Newswire: Historic Justice Department appointment: Kristen Clarke confirmed as first Black woman to lead Civil Rights Division

Kristen Clake

By Charlene Crowell

  (TriceEdneyWire.com) – In recent years, many people of different races and ethnicities have fought against rollbacks to hard-won racial progress. From health disparities exposed in the COVID-19 pandemic, to voting rights, criminal justice, fair housing, and more, much of Black America has suffered in ways that harkened back to Jim Crow and its separate, but never equal status.   But since a new Administration began this January, there have been a series of hopeful signs that regressive and harmful practices will be challenged in the name of justice. On May 25, the U.S. Senate confirmed Kristen Clarke as the Justice Department’s Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights. Never before has a Black woman led this division that guides the federal government’s commitment to civil rights for all.   Nominated by President Joe Biden on January 7, his remarks noted both its significance and opportunity.   “The Civil Rights Division represents the moral center of the Department of Justice. And the heart of that fundamental American ideal that we’re all created equal and all deserve to be treated equally,” said President Biden. “I’m honored you accepted the call to return to make real the promise for all Americans.”   Soon thereafter, a tsunami of support for Clarke’s confirmation exposed national and diverse support for her service. The list of supporters included labor unions, environmental activists, law enforcement officials, along with legal colleagues and civil rights leaders.   Perhaps one of the earliest and most poignant expressions came from the son of the nation’s first Black Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, Thurgood Marshall. Penned on behalf of his family, the February 9 letter to U.S. Senate leadership drew a key historic connection.   “Ms. Clarke is a pathbreaking lawyer, like my father, who built her career advancing civil rights and equal justice under the law, and breaking barriers through her leadership for people of color while making our nation better for everyone,” wrote Mr. Marshall.   His letter also shared an eye-opening example of Ms. Clarke’s groundbreaking work in civil rights. “Ms. Clarke has successfully utilized the law as a vehicle for advancing equality, as my father did. For example, she successfully represented Taylor Dumpson, who was targeted for a hate crime after her election as American University’s first female Black student body president.”   Similarly, the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization, the NAACP, advised Senate leadership before its scheduled confirmation hearing of its support for Ms. Clarke as well.   On April 12, Derrick Johnson, its President and CEO wrote, “The NAACP believes that Ms. Clarke is exceptionally suited to oversee the Civil Rights Division at a time when people of color have suffered devastating harm at the hands of law enforcement. She is the leader we need to ensure local police agencies are complying with civil rights laws and advancing public safety by maintaining positive relationships with the communities they serve. Ms. Clarke has prosecuted police misconduct cases and has worked to make the criminal justice system fairer for people of color.”   “As President of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Ms. Clarke has been an important partner working to curb predatory lending and in the fight for fair housing, including campaigns to stop the debt trap of payday lending and efforts to protect important fair housing/lending rules, noted Nikitra Bailey, an EVP with the Center for Responsible Lending.   “Ms. Clarke’s experience as a Justice Department lawyer and as executive director of a leading civil rights organization not only qualifies her, but makes her the best candidate for this urgently needed position.”  The vote was taken mid afternoon on Tuesday was 51-48 along party lines. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine was the only Republican to vote for her confirmation. Black women-led and civil rights organizations, including People for the American Way, had fought vehemently for her confirmation alongside the April 21 confirmation of Vanita Gupta as associate attorney general. Gupta is Indian-American. “These women are ready to make change happen—the change we voted for,” wrote People for the American Way President Ben Jealous, in a column. “They represent the kind of inclusive multiracial and multiethnic society we are building together—and the Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to building one of the most diverse governing teams in our nation’s history.”The vote by the Senate comes during an escalation of hate crimes, visible police killings of Black people and voting rights attacks by state legislatures across the nation. “Kristen is very experienced in dealing with these issues and how to overcome them,” said Dr. Mary Frances Berry, professor of American social thought, history and Africana studies at the University of Pennsylvania. “With the legislation being passed in the states to implement more voter suppression, she will be on the cutting edge of finding ways to try and keep it from happening.”   Ms. Clarke’s legal career takes on even more significance when one considers that this daughter of Jamaican immigrants grew up in Brooklyn New York’s public housing. Although financial resources were limited; the family’s teachings of discipline and hard work were not. From public schools, her collegiate studies took her to the prestigious Ivy League.   In 1997, she received her Bachelor’s degree from Harvard University. Three years later in 2000, Clarke completed her Juris Doctor at Columbia University.   Her first job as a new attorney was as a federal prosecutor with the Department of Justice, working on voting rights, hate crimes, and human trafficking cases. In 2006, she joined the NAACP Legal Defense Fund until then New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman appointed her as director of the state’s Civil Rights Bureau. In this state role, Clarke led enforcement actions spanning criminal justice, voting rights, fair lending. housing discrimination, disability rights, reproductive access and LGBTQ rights.   As recognition of her legal acumen grew, so did the number of honors she received: the 2010 Paul Robeson Distinguished Alumni Award from Columbia Law School; 2011 National Bar Association’s Top 40 Under 40; the 2012 Best Brief Award for the 2012 Supreme Court term from the National Association of Attorneys General; and the New York Law Journal’s 2015 Rising Stars.   Months later, the August 2016 edition of the American Bar Association (ABA) Journal featured a Q&A interview with Ms. Clarke. In part, she reflected on her childhood and how it influenced her career aspirations.   “I’ve experienced what it’s like to be underprivileged, and I’ve experienced very privileged settings as well. I feel a deep sense of responsibility to use the opportunities that I have been given to help those less fortunate. We live in a nation that’s divided along lines of race and class. I have a personal sense of what life is like on both sides of that divide, and I want to figure out how we close some of those gaps and level the playing field.”   At the April 14 Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on her nomination, Clarke recalled her legal career journey and the principles that guided her work.   “I began my legal career traveling across the country to communities like Tensas Parish, Louisiana and Clarksdale, Mississippi,” testified Clarke. “I learned to be a lawyer’s lawyer – to focus on the rule of law and let the facts lead where they may.”   “When I left DOJ,” she continued, “I carried the words of the late Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall as my guide: ‘Where you see wrong or inequality or injustice, speak out, because this is your country. This is your democracy. Make it. Protect it. Pass it on’. “I’ve tried to do just that at every step of my career.”   Ms. Clarke will now return to the Department of Justice at a time when the agency is recommitting its focus on serving the entire nation equitably. Since early this year, a series of actions reflect the agency’s renewed commitment to civil rights. Here are a few examples:  

