Newswire: NAACP: Mississippi candidate’s ‘public hanging’ remark is sick, shameful

 By Hazel Trice Edney

 Mike Espy, Democratic candidate for Mississippi U. S. Senate seat

(TriceEdneyWire.com) – The NAACP has issued a stinging rebuke to Republican Mississippi Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, who recently invoked a reference to a “public hanging” amidst her campaign against African-American Democratic candidate Mike Espy. Referring to a glowing endorsement from Mississippi cattle rancher Colin Hutchinson, Hyde-Smith said, “If he invited me to a public hanging, I’d be on the front row.” The remarks drew laughter and applause, but she apparently did not know the comments were being videotaped by journalist Lamar White Jr. After public release of the video, Hyde-Smith issued a statement saying, “In a comment on Nov. 2, I referred to accepting an invitation to a speaking engagement. In referencing the one who invited me, I used an exaggerated expression of regard, and any attempt to turn this into a negative connotation is ridiculous.” She has refused to make any further comment or apologize for the remark, which clearly invokes painful images of thousands of Black people who were lynched or killed by White supremacists in the Deep South with Mississippi being a leading offender. The highest number of lynchings in the U. S. took place in Mississippi from 1882-1968 with 581, according to the NAACP. “Georgia was second with 531, and Texas was third with 493,” says a report by the civil rights organization, adding that 79 percent of lynching happened in the South. Among the best known killings of Black people by White supremacists, Emmett Till and Medgar Evers, occurred in Money and Jackson, Mississippi respectively. Further exacerbating the impact of Hyde-Smith’s remark is the fact that she has been endorsed by President Donald Trump, who has made no public comment on the issue. “Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith’s shameful remarks prove once again how Trump has created a social and political climate that normalizes hateful and racist rhetoric. We’ve seen this in Florida from Ron DeSantis and others during this election season and denounce it,” said NAACP President Johnson in a statement. Ron DeSantis, Republican nominee for Flordia governor, also drew a fire storm of criticism when he said in a television interview that Florida voters should not “monkey this up” by electing Andrew Gillum, his opponent, who would be the state’s first black governor. That campaign is amidst a recount. “Hyde-Smith’s decision to joke about ‘hanging,’ in a state known for its violent and terroristic history toward African Americans is sick. To envision this brutal and degenerate type of frame during a time when Black people, Jewish People and immigrants are still being targeted for violence by White nationalists and racists is hateful and hurtful,” Johnson said. “Any politician seeking to serve as the national voice of the people of Mississippi should know better. Her choice of words serves as an indictment of not only her lack of judgement, but her lack of empathy, and most of all lack of character.” Espy himself has released a statement calling Hyde-Smith’s comments “reprehensible” and saying, “They have no place in our political discourse, in Mississippi, or our country. We need leaders, not dividers, and her words show that she lacks the understanding and judgment to represent the people of our state.” Joining the rebuke of Hyde-Smith, Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson described her comments as “beyond disrespectful and offensive.” He pointed out that Mississippi has “one of the highest numbers of public lynching, that we know of, than any other state in this country.” Hyde-Smith has refused to speak further on the issue, saying, “I put out a statement yesterday, and that’s all I’m going to say about it.” It is not clear how or whether this new controversy will affect her Nov. 27th run-off against Espy. They both received about 41 percent of the vote in a four-way race Nov. 6. Espy, a former member of the U. S. Congress who served from 1987 to 1993, would become the first black senator to represent Mississippi since Reconstruction. From 1882-1968, 4,743 lynchings occurred in the United States. Of these people that were lynched 3,446 were Black. The Blacks lynched accounted for 72.7 percent of the people lynched. These numbers seem large, but it is known that not all of the lynchings were ever recorded. Out of the 4,743 people lynched only 1,297 White people were lynched. That is only 27.3 percent. Many of the Whites lynched were lynched for helping the Black or being anti-lynching and even for domestic crim

State of Alabama took 58 years to correct injustice to Alabama State University students and faculty involved in 1960’s sit-in; Gov. Kay Ivey remains silent

 

