Newswire: Hanover County, Va.’s NAACP sues to rename Confederate schools, hearing Jan. 14

By George Copeland Jr., NNPA News Service

Robert N. Burnette Jr. , Va. NAACP official

( – The fate of a federal lawsuit brought by the Hanover County Branch NAACP in a bid to force the Hanover County School Board to rename two schools currently named for Confederate leaders could be decided on Jan. 14.
That’s when U.S. District Court Judge Robert E. Payne will hear arguments on the School Board’s request to dismiss the NAACP’s suit seeking a court order requiring new names for Lee-Davis
High School and Stonewall Jackson Middle School.
Judge Payne, who will hear the case at the courthouse in Downtown
Richmond, Va., has already expressed concerns about the suit that he
wants attorneys for the Hanover NAACP to address.
In a preliminary order, he directed those attorneys to show that this is a genuine dispute over which the branch is entitled to sue. Judge Payne also ordered the NAACP lawyers to identify any cases that support its arguments or to show that their argument is based “on the extension of existing legal principles.”
The lawsuit was launched on Aug. 16 by the Hanover NAACP led by
President Robert N. Barnette Jr., who also is president of the Virginia
State Conference of the NAACP.
The suit aims to “eradicate the vestiges of a shameful, racist educational system in Hanover County that forces African-American students to champion a legacy of segregation and oppression”
by attending schools named for rebels who fought to maintain slavery.
The lawsuit argues that the names contribute to a “hostile and
discriminatory environment for African-American students” enrolled at the
The suit cites incidents of racial harassment against African-American
students on the part of staff and other students.The main argument,
though, is that the Hanover County School Board is violating the First and
14th amendments of the U.S. Constitution by forcing African- American
students to attend schools with such names.
The lawsuit argues that this amounts to government-compelled speech in an “unequal learning environment” and that African-American students are harmed by being forced to experience such speech in everything from school sporting events to graduation ceremonies.
Lee-Davis, named for Confederate General Robert E. Lee and Confederate President Jefferson Davis, opened in 1958, and Stonewall Jackson opened in 1969 at a time of heightened racial conflict in a county that was one of the last in Virginia to desegregate its public schools.
When the lawsuit was launched, Barnette urged the School Board to come up with a resolution to avoid the cost of a lawsuit. The board, though, has declined and decided just before Thanksgiving
not to change the names.
“The board is not taking any action on this item,” School Board Chairman
Roger Bourassa announced on Nov. 22 following a closed-door discuss
ion. Like most governmental entities, the School Board did not comment
on pending litigation. In statements made before the Nov. 22 decision,
Bourassa said that Lee-Davis High and Stonewall Jackson Middle School eventually would be rebuilt and renamed, in order to comply with current School Board policy that bars any school in the
county from being named after a person, living or dead.
Barnette questioned the board’s choice to “continue to spend thousands
of dollars on a lawsuit” rather than take the initiative to change the school
names and forego expensive litigation, particularly in light of Bourassa’s
Barnette said, “I guess you could say the ball is in their court.”

Gov. Ivey appoints new Lowndes County, AL sheriff

By WSFA Staff

Christopher West, new Sheriff of Lowndes, Co. Alabama

Gov. Kay Ivey of Alabama has appointed Lowndes County Chief Deputy Christopher West as the county’s new sheriff. (Source: Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office)
According to Gina Maiola with the governor’s office, Christopher West will be the new sheriff. West was Lowndes County’s chief deputy and has served in law enforcement for 24 years, according to his biography on the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office website. He’s served in Lowndes County, as well as Fort Deposit as the chief of police.
Prior to his law enforcement career, West served for five years in the United States Marine Corps. He is also a graduate of Herzig University in Birmingham.
According to the governor’s office, he is the current administrative assistant to the Fort Deposit chief of police. He left his position as deputy sheriff in Lowndes County in 2018.
He’s got big shoes to fill but I’m very confident that he can do that and he certainly is excited to serve,” said Ivey. West was appointed after the shooting death of Sheriff John “Big John” Williams at a Hayneville shopping mall in November.