• This February and following an FBI investigation, a Michigan man was indicted on a charge of hate crimes after confronting Black teenagers with racial slurs and weapons for their use of a public beach.

• In March, two former Louisiana correctional officers were sentenced for their roles in a cover-up of a 2014 prisoner’s death at the state’s St. Bernard Parish that followed a failure to provide medical treatment while incarcerated.

• In April DOJ and the City of West Monroe, Louisiana reached a consent agreement following a lawsuit alleging violation of the Voting Rights Act. Although nearly a third of the city was Black, the at-large election of city aldermen resulted in all white local officials. With the consent decree, the method of aldermen selection will change to a combination of single district representatives and others elected at-large.

• On May 7, DOJ issued a three-count indictment

• In federal civil rights charges in the death of George Floyd. Additionally, convicted former officer Derek Chauvin faces an additional two-count indictment for his actions in 2017 against a 14year old teenager. The indictment charges Chauvin with keeping his knee on the youth’s neck and upper back, as well as using a flashlight as a weapon. Additionally, DOJ is currently investigating police practices in both Louisville, and in Minneapolis. Readers may recall that Breonna Taylor was killed in her Louisville home during a late-night, no-knock warrant police entry.   “Our nation is a healthier place when we respect the rights of all communities,” advised Ms. Clarke in her confirmation hearing remarks. “In every role I’ve held, I have worked with and for people of all backgrounds…I’ve listened deeply to all sides of debates, regardless of political affiliation. There is no substitute to listening and learning in this work, and I pledge to you that I will bring that to the role.”  

Charlene Crowell is a senior fellow with the Center for Responsible Lending. She can be reached at Charlene.crowell@responsiblelending.org.  

