Newswire : UN Rights Chief: Reparations needed for people facing racism

Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights,

By: Jamey Keaten, Associated Press

GENEVA (AP) — The U.N. human rights chief, in a landmark report launched after the killing of George Floyd in the United States, is urging countries worldwide to do more to help end discrimination, violence and systemic racism against people of African descent and “make amends” to them — including through reparations. The report from Michelle Bachelet, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, offers a sweeping look at the roots of centuries of mistreatment faced by Africans and people of African descent, notably from the transatlantic slave trade. It seeks a “transformative” approach to address its continued impact today. The report, a year in the making, hopes to build on momentum around the recent, intensified scrutiny worldwide about the blight of racism and its impact on people of African descent as epitomized by the high-profile killings of unarmed Black people in the United States and elsewhere. “There is today a momentous opportunity to achieve a turning point for racial equality and justice,” the report said. The report aims to speed up action by countries to end racial injustice; end impunity for rights violations by police; ensure that people of African descent and those who speak out against racism are heard; and face up to past wrongs through accountability and redress. “I am calling on all states to stop denying — and start dismantling — racism; to end impunity and build trust; to listen to the voices of people of African descent; and to confront past legacies and deliver redress,” Bachelet said in a video statement. While broaching the issue of reparation in her most explicit way yet, Bachelet suggested that monetary compensation alone is not enough and would be part of an array of measures to help rectify or make up for the injustices. “Reparations should not only be equated with financial compensation,” she wrote, adding that it should include restitution, rehabilitation, acknowledgement of injustices, apologies, memorialization, educational reforms and “guarantees” that such injustices won’t happen again. Bachelet, a former president of Chile, hailed the efforts of advocacy groups like the Black Lives Matter movement, saying they helped provide “grassroots leadership through listening to communities” and that they should receive “funding, public recognition and support.” The U.N.-backed Human Rights Council commissioned the report during a special session last year following the murder of Floyd, a Black American who was killed by a white police officer in Minneapolis in May 2020. The officer, Derek Chauvin, was sentenced to 22-1/2 years in prison last week. Protests erupted after excruciating bystander video showed how Floyd gasped repeatedly, “I can’t breathe!” as onlookers yelled at Chauvin to stop pressing his knee on Floyd’s neck. The protests against Floyd’s killing and the “momentous” verdict against Chauvin are a “seminal point in the fight against racism,” the report said. The report was based on discussions with over 340 people — mostly of African descent — and experts; more than 100 contributions in writing, including from governments; and review of public material, the rights office said. It analyzed 190 deaths, mostly in the U.S., to show how law enforcement officers are rarely held accountable for rights violations and crimes against people of African descent, and it noted similar patterns of mistreatment by police across many countries. he report ultimately aims to transform those opportunities into a more systemic response by governments to address racism, and not just in the United States — although the injustices and legacy of slavery, racism and violence faced by African Americans was clearly a major theme. The report also laid out cases, concerns and the situation in roughly 60 countries including Belgium, Brazil, Britain, Canada, Colombia and France, among others. “We could not find a single example of a state that has fully reckoned with the past or comprehensively accounted for the impacts of the lives of people of African descent today,” Mona Rishmawi, who heads a unit on non-discrimination in Bachelet’s office. “Our message, therefore, is that this situation is untenable.” Compensation should be considered at the “collective and the individual level,” Rishmawi said, while adding that any such process “starts with acknowledgment” of past wrongs and “it’s not one-size-fits-all.” She said countries must look at their own pasts and practices to assess how to proceed. Rishmawi said Bachelet’s team found “a main part of the problem is that many people believe the misconceptions that the abolition of slavery, the end of the transatlantic trade and colonialism have removed the racially discriminatory structures built by those practices. “We found that this is not true,” said Rishmawi, also denouncing an idea among some “associating blackness with criminality … there is a need to address this.” The report called on countries to “make amends for centuries of violence and discrimination” such as through “formal acknowledgment and apologies, truth-telling processes and reparations in various forms.” It also decried the “dehumanization of people of African descent” that was “rooted in false social constructions of race” in the past to justify enslavement, racial stereotypes and harmful practices as well as tolerance for racial discrimination, inequality and violence. People of African descent face inequalities and “stark socioeconomic and political marginalization” in many countries, the report said, including unfair access to education, health care, jobs, housing and clean water. “We believe very strongly that we only touched the tip of the iceberg,“ Rishmawi said, referring to the report. ”We really believe that there is a lot more work that needs to be done.”

