President Biden renews commitment to passage of John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act at Selma Bridge Crossing Jubilee

L To R: President Joe Biden, Cong. Terri Sewell, Rev. Al Sharpton, Rev. Jesse Jackson in wheelchair, rolled by son Cong. Jonathan Jackson, Krysten Clarke and Spiver W. Gordon
Attorney Faya Rose Toure addresses gathering at Commemoration March.
Rev. Jesse Jackson receives special tribute at Unity Breakfast.
Senator Hank Sanders at Martin and Coretta Unity Breakfast Rev. Martin Luther King III sitting at right
Freedom Singers bring inspiration throughout Jubilee.

At Sunday’s rally at the foot of the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, President Biden renewed his commitment to passage of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, even if it requires waiving the U. S. Senate’s filibuster rules.

Biden accompanied by foot soldiers, current civil rights leaders and thousands of marchers crossed the bridge in the annual reenactment of the ‘Bloody Sunday’ march – March 7, 1965, when 600 marchers were met and beaten by hundreds of Alabama State Troopers and Sheriffs deputies. Later that month, Dr. Martin Luther King led marchers from Selma to Montgomery, completing the march and paving the way for passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

In his statement, President Biden said: “The right to vote, to have your vote counted is the threshold of democracy and liberty,” 
 “This fundamental right remains under assault. Conservative Supreme Court has gutted the Voting Rights Act over the years. Since the 2020 election, a wave of states has passed dozens, dozens of anti-voting laws fueled by the big lie,” he insisted.
 The President continued. “We must redouble our efforts and renew our commitment to protecting the freedom to vote. “We know that we must get the votes in Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, and the Freedom to Vote Act. I’ve made it clear: I will not let a filibuster obstruct the sacred right to vote.”
In his comments President Biden urged passage of the George Floyd Police Reform Act to implement changes in the criminal justice system across the nation. He also urged passage of a ban on assault weapons, like the AR-15, which have hurt people in recent multiple shootings at schools, theaters, and shopping centers.
The President called for building the economy from “the bottom up and the middle out; and for the rich to pay their fair share of taxes.” He said that he was ready to stand by Selma and other places in the state ravaged by recent storms to rebuild better than in the past. He said over $8 million had already been distributed under the FEMA disaster declaration for the January 12th tornados.
Biden was introduced by Charles Mauldin, a foot soldier, who was in the third row of marchers on Bloody Sunday. Mauldin explained that all Black public officials and others registered and voting under the 1965 Voting Rights Act owed a debt to the 600 ordinary people from Selma and surrounding areas who decided that they would take action to make a change.
Mauldin initiated a “Foot Soldiers Breakfast” on Saturday morning of the Bridge Crossing Jubilee, ten years ago, to honor those who participated in Bloody Sunday and the Voting Rights Movement in Selma. At this year’s breakfast, the foot soldiers organization announced they had secured a property near the Carver Housing Project for a “Foot Soldiers Memorial Park” to recognize the contributions of the foot soldiers and to inspire the next generations to become active in positive social change for the Selma community.
Faya Rose Toure, Selma attorney, civil rights activist, and co-founder, with her husband, Hank Sanders, of the Bridge Crossing Jubilee, which was celebrating its 30th anniversary, also spoke on the program at the foot of the bridge with President Biden.
Toure said racism is still active and blatant in the Alabama Black Belt along with immense poverty and an abusive criminal justice system. She pointed out to the President, “Not a single white elected official is present on the stage or in the VIP seating for the event. Also, there are less that ten local white citizens involved in the Bridge Crossing Jubilee program. There is no school in the Alabama Black Belt, an area of majority Black population that teaches Black History!”
Commenting on the recent tornados, Toure said, “Mr. President. Not only must we build back Selma better, but we must also build back Selma fairer, if we are interested in justice and progress for the people of Selma and surrounding communities.
Toure also told the President, “I do not think you are too old to run again. My mother said the Blacker the berry; the older the berry, the sweeter the juice … “
A number of the people on the stage and in the VIP seating for the President’s address, had participated earlier in the annual Martin and Coretta King Unity Breakfast. Among them, Rev. Jesse Jackson, who was in a wheelchair, Congresswoman Terri Sewell and other members of the Black Congressional Caucus, Rev. William Barber of the Poor Peoples Campaign, Dr. Joseph Mitchell, President of Wallace Community College, Barbara Arnwine of the Transformative Justice Coalition, Maya Wiley, CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Cliff Albright, Black Voters Matter, and many others.