Newswire: Biden unveils efforts to eliminate racial wealth gap during Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial speech

Ruins of Greenwood District after Race Riots, Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA, American National Red Cross Photograph Collection, June 1921. (Photo by: GHI/Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

Aftermath of the 1921 Tulsa massacre (Universal Archive/Getty)

By: Charise Frazier, Newsone

President Joe Biden  layed out a series of ventures aimed towards reversing the wealth gap between Black and white Americans on Tuesday during a speech to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre. He is also visited the historic site and spent time with survivors and descendants. Biden is the first sitting president to visit the Greenwood, Oklahoma, neighborhood, home to the descendants of Black Americans who were slaughtered in one of the largest race-fueled hate crimes, claiming the lives of over 300 Black community members while also abolishing a prosperous economic Black business district. The Tulsa Race Massacre is the greatest act of racial terror committed by whites in a United States city against an African descended community. It is a stark example of the failure of the U.S. democracy to provide justice for race-based terroristic violence – to require reparative justice – thus, condoning it. It is one of many instances where state, local and federal governments failed to acknowledge and repair the injuries wrought by terroristic violence against Black people. The failure to repair these historic injuries that have present-day consequences increases the urgency for passage of H.R. 40, the Commission to Study and Develop Reparations Proposals for African-Americans Act, and like state bills. Passage of H.R. 40 is one of the policy demands from the Movement for Black Lives’ Vision for Black Lives policy platform. The Tulsa Race Massacre was promulgated by an angry, white mob that included city police and aided by the Oklahoma National Guard that flattened much of the Greenwood District, an all-Black community. The result was the death of at least 300 Greenwood residents, the exile of many including leaders of the community and the loss and destruction of real and personal property. Estimates of the total property damage have amounted to approximately $4 million at 1921 rates; $58 million at 2020 rates. On Tuesday Biden’s address covered several initiatives which include redirecting federal purchasing power to distribute aid to minority-owned businesses, allocating $10 billion to help rebuild disenfranchised communities which often house majority Black populations. Biden also plans to direct $15 billion to help boost transportation in areas that have historically faced difficulty with access to public transit. In 2019, the median wealth gap of Black households in the United States amounted to $24,100, compared with $189,100 for white households, according to a report by the Center for American Progress. “The average Black household had $142,330 in 2019 compared with $980,549 for the average white household.” One last initiative Biden plans to take is to target the detrimental effects of the housing appraisal market which routinely assigns low-cost values to Black-owned homes. By establishing an interagency to address the inequality, along with the assistance of the Office of Housing and Urban Development, the Biden-Harris administration hopes to counter these harmful practices which in totality aid in maintaining the disparities found in the national wealth gap “The Federal Government must reckon with and acknowledge the role that it has played in stripping wealth and opportunity from Black communities,” Biden stated in a proclamation released on Memorial Day. “The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to acknowledging the role Federal policy played in Greenwood and other Black communities and addressing longstanding racial inequities through historic investments in the economic security of children and families, programs to provide capital for small businesses in economically disadvantaged areas, including minority-owned businesses, and ensuring that infrastructure projects increase opportunity, advance racial equity and environmental justice, and promote affordable access.” However, Biden still faces criticism over his refusal to set forth a comprehensive effort to eliminate the student debt, an important tenant in reversing the wealth gap for millions of Black Americans. Lawmakers have urged Biden to cancel $50,000 worth of student debt for individuals saddled with burdensome loans. On the campaign trail Biden voiced he supported the number but voiced that through executive order, $10,000 would be the likely target. “Components of the plan are encouraging, but it fails to address the student loan debt crisis that disproportionately affects African Americans,” said Derrick Johnson, president of the NAACP during a call with administration officials regarding Biden’s appearance in Tulsa. “You cannot begin to address the racial wealth gap without addressing the student loan debt crisis.”

Newswire: NAACP launches ‘Covid know more,’ An innovative initiative empowering Black Americans with latest information, resources and updates on COVID-19