Newswire : Falsely accused brothers awarded $75M after 30 years in prison

Brothers Henry McCollum and Leon Brown spent 30 years in prison for a crime they didn’t commit.

By Lauren Victoria Burke, NNPA Newswire Contributor

The two brothers were convicted at 19 and 15 and were sentenced to be executed. The two had been wrongfully convicted of a 1983 rape and murder of an 11-year-old girl.  At 16, Brown became the youngest individual to be on death row in North Carolina’s history. Both McCollum and Brown claimed for years their confessions at the time of the crime were coerced. In 2014, the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission found that DNA testing verified a match to the next-door neighbor of the murder victim — the convictions of McCollum and Brown were on the road to being overturned. In September 2014, a judge ruled McCollum and Brown were, in fact, innocent. Six years after their exonerations, a $75 million judgement has now been awarded to the two brothers.  The May 14 ruling by a jury mandated that the two should be awarded $1 million each for every year in prison and an additional $13 million in punitive damages. In 2018, the state of North Carolina only paid $750,000 to Henry McCollum to compensate him for the 30 years that he, an innocent man, spent on death row. The jury compensated them further. “The first jury to hear all of the evidence — including the wrongly suppressed evidence — found Henry and Leon to be innocent, found them to have been demonstrably and excruciatingly wronged, and has done what the law can do to make it right at this late date,” North Carolina attorney Elliot Abrams said after the trial ended. The settlement ends the decades-long wait for justice to be fully served for the two,” Abrams added. “A jury has finally given Henry and Leon the ability to close this horrific chapter of their lives. They look forward to a brighter future surrounded by friends, family, and loved ones.” Wrongful convictions in the U.S. justice system are not new. The national Innocence Project has had 235 exonerations since their founding in 1992 by Peter Neufeld and Barry Scheck.

Lauren Victoria Burke is an independent journalist for NNPA and the host of the podcast BURKEFILE. She is also a political strategist as Principal of Win Digital Media LLC. She may be contacted at LBurke007@gmail.com and on twitter at @LVBurke

Newswire: The bullet has unseen collateral impact on the Black community 

 Charmion Kinder, a social impact consultant, pictured here walking through Harlem, N. Y., says gun violence in the Black community is a “cancerous epidemic.”

