Newswire: Cuba’s two pandemics: The Coronavirus and the US Embargo

By Josefina Vidal Ferreiro, Al Jazeera

Cuban doctors mobilize for service in the pandemic


The Trump administration is trying to hinder Cuba’s efforts to tackle the coronavirus emergency at home and abroad.
As soon as the first cases of COVID-19 were detected in Cuba, our country mobilized all its resources to contain the spread of the virus.
Our healthcare workers go door to door checking people for possible symptoms. Those with symptoms are transferred to specially designated centres to receive treatment, mostly with medication developed by Cuba’s own pharmaceutical and biotech industry. The medical examinations and treatments are all provided free of charge.
As of June 20, 85 people have died of COVID-19 in Cuba. Our mortality rate of 3.9 percent is very low compared to the rest of the world. We reached the peak of the disease on April 24, but we are still encouraging people to respect physical distancing, isolation and sanitary measures.
Internationally, Cuba has responded to requests for collaboration from more than 20 countries, mainly in Latin America and the Caribbean, but also in Europe, Africa and the Middle East.
Cuba has a long history and tradition of international solidarity with other countries in the health sector that dates back to the 1960s, when we started sending healthcare workers to help other countries. From then on, more than 400,000 Cuban doctors and health professionals have provided services in 164 countries. We have helped strengthen local healthcare systems, provided services in remote areas and trained doctors.
Based on this long experience, in 2005 Cuba decided to create the Henry Reeve International Medical Brigade to respond to natural disasters and serious epidemics across the world. Since then, this brigade of over 7,000 doctors, nurses and other health specialists has provided services in more than 20 countries.
We sent doctors and nurses to staff 32 field hospitals after the 2005 earthquake in Pakistan. We sent a medical team to Indonesia in 2006 after the devastating tsunami. We sent more than 1,700 health workers to Haiti in 2010 after the catastrophic earthquake and the ensuing cholera epidemic. In 2014, we sent brigades to Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone to combat Ebola.
Even Samantha Power, former US President Barack Obama’s UN Ambassador, praised Cuba for its outstanding role in the fight against Ebola.
We even had brigades ready to assist Louisiana after New Orleans was hit by Hurricane Katrina but the US government rejected our cooperation.
Assisting others has always been part of who we are as a country and part of the ethical training Cuban doctors and health professionals receive.
In response to the current pandemic, Cuba has dispatched 28 contingents of the Henry Reeve Brigade to help 26 countries. This is in addition to the more than 28,000 Cuban doctors, nurses and health professionals who were already overseas before the pandemic.

Unfortunately, Cuban doctors and the Henry Reeve Brigade, in particular, have come under increasing attacks by the Trump administration, which has gone so far as to falsely accuse Cuba of human trafficking through its doctor program.
It is a shame that the United States government has been trying to discredit Cuba’s international assistance, including using pressure and threats against countries to force them to cancel these medical cooperation agreements.
They have even tried to pressure governments to reject Cuba’s help during the coronavirus pandemic. They claim the Cuban government is exploiting these doctors because in the case of countries that can afford to provide monetary compensation, a portion of it is kept by the Cuban government.
However, working overseas is completely voluntary, and the portion the Cuban government keeps goes to pay for Cuba’s universal health system. It goes to purchasing medical supplies, equipment and medication for Cuba’s 11 million people, including for the families of the doctors who are providing their services abroad. This is how we are able to provide free, high-quality healthcare for the Cuban people.
Instead of exacerbating conflict during a pandemic, our countries need to work together to find solutions. For years, Cuba has been developing pharmaceuticals and vaccines to treat different diseases, from psoriasis and cancer to heart attacks. Now we are helping patients recover from COVID-19 with Interferon Alfa2b Recombinant, one of 19 medications being developed or under clinical trial in Cuba by our biotech and pharmaceutical industries to treat different stages of COVID-19. Globally, we have received more than 70 requests for pharmaceuticals developed by Cuba.
This would be a clear avenue for Cuba-US cooperation but unfortunately, the Trump administration is wasting this opportunity by dismantling the limited progress made by Cuba and the US during the Obama administration.
President Trump strengthened the 60-year US blockade against my country, implementing 90 economic measures against Cuba between January 2019 and March 2020 alone. These measures have targeted the main sectors of the Cuban economy, including our financial transactions, tourism industry, energy sector, foreign investments – which are key for the development of the Cuban economy – and the medical cooperation programmes with other countries.
These unilateral coercive measures are unprecedented in their level of aggression and scope. They are deliberately trying to deprive Cuba of resources, sources of revenue and income needed for the development of the Cuban economy. The effects of these measures are being felt in Cuba, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. The blockade is stopping Cuba from getting much-needed medical supplies. For example, if more than 10 percent of the components in the medical equipment or medications we want to buy are of US origin, then Cuba is not allowed to purchase them.
In addition, the US has imposed restrictions on banks, airlines and shipping companies to stop Cuba from receiving materials that other countries are donating or sending to Cuba.
In April, the Alibaba Foundation of China tried to donate masks, rapid diagnostic kits and ventilators to Cuba, but the airline contracted by Alibaba to transport those items to Cuba refused to take the goods because they were afraid the US would sanction them.
A ship recently arrived in Cuba with raw materials to produce medications but it decided not to unload because the bank involved in the transaction decided not to make the payment out of fear it would be sanctioned by the US government.
So this is why we say we are suffering from two pandemics: COVID-19 and the US blockade. For that reason, it is so important that people of goodwill around the world continue to raise the demand to end the blockade of Cuba and to forcefully assert that these are times for solidarity and cooperation, not sanctions and blockades. In the meantime, Cuba, as a country that understands the value of solidarity, will continue to do our best to stop the spread of coronavirus at home and globally.