Newswire: Majority Whip Clyburn hails passage of H.R. 3 – Landmark legislation to lower prescription drug costs

Clyburn Effort to Expand Community Health Centers

Rep. James E. Clyburn speaking

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn hailed House passage of H.R. 3, the Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act. This landmark legislation gives Medicare the power to negotiate directly with drug companies and extends those lower prices to Americans with private insurance too.
“This is an important step toward providing American consumers more accessible and affordable prescription drugs,” Congressman Clyburn said. “In the United States, our drug prices are nearly four times higher than in similar countries, and this legislation will provide real price reductions that will put significant money back in the pocket of consumers.”
Negotiating lower prescription drug prices has the added benefit of cost savings to American taxpayers. A portion of those savings will be reinvested in the National Institutes of Health to research new cures and treatments. Cost savings will also support an expansion of Medicare benefits to cover dental, vision, and hearing needs and sets a $2,000 out-of-pocket limit on prescription drug costs for those on Medicare.
In addition, cost savings will be used to fund provisions of Congressman Clyburn’s H.R. 1943 – Community Health Center and Primary Care Workforce Expansion Act of 2019. H.R. 3 will provide a $10 billion funding boost to community health centers, which serve 28 million Americans in communities across the United States, including over 350,000 veterans, 8 million children, and 1.4 million homeless patients.
This $10 billion includes $5 billion for capital improvements and construction to expand the footprint of community health centers and an additional $5 billion in funding over the next five years for community health center grants, allowing them to serve more people, including Americans living in rural areas, where half of the Centers are located.
“Providing robust funding to build on the success of community health centers is critically important to providing quality health care in hard-to-reach communities,” Congressman Clyburn continued. “In my district alone, where three rural hospitals have closed, there are eight federally-funded community health centers working to serve almost 190,000 patients.”
H.R. 3 passed the House on a bipartisan vote, 230-192, and was sent to the Senate for consideration.

Newswire: Soleimani Assassination: President Trump is leading America toward war without end in the Middle East News

Analysis by: Rev. Jesse Jackson

People attend a funeral procession for Iranian Major-General Qassem Soleimani, head of the elite Quds Force, and Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, who were killed in an air strike at Baghdad airport, in Ahvaz, Iran January 5, 2020. Hossein Mersadi/Fars news agency/WANA (West Asia News Agency) via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS – THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY

( – It has come to this. An impeached president — still pending trial in the Senate — orders the assassination of a leading Iranian general as he is meeting with the leader of Iraq, a supposed ally. He does so without consultation, much less approval, of Congress. Besieged at home, he lashes out abroad.
This president ran on the promise to end the “endless wars “in the Middle East. Earlier, he ordered and then wisely called off bombing strikes on Iran, saying that he did not want a war. Now he claims that he has acted to stop a war, not start one.
He is either deliberately misleading the American people or deluding himself. Assassination of a foreign official is not the road to peace; violence almost inevitably begets violence. He has acted on what his own officials call “razor-thin” evidence, shocking his own military advisers. U.S. presidents now claim the right — and have the capability — to target and assassinate anyone in any place, foreigner or citizen, if they decide — on the basis of secret and often scanty intelligence — that the person may be considering an attack on U.S. allies or soldiers or representatives in the future. They call this potential threat evidence of an “imminent attack,” to pay mock respect to the international law that they are trampling.
General Qassim Soleimani is portrayed as a terrorist with American blood on his hands. But he was not a stateless terrorist. He was a high official in a foreign government with which we are not at war. Assassinating him is an act of war. Ironically, Iran and the Shiite militias in Iraq that Soleimani guided were leading, if unacknowledged, allies in the fight against ISIS, who are largely Sunnis.
Similarly, those who attacked the U.S. on 9/11 were Sunnis, almost all from Saudi Arabia, funded largely by Saudi money. Taliban in Afghanistan are Sunni. The attack on Yemen was led by Saudi Arabia, which is Sunni. Iran fought against ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Yet, somehow, it has become Trump’s leading target.
The road to this escalating conflict can be traced back to Trump’s perverse hatred of all things achieved by former President Barack Obama. One of Trump’s first acts was to pull the U.S. out of the Iran nuclear pact, over the objections of our allies and his own military advisers.
He ramped up sanctions on Iran, seeking to force them to surrender to a “better deal.” The result has been escalating tension and violence, as Iran has demonstrated — in attacks on Saudi oil facilities and on tankers in the Persian Gulf — that it has the capacity to strike back. Now, after the assassination, the entire region girds itself for the retaliation that has already been promised. This is utter folly.
Under George Bush, the U.S. destabilized this region by invading Iraq. That calamity has fostered escalating violence. Obama added to the mess seeking regime change in Syria and in Libya, spreading the chaos. Trump was right when he said it was time for the U.S. to get out of the Middle East.
We have no stake in the spreading conflict between Sunnis and Shiites. We have no desire to send the hundreds of thousands of troops needed to win a war or enforce a peace. All we are doing is squandering American lives and resources in an armed presence that simply adds to the violence without leading to a resolution. Why has Trump abandoned his campaign promise? Why did he abandon his wise decision not to strike Iran earlier? The only thing that has changed is that he has been impeached. Is he ramping up violence abroad to distract from the overwhelming evidence of his offenses? Is he using the U.S. military as a political campaign prop?
The next move is in Iran’s hands. If the regime reacts predictably by striking back, the assassination will lead to escalating violence. Eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth, and soon all are left without sight and without teeth. Iran could — if its leaders can rise above their grief and their anger — use this moment to take an initiative for peace, calling on our allies to join in convening a negotiation, opening a path to less violence and greater exchange.
Trump may not wish to respond, but surely our allies in Europe would jump at the chance. Clearly Congress must assert its constitutional war powers and limit the license of this or any president to wage war or assassinate foreign leaders on a whim. It must insist on public hearings to review the basis for the assassination. We need hearings on what we are doing in the Middle East and how we begin to bring the troops home.
Congress needs to pass a renewed war powers resolution instructing the president to bring the troops home, not send more of them to the region. If Congress cannot curb a rogue president, then this republic is in deep trouble. And the American people and its soldiers are

Newswire: African countries sign free-trade agreement

Meeting of African nations

by BlackmansStreet.Today on December 28, 2019

Fifty-five African countries have signed a free-trade agreement that will unite 1.3 billion people and create a $3.4 trillion economic bloc that will develop countries across the continent.
The agreement, African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), is the largest trade bloc since the World Trade Organization was founded in 1994. Africa’s current population is 1.2 billion, but it is expected to reach 2.5 billion by 2050
The operational phase of the African Continental Free Trade Area was launched July 7, in Niamey, Niger.
The operational instruments include rules of origin, an online negotiating forum, the monitoring and elimination of non-tariff barriers, a digital payments system and African Trade Observatory.
The AfCFTA was adopted March 21, 2018.
The African Union, which is headquartered in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, announced that the free trade zone is expected to become operational in July 2020, DW News, which is based in Berlin, reported.
“The eyes of the world are turned to Africa,” Egyptian President and AU chairman Abdel -Fattah el-Sissi said.
The trade bloc is expected to boost the Africa’s economy by strengthening regional trade and supply chains, DW News reported. Currently intra-African trade only makes up about 16 percent of Africa’s total trade, much lower than Europe (69 percent) or Asia (59 percent), reports.
But there are challenges that include poor roads, indequate railway lines, violence in specific areas, strict border controls and corruption, DW report

Newswire: It’s time for Africa ‘to do things for itself’, proclaims Kenyan Peace Prize winner

