Newswire : Harris and Pence spar over economy and race in VP debate

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

Vice President Mike Pence effectively evaded question after question and claimed that there’s no systemic racism in America during the first and only 2020 debate between him and Sen. Kamala Harris.
Separated by plexiglass and distanced by more than 12 feet, the two contestants battled over topics ranging from the coronavirus, health care, and climate change.
“Let’s talk about respecting the American people. You respect the American people when you tell them the truth,” Harris told Pence, who responded that he and President Donald Trump had always put the health of Americans first.
Stricken ill by the virus, Trump admitted to Journalist Bob Woodward that he hid the pandemic’s seriousness from the American people.
“The President said it was a hoax,” Harris remarked.
With regularity, Pence went over time and moderator Susan Page of USA Today, repeatedly admonished him, often to no avail.
While the Oct. 7 contest didn’t present as the disaster that was the first presidential debate late last month, it still lacked much substance because both candidates failed to answer some direct questions.
When the topic turned to race and the police killings of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, Harris reminded the audience of Trump’s refusal to condemn white supremacists.
At the same time, Pence attacked protestors as “rioters and looters.”
“Then he said, when pressed, ‘stand back, stand by,’ and this is a part of a pattern of Donald Trump’s,” Harris declared about the president’s awkward statement during his debate with Democrat Joe Biden.
“He called Mexicans rapists and criminals. He instituted as his first act a Muslim ban,” Harris said.
Pence responded by noting that Trump’s grandchildren are Jewish.
He said Breonna Taylor’s family has his sympathy and predicted the loved ones of George Floyd would receive justice.
“Our heart breaks for the loss of any innocent American life,” Pence said. “And the family of Breonna Taylor has our sympathies. But I trust our justice system.”
Despite a troubling September jobs report and Trump shutting off COVID-19 relief talks that could help ailing businesses, municipalities, and citizens, Pence claimed the Trump administration had added millions of jobs, and the economy is on the upswing.
“When President Trump and I took office, America had gone through the slowest economic recovery since the great depression. We’re going through a pandemic that lost 22 million jobs at the height, we’ve already added back 11.6 million jobs,” Pence claimed.
Attempting to become the first African American and woman vice president, Harris told viewers that she and Biden expect to win the election.
Asked about Trump’s repeated refusal to agree to a peaceful transfer of power, Harris indicated that she and Biden are prepared for such a scenario.
“Joe and I are particularly proud of the coalition that we have built around our campaign. We probably have one of the broadest coalitions of folks that you’ve ever seen in a presidential race,” Harris stated.
“It is within our power, and if we use our society, and we use our voice, we will win.” She then added, “And we will not let anyone subvert our democracy.”

Newswire: Thousands descend on the Nation’s Capital for the 2020 March on Washington

By Barrington M. Salmon

Thousands showed up to demonstrate their disdain for the unrelenting police killings and shootings around the nation. Because of the coronavirus, most wore masks. (PHOTO: Roy Lewis/Trice Edney News Wire)

Yolanda Renee King, granddaughter of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., 12, encouraged young people to stay involved, but peacefully. PHOTO: Roy Lewis/Trice Edney News Wire

