Newswire : Thousands of celebrities, luminaries and ordinary people bid Dick Gregory farewell

By Barrington M. Salmon

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 Thousands filled the City of Praise Church to honor the contributions of Dick Gregory. PHOTO: Roy Lewis/Trice Edney News Wire

(TriceEdneyWire.com) – Several thousand mourners packed into a Landover, Md. church listened as friends, family and admirers lionized comedian, social justice warrior, civil rights activist and provocateur Dick Gregory. The spirited, electric memorial service on Saturday, Sept. 18, turned out to be more celebration than funeral.
Gregory’s passing brought together a constellation of local, national and international celebrities and luminaries from the arts, entertainment, politics and sports as well as ordinary people, all whose lives Gregory touched over the course of his 84 years.
Among the descriptors used: Firestarter, agitator, freedom fighter, legend, peacemaker, genius, artist, teacher, guide.
“We experience the loss not of a comedian but the loss of one sent from above to be a guide, a teacher, a friend, a teacher, an activist, a giver, a sufferer, one of the most marvelous human beings I have had the privilege of meeting during my 84 years of life on this planet,” said Minister Louis Farrakhan, who gave the eulogy. “I want to thank Mother Lillian and the Gregory family for the great honor and privilege that you have given me to ask me to be the eulogist for a man that is so difficult to describe, But I’m going to try in a few words to say what I think and I believe about man who lie there but is not here.”
He continued, “I enjoyed every speaker, every song, every word … Everyone who spoke represented the matchless, exquisite diamond that Dick Gregory represented and as the light shined on that diamond in every direction a different color because he was a man who represented every color of the sun,” he said. “His mind was always on justice and on peace, on freedom and equity, not only for Nlack people, but all who were deprived.”

Speaking of Gregory’s dogged research, he said Gregory would bring a suitcase with materials and newspapers giving facts and figures, things he heard and sought the truth about.
“Dick Gregory had us laughing but he was not a comedian. Even his jokes were filled with wisdom. He was so far beyond dogma and doctrine and rituals of religion. I loved to hear Dick talk about the real God, the Universal God because he had grown and outgrown the negativity of denominationalism and the sectarianism of religion. He wanted us to grow into where he was.”
Farrakhan had been proceeded by a parade of stars of sorts bring reflections about Gregory from every walk of life.
“I’m so pleased that you organized a real celebration where you’re not ending quickly and trying to shut people up. I’m going to take as long as I want,” said U. S. Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) to peals of laughter and applause. “I have talked to Dick for hours. We would talk – no, he would talk – about things going on in the world. He brought me to this time and place in my life.”
For more than six hours, in a service “Celebrating the Life of a Legend,” people regaled attendees spread over the City of Praise Family Ministries with stories about Richard Claxton Gregory. The speakers also included Stevie Wonder, Bill and Camille Cosby, MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell, members of the American Indian Movement, The Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II and the Hon. Louis Farrakhan.
“I praise him who has brought us all together,” said Myrlie Evers-Williams, widow of slain Civil Rights leader Medgar Evers and a close friend of Gregory’s. “I give thanks to Dick Gregory for this. I recommend that we love each other, recommend that we hold the memories and hopefully rededicate ourselves to the ideals that Dick Gregory believed in.”
Evers-Williams’ husband, Medgar Evers, the NAACP’s first Field Secretary in Mississippi, was shot and killed in an assassination in his driveway in 1963. She said the work of civil rights is clearly not finished.
“Seeing the children of the leaders, I saw them speak the truth of their parents, speak the truth of their generation and speak the truth of what America should be…Let us not forget who we are and remember that each of us has a responsibility to keep on doing the job.”
Interspersed with the speakers were musical performances by India Irie, Ayanna Gregory, Sweet Honey on the Rock, the Morgan State University Choir, Farafina Kan, and ‘Scandal’ star Joe Morton reprising a portion of his one-man biographical play on Gregory, “Turn Me Loose,” among others.
One extraordinary moment brought together several children of slain Civil Rights activists and Rain Pryor, daughter of comedian Richard Pryor. Renee Evers-Everette, Martin Luther King, III, and llyasah Shabazz, the third daughter of Malcolm X and Dr. Betty Shabazz extolled Gregory.
“Baba was part of my Pryor life of laughter and that special attention he gave you,” said Pryor. “He said that truths were soul food and a map to live by. He told me to always choose my words wisely. Today, as we honor our newest Ancestor, we are reminded not to morph, not to imitate, but to speak the highest truth. We have to keep them lifted in our actions as we become the change they sought.”
Evers-Everette said she initially refused strenuously when asked by Ayanna Gregory to speak but, “There’s no way I could not be here,” she said. “My father and Dick Gregory were brothers of the spirit and the hearts … They (her father and other slain Civil Rights activists) spilled the blood of truth for our freedoms. The words, wisdom and spirit they powered out in us was given to the world. The time given may have been small but it was enormous. They made the most impact on our minds and hearts.”
Shabazz said Gregory fought for people trapped on the periphery of economics and justice.
“He challenged the social climate and challenged a superpower that has been systematically and historically unjust to certain populations,” she said. “I’m honored to be here today for my parents and Ancestors. The Ancestors are lining up to welcome Baba in anticipation of a progress report on the status of life down here.”
“When it came time to say who took Malcolm’s life he rose to the occasion. He clarified Martin Luther King Jr’s death and raised his voice for those slain by bullies and bigots,” Shabazz explained. “And when this new generation reminded the world that Black Lives Matter, he stood up with them and spoke truth to power.”
In 1961, Dick Gregory’s big break came when he was asked to fill in for another comedian at Chicago’s Playboy Club. What was supposed to be a one-night gig lasted two months and led to an appearance on the Tonight Show and a profile in Time Magazine. Fifty-dollar-a-night gigs became $5,000 a night appearances. Gregory waded into Civil Rights leading and joining marches and often getting arrested for his involvement in demonstrations for justice and equality, for Native American rights, DC statehood and an assortment of other causes. Several people said he gave up millions as he assumed the mantle of activism.
Master of Ceremonies the Rev. Mark Thompson, host of Sirius XM radio’s ‘Make It Plain’ recalled that commitment. “He helped us lead the statehood movement in 1993,” Thompson recalled. “We were the original Tea Party – no taxation without representation. We went to jail every week for the entire summer.”
Waters, who has gained notoriety as an outspoken and acerbic critic of President Donald Trump, promised that she would continue to be “this dishonorable person’s” worst nightmare.
Waters concluded, “I’ve decided I don’t want to be safe. I’m not looking for people to like me. It’s time for us to walk the walk. If you cared about him, loved him, stop being so weak. It’s time to stop skinning and grinning. It’s time for us to have the courage to do what we need to do, especially at this hour.”