Newswire: Breonna Taylor’s family claims no aid was offered after she was fatally shot

By: Stephanie Guerilus, The Grio

Breonna Taylor

Breonna Taylor’s family is not only holding the Louisville police responsible for her death but they are now alleging that medical aid wasn’t offered to the young woman after she was fatally shot eight times.

The bombshell claim was made Sunday in a new 31-page legal filing by the family of Taylor, The New York Times reported. It is their belief that the EMT technician suffered in agony for up to six minutes during what they believe was a “botched” raid in March.

“In the six minutes that elapsed from the time Breonna was shot, to the time she died, we have no evidence suggesting that any officer made entry in an attempt to check and assist her,” Sam Aguiar, the family’s lawyer, said in an interview. “She suffered.”

Taylor died on March 13 during a botched drug raid that she was not the target of. Taylor, who worked at two local hospitals, was shot as police were serving a ‘no-knock warrant’ related to a narcotics investigation.

Kenneth Walker, Taylor’s boyfriend, called 911 to report someone was breaking into their apartment. As police fired on the couple, Walker returned fire and Taylor was shot eight times. She died at the scene.

Walker was arrested at the scene for attempted murder but the charges against him were later dropped. No narcotics were found in the home and her family filed a lawsuit against the three police officers involved in the shooting.

Officials with the city have pushed back against the suggestion that she was left to die, insisting it is a “gross mischaracterization.”

The coroner who performed Taylor’s autopsy stated that Taylor experienced life ending injuries and any intervention on the 26-year-old would have been in vain. She believed that Taylor died “less than a minute,” after being shot. “Even if it had happened outside of an ER we couldn’t have saved her,” Dr. Barbara Weakley-Jones said.

The filing also declared that Taylor’s death was due to gentrification and not a drug raid gone wrong. It was alleged that Mayor Greg Fischer wanted the land Taylor lived on for redevelopment and officers were tasked with clearing out the area.

“People needed to be removed and homes needed to be vacated so that a high-dollar, legacy-creating real estate development could move forward,” Taylor’s family said.

The mayor denied the “outrageous” allegations through his spokeswoman Jean Porter. “They are insulting to the neighborhood members of the Vision Russell initiative and all the people involved in the years of work being done to revitalize the neighborhoods of west Louisville.”