Ngugi wa Thiong’o

Dec. 30, 2019 (GIN) – Over the last 100 years, Africa has been the eternal donor to the West but has been represented as always reliant on aid from the Western community.
“We must find a way of reversing this by becoming makers of our own raw materials,” asserts Kenyan author and academic Ngugi wa Thiong’o who picked up a distinguished German Peace Prize named for Erich Maria Remarque this year.
“It’s time for Africa to do things for ourselves,” declared wa Thiong’o, author of ‘Weep Not, Child’, ‘A Grain of Wheat,” and ‘Petals of Blood,’ – “not in pursuit of isolation but as a matter of upholding values of Pan Africanism and having ownership and responsibility of the continent.”
The most apparent problem with many African people, he observed, is seeing Africa through the eyes of an outsider – an imperial intent designed through languages and policies – to foster post-colonial measurements that would be indestructible for many generations.
As a result, you look at the state as a looting mechanism, not as a responsibility. “Have you ever heard of anybody robbing their own house?” he asked rhetorically. “This mentality removes us from the responsibility of decolonizing the continent and securing our base.”
“Africa has to control its resources,” he insisted. “We have to make things with our resources and exchange them with other countries just as other countries exchange final products with us – using our gold, copper and diamonds amongst other resources.
“Because when you secure the base you can interact with the world, through the basis of equality and respect.”
A distinguished professor of comparative literature and English, wa Thiong’o was awarded the prize for his book: “Decolonizing the Mind: The Politics of Language in African Literature”, about language and its constructive role in national culture, history and identity.
The Prize is awarded for fictional, journalistic or scientific works which set out to engage with inner and outer peace as well as for demonstrating an exemplary commitment to peace, humanity and freedom.
A statement of the jury read: “Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o is an important representative of independence through language and advocates the right of peoples to cultural self-determination as an identity and peace-building characteristic.”

Newswire: 80-year old woman makes history, graduates from Alabama A & M with a 3.69 GPA

Ms. Donzella Washington

Normal, AL — Donzella Washington, an 80-year old woman from Alabama, is celebrating being the oldest person to ever graduate from Alabama A&M University. Even more, she graduated Magna Cum Laude with a 3.69 GPA with a degree in social work. She dedicated her achievement to her late husband who she says had always been supportive of her.
According to Rocket City Now, Washington is the oldest person to ever graduate from Alabama A&M University. She now plans to travel to nursing homes across the country as a motivational speaker, and hopes to inspire other people — young and old — to believe in themselves and their dreams.
Growing up, Washington says she had low self-esteem due to a speech difficulty that made her stutter badly. She was 30-years old when she overcame it after taking four speech classes at the College of the Sequoias.
She eventually learned how to manage her thoughts along with patience and confidence with herself. She took the risk and entered college even at an older age.
Washington is thankful for her late husband who she says was the one who always pushed her to achieve her dreams. After graduating with flying colors, she also plans to continue studying to take up her master’s degree.

Newswire: Congressman John Lewis is battling pancreatic cancer

by BlackmansStreet.Today

Rep. John Lewis
U.S. Representative John Lewis and a civil rights icon has disclosed that he is being treated for pancreatic cancer, an often-deadly disease that took the life of Aretha Franklin.
Congressman Lewis announced in a news release Sunday, “ This month in a routine medical visit, and subsequent tests, doctors discovered Stage IV pancreatic cancer. This diagnosis had been reconfirmed.”
Stage 4 pancreatic cancer means the disease, which is initially hard to detect, has spread to other organs, typically the liver or the lungs.
Pancreatic cancer occurs when the cancer cells form and grow in the pancreas, a vital part of the digestive system and a critical controller of blood sugar levels, according Johns Hopkins Medicine. The pancreas is located deep in the abdomen. Part of the pancreas is sandwiched between the stomach and the spine.
Pancreatic cancer can’t be cured at this point, but there are still treatment options. The MD Anderson Cancer Center reports that there are 50,000 new cases of pancreatic cancer every year and more than 40,000 individuals die from the disease every year.
Symptoms of pancreatic cancer include jaundice, dark urine or light- colored stool, pain in the abdomen or middle of the back, bloating or the feeling of fullness, nausea, vomiting or indigestion, lack of an appetite, unexplained weight loss and sudden onset diabetes. Pancreatic cancer can be treated with surgery, chemotherapy and radiation.
Black men have a very poor survival rate from pancreatic cancer, according to several studies but the reasons are not clear. The disease also affects more individuals 65 and older. Lewis is 79. Doctors also are treating U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg for pancreatic cancer. Justice Ginsburg is 85.
African Americans are more likely to develop pancreatic cancer than other ethnic racial groups. Risk factors for the ailment include smoking and obesity. Blacks are some the most-obese individuals in the country.
Lewis, who represents Georgia’s 5th Congressional District, was elected to Congress in 1987. He marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to lead the push for voting rights. Lewis urged everyone to keep him in their prayers.