Derrick Johnson, NAACP President

BALTIMORE — With the country showing increasing signs of reopening each day, the tendency exists among some to forget the most devastating impacts of COVID-19. In many of our most vulnerable communities, the battle against the disease continues to rage on as Americans contend with not just high infection rates, but also the pandemic’s long term health implications and unprecedented economic setbacks. The NAACP, the nation’s largest and most pre-eminent civil rights organization, in seeking to ensure that our communities continue to stay informed and get the facts they need to make best decisions for their families and communities, today announced the creation and launch of an essential and exciting new national initiative, ‘COVID. KNOW MORE.’ The campaign, which kicked-off this morning, has been conceived with the intent of providing to Black Americans the most comprehensive suite of relevant information and resources on COVID-19 available, curated specifically for them. The mainstay of the NAACP’s ‘COVID. KNOW MORE’ effort is a now live, multifaceted online information hub housing a broad array of features designed to empower African Americans’ decision making as they navigate the pandemic—at their own convenience. The hub, which can be accessed at naacp.org/covidknowmore, stands as one user-friendly, central place for individuals, community groups, partners and NAACP branches alike to find the latest news and information, research, resources, science-based guidance and updates from medical experts. The platform further reinforces the NAACP as the most visible and trusted resource for African Americans on the health crisis. “The NAACP is continuing its work to help our most vulnerable citizens and communities safely navigate back to normalcy while countering the ongoing devastation of COVID-19,” said Derrick Johnson, NAACP president and CEO. Through our pioneering ‘COVID Unmasked’ virtual town hall series, local mask distributions and other COVID education efforts, the NAACP has been dedicated to fighting this pandemic from the outset. COVID. KNOW MORE is the natural evolution to continue to expand not only the information provided to our communities, but also to address the long-term implications and impacts of the pandemic and systemic disparities.” The NAACP has commissioned proprietary research, which will be featured and updated bi-monthly, taking a consistent pulse of Black America’s status and progress as we collectively progress toward full recovery. African Americans surveyed have expressed ongoing concerns about the vaccines, the rise of COVID-19 variants, public adherence to guidelines, jobs availability, safely returning to work and other factors affecting their daily lives. The key learnings from this exclusive polling will serve to fill in the information gaps, and further strengthen our communities as they build back given the expressed need for reliable updates on the factors impacting their daily lives over the coming year. Other specific highlights to be found on the branded site are a running news feed, infographics illustrating proprietary NAACP COVID-19 research, an information-rich video series, public service announcements and testimonials plus a customizable messaging toolkit which partners, NAACP branches and units can use to pique awareness of the ‘COVID. KNOW MORE’ initiative in the organization’s key regions across the country. Among the partners who will be engaged in facilitating the rollout of the national campaign are J.P. Morgan Chase and international rideshare operator Lyft.

Newswire : Judicial battle looms with Ginsburg passing, Black leaders fear loss of civil rights gains

