Newswire: Dangerous growth of violent groups confronts new Nigerian President

Muslim rebels in Nigeria

May 30, 3023 (GIN) – Bolu Ahmed Tinubu, who eked out a controversial win in the nation’s recent elections, now faces a near insurmountable challenge – to quell the violence gripping the country, wielded by various groups of assorted loyalties.
“The degree of insecurity in Nigeria is unprecedented,” wrote Charles Kwuelum and Iyabo Obasanjo in Foreign Policy magazine.  “It’s not just former U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria John Campbell, who are arguing that Nigeria is a failed state. Nigerian public and government officials regularly say as much themselves.”
Tinubu takes over from Muhammadu Buhari, who claims to be leaving the country in a better state that when he took power in 2015. 
“Our battle to ensure that all Nigerians live in a safe and secure environment has achieved considerable results,” the 80 year old Buhari said in a televised address.
But contrary to Buhari’s remarks, the 71-year-old Tinubu inherits a tide of violence, from the northeast to the southeast.  “At least sixty-three thousand Nigerians have been killed in various acts of state and nonstate extrajudicial violence, with attacks by Islamist insurgents, assorted armed bandits, and kidnappers claiming the most lives,” wrote Ebenezer Obadare in a recent blogpost.
“Numbers aside, a real sense of lawlessness pervades, with a growing recourse to vigilante justice signaling popular frustration at law enforcement and the judicial system.”
“The country’s kidnap-for-ransom industry has surged: between January and March this year alone, 1,484 people were abducted. In some cases, security agencies have been accused of complicity with criminal groups,” added Obadare.
“Attacks by herdsmen on farming settlements seem driven by land degradation or desertification, compounded by intensified drought due to climate change. Herdsmen reportedly killed 2,539 people in as many as 654 attacks. As much as 60 percent of land in Nigeria is under pressure of desertification.
“As soon as he takes office, the new president will face significant security problems,” notes Emeka Okoro, security analyst for the analysis group SBM Intelligence, and he will have to tackle three major fronts.
The most urgent and priority is that of central and northwestern Nigeria, said Okoro. In these agricultural and poor regions, the fierce competition for land frequently degenerates into deadly clashes between farmers and herders, where the absence of justice and protection from power has contributed to the birth of armed gangs, responsible for mass killings and kidnapping for ransom.
“The bandits invade a community, kill the inhabitants, and destroy their property, with little or no resistance from the security forces “, charged Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar III, Sultan of Sokoto, one of the most heavily attacked regions.
For researcher Idayat Hassan, director of the Center for Democracy and Development , the new administration will have to move away from “the enemy-centric, weapon-centric approach”, which prevailed under President Buhari, to “adopt a non-military approach”, tackling the underlying problems, such as “unemployment, poverty, the fight against marginalization” and “reform justice.” 
Matthew Hassan Kukah, the bishop of the Roman Catholic diocese of Sokoto, Nigeria, said that “we stare at an imponderable tragedy as the nation unravels from all sides.” And former President Olusegun Obasanjo remarked: “A situation where you are not safe on the road, you are not safe on the train, you are not safe at the airport, shows a very serious situation.”

Newswire : Tina Turner, trailblazing ‘Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll’ who dazzled audiences worldwide, dies at 83

