Newswire :  National prison strike sheds light on harsh inmate treatment

By Barrington M. Salmon

 

 

(TriceEdneyWire.com) – In an extraordinary display of defiance, inmates from penal institutions in 17 states and Canada have gone on strike to protest treatment by prison guards and rejection of a system they condemn as brutal and abusive. Prison reform advocates say the 19-day strike is the biggest of its type in history. Among the protestors’ 10 demands are that they be treated like human beings, that the arbitrary use of force and punitive measures by guards be scaled back and that prison officials put in place measures that will give them a greater say in affairs that concern and affect them. The strike began on August 21 and is slated to end on Sept 9. The 19 days of peaceful protest was organized largely by prisoners themselves, said a spokesman for Jailhouse Lawyers Speak (JLS), steered by an abolitionist coalition that includes Jailhouse Lawyers Speak, the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC), the Fire Inside Collective, Millions for Prisoners and the Free Alabama Movement. JLS activists began preparing the action in April after prison officials in South Carolina put rival gangs in the same dormitory which ignited an outbreak of violence leaving seven inmates dead. Representatives of the largely Black population of striking prisoners said inmates are refusing to work in prison buildings, kitchens, laundries and on prison grounds. Palestinian inmates have expressed solidarity and about 300 prisoners in Nova Scotia, Canada also joined the strike. Nicole Porter, director of Advocacy for The Sentencing Project, called the strike unprecedented, saying that it’s a cry by inmates to be seen and heard. “We’ve had strikes and prison actions in the past, but the scale of this strike is new. We’ve seen incidents of in-prison activism and organized acts of resistance but we’re in new territory for this,” she said. “This strike is important to look at because it is a response to clashes in a South Carolina prison and severely inhumane conditions there and elsewhere. We need to recognize that people don’t lose humanity when they’re behind bars. Resistance is a part of US history. They carry history and the history of activism. It’s important for officials to listen to these activists and seriously consider some of their recommendations.” A JLS statement released before the strike, said, “Fundamentally, it’s a human rights issue… Prisoners understand they are being treated as animals. Prisons in America are a warzone. Every day prisoners are harmed due to conditions of confinement. For some of us, it’s as if we are already dead, so what do we have to lose?” Bill Fletcher, Jr., a veteran labor union organizer, said the strike highlights the problem of widespread abuses in the prison system that generally go unnoticed by the larger society, which he believes harbors a deep-seated bias against people behind bars. “I think this is really quite phenomenal,” he said of the strike action. “The problem is that it has gotten so little attention but the attention it has gotten is significant. The larger problem is that we are a society that believes in vengeance, not justice. People’s general position is, ‘Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time.’” Fletcher adds, “A related issue is that the prisoners, because they are for the most part people of color, they are denied their human rights and humanity.” Fletcher, a talk show host, author and racial justice, labor and international activist, said there has been a slow erosion of prisoner rights since the 1970s and the emergence of the belief that rehabilitation is a waste of time and unfair to those who aren’t in prison. In an August 22 press conference, media representatives of the striking inmates said information about the scope of the strike would trickle in slowly. “We want to note that although there aren’t widespread reports of actions coming out of prisons, people need to understand that the tactics being used in this strike are not always visible,” said Jared Ware a freelance journalist who was asked to be part of team that coordinated with the press. “Prisoners are boycotting commissaries, they are engaging in hunger strikes which can take days for the state to acknowledge, and they will be engaging in sit-ins and work strikes which are not always reported to the outside. As we saw in 2016, Departments of Corrections are not reliable sources of information for these actions and will deny them and seek to repress those who are engaged in them.” Ware said, “We have spoken with family members who have suggested that cell phone lines may be jammed at multiple prisons in South Carolina. And New Mexico had a statewide lockdown yesterday. The departments of corrections in this country are working overtime to try and prevent strike action and to try and prevent word from getting out about actions that are taking place.” Although the United States represents one-fifth of the world’s population, 2.3 million people are incarcerated, the highest in the world. Estimates are that about 60 percent of that population is African-American or Latino. Those numbers could ratchet up with Attorney General Jeff Sessions, at the behest of President Donald Trump, relaunching the failed War on Drugs and giving state attorneys and law enforcement the green light to crack down on criminal suspects even for non-violent crimes, critics believe. The Prison-Industrial Complex is a sprawling entity that relies heavily on inmates’ labor to produce goods and services for an assortment of companies, including major businesses and corporations such as Whole Foods, Starbucks, McDonalds, Wal Mart, Victoria’s Secret and AT&T. While it is a more than $2 billion enterprise, many inmates literally work for pennies and others labor for free, said Dr. Kim Wilson. “Exploitation of prison labor is at the heart of this strike,” said Dr. Wilson, a prison abolitionist and co-host of the podcast, ‘Beyond Prisons.’ I don’t want people to get the idea that this is an at-will job. It isn’t a system where people have a choice to work. Some people are making zero and nearer to the release date, you are expected and required to work.” Courtney Stewart, a prison reform advocate released from prison in 1985 and chair of the National Reentry Network for Returning Citizens in Washington, DC, said the prisoners who went on strike had no choice. “The thing is that these people, the corporations who make up the Prison-Industrial Complex, have been getting away with murder for a long time,” Stewart said. “They’ve been able to sustain the Prison-Industrial Complex and they have ruined generations and generations of the Black community. It’s been so devastating and we still haven’t recovered.” “Using the school-to-prison pipeline and the War on Drugs, these people are criminalizing and have imprisoned Black men, women and children. It’s profit over people and power and money in this capitalist, white-privileged society we live in. They don’t see any value in the black family or Black people. They always throw pennies when it comes to fixing the African American community. We have to address this with force and radicalism. There has to be a radical revolution in how to address this.” Dr. Wilson agreed. “I’m a prison abolitionist. I see prisons as part and parcel of problem,” said Dr. Wilson, who has two of her sons serving life sentences at Vaughn Correctional Facility in Delaware. “I don’t know how they (prison guards) sleep at night. But those individual people are part of a larger system. I’m more concerned with the system as a whole.” “We want an end to the physical places we call prisons and conditions that make it possible in our society. But we can’t do that without addressing the underlying issues of racism, anti-blackness, capitalism, gender violence, ableism and other issues deeply implicated in the broader prison system. We must take seriously the things the prisoners are saying.”