By: Dr. Derryn Moten, Chair ASU Department of History

On May 10, 2018, fifty-eight years after Alabama Governor John Patterson and the Alabama State Board of Education expelled nine Alabama State College, ASC, students for “conduct prejudicial to the college,” and after the same state officials terminated ASC faculty member Dr. L. D. Reddick for alleged Communist sympathies, Interim State Superintendent of Education, Dr. Ed. Richardson expunged the records of both calling the actions taken by his predecessor in 1960, “unjustified and unfair.” The paternalism then was summed up in the 1961 appellees’ brief for St. John Dixon, Et Al, v. Alabama State Board of Education, Et Al., the landmark case that overturned the wrongful expulsions, “Alabama State College, Montgomery, Alabama, is a state institution for Negroes. It is under the supervision and control of the Alabama State Board of Education.” L. D. Reddick wrote the first biography of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. while chairing the history department of Alabama State College. Published by Harper & Brothers in 1959, Crusader Without Violence, as the April 30, 1959 MIA (Montgomery Improvement Association) Newsletter noted, “is more than the story of the life up-to-now of our leader; it is the social history of our time.” Now, a 60th Anniversary Edition of Crusader Without Violence: A Biography of Martin Luther King, Jr. has been reissued in spring 2018 by NewSouth Books. A new introduction explains the helter-skelter Alabama’s segregationist governor and government wrought on Alabama State College. Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. arrived in Montgomery, Alabama in 1954 to pastor Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, and Dr. Reddick arrived a year later. Both came to the Heart of Dixie for rather mundane reasons and neither imagined that history would conscript them, with others, in a battle royale to achieve full equality for Negroes. Dr. King’s stay in Alabama lasted six years. In that time, the city convicted him of violating the state’s anti-boycott law, originally, an anti-labor law. Alabama enjoined the NAACP from operating in the state.The governor criticized the civil rights organization with orchestrating the Montgomery Bus Boycott. In another case, the governor joined Montgomery’s mayor, and the City’s commissioners in a libel lawsuit against Dr. King, four other ministers, and the New York Times, based on a full-page Times ad that the plaintiffs argued falsely assailed city and state officials for mistreating King and ASC students . And Gov. Patterson signed extradition papers ordering Dr. King’s return to face trial for income tax fraud. The method of the governor’s madness was clear; he wanted to exhaust King and the NAACP, financially, mentally, and physically. On March 27, 1960, the Associated Press reported, “ASC President Trenholm Plans to Purge ‘Disloyal’ Faculty.” Dr. Reddick offered his resignation in March 1960, effective at the end of the summer term. Two other faculty members, Jo Ann Robinson and Mary Fair Burks—both members of the Women’s Political Council—took heed. In March 31, 1960, Burks wrote Dr. King, “Jo Ann, Reddick, and I expect to be fired. We are surprised it hasn’t happened. I believe we will be eased out quietly in May or at least by September. We would prefer being fired outright of course.” The friendship of Burks, Robinson, Reddick, and King went back to the Boycott. Addressing Mrs. Burks as “Frankie,” King replied, “I had hoped that Dr. Trenholm would emerge from this total situation as a national hero. If only he would stand up to the Governor and the Board of Education and say he cannot in good conscience fire … faculty members who committed no crime or act of sedition.” Governor Patterson impugned Reddick accusing him of helping foment the first “sit-down” demonstration in Alabama on February 25, 1960. Carried out by Alabama State College students, on March 2, 1960, ASC President Harper C. Trenholm expelled nine student sit-in participants and placed 20 students on probation “pending good behavior.” No hearing was held, and the students sued the college and state in St. John Dixon v. Alabama State Board of Education. Attorney Fred Gray, a 1951 ASC graduate, represented the students. Thurgood Marshall, Jack Greenberg, and Derrick Bell, Jr. of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund assisted as co-counsel. U.S. District Court Judge Frank M. Johnson ruled in favor of the state reasoning that there was no statute necessitating formal charges or a hearing before a student can be expelled by a college or university. The U. S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit overturned Judge Johnson’s decision arguing that students at tax-supported colleges and universities should have a hearing as part of their due process rights before they can be expelled. The February 25, 1960 sit-in demonstration by Alabama State College students was the manifestation of “sit-downs” or sit-ins by black college students across the south who believed the efficacy of the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education case was that it refuted Jim Crow in totality. Judge Frank Johnson conceded as much in July 1960, writing, “The Court observes that maintenance of segregated publicly owned lunchrooms is in violation of well-settled law.” At the end of the year, the Associated Press would report, “Negro Sit-ins No. 1 Story of 1960s in Dixie.” In their A Statement by the Students of Alabama State College After Nine Students were Expelled on March 2, 1960, student leader Bernard Lee wrote, “We and the world must look upon the expulsion of these students … as punishment for our efforts to bring a little democracy to the Cradle of the Confederacy… We must practice at home what we preach abroad.” MIA President, Rev. Ralph Abernathy, a 1950 ASC graduate, told a city reporter, “The expulsion order was one of the greatest blunders in the history of education in Alabama.” A week later, ASC students marched near campus carrying placards that read, “1960 not 1860,” “9 down, 2,000 to go,” “Who’s President of ASC—Patterson or Trenholm,” Alabama versus The Constitution,” and “Democracy Died on March 4, 1960.” Students also held prayer services at local black churches including Abernathy’s First Baptist. South Carolina Gov. Ernest F. Hollins complained about “Negroes who think they can violate any law, especially, if they have a Bible in their hands.” The American Association of University Professors “condemned the willingness of some government bodies and private groups to sacrifice public education in order to maintain racial segregation.” A June 1960 NAACP memorandum counted fifty-two students expelled from black colleges; namely, Southern University, Alabama State College, Kentucky State College, and Florida A & M University. Praised for his “get tough” methods and his non-accommodation mentality, Gov. Patterson vowed to close Alabama public schools before he would allow them to be integrated. A staunch segregationist, governor-elect Patterson disallowed black marching bands, including the Alabama State College Band, at his inauguration. Like many others, Patterson preached the oxymoron of “separate but equal” emphasizing “separate” and seemingly caring little about “equal.” Dr. King offered a different message. At Holt Street Baptist Church on the eve of the 1955 Boycott, he told those present, “We are determined to apply our citizenship to the fullness of its meaning.” Alabama State College students in 1960 intended the same. Their collective faith in the U. S. Constitution was codified by the same faith held by their elders and ancestors. This faith was sermonized in the black church and elucidated in the black school. Dr. King professed that faith, a faith in a “Democracy transformed from thin paper to thick action.” More than a half century later in Montgomery, Alabama, Interim State Superintendent Dr. Ed. Richardson concurred, noting that those macabre days of 1960 “represent a time in the history of the State Board that must be acknowledge and never repeated. I regret that it has taken fifty-eight years to correct this injustice.” Initially, I had hoped that Gov. Kay Ivey would issue her own contrition in behalf of the governor’s office.  One of the governor’s staff members even offered to write a resolution but subsequently demurred.  Short of this, I would have liked for the governor to co-sign the May 10, 2018 letter by Dr. Ed Richardson since Gov. Ivey is the Ex-Official Chair of the Alabama State Board of Education. Presumably, Dr. Richardson had to have informed the governor of his intentions. But alas, Alabama’s state motto comes to mind, “We Dare Defend Our Rights.”

