million in grants will go towards its African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund to pro­tect 22 Black sites and orga­nizations.
The grants—which were provided by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation—will financially support the orga­nization’s African American fund which was designed to bring unsung narratives about the Black experience to the forefront by protecting and restoring places that are embedded in the fabric of Af­rican American history. The funds will go towards project planning, capacity building and programming.
The non-profit trust has been dedicated to preserving Black sites throughout the country and the organization is furthering its mission to ensure that these landmarks are conserved.
Amongst the 22 sites that were selected are the African Meeting House in Boston which is known to be the old­est Black church in Amer­ica; Mississippi’s Emmett and Mamie Till Interpretive Center which was created in memoriam of the teen who was tragically murdered; Harriet Tubman’s former home in Auburn, New York; Langston Hughes’ former house in Harlem; the home of Negro League Baseball star Satchel Paige in Kansas City, MO; the Wright Build­ing in Florida which was a grocery and general store for African Americans that featured Black vendors and The Emanuel African Meth­odist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C., which was the site of the racially moti­vated 2015 shooting of nine black parishioners.
“The recipients of this funding shine a light on once lived stories and Black cul­ture, some familiar and some yet untold, that weave togeth­er the complex story of Amer­ican history in the United States,” Brent Leggs, Execu­tive Director of the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund, said in a state­ment.
“Beyond saving important African American heritage sites, the Action Fund is help­ing Americans understand more deeply who we are as a nation,” said Mellon Foun­dation President Elizabeth Alexander. “We applaud the ongoing work of the Action Fund in calling greater atten­tion to the diversity of Ameri­can history and lifting up narratives that have been too long neglected or forgotten.”
The Action Fund has grant­ed a total of $2.7 million since its launch in November 2017.
News about the grants comes shortly after the orga­nization launched a campaign to preserve songstress Nina Simone’s childhood home. The campaign was backed by Issa Rae, Talib Kweli, Maher­shala Ali, John Legend and other stars.
Aside from its work to protect historical Black land­marks, the nonprofit has been focused on diversifying the preservation industry. In an effort to develop career path­ways for the next generation of aspiring preservationists of color, the organization creat­ed a program that gives young African Americans first-hand experience with the restora­tion of landmarks.

Newswire: Nearly 100 percent of Trump funds designed to help farmers went to white farmers

By Paola Rosa-Aquino

Black Farmer

President Trump has made a big deal out of his admiration for farmers, calling them “some of the most incredible people in our country,” and “patriots.” But, based on newly acquired data on federal subsidies from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, his administration may not have been thinking of all farmers — mostly just the rich, white ones.
According to Freedom of Information Act requests filed by New Food Economy, the Trump administration funneled 99.5 percent of funds from its approximately year-old Market Facilitation Program, the largest current source of federal farm subsidies, to white farm operators.
Trump announced the MFP last summer as a means of softening the blow of the ongoing trade war with China, allocating $12 billion in direct payments to growers. As of May 15 of this year, the USDA had disbursed more than $8.5 billion from program to farm operations, primarily to soy, corn, wheat, cotton, and sorghum growers, Reuters reports.
According to a Department of Agriculture census, there were around 45,000 black farmers in the U.S. in 2017; compare that to nearly 1 million black farmers in 1910. Even though most farmers today are white (3.2 million, or 95 percent of farmers), Black farms tend to be smaller and generate less income compared to white farms.
It’s not yet clear if farmers of color applied to the program at the same rate as their white counterparts, but the distribution of funds still reveals disparities between white and black farmers in certain regions. In Mississippi, for instance, where 38 percent of the state’s population is black, about 14 percent of farms have a black principal operator, according to the 2017 Census of Agriculture; however, only 1.4 percent of the $200 million in MFP funds distributed to farmers in the Magnolia state went to black operators.
The funding disparities didn’t just have to do with race: According to a new reportreleased on Tuesday by the nonprofit Environmental Working Group, the vast majority of MFP funds went to the wealthiest 10 percent of recipients — the country’s biggest and most successful farmers.
“It seems as though many have turned a deaf ear to America’s small farmers and black farmers alike,” said John Boyd, founder and president of the Black Farmers Association, when he testified before the House Committee on Financial Services earlier this month.
“Anytime the government gets involved, when they say it’s going to be a speedy payment to farmers, it’s always last for African American farmers, it’s always last for Latino farmers, for small-scale farmers, and for women farmers,” he said.
The USDA did not respond to Grist’s request for comment.
For the many U.S. farmers whose crops’ primary market is China, having access to federal subsidies to help them deal with the country’s trade wars is a make-or-break benefit. Growers already deal with a plethora of issues, such as falling farm income and commodity prices, rising debt and floods that disrupt crop growth. And suffice to say, it’s not just white farmers who are suffering.
The USDA has a long history of discrimination against farmers of color. A 1994 report commissioned by the department itself said “minorities received less than their fair share of USDA money for crop payments, disaster payments, and loans.
“For many years, the USDA systematically favored white farmers by denying or delaying loans to Black farmers,” wrote Scott Faber, senior vice president of the Environmental Working Group, in the organization’s latest report.
And as to the latest on the MFP: Last week, President Trump unveiled plans to greenlight $16 billion as part of the second year of the program. About $14.5 billion of those funds will be in the form of direct payments to growers.