Bingo facilities contribute $368,655 to local entities for July

 

Shown above: Rhonda French representing the Greene County Commission, Forkland Mayor Charlie McCalpine, Sharon Washington representing the Greene County Board of Education, Chief Derick Coleman representing the City of Eutaw, Officer McKinley representing Greene County Sheriff Jonathan Benison, Union City Councilwoman Louise Harkness, JoAnn Cameron representing the Greene County Health System and Bingo Clerk Emma Jackson.

On Tuesday, August 14, 2018, Greene County Sheriff Department reported a total distribution of $368,655 for the month of June from the five licensed gaming operations in the county. The recipients of the monthly distributions from bingo gaming designated by Sheriff Benison in his Bingo Rules and Regulations include the Greene County Commission, the Greene County Sheriff’s Department, the cities of Eutaw, Forkland, Union, Boligee, the Greene County Board of Education and the Greene County Hospital (Health System). The following assessments are for the month of July 2018. Greenetrack, Inc. gave a total of $60,000 to the following: Greene County Commission, $24,000; Greene County Sheriff’s Department, $9,000; City of Eutaw, $4,500; and the Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $3,000; Greene County Board of Education, $13,500. Green Charity (Center for Rural Family Development) gave a total of $67,500 to the following: Greene County Commission, $24,000; Greene County Sheriff’s Department, $9,000; City of Eutaw, $4,500; and the Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $3,000; Greene County Board of Education, $13,500, the Greene County Health System, $7,500. Frontier (Dream, Inc.) gave a total of $67,500 to the following: Greene County Commission, $24,000; Greene County Sheriff’s Department, $9,000; City of Eutaw, $4,500; and the Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $3,000; Greene County Board of Education, $13,500, Greene County Health System, $7,500. River’s Edge (NNL – Next Level Leaders and TCCTP – Tishabee Community Center Tutorial Program) gave a total of $74,325 to the following: Greene County Commission, $24,000; Greene County Sheriff’s Department, $9,000; City of Eutaw, $4,500; and the Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $3,000; Greene County Board of Education, $13,500, and the Greene County Health System, $14,325. Palace (Tommy Summerville Police Support League) gave a total of $99,330 to the following: Greene County Commission, $4,620; Greene County Sheriff’s Department, $36,960; City of Eutaw, $27,720; and the Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $4,620; Greene County Board of Education, $4,620 and the Greene County Health System, $11,550.