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 www.naacp.org.

Newswire: Ben Jealous’ primary win in Maryland moved America closer to having the first Black governor in years.

Written By Bruce C.T. Wright, Newsone
 

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                                                                  Ben Jealous

Ben Jealous’ Democratic primary victory in Maryland on Tuesday night meant there were now two African-American nominees for governor in the U.S. If elected, they would equal the same number of Black governors in what will soon be the nation’s 242-year history. Stacey Abrams, Democratic nominee in Georgia is the second Black candidate for Governor in the

But there were still three more races to go with Black gubernatorial hopefuls, increasing the chances of both a Black governor being elected and possibly making this year one of the most noteworthy on record for African-Americans in politics. After all, there hasn’t been a Black governor in office since the fateful political year of 2016.

Tuesday’s win advanced Jealous, a former president of the NAACP, to a general election showdown with the incumbent Republican Gov. Larry Hogan. And if the past was any indication of the future, Jealous’ chances to become Maryland’s first Black governor were all but guaranteed: not one single governor in the state has been re-elected in 54 years.
Jealous joined Georgia’s Stacey Abrams as the lone two African-American nominees for governor. The duo could become a quintet if three more states vote for the Black candidates in their respective states. Abrams, the first Black woman to ever be nominated for governor, was polling lower than her general election opponent. But she pulled a come-from-behind victory last month, so why not again in November?
Florida voters could push Andrew Gillum through the Democratic primary there in August, and at least one poll has him leading the race. The first Black mayor of Tallahassee has said he’s in favor of bail reform, gun reform and full legalization of marijuana because of the racial disparity of arrests. The Sunshine State’s primary was scheduled for Aug. 28.
It was a bit of a different story in Michigan, though, as neither of the two Black gubernatorial candidates there even registered a blip on the most recent poll. Michigan’s primary was scheduled for Aug. 8.
Perhaps the longest shot of the rest of the Black candidates was Ohio’s Larry Ealy, a former exotic dancer. (Kanye shrug) Ohio goes to the primary polls on Aug. 28.
Illinois’ Tio Hardiman and Maryland’s Rushern Baker each lost their respective gubernatorial bids. Now former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, the first Black person elected to that position, decided against running for a third term and left office in 2015.

Rev. Kenneth Glasgow says “God had prepared us for this attack”

Special to the Democrat By: John Zippert,
Co-Publisher

 

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On Friday, May 4, 2017, The Ordinary Peoples Society (TOPS) of Dothan, Alabama held its 17th Annual Founders and Unity Day. The dinner was attended by 200 people who were honoring Rev. Kenneth Glasgow on his 53rd birthday, the TOPS organization for its work with the community and incarcerated people around the country and ‘Moma Tina’, Glasgow’s mother, for her work in sustaining the organization and helping to feed hungry and homeless people in the area.
The dinner came in the shadows of Rev. Glasgow recent arrest and suspicious charge of ‘capital murder’ in the March 26th death of Breunia Jennings. Rev. Glasgow was asked by Jamie Townes, a friend to help him find his car that was taken. Glasgow, Townes and two others went to search for the car. They spotted the car and then the car rammed into them.
Townes jumped out of Glasgow’s car, drew a gun and shot Jennings. When the police came they arrested Townes and Glasgow and released the other two persons. Glasgow, a nationally recognized activitist on prisoner issues was charged with ‘capital murder’ under an Alabama statute which says unless you actively try to prevent a crime you are an accessory and implicit in it.
National and state organizations like the NAACP, Save Ourselves Movement for Justice and Democracy, ANSC, ADC and others challenged the suspicious nature of Kenneth Glasgow’s arrest and are working to have the charges dismissed. These groups and others packed the Dothan Courthouse for Glasgow’s preliminary hearing on April 6, 2018.
Circuit Judge Benjamin Lewis sent Glasgow’s case to the Houston County (AL) Grand Jury but also made the unusual decision in a capital case to grant a bail request of $75,000. Glasgow has been out of jail on bail since April 9, 2018.
Friday’s dinner was one of his first opportunities to make a public statement to supporters about his case. “ We expected this kind of attack because of the work we have done on prisoners rights, our fights against police brutality and mass incarceration of Black young people. We have been preparing for this. God has been preparing us for this kind of attack.
“We were ready for this. We were prepared. When we got to jail, we started organizing and had a prayer circle for the DA, the Police Chief and others. WE must get beyond this to fight the real issues.”
There were other speakers at the dinner that supported Glasgow and TOPS including Dorsey Nunn of ‘All Of Us or None, a California group that initiated the ‘Ban the Box’ campaign; Asha Bandele, with a New York City prisoners campaign, State Senator Hank Sanders of Selma, former Mayor Johnny Ford of Tuskegee and others.
Rev. Glasgow said that he needs people to continue to help support the work of TOPS (The Ordinary People’s Society, 403 West Powell Street, Dothan, Alabama 36303; phone 334-671-2882 office and 334-791-2433 cell; West Powell Street. Dothan, AL 36303) and support his Legal Defense Committee by going to this website: www.glasgowdefensecommittee.org.