By Barrington M. Salmon and Hazel Trice Edney

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

(TriceEdneyWire.com) – Civil rights leaders are alternating between sadness over the death of Associate Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and deep concern about what her death could mean to the composition of the US Supreme Court – and ultimately what it could mean for freedom, justice and equality for Blacks, women and other historically oppressed people.
Ginsburg reportedly told her granddaughter on her deathbed, Sept. 18, that “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.” But shortly after news of Ginsburg’s death, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced his intention to try to confirm Ginsburg’s replacement before the presidential election in 44 days. And within minutes of learning of the open seat Arizona Sen. Martha McSally jumped out as the first senator to declare that she will vote for whoever McConnell and Trump instruct her to as soon as possible. 
“Justice Ginsburg performed a great sacrifice by not allowing herself to rest and selflessly stay and fighting to the very end,” said Dr. Avis Jones-DeWeever, a political commentator, public speaker and author. “Her dying wish was for her seat to not be filled. It was on her mind. What this means largely, is that we’re up the creek without a paddle. We know this because Trump is unscrupulous, has no principle, no integrity.”
She added, “We’re in perfect storm. We have the most unscrupulous president that we’ve known in recent history. The very same things can be said about McConnell who is even more dangerous. These two individuals are in power and have the power to shape the court. I would expect them to go ahead and try to put another conservative Republican on the court.”
As legal minds expressed some of their worst fears, national civil rights representatives recalled the contributions of Ginsburg and what might now be lost.
“Justice Ginsburg’s 27-year tenure on the Supreme Court was marked by a passion for justice and the rule of the law,” said Derrick Johnson, president/CEO of the NAACP in a statement. “Her long, remarkable record includes her legendary opinions involving disability rights in Olmstead v. LC, and gender equality in the military, the United States v. Virginia. She was also known for her powerful dissents, many of which she delivered from the bench. These include dissents in the voting rights decision of Shelby County v. Holder, the gender equity case of Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire Company Co., and the affirmative action case of Ricci v. Stefano…Our nation has lost its north star for justice tonight. As we move forward in the weeks and months ahead, we must honor Justice Ginsburg’s memory and extraordinary contributions and remember that the Supreme Court is the ultimate guardian of all of our civil rights and liberties.”
Melanie Campbell, president/CEO of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation and convenor of the Black Women’s Roundtable, pointed out how Ginsburg’s arguments will remain alive and provide groundwork for future civil rights battles.
“Justice Ginsburg’s powerful and foretelling dissent in Shelby County v. Holder laid bare the majority’s flaws in the decision that Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act was no longer needed as a deterrent to voter suppression,” Campbell wrote in a statement. “In her dissent, Justice Ginsburg warned that ‘Race-based voting discrimination still exists’ and cautioned that gutting the Act’s protections against voting discrimination was like ‘throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet.’”
Campbell concludes, “As a result of the Court’s decision, voter suppression tactics have escalated in states across the country. The National Coalition on Black Civic Participation will honor the legacy of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg by continuing the fight for civil rights, social justice and equity for all.”
The National Bar Association (NBA), with its membership of thousands of Black lawyers, called Ginsburg “A truly great American” and “one of the most outstanding, compassionate crusaders for justice to ever sit on the Supreme Court of The United States.”
Florida-based Attorney Kelly Charles-Collins fears that a far-right court which would boast a 6-3 majority is going to tear down established law in the form of Brown v Board and the Voting Rights Act. Civil Rights and LGBTQ issues are not their favorites either, she said; also expressing concern for abortion rights.
“There’s a balancing, a cost-benefit analysis,” Charles-Collins said. “It’s power versus their word. Do you think McConnell cares? They play chess all day long every day. We have to respect them for that.”
The Rev. Graylan Hagler said he thinks it’s not a certainty that McConnell will have the room to execute his plan to get another Republican on the high court. But if McConnell is successful, Hagler theorizes, it will also be “bad news” for immigration and labor unions, which will suffer as will American workers who the Supreme Court already votes against routinely.
Critics say a 6-3 conservative court would further eviscerate voting rights by turning its back on extreme partisan gerrymandering, erasing corporate and environmental regulations and further bolstering the rape of the economy and American lives by plutocrats who are benefiting by the removal of limits to the role of dark money and the avalanche of cash that has overwhelmed campaigns and American politics.
McConnell has earned Democrats’ ire because of the stunt he pulled in March 2016 when he blocked Judge Merrick Garland, President Barack Obama’s nominee to succeed Justice Antonin Scalia who had died one month earlier. McConnell’s argument then was that he would not allow any of consideration of Obama’s pick because Americans should be allowed to vote and the president choose. So he placed a blockade around the vote but now he’s rushing to push the vote through, a move that some view as the ultimate hypocrisy. 
Attorney Elva Mason of Charlottesville sa“We have lost a warrior and I don’t think a lot of people realize it,” she said. “She had a very shy demeanor but was tough as nails.”
Mason reflected on an what she views as an important scenario outlined by political analyst and pollster Dr. Larry Sabato of UVA. He said if Republicans push this, the best scenario for those who oppose the move is a Biden win. And then Democrats could expand the court by two to offset the far-right members of the Court.
“There are just all kind of ideas. Minds are already running at 100 miles an hour,” Mason said. “The thing that always bothers me is Republicans have always been motivated in terms of elections and who’s on the Supreme Court. It’s always second for Democrats. Now we see consequences. These nine people can make decisions to affect our children and children’s children.”

Newswire: Civil Rights Leaders call on Congress to address disproportionate impact of Coronavirus on Black Americans

Derrick Johnson, NAACP President


(TriceEdneyWire.com) – The NAACP has requested an urgent meeting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer regarding racial equity in the coronavirus response proposal.
According to a release, “Marc H. Morial, President and CEO of the National Urban League; Melanie Campbell, President and CEO of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation and Convener of the Black Women’s Roundtable; NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson and Rev. Al Sharpton, Founder and President of the National Action Network, insisted that coronavirus response legislation must take racial equity into account.”
“As we often say, when white America catches a cold, Black America gets pneumonia, and never has that metaphor been more apt,” Morial said in a statement. “Urban communities of color are likely to suffer the brunt of the health and economic impacts of the coronavirus crisis and any legislative response must contain targeted relief.”
“We’re concerned about the impact it will have on children who are out of school and don’t have the broadband internet access they need for digital learning at home,” Campbell added, “And comprehensive paid family leave for all is needed now more than ever.”
“Low-income workers, who are disproportionately African-American, are the least likely to have paid sick leave,” said Johnson, NAACP president. “Black workers are more likely to face short-term layoffs or total loss of employment. How is the country going to address their plight?”
Sharpton noted in the release that urban neighborhoods and communities of color often lack access to quality health care facilities.
“What efforts will be made to make testing freely available in urban and poor communities?” Sharpton asked. “We need to make sure that the relief offered in any coronavirus response plan does not bypass the communities most in need.”

