Newswire: NAACP, Black Leaders demand Congress act on voting rights

Derrick Johnson, President of NAACP

By Stacy M. Brown NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent

With voter suppression laws taking shape in Texas, Georgia, Arizona, and just about every GOP-led state in the nation, NAACP President Derrick Johnson is pleading for Democrats and the White House to show a sense of urgency. In a scathing op-ed, Johnson said, “we cannot out-organize voter suppression.”“We organized in November to put people in office to address the issue of voter suppression. We did not organize in November to let elected officials off the hook to organize again and overcome a new hurdle. Voters did their job as citizens, and now they’re simply asking elected officials to do their job to protect our right to vote,” Johnson remarked. Nearly six decades after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and civil rights activists led the 1963 March On Washington for Jobs and Freedom, that helped establish voting rights for millions of Black Americans, African American leaders will again descend on the nation’s capital to demand Congress protect the rights. Martin Luther King III, Yolanda King, Andrea Waters King, and others plan to march with more than 140 organizations and thousands of Americans on Saturday, August 28, to advocate for eliminating the Jim Crow filibuster and passing three critical voting rights bills – the For the People Act, John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, and the Washington D.C. Admission Act. The mobilization comes just months after Black voters overcame significant barriers to the vote and organized their communities to change the course of the country — “and now ask that the White House and Congress do their part to protect our democracy and stand on the right side of history,” the leaders said in a news release. In his op-ed, Johnson declared that “voting rights shouldn’t be a partisan issue. Yet the contentious dispute on whether to defend every American’s right to vote has taken center stage in Congress, and for an unnecessary amount of precious time.” He continued:“With time not on our side, there is no reason we should still be debating whether to pass a civil rights bill that will indubitably strengthen our fractured democracy by achieving the one goal our nation’s essence depends on – lending a voice to the people.” Johnson contradicted Republican Congressman Mike Johnson of Louisiana, who infamously and erroneously stated that “it is easier for eligible Americans to vote than ever before in American history.” “State legislators around the country have introduced more than 400 bills that will make it more difficult for Americans to exercise their constitutional voting rights, and at least 18 states have passed such legislation,” Johnson wrote. “Ingrained in these attacks on voting rights are generations-long patterns of discrimination targeting communities of color, particularly Black communities. The overwhelming evidence of voter suppression speaks to this truth: It is easier for privileged, eligible Americans to vote than ever before in American history.” Any decision not in favor of significant voting legislation under consideration by Congress will cost the lives of millions of Americans whose very voices are jeopardized, Johnson insisted. “For instance, in May, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed legislation to ban curbside voting, consequentially forbidding poll workers to set up curbside voting centers and preventing voting machines from being stationed outside a polling place,” Johnson noted. “While many proponents argue that this restriction is rightfully erected to honor the integrity of our elections, this rationalization completely disregards the lack of accommodating resources for the elderly and people with disabilities – and the overall safety and wellness of voters who reside in a state where COVID-19 vaccinations are abysmal and infection rates are rising.” When signing the 1965 voting rights legislation, President Lyndon B. Johnson understood that the right to vote is an issue of human dignity, Johnson continued. “He once said, ‘It is wrong, deadly wrong, to deny any of your fellow Americans the right to vote in this country. There is no issue of states’ rights or national rights. There is only the struggle for human rights.” “Elected officials hold the invaluable key to ensuring that our future elections are fair and accessible. Those in power who have given an oath to serve their district, their state, and inherently their country have a responsibility to commit to their purpose of guaranteeing that the people they represent and champion will be heard and not be silenced.”