Newswire : NAACP, Prince George’s County file lawsuit over “Underfunded, Understaffed” 2020 Census

By William J. Ford (The Washington Informer/NNPA Member)

 

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NAACP officials announce lawsuit
The NAACP announced that the group has filed a lawsuit against President Donald Trump, the U.S. Census Bureau and Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, “to combat the imminent threat that the 2020 Census will substantially undercount African Americans and other people of color in communities throughout the United States,” a press release about the lawsuit said.
Prince George’s County, the NAACP’s Prince George’s County branch and two county residents (branch President Bob Ross and Elizabeth Johnson), also joined the suit. Prince George’s County experienced one of the highest undercounts in the nation at 2.3 percent during the 2010 Census, according to the suit. The figures are based on counties with a population of at least 100,000.
“Such a dramatic undercount will especially dilute the votes of racial and ethnic minorities, deprive their communities of critical federal funds and undervalue their voices and interests in the political arena,” the suit alleges.
During a press conference about the lawsuit at the National Press Club in Northwest D.C., Bradford Berry, general counsel of the NAACP said that this lawsuit is unique, because the plaintiffs seek action before work on the 2020 Census begins.
For instance, the suit claims the federal government has decreased resources and manpower for the 2020 Census and “cancelled crucial, pre-Census field tests and is rushing to digitize the Census without adequate cybersecurity protections, thus undermining public confidence in the privacy of Census data” the press release said.

The lawsuit also states that the Census Bureau doesn’t have sufficient staffing; the agency’s acting director, Ron Jarmin, was also named as a defendant in the suit.
On Capitol Hill last week, the U.S. House of Representatives approved $2.8 billion for the bureau, an increase more than double the amount of the Trump administration’s request of $1.1 billion.
“Proposing a bill and passing a bill are two different things,” said NAACP President Derrick Johnson. “Once the final bill passes, we would like to evaluate to see if it’s sufficient. We simply need the political will to make sure we have an accurate count for this [upcoming] Census.”
Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III said his jurisdiction has lost about $200 million in federal money, because of Census undercounts. The Maryland jurisdiction of nearly 900,000 people borders Washington, D.C., with 65 percent of the population African American.
Federal law requires that citizens are counted in a decennial census that not only helps redraw political boundaries, but also for counties and states to receive federal money for improvement of schools, roads and other needs.

Critics have argued that a proposed citizenship question in the 2020 Census will deter legal immigrants from responding and decrease the number of people counted in those communities. The Hispanic population in Prince George’s County stands at about 18 percent.
“What’s more frightening about this Census count, more than in the past, is the rhetoric from the Trump administration,” Baker said after the press conference. “With a growing Latino population in the county, this is a direct assault on those folks participating in the Census. If it’s happening here, then it’s happening everywhere.”
William J. Ford is a staff writer for The Washington Informer. You can follow him on Twitter @jabariwill.The Washington Informer is a member publication of the National Newspaper Publishers Association. Learn more about becoming a member at www.nnpa.org.

Newswire : NAACP concerned with HUD Secretary Ben Carson’s efforts to change agency mission

By: Malik Russell, NAACP Director of Communications

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BALTIMORE (March 8, 2018)—The NAACP is deeply concerned by Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson’s move to dilute the agency’s long-standing mission.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development Act, which established HUD as a cabinet-level agency, declared a purpose: “[T]o provide for full and appropriate consideration, at the national level, of the needs and interests of the Nation’s communities and of the people who live and work in them.” This purpose is sustained through the agency’s mission to “build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination.” Secretary Carson’s action not only threatens HUD’s founding purpose, but also reveals plans of regression.

“Dr. Carson’s attempt to diminish HUD’s mission comes on the heels of the 50th anniversary of the Kerner Commission’s report which affirmed that discrimination and segregation had long permeated much of American Life and continues to threaten the future of every American; and at a time when the Trump administration seeks to cut billions of dollars in housing aid for low-income families,” said NAACP’s Sr. Director of Economic Programs, Marvin J. Owens, Jr.