Newswire : Former Congressman John Conyers has died at 90

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By Frederick H. Lowe
Special to the Trice Edney News Wire from NorthStarNewsToday.com

Cong. John Conyers

(TriceEdneyWire.com) – John Conyers, Jr. the longest serving African American member of Congress and co-founder in 1969 of the Congressional Black Caucus, died Sunday in Detroit. He was 90 years old. The cause of death has not been revealed.

Mr. Conyers served 53 years in Congress and was once fondly known as the dean of the Congressional Black Caucus which he helped found in 1971. He was the sixth longest serving member of Congress before he resigned in 2017 amid sexual harassment allegations. During his tenure, he represented the 1st, 14th and 13th Congressional Districts in Detroit and the suburbs.

A graduate of Wayne State University and Wayne State University School of Law, voters elected Conyers to Congress in 1964. He took the oath of office in 1965 during the Civil Rights struggle. He befriended Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and he hired Rosa Parks to work in his Detroit congressional office when no one else would give her a job. Parks sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott, one of the great civil rights victories, when she refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama, bus to a White man. Her refusal sparked the more than one year long Montgomery Bus Boycott that ended segregated seating on the city’s buses.

Conyers introduced the 1965 Voting Rights Act under President Lyndon Johnson, and he succeeded in establishing a national holiday honoring the birthday of Dr. King.

Conyers was chair of the House Judiciary Committee from 2007-11. As the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, he joined other committee members in 1974 submitting Articles of Impeachment against President Richard M. Nixon. However, Nixon resigned from office before he could be impeached.

Conyers was also chair House Oversight Committee from 1989 to 2004. The late Elijah Cummings held the same position when he died.

In addition, Conyers introduced in every Congress starting in 1989, legislation that would set up a commission to examine the institution of slavery in the nation and its colonies. The legislation recommended appropriate remedies.
He also pushed for a single-payer or government-directed health care system.

Conyers was the son of John Conyers, Sr., a labor lawyer. He was born in Highland Park, Michigan, on May 16, 1929. He served in the Korean War.He is survived by his widow and two sons.

Tributes from civil rights and Democratic leaders had begun to pour out this week.

“From co-founding the Congressional Black Caucus, to advocating for the creation of Martin Luther King Day, some of the most important civil rights victories of the last half-century would not have been possible without the enduring leadership of Rep. Conyers in Washington,” said Derrick Johnson, President and CEO of the NAACP. “As a Detroit native, I can attest to what John Conyers meant to his beloved Detroit community, and we are eternally grateful that he fought for justice on behalf of the entire nation with the same commitment and perseverance he showed his beloved hometown. Today we have lost a trailblazer for justice, a titan of the movement, and a true friend and ally to the NAACP.”

Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez said, “Congressman John Conyers was a civil rights warrior, a lifelong public servant, and a stalwart Democrat. Over the course of his public service career, which spanned more than half a century, Rep. Conyers led groundbreaking fights that advanced the course of history, including introducing the first bill to establish the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. As a co-founder of the Congressional Black Caucus, he changed the face of leadership in the halls of Congress and blazed a trail for future leaders of color.”
The Trice Edney News Wire contributed to this article.

Newswire : OP-ED: Jamestown to Jamestown: commemorating 400 years of the African Diaspora experience

By Derrick Johnson, NAACP President and CEO

Derrick Johnson


History commonly and most often points to late August in the year 1619 when some “20 and odd Negroes” originating from Angola arrived in the British colony of Jamestown, Virginia as the first documented enslaved Africans to land in what is now the United States. This nation and its wealth was built through forced labor and the very existence of Black men and women.
It’s truly ironic that as this country celebrates 400 years of democracy, the Black community is still fighting for equal rights, justice and freedom.
The century that followed emancipation saw the creation of policies that discriminated against black people and largely excluded them from wealth building, creating an inherited disadvantage for future generations. This is why the idea of reparations, brought forth during the Civil War era, has continued to be a topic of grave concern for the NAACP.
On a daily basis, we grapple with domestic terrorism and state sanctioned violence in the guise of white supremacy — all under the watch of one of the most racist administrations since the Jim Crow era. Along with his xenophobic policies, President Donald Trump is doing all he can to punish immigrants and alienate Black Americans, using hateful tweets and chants of “Send her back,” as a rallying cry for his base. At NAACP’s annual convention, our delegates voted unanimously to call on the House to begin impeachment proceedings against President Trump.
We can’t and won’t whitewash or glorify this experience — but it has made us stronger and more resilient than ever.
We know from the incredible Black voter turnout in the midterm elections that African-Americans are not only the most critical voting bloc, but the most powerful when we are encouraged to participate actively in our Democracy.
Next week, the NAACP, will embark on a historic and spiritual journal to commemorate the 400-year anniversary of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. More than 200 African-Americans will pay homage to the strength, power and resilience of our people.
In our journey from Jamestown, Virginia to Ghana, we will not only retrace the footsteps of our ancestors through the slave dungeons and along the shores where the enslaved had their last bath before their trek to the western world – we will also immerse ourselves in the vibrant culture and join leading government and business leaders to learn more about business, development and investment in Ghana.
Through this experience, we hope to actualize the healing and collective unity so many generations have worked to achieve in ways which bring power to our communities in America, Africa and throughout our Diaspora.