Tina Turner performing on stage

By Daniel Arkin, NBC News

Tina Turner, the exuberant, heel-stomping, wild-haired rock goddess who sold out stadiums, earned a dozen Grammy Awards and won the adoration of fans around the world in an electrifying music career spanning five decades, died Wednesday at her home near Zurich after a long illness, according to her publicist.
She was 83.
“With her, the world loses a music legend and a role model,” Turner’s publicist, Bernard Doherty, said in a statement. Doherty added that there will be a private funeral ceremony for close friends and family members. He did not specify a cause of death.
The arc of Turner’s high-flying but tumultuous life was music industry legend — as well as the basis for a hit 1986 autobiography (“I, Tina”), a Hollywood biopic (“What’s Love Got to Do With It”) and a Broadway jukebox show (“Tina: The Tina Turner Musical”).
She ascended from rural roots to the heights of national stardom, blasting into public consciousness as one half of the sensational rhythm-and-blues duo Ike & Tina Turner and later establishing herself as one of the most popular Black female solo artists in the world.
She was the first woman and the first Black artist to appear on the cover of Rolling Stone — in just its second issue — and her massively successful solo career broke barriers for future generations of Black women in music.
But along the way, Turner experienced personal upheavals and private traumas. She alleged that Ike Turner, her ex-husband and artistic collaborator, subjected her to years of horrific physical abuse and tried to take control of virtually all aspects of her life.
“It was my relationship with Ike that made me most unhappy. At first, I had really been in love with him. Look what he’d done for me. But he was totally unpredictable,” Turner wrote in “I, Tina,” a memoir co-authored by music critic and MTV News correspondent Kurt Loder.
In the late 1970s, Turner managed to extricate herself from her husband and set out on her own. In the ’80s, Turner pulled off one of the most triumphant comebacks in modern rock music, reinventing herself as a gleefully liberated hit-maker who topped the Billboard charts.
Turner, a supremely talented vocalist who belted out songs with abandon, recorded one chart-topping song after another in the ’80s, but one track in particular made her a superstar: “What’s Love Got to Do With It,” a show-stopping anthem off the 1984 album “Private Dancer.”
Turner’s other big hits from the era included “Better Be Good to Me,” “We Don’t Need Another Hero (Thunderdome),” “Typical Male,” “The Best” and “I Don’t Wanna Fight.” 
In the decades that followed, she toured around the world, racked up awards, occasionally acted in films and remained one of the signature musical personalities of the late 20th century. She decided to retire in 2009 after having wrapped up her 50th anniversary tour.
“I’ve done enough,” Turner announced to a crowd of 75,000 people at Letzigrund Stadium in Zurich that year. “I’ve been performing for 44 years. I really should hang up my dancing shoes.”
Turner earned eight competitive Grammy Awards, three Grammy Hall of Fame prizes and a Grammy Lifetime Achievement trophy. She was a two-time inductee into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame — first with Ike Turner (1991), then as a solo artist (2021). 

Newswire : Poll shows Affirmative Action supported by majority of Americans as Supreme Court set to rule

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent

Most U.S. adults believe colleges should be allowed to consider race as part of their admissions process.
However, an Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Research poll also indicated that only some people think race should play a significant role in the final decision.
These findings are critical as the Supreme Court is currently deliberating the fate of affirmative action in higher education.
The May poll, which surveyed a diverse range of participants, demonstrated that 63% of respondents believe the Supreme Court should not prohibit colleges from considering race or ethnicity during admissions.
Remarkably, the poll found that this sentiment was not significantly divided along political or racial lines, indicating a broad consensus on the issue.
While respondents supported considering race in admissions, they placed greater importance on factors such as grades and standardized test scores.
Sixty-eight percent of adults stated that race and ethnicity should not be a significant factor in college admissions decisions.
This preference for academic merit over racial considerations was consistent across different demographic groups. The poll results suggest that Americans support affirmative action as a policy, even if its future remains uncertain.
The Supreme Court appears ready to rule on lawsuits challenging the admissions systems of prestigious institutions like Harvard University and the University of North Carolina.
With a conservative majority on the court, many college leaders are bracing for a decision that could potentially limit or eliminate the use of race in admissions.
Interestingly, Americans’ views on race in admissions align with the practices colleges claim to follow.
Many colleges, particularly selective ones, assert that race is just one of the numerous factors considered when selecting students for admission. They emphasize that race is not a dominant influence but can occasionally provide an advantage to underrepresented students in close decisions.
College administrators defend this practice, asserting that racial diversity benefits all students by fostering a diverse and inclusive learning environment.
The poll shed light on the uncertain landscape of race-conscious admissions, as the extent to which colleges consider race in their admissions processes remains unknown. Notably, nine states, including California, Michigan, and Florida, have outlawed the use of race in admissions.
Among all respondents, 13% believed that race should be a very or extremely important part of the admission process, while 18% considered it somewhat important.
Black and Hispanic adults expressed a stronger belief in the importance of race in admissions compared to other racial groups. The poll also revealed similar attitudes toward considering gender in admissions. Only 9% of adults regard gender as very important, with 14% perceiving it as somewhat important.
Men and women shared similar views regarding the role of gender in college admissions.
By contrast, most Americans (62%) believed that high school grades should carry substantial weight in admissions, with 30% considering them somewhat important.
Nearly half of the respondents indicated that standardized test scores should be highly important.
Historically, the Supreme Court has upheld affirmative action in its decisions since 1978. The ongoing lawsuits against Harvard and UNC accuse these universities of discriminating against white and Asian students. However, lower courts have upheld the admissions systems of both schools.
The poll also examined the significance of other factors in college admissions, such as athletics and family ties. Interestingly, most Americans believed that athletic ability should have little influence on admissions (9% very important, 29% somewhat important).
Some participants believed family ties should be a significant factor in the admissions process. Legacy preference, the practice of granting preferential treatment to the children of alums, has faced criticism in recent years for allegedly favoring wealthy, white students.
Some prestigious institutions, like Amherst College and Johns Hopkins University, have discontinued this practice.
If the Supreme Court strikes affirmative action, some experts speculate that more colleges will follow suit and abandon legacy preferences, thereby removing potential obstacles for students of color.
The poll also gauged public confidence in the Supreme Court as a whole. Following the court’s controversial Dobbs decision last year, which overturned Roe v. Wade and allowed states to impose severe restrictions on abortion, confidence in the court has diminished.
The poll found that only 12% of Americans expressed great confidence in the court, while 48% had some confidence, and 39% had hardly any. As the Supreme Court deliberates its decision on affirmative action, the poll results indicate a nuanced perspective among Americans.
While there is broad support for considering race in admissions, it is clear that most individuals prioritize academic factors and want to avoid race being a determining factor in the final admissions decisions.