Despite these attempts, the promise of discrimination-free practices lives on in the Fair Housing Act which has the central objective of prohibiting race discrimination in sales and rentals of housing. The hope of continued progress in America rests in the hands of communities across the country that continue to push their elected leaders to preserve programs designed to help disadvantaged communities and promote policies that make economic inclusion a reality.

The NAACP recognizes the importance of an inclusive economy and economic policies that address the challenging realities facing our country including poverty, lack of jobs and disproportionate high unemployment, lack of affordable housing, and foreclosures. The NAACP Economic Department’s work enhances the capacity of African Americans and other under-served groups through financial economic education; individual and community asset building initiatives; diversity and inclusion in business hiring, career advancement and procurement; and monitoring financial banking practices.

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 by visiting NAACP.org.

Newswire : NAACP set to change tax status to engage politically

By Lauren Victoria Burke (NNPA Newswire Contributor)

Derrick Johnson
 Derrick Johnson, NAACP President

After being eclipsed in recent years by Color of Change, Black Lives Matter and other younger, more tech savvy and politically-pointed groups, the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization will change its tax status.
The group’s leaders said that the new tax status would allow them to be more aggressive politically. During a call with reporters, NAACP officials announced that the civil rights group will transition from a 501(c)(3) to 501(c)(4) designation. The change will allow the organization to be more partisan and politically focused. However, the tax designation does not allow political work to be the “primary activity” of the organization.
Even though the NAACP is 108 years old, the organization is struggling to modernize and stay relevant in a rapidly-evolving, social media-driven landscape that requires speed and strategic communications skill. In October, the NAACP named Derrick Johnson as its president; Johnson was elected by the NAACP’s board to serve for three years.
In a statement announcing Johnson as the new president, Leon Russell, the board chairman of the NAACP said, “As both a longtime member of the NAACP, and a veteran activist in his own right—having worked on the ground to advocate for the victims of Hurricane Katrina, along with championing countless other issues—Derrick also intimately understands the strengths of the Association, our challenges and the many obstacles facing Black Americans of all generations, today. I look forward to continuing to work with him in this new role.”
Russell continued: “In his time serving as our interim president and CEO, Derrick has proven himself as the strong, decisive leader we need to guide us through both our internal transition, as well as a crucial moment in our nation’s history. With new threats to communities of color emerging daily and attacks on our democracy, the NAACP must be more steadfast than ever before.”
New NAACP President Derrick Johnson is a native of Detroit, Michigan who lives in Jackson, Mississippi. He is a long-time member of the NAACP, who was elected Vice Chair earlier this year and served as the interim president after Cornell Brooks was forced out. Johnson attended Tougaloo College before earning a juris doctor degree from South Texas College of Law in Houston.

Newswire : Nine Civil Rights organizations led by Lawyers’ Committee For Civil Rights Under Law file Amicus Brief In SCOTUS case regarding discrimination In public accommodations

