Newswire : State of the Union: Trump calls for ‘Choosing Greatness’ as Black leaders say his ‘Racist Rhetoric’ overshadows hope for change 

By Hazel Trice Edney


(TriceEdneyWire.com) – President Donald B. Trump’s 2019 State of the Union speech, delivered Tuesday night, following a government shutdown that left many people irreparably damaged, was taken in stride by African-Americans and Democratic leaders who express little hope for change.
“We meet tonight at a moment of unlimited potential. As we begin a new Congress, I stand here ready to work with you to achieve historic breakthroughs for all Americans,” Trump said in the speech in which he never mentioned the hardships of the historic shutdown which, for weeks, put thousands of Americans either out of work or caused them to work without pay. “Millions of our fellow citizens are watching us now, gathered in this great chamber, hoping that we will govern not as two parties but as one Nation. The agenda I will lay out this evening is not a Republican agenda or a Democrat agenda. It is the agenda of the American people.”
The lofty words of the President resonated little with Democrats and Black leaders as he ignored the pain of the shutdown for which he initially claimed credit. Besides that, America had heard it all before. Even during his inaugural address, he promised to be President for all the people after which his administration has become one of the most racially and culturally divisive in history.
Former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams pointed to Trump’s sins of omission as the official Democratic respondent to his speech.
“Just a few weeks ago, I joined volunteers to distribute meals to furloughed federal workers.  They waited in line for a box of food and a sliver of hope since they hadn’t received paychecks in weeks. Making livelihoods of our federal workers a pawn for political games is a disgrace. The shutdown was a stunt, engineered by the president of the United States, one that betrayed every tenet of fairness and abandoned not just our people but our values,” Abrams said.
Trump’s speech got intense applause from Republicans, especially as he mentioned his quest for a “border wall” which has become widely known as a dog-whistle to his base and a core race issue. As he pushed the need for the wall in the speech, he never mentioned his campaign promise that “Mexico will pay” for the wall.
“In the past, most of the people in this room voted for a wall, but the proper wall never got built.  I’ll get it built,” he said.
But, Abrams was clear on how millions of others view the wall. “Democrats stand ready to effectively secure our ports and borders,” she said. “But we must all embrace that from agriculture to healthcare to entrepreneurship, America is made stronger by the presence of immigrants, not walls.”
Trump laid out some key bi-partisan goals such as research to end childhood cancer and HIV/AIDS as well as successes, including economic gains, infrastructure, and criminal justice reform. Guests in the gallery included formerly incarcerated offenders who he had pardoned under new bi-partisan criminal justice reform. Those guests included Alice Johnson, who had served nearly 22 years of a life sentence as a first-time drug offender and Matthew Charles, sentenced to 35 years for selling drugs now “the first person to be released from prison under the First Step Act,” Trump said.
Despite the bipartisan highlights in the speech, Black leaders note that his “racist” views and policy omissions far outweigh the positives.
“Once again the President used the State of the Union as an opportunity to spew the same racist rhetoric, that does nothing but bolster his detachment and disinterest towards the real issues that plague our nation,” NAACP President Derrick Johnson said in a statement. “While President Trump rallied for a wall on the border and credited his presidency for lowering unemployment numbers, which he touted after the longest government shutdown in our nation’s history, he conveniently overlooked the voter suppression, over policing, gun violence, and detrimental and xenophobic immigration policies that his administration has instituted that disproportionately affect communities of color.”
Johnson continued in his statement, “As racism continues to permeate through every level of our society, it’s clear from his failure to protect the right to vote and civil rights for ALL, that this President’s agenda represents nothing but pain and suffering for communities of color, the poor, the LGBT community, women and immigrants. Because of this, the state of our union is not strong.”
Jim Clyburn, the most powerful Black member of Congress as House majority whip, pointed out that Democrats are ready to work with the President, but their disagreement on the meaning of “greatness” is a major barrier.
“We welcome his words of comity and are hopeful there will be issues like infrastructure, prescription drug costs, and defeating the spread of HIV where we can find common ground. However, as House Democrats, we know the role we were elected to play and, as my faith teaches me, we know we will be judged on our deeds not our words.
“The President’s theme tonight was ‘Choosing Greatness,’ but I question how he defines that term. I believe that America is already great, and, like historian Alexis de Tocqueville wrote in Democracy in America, the country’s greatness ‘lies not in being more enlightened than any other nation, but rather in her ability to repair her faults.’ Democrats stand ready to work with the President when possible, but in strong opposition when necessary, to repair our faults so we may become a more perfect union.”
 