Newswire : Patrick Gaspard to receive prestigious NAACP Spingarn Medal


Patrick Gaspard

BALTIMORE – The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the nation’s foremost civil rights organization, has announced that Ambassador Patrick Gaspard will be awarded the prestigious Spingarn Medal during the NAACP’s 110th Annual Convention taking place in Detroit, Michigan on July 24.

The award recognizes Gaspard’s lifelong commitment to equality and civil rights. Gaspard, a native of the Democratic Republic of Congo, moved with his parents to the United States when he was three years old. He served as political director for President Barack Obama in the White House and as the Executive Director of the Democratic National Committee, overseeing the party committee’s efforts to re-elect President Obama.
In 2013, President Obama nominated Gaspard to the post of United States ambassador to South Africa. He worked to strengthen civil society and worked in partnership with the South African government to develop the country’s healthcare infrastructure and to support innovations in local governance. He also worked to connect South African entrepreneurs to United States markets; develop clean, renewable, and efficient energy technologies; and to end wildlife trafficking.

“Patrick Gaspard is a global champion for civil and human rights. Hiscontributions to campaigns to end police brutality, improve access to affordable health care, and increase dignity for working families is unparalleled,”said Derrick Johnson, NAACP President and CEO.For over 100 years, we have honored leaders who have served as pillars in the fight for justice and this year’s selection of the Patrick Gaspard is no exception.”
“The NAACP has been a beacon and an inspiration to me my entire life; Its leaders blazed the trails we now walk, and helped make my career, and the careers of countless other organizers and activists, possible,” said Gaspard. “The previous recipients of this incredible honor are among my greatest heroes, who showed us what dedication and the courage of our convictions could achieve. To be in their company is beyond humbling. I am enormously grateful for this recognition, and will do all that I can to try, now and in the years to come, to live up to its promise.”
“Ambassador Gaspard’s service within the Labor Movement as well as his tenure as a member of the Obama administration has always inured to the benefit of all Americans,” said Leon W. Russell, NAACP Chairman, National Board of Directors. “His service in the diplomatic corps as Ambassador to South Africa during a challenging period of that nation’s development was stellar.”
The NAACP Spingarn award was established in 1914 by the late Joel E. Spingarn then Chairman of the NAACP Board of Directors. It was given annually until his death in 1939. The medal is awarded “for the highest or noblest achievement by a living African American during the preceding year or years.” A fund to continue the award was set up by his will, thus, the NAACP has continued to present this award. Previous recipients of this award include: Mrs. Daisy Bates (Little Rock Nine), Jesse L. Jackson, Myrlie Evers-Williams, Earl G. Graves Sr., Oprah Winfrey, Cecily Tyson, Harry Belafonte, Sidney Poitier and the Honorable Nathaniel Jones. Tickets to the Spingarn Dinner can be purchased on the NAACP Convention website here.

ABOUT NAACP 110TH CONVENTION:
Other highlights will include a Presidential Candidates Forum, a legislative session, a CEO Roundtable, LGBTQ workshop plus the highly anticipated NAACP Experience retail expo and diversity career fair. More information about the 110thAnnual NAACP National Convention, including a detailed schedule of events may be found by visiting naacpconvention.org. Media interested in covering the event should apply for press credentials here.