Newswire: Statue of abolitionist Frederick Douglass vandalized in Rochester, New York Park

By Nina Golgowski, Huffington Post

Frederick Douglass



A statue of abolitionist Frederick Douglass was ripped from its base in an upstate New York park over the weekend, authorities said, prompting concerns that the act may have been revenge for the nation’s ongoing removal of Confederate monuments.
The vandalism in Rochester’s Maplewood Park took place sometime on Sunday, police said. The day marked the 168th anniversary that Douglass, speaking in Rochester, gave one of his most famous speeches condemning slavery.
The statue was found at the brink of the Genesee River gorge, approximately 50 feet from the pedestal where it had stood. Its base and left hand were damaged, and there was no graffiti or any other markings left by the perpetrators, who remained at large as of Monday afternoon.
An investigation into the incident is ongoing, police told HuffPost.
The statue’s removal came as anti-racism protesters across the country have toppled or petitioned for the removal of statues and other memorabilia that commemorates the former Confederacy. The motive for removing Douglass’ statue was not immediately clear, however.
Douglass was born a slave in Maryland and, after securing his freedom, dedicated his life to abolitionism and social reforms.
In Rochester on July 5, 1852, he delivered one of his most famous speeches, “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” which called out the hypocrisy in Americans celebrating independence when there were still slaves among them.
“What, to the American slave, is your Fourth of July? I answer: a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim,” Douglass proclaimed.
The statue in Maplewood Park was one of 13 in Rochester that honored Douglass’ life and long-time residence in the city. The Maplewood Park holds its own historical significance, as it often served as the final stop for escaped slaves on the Underground Railroad, the secret network of routes and safe houses that slaves used to reach free states and Canada, according to the National Park Service.
Carvin Eison, a leader of the project that brought the Douglass statue to the park, told the Democrat and Chronicle that the statue’s damage is beyond repair but that another will take its place.
He questioned whether the destruction may be related to the removal of other monuments across the country, in a possible act of “retaliation.”
“They can topple over this monument, they could go topple over all of them, this monument will still stand because the ideas behind it are bigger than the monument,” he told local news station WROC.
Rev. Julius D Jackson Jr., whose historically Black fraternity Alpha Phi Alpha, led a march to Douglass’ gravesite in Rochester on Sunday, also said he wouldn’t be surprised if the act was done out of retaliation.
“We’ve been down this road before,” Jackson told WROC, citing the 2018 vandalism of another Douglass statue in the city. “I would like to believe it’s not that, it was just some kids. But it wouldn’t surprise me if it’s some retaliatory, something going on.”
Two college students were charged for the 2018 incident. Both reportedly apologized for what happened and blamed alcohol, not racism, for fueling the act.

Newswire : Black jobless rate was 15.4 percent in June

by BlackmansStreet.Today


The Black Unemployment rate June was 15.4 percent in June, down from 16.8 percent in May, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported last week.
The jobless rate for Black men, 20 and older, however, rose to 16.3 percent in June compared with 15.5 percent in May, BLS reported. However, the unemployment rate for Black women dipped to 14.0 percent with 16.5 percent in May.
Overall, the U.S. nonfarm payroll employment rose by 4.8 million in June on top of 2.7 million in May.
But, because so many jobs were lost in March and April, we are still 14.7 million jobs below where we were in February, before the pandemic spread, writes Elise Gould, senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute, and
In June, jobs were added due to many states continuing to lift the stay at home requirements.
Job gains occurred primarily in leisure and hospitality, an increase of 2.1 million, a significant share of the overall rise of 4.8 million. The unemployment rate fell as well, from 13.3% in May to 11.1% in June. At 11.1%, the unemployment rate remains higher than in the worst month of the Great Recession, when it hit 10.0% in 2009.
Hires are up because states relaxed their stay-at-home orders concerning pandemic, but more economic pain is on the horizon because the latest coronavirus data is that the relaxed restrictions on social distancing also had the effect of increased cases leading to some states to pause re-openings. In Florida and Texas, Covid-19 cases are spreading. Texas surpassed 200,000 Covid-19 cases over the July 4 holiday.
Losses in public-sector employment will affect Black workers more, particularly Black women, Gould and Shierholz wrote. That’s because Black women have the highest share of jobs in the public sector.
The Black unemployment rate is much higher compared with other racial and ethnic groups.
BLS reported that the jobless rate for Hispanics was 14.5 percent and jobless rate for Asians was 13.8 percent. For Whites, the jobless rate was 10.1 percent. For white men, the unemployment rate was 9.0 percent.

Newswire : Native American groups ask NFL to force Washington Redskins name change

By: Stephen Whyno, AP Sports Writer

Native Americans protest racism

WASHINGTON (AP) — More than a dozen Native American leaders and organizations sent a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Monday calling for the league to force Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder to change the team name immediately.