Newswire: Income inequality fueling backlash and elites across the World are worried

Winnie Byanyima, Director Oxfam International

     Jan. 28, 2019 (GIN) – The rich are getting richer, businesses are thriving, but it’s hard not to notice that discontent is growing among the expanding poor and middle class and could soon pose a threat to the well-to-do.

     At the exclusive World Economic Forum, an annual event held in Davos, Switzerland, income inequality was the talk among many corporate leaders, and the good jobs being lost to trade and automation.

     “We’re living in a Gilded Age,” said Scott Minerd, chief investment officer of Guggenheim Partners, which manages more than $265 billion in assets. “I think, in America, the aristocrats are out of touch. They don’t understand the issues around the common man.”

     In fact, a new Global Risks Report declares that humanity is “sleepwalking its way to catastrophe” referring to extreme weather, failure to act on climate change, among other threats.

     For the jobless poor, a new buzzword - “upskilling” - was bandied about. Training could help people obtain better jobs in the digital economy, some assert.

     Stephen A. Schwarzman, chief executive of Blackstone, doubled down on the need for digital education which would lessen the inequalities that people have in terms of job opportunities.

     It’s “up to the grown-ups” to make digital upskilling happen in K-12 schools, said Schwarzman, whose net worth is estimated at $13 billion.

     But what most of the elites are uniformly against is a solution to be found in taxing wealth.

     Winnie Byanyima, executive director of Oxfam International, couldn’t disagree more. “We’re in a world where governments do not tax wealth enough, do not tax the rich enough.”

     Billionaire fortunes are spiraling by $2.5 billion daily, according to Oxfam in a new report. The share of wealth held by billionaires increases by $2.5 billion a day, while the share of wealth among the 3.8 billion of the world’s poorest decreases by $500 million a day.

     “Our economy is broken,” said Byanyima, originally from Uganda. “Hundreds of millions live in extreme poverty while huge rewards go to those at the very top.

     Governments are fueling this inequality crisis, she insists. “They are under-taxing corporations and wealthy individuals, while underfunding vital public services like healthcare and education… The human costs are huge, with women and girls suffering the most.”

     Countries cited by Oxfam with the greatest income inequality gap were Nigeria, Brazil, Ghana and Kenya.

     The Forum runs from Jan. 22 to 25. To read the Oxfam briefing paper released this month, visit www.oxfam.org   

Newswire: The National Park Foundation brings iconic civil rights site into the National Parks system

The home where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. raised his family with Coretta Scott King will be made accessible to the public for the first time as part of Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park, a part of the National Park System. (Katie Bricker Photography for the National Park Foundation)

By PR Newswire
The National Park Foundation, National Park Service, and King family have announced that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s home in the historic Vine City neighborhood of Atlanta, Georgia, will be made accessible to the public for the first time as part of Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park, a part of the National Park System.
The addition of the home helps to tell a more complete story about the King family’s experiences and contributions to our nation’s history. The National Park Foundation purchased the home, via private philanthropy, from the estate of Coretta Scott King on January 8, 2019, and immediately transferred it to the National Park Service. This follows the National Park Foundation’s purchase and transfer of Dr. King’s birth home in late 2018.
“African American history is U.S. history, and the family home of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Mrs. Coretta Scott King is a touchstone for us all to better understand our shared heritage,” said Will Shafroth, president of the National Park Foundation. “The acquisition of both Dr. King’s birth home and the family home he shared with Coretta Scott King and their children advances the National Park Foundation’s commitment to telling a more comprehensive American story through national parks. With greater access to Dr. King’s life and legacy, we can learn more about this country’s past and how his work continues to echo through time.”
“The National Park Service’s dedication to preserving historic properties is unmatched,” said Dr. Bernice A. King, daughter of Martin Luther King Jr., on behalf of the King family. “We are very pleased to have worked with the National Park Foundation to ensure that the family home that my siblings and I grew up in will be open and available to the public. My brothers and I are honored to have fulfilled my mother’s wish to allow future generations to know the story of our dad as a father, a husband, a minister, and a civil rights leader.”
“The addition of the homes where Dr. King was born and where he raised his family with Coretta Scott King provides the National Park Service sacred spaces to more fully tell the story of Dr. King’s life and legacy,” said National Park Service Deputy Director P. Daniel Smith. “Thanks to the efforts of the National Park Foundation and the generosity of the King family, these areas are now among the many civil rights sites that are preserved as part of the National Park System and will be accessible to the American people in perpetuity.”
This article originally appeared in the Charleston Chronicle.

