Newswire: Experts: Reparations are workable and should be provided

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Correspondent

Dr. Mary Francis Berry
As Joe Biden prepares to enter the crowded Democratic field for the 2020 presidential election, it wouldn’t be surprising if the former vice president will join the other 19 declared candidates in using reparations for the Transatlantic Slave Trade as a political platform.
Candidates including New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, California Sen. Kamala Harris, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, and former HUD Secretary Julian Castro have said they intend to seek reparations for African Americans.
Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren has asked for reparations for both African Americans and Native Americans.
Just three years ago, a United Nations working group jumped into the fray.
Following 14 years and 20 days of speaking with U.S. officials, activists, and families of people killed by police in major American cities, the U.N. working group issued its conclusion that the slave trade was a crime against humanity and the American government should pay reparations.
The experts traveled to major cities including Washington, D.C.; Jackson, Mississippi; Baltimore; Chicago and New York.
“Contemporary police killings and the trauma it creates are reminiscent of the racial terror lynching in the past,” a French member of the working group of U.N. experts Mireille Fanon-Mendes-France, told CBS News.

Dr. Mary Frances Berry, a Geraldine R. Segal Professor of American Social Thought and the author of numerous books including “My Face is Black Is True: Callie House and the Struggle for Ex-Slave Reparations,” told NNPA Newswire that, “as matter of justice and no matter how long it takes, there should be a full-throated demand for reparations for slavery echoing the demand of the thousands of ex-slaves in the 19th century and reasserted time and again since.”
“The odds against success are great but given the meager gains to date, it’s just as fruitful to argue for reparations as anything else and besides it is a just cause,” Dr. Berry said.
“Whatever we do, we should remind ourselves, as Frederick Douglass said, ‘Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never has. It never will,’” she said.
Berry, who once served as chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and as Assistant Secretary for Education in the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare, scoffed at the idea that reparations are “unworkable.”
Precedent has already been set, she said. “The country has lots of experience with reparations. The federal government gave compensation to slave owners in the border states who let their slaves enlist in the Union Army,” Dr. Berry said.
“Also, during the Civil War, compensation was given to slave owners in the District of Columbia when slaves there were freed in 1862 and, more recently, compensation for Holocaust victims and the victims of Japanese Internment are examples of reparations,” she said.
Dr. Berry continued: “In the 19th century after the Civil War, Callie House, a former slave, led a movement to demand pensions for old ex-slaves as reparations for their poverty and unrequited labor during slavery.
“Her organization collected petitions including the names of former owners of ex-slaves and succeeded in having bills introduced in Congress and sued the federal government, losing on technical grounds.”
San Francisco-based attorney Dale Minami, who was involved in significant litigation involving the civil rights of Asian Pacific Americans and other minorities, said he believes the African American vote is critical to a successful reparations campaign.
“With the racial divide stoked by President Donald Trump’s racial bias, the need for some healing among the races is a progressive and necessary policy and redress and reparations promote this healing so that we can move toward a less factionalized, less racially divided country,” Minami said.
For those who believe reparations are unworkable, Minami said they’re conflating two separate issues: the deserving claim to reparations and the difficulty in implementation. “Reparations is a good idea and depending how you define implementation determines the ‘workability,’” he said.
“If reparations means individual payment, yes, there is a huge problem of allocation of money based on percentage of Black ancestry but if you define it as a Trust Fund to support Black institutions, community organizations, education, or other projects to improve the African American community, it’s bit easier to implement,” Minami said.
As an example, the Civil Liberties Public Education Fund of which Minami served as chairman, received $5 million as part of a Redress bill to give to projects that educate about the injustice of the incarcerations of Japanese Americans.
The original bill called for $50 million but so many were still alive when Redress was granted, the fund dwindled, Minami said.
“So, I think there are creative ways to help make up for the enormous cruelty of slavery and its long-term effects on the Black community,” he said.

Newswire : After risking life, Liberian activist, Alfred Brownell. wins Goldman Environmental Prize

Alfred Brownell

Apr. 29, 2019 (GIN) — Multinational corporations who seek weak democracies, high rates of poverty, and untapped resources, seem to make a beeline for Liberia which has struggled to overcome two wars and the devastating pandemic of ebola.