The letter was signed by 15 Native American advocates and obtained by The Associated Press. It demands the team and the NFL cease the use of Native American names, imagery and logos — with specific importance put on Washington, which last week launched a “ thorough review ” of its name.

The letter was delivered on the same day that President Donald Trump voiced his opposition to any name change by the team. Several team sponsors have come out in favor of change recently and Snyder showed his first indication of willingness to do so amid a nationwide movement to erase racially insensitive symbols.

According to their letter, the groups “expect the NFL to engage in a robust, meaningful reconciliation process with Native American movement leaders, tribes, and organizations to repair the decades of emotional violence and other serious harms this racist team name has caused to Native Peoples.”

The NFL did not immediately respond to a message confirming receipt of the letter. Goodell last week expressed support for Snyder’s review process of the name.

Retired PGA Tour golfer Notah Begay, IllumiNative founder Crystal Echo Hawk, two former executive directors of the National Congress of American Indians and several authors and professors signed on to the letter, which wants a full re-branding of the team “to ensure that continuing harm is not perpetuated by anyone.”

Trump is against re-branding the Redskins and Major League Baseball’s Cleveland Indians, who are also considering a name change.

Trump tweeted: “They name teams out of STRENGTH, not weakness, but now the Washington Redskins & Cleveland Indians, two fabled sports franchises, look like they are going to be changing their names in order to be politically correct.”

Snyder had been steadfast against changing the name on several occasions since buying the team in 1999. Last week, sponsors FedEx, PepsiCo, Nike and Bank of America released statements saying they requested a change, and several online stores removed the team’s gear.

“We believe it is time for a change,” PepsiCo said.

FedEx CEO Frederick Smith is a minority owner, and the company is the title sponsor of the team’s stadium in Landover, Maryland. The sudden flood of sponsors coming out against the name prompted the organizational review announced Friday.

“This process allows the team to take into account not only the proud tradition and history of the franchise but also input from our alumni, the organization, sponsors, the National Football League and the local community it is proud to represent on and off the field,” Snyder said.

The death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody in May sparked protests and a nationwide debate on racism. That conversation renewed calls for Snyder to change the name called a “dictionary defined racial slur” by Native American advocates and experts.

“We’ve never been faced with a greater opportunity and moment for this to finally happen,” Echo Hawk said last month.

“Native Americans have been working and fighting on this issue for decades, decades and decades, and I think really talking with different Native leaders around the country, this is the moment. There’s really no excuse now for this Washington team and for the NFL to do the right thing.”

Newswire: Election rerun in Malawi scores upset victory for opposition

Lazarus Chakwera and family at swearing-in ceremony


June 29, 2020 (GIN) – In a landmark presidential rerun, Malawi’s sitting President has been ousted from power after a sweeping victory by a popular Pentecostal preacher and former theology lecturer who promised to unite and serve all Malawians.
“I want to provide leadership that makes everybody prosper, that deals decisively with corruption and theft of public funds and a leadership what will follow the rule of law,” declared Lazarus Chakwera, who chalked up more votes than the former incumbent, Peter Mutharika, in the election rerun.
Mutharika was President of Malawi from 2014 till May 2019, when he ran for re-election and beat Mr. Chakwera by a hair. There followed a flood of challenges, citing widespread irregularities including the use of correction fluid on ballots. The election was annulled in court.
In essence, the Constitutional Court judges argued that Malawians deserve, and should expect, an A- grade election – not perfect, perhaps (who can boast that?) but free of systemic abuse. They should not have to make do with the more familiar C+ election that some nations and institutions still seem to tolerate or encourage.
They also implied that a slap on the wrist was not enough, and that Malawi’s precious democratic institutions needed to be properly defended.
This was an important blow against a widespread culture of impunity. It was just the second time in African history to have presidential poll results set aside, after Kenya in 2017.
“We have had a very credible election compared to the 2019 presidential election,” Malawian human rights activist Luke Tembo told the AFP news agency.
“The fact that people came out in large numbers to vote … has to be taken as a very strong message, moving forward, that Malawians will never allow their vote to be stolen.
“I do feel like Lazarus, I’ve come back from the dead,” Mr. Chakwera said, vowing to unite the country and fight poverty.
“Of what use is freedom from oppression if you and I are slaves to starvation? Or freedom from colonialism if you are a slave to tribalism?”
Mr. Chakwere, 65, who heads the opposition Malawi Congress Party, was born in a tiny village outside of the capital city, Lilongwe, to a subsistence farmer. He studied theology at the University of the North in South Africa and at Trinity International University in Deerfield, Illinois and wrote several books on religion.
The philosophy and theology graduate has pledged to raise the national minimum wage and revamp industries that would add value to the crops of Malawian farmers.