Newswire : South Africa remembers the Steve Biko legacy

Steve Biko
Steve Biko

Sept. 18, 2017 (GIN) – South Africans marked the 40th year since the death of anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko with a wreath-laying ceremony at the Kgosi Mampuru Correctional Centre.

An African nationalist and African socialist, Biko was at the forefront of a grassroots campaign known as the Black Consciousness Movement during the late 1960s and 1970s. His ideas were articulated in a series of articles published under the pseudonym Frank Talk and later, in two books.

Nelson Mandela called him “the spark that lit a veld fire across South Africa”, adding that the race-based Nationalist government “had to kill him to prolong the life of apartheid”. In an anthology of his work in 2008, Manning Marable and Peniel Joseph wrote that his death had “created a vivid symbol of black resistance” to apartheid that “continues to inspire new black activists” over a decade after the transition to majority rule.

Johann de Wet, a professor of communication studies, described him as “one of South Africa’s most gifted political strategists and communicators”.

“Steve Biko fought white supremacy and was equally disturbed by what he saw as an inferiority complex amongst black people,” said President Jacob Zuma at one of the memorial events recalling Biko’s life. “He advocated black pride and black self-reliance, believing that black people should be their own liberators and lead organizations fighting for freedom. He practiced what he preached with regards to self-reliance and led the establishment of several community projects which were aimed at improving the lives of the people.”

“They may have killed the man, but his ideas live on,” wrote Professor Tinyiko Maluleke of the University of South Africa in an editorial citing Biko’s writings: “I Write What I Like” and “Black Souls in White Skins”.

Although Biko’s ideas have not received the same attention as Frantz Fanon’s, the men shared a highly similar pedigree in their interests in the philosophical psychology of consciousness, their desire for a decolonizing of the mind, the liberation of Africa and in the politics of nationalism and socialism for the ‘wretched of the earth’, according to Professors Pal Ahluwalia and Abebe Zegeye of the University of Adelaide and South Africa.

Biko died on Sept. 12, 1977 from injuries sustained while in police custody at what was then called the Pretoria Central Prison. His murderers, four officers of the security branch in Port Elizabeth, were denied amnesty by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in February 1999.