As a result, “Liberia has been taken over by multinational corporations exploiting its resources at the expense of Liberians, especially the country’s working class that serves as cheap labor to these foreign companies.”

That was the bleak view of Moses Uneh Yahmia, writing for the Committee for the Abolition of Illegitimate Debt.

But when a palm oil company was poised to take over 800 square miles of lush forest, destroying the habitat, evicting communities and uprooting burial grounds, one local activist was propelled into action.

“It was not just that they were destroying the forest,” said Alfred Brownell, activist and environmental lawyer. “They were also working with the local government officials who were threatening, harassing and intimidating the communities… It was total annihilation.”

The lawyer and his colleagues collected information from indigenous residents about the destruction of homes, sacred sites, warriors’ graves and the forest in Sinoe County.

Brownell persuaded the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil to place a stop work order on the company, Golden Veroleum Liberia, owned by the US-based Verdant Fund LP and controlled by the Singapore palm oil giant Golden Agri-Resources, second-largest palm oil plantation company in the world.

The company has since “voluntarily withdrawn” from the Roundtable after its Complaints Panel confirmed a series of ongoing violations, including failure to implement adequate free, prior and informed consent procedures, destruction of sacred sites and coercion and intimidation of community members to sign agreements with the company.

“Palm oil companies will not just displace [people in affected communities], but their culture, their history, their value, their traditional institutions, will all be completely altered,” says Brownell, founder of the Liberian lawyers network Green Advocates.

In October 2016, facing threats to his life, Brownell and his family sought refuge in the US, where he became a distinguished scholar in residence at Northeastern University. There, he teaches a course of human rights and global economy.

This week Brownell will be among 6 winners of the 2019 Goldman Environmental Prize – dubbed the “Green Nobel Prize” – for exposing the alleged abuses by Golden Veroleum Liberia. Prizewinners will be honored by former Vice President Al Gore. The prize carries a $200,000 award.

Newswire: John Singleton, director of “Boyz n the Hood,” dies from a stroke

By Frederick H. Lowe, BlackmansStreet.Today

John Singleton

John Singleton, who was nominated for an Oscar for his masterpiece “Boyz n the Hood,” died Monday after suffering a stroke, which occurs when blood flow to the brain is cut off.

Singleton’s death was announced by his family, which had been feuding over how to address and what to disclose about his condition. They finally agreed to take him off life support on Monday, and he died a few hours later in Cedars -Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. He suffered the stroke on April 17 and died on April 29. He was 51.

“We are sad to relay that John Singleton has died. John passed away peacefully, surrounded by his family and friends. We want to thank the amazing doctors at Cedars-Sinai Hospital for their expert care and kindness, and we again want to thank all of John’s fans, friends and colleagues for the all of the love and support they showed him during this difficult time,” the Singleton family said in a statement.

Singleton, a native of Los Angeles, won rave reviews for “Boyz n the Hood,” a spellbinding film released in 1991 about the challenges young black men faced living in neighborhoods located in South Central Los Angeles crippled by drugs and violence.

Singleton was born January 6, 1968, in South Central L.A. and he grew up there. He wrote a screenplay about the neighborhood as his thesis while a student at the University of Southern California Film School. He was the first African-American director nominated for an Oscar. At the time, he was 24.

The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences also nominated the screenplay for an Oscar. He was 25.
The film starred Ice Cube, Cuba Gooding Jr. and Laurence Fishburne, who was cast as Cuba Gooding’s father, a rarity then and now in Hollywood.

Roger Ebert, the late Chicago Sun-Times film critic, called “Boyz n the Hood” a brilliant directorial debut and a film of enormous importance.

Singleton’s film cast included other unknowns who later blossomed into stars. Three were: Angela Bassett, Nia Long and Regina King, who won the 2018 Oscar for best-supporting actress for her role in “If Beale Street Could Talk,” based on the novel by James Baldwin.

He also directed “The Race Card,” an episode of the FX 2016 miniseries “The People Versus O.J. Simpson,” which focused on racist L.A. police detective Mark Fuhrman who lied on the witness stand in a failed attempt a convict O.J. Simpson. He also directed episodes of the television series “Empire.” Taraji P. Henson, star of the television series, v

When he presented the screenplay for “Boyz n the Hood” to financial backers, they asked him how he would feel if someone else directed it. He boldly told them that the conversation with him would be over if they pursued that strategy. “I wasn’t going to have someone from Idaho or Encino, a section of Los Angeles, direct this movie,” Singleton said at the 25th anniversary of the film’s screening.
Although 80 percent of strokes can be prevented, black men suffer from strokes at a younger age than white men, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, because of high blood pressure. News reports said the 5’ 6” Singleton struggled with high blood pressure, which is common among black men.
Singleton is survived by his five children and his parents.