Newswire : The deep significance of Black ‘1870’ pins worn for SOTU address

 1870 pin and explanation card, worn by Congressional Black Caucus members and others
Members of Congressional Black Caucus meet with President Biden and Vice President Harris

By: Marquise Francis, Yahoo News

As President Biden approaches the lectern for Tuesday’s State of the Union speech to address the country’s top issues before Congress, members of the Congressional Black Caucus and other Democrats will be making a bold statement of their own — albeit a silent one.
Many of them will be wearing black pins with the year “1870” on them, which marks the date of the first known police killing of an unarmed and free Black person that occurred in the United States. The pins are a call for action on reforming the institution of policing that has killed thousands of Black people in the 153 years since.
“I’m tired of moments of silence. I’m tired of periods of mourning,” New Jersey Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, a Democrat who came up with the idea to create the pins, told Yahoo News. “I wanted to highlight that police killings of unarmed Black citizens have been in the news since 1870 and yet significant action has yet to be taken.”

On March 31, 1870, 26-year-old Henry Truman, a Black man, was shot and killed by Philadelphia Officer John Whiteside after being accused of shoplifting from a grocery store.
Whiteside had allegedly chased Truman into an alley when at some point Truman turned to ask what he did wrong, and the officer fatally shot him, according to an account in the Philadelphia Inquirer the following day. At trial, Whiteside claimed that he had been ambushed by a crowd while he chased Truman. Whiteside was later convicted of manslaughter. That same year the country adopted the 15th Amendment, which granted Black men the right to vote.
Over a century and a half since Truman’s killing, a steady stream of Black people have been killed by law enforcement, including 1,353 since 2017, according to data from Statista, a digital insights company. In fact, Black Americans are three times as likely to be killed by police than white people and account for one in four police killings, despite making up just 13% of the country’s population.
Many of the parents, siblings and children of Black people killed by police over the last decade will be in attendance at Tuesday’s address as guests of members of the Congressional Black Caucus. The attendees include the families of Tamir Rice, the 12-year-old who was gunned down by Cleveland police in 2014 on a playground; Amir Locke, the 22-year-old fatally shot by Minneapolis police in a predawn, no-knock raid last year; Tyre Nichols, the 29-year-old fatally beaten by Memphis police during a traffic stop early last month and a dozen other families who have lost loved ones.
“I hope today that we can get Congress to see that we need to pass this bill because this should never happen,” Nichols’s mother, RowVaughn Wells, said Tuesday afternoon at a press conference with the Congressional Black Caucus. “I don’t wish this on my worst enemy.”
In 2022 alone, police killed 1,192 people, more than any year in the past decade, according to a new report released last week by nonprofit Mapping Police Violence. Black people accounted for more than 300 of those killings. The report also claimed that many of these killings could have been avoided by changing law enforcement’s approach to such encounters, such as sending mental health providers to certain 911 calls.
In his State of the Union address, President Biden acknowledged the presence of Tyree Nichol’s parents, among the invitees, siting in the President’s box. Biden also urged the Congress to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which was put forth following the murder of 46-year-old George Floyd by Minneapolis police in 2020, seeks to end excessive force, qualified immunity and racial bias in policing and to combat police misconduct. The bill has passed the House of Representatives twice in the previous Congress, but has continued to fail in the Senate.
Following the most recent police killing of Nichols, members of the Black Caucus are cautiously optimistic that change will soon come.

Newswire: Militants take lives at Somali hotel as U.S. Special Ops deploy in Somalia

Somali branch of Al-Shabab

Aug. 22, 2022 (GIN) – Government forces say they have put down a siege at the popular Hayat Hotel in Mogadishu that began Friday and has reportedly left over 20 casualties. It is the largest siege in the country since Hassan Sheikh Mohamud was elected president in May.
The Hayat is an upscale hotel frequented by government officials, elders and people from the diaspora community. The director of Mogadishu’s main trauma hospital, Mohamed Abdirahman Jama, said the facility was treating at least 40 people wounded in the hotel attack and a separate mortar strike on another area of the capital.
The founder and current chair of the Union for Peace and Development Party, President Sheikh Mohamud was previously a university professor and dean and was named in Time magazine’s annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world.
The weekend attack comes as Somali forces have stepped up operations against al-Shabab, and as Somalia’s President Mohamud has promised to eliminate the armed group. The al-Shabab leadership has also promised to topple Mohamud’s government.
Earlier this week, the United States announced that its forces had killed 13 al-Shabab fighters in an air raid in the central-southern part of the country as the group was attacking Somali forces.
The US has carried out several air raids on the group’s fighters in recent weeks. 
Last May, President Biden signed an order authorizing the military to once again deploy hundreds of Special Operations forces inside Somalia — largely reversing the decision by President Donald J. Trump to withdraw nearly all 700 ground troops who had been stationed there, according to four officials familiar with the matter. 
In addition, Mr. Biden approved a Pentagon request for standing authority to target about a dozen suspected leaders of Al Shabab, the Somali terrorist group that is affiliated with Al Qaeda, three of the officials said. 
The decisions by Mr. Biden, described to Washington Post reporters on the condition of anonymity, will revive an open-ended American counterterrorism operation that has amounted to a slow-burn war through three administrations. The move stands in contrast to his decision last year to pull American forces from Afghanistan, saying that “it is time to end the forever war.”