Newswire : Vice President Harris, the first woman to deliver the commencement address at West Point,extols the virtues of a diverse military

By: Donna Brazille

Vice President Kamala Harris hands out diplomas after delivering the keynote speech at Michie Stadium during West Point’s graduation ceremony on May 27, 2023 in West Point, New York. Harris is the first woman to give a commencement address in the military academy’s 221-year history. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Vice President Kamala Harris delivered the commencement address at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point on Saturday and said that “our military is strongest when it fully reflects the people of America” in its diversity.
“You stand on the broad shoulders of generations of Americans who have worn the uniform,” Harris told some 950 graduating cadets, receiving a standing ovation for her remarks. She told the graduates they will play a vital role in defending the United States and thanked them for being willing to risk their lives to selflessly serve our nation.
“The power of America’s military not only rests on our technology, our weaponry, our hardware, it rests on the character and the resolve of our people,” Harris said.
President Joe Biden spoke to graduating seniors at West Point in 2016 when he was vice president. Biden will deliver the commencement address at the U.S. Air Force Academy on Thursday. 
Harris spoke to the graduating class at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy last year and to graduates of the U.S. Naval Academy in 2021.
Black Americans have served in the American military and defended our nation in combat since the Revolutionary War, at a time when many were enslaved. Even long after, Black service members — including my own father, who served in the Army during the Korean War — returned home to face segregation and racial discrimination.
Racism was rampant at West Point throughout much of its history. In its first 133 years, the academy graduated more than 10,000 white men and only three Black men. Women, who were first admitted in 1976, now make up about a quarter of the student body and over 5,000 have graduated from West Point. 
Henry Ossian Flipper, who was born enslaved and was emancipated at the end of the Civil War, became the first Black graduate of the academy in 1877 and went on to command Black troops (the Army wasn’t desegregated until 1948). 
While at West Point, Flipper and the few other Black cadets (most of whom were pushed out before graduating) “endured physical and emotional abuse and racist treatment from their white peers and professors … [and] were ostracized, barred from social activities with other cadets, and spoken to only when officially necessary,” Patri O’Gan wrote on the website of the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
Racism resulted in Flipper being unjustly court-martialed in 1881 on charges of embezzlement and “conduct unbecoming an officer and gentleman.” Although Flipper was acquitted of embezzlement, he was dismissed from the Army in 1882. It wasn’t until 1976 that his descendants secured an honorable discharge for him, followed by a full pardon from President Bill Clinton in 1999.
More than 100 years after Flipper became the first Black graduate of West Point, Patricia Walker Locke and Joy Suzanne Dallas Eshelman became the first Black women to graduate from the academy in 1980. Locke retired from the Army in 1995 and went on to serve as president of a foundation serving underrepresented communities. Eshelman retired from the Army in 2001.