By Virgil Parker

  (TriceEdneyWire.com) – Gun violence has had an adverse impact on the Black community, part of which is actually invisible. That’s because the impact has been both physical and psychological, according to experts. Everytown for Gun Safety, a gun violence prevention organization, reports that Black Americans experience nearly 10 times the gun homicides, 15 times the gun assaults and three times the fatal police shootings of White Americans. The organization also shares that a daily average of 26 Black Americans are killed by guns and 104 experience non-fatal injuries. The police force also shoots and kills at least one Black person every other day. The statistics worsen in large cities, where Black Americans make up 68 percent of homicide victims. “Gun violence in the Black community is a cancerous epidemic that has crippled our senses, compromised our connectivity within the community and robbed our young people of the potential of leading full lives for far too long,” said Charmion Kinder, Founder and Chief Impact Officer of CNKinder, Inc.: a social impact consultancy. “We must stand together to continue to develop innovative solutions for the developing young minds that remain under our care — no matter their family structure, background or zip code. It is unacceptable that scores of young men, and women, in American towns and cities see only one pathway to economic advancement, including falling prey to circumstances that do not serve them or society well. The cost of crime, lack of access, and lack of opportunity is leading to fast journeys to death. And it is high time, that together, we find ways to choose more life,” said Kinder, a Black woman from New Haven, Conn. President Biden recently announced a strategy to tackle gun violence. According to the New York Times, the president’s new strategy will allow state and local governments to pull from $350 billion of resources to invest in police departments and support community-based anti-violence groups. The funds can also be used for summer jobs for young people and organizations that aim to intervene with at-risk youths before they commit violence. The provision addresses criminal justice advocates who have called for political leaders to address the societal factors that drive crime. Some individuals struggle with seeking psychological support to heal from the impact of gun violence. “My immediate family has suffered a direct loss to gun violence on multiple occasions,” said Brett Williams, a Black man who chairs the Anti-Violence Partnership of Philadelphia. “I’ve personally experienced it four times directly since I was 5. But I’d say the most impactful losses occurred exactly 20 years apart – my father who was shot and killed on March 2, 1996. I was 11 years old. And 20 years later my older brother on October 27, 2016. I was 31. Williams continued, “My family never considered any form of grief counseling or therapy. There’s a stigma in Black and brown communities where mental health is ignored… Now that I’m five years in my healing journey and have gone to therapy regularly, I see the benefits of therapy and am now an advocate for grief counseling.” Gun violence has had a stronger adverse psychological impact on some individuals more than others. “I believe that gun violence in African-American communities has had an immense psychological and physical impact on us,” said MaKenzie Smith. Smith, a Black woman from Saginaw, Michigan. “Not only is this one of the main issues currently plaguing our communities, but it’s a long-standing issue for us historically. I think it has become even more difficult for us to find the resources and the mental capacity to begin to deal with the effects of gun violence because it’s on social media, around us, and regularly right in front of us. Therefore, as we are forced to deal with and fight against every other issue we’re facing as Black people, we subconsciously become immune to the emotional aspects of that trauma – seeing or hearing about our brothers and sisters and children being shot down.” Members of the Black community are seeking and fighting for an end to gun violence. “The impact of gun violence in the African-American community has proven nothing short of pure devastation, said Dana Lintz, a Black male who resides in Bowie, Md. “Yes, police brutality and police killings of unarmed Black Americans is horrible and infuriating, but we don’t seem to show the same outrage for what is an even more heinous crime, which is shooting and killing us! And what’s worse, we appear almost immune to the killing.”  

Newswire: Possible Derek Chauvin Federal plea deal could explain cryptic message to George Floyd’s family

Protestor holds sign saying Cauvin is a murderer

 

By Bruce C.T. Wright, NewsOne

Derek Chauvin and his legal team have reportedly been negotiating a plea deal with the federal government that could provide some context to the cryptic message the convicted murderer gave George Floyd‘s family in court during his sentencing last week. Minnesota CBS reported that the disgraced former Minneapolis cop who used his knee to apply deadly pressure to Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes last year was nearing finalizing the deal with federal prosecutors poised to bring a government case against Chauvin, who on Friday was sentenced to 22.5 years in prison under state law. According to Minnesota CBS, the terms of Chauvin’s reported plea deal would allow him to serve his federal sentence concurrently with his 270-month state sentence from Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill. Chauvin could be given “a 20- to 25-year [federal] sentence, which he would serve at the same time as the state sentence, and that he would serve his time in federal not state prison,” Minnesota CBS reported. The federal case accuses Chauvin of violating the civil rights of not just Floyd but also a Black 14-year-old boy who was violently restrained by the throat while being assaulted in the head with a flashlight in 2017. Chauvin, 45, who decided against testifying during his murder trial, finally broke his silence and addressed the court during his sentencing with a cryptic message to Floyd’s family. Taking off his mask, Chauvin — who in April was found guilty and unanimously convicted of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter charges — suggested he was being prevented from sharing what he really wanted to say. “At the time, due to some additional legal matters at hand, I’m not able to give a full-formed statement at this time,” Chauvin began in an apparent attempt to show his purported remorse for brutally and callously killing a handcuffed man suspected of the nonviolent crime of using a counterfeit $20 bill. “Briefly though,” Chauvin continued. “I want to give my condolences to the Floyd family,” he said while mechanically turning his head in their direction in the courtroom. “There’s gonna be some other information in the future that would be of interest and I hope things will give you some peace of mind,” he added before finishing with a simple, “Thank you.” Absent from Chauvin’s words was any semblance of an apology. The alleged plea deal was reported hours after the Minneapolis Police Department took its latest steps to address the way officers are trained. A new report from the city released Monday found that there was limited to no accountability or oversight for officers who had recently been trained, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune. On the same day, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey announced he was banning officers from taking part in any “warrior-style” training — which “teaches officers to adopt a mind-set that threats are ever present in their daily work” — whether on-duty or not. In the meantime, Chauvin was expected to stay locked up at the Minnesota Correctional Facility at Oak Park Heights, where he has been in protective custody segregated from the state prison’s general population. Chauvin will be there “for the time being,” the Minnesota Department of Corrections told Insider on Monday.