Newswire: The bullet has unseen collateral impact on the Black community 

 Charmion Kinder, a social impact consultant, pictured here walking through Harlem, N. Y., says gun violence in the Black community is a “cancerous epidemic.”

By Virgil Parker

  ( – Gun violence has had an adverse impact on the Black community, part of which is actually invisible. That’s because the impact has been both physical and psychological, according to experts. Everytown for Gun Safety, a gun violence prevention organization, reports that Black Americans experience nearly 10 times the gun homicides, 15 times the gun assaults and three times the fatal police shootings of White Americans. The organization also shares that a daily average of 26 Black Americans are killed by guns and 104 experience non-fatal injuries. The police force also shoots and kills at least one Black person every other day. The statistics worsen in large cities, where Black Americans make up 68 percent of homicide victims. “Gun violence in the Black community is a cancerous epidemic that has crippled our senses, compromised our connectivity within the community and robbed our young people of the potential of leading full lives for far too long,” said Charmion Kinder, Founder and Chief Impact Officer of CNKinder, Inc.: a social impact consultancy. “We must stand together to continue to develop innovative solutions for the developing young minds that remain under our care — no matter their family structure, background or zip code. It is unacceptable that scores of young men, and women, in American towns and cities see only one pathway to economic advancement, including falling prey to circumstances that do not serve them or society well. The cost of crime, lack of access, and lack of opportunity is leading to fast journeys to death. And it is high time, that together, we find ways to choose more life,” said Kinder, a Black woman from New Haven, Conn. President Biden recently announced a strategy to tackle gun violence. According to the New York Times, the president’s new strategy will allow state and local governments to pull from $350 billion of resources to invest in police departments and support community-based anti-violence groups. The funds can also be used for summer jobs for young people and organizations that aim to intervene with at-risk youths before they commit violence. The provision addresses criminal justice advocates who have called for political leaders to address the societal factors that drive crime. Some individuals struggle with seeking psychological support to heal from the impact of gun violence. “My immediate family has suffered a direct loss to gun violence on multiple occasions,” said Brett Williams, a Black man who chairs the Anti-Violence Partnership of Philadelphia. “I’ve personally experienced it four times directly since I was 5. But I’d say the most impactful losses occurred exactly 20 years apart – my father who was shot and killed on March 2, 1996. I was 11 years old. And 20 years later my older brother on October 27, 2016. I was 31. Williams continued, “My family never considered any form of grief counseling or therapy. There’s a stigma in Black and brown communities where mental health is ignored… Now that I’m five years in my healing journey and have gone to therapy regularly, I see the benefits of therapy and am now an advocate for grief counseling.” Gun violence has had a stronger adverse psychological impact on some individuals more than others. “I believe that gun violence in African-American communities has had an immense psychological and physical impact on us,” said MaKenzie Smith. Smith, a Black woman from Saginaw, Michigan. “Not only is this one of the main issues currently plaguing our communities, but it’s a long-standing issue for us historically. I think it has become even more difficult for us to find the resources and the mental capacity to begin to deal with the effects of gun violence because it’s on social media, around us, and regularly right in front of us. Therefore, as we are forced to deal with and fight against every other issue we’re facing as Black people, we subconsciously become immune to the emotional aspects of that trauma – seeing or hearing about our brothers and sisters and children being shot down.” Members of the Black community are seeking and fighting for an end to gun violence. “The impact of gun violence in the African-American community has proven nothing short of pure devastation, said Dana Lintz, a Black male who resides in Bowie, Md. “Yes, police brutality and police killings of unarmed Black Americans is horrible and infuriating, but we don’t seem to show the same outrage for what is an even more heinous crime, which is shooting and killing us! And what’s worse, we appear almost immune to the killing.”