Newswire : South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott announces presidential campaign

Senator Tim Scott

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent

South Carolina Republican Sen. Tim Scott, a longtime and devoted ally of former President Donald Trump, has thrown his hat into the 2024 presidential ring.
With Trump already declared and the presumptive frontrunner, Scott joins a growing Republican candidate list that includes another Trump ally, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley.
Ironically, Haley appointed Scott in 2013 to represent South Carolina in the U.S. Senate after the retirement of Jim DeMint.
The GOP already has a crowded field of candidates, including former tech and finance guru Vivek Ramaswamy and former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson.
Many expect Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to announce his candidacy soon, and former Trump VP Mike Pence hasn’t ruled out a run.
Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, former Wyoming Congresswoman Liz Cheney, ex-national security advisor John Bolton, and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie are also said to be weighing a run for the GOP nomination.
“Under President Biden, our nation is retreating away from patriotism and faith,” Scott said, announcing his bid. “Joe Biden and the radical left are attacking every rung of the ladder that helped me climb. And that is why I am announcing today that I am running for president of the United States of America.”
While Biden remains popular among Black voters, Scott, an African American, has drawn the ire of Blacks and other minorities, with many in the community deriding the senator as “Uncle Tim,” a takeoff of the self-hating Uncle Tom.
“Tim Scott is 2024’s Herschel Walker, just more articulate,” commentator Eddie Smith wrote on Twitter. There was a side-by-side image of Scott and the made-up cartoon character Mush Mouth with the post.
Some knowledgeable political observers have suggested that Tim Scott and some of the other Republican candidates are actually running to be selected as Trump’s vice-presidential candidate.


Newswire: More women sue Texas saying the state’s anti-abortion laws harmed them

Pro-choice protesters march outside the Texas State Capitol in Austin. (photo: Sergio Flores/Getty Images)

Sarah McCammon/NPR

Eight more women are joining a lawsuit against the state of Texas, saying the state’s abortion bans put their health or lives at risk while facing pregnancy-related medical emergencies.
The new plaintiffs have added their names to a lawsuit originally filed in March by five women and two doctors who say that pregnant patients are being denied abortions under Texas law despite facing serious medical complications. The Center for Reproductive Rights, which is representing the women, is now asking for a temporary injunction to block Texas abortion bans in the event of pregnancy complications.
“What happened to these women is indefensible and is happening to countless pregnant people across the state,” Molly Duane, an attorney with the Center for Reproductive Rights, said in a statement.
The new group of women brings the total number of plaintiffs to 15. The lawsuit, filed in state court in Austin, asks a judge to clarify the meaning of medical exceptions in the state’s anti-abortion statutes.
The Texas “trigger law,” passed in 2021 in anticipation of the U.S. Supreme Court overturning of Roe v. Wade last year, makes performing an abortion a felony, with exceptions for a “life-threatening physical condition” or “a serious risk of substantial impairment of a major bodily function.”
Another Texas law, known as S.B. 8, prohibits nearly all abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy. That ban, with a novel enforcement mechanism that relies on private citizens filing civil lawsuits against anyone believed to be involved in providing prohibited abortions, took effect in September 2021 after the Supreme Court turned back a challenge from a Texas abortion provider.
In an interview with NPR in April, Jonathan Mitchell, a lawyer who assisted Texas lawmakers in crafting the language behind S.B. 8, said he believed the medical exceptions in the law should not have prohibited emergency abortions.
“It concerns me, yeah, because the statute was never intended to restrict access to medically-necessary abortions,” Mitchell said. “The statute was written to draw a clear distinction between abortions that are medically necessary and abortions that are purely elective. Only the purely elective abortions are unlawful under S.B. 8.”
But many doctors in Texas and other states with similar laws that have taken effect since last year’s Supreme Court decision say they feel unsafe providing abortions while facing the threat of substantial fines, the loss of their medical licenses, or prison time.

Newswire: Russian mercenaries behind slaughter of 500 in Mali village, UN report finds

Report implicates Wagner group fighters in Moura atrocity, including the torture and rape of civilians
From reports in the Guardian

First came a single helicopter, flying low over the marshes around the river outside the village, then the rattle of automatic fire scattered the crowds gathered for the weekly market.
Next came more helicopters, dropping troops off around the homes and cattle pens. The soldiers moved swiftly, ordering men into the center of the village, gunning down those trying to escape. When some armed militants fired back, the shooting intensified. Soon at least 20 civilians and a dozen alleged members of an al-Qaida affiliated Islamist group, were dead.
Over the next five days, hundreds more would die in the village of Moura in the Mopti region of Mali at the hands of troops overseen by Russian mercenaries, according to a new United Nations report. All but a small fraction were unarmed civilians.