Sheriff Jonathan Benison meets with GCHS Board; commits to change ‘bingo rules’ to provide major support to save hospital

By: John Zippert,
Co-Publisher and Chair of GCHS Board of Directors

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The Board of Directors of the Greene County Health System (GCHS) Board met with Sheriff Jonathan Benison and his electronic bingo staff twice in the past three weeks, on August 25 and September 12, 2017 to urge him to take action to support the hospital, which is in danger of closing due to financial problems.
The GCHS Board submitted a letter to Sheriff Benison on August 30, 2017 placing in writing its suggestions to help the health care system in Greene County.
These suggestions included: collection of a 4% tax imposed on bingo machine operators, in June 2016, which has never been enforced or collected; raising the per machine fee, paid by bingo operators from $200 to $225 and giving those proceeds to support the GCHS on a monthly basis, and other steps to help the hospital become more financially self sufficient.
In the meeting, this week on September 12, 2017, Sheriff Jonathan Benison and his attorney Flint Liddon and bingo staff announced that he was going to change Section 4 of the electronic bingo rules to provide an additional $25 assessment, on all bingo machines, in all five bingo establishments, in Greene County, with the funds going to the Greene County Health System to support the hospital, nursing home, physicians clinic and other services.
This change will be instituted effective November 1, 2017 to allow the bingo establishments time to adjust their budgets and operations.

Currently, based on data provided by the Sheriff and his staff, there are 2,032 bingo machines at the five bingo establishments in Greene County which means that based on current numbers, the GCHS would receive $50,800 per month from the proceeds of this rule change. The Sheriff said that he thought that the number of bingo machines in the county would hold steady at around 2,000 or above.
This means that the GCHS could expect to receive $600,000 per year in support from electronic bingo in the county sanctioned under Constitutional Amendment 743.
Rosemarie Edwards, a Board member from the Boligee area, said, “I want to thank the Sheriff for his decision to increase the fee on each bingo machine by $25. This will help to keep the hospital open and provide needed medical services for Greene County residents. I hope people in the community will support the Sheriff in his new bingo rules.”
Eddie Austin, Board member from the Forkland area, indicated, “I know of a person, within the last week, whose life was saved and stabilized by the Greene County Hospital Emergency Room. We all need our hospital to stay open and offer quality services. I commend the Sheriff for responding to our pleas for support.”
Pinnia Hines, Board member from Eutaw and former employee said, “With the commitment from the Sheriff to change bingo rules and provide substantial support for the hospital, nursing home and associated services, we will have certainty and stability to keep the facilities open. I thank the Sheriff for his decisions and I urge the community to support and unify behind these necessary changes.”
In response to a question from the Board, about what the Sheriff will do if the bingo operators do not agree to and comply with his per machine fee rules changes, Sheriff Benison said, “ I hope they will agree but if they don’t, I will have no choice but to enforce the rules and close down those who do not pay the funds to support the hospital.” Hank McWhorter, the Sheriff’s Bingo Enforcement Officer pulled out some large pre-printed stickers, which would be attached to the doors of those bingo establishments that did not comply with the new rules changes.
Attorney Liddon stated, “We do not really know how much money is passing through these bingo machines but we are sure it is enough to meet the conditions of these rule changes. We know the operators will not like these changes and may cry out that they are too expensive, but the Sheriff is determined to go forward to make these changes to assist the hospital.”
John Zippert, Chair of the GCHS Board, said, “We welcome and support the Sheriff’s decision to raise the per machine fee by $25 to assist the Greene County Health System. This infusion of $50,000 a month will be a significant and substantial help to the facility to meet its deficit of $100,000 per month. Our monthly deficit is roughly equal to the ‘uncompensated care’ we provide to low-income people from Greene County each month.
“The Board and the people of Greene County we represent, thank the Sheriff for his rule change and support for the GCHS. The Board will work with the people to find the rest of the revenues and savings to erase the deficit. More Greene County people must use the GCHS facilities and services; we must fill the 20 vacant beds in our nursing home; we must fully utilize the three doctors and two nurse practitioners in the health clinic; we must fully utilize all the services of GCHS.
“Our Board will also seek support and contributions from other public and private sources, including the Greene County Commission, the State of Alabama, Medicare, Medicaid, private foundation grants and other support. We will also work for better state and national health policies which will treat rural people and facilities fairly and recognize our contribution to the nation’s health care status and the well-being of our people.”

Commission salutes Henley on retirement; Greene Team seeks hospital support from county

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Shown Left to Right: Commissioners Lester Brown and Tennyson Smith, Alexander Henley, County Engineer Willie Branch, Assistant Engineer, John Ensley and
Commissioner Allen Turner, Jr.