Newswire: Barack Obama, other celebs tip caps to Negro Leagues’ 100th Anniversary

By: Jim LItke, AP

Former President Barack Obama tips his cap

Barack Obama tipped his cap. So did three other former U.S. presidents and a host of prominent civil rights leaders, entertainers and sports greats in a virtual salute to the 100-year anniversary of the founding of baseball’s Negro Leagues.

The campaign launched Monday with photos and videos from, among others, Hank Aaron, Rachel Robinson, Derek Jeter, Colin Powell, Michael Jordan, Obama and fellow former Presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter at tippingyourcap.com.

On the receiving end of those tributes are many of the Negro Leagues’ greatest alumni: Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson, “Cool Papa” Bell and Jackie Robinson, who began with the Kansas City Monarchs and went on to break the color barrier in the major leagues with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. Not long after, with many of its best players gradually following Robinson’s path, the Negro Leagues ceased operations.

Singer Tony Bennett, showing his heart, tips a San Francisco Giants cap. Californian Billie Jean King opts for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Clinton said he chose a Chicago Cubs cap in honor of Ernie Banks, the late Hall of Famer who got his start in the Negro Leagues.

But, Clinton added: “This cap is for Hillary, too, when finally, the Cubs won the championship. Long before that, the Negro Leagues made baseball better and America better.”

The celebration was moved online after a major league-wide tribute to baseball’s Black pioneers scheduled for June 27 was shelved — along with the games — because of the coronavirus pandemic. At first, Negro Leagues Baseball Museum president Bob Kendrick worried that his longstanding plan to honor the men and women who battled long odds for a game of their own would have to be postponed, at best.

“In our game, there’s nothing more honorable than tipping your cap,” Kendrick said. “And once I realized that national day of recognition was going to fall by the wayside, I thought, ‘OK, maybe we can do it next year.’ But that didn’t really do it.

“So then I thought, ’How about a virtual tip of the cap?‴ Kendrick paused, then chuckled. “And let me say here and now, there is no way I could have done this myself. I could not be more proud of the response.”

Kendrick got the lift he was looking for from communications specialist Dan McGinn and longtime NLBM supporter Joe Posnanski, a sports writer for The Athletic and author of “The Soul of Baseball,” chronicling his yearlong road trip promoting the Kansas City-based museum and the stories behind it with legendary Negro League star, the late Buck O’Neil.

O’Neil was the driving force behind the museum for decades. The NLBM has expanded several times since Rube Foster, as skilled an executive as he was a baseball pitcher, founded the first Negro National League at a YMCA on the same site in 1920.

Kendrick said his personal favorite tribute came from Jackie Robinson’s family.

“It’s Rachel tipping her cap, but there’s four generations of Robinson women in that video talking about our common cause and it evokes the kind of emotion at a time when our country really needs it,” he said.

“And you know,” he added a moment later, “it’s funny how this whole thing worked out. I always felt if there was going to be conversations about race in sports, the Negro Leagues should be at the center, because that’s the story: They triumphed over adversity.

“I got to know so many of them, and not a single guy that I met ever harbored ill will, at least to the point where they let it block their path. Everybody else thought the major leagues were better, but you couldn’t convince them,” he concluded. “They just wanted the chance to prove they could play this game as well as anybody else.”

They did, forging a rich legacy that will echo with a new generation thanks to something as simple as the virtual tip of a cap.