Published last week after an extensive human rights fact-finding mission conducted over several months by UN staff in Mali, the report gives an hour by hour account of events during a five-day military operation in Moura in March 2022, giving details of the worst single atrocity associated with the Kremlin-linked Wagner group outside Ukraine.

Investigators from the UN human rights office concluded that there are strong indications that more than 500 people were killed – the majority in extrajudicial killings – by Malian troops and foreign military personnel believed to be from Wagner, a mercenary outfit run by Yevgeny Prigozhin, a close ally of the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, which was linked to the massacre by internal messages obtained by the Guardian last year.

The new allegations again underline the extent of human rights abuses blamed on Wagner, which has also operated in at least six other African countries as well as Libya and Syria.

In recent months, Wagner fighters have spearheaded the Russian push to seize the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut, which has been fiercely contested by Kyiv’s forces, and suffered heavy casualties. Wagner has been accused of involvement in multiple massacres in Mali as well as elsewhere in the Sahel and central Africa. Witnesses say the group has been caught up in fierce fighting in Central African Republic in recent months.

As France and the US have shifted resources and attention away from Africa in recent years, Russia has moved to fill the gap, mounting a series of diplomatic offensives and using Wagner to win over regimes in key states by offering to bolster weak security forces against enemies ranging from Islamist extremists to pro-democracy domestic opposition parties.

Western officials allege the Kremlin is using Wagner to advance Russian economic and political interests across Africa and elsewhere. The effort is backed by an extensive disinformation campaign, they say.

Analysts have recorded a surge in violence wherever Wagner has deployed, although rarely with much military success for governments. Last month, at least nine civilians were killed and more than 60 injured in a triple suicide bomb attack in the central Mali town of Sévaré early on a Saturday, an official has said.

When the Russian mercenaries were hired in Mozambique in 2019 to fight Islamist militants there, they were forced to withdraw after suffering heavy casualties. Eventually, Rwandan regular troops were flown in, successfully countering the insurgents’ offensive.
Few of the atrocities alleged to have involved Wagner have been conclusively linked to the group, however, a lack of witnesses, resistance from local regimes, poor infrastructure and acute insecurity have made full investigation of claims difficult.
Details of the massacre in the village of Moura, in Mali
The Moura massacre is an exception, however. “These are extremely disturbing findings,” said Volker Türk, the UN high commissioner for human rights. “Summary executions, rape and torture during armed conflict amount to war crimes and could, depending on the circumstances, amount to crimes against humanity.”
Malian authorities denied requests by the team to access Moura itself but the report is based on interviews with victims and witnesses, as well as forensic and other information sources, such as satellite imagery.
Mali’s elected president, Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, was toppled in August 2020 by officers angered at the failures to roll back the jihadist insurgency. In 2021, the military forced out an interim civilian government and tilted dramatically towards Moscow, concluding an agreement in which about 1,000 fighters from the Wagner group were deployed to bases across much of the country, which also received consignments of Russian weapons.

A Malian government spokesperson described the report as “biased” and “based on a fictional account”, and said an investigation by Malian judicial authorities had found “not a single civilian in Moura was killed during the military operation”, only “armed terrorists”.

The operation – described by the authorities as an anti-terrorist military operation against an Islamist extremist group, Katiba Macina, which has imposed its rigorous and intolerant version of sharia law on inhabitants, raised taxes and made local men follow their dress codes – began on 27 March 2022, a busy market day in Moura.
The accounts gathered by the UN support the testimony of witnesses who spoke to reporters last year. Amadou Barry, who lives in the neighboring village, told the Observer he was attending the market in Moura when helicopters suddenly appeared and troops disembarked, prompting a small group of Islamist militants in the village to shoot at the soldiers before fleeing on motorbikes.