Newswire: U.S. Attorney General sues Georgia, says election laws specifically targeted Black people

By Stacy M. Brown NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent

Declaring that Georgia’s new election laws are intended to deny voting rights specifically to African Americans, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland and Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division Kristen Clarke announced a lawsuit against the Peach State. “The rights of all eligible citizens to vote are the central pillars of our democracy,” Garland declared during a morning news conference on Friday, June 25. “They are the rights from which all other rights ultimately flow. Today, the Department of Justice is suing the state of Georgia. Our complaint alleges that recent changes to Georgia’s election laws were enacted with the purpose of denying or abridging the right of Black Georgians to vote on account of their race or color.” Georgia’s new law has frustrated and outraged many because of its voter ID requirements, restrictive mail-in voting, and other provisions that promise to make it more difficult for minorities to vote. Signed by Republican Gov. Brian Kemp earlier this year, the new law restricts absentee voting and places rigid rules on the use of drop boxes. “Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act prohibits the enforcement of any voting practice or procedure that has the purpose of denying or abridging the vote on account of race, color or membership in a minority group and S.B. 202 [the new Georgia law] violates this federal law,” stated Clarke whom Garland has charged with overseeing the federal lawsuit. \Clarke also aimed at Georgia lawmakers banning anyone from providing food or drink to individuals waiting online to vote. “It was unnecessary, and it passed with unlawful and discriminatory intent,” Clarke stated. The action by the attorney general’s office comes just days after Republicans in the U.S. Senate refused to hear discussions on “The For the People Act,” which addresses voting rights. “This lawsuit is the first of many steps we are taking to ensure that all eligible voters can cast a vote, that all lawful votes are counted, and that every voter has access to accurate information,” Garland insiste “The Civil Rights Division continues to analyze other state laws that have been passed, and we are following the progress of legislative proposals under consideration in additional states. Where we believe the civil rights of Americans have been violated, we will not hesitate to act.”

Newswire: Malawian millennial takes on powerful plastics lobby and wins global prize

Gloria Majiga-Kamoto

June 21, 2021 (GIN) – Each year, 75,000 tons of plastic are produced in Malawi, of which 80% are single-use – the ones most likely to litter the landscape, clog waterways and drainage systems, and create breading grounds for mosquitos carrying malaria. A recent government study found that the East African nation produces more plastic waste per capita than any other country in sub-Saharan Africa — and this has greatly overwhelmed its waste disposal systems.    Concerned about the environmental harm caused by mounting plastic pollution in Malawi, 30 year old Gloria Majiga-Kamoto mobilized a grassroots movement in support of a national ban on thin plastics, a type of single-use plastic.   “It became very personal for me after interacting with farmers,” she says. “Some of them are losing their livestock because once the animals get into the field, which is so heavily polluted with single-use plastic, they consume these plastics, which kill them, thereby affecting the livelihood of their owners.”   In Mponela town, in Malawi’s Central region, Majiga-Kamoto says around 40% of slaughtered livestock in the area were found to have ingested plastic fragments.    Majiga-Kamoto’s grassroots movement scored an early victory – a national ban on the production, distribution and importation of thin plastics. But the plastics lobby wasn’t about to give up easily.    Before the ban could be realized, the Malawi Plastics Manufacturing Association appealed the policy, and the court granted a stay order halting its implementation.   Majiga-Kamoto would not be defeated. She formed a coalition of activists and NGOs to compel the government toward implementation.   With the coalition, she advocated for the plastics ban in the news media and among journalists, documented livestock killed by plastic consumption, drawing affected farmers into the campaign, and brought on a public interest lawyer to join the case.   “We organized several marches — marched to the court and in communities to document their experiences and the challenges they encountered because of the plastic problem we have in the country,” Majiga-Kamoto told CNN.   After a protracted legal battle with plastic manufacturers, the Malawi Supreme Court upheld a national ban on the production, importation, distribution, and use of thin plastics.   In early 2020, they closed operations of three companies illegally producing thin plastics. In September 2020, the government impounded the plastic-making machinery of a company violating the ban and threatened a two-year jail sentence for the company director if violations continued.   Meanwhile, Majiga-Kamoto worries about Malawi’s inability to process recycled plastic waste.”Malawi is very far behind. Recycling of waste requires technology and we do not have a lot of that technology,” she said.   Majiga-Kamoto is one of six global winners of the prestigious award for 2021, which honors grassroots environmental activists.  More information and videos about the winners can be found on the Goldman Prize website – www.goldmanprize.org  

Newswire: Alabama coal miners have been striking for better wages since April. Why is nobody talking about it?