Newswire: SPLC announces $30 million investment to increase voter registration

NNPA Newswire Staff Report

Black voter shows button



The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) today announced it is investing up to $30 million from its endowment in voter outreach organizations in the Deep South to increase voter registration and participation among people of color with a lower propensity to vote.
The initiative, called Vote Your Voice, is focused on increasing voter participation specifically in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana and Mississippi, beginning in 2020 and running through 2022.
“This initiative is especially important right now, as millions of people across the country feel the urgency to make our voices heard this fall after the continued silence from our leaders on the many Black people being killed by police,” SPLC President and Chief Executive Officer Margaret Huang, said in a news release.
“Voting won’t solve this problem the day after the election but in order to begin dismantling white supremacy, we need to ensure that every voter of color is able to cast their ballot without interference or hardship.”
Huang continued: The work ahead of us will not be easy. The COVID-19 pandemic has and will continue to have a disproportionate impact on democratic participation for communities of color who have been harmed most deeply by the health and economic crisis and who will encounter greater barriers to voter participation given the new risks of voting in person on Election Day.”
Numerous organizations across the five states are working to promote voter participation and reach communities of color, returning citizens and young people, but they are struggling to secure resources to further their outreach amid the COVID-19 pandemic, an era of social distancing, and major economic recession, the SPLC said in a statement.
Vote Your Voice, a partnership with the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta (Community Foundation), will administer grants up to a total of $30 million available for nonprofit-nonpartisan activities through 2022 as organizations navigate reaching their constituents amidst the pandemic and other obstacles.
“We are proud to partner with Southern Poverty Law Center to target education and mobilization efforts that support a robust, and fair, election process,” said Community Foundation Vice President of Community Lita Pardi.
“We must all work to end systemic barriers that deny our citizens their right to vote, especially in Black communities across the South.”
Other Vote Your Voice goals include:
• Reconnecting with constituencies that historically and currently face barriers to voting, focusing on returning citizens, voters of color, and those who have been purged from voter rolls.
• Engaging voters who are often ignored by outreach programs, including low-propensity voters of color and voters of color who live outside of major metro areas.
• Building greater capacity for voter outreach work to combat voter suppression by providing multi-year support through the 2022 election cycle.
• Funding and supporting organizations that are led by people of color.
The SPLC and the Community Foundation will award their first round of grants in early July and a second round later in the summer. Organizations that work with communities of color have been invited to submit grant applications as part of the first round. The second round will be conducted through an open Request for Proposals process.
Officials noted that Vote Your Voice builds on the SPLC’s ongoing voting rights work to enable every citizen in the Deep South the opportunity to have their voice heard at the ballot box.
In the past two years, the SPLC invested a combined $2 million to help pass the Amendment 4 ballot initiative in Florida and increase voter registration and turn-out in Louisiana and Mississippi state elections.
Meanwhile, in federal courts, the SPLC has successfully sued Florida on its unconstitutional poll tax and has ongoing litigation challenging Mississippi’s lifetime voting ban for citizens with certain felony convictions.
Since May of this year, the SPLC has filed litigation in Alabama and Louisiana to challenge election laws that force voters to choose between participating in democracy and protecting their health.
Information regarding Vote Your Voice is available, with a grant application coming soon at: https://www.splcenter.org/vote-your-voice

Newswire: NASA announces Washington DC Headquarters will be named for Mary W. Jackson

By: tffhthewriter

Mary W. Jackson, NASA Engineer

NASA engineer and mathematician Mary W. Jackson is finally getting her just due.

On Wednesday (Jun 24) NASA announced plans to rename their headquarters located in Washington DC after the first Black female aerospace engineer Mary W. Jackson. Jackson, who was the agency’s first American American female engineer in 1958, opened up opportunities for countless women of color in STEM who followed in her footsteps.

“Mary W. Jackson was part of a group of very important women who helped NASA succeed in getting American astronauts into space. Mary never accepted the status quo, she helped break barriers and open opportunities for African Americans and women in the field of engineering and technology,” Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a statement to CBS News. “Today, we proudly announce the Mary W. Jackson NASA Headquarters building.”

NASA took to social media with the special announcement writing, “Our headquarters building in Washington, D.C., will be named after Mary W. Jackson, the first African-American female engineer at NASA. She started in research and later moved into the personnel field, working to ensure equal opportunity in hiring and promotion.”

Last year, Nasa renamed the street outside its headquarters as Hidden Figures Way.

“Hidden no more, we will continue to recognize the contributions of women, African Americans, and people of all backgrounds who have made Nasa’s successful history of exploration possible,” Mr. Bridenstine continued.”Mary never accepted the status quo, she helped break barriers and open opportunities for African Americans and women in the field of engineering and technology.”

Jackson’s career, along with those of other pioneering black NASA scientists including Katherine Johnson and Dorothy Vaughan, became widely recognized after the publication of Margot Lee Shetterly’s 2016 book, “Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race.” In the subsequent film Hidden Figures, Jackson was played by award-winning musician and actress Janelle Monáe.