“We started running in every direction, some into the houses. The Malian army then opened fire on people running, killing so many people,” he said. Then, over the next four days, at least 500 people are believed to have been killed, says the report, which names at least 238 of these victims.
Héni Nsaibia, senior researcher at ACLED (Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project), said in the weeks after the massacre that between 60 and 100 of those killed may have been unarmed Islamist militants, but the rest were civilians. Government forces found large quantities of weapons in Moura.
Witnesses reported seeing “armed white men” who spoke an unknown language operating alongside the Malian forces and at times appearing to supervise operations, the report found. It cites witnesses who claimed Malian troops were rotated in and out of Moura daily, but the foreign personnel remained.
Internal Malian army documents obtained by the Guardian last year revealed the presence of Wagner fighters – referred to as “Russian instructors” – on “mixed missions” with Malian soldiers and gendarmes around the time of the Moura massacre. Wagner were deployed near Moura at the time, and took part in other operations in which many civilians were killed.

According to the new report, on the day after the initial assault soldiers began going house to house searching for “presumed terrorists”, selecting and killing people with long beards, people wearing ankle-length trousers (a sign of religious devotion), people with marks on their shoulders – seen as evidence of firing or carrying weapons – and even those who merely showed signs of fear.
A group of men rounded up in the south-east of the village were led away by soldiers and shot in the head, back or chest, and their bodies thrown into a ditch. Witnesses said that those who resisted or tried to flee were also executed by the Malian armed forces and the “armed white men” and dumped into the ditch.
Detainees were subjected to torture and other ill-treatment during questioning, and dozens of women and girls were raped or subjected to other forms of sexual violence, the report claims. In one instance, soldiers brought bedding from a house, placed it under trees in the garden, and took turns raping women they had forced there.
Samira Daoud, Amnesty International’s regional director for west and central Africa, said what happened in Moura could constitute crimes under international law.
“While the [UN] notes that around 30 combatants from the armed group Katiba Macina were present in Moura on 27 March 2022 … their presence can in no way justify the extrajudicial executions, rapes and looting committed by the armed forces against the inhabitants and stallholders trapped by their siege,” Daoud said.
Analysts have expressed concerns that the recent crisis in Sudan has distracted attention from deepening problems across the Sahel, an unstable belt of desert and grazing running east from Senegal across the African continent. The zone is afflicted by extreme weather linked to climate change, displacement of millions of people, acute political instability and growing violence. Analysts fear the conflict in Sudan may lead to a “domino” effect of state collapse.


Newswire : NAACP issues travel advisory warning Black people against traveling to Florida

 Black family enjoying one of Florida’s beaches

By: Sharelle Burt, Black Enterprise

The NAACP is warning Black people to stay away from the Sunshine State.
CNN reports the historic advocacy group released a statement issuing a travel advisory in response to Governor Ron DeSantis’ deliberate attempt to erase African American history and DEI initiatives in schools.

“Florida is openly hostile toward African Americans, people of color and LGBTQ+ individuals,” the NAACP said. “Before traveling to Florida, please understand that the state of Florida devalues and marginalizes the contributions of, and the challenges faced by African Americans and other communities of color.”
The NAACP, long an advocate for Black Americans, joined the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), a Latino civil rights organization, and Equality Florida, a gay rights advocacy group, in issuing travel advisories for the Sunshine State, where tourism is one of the state’s largest job sectors.
The advisory has been in the works for months as the Hillsborough County Chapter of the organization met with other NAACP members back in March and agreed to work with the national office on this advisory.

NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson says DeSantis’ antics conflict with the ideals that the group was founded upon. “Let me be clear–failing to teach an accurate representation of the horrors and inequalities that Black Americans have faced and continue to face is a disservice to students and a dereliction of duty to all,” Johnson said.
Since winning the governor seat, the controversial Republican politician has focused heavily on social issues. Last year, the state made headlines after DeSantis signed the “Stop WOKE Act” into legislation, putting restrictions on how race and gender are discussed in classrooms, NBC News reported.

Under his administration, several areas of “concern” have been removal including Black Queer Studies, Movement for Black Lives, Black Feminist Literary Thought, The Reparations Movement and Black Struggle in the 21st Century. Books by Bell Hooks, Angela Davis and other Black authors have also been banned.