Newswire: Trump, media assaults on Omar a new low for American Politics

Congresswoman Ilhan Omar

American politics appears to have hit a new low.
According to reports, Congresswoman Ilhan Omar has beefed up security following the vicious attacks she’s received and even news reports that paint her as un-American. What’s worse, the attacks stem from tweets made against her by President Donald Trump.
“The criticisms of Congresswoman Omar, what Trump has been saying about her, is reprehensible,” said New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, a Democratic presidential candidate. “It is trafficking in Islamophobia, and should be condemned by everyone,” Booker said.
One of the first Muslim women to serve in Congress, Omar has come under repeated attack from the president and others, including Fox News as a result of her questioning America’s relationship with Israel.
“We will never forget,” Trump tweeted in all-capital letters recently, attaching a video that spliced together comments Omar made with footage of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks.
Some media favorable to the president have also attacked Omar and despite death threats made against her, Trump has continued his assault by calling her –without any supporting evidence and against her denials – “anti-Semitic,” and “anti-Israel.”
Booker noted that Trump has also attacked other African American women leaders like California Rep. Maxine Waters. “The kind of language this president uses, especially about black women in power, is toxic,” Booker said.
That Trump claims he’s not racist isn’t satisfactory, Booker said. “It’s not enough to say, I’m not a racist. We must all be anti-racist,” he said. The rhetoric by Trump and his allies against Omar have resulted in the Senator ramping up security, particularly as she’s received death threats.
Recently, a Rhode Island man allegedly threatened to “kill every Democrat in the world,” federal officials said. Matthew Haviland, 30, of North Kingstown was charged after sending approximately 28 threatening emails on March 10 to a college professor, whose name and affiliation was withheld by federal officials. Haviland is facing federal threat charges and cyberstalking.
In an affidavit, FBI task force officer Richard Laft, Jr. wrote that the professor told authorities Haviland’s “views regarding abortion and politics have become more extreme” within the last year.
The professor, who had been friends with Haviland for about 11 years, believed Haviland’s views changed because “of the way the news media portrays” President Donald Trump, Laft wrote.
Authorities said Omar was among the Democrats whom Haviland threatened to kill.
Latagia Copeland-Tyronce, a writer and journalist out of Detroit, said as a black woman and social justice advocate, she knows “all too well what it feels like to be attacked for speaking up and out.”
“And, as such, I believe that there should be a zero-tolerance policy in regards to our black representatives in Congress,” Copeland-Tyronce said.
“We, as a people, cannot allow our black leaders to be attacked for their advocacy. I am a proponent of freedom of speech and freedom of the press, however, abuse and racism crosses the line and should be called out when and where it rears its ugly head,” she said.
Dr. Omekongo Dibinga, an American University professor and director of Upstander International, said it’s imperative that all stand up to bigotry.
“We need to fight fire with facts. I know that President Trump has ushered in the era of fake news and alternative facts, but I believe at the end of the day, the reality of his policies of lies and dissension will do him in, even with his followers as the effects of [Former President] Barack Obama’s positive economy begin to dwindle and they realized he never cared about them in the first place,” Dibinga said.
Shiwon Oh of Sogang University in Seoul, South Korea, said Trump’s presidency exposes a racist underbelly of America that has always been there from the beginning.
“He just gave validation to their opinions and beliefs that its influence is now seeping into mainstream media channels like Fox News,” Oh said.
“All people can do is continue countering the lies with facts, voicing their opposition to racial oppression, and urging their communities to be on the right side of history, even if it means being ridiculed by some,” she said.