Newswire : Donors attempt to save Bennett College by Friday’s deadline

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

Historic building on Bennett College campus
A drive to help raise $5 million and save the accreditation of Bennett College received a boost this week as donations began to pour in ahead of the Friday, Feb. 1 deadline.
The Papa John’s Foundation and the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation of Winston-Salem, each pledged a $500,000 donation to the school, and each said they will recruit additional donors.
The pledges increased the overall total raised to date to $2.7 million– a little more than half of the $5 million needed.
“Bennett College has an outstanding tradition of academic excellence for African American women,” said Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr., president and CEO of the National Newspaper Publishers Association, the trade organization that represents 215 African American-owned newspapers and media companies around the country with more than 21 million weekly subscribers.
“The college is funded by the Presbyterian Church and my great-great-great grandfather, the Rev. John Chavis, was the first ordained African American Presbyterian minister in the United States, and so I appeal to all Presbyterians, to all Episcopalians, to all Methodists, to all Baptists, and to those of all faiths, to help save Bennett College,” Chavis said.
The privately-owned four-year historically black liberal arts college for women that’s located in Greensboro, was founded in 1873 as a school to educate recently freed slaves and train both men and women as teachers. An integral part of its community since its founding in 1873, Bennett transitioned into a women’s school in 1926.
Reduced enrollment levels in recent years have sapped the college’s coffers, resulting in budget shortfalls and placing Bennett at risk of permanently losing its accreditation.
Students, alumni and others associated with Bennett have developed a websitewhere donations can be made and information about the college can be found.
Using the tagline and hashtag, “Stand with Bennett,” the group also presents evidence that Bennett has made significant gains in addressing its financial stability over the past two years.
Some of the significant strides made by Bennett to achieve sustainability include:
· Bennett generated a surplus of $461,038 and had no audit findings.
· Bennett was approved for a capital loan deferment over a six-year period with a financial benefit of nearly $9 million.
· Bennett has steadily increased its fundraising from $3.47 million to $4.25 million over a 3-year period.
· Bennett’s enrollment has been trending upward for 2 years from 409 in 2017 to 471 in 2018.
· The college’s retention rate is significantly up from 44 percent in the Fall of 2017 to 53 percent in the Fall of 2018.
· The average GPA of new freshwomen increased from 2.8 in 2017 to 3.2 in 2018.
· Bennett continues to support mission activities, and academic and student programs.
·
The Editorial Board of the college’s local newspaper, the Greensboro News & Record,said Bennett is raising the money as a show of good faith to an accrediting agency that the college is working, urgently, to address its fragile finances.
That agency – the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges – has threatened to revoke Bennett’s accreditation because of the college’s tenuous fiscal footing.
Bennett plans to appeal that ruling in mid-February and began the quick-strike campaign to help make its case, according to the Greensboro News & Record.
Without accreditation, Bennett would lose eligibility for federal grants and student loans and could be forced to close.
“We have made the case before for Bennett,” the editorial board wrote. “It is one of only two colleges for African-American women in the nation and it has been an integral part of this community since it was founded in 1873.”
To donate, visit http://www.bennett.edu/standwithbennett/

Newswire: Civil rights museum reoffers honor to Angela Davis

Angela Davis

By The Associated Press


        BIRMINGHAM — An Alabama civil rights museum reversed course after a public outcry and reinstated a human rights award to activist Angela Davis that it had previously rescinded, the organization announced Friday, January 25, 2019.
        The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (BCRI) said in a statement that its board has voted to reaffirm Davis, a Birmingham native, as the recipient of the award and has invited her to personally receive it. The statement said the board has not heard if Davis will accept.
        “Dr. Angela Davis, a daughter of Birmingham, is highly regarded throughout the world as a human rights activist,” Institute President Andrea L. Taylor said in a statement.
        The Birmingham museum sparked protests and criticism earlier this month when it announced that it was abruptly canceling the award to Davis that was supposed to be given at a February gala.
        The board withdrew her award after a local Holocaust education group asked it to reconsider. Davis is an outspoken supporter of a movement criticizing Israel’s treatment of Palestinians.
        Davis, who turns 75 on Saturday, has spent decades fighting for civil rights. She was an active member of the Black Panther Party, Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and Communist Party USA.
        Board members on Jan. 14 issued a public apology for the discord that resulted from its decision to rescind the award. They said there said there should have been more conversation with diverse points of view before making the decision.
        In Friday’s statement, the board said its decision to give Davis the award is “in keeping with its commitment to learning from its mistakes.”
        The award is called the Fred L. Shuttlesworth Human Rights Award. It is named for the late minister and prominent civil rights activist who led demonstrations in Birmingham and across the South.
        Civil rights and community groups were arranging an “alternative award celebration” for Ms. Davis in Birmingham on February 16, after the BCRI withdrew its award. Ms. Davis has not commented on whether she will accept the Museum’s apology and receive the award as originally planned.