Newswire: Civil Rights icon Vernon Jordan dies at 85

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent

Vernon Jordan

Vernon Jordan, the former National Urban League president and civil rights leader, has died at 85. Vickee Jordan Adams, the icon’s daughter, confirmed his death on Tuesday.
“My father passed away last night at around 10 p.m. surrounded by loved ones, his wife and daughter, by his side,” Adams noted in a statement.
NAACP President Derrick Johnson said the world lost an influential figure in the fight for civil rights and American politics. “An icon to the world and a lifelong friend to the NAACP, his contribution to moving our society toward justice is unparalleled,” Johnson declared.
“In 2001, Jordan received the NAACP’s Spingarn Medal for a lifetime of social justice activism. His exemplary life will shine as a guiding light for all that seek truth and justice for all people.”
Added Congressional Black Caucus Chair Karen Bass (D-Calif.): “For decades, Mr. Jordan fought for the advancement of civil rights in this country. His contributions – first challenging segregation and discrimination as an activist in the 1960s and later continuing the fight in the leadership of the NAACP, the United Negro College Fund and then as President of the National Urban League – benefited us all.”
The congresswoman continued: As Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, I had the absolute humbled honor of meeting with Mr. Jordan multiple times to discuss the challenges of our time, but also our hope and optimism for the future. While Mr. Jordan is no longer with us, we continue this fight surrounded by thousands inspired by his work and his leadership. My thoughts are with the family of Mr. Jordan and the many friends that join me in mourning his loss.”
A lawyer and Washington power broker, Jordan was born in Atlanta on August 15, 1935.
He attended the DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana, where he was the only African American student in his class. According to his biography posted by The HistoryMakers, Jordan participated in the student senate at DePauw and won statewide honors in speaking competitions. He played basketball and graduated in 1957.
In 1960, he earned a J.D. from the Howard University School of Law.
Jordan returned to Atlanta, starting his legal career working with the civil rights movement.
“In 1961, he helped organize the integration of the University of Georgia and personally escorted student Charlayne Hunter through a hostile White crowd,” The HistoryMakers noted.
“Over the next ten years, Jordan held various positions as a civil rights advocate. He served as the Georgia field secretary for the NAACP, director of the Voter Education Project for the Southern Regional Council, head of the United Negro College Fund, and as a delegate to President Lyndon B. Johnson’s White House Conference on Civil Rights.”
In 1971, Jordan was appointed president and CEO of the National Urban League, spearheading the organization’s growth.
On May 29, 1980, a White supremacist attempted to kill Jordan.After a successful recovery, in 1981, Jordan resigned from the National Urban League to work as legal counsel with the Washington, D.C. office of Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer, and Feld. His active practice included corporate, legislative, and international clients.
Jordan’s close friend is former President Bill Clinton, and during Clinton’s presidency, Jordan became one of Washington’s most influential power brokers, the researchers noted.
He also was a partner in the investment firm of Lazard Frere & Company in New York.
In 2001, Jordan published his autobiography, “Vernon Can Read!,” and authored a weekly newspaper column syndicated to more than 300 newspapers and served as a frequent television guest and commentator.
“Mourning the passage of my friend, the extraordinary Vernon Jordan,” Stacey Abrams posted on Twitter. “He battled the demons of voter suppression and racial degradation, winning more than he lost. He brought others with him. And left a map so more could find their way. Love to his family. Travel on with God’s grace.”