Dr. James Douglas Anderson, noted scholar of American education and Stillman College Commencement speaker, is a native son of Greene County

John and Carol Zippert interview Dr. James D. Anderson at the Democrat office



Exclusive Interview with the Greene County Democrat

By: John Zippert, Dr. Carol P. Zippert and Dr. Monty Thornburg

Dr. James D. Anderson visited his hometown of Eutaw, Alabama on Friday, May 5, 2023, just before presenting the commencement address at his alma mater, Stillman College in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, the next day. The Co-Publishers of the Greene County Democrat and an associate had the honor of interviewing this native son of Greene County on his life and important intellectual view of the changes in Black education in the South over his life time.
Anderson attended Carver School in Eutaw, from 1950 to his graduation in 1962. At that time, the school had grades 1 to 12 and was a segregated school for Black students. “ We had great and dedicated Black teachers, who were genuinely concerned about their students. There was no social promotion and many students were failed and had to repeat grades until they mastered the subjects.”
Anderson lived on Kentuck, a neighborhood north of the Eutaw City Hall. “My mother worked as a cook for the Wilkes Banks family. We lived in a small shack out behind the Banks’ house.

Until my junior year in high school, I walked to school, with my brothers, about two miles. It was an adventure and we learned along the way. But you could not be late because the principal locked the school door at the start of the school day. We did get school buses, like the white children already had, in 1960.”
Anderson recounted a story that speaks to his growing up in poverty in Greene County. “My mother was very upset, this was when I was in high school, when Wilkes Banks told her that her son had a future after school as his ‘yardman’, taking care of mowing his grass. My mother had greater expectations for me and did not want me to aspire as a servant for white people.”

Stillman College

He was a good student and graduated as valedictorian of his class in 1962. Anderson had not made any college applications because he did not have funds to attend college. Herman Hughes, his math teacher at Carver, who was a graduate of Stillman, went to speak with the Dean of Stillman and arranged a full scholarship for him to attend.
“As I was preparing to make my graduation speech at Carver, Mr. Hughes and the principal called me aside and into the office. I was fearful that they were going to tell me that I could not graduate but instead they explained that I had been awarded a full scholarship to attend Stillman.
This was the start of my academic career,” said Anderson.

Mr. Hughes was part of the family of Judge and Alverta Hughes of Mantua community of Greene County. Hughes went on from teaching math in Greene County to get a Ph.D. in Computer Science and became a Professor at Michigan State University. Anderson later reconnected with Hughes, when both served on the Stillman College Board of Trustees. He said that Hughes was a great inspiration to him as a math teacher and peaked his interested in majoring in math at college.
There is a fountain on the Thomas Gilmore Courthouse Square honoring Ms. Alverta Hughes for her contributions to Greene County.Anderson attended Stillman College during the turbulent 1960’s. “ I was among the Stillman students that joined Rev. T. Y. Rogers, civil rights campaign in Tuscaloosa. Rogers was the pastor of First African Baptist Church in Tuscaloosa and a close colleague of Dr. Martin Luther King in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. I was with Rogers on ‘Bloody Tuesday’ when police and deputized white citizens attacked peaceful marchers trying to hold the city to its promise not to have segregated water fountains and restroom facilities in a newly constructed Federal courthouse.
‘Bloody Tuesday’ in Tuscaloosa is often compared with ‘Bloody Sunday’ in Selma as milestones in the civil rights movement in Alabama.
Anderson graduated from Stillman College in 1966. He switched majors from mathematics to sociology. He went on to graduate school in social studies at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana. In 1967, he graduated with a teaching certificate and went to teach social studies in Chicago.” I was in a bookstore in Chicago) and purchased a book on the history of Black education. It raised more questions for me than gave answers. I went back to a fellowship at the University of Illinois, to study and answer my questions about the history of Black education. I found my passion. I stumbled into the field where I have made a lifetime contribution.”

Educational Leader and Scholar

Dr. James D. Anderson is the Edward William and Jane Marr Gutsell Professor Emeritus and Dean Emeritus of the College of Education at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His scholarly career has focused mainly on the history of American education with a specialization in the History of African American education.