Newswire: NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson issued the following statement on the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to U.S. Supreme Court

Derrick Johnson, NAACP “This Senate hearing on Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the U. S. Supreme Court should not go forward. The President is in personal legal jeopardy and only a fraction of Kavanaugh’s record has been produced. To proceed now threatens the legitimacy of the Senate’s constitutional review and the Supreme Court itself. What we do know of Judge Kavanaugh’s civil rights record is deeply troubling. His views on voting rights, affirmative action, equal employment, fair housing, and criminal justice could shut the courthouse door on justice for a generation. Senators need to fight this nomination with everything they have. There is simply too much at stake.” · Read findings on Kavanaugh’s Civil Rights record · Learn more about NAACP’s fight for fair judicial appointments · Watch President Johnson speak out on the importance of fair courts 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 http://www.naacp.org.

Newswire : Starbucks will close more than 8,000 stores for racial-bias training

By Frederick H. Lowe, NorthStar News

Starbucks in Philadelphia.jpg
Police surround Starbucks in Philadelphia

Starbucks will close more than 8,000 company-owned stores affecting 175,000 employees in the United States on May 29th to address implicit racial bias, following arrests of two black-male customers last week at its Center City store in Philadelphia.
“I’ve spent the last few days in Philadelphia with my leadership team listening to the community, learning what we did wrong and the steps we need to fix it,” said Kevin Johnson, CEO of Starbucks. ” All Starbucks company-owned retail stores and corporate offices will be closed in the afternoon of Tuesda Newsy, May 29. During that time, partners (employees) will go through a training program designed to address implicit bias, promote conscious inclusion, prevent discrimination and ensure everyone inside a Starbucks store feels safe and welcome.”
Bryan Stevenson, founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative; Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund; Eric Holder, former U.S. Attorney General; Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League and Heather McGhee, president of Demos, a think tank and research policy center, are assisting in developing Starbucks’ curriculum.
Johnson made his announcement after he met with two black men police arrested when the manager of a Center City, Philadelphia, Starbucks complained they wouldn’t leave the coffee shop after they weren’t allowed to use the restroom because they hadn’t purchased anything.
Spokespersons for Seattle-based Starbucks did not disclose what was discussed between the two men, who were not identified. Earlier, Johnson called the incident “reprehensible” and publicly apologized to the men involved.
Six Philadelphia police officers arrested the men Thursday afternoon for trespassing. The men were waiting to meet another man, who is white and who had scheduled a meeting with them in the Starbucks.
The arrests, which were captured on cell phone video, sparked demonstrations inside and outside the Starbucks, which is located on swanky Rittenhouse Square, and more national and international conversations over social media about the state of race in the era of President Donald Trump.
Richard Ross, Philadelphia’s police chief, who is black, defended his men, arguing they did not do anything wrong in making the arrests.
But the arrests caused hand wringing among others. The Philadelphia district attorney later released the two men because Starbucks refused to press charges. Jim Kenny, Philadelphia’s mayor, wasn’t happy about the arrests.
The woman manager who called the police has either left the store or the company, according to various news reports.
Facebook released a video showing a black man being ordered to leave a Starbucks in Torrance, California, after complaining employees gave a white make customer the numerical code to open the door of the men’s restroom before he ordered food. The black man was not given the same code. Starbucks officials said they are aware of the video.
The Rittenhouse Square arrests angered the NAACP, the nation’s oldest civil rights organization.
“The arrest of two black men at a Philadelphia Starbucks represents another ominous signal on the increasingly dangerous environment for African Americans,” wrote Derrick Johnson, president and CEO of the NAACP. “Every day people of color find themselves at the mercy of stereotypes and embedded fears of others…Racism and biases that make simply breathing while black so dangerous will not just go away without our society committing more resources to discussion, education and training on implicit bias and racism.”
“We know if two Black men in Philadelphia require six police officers to handcuff and arrest them for waiting to order coffee, then we begin to understand the mind state that allows for such overzealous and reactionary use of deadly force by those who are paid to serve and protect.
“Every day people of color find themselves at the mercy of the stereotypes and embedded fears of others. How else can we explain why 14-year-old Brennan Walker who missed his bus on his way to school would be shot at by a homeowner just outside Detroit? Or explain Saheed Vassell, a mentally-ill man in Brooklyn fired at ten times and shot dead by police officers. Or why Stephon Clark was shot at 20 times and hit 8 times, mainly in the back, by police officers in Sacramento, based on the assumption that he was the culprit responsible for breaking into cars. We are at least glad in the case of Starbucks that no one mistook a wallet for a gun.