Newswire : Mississippi surrenders Confederate symbol from state flag

By: Emily Wagster Pettus, Associated Press

Mississippi students protest state flag

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi will retire the last state flag in the U.S. with the Confederate battle emblem, more than a century after white supremacist legislators adopted the design a generation after the South lost the Civil War.

A broad coalition of lawmakers — Black and white, Democrat and Republican — voted Sunday, June 28, 2020, for change as the state faced increasing pressure amid nationwide protests against racial injustice.

Mississippi has a 38% Black population, and critics have said for generations that it’s wrong to have a flag that prominently features an emblem many condemn as racist.

The Senate voted 37-14 to retire the flag, hours after the House voted 91-23.

Cheers rang out in the state Capitol after the Senate vote. Some spectators wept. Legislators embraced each other, many hugging colleagues who were on the opposing side of an issue that has long divided the tradition-bound state.

Republican Gov. Tate Reeves is expected to sign the bill into law in the next few days.

Democratic Rep. Robert Johnson of Natchez choked back tears as he told reporters that he has seen white colleagues develop more empathy about how the Confederate symbol is painful to him and other African Americans. “They began to understand and feel the same thing that I’ve been feeling for 61 years of my life,” Johnson said.

A commission will design a new flag that cannot include the Confederate symbol and that must have the words “In God We Trust.” Voters will be asked to approve the new design in the Nov. 3 election. If they reject it, the commission will set a different design using the same guidelines, and that would be sent to voters later.

Republican House Speaker Philip Gunn, who is white, has pushed for five years to change the flag, saying the Confederate symbol is offensive. “How sweet it is to celebrate this on the Lord’s day,” Gunn said.

Legislators put the Confederate emblem on the upper left corner of Mississippi flag in 1894, as white people were squelching political power that African Americans had gained after the Civil War.

In a 2001 statewide election, voters chose to keep the flag. An increasing number of cities and all Mississippi’s public universities have taken down the state flag in recent years. But until now, efforts to redesign the flag sputtered in the Republican-dominated Legislature.

That dynamic shifted as an extraordinary and diverse coalition of political, business, religious groups and sports leaders pushed for change.

At a Black Lives Matter protest outside the Mississippi Governor’s Mansion in early June, thousands cheered as an organizer said the state needs to divorce itself from all Confederate symbols.

Religious groups said erasing the rebel emblem from the state flag is a moral imperative. Notable among them was the state’s largest church group, the 500,000-member Mississippi Baptist Convention, which called for change last week after not pushing for it before the 2001 election.

Business groups said the banner hinders economic development in one of the poorest states in the nation.

In a sports-crazy culture, the biggest blow might have happened when college sports leagues said Mississippi could lose postseason events if it continued flying the Confederate-themed flag. Nearly four dozen of Mississippi’s university athletic directors and coaches came to the Capitol to lobby for change.

Many people who wanted to keep the emblem on the Mississippi flag said they see it as a symbol of heritage. The battle emblem is a red field topped by a blue X with 13 white stars. The Ku Klux Klan and other hate groups have waved the rebel flag for decades.

The Mississippi Supreme Court found in 2000 that when the state updated its laws in 1906, portions dealing with the flag were not included. That meant the banner lacked official status. The Democratic governor in 2000, Ronnie Musgrove, appointed a commission to decide the flag’s future. It held hearings across the state that grew ugly as people shouted at each other about the flag. Legislators then opted not to set a flag design themselves, and put the issue on the 2001 statewide ballot.

Former Mississippi Gov. William Winter, who is now 97, served on then-President Bill Clinton’s national advisory board on race in the 1990s and was chairman of the Mississippi flag commission in 2000. Winter said Sunday that removing the Confederate symbol from the banner is “long overdue.”

“The battle for a better Mississippi does not end with the removal of the flag, and we should work in concert to make other positive changes in the interest of all of our people,” said Winter, a Democrat who was governor from 1980 until 1984.

Democratic state Sen. Derrick Simmons of Greenville, who is African American, said the state deserves a flag to make all people proud. “Today is a history-making day in the state of Mississippi,” Simmons told colleagues. “Let’s vote today for the Mississippi of tomorrow.”