Federation honors memory of Ralph Paige at 51st Annual Meeting

Pictured above are members of the Paige family including wife Bernice, children Bernard and Kenyatta, and grandchildren on stage with Federation Executive Director, Cornelius Blanding and members of the organization’s Board of Directors. Cornelius Blanding discusses plans for cooperative development curriculum with President Quentin Ross of Alabama State University. The Rural Coalition presents a certificate to the Federation for its 50th anniversary. L to R Shirley Blakley, Chair of Federation Board, Lorette Picciano, Rural Coalition, John Zippert, Rural Coalition Board, Darnella Burkett Winston, Rural Coalition Board, Cornelius Blanding, Federation Executive Director.

The Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund honored the memory of its longtime Executive Director, Ralph Paige, who served for thirty yeas from 1985-2015. He was awarded its Estelle Witherspoon Lifetime Achievement Award on Thursday night in Birmingham at the beginning of the organization’s 51st Annual Meeting. Several speakers at the Witherspoon Award banquet celebrated Ralph Paige’s 46 years of work and service to the movement for Black farmers, land and cooperative development that symbolized the work of the Federation. Paige died recently at the age of 74. The Federation’s Board of Directors met Thursday in Birmingham to review the program direction and finances of the organization. Two Roundtables one on Cooperative Development and one on Land Retention were also held in Birmingham. Quentin Ross, President of Alabama State University in Montgomery spoke at the Cooperative Roundtable of working with the Federation on developing a cooperative education curriculum for the students at ASU including internships with Federation member cooperatives and credit unions. The Federation has developed and is in the process of implementing a similar program with Tuskegee University. On Friday and Saturday the site of the meeting shifted to the Federation’s Rural Training and Research Center, near Epes, in Sumter County, Alabama. Friday’s program began with a panel of USDA program experts who both presented about their programs and answered questions from the audience of farmers and landowners. There was a lively interchange of views between USDA officials and their farmer stakeholders on issues of agricultural tariffs, program eligibility, focusing resources on new and beginning farmers and other relevant issues. State Senator Hank Sanders of Selma was the lunchtime speaker and among other remarks, he introduced his daughter, Malika Sanders Fortier, who is running to fill his position as State Senator for District 24 in the November 6 General Election. Several members of Federation related cooperatives gave five-minute testimonials on their experience working with the Federation and how it helped to improve their family income and quality of life. There were more educational workshops, demonstration farm and forestry tours and a fish fry, food tasting, auction and entertainment to close out the Friday activities. The program on Saturday began with a Prayer Breakfast at which Rev. Wendell Paris, a past staff member, spoke to the importance of the work of the Federation and the “sacred ground” that the Federation’s training center was built upon. A business meeting, report from the Board and Cornelius Blanding, Executive Director, state caucus discussions on program needs and direction, and the awarding of five $1,000 scholarships to high school graduates for their first year of college rounded out the program.