Newswire: Crump, NAACP, NNPA to demonstrate after police brutality incident in Florida

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Correspondent

Student handled brutally by Broward Co. Florida police

The Broward County Chapter of the NAACP will lead a march and rally to demand the termination and criminal prosecution of two Florida sheriff deputies who were caught on video punching a 15-year-old African American student and repeatedly slamming the child’s head against concrete pavement.
The weekend rally – a peaceful demonstration – will include the teen’s attorney, famed civil rights lawyer Benjamin Crump, National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) President and CEO Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr., Westside Gazette Publisher Bobby Henry and Broward County NAACP leaders.
“We cannot become desensitized to the brutality visited upon our young black men and women,” said Chavis, who’s also a civil rights activist who worked under Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
“In addition to reporting news, the NNPA, a trade association representing the 215 African American newspapers and media companies around the country, is also a voice for civil rights,” Chavis said.
Further, as the trusted source for news and information in the African American community, the NNPA should be at the forefront in informing its readers about all that affects them, Henry said.
“It’s important for us to remember where we came from and this is galvanizing and communicating on a level where we are all involved and this is such an important issue,” said Henry. “We need to realize that this concerns us, and we should not wait for the white media to tell us about our community and when something happens, they should be coming to us for that information,” he said.
Delucca “Lucca” Rolle, a student at J.P. Taravella High School, was accused of aggravated assault against an officer, but the charge made “no sense,” prosecutors said.
A cell phone video captured Broward County Sheriff’s deputies pepper-spraying, tackling and punching a group of teens last week outside a McDonald’s near the school.
The video shows deputies take Rolle down, with one deputy banging Rolle’s forehead into the pavement and punching him in the head, while another deputy helped restrain and handcuff him.
Rolle, one of two teens who were arrested, reportedly suffered a broken nose in the encounter.
Deputy Christopher Krickovich and Sgt. Greg LaCerra were both suspended by the Sheriff’s office after the video was released, though, originally, they were placed on restricted assignment.
The Broward State Attorney’s Office said it has begun investigating the deputies’ actions and prosecutors decided not to file charges against Rolle.
Rolle’s family also has hired Crump, who said he wants the deputies involved to face criminal charges. Crump noted that the two arrested teens are black, while all three deputies seen in the cellphone video are white. “Rolle was a teen beaten by deputies after he picked up a cellphone that fell out of the pocket of a black boy who was being arrested,” Crump said.
“In response, the deputies “pepper-sprayed, brutally beat, and arrested him,” said Crump, who represented the family of Michael Brown, a 17-year-old African-American, who was shot and killed by police in Ferguson, Mo.
Crump also represented the family of Trayvon Martin, who in 2012 was killed by George Zimmerman, a white neighborhood watch volunteer in Sanford, Fla.
The encounter between Rolle and the deputies happened outside McDonald’s, a frequent after-school hangout spot. At one point, Krickovich and LaCerra went to arrest a student — not Rolle — who had been warned not to trespass at the shopping center, according to a Sheriff’s report.
Crump said “Starting now, we will seek justice through every avenue possible for Lucca and his family. The actions on the video by the officers against Delucca are unconscionable.”
The hashtag #JusticeForLucca has been trending on Twitter.
Rolle’s supporters plan a peaceful rally Saturday afternoon at Hampton Pines Park in North Lauderdale, with attendees encouraged to wear red. Rolle was wearing a red shirt on the day of his arrest.
“We need to make sure we convey the message that the only crime committed on that day was not from the young man, the black children that were there, but from the two deputies and the way they manhandled those kids,” said local NAACP President Marsha Ellison.
“Police brutality and what we consider child abuse will not be tolerated, certainly with our kids who are equally as important as those in other communities,” Ellison said.
She’s also calling for the termination and prosecution of the deputies. “We want the sheriff to hold them accountable and for them to be terminated, meaning they don’t have the opportunity to do this to anyone else while in a [sheriff’s] uniform,” Ellison said.
“We are wary of the state Attorney’s Office in their investigation. It could be one year sometimes two and they’ll try and wait until this dies down and close the case,” she said. “That’s not good enough. A suspension is not good enough. These children are traumatized, emotionally damaged. The 2020 election is coming where we get to choose a new sheriff and new states Attorney. We’re tired of this. Enough is enough.”