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – A broad coalition of civil rights organizations led by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law filed an amicus curiae or “friend of the court” brief Monday for the upcoming U.S. Supreme Court case, Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, in which the justices will decide whether discrimination by businesses is lawful in our country.
The Masterpiece case is part of a trend involving businesses denying goods and services to same-sex couples, and the consequences could include the nullification of civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination in public accommodations. The brief was filed in the wake of the Justice Department’s unusual move of filing a brief in the case, in which the Department argued that such discrimination is protected speech under the First Amendment.
“Throughout this country’s history, public accommodation laws have played a vital role in ensuring that all businesses are open to everyone on a nondiscriminatory basis and that individuals from marginalized communities are not treated like second-class citizens,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “The Supreme Court has repeatedly and emphatically rejected challenges to public accommodation laws similar to the challenges brought in the Masterpiece case, and we expect them to do so once again.”
In their brief filed Monday, nine civil rights organizations underscore the importance of public accommodations laws that protect racial, ethnic and religious minorities from discrimination. These organizations express concern that the Masterpiece case could pave the way for businesses to lawfully discriminate against racial and other minorities pursuant to a free speech exemption.
In addition to the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the brief was joined by: The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, the Center for Constitutional Rights, Color of Change, the National Action Network, the NAACP, the National Urban League, and the Southern Poverty Law Center. In their brief, the organizations state:
“Despite the advances our country has made in eradicating segregation and other forms of invidious discrimination, African Americans, including LGBT African Americans who experience discrimination at the intersection of race and sexual orientation, continue to suffer from structural and pervasive discrimination, as evidenced by the recent increase in hate crimes across the country. Discrimination infects the marketplace as well, where minority consumers continue to receive worse treatment and experience disparate access to goods and services as a result of business owners’ biased attitudes. Today, public accommodation laws remain vital by providing relief when consumers of color experience discrimination.”
“We are proud to stand on the right side of history and join this friend of the court brief. It is beyond shameful that the Justice Department that fought against DOMA and supported marriage equality is now advocating for a constitutional right to discriminate against LGBTQ people. Their position runs counter to constitutional principles and recent Supreme Court precedent. This case is not about the cake. It is about dignity, fairness, and equality.” Vanita Gupta, President and CEO, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
“The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund believes that this case presents a direct assault on the civil rights laws, both state and federal, that protect everyone from discrimination. It is imperative that the Supreme Court rejects this effort to undermine the enforcement of those protections central to American society.” Kenneth Kimerling, Legal Director, Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund
“We’re standing with the LGBTQI community for equality. A ruling permitting discrimination in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission would in effect legalize discrimination against LGBTQI people, women, minority faiths, and people of color. If the Supreme Court allows for a broad exemption in non-discrimination laws for so-called ‘creative’ enterprises, this would open the floodgates for discrimination by other business owners. No one is above the law, and it is our duty to rebuff attempts to legalize discrimination.” Vincent Warren, Executive Director, Center for Constitutional Rights
“Black people continue to face blatant profiling and racial discrimination in public accommodations. We will not stay quiet as businesses seek to roll back critical civil rights laws that we have fought so hard for and that protect our right to participate in the economy free of discrimination.” Rashad Robinson, Executive Director, Color of Change
“Today, we stand united against prejudice and discrimination in any form. Inclusion and equality are what make America great. Public accommodation laws serve a vital role in securing equality for all.” National Action Network’s Washington Bureau
“The NAACP has long advocated for equality in public accommodations, as these laws ensure that businesses treat customers equally. It is against this backdrop that businesses like Masterpiece Cakeshop seek to upend laws that protect some of our most vulnerable communities.” Derrick Johnson, President & CEO, NAACP
“Public accommodation laws protect consumers’ rights to shop wherever they please, no matter their race, religion, ethnicity, gender, sex, or sexual orientation. It is unacceptable to suggest that the biased attitudes of business owners deserve more protection than the rights of consumers.” Marc Morial, CEO, National Urban League.

Newswire : 60th anniversary of the “Little Rock Nine”

Photos of Little Rock Nine
Little Rock Nine
As the world watched, nine African American students were escorted into the formerly all-white Little Rock Central High School by members of the 101st Airborne on September 25, 1957, and remained in the school. This was the culmination of not only three weeks of tumult in Little Rock, but of several years of legal battles.
In reality, the Little Rock Nine (Minnijean Brown, Elizabeth Eckford, Ernest Green, Gloria Ray, Thelma Mothershed, Melba Patillo, Terrence Roberts, Jefferson Thomas, and Carlotta Walls) were the fulfillment of efforts for equal rights which dated back for decades and centuries.
Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus called out the National Guard to keep the Little Rock Nine out of the school, though he claimed it was to maintain peace. Eventually, President Dwight Eisenhower had to federalize the National Guard and removed them. He replaced them with the 101st Airborne who escorted the students in.
The story did not end on September 25. The Little Rock Nine endured much hostility during the 1957-1958 school year. Even after that school year was over, the drama continued as the high schools were closed during 1958-1959 in an effort to keep them segregated. Once the schools reopened, there were still efforts to delay the full integration of Little Rock schools.
Likewise, there was an immense amount of effort leading up to the Little Rock Nine entering into the school. Work by the NAACP both nationally and within Arkansas laid the groundwork for that day.
During September 2017, there will be a series of events that will look back at the events of September 1957. They will also examine the work that led up to the integration of Little Rock Central High. In addition, the programs will look at the impact of the 1957-1958 school year over the past six decades.