By: Aysha Qamar for Daily Kos

While Alabama as a state prides itself in being a “right to work”  state that doesn’t mean that all work receives fair pay. It’s been over two months since thousands of coal miners in the state went on strike, but coverage on the issue remains low. About 1,1000 workers at Warrior Met Coal went on strike on April 1 after contract talks to increase pay, provide health benefits, and better working conditions failed. According to The Nation, multiple employees felt as though they deserved more after what they call saving the company for years.  The strike is significant because it serves as the first one to occur in the state’s coal mining industry in four decades. Leading and supporting the strike is the United Mine Workers of America (UNWA). Around since 1890, the Alabama chapter remains one of the most racially integrated UMWA chapters in the country: at least 20% of its workers are Black. “We want our pay, and we want fair treatment. We want good insurance. But more than anything, we want to spend more breaths of that God-given air with our family,” United Mine Workers Treasurer Levi Allen told NPR. According to The Guardian, after the first owner of No 7 mine in Brookwood, Walter Energy, filed for bankruptcy in 2016, miners agreed to cut their wages and benefits to keep the mines open. Then in 2016, when Warrior Met Coal took over the coal company they experienced a $6-an-hour pay cut and were told that benefits would be restored after five years. Additionally, some workers lost the ability to take paid holidays and earn overtime pay.  Despite this promise, nothing has come of negotiations with strikers now struggling to afford basic necessities like food and housing. According to The Guardian, they are only seeking payment and benefits similar to other local unionized mines, however, their struggle has received little to no attention.  New policies are also being negotiated. At the current time policies have restricted work absences making it difficult for individuals who become unexpectedly sick or have emergencies. With the extensive labor and risk that mining requires, the lack of benefits has impacted workers’ bodies heavily, many of whom are parents. But the issue goes beyond fighting for better pay and working conditions. Miners on strike have said they are being targeted on the picket line, according to the Montgomery Advertiser. In one documented incident posted to YouTube, a red truck can be seen hitting one picketer, while another truck drives through a line with one protesting miner barely getting out of its path.  Multiple similar incidents have occurred in the last few days according to Larry P. Spencer, United Mine Workers of America International vice president for District 20. “It looks like there are guys coming off the road pretty fast,” Spencer said. “Our people don’t have any time to get out of the way.” Union members believe the attacks are being carried out by either “replacement workers” or people directly working with Warrior Met Coal. As attacks continue members of the mining community are  “concerned about their families and potential of violence against them if they come to the picket line,” UMWA International President Cecil Roberts said. Roberts added that those protesting have been admitted to the hospital and many are now in casts. “We have been to court on multiple occasions regarding what we can and cannot do on the picket lines and our members respect the guidance of the court,” Roberts said. “Warrior Met seems to believe that it is all right to strike people with cars as they engage in legal, protected activity. This is a dangerous course of action that can swiftly lead to events spiraling out of control. That is the last thing anyone should want.” But according to AL.com, Warrior Met Coal hasn’t just been abusing its workers—the company allegedly turned a healthy local creek completely black with unknown particles, the outlet reported.  Operations within the company have continued despite the strike. Not only has the issue received little to no press, but while Republican officials have always said they support the community, they have failed to speak up about the issue. But again, this is also no surprise as Republican officials across the country have often sided with individuals who ram into protestors and approach them with other violence.  Despite the ongoing violence they are facing and the concerns for safety, miners have noted that they will not give up.  “I’m not going to give up, because that’s what they want,” Greg Pilkington, a victim of an attack at the picket line and six-year veteran of the mines said according to his wife, Amy. Amy spoke on behalf of Greg who has been left with a torn meniscus. Previous to this Greg was also badly injured in an accident underground which led him to sue Warrior Met Coal, The Nation reported. “That’s part of their agenda, to scare us off or physically and mentally make us to where we don’t want to fight anymore. [And] I grew up in the union,”  Gary Pilkington continued. “I know my dad and them picketed back in the ’80s, and it was a whole lot worse than what is going on now. I’m not going to, but if I was to give up this spot, my dad would probably come back to haunt me.” In addition to the risk of safety, miners striking also face another obstacle, keeping a roof over their heads. However, unlike some other unions, the UMWA has an active strike fund that allows members to draw biweekly payments of $650 as long as they spend 16 hours on the picket line a week. The payment is not much but is something for those who are risking their lives in hopes of a better future.  “In this day and time you have to have a union to support you,” Amy Pilkington, who is herself a member of the Alabama Education Association, explained. “Companies are so greedy that they’re going to take care of their selves and they don’t give a flying fart about their employees, as long as they’re getting their money. That’s all they care about. And it’s not right to the worker. We deserve just as much as these people that are sitting in offices. Negotiations have been ongoing for a few months now. While the strike was not expected to last this long, the unfair labor practices in place at Warrior Met Coal have kept the protesting miners going strong. Before strikes began in April, miners rejected the company’s offer to increase pay by 10%; Since then the company has refused to engage in “meaningful negotiations,” Roberts said.  As Warrior Met Coal and the United Mine Workers continue negotiations the union does not see the strike ending anytime soon, NPR reported