Newswire : Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law sues White House Office of Management and Budget for Payday Lending Documents Records

Washington, D.C. – This week, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia against the White House Office of Management and Budget. The lawsuit seeks the release of public records related to OMB Director Mick Mulvaney’s ties to the payday lending industry after his office failed to respond to a Freedom of Information Act request made several months ago.
“Director Mulvaney’s decision to roll back consumer protections for low-income borrowers in America is a prime example of regressive policies that harm consumers across the country, particularly African Americans and other communities of color,” stated Kristen Clarke, President and Executive Director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. Clarke continued: “We know that Mr. Mulvaney previously accepted large campaign contributions from key points of contact in the payday lending industry as a member of Congress, and the American people deserve to know if their influence had anything to do with his decision to undermine anti-discrimination enforcement or roll back regulations preventing predatory lending.
The law requires the White House to disclose any records relating to Mulvaney’s communications with industry lobbyists. Through our litigation we are fighting to promote transparency during an era in which CFPB, OMB, and other agencies have increasingly concealed information to keep the public in the dark.”
After taking over the CFPB last year, while also keeping his role at OMB, Mulvaney immediately moved to roll back rules protecting low-income payday loan borrowers. The CFPB had enacted these new rules after years of careful study of the predatory harms of payday lending, including how such loans are targeted to communities of color. The Lawyers’ Committee filed this FOIA request with OMB to determine whether Mulvaney improperly used his White House office to discuss his regulatory actions with industry representatives.

Newswire : Sudanese demands for a civilian government remain firm

Sudanese women celebrate the ouster of President Omar al-Bashir

Apr. 15, 2019 (GIN) – Protests that began over the skyrocketing price of bread and shortages of food and fuel have accomplished what few people believed was possible in a country ruled by a leader with an iron fist.

A Sudanese people’s movement was born on the streets of Khartoum. Hundreds of thousands of women and men hunkered down and braved attacks by anti-riot police.

“The scale of the protests is unprecedented,” Shawgi Mahadi Mustafa, a Sudanese journalist based in Qatar, marveled. Troops that once turned back opponents with ease were unable to clear a sit-in outside army headquarters in Khartoum.

This month, the hardline president, Omar al-Bashir, was forced to step down after three decades in power but a tough military man was put in his place. Demonstrators held the line, saying they would continue the rallies until a civilian leadership was installed.

The protesters are demanding a quicker move than the military’s announced two-year transition to an elected government.

One demonstrator, Ala’a Salah, told the Voice of America she was skeptical that the military would hand over power.

When Bashir’s regime came to power, she recalled, it was under similar circumstances. “They gave promises that they didn’t fulfill,” she said. “We need proof, not only talk, and we’re staying until our demands are fulfilled.”

The military’s transitional leadership has changed twice since it said Bashir had been placed under house arrest. Among those detained are his former interior minister Abdelrahim Mohamed Hussein, and former head of the ruling party Ahmed Haroun. The three men are all wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes related to atrocities in Darfur.

Last week, the military council appointed Hashem Abdel Muttalib as army chief of staff, and said the move was aimed at changing the military. Hashem was appointed by Bashir in February as vice-chief of army staff.

But the protesters appear determined to remain in the streets, unconvinced that the military is fully on their side.

The main protest organizer, the Sudanese Professionals Association, has called for more people to join the demonstrations and the demands for civilian rule.

Newswire : Suspect arrested in case of three church fires in St. Landry Parish, Louisiana