Newswire:  President Truman integrated the armed forces 70 years ago

By Frederick H. Lowe

President Harry Truman

President Harry S. Truman issued an executive order 70 years ago June 26, 1948, desegregating the United States armed forces, which provided more opportunities for Black women and Black men, and my father, Mitchell Lowe, was one of them. Executive Order No.9981 stated that “it is hereby declared to be the policy of the President that there be equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed services without regard to race, color, religion or national origin.” My father served in the Army 21 years, retiring at the rank of Chief Warrant Officer. Black men have fought for this country since its founding. Crispus Attucks, a black man, was killed during the Boston Massacre on March 5, 1770, making him the first casualty of the American Revolution. Throughout the nation’s racist history, most blacks were assigned to segregated military units, where they were paid less than white soldiers. Black soldiers duties were mostly limited to cooking and cleaning. Some staff officers resisted Truman’s order, and the military did not become fully integrated until the Korean War (1950 to 1953) when the high number of casualties forced integration, according to the Truman Library and Museum in Independence, Missouri. Truman’s order also established the President’s Committee on Equality of Treatment and opportunity in the Armed Services. Truman had been mulling integration of the armed services since 1947 when he appointed the President’s Committee on Civil Rights. In 1948, a White House memo indicated the president was ready to do it. The National Democratic Convention that year provided the opportunity when delegates approved a plank calling for desegregation of the armed forces. During a recent presentation and discussion at the Truman Library & Museum broadcast on CSPAN’s “Book TV,” Rawn James Jr., author of “Double V: How Wars, Protest and Harry Truman, Desegregated America’s Military,” said Truman also decided to integrate the armed forces after learning about Isaac Woodard, Jr., a 26-year-old U.S. Army World War 11 veteran who had been brutally beaten by white cops. Woodard, a sergeant, who had been honorably discharged, was riding a bus from Augusta, Georgia to Winnsboro, South Carolina, on February 26, 1946, to meet his wife. When the bus stopped, Woodard asked the bus driver if he had enough time to use the bathroom. The driver of the Greyhound Bus became angry and said no. He and Woodard, who was wearing his Army uniform, got into an argument. When the bus reached Batesburg, South Carolina, Sheriff Linwood Shull and other cops dragged Woodard off the bus and repeatedly jabbed him in both eyes with their police batons, blinding him. The beating was reported to Truman by NAACP leaders in a meeting at the White House on September 19, 1946. Truman was shocked and both opened a Justice Department investigation into the case and promised to create what would become the President’s Committee on Civil Rights, the first national civil rights commission. Another factor that may have influenced Truman’s decision to integrate the armed forces occurred during World War II. Nazis dropped fliers over camps in Europe where black troops were stationed, urging them to join the German army because of the racism and violence they faced in America. “There have never been lynchings of colored men in Germany. They have always been treated decently,” said the Nazi leaflet, dropped on African-American soldiers fighting across Europe.” We now know that more than 4,400 black men, women and children were lynched in 12 Southern States between 1877 and 1950. Another German leaflet said, “Uncle Sam’s colored soldiers are just cannon fodder!” Black men fought for Germany during World War II, but they were native born Germans.

Newswire : Civil Rights leaders call for full examination of Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh’s record before confirmation

( WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Six prominent African-American civil rights leaders sent a letter today to Senate leaders to express their concern that the Senate is not meeting its responsibility to fully and impartially evaluate the fitness of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. The letter, addressed to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles Grassley, demands that Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing be delayed until his full record has been carefully examined. “Our federal courts derive their legitimacy from the confidence of the people,” the letter says. “Any process that undermines the legitimacy of our courts, weakens the court in the eyes of the American people.” The civil rights leaders also requested a meeting with Senate leadership to discuss a process “to restore the faith and trust of the communities we represent in the Senate and the legitimacy of the Supreme Court confirmation process.” Senator Grassley recently announced that Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings will begin on September 4, even though large portions of his record – including documents pertaining to his time in the White House counsel’s office during the George W. Bush Administration – cannot be provided by the National Archives before that date. The letter was co-authored by Sherrilyn Ifill, President and Director-Counsel of LDF; Kristen Clarke, President and Executive Director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law; Marc Morial, President and CEO of the National Urban League; Derrick Johnson, President and CEO of the NAACP; Reverend Al Sharpton, President and Founder of the National Action Network; and Melanie L. Campbell, President and CEO of the National Coalition for Black Civic Participation and Black Women’s Roundtable. The NAACP is urging its members to write to their Senators to oppose Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court because of its views.