President Biden signs Juneteenth Holiday into law

 Nancy Pelosi with Congressional Black Caucus members at signing

By Stacy M.Brown NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent

Beginning on Friday, June 18, federal employees enjoyed the country’s 12th – and perhaps most significant – paid holiday. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris held a signing ceremony, officially marking Juneteenth as a federal holiday. Because Juneteenth falls on a Saturday this year, workers are enjoying the new holiday one day early. “Black history is American history, and I am proud to stand alongside President Biden and my fellow congressional colleagues in reaffirming that sacred principle,” Congressional Black Caucus Chair Joyce Beatty (D-Ohio) stated. “While we rightfully celebrate this momentous moment today, the Congressional Black Caucus recognizes that the work to build a brighter tomorrow for Black Americans is far from over. ‘Our Power, Our Message’ remains the same: equity, equality, and justice for all people.” Before attending the White House signing ceremony, Congresswoman Beatty witnessed the bill’s engrossment while flanked by CBC members and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. President Biden and Vice President Harris had made it a mission of their administration to undo as much systemic racism and defeat White supremacy. With a diverse cabinet and staff, and policies that aim to level the playing field for African Americans and other people of color, the administration has worked diligently in living up to its mission. Juneteenth was established on June 19, 1865, more than two years after the issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation. Union soldiers – led by General Gordon Granger – arrived in Galveston, Texas, with the news that the Civil War was over and all previously enslaved people were free. President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation in September 1862 to free enslaved people in Confederate states. However, it wasn’t until nearly three years later that news of the proclamation reached Black people in Texas. The fight to formally recognize Juneteenth has been a decades-long effort culminating in the broad bipartisan passage of the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act. Before the U.S. House of Representatives’ historic vote, Congresswoman Beatty called on her colleagues to support the measure. “You can’t change the future if you can’t acknowledge the past,” she proclaimed. Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), Chairwoman of the House Committee on Financial Services, applauded signage of the bill. However, Congresswoman Waters said recognition comes 156 years late. “While this is certainly welcomed, it comes 156 years late, and after legislation to protect voting rights and address police abuse sits idle because of Republican Senators who refuse to understand the need to protect our communities and our right to participate in this democracy,” the congresswoman asserted. “To put this moment into perspective, the establishment of Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a federal holiday happened in 1986, and we are still fighting for our civil rights,” she stated. Congresswoman Waters continued: “We are still waiting for Senate passage of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. We are still waiting for lynching to be classified as a federal hate crime. We are still waiting for the terrorists who destroyed Black Wall Street during the Tulsa Race Massacre to be held accountable, and we are still waiting for Black history to be accurately taught in our schools.” The congresswoman insisted further that “as we celebrate the passage of this legislation, let us be clear that we will not be distracted or appeased.” “We will not simply accept Juneteenth as a federal holiday in exchange for real action that honors our history and our place in this country and moves us closer to achieving justice,” Congresswoman Waters remarked. She said she fully expects her colleagues to join her urgent calls for the passage of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the Senate passage of the For the People Act. “In the final analysis, it will be shown that platitudes and niceties are one thing but having the courage and taking real action on this issue is another,” Congresswoman Waters demanded. “Let us honor this day by working toward a nation in which Black lives and Black votes are protected and respected.”