 

At the regular meeting of the Greene County Commission, Monday Sept. 11, 2017, Mr. Alexander Henley was recognized for his long and diligent service to the county. Henley was presented a Certificate of Retirement for 29 years with the county’s Highway Department. Henley noted that during that period of time with the county he worked under 18 County Engineers and Assistant Engineers. “I enjoyed my work and made many friends. Until recent years I had no illness that kept me from my job,” he stated.
During public comments, Mrs. Johnnie M. Knott presented members of the Greene County Hospital/Nursing Home Auxiliary (Greene Team) and other local citizens who had come to the commission’s meeting seeking support for the Greene County Hospital. The general purpose of the group was to ask the commission to provide leadership in helping to keep the hospital and its varied health services operating. Several individuals gave testimonies of how the Greene County Hospital had basically saved their lives by stabilizing them during a health crisis until they could get specific care at another health facility. Many others spoke out in support of the county finding ways to keep the hospital operating. The commission listened but made not statements since that body cannot provide specific commitments during public comments.
In other business the commission acted on the following.
*Approved 2017-2018 Budget, including employee pay adjustments as indicated in the budget.
*Approved liquor license for Jackpot Food Beverage, LLC (Palace Bingo Facility).
*Approved long term detention subsidy contract with Dallas County Detention Center.
*Approved annual bids from Highway Department including bids for timber, corrugated metal pipe, plastic pipe, etc.
*Approved thermostat replacement and installation paid from general fund bingo account.
*Approval various travel requests for Engineer and Assistant Engineer.
*Approved budget amendments and payment of claims.
County CFO, Paula Bird reported that as of August 17, 2017, the county had $1,962,092.35 in Citizen Trust Bank; $4,488,356.17 in Merchants & Farmers Bank and $792,094.11 in the Bank of New York. According to the CFO’s report, of the $3,236,960.59 expenditure budget for the current fiscal year, $2,905,759.82 has been expended to date, approximately 90%.
The commission announced that its October meeting will be re-scheduled for Tuesday, October 10, due to the Columbus Day holiday.

Newswire : Congresswoman Terri Sewell’s Statement on Trump Voter Commission Meeting

Voter commission hears from right-wing panel on voter suppression tactics
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 Terri Sewell

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Tuesday, the Trump Administration’s Election Integrity Commission held a series of public presentations in New Hampshire, receiving testimony from political allies and long-time advocates for discriminatory voter restrictions. Leading the meeting was Commission Co-Chair Kris Kobach, who has a history of voter suppression and who has received wide condemnation from civil liberties and civil rights groups.

“Today’s meeting makes it clear that the real purpose of President Trump’s sham voter commission is to the lay the foundation for voter suppression efforts,” said Rep. Terri A. Sewell (D-AL). “Rather than hearing from experts in the field of election integrity, the commission gathered a panel of Trump loyalists who support severe voter restrictions. This isn’t an investigation, it’s a kangaroo court that has put our access to the ballot box on trial. I strongly believe that to improve the integrity of our elections, we should be making it easier for people to vote, not harder. In Congress, I will not stop fighting to give every eligible voter a voice in our democracy.”

Rep. Terri Sewell is the Vice Chair of the Commission on Protecting American Democracy from the Trump Administration. The group investigates voter suppression, the “voter fraud” myth, and strategies for modernizing the voting process to provide more Americans better access to the polls. Other members include the Commission’s Chair, Jason Kander, and California Secretary of State Alex Padilla, who has refused to turn over state voter data to Trump’s Election Commission.

President Trump, after losing the popular vote in the 2016 presidential election, has falsely claimed that “millions” of illegal votes were cast. The head of Trump’s Election Commission, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach has a well-documented history of creating barriers to voting in his home state of Kansas, where he drafted requirements for documentary proof of citizenship to register to vote, which have been tied up in court and administrative battles for years.