By Lauren Victoria Burke, NNPA Newswire Contributor

Louisiana Black church burning

A man arrested in connection with the Louisiana Black church fires is a law enforcement official’s son, reports say. When he was arraigned this past week, the judge denied his request for bail based on the severity and impact of his crimes.
A 21-year-old named Holden Matthews has been arrested in connection with fires at three predominantly Black churches in Louisiana. All three churches were destroyed. Matthews’ social media accounts evidenced loose connections with white supremacy.
St. Mary Baptist Church in Port Barre burned down on March 26. On April 2, the Greater Union Baptist Church in Opelousas, Louisiana was burned down. Two days after that fire on April 4, the Mount Pleasant Baptist Church was also burned in the same town. Authorities are confident that the fires were all intentionally set.
Members of the Congressional Black Caucus asked for the FBI to investigate the arsons as a hate crime.
“Congressional Black Caucus Chair Karen Bass, Homeland Security Chairman Bennie Thompson, and Representative Cedric Richmond of Louisiana’s Second Congressional District call on the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and all federal law enforcement agencies to investigate the possible hate crime that resulted in the recent burning of the three historically Black churches in St. Landry Parish, Louisiana. All three fires may be the product of domestic terrorism, and places of worship should be protected and safe at all times. It is our expectation that the FBI and other federal law enforcement agencies work expeditiously to resolve this matter to restore faith and normalcy among the residents of St. Landry Parish,” the CBC members stated in a statement on April 11.
On April 9, NAACP President Derrick Johnson commented on the church fires saying, “What is happening in Tennessee and Louisiana is domestic terrorism and we must not turn a blind eye to any incident where people are targeted because of the color of their skin and their faith.”
“The spike in church burnings in the Southern states is a reflection of emboldened racial rhetoric and tension spreading across the country,” Johnson added.
Johnson and other civil rights leaders have pointed out that President Trump has been silent on these Louisiana church burnings and other ‘hate crimes’.
Several black churches were burned in 2015 after the nine people were murdered by Dylan Roof at Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. In 1995, three Black churches in Greene County, Alabama were burned and subsequently rebuilt.
Holden Matthews was taken into custody on the evening of April 10, according to Louisiana TV station KATC. The station also reported that Matthews is the son of a St. Landry Parish sheriff’s deputy but did not name who the deputy was.
At the time the fires were set at the churches they were empty.
Matthews’ social media indicated an interest in heavy metal music and that he is the lead singer of a band called Vodka Vultures. Reports from local news reveal Matthews lives in Saint Landry Parish.

Greene County Commission clarifies renewal of sales tax for education until 2040

At their regular meeting on Monday April 8, 2019, the Greene County Commission took action to clarify the renewals of two one-cent sales taxes for the Board of Education to 2040.
The County Commission approved two one cent sales taxes for education, one in 1986 and 1993, for a total of two cents out of the three cents of sales tax that comes to the Greene County Commission. One of these taxes was extended for thirty years in 2009 but it was unclear which tax had been extended.
Monday’s action by the Commission, extended both one-cent taxes, for a total of two cents, to 2040 for education of Greene County students. This is not a change or an increase just a change in the confirmation that both education taxes will run together until 2040.
The remaining one-cent of the three-cent sales tax goes to the Greene County Hospital. That tax runs through 2027 and is pledged to pay for a bond issue that the facility used to pay debts and continue operations.
Paula Bird, CFO of the County gave the monthly financial report for March 31, 2019, the half way point of the fiscal year. She indicated that the Commission had $5,661,662 in various funds in local banks and an additional $1.3 million in banks to cover bond issues.
She also reported that revenues and expenditures for the various funds were in line with the budget and were at or close to the 50% mark puts them in comp-liance with the half-year mark of the budget.
The Commission approved payment of $657,000 of claims for the month, including $212,300 from the General Fund. $102,700 in amendments to the budget were approved. These changes were internal rearrangements of funds not an increase.
In other actions, the Greene County Commission:
• Approved a Sales Tax Holiday for back-to-school supplies and clothing scheduled for July 19-21, 2019
• Approved liquor licenses for DOCS Bar and Lounge on the Lower Gainesville Road
• Approved advertising to hire a Clerk for the Judge of Probate; and a Van Driver for the senior nutrition sites.
After an Executive Session to consider legal matters, the Commission returned and voted to support the Sheriff in settling a claim with Great Western Development Corporation.
More details on this legal settlement will be available once the full settlement is reached with all involved parties.