Newswire: Supreme Court upholds Obamacare

Supreme Court

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent

Supreme Court In a significant victory for the Biden-Harris administration and Americans who depend on affordable health care, the Supreme Court rejected the latest challenge to President Obama’s signature legislation, the Affordable Care Act. The challenge stemmed from whether the individual mandate could be cut from the rest of the law or whether the justices should strike down the entire law. Former President Trump made it his mission to get rid of the law, which has provided millions of Americans with access to affordable health care, particularly during the coronavirus pandemic. The court ruled 7-2, with Justice Stephen Breyer writing for the majority, striking down a lower court ruling and determining that the plaintiffs — Texas and 17 other GOP-led states — did not show that they have the standing to bring the initial suits. “We conclude that the plaintiffs in this suit failed to show a concrete, particularized injury fairly traceable to the defendants’ conduct in enforcing the specific statutory provision they attack as unconstitutional,” wrote Justice Breyer. “They have failed to show that they have the standing to attack as unconstitutional the Act’s minimum essential coverage provision. Therefore, we reverse the Fifth Circuit’s judgment in respect to standing, vacate the judgment, and remand the case with instructions to dismiss,” the Justice continued. “We do not reach these questions of the Act’s validity … for Texas and the other plaintiffs in this suit lack the standing necessary to raise them. Justices Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch dissented. Reportedly, 31 million Americans have health coverage connected to the Affordable Care Act — also known as Obamacare. Also, a guarantee of access to continuous insurance coverage is protected for more than 54 million people with preexisting conditions because of the health care law’s provisions that prevent insurance companies from canceling or refusing to establish policies because of pre-existing conditions.

Black Belt Community Foundation announces the 2021 Community Grant Cycle

SELMA, AL – June 14, 2021: The Black Belt Community Foundation is announcing its 2021 Community Grant Cycle. Community-based organizations from Bullock, Choctaw, Dallas, Greene, Hale, Lowndes, Macon, Marengo, Perry, Pickens, Sumter, and Wilcox Counties are encouraged to apply. The BBCF invites organizations based in and serving Alabama’s Black Belt to apply for one-year grants for community-led activities. Grant awards will range from $500 to $3,000. The BBCF supports community efforts that will contribute to the strength, innovation, and success of Black Belt citizens and communities. BBCF seeks organizations engaging the Black Belt citizens in addressing community issues. In this round, grant awards will be available for project focusing on: •Community Economic Development that builds and strengthens community. •Education which focuses on reading literacy. •Health with an emphasis on healthy living, nutrition, and physical activity. While following the CDC recommendations, the BBCF will host five Virtual Grant Seeking Workshops for the organizations who are interested in applying for a 2021 Community Grant. Attendance at one of the virtual workshops is mandatory to be considered for a 2021 Community Grant. The Virtual Grant Seeking Workshops will be held via Zoom on the following dates: •Zoom, Thursday, June 17th from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm •Zoom, Monday, June 21st from 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm •Zoom, Tuesday, June 22nd from 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm •Zoom, Thursday, June 24th from 6:00 am to 7:00 pm •Zoom, Tuesday, June 29th from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pmPlease contact Christopher Spencer at 205-499-8924 (cspencer@blackbletfound.org) or Erica Williams at 334-874-1126 ext. 111 (ewilliams@blackbeltfound.org) for more information about the workshops. The grant application link will be available at each virtual workshop and Black Belt Community Foundation’s Facebook page. Grant applications are due on or before 12:00 PM (NOON) Central Time on Monday, July 12, 2021. Follow Black Belt community developments and more online at http://www.blackbeltfound.org and via our social media outlets at BBCF Facebook, Instagram, Youtube Channel, or Twitter.