Newswire : Obama calls for gun control: ‘We are not helpless’ to stop attacks

CASEY DARNELL, Yahoo News

Former President Barack Obama

Former President Barack Obama called for stricter gun control laws in a Monday statement after two mass shootings over the weekend left more than 30 people dead in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio.
“We are not helpless here,” Obama said in a statement posted on Twitter. “And until all of us stand up and insist on holding public officials accountable for changing our gun laws, these tragedies will keep happening.”
Obama said the El Paso shooting followed a “dangerous trend” of violence motivated by racist ideologies. He compared white supremacist websites to terrorist groups like ISIS and called on law enforcement and internet platforms to reduce the influence of hate groups.
The El Paso shooting is being investigated as a possible hate crime after an anti-immigrant “manifesto” posted online was connected to the alleged gunman. Posts on 8chan, an online messaging board used by right-wing extremists, have also been connected to the alleged gunman. Law enforcement officials said on Saturday that the suspect told them he wanted to shoot as many Mexicans as possible.
Obama also called on Americans to “soundly reject language coming out of the mouths of any of our leaders that feeds a climate of fear and hatred or normalizes racist sentiments.” He didn’t specify which leaders he was talking about. President Trump is known for anti-immigrant rhetoric, repeatedly referring to a migrant caravan at the U.S.-Mexico border as an “invasion.”
Obama noted that hateful rhetoric and language that demonizes others isn’t new but has been at the “root of most human tragedy.”
“It has no place in our politics and our public life,” he wrote. “And it’s time for the overwhelming majority of Americans of goodwill, of every race and faith and political party, to say as much — clearly and unequivocally.”
Obama also called on Americans to “soundly reject language coming out of the mouths of any of our leaders that feeds a climate of fear and hatred or normalizes racist sentiments.” He didn’t specify which leaders he was talking about. President Trump is known for anti-immigrant rhetoric, repeatedly referring to a migrant caravan at the U.S.-Mexico border as an “invasion.”
Obama noted that hateful rhetoric and language that demonizes others isn’t new but has been at the “root of most human tragedy.”
“It has no place in our politics and our public life,” he wrote. “And it’s time for the overwhelming majority of Americans of goodwill, of every race and faith and political party, to say as much — clearly and unequivocally.”
Trump delivered remarks at the White House on Monday morning, condemning the attacks as “evil” and “wicked.” While he cited “racist hate” in the manifesto, he blamed the shootings on mental illness, violent video games and the internet.
“We must recognize that the internet has provided a dangerous avenue to radicalize disturbed minds and perform demented acts,“ Trump said. “We must shine light on the dark recesses of the internet and stop mass murders before they start.”