Newswire : Even with advanced degrees, Black women earn less than white men

By Bria Nicole Stone (NNPA Newswire Contributor)
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Black women have to work seven extra months to earn what White men were paid in 2016. On average, Black women make 67 cents on the dollar compared to White men.
In a recent blog post to mark Black Women’s Equal Pay Day, researchers at the Economic Policy Institute analyzed and debunked myths concerning the reasons why Black women earn less than White men.
Some people mistakenly believe that if Black women simply worked harder, they would earn higher wages. However, according to EPI, the truth is that, “Black women work more hours than White women. They have increased work hours 18.4 percent since 1979, yet the wage gap relative to White men has grown.”
The EPI blog post said that the growth in annual hours is “larger for Black women than for White women and men” who work in low-paying jobs and that, “both Black and White workers have increased their number of annual hours in response to slow wage growth” and “working moms are significant contributors to this trend.”
Half of Black women who have jobs are working moms compared to 44.5 percent of White women.
Another common myth associated with the pay gap between Black women and White men is that Black women would earn higher wages, if they were more educated. “Two-thirds of Black women in the workforce have some postsecondary education, 29.4 percent have a bachelor’s degree or higher,” the blog post said. “Black women are paid less than White men at every level of education.”
According to EPI, Black women with less than a high school diploma make $10.62 on average compared to White men who make $15.16. Black women with advanced degrees earn $31.57 compared to White men, who make $48.27.
The racial wage gap persists in jobs dominated by Black women and jobs dominated by White men, according to EPI, dispelling the myth that Black women earn less due to their career choices.
“While White male physicians and surgeons earn, on average, $18 per hour more than Black women doing the same job, the gap for retail salespersons is also shocking, at more than $9 an hour,” according to EPI researchers.
Valerie Wilson, the director of race, ethnicity, and the economy at EPI said that career choice and education have little to do with the pay gap between Black women and White men.
“Black women, whether they make the same career choice [as White men] or not, will still earn less than White men,” said Wilson. “This can be in any career choice whether it is a male- dominated or a female-dominated career. We have seen that even in fields that are more common for women, men still make more than Black women in that career field.”
Wilson said that even though wages are growing faster for women than men, Black women still don’t see much benefit. “While White women do make less than White men, they still earn quite a bit more than Black women,” said Wilson. “Women’s Equal Pay Day was held sometime in April while Black Women’s Equal Pay day is held in July.”
While the wage gap for Black women is caused by both gender and racial disparities, there are still ways to help minimize and close the pay gap between Black women and their counterparts.
Wilson said that economic policy in the U.S. can play a much larger role in minimizing the pay gap.“We have anti-discrimination laws, but we must enforce those laws and ensure they are effective. There also has to be greater pay transparency,” said Wilson. “Other things that can help raise wages is collective bargaining. Also, Black women are known to be in lower-paying occupations, so raising the minimum wage would be very helpful.”
Wilson continued: “We need to make sure that Black women are fighting and being paid what they’re worth.”

Newswire : Black immigrant organization angry about Trump rescinding DACA

By Frederick H. Lowe

Special to the Trice Edney News Wire from NorthStarNewsToday.com
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DACA graphic

(TriceEdneyWire.com) -The Black Alliance for Just Immigration, the nation’s largest black-led organization championing racial justice and immigrant rights, blasted the Trump Administration for rescinding Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) that allowed 800,000 immigrant youth to live in the United States without fear of deportation.
“BAJI is appalled by Trump’s decision to rescind DACA. By canceling the program President Trump is again pandering to white supremacists over immigrant and poor communities as well as millions of organizations, businesses and allies that support DACA recipients,” said Opal Tometi, executive director of BAJI, which is based in New York.
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions last Tuesday announced that the Trump Administration was rescinding DACA because it was unconstitutional. The program provided a legal status for recipients, including participation in Social Security for nearly 800,000 mostly adult illegal aliens.
During a nationwide news conference Thursday, hosted by New America Media and Ready California, a collaborative effort to support organizations providing information and legal services to immigrant community members, reporters asked questions and experts outlined the new landscape without DACA.
Luis Quiroz, a DACA recipient, told reporters his parents brought him to this country from Mexico when he was six months old. “I am an American. I don’t know another country,” said Quiroz, who is 27. He is clearly worried about what will happen to him with DACA being rescinded and with good reason. Both parents and his older brother, who is deceased, were deported to Mexico.
“I’m unsure what my future looks like without DACA,” said Quiroz, who lives in San Francisco.
Like most DACA members Quiroz is Hispanic which leads some casual observers to think all DACA members are Hispanic. They would be wrong in making that assumption.
There are 575,000 undocumented black immigrants living in the U.S. and 1 percent are DACA recipients from black countries. The leading black countries for DACA recipients are Jamaica (5,302), Trinidad & Tobago (4,077), and Nigeria (2,095).
Tometi urged Congress to step in and fix the nation’s broken immigration system.
“It is now up to Congress to come up with a long-term solution to a broken immigration system that protects human rights and enables immigrant families to live and thrive in the U.S.,” Tometi said.
The Trump Administration has given Congress six months to fix the DACA program