Newswire: CENSUS must move forward during COVID-19 pandemic

By Lauren Victoria Burke, NNPA Newswire Contributor

Census 2020 graphic
This year, the Census Bureau is making preparations to complete the huge task of counting everyone in the U.S. The U.S. population is now over 330 million people. Interest groups had just begun to seriously push people to complete CENSUS forms and be counted.
CENSUS results decide the allocation of congressional seats and monetary resources.
People in the U.S. must be counted every ten years. The CENSUS count is mandated in the U.S. Constitution and has been going on every ten years for over 230 years. But the limitations on mobility and personal contact mandated on the national and state levels because of the deadly coronavirus have now shifted years of planning.
Almost 40 percent of U.S. households have responded online to the CENSUS since March 10. In 2010, over 98 percent of households that were sent CENSUS forms were recorded. But minorities and children were undercounted and 16 million people missed being counted.
Mail service continues and now advocates are doing what they can to encourage people to fill out CENSUS forms knowing so many Americans are in their homes and not at work. Those who do not fill out the 12-question form will be reminded with postcards. On May 27, over 500,000 CENSUS takers are scheduled to begin tracking down people who don’t fill the forms out. Federal law mandates that people must respond to the CENSUS though no one has been fined for not responding since the 1970s.
The CENSUS Bureau is pushing to get people to respond early because tracking down those who don’t respond is expensive and made more difficult because of COVID-19.
“The truth is, there are so many within this nation who are disenfranchised from receiving adequate and affordable care due to socio-economic circumstances,” said NAACP president Derrick Johnson. “This virus will have dire consequences on so many, but specifically African-Americans, who suffer from higher rates of chronic illness. When the administration is not working for communities, those communities can suffer. We want to make sure to get the information out to our communities as much as possible,” Johnson concluded.
“We cannot forget about the census. The majority of young people across the country do not remember the other censuses that were conducted throughout their lifetimes, because the census is held every 10 years. Many weren’t old enough to participate in the last one. For the first time in our lives, we will be filling them out for our own households and ensuring that we are counted in our communities,” noted an article in Crisis Magazine.
April 1 was CENSUS day and advocates redoubled their push to get as many people to fill out CENSUS forms. Whether COVID-19 will impact the count will not be known until June.

Newswire : Mueller Report remains a mystery as NAACP, Black Congressional Leaders call for full release

By Hazel Trice Edney

NAACP President Derrick Johnson

( – A two-year wait for the results of an investigation into whether then presidential candidate Donald Trump and/or his campaign staff colluded with Russia has now fizzled down to four pages.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller finally released his findings this week – but not to the general public; nor to the U. S. Congress. Instead, he sent his full report to Trump-appointed Attorney General William Barr, who reduced the findings to a four-page letter to leading members of Congress. That letter, Barr said, outlined Mueller’s “principle conclusions”.
The first of the conclusions stated that Mueller “did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities”. This is the finding that came as a shock to those who had hoped for clarity on why so many Trump associates either lied about meetings or conversations with Russians. It is also a mystery why Trump refuses to criticise Russian President Vladimir Putin and why he is so secretive about their private conversations.
With no clear answers the NAACP and Congressional leaders are demanding the release of the full report.
“The nation must consider the Mueller report in its entirety. Anything short of complete transparency is unacceptable,” NAACP President Derrick Johnson said in a statement March 24. “Attorney General William Barr’s principal conclusions submitted to Congress today raise more questions than answers. The American people deserve to see the full report and findings from the investigation, not just a summary from Trump’s hand-picked Attorney General.”
The fizzling of the long-awaited so-called “Mueller Report” has now become new fuel for Trump, who has contended all along that there was “no collusion” and who called it all a “witch hunt” repeatedly.
“After a long investigation, after so many people have been so badly hurt, after not looking at the other side, where a lot of bad things happened, a lot of horrible things happened, and a lot of bad things happened for our country, it was just announced there was no collusion with Russia – the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard,” Trump told reporters shortly after the announcement. “It was a shame our country had to go through this. To be honest it’s a shame that your President has had to go through this since before I even got elected it began.”
Trump also added that there was “no obstruction” and said, “It was a complete and total exoneration”. But Mueller apparently did not go that far.
According to Barr’s summary, Mueller’s report, “leaves unresolved what the Special Counsel views as difficult issues of law and fact concerning whether the President’s actions and intent could be viewed as obstruction.”
Without the full report on findings of the detailed investigation, members of Congress say they and the general public have been shorted.
“We should not construe a four page letter from the Attorney General with the complete findings of Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation,” wrote U.S. House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn in a statement. “The entire findings of the report must be made public to Congress and the American people before we draw any conclusions. In the meantime, Congress will continue to fulfill its oath to uphold the constitution by providing oversight of this administration.”
The announcement of the closure of the report appears to have started more than it finished. As civil rights leaders have encountered yet another attack on the freedom of Black people; they are gearing up for yet another fight.
“It is even more imperative that we have full access to the Mueller report and evidentiary basis to learn the facts surrounding Donald Trump’s actions and potential attacks on the integrity of our democracy,” concludes Johnson. “We are entitled to know everything about Russia’s brazen attacks on our political system. This includes how Russia manipulated voters in the United States, fomented racial division among voters through social media and other means, and targeted the African-American community in extraordinary fashion to suppress voter turnout.”