Newswire : ‘Skullduggery’ foils Zimbabwe inauguration of former Mugabe ally

Mnangagwa supporters rally in streets

Aug. 13, 2018 (GIN) – The hastily organized inauguration of Emmerson Mnangagwa as president of Zimbabwe has hit a brick wall. Invites to the heads of diplomatic mission, international organizations and consulates were pulled back after challenges to last month’s general election put a question mark around the slim victory of Mr. Mnangagwe over his rival Nelson Chamisa. Mr Mnangagwa allegedly beat Mr. Chamisa with 50.8% of the vote to Mr. Chamisa’s 44.3%. The ceremony was slated for Sunday, August 5, at the National Sports Stadium in Harare despite clashes between opposition protestors and soldiers that broke out shortly after polls closed.

Some six people died in the melee, many others were beaten and a number sought refuge in neighboring Zambia. As the post-election violence increased, Mr. Mnangagwa called for “peace and unity” but this failed to unite the nation – at least half of whom had cast ballots for Chamisa’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). In early returns, the MDC was leading by about 50,000 votes over the ruling ZANU-PF. But that lead suddenly evaporated when returns from the fifth out of 10 provinces were announced. Mr. Mnangagwa, who ousted his predecessor, Robert Mugabe, in what was widely described as a “coup”, called the voting a “celebration of Zimbabwean democracy, a festival of unfettered freedom. With the eyes of the world on us we delivered a free, fair and credible election.” “It is now time to put the election period behind us and embrace the future,” Mnangagwa said during Heroes Day commemorations in Harare. “We should never be deterred by temporary setbacks or regrettable events which we encounter in our cause to build an open, free and democratic, prosperous Zimbabwe.” It is now up to the Constitutional Court over the next 14 days to rule on the challenges brought by the MDC. Meanwhile, according to reporters on the ground, hundreds of opposition activists are in hiding from an army-led crackdown. Over the weekend, soldiers were seen moving through suburbs of Harare, the capital, and satellite cities beating supporters of the MDC, firing weapons outside the homes of its MPs and sealing off the homes of leaders’ families. “There are people disappearing. We don’t know how many – maybe 30, maybe 50. They are clearly trying to scatter the leadership, to stop us organizing,” Nkululeko Sibanda, an MDC spokesman, said. As Mnangagwa struggles to unify sparring members of his own party and divisions in the armed forces, he may seem ineffectual but many remember his record as State Security Minister when in 1983 some 20,000 minority Ndebele people were murdered in “a moment of madness”, according to ousted president Mugabe.

Newswire : Former NAACP President Ben Jealous facing uphill climb to become first Black Governor of Maryland

 