Newswire : South African leader sees end to racism and bigotry

Dec. 16, 2019 (GIN) – President Cyril Ramaphosa struck a note of optimism in his message on Dec. 16 – the Day of Reconciliation and the anniversary of two major historical events, now celebrated as a public holiday.
Since the nation attained democracy, he said, citizens have showed the capacity to look beyond their differences ‘in the quest to achieve true nationhood’.
“As we take stock of how far we have come in healing the divisions of the past and building a united nation, we have much to be proud of,” he said.
He cited the Springboks World Cup victory in Japan and the Miss Universe competition early this month as evidence of things achieved.
Diversity in the country is evident in sports, parliament, in places of higher learning and schools, and on television screens where programming reflects the diversity, he continued.
“Racism and bigotry no longer define our nation,” he insisted. “Where they do occur, they are isolated. Where there have been manifestations of intolerance, we have been able to unite behind the values of tolerance and respect for diversity that define our Bill of Rights.”.
December 16 became the Day of Reconciliation due to its significance to both Afrikaner and African people. In 1838, white Voortrekkers proposed a meeting with the Zulu leader Dingane kaSenzangakhona Zulu, with an eye towards settling on Zulu lands. Dingane, mistrustful, took a preemptive measure and ordered an attack. Close to 400 Voortrekkers died at the hands of the Zulus.
Not long after, the Voortrekkers returned with superior weapons (Zulus, said to be strong fighters, were unable to resist the cannons and other firearms not yet in Zulu hands)
Some 3,000 Zulu soldiers were killed in this final battle, which lasted less than seven hours. Not one Voortrekker is believed to have died during the fight although some were wounded.
The bodies of fallen Zulu warriors scattered the scorched earth surrounding the Ncome river – the water itself ran red with blood.
The Battle of Blood River became a turning point in South Africa’s history. The monstrous defeat which befell the Zulu kingdom on that day destroyed Dingane’s political power base. The Zulu kingdom became embroiled in a civil war, as rival leaders vied for control. Dingane fled Natal in 1840, after being overthrown by Prince Mpande at the Battle of Maqongqe.
For the Voortrekkers, the Battle of Blood River entrenched their struggle for self-determination. This militaristic victory is seen as one of the most defining moments for the Afrikaner nation.
The second historical event was the birth of Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK). This was the military wing of the African National Congress (ANC), launched to wage an armed struggle against the apartheid government.
MK mostly performed acts of sabotage, but its effectiveness was hampered by organizational problems and the arrest of its leaders in 1963. Despite this, its formation has been commemorated every year since 1961.

Newswire : California, the land of sunshine and homelessness

Tents for the homeless in California

by BlackmansStreet.Today
Unsheltered homelessness in 2019 rose nearly 3.0 percent, largely due to increases in California and Oregon, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has reported.
The number of homeless persons was 567,715, up 2.7 percent or 14,885 more people compared with 2018.
HUD noted that homelessness among veterans and families with children declined 2.1 percent and 4.8 percent respectively in 2019.
Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia reported declines in homelessness, but 21 states reported increases.
The two most prominent being California and Oregon. California’s homeless population increased by 21,306 people, or 16.4 percent, more than the national increase of every other state combined.
“Homeless in California is at crisis level and needs to be addressed by local and state leaders with crisis-like urgency,” said HUD Secretary Ben Carson.
HUD’s homeless estimate is based on data reported by approximately 3,000 cities and counties nationwide. The homeless count, also known as the point-in-time count, is taken during a single night in January.
Secretary Carson is expected release HUD’s homelessness findings to Congress in the near future.