Newswire : .Clyburn and Booker introduce sweeping Anti-Poverty Bill

James Clyburn and Cory Booker

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn (D-SC) and U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) today introduced a sweeping anti-poverty bill to better target federal grant dollars to high-poverty urban, rural, and tribal communities. The bill, titled An Act Targeting Resources into Communities in Need, expands the successful 10-20-30 anti-poverty formula, including a significantly larger group of struggling communities and broader universe of federal accounts by targeting funding into high-poverty census tracts.
“While genius is spread equally across zip codes, opportunity is not,” said Senator Booker. “This bill more strategically targets federal resources to where they are needed most, ensuring that families and communities long left behind are given a fair shot. In doing so, we can move to a smarter, more responsive government.”
“For far too long, persistent poverty communities have suffered from neglect and indifference, leading to a lack of access to quality schools, affordable quality health care, and adequate job opportunities,” said Majority Whip Clyburn. “This legislation seeks to right this wrong by targeting much needed federal investments to areas that need them the most.”
“The quality of life in our urban counterparts is directly linked to the health and vitality of rural America….the majority of our food, fiber and fuel are produced in these areas….this legislation continues to strengthen that link,” said Sam Wade, CEO of the National Rural Water Association. “We would also like to commend our partners at Rural Development, and we believe they are uniquely qualified and experienced to assist these communities, many of which, unfortunately, lack the human capacity and financial resources to move ahead without some assistance. We at NRWA stand ready and able to work with Congress and our partners at Rural Development to further the health and prosperity in these rural communities.”
“In the United States, poverty is not equally distributed. It clusters in specific regions, states, towns, and even neighborhoods,” said Minor Sinclair, Director of Oxfam America’s U.S. Domestic Program. “At Oxfam, we’ve seen states in the Gulf Coast working to pull people out of poverty, but struggling against formidable barriers, including a legacy of racism with roots in slavery, exacerbated incarceration rates, and elevated exposure to climate hazards such as hurricanes. The Clyburn-Booker bill is a critical step to ending the injustice of poverty. This bill would target resources in the communities that need it most, helping to mitigate the historical, social, and environmental factors that inhibit communities’ abilities to thrive.”
“The Housing Assistance Council has almost 50 years of experience working in persistently poor rural communities across the country,” said David Lipsetz, CEO of the Housing Assistance Council. “We know how challenging it is to direct federal funds to these high-need places. Without increased federal investment in capacity on the ground, high-poverty communities will continue to fall behind. We applaud Congressman Clyburn and Senator Booker for addressing this challenge with An Act Targeting Resources to Communities in Need, which will direct important federal funding and programs – like those of USDA’s Rural Development and the CDFI Fund – to the nation’s most persistently poor communities.”

“In 2017, over 12.8 million children in America lived below the official poverty level — $25,094 for a family of four, and nearly half lived in extreme poverty at below half the poverty level,” said MaryLee Allen, Director of Policy at the Children’s Defense Fund. “More than one in ten children spend at least half their childhoods in poverty and the longer a child is poor, the greater their risk of becoming a poor adult. An Act Targeting Resources to Communities in Need is an important step toward badly-needed investment in the persistently poor areas so many of our most vulnerable children and families call home.”
“Confronting and eradicating areas of persistent poverty will address educational imbalances, health disparities and economic inequities,” said Lou Tisler, Executive Director of National NeighborWorks Association. “National NeighborWorks Association supports instituting the 10-20-30 plan more broadly, as proposed by the Clyburn-Booker Act, which will prioritize and provide necessary resources, while creating impactful leverage and enduring strength in neighborhoods and communities across the country, as NeighborWorks organizations do every day.”
“Child poverty is not inevitable – we know firsthand from our work in rural communities across the country that investing in families and community supports can help break the pervasive cycle of poverty and ensure equal opportunity for all,” said Mark Shriver, senior vice president for Save the Children’s U.S. Programs and Advocacy. “Recently, the National Academy of Sciences released a landmark study confirming child poverty in the United States is a solvable problem if there is the political will to address it. I want to thank Congressman Clyburn and Senator Booker for focusing on one of the most pressing issues facing our country today.”
“Poverty is deeply related to place,” said Professor Trevon Logan, Economics professor at the Ohio State University. “That means we need solutions that target areas where poverty is entrenched and persistent. This bill expands on a proven policy of targeting federal expenditures to make sure that we do not overlook areas beset by persistent poverty. Bills such as this can move Americans out of poverty and move all of us towards economic prosperity.”
The 10-20-30 formula requires that a minimum of ten percent of federal funds of a particular federal program go to communities with “persistent” poverty, defined as a county where the poverty level has been 20 percent or higher over the past thirty years. This formula was successfully applied to three accounts in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, 15 accounts in the omnibus appropriations law of 2017, and 14 accounts in the omnibus appropriations law for 2018. This new bill expands this formula so that it applies to a larger universe of federal programs, ensuring that more high poverty communities are reached.
In order to ensure federal investment reaches all high-need communities, including pockets of deep poverty and those communities experiencing more recent economic downturns, preventing them from being defined as persistent, the bill would also require certain federal agencies and programs target resources to census tracts with poverty rates currently exceeding 20 percent.