By Hazel Trice Edney

(TriceEdneyWire.com) – Despite defeating six candidates to become the Democratic nominee for governor of Maryland, former NAACP president, Benjamin Todd Jealous, is still viewed as the underdog in his race against popular incumbent Republican Gov. Larry Hogan. “He’s got an uphill sled race,” says political scientist Dr. Wilmer Leon, also a radio talk show host. “Because the state of Maryland, by most statistics, is doing well. And Hogan has never proven himself to be a blind Republican ideologue. He’s more of a moderate Republican than he is an extreme right wing Republican. So, with that, it’s easier for Democrats to vote for him.”In somewhat of an upset, Jealous beat back six other candidates in the June 28 primary, including Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker, viewed as the Democratic establishment candidate. Despite this sentiment, Jealous says his “rainbow” type supporters and association with people from all walks of life is the strategy that he believes will continue to carry him to a win Nov. 6. “The strength of this campaign, like my life, begins in Black churches in the civil rights community and gains power through the connection of those communities with the broader progressive community. That’s been the arc of my life and that’s the arc of this campaign,” he said in a recent interview with the Trice Edney News Wire. “We will win in November the same way we won June 28. We will win by traveling to every corner of the state making the case to voters in every county about how we can move forward together, about how we can make sure every school is fully funded, how we can finally get health care costs truly under control, how we can make colleges and public universities truly affordable again and how we can find the money to do it is in large part by ending mass incarceration.” Jealous said, “The issues at the core of this campaign are not partisan issues. Treating the opioid addiction crisis is a health crisis. It’s a people issue. Funding education is a people issue. And then the student debt crisis is a people issue. Those are not partisan issues and people recognize that.” Though some say he is an outsider until recently, his roots run deep in Maryland, Virginia, D.C. and across the nation for that matter. Jealous is former executive director of the National Newspaper Publishers Association Foundation and former president/CEO of the national NAACP. But when describing his grassroots political training, he is clear about his roots. “I started off in the Rainbow Coalition. I started off as a 15-year-old precinct captain for the Rev. Jesse Jackson,” he recalls. “The strategy of that campaign is what empowered L. Doug Wilder to win the governorship in Virginia a year later. And the same strategies that worked for Wilder in Virginia and David Dinkins in New York and Harold Washington in Chicago are right at the core of this campaign.” He continues, “What we all learned in that campaign is how they won their campaigns. That’s how we won our primary and how we will win in November. We’ll build a coalition of working families across every line…There’s nothing more important to any working family than assuring that they get to move forward again.” Like Jackson, Wilder and Dinkins, Jealous is poised to also make history. If he pulls it off, he would become the first Black governor of Maryland and the fifth Black governor in the U. S. According to recent polls, the issues may not be enough. Though Maryland is heavily Democratic, Hogan reportedly has a 68 percent approval rating across party lines. Therefore, Jealous is going to have to pull out all stops, says Leon.“In the eyes of some, the NAACP is not as relevant as it used to be. Plus, Hogan is not a Trump Republican,” Leon said. “So, I think you’re going to have a lot of people going to the voting booth saying if it’s not broke don’t fix it.” However, Leon said, Jealous could win because Maryland is in fact a Democratic state. “Turn out. Turn out. Turn out” will be the key, he says. “Plus, he needs to find a way to better explain how he’s going to implement some of the policies he’s articulating because one of the knocks against him is he’s promised a lot of things and he hasn’t explained how he’s going to pay for them.” Grassroots debaters in a local barber shop recently resolved that Jealous is the most popular candidate among Black voters, but, due to apathy, the voters he will need in a close race may not come out on Election Day. This means Jealous will need his best strategies, including his broadest rainbow, plus campaign boosts from some heavy hitters. His running mate is former Maryland Democratic Party Chair Susan Turnbull, who is running for lieutenant governor. In June, former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders was largely credited for helping to drum up votes. Sanders has not given a full endorsement of Jealous, but has not been shy about pushing him. “I’m proud to be here because Ben is not going to be one of those leaders who is going to be nibbling around the edges, but understands we have got to transform the economic and political life of this country,” said Sen. Sanders to a cheering crowd as Jealous stood by his side June 18 just before his primary election, the Associated Press reported. Jealous is taking all the help he can get. “Bernie is a good friend. He’s a great ally to this campaign. And he has shown the Democratic Party that the people want real solutions to the pain that our families are feeling,” Jealous said. “Who runs our states matters because the road to taking back our country runs all through our states. I’m focused on making Maryland a model for how we move forward on education, health care and the economy no matter what happens in Donald Trump’s Washington.”

Newswire : Sarah Sanders can’t guarantee Trump hasn’t used N-word

By: Associated Press

Washington, D. C., August 14, 2018: White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders says she cannot guarantee that President Donald Trump has never used a racial slur. Sanders said, “I haven’t been in every single room,” when asked if she can say with certainty that Trump has never used the N-word, but she added that Trump has been a high-profile businessman for decades and the allegations are only just now being made.