Newswire : President announces end to Shutdown

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

U. S. Capitol with shutdown sign


The longest government shutdown in American history is over – and President Donald Trump did not get his Wall.
Trump announced on Friday a short-term deal to temporarily reopen the government. NBC News was the first to report that a stop-gap agreement with congressional leaders will last three weeks, until Feb. 15, and would allow talks to continue over security on the southern border.
The deal includes no money for his border wall. “In a short while, I will sign a bill to reopen the government for three weeks until Feb. 15,” Trump said in the Rose Garden, according to NBC News.
“I will make sure that all employees receive their back pay very quickly or as soon as possible.”
Trump announced the deal 35 days into the longest-ever partial government closure that has left an estimated 800,000 federal employees without pay and created a host of problems.
On Thursday, the president said that if Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., were about to reach a reasonable agreement to end the shutdown, he would support it.
The shutdown began just before Christmas and has left approximately 400,000 workers home from work without pay, while another 400,000 were required to be on the job without pay. The workers will receive back pay, under the agreement.
Trump and congressional Democrats have been at a standoff over the president’s demand for $5.7 billion to build his wall along the southern border.
The news was met with joy from government workers, including the thousands of African Americans who have gone without pay since the shutdown began.
“Are you serious?” Sharon Clifford, a TSA worker who sought babysitting jobs during the shutdown, told NNPA Newswire. “Thank God,” said Clifford, who said she was visiting her parents in North Carolina to ask for a loan to get her through the end of the month.

Newswire : Congo’s Constitutional Court upholds election win for opposition leader

Felix Tshisekedi
     Jan. 21, 2019 (GIN) – The Democratic Republic of Congo finally has a president. Opposition figure Felix Tshisekedi was declared winner of the presidential race by the DR Congo’s top court on Jan. 20.

     The Constitutional Court said Tshisekedi had won by a simple majority, paving the way for him to take over from the current president, Joseph Kabila.

     The outcome was challenged by runner-up Martin Fayulu who claimed that the election had been stolen and called on the international community to reject the results.

     Election data leaked to some news organizations suggested that he won the vote.

     "I ask the entire international community not to recognize a power that has neither legitimacy nor legal standing to represent the Congolese people," he said of Tshisekedi, declaring himself "the only legitimate president".

     On Sunday, the Constitutional Court dismissed Fayulu's claims as "unfounded" and said he had failed to prove any inaccuracies in the figures, describing his call for a recount as "absurd". The ruling was not unexpected, with the court made up of Kabila's allies.

     Meanwhile, hundreds of supporters of Tshisekedi gathered outside the court holding placards saying "No to interference" and "Independent country" as riot police stood nearby.

     Despite unconfirmed reports that members of Tshisekedi’s camp had strategized with Kabila before the votes were in, the greater part of Congolese seems happy with the "semi-victory," as their main fears have been allayed, according to Israel Mutala, an analyst and editor in chief of the online news site 7sur7.

     "Above all the Congolese feared a third term for outgoing President Joseph Kabila," Mutala told the German news agency DW.

     Observers from other international bodies, including the European Union and the United Nations Organization, complained of irregularities at the polls. The African Union, after initially expressing "serious doubts" about the outcome of the elections, seems more willing to go alone with the accepted candidate.

     Speaking early Sunday, Tshisekedi said the court’s decision to reject claims of electoral fraud and declare him president was a victory for the entire country.

     “It is Congo that won,” said Tshisekedi. “It is not the victory of one camp against another. I am engaged in a campaign to reconcile all Congolese. … The Congo that we are going to form will not be a Congo of division, hatred or tribalism. It will be a reconciled Congo, a strong Congo that will be focused on development, peace and security.” 

Newswire: Four Black men receive posthumous pardons for a rape that never happened

The Groveland Four. In this undated image released by the State Library and Archives of Florida, Lake County Sheriff Willis McCall, far left, and an unidentified man stand next to Walter Irvin, Samuel Shepherd and Charles Greenlee, from left, in Florida. The three men along with a fourth were charged with rape in 1949.
Thurgood Marshall, a lawyer with the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, who would later become the first African American U.S. Supreme Court Justice