His book, ‘The Education of Blacks in the South, 1860-1935’, won the American Education Research Association (AERA) outstanding book award in 1990. The AERA is the largest academic research organization in the nation.
Anderson has also authored hundreds of articles in educational journals about the issues of Black education from Reconstruction to the present day.
Anderson has served as an expert witness in a series of federal desegregation and affirmative education cases, including Jenkins vs Missouri, Knight vs Alabama, Ayers vs Mississippi, Gratz vs Bollinger and Grutter vs Bollinger. He has also served as an advisor to documentaries and PBS television programs on the history of education and African American schools over the past twenty years.
At the interview, Anderson observed, “My book on Black education has
already been banned in Florida by the actions of Governor Ron Desantis and the Florida State Legislature. This is part of an effort by some states to take our nation backwards and to remove the truth about Black history and Black education from our schools and colleges.”
In October of 2014, Dr. James D. Anderson delivered the AERA’s Brown Lecture, an annual commemoration of the Supreme Court’s historic 1954 school desegregation decision. In his lecture, Anderson speaks to the equivalence in work toward equality in education with work toward voting rights in our nation. He suggests that the periods of greatest educational equality were matched with the greatest periods of voting rights and progress for democracy.
He cites the progress during the Reconstruction period, after Emancipation until the turn of the century, when Black people championed public education for all people. This was also a period when Black people were able to vote and did vote, especially in the South, where there were large numbers of Black people. When Reconstruction ended and southern states adopted Jim Crow legislation limiting the Black vote and imposing school segregation, democracy and social change were stifled and reversed.
Anderson specifically laments the failure to adopt the first versions of the 14th amendment which would have guaranteed a right to vote for all men.
“We do not have a Constitutional right to vote, which has made it once again possible to weaken and destroy the Voting Rights Act of 1965, by the Supreme Court in the Shelby vs Holder decision and voter suppression legislation in many states. In many areas, the local politicians are discouraging voters by telling us that our vote doesn’t count or will not be counted. We have to go back to door-to-door organizing to educate and mobilize Black people to vote in every election,” said Anderson.

As the interview ended, so Dr. Anderson could meet with relatives still living in Eutaw, he said that, “The Black teachers that I had at Carver, were truly dedicated and interested in the students. We need more Black teachers in our schools. Some young people go through their whole K to 12 educational experience, without seeing a single Black teacher. We need to change this.

Newswire: African migrants finding sanctuary in Maine

African women farmers in Maine

May 15, 2023 (GIN) – An African migrant crisis in southern Maine?

Newly arrived asylum seekers have been overwhelming several Maine cities, straining municipal budgets to the breaking point. Surprising to some, many of the migrants are from Africa, notes Luc Kuanzambi, a Congolese refugee.

Kuanzambi is the founder of Xenos Communications Consulting and a former aide to foreign governments in the sub-Saharan region of Africa. With specific knowledge of Angolan and Congolese history, he’s been explaining to local Mainers the historical, political and economic roots of the state’s refugee crisis.

It’s a crisis driven by European colonialism, the trans-Atlantic slave trade and more recently various regime change operations in the DRC and elsewhere that fueled political discord and empowered brutal political leaders, he says.

“I will say, there are humane policies here,” said Kuanzambi. “Some of my American friends have called them lenient policies.”

Last year — with some 400 migrant families in hotels — it was reported that the Greater Portland Council of Governments would be raising $1.5 million to build 200 transitional units for migrant families over the next two years.

“People are connected, because of the service that they’ve received here, because of their families. Some have family roots here, some have just people that they know, speak their language, and their culture,” added Mufalo Chitam, executive director of the Maine Immigrant Rights Coalition.

More so than most states, Maine provides welfare benefits to asylum seekers who arrive in the state, including General Assistance through municipal governments, state-run welfare programs, housing benefits, and education.

And the legislature is currently considering a proposal that would allow asylum seekers, refugees, and even illegal immigrants to receive free and low-cost healthcare.

Maine is home to a community of Somali Bantus who are practicing sustainable farming at the 30-acre New Roots Cooperative using traditional methods from Somalia.

Meanwhile, at the southern border, over three thousand citizens of Senegal, Angola, Congo, Ghana and neighboring countries requested humanitarian visas in Mexico during the first six months of 2022, compared to 1,901 requests in all of 2021, said Andres Ramirez, director of Mexico’s Refugee Commission, or COMAR.

Wilner Metelus, president of the Citizen Committee in Defense of Naturalized and Afro-Mexicans, said an international commission is necessary to oversee what is happening at the southern Mexican border, which he described as a living “hell” for African and Haitian migrants.

In addition to those lawfully seeking refuge, the Mexican immigration enforcement agency has detained 1,436 African migrants who were either coming with smugglers or trying to avoid detection. Of those, 348 were minors or family units and routed to the Children’s and Families Development agency.

A video of Kuanzami’s presentation can be seen on YouTube at “From Africa to Maine: The History of the DRC and Angola.”