Newswire: NAACP President Johnson travels to Ghana in support of upcoming ‘Year of Return Ghana 2019’

NAACP President Derrick Johnson in Ghana

     BALTIMORE/ACCRA  (December 13, 2018) – This week, NAACP President Derrick Johnson traveled to Ghana to meet with Vice President Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia in support of the upcoming ‘Year of Return Ghana 2019’ project, a year-long journey to celebrate the reconnecting of Africans throughout the Diaspora to their African heritage.
        In addition to meeting with officials and leaders, President Johnson also met with officials from the Ministries of Tourism, Tourism Authority and the Diaspora Affairs Office to discuss ways to reconnect greater numbers of African Americans to their roots in Ghana.
        “Next year symbolizes a moment in time where people of African descent regardless of where they exist within our Diaspora can reconnect and map out a future which establishes Africa and her descendants in their rightful place on the world stage,” said NAACP President Johnson.
        The yearlong event will commemorate the 400th year of the first arrival of enslaved Africans in Port Comfort/Hampton, Virginia. Launched in August 2018, by Ghanaian President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, ‘Year of Return Ghana 2019’will feature a number of activities, including a “Bra Fie Concert” to be hosted by Damian Marley, son of Bob Marley; a Back to Africa Festival to celebrate Black History Month, and a Homecoming and Investment Summit.
        Most importantly, this event hopes to promote business, spiritual and cultural reconnection between the African Diaspora and the Motherland, which many considered damaged beyond repair due to the Maafa –a Kiswahili term denoting great disaster or horrific occurrence and used to describe the Atlantic Slave Trade where millions of Africans were enslaved and transported across the ocean or died during the horrific Middle Passage.

Newswire:  U.S. Senate’s only Black Republican blocks Tom Farr from becoming a Federal judge

 By Lauren Victoria Burke, NNPA Newswire Correspondent

Senator Tim Scott

On November 29, the U.S. Senate’s only African American Republican Senator, Tim Scott, announced he would oppose the nomination of Thomas Farr to a lifetime appointment to the federal bench. Scott’s blockbuster decision ended the chance of Farr’s nomination being confirmed by the U.S. Senate. Scott cited, “lingering concerns” on “issues that could affect [Farr’s] decision-making process as a federal judge.” “This week, a Department of Justice memo written under President George H.W. Bush was released that shed new light on Mr. Farr’s activities. This, in turn, created more concerns. Weighing these important factors, this afternoon I concluded that I could not support Mr. Farr’s nomination,” said Scott. The decision marked the second time Scott has blocked a Trump nominee to the federal bench. “Thomas Farr was the most polarizing, dangerous and biased nominee that we have seen put forth by President Trump. We applaud Senator Tim Scott for exercising independence in the examination of Farr’s disturbing record; a record influenced by the modern white supremacist machine that former North Carolina senator Jesse Helms pioneered, and one that demonstrated bias and a commitment to defending voter suppression efforts at every turn,” stated Kristen Clarke, President of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “Farr was the primary coordinator of the 1984 ‘ballot security’ program conducted by the 1984 Helms for Senate Committee. He coordinated several ‘ballot security’ activities in 1984, including a postcard mailing to voters in predominantly black precincts which was designed to serve as a basis to challenge voters on election day. Footnote 7, DOJ Memo, June 19, 1991. This revelation is singularly disqualifying,” wrote NAACP President Derrick Johnson. Sen. Scott’s decision was a dramatic one. A day before on November 28, he was nowhere to be found shortly before a vote to continue debate on the Farr nomination. Other Senators, as well as reporters, searched for Scott near the Senate floor before that procedural vote. Many assumed his support of moving the debate to a final vote meant he would support Farr’s nomination. That assumption was incorrect. Sen. Scott was joined by Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Susan Collins (R-ME) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) in wondering out loud about whether Farr should be on the federal bench. But Sen. Scott was the only one to announce he would vote against Farr on the floor.