Special to the Trice Edney News Wire from NorthStarNewsToday.com
(TriceEdneyWire.com) – Florida’s governor and his cabinet, acting as the state’s Clemency Board, on Friday, Jan. 11, issued posthumous pardons to four young Black men who were interrogated, tortured and wrongly convicted for the 1949 rape of a White woman by an all-white jury. One of the boys was murdered before he was charged.
Friday’s vote came nearly two years after the Florida Senate and the State House voted to apologize formally to the relatives of the men, known as the Groveland Four, after determining the woman was never raped 70 years ago. Then Governor Rick Scott was asked to pardon the men, but he did not take any action and did not provide an explanation for not doing so. Scott is now a U.S. Senator.
Rick DeSantis, Florida’s new governor, who was sworn into office last week, made the pardons a priority. “I think the way this was carried out was a miscarriage of justice,” DeSantis said.
In 1949 in Lake County, Norma Padgett, then 17, claimed she had been raped by the four men after a car in which she a passenger driven by husband broke. The four men offered to help but instead raped her, she claimed.
Three of the accused men were arrested. Ernest Thomas, a fourth man, escaped, but he was hunted down by a posse of 1,000 men. He was shot 400 times as he slept under a tree.
White mobs also terrorized black neighborhoods, burning down houses and firing bullets into the homes.
Walter Irvin and Samuel Shepherd were convicted of rape and sentenced to death on Padgett’s word. Charles Greenlee was sentenced to life in prison because of his age.
Padgett, now elderly and confined to a wheelchair, attended the hearing, still claiming she had been raped. Surrounded by male relatives, Padgett pleaded with the cabinet not to pardon the men.
Shepherd’s cousin, Beverly Robinson, called Padgett and her family liars, which almost led to a fist fight between members of the two families.
A physician who examined Padgett at the time of the alleged assault said she wasn’t raped. Padgett held onto the belief that she had been raped although medical evidence proved she had not been. During the trial, Judge Truman Futch refused to let the defense call the examining physician as a witness.
This is not unusual. In another earlier and now-historic case, Irene Tuskin, 19, claimed she had been raped by three black men on June 15, 1920 in Duluth, Minnesota. A physician determined that she had not been raped after examining her.
A white woman’s accusation against a black man, however, was law. A mob knocked the sheriff out of the way and lynched the three men —-Elias Clayton, Elmer Jackson and Isaac McGhie. Duluth, where singer Bob Dylan lived as a child before his family moved elsewhere. Later, Duluth erected a monument to honor the three men.
Thurgood Marshall, a lawyer with the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, who would later become the first African American U.S. Supreme Court Justice, handled the appeals for Irvin and Shepherd.
In 1951, the U.S. Supreme Court ordered new trials. Before the trials began, Lake County Sheriff Willis McCall shot Irvin and Shepherd, claiming the handcuffed men were trying to escape. McCall shot to death Shepard. Irvin played dead and lived.
Greenlee was paroled in 1960 and he died in 2012. Irvin was paroled in 1968 and died a year later.
The story about the four men was told in the 2013 Pulitzer-prize winning book “Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America,” by Gilbert King.

Newswire: NAACP President Derrick Johnson responds to Federal Judge Jesse Furman’s ruling on the 2020 Census

Derrick Johnson, NAACP President
Derrick Johnson, President of NAACP, issued the following statement on federal Judge Jesse M. Furman’s ruling to block of the Trump Administration’s plan to put a question about citizenship on the 2020 census:
“The ruling by Judge Jesse M. Furman is a step in the right direction to stopping xenophobic rhetoric and policy at all levels of government. The addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 Census only increases the likelihood of a substantial undercount of immigrant communities, particularly immigrants of color including those from the African Diaspora who are essential todetermining U.S. elections, congressional seats and federal funding decisions for a decade.
“Any citizenship question compounds the already inadequate preparation for Census 2020 and further dilutes the votes of racial and ethnic minorities and deprive their communities of critical federal funds and undervalue their voices and interests in the political arena. We must continue to stay vigilant and not let this administration use yet another mechanism to devalue and stifle the voices of people of color.”
Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation’s oldest and largest nonpartisan civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities. You can read more about the NAACP’s work and our six “Game Changer” issue areas at www.naacp.org.

Newswire : CBC Chair Karen Bass responds to Trump’s new offer to reopen the government

Rep. Karen Bass
WASHINGTON – Sunday, the Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA), issued the following statement after President Trump announced a new offer in exchange for $5.7 billion for a border wall.
“The President’s proposal is yet another example of his willingness to use the well-being of Black and brown communities as a political pawn. DACA recipients deserve a permanent solution and Black Americans, who are disproportionately impacted by this shutdown, need to have the government immediately reopened.
“There are federal workers without paychecks, businesses unable to provide services for the government, and millions of families that depend on food stamps that don’t know when they’ll be able to afford their next grocery trip. That’s the crisis this shutdown has caused. The President could end it if he wanted to but unfortunately, today, he made it clear that he doesn’t.”