Ex-Trump aide Omarosa Manigault Newman has alleged she has heard Trump on tape using the slur. Trump said Monday on Twitter that he doesn’t “have that word in my vocabulary, and never had.” Sanders says she “can’t guarantee” Trump has never used the word, but calls Manigault Newman’s claims “salacious and ridiculous.” Sanders told reporters that Manigault Newman has “shown a complete lack of integrity” with her criticism of Trump in her new book, adding that Trump’s tweets referring to Manigault Newman as “crazed” and a “dog” reflect his “frustration” with her comments. Manigault Newman has responded that Trump has “absolutely no respect” for women or African-Americans. Sanders says Trump hired Manigault Newman as an assistant to the president because he “wanted to give her a chance.” She was a contestant on his reality show “The Apprentice” and a former campaign aide. Manigault Newman has been releasing audio recordings of private White House conversations as part of her book roll-out tour. She was fired in December. © Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Newswire : Annual NAACP Convention closes with a Call to Vote

By Lauren Poteat (NNPA Newswire Washington Correspondent)

Thousands of people from across the country gathered in San Antonio, Texas for the 109th Annual NAACP Convention. The daring theme of this year’s convention (“Stop Hate, Vote”) was right on target, given that the 2018 midterm elections are just a few months away.

Panels and breakout sessions also focused on social justice and civil rights in the Trump Era, conversations that NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson deemed “highly necessary.” “As we begin to look at the critical landscape—with the increase in intolerance and hatred—we realize that the 2016 elections resulted in a new level of boldness for racists to display their racism,” Johnson said. “The only way to counter that is to vote…Vote on the midterm elections, so that we can hold elected officials accountable and make sure that they implement positive change.” The convention also included a diverse career fair, educational seminars, workshops on public policy, and a special hip-hop summit. Johnson also spoke about the importance of millennials and their community and political engagement. “Millennials should understand that their role in democracy is the same as everyone else’s,” Johnson said. “We are African Americans first and we owe it to our communities to use all of the tools necessary to better impact our society.” Championing this effort, NAACP Chairman Leon W. Russell shared his own ideas during his annual convention address. “In this new era of xenophobia, neo-Nazism, White nationalism, and current efforts to take our nation back to a darker and more dangerous time, I have come to San Antonio, Texas to say to the NAACP and our allies, ‘the time has come to defeat hate.’” Russell continued: “We call on voters, especially millennials of color, to stand against the face of bigotry and divisiveness.” Acknowledging that nearly 63 million Americans voted for the current president and that Black voter turnout declined, Russell still expressed hope for the future. “Our hope is to vote out the hate and we need everyone to vote,” Russell said. The NAACP also honored Willie Brown, San Francisco’s first Black mayor, with the “Spingarn Medal,” the organization’s most prestigious award; the award was in recognition of his years of civil rights work and dedication to the betterment of the Black community. Former President Bill Clinton presented the award to Brown and paid tribute to the civil rights activist. Brown said that the Spingarn Medal represented his dedication to public service and the community. Dozens of millennials attended this year’s convention, much to the pleasure of former NAACP President and current National Newspaper Publishers Association President Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr. “The NAACP is just as relevant today as it was 50 years ago,” Dr. Chavis said. “The potential that the organization has with these millennials is even greater. The NAACP literally has the opportunity to embrace these young lives and thus be embraced, to create an even better, bolder organization for the lives of all people.”

Boligee man killed in two vehicle crash on Interstate 59

A two-vehicle crash Thursday, Aug. 9, claimed the life of a Boligee man and injured two others. Eddie Lawson, 64, of Boligee was killed when the 2000 Mitsubishi Montero Sport he was driving was struck by a 2006 Honda Accord driven by Clydarryl Lance Smith, 25, of Eutaw. Lawson, who was not using a seatbelt, was ejected and pronounced dead at the scene. Lawson’s passenger, Cedric Leon Williams, 29, of Boligee and Smith were both injured and transported to DCH Regional Medical Center. The crash occurred at 5:40 a.m. on Interstate 59 near the 60 mile marker, 13 miles south of Tuscaloosa. Nothing further is available as Alabama State Troopers continue to investigate.