(TriceEdneyWire.com) – On the 57th anniversary of the historic March on Washington, tens of thousands of protestors gathered again at the Lincoln Memorial to protest the continued killings of African-American women, children ad men by law enforcement and vigilantes and others.
The march, convened by The Rev. Al Sharpton of the National Action Network and Martin Luther King, III, brought together parents and relatives of victims of police-involved murders and vigilantes, a wide cross-section of social justice activists, representatives of civil society and the Civil Rights movements, congressmen and women, members of the clergy and people just tired of the relentless attacks on African-Americans by state-sanctioned agents.
“Demonstration without legislation will not lead to change,” Sharpton told the crowd. “We didn’t come out and stand in this heat because we didn’t have nothing to do. We come to let you know if we will come out by these numbers in the heat and stand in the heat, that we will stand in the polls all day long … what we need is change, and we’re at a point where we can get that change. But we have to stand together. We have to vote.”
Rev. Sharpton announced the march shortly after Minneapolis cops handcuffed George Floyd, a total of four officers held him down and one cop kneeled on his neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, killing him. Floyd’s death precipitated multi-racial protests in cities and towns all over the United States. Demonstrators have been demanding justice, an end to systemic racism, and that cops be held accountable for murdering primarily unarmed people. Others have called for the defunding of police departments and abolition of the criminal justice system.
African-Americans and their allies are angry, frustrated and exhausted from the constant assaults, steeped in racism and discrimination. And as police officers continue to kill Black people, marches proliferate. Those at the march were also honoring Breonna Taylor, who was shot and killed by officers in her Louisville home while she slept. The cops broke down the door, Taylor’s boyfriend, thinking they were burglars fired a shot and the plainclothes officers shot and killed Taylor.
Elijah McClain of Aurora, Colorado, died after a clerk called the police saying he looked suspicious. Several police tackled him, put him in a chokehold and he suffered a heart attack. Authorities say first responders injected McClain with the sedative, ketomine,  which may also have contributed to his death.
More recently, widespread protests erupted again after police in Kenosha, Wisconsin shot Jacob Blake seven times in front of his three children as he opened his car door. Blake survived the shooting, but is paralyzed. 
Relatives of Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Ahmaud Arbery, Blake and several others were on hand.
“There are two systems of justice in the United States,” an emotional Jacob Blake Sr., said. “There’s a White system and a Black system — the Black system ain’t doing so well.”
Sybrina Fulton, the mother of Trayvon Martin, exhorted the crowd to remain firm and committed in the march toward justice.
“Even though we’re going through a crisis, even though it looks dark, I want to tell you to be encouraged,” she said. “Don’t stop saying ‘Black lives matter.’ Don’t stop peaceful protesting,” she said. “Stand up. We were built for this.”
March organizers said there were so many families of victims present that there wasn’t time for all of them to speak.
Participants in the event – called the “Get Your Knee Off Our Necks” Commitment March on Washington – offered speeches on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and then the throng marched to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial. Marchers on the National Mall wore t-shirts and masks emblazoned with “8:46.” Family members and others carried signs with “Say Her Name” recognizing Taylor and large placards with photos of Martin, Taylor, Tamir Rice, McClain, and countless others killed at the hands of police or White vigilantes.
The youngest speaker, Yolanda Renee King, the 12-year-old granddaughter of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., encouraged young people to continue taking a stand.  “My generation has already taken to the streets — peacefully and with masks and social distancing — to protest racism,” she said. “And I want to ask the young people here to join me in pledging that we have only just begun to fight, and that we will be the generation that moves from me to we.”
The presence of coronavirus – the global pandemic of which the United States is the epicenter – affected the number of people who were on the Mall. Many people in other parts of the country who planned to be in Washington, erred on the side of caution and stayed home. NAN volunteers handed out gloves, masks and hand sanitizer with the majority of demonstrators wearing masks and they exercising social distancing to comply with requirements from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The march occurred against the backdrop of COVID-19, which has so far infected more than 6 million Americans and resulted in the deaths of more than 183,000 people. This public health crisis is accompanied by an economic meltdown and recession caused by the pandemic; more than 56 million unemployed Americans; and anywhere from 10-30 million people who are on the verge of being evicted from their apartments and houses.
Sen. Kamala Harris, the Democratic vice presidential nominee spoke to the gathering via video. She said that Bayard Rustin, A. Philip Randolph and the rest of those who organized the March on Washington in 1963 would be disenchanted and saddened that more than 50 years later, African Americans are still demanding justice and equality under the law.
“I have to believe that if they were with us today, they would share in our anger and frustration as we continue to see Black men and women slain in our streets, and left behind in our economy and justice system that has too often denied Black folks our dignity and rights,” she said.
Sharpton emphasized the importance of voting in November to get rid of Donald Trump, spoke of the need to commit to pursuing a new agenda that prioritizes equity, justice, and opportunity for all and said it’s time for a different type of national conversation.
” … The conversation. Well, we’ve had the conversation for decades,” he said. “It’s time to have a conversation with America. We need to have a conversation about your racism, about your bigotry, about your hate, about how you would put your knee on our neck while we cry for our lives. We need a new conversation.”

Newswire : Katherine Johnson, a pioneering NASA mathematician featured in “Hidden Figures,” dies at 101

By Lauren Victoria Burke, NNPA Newswire Contributor

Katherine Johnson receiving Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama in 2015


Katherine Johnson, the legendary NASA physicist and mathematician whose work played a key role in the early successes of the U.S. space program, passed away at 101 years old on the morning of February 24 in Newport News, Va. Johnson played a pivotal role in helping the U.S. land men on the moon during the space race in the 1960s and was portrayed by actress Taraji P. Henson in the 2017 film “Hidden Figures.” The book based on the film by the same name was written by Margot Lee Shetterly.
With little more than a pencil and a slide rule Johnson calculated the exact trajectories for Apollo 11 to land on the moon in 1969. The lives of three brilliant African American women were featured in the book and subsequent film. They were Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, who passed in 2008, and Mary Jackson who passed in 2005. Vaughan and Jackson were from Hampton, Va. and Johnson was from West Virginia. Johnson graduated from West Virginia State University and West Virginia University.
Johnson was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal on November 8, 2019, after House Science Committee Chairwoman Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson’s passed legislation to honor her.
“We’re saddened by the passing of celebrated #HiddenFigures mathematician Katherine Johnson. Today, we celebrate her 101 years of life and honor her legacy of excellence that broke down racial and social barriers,” tweeted NASA after news of Johnson’s passing.
In September 1960 mathematician Katherine Johnson published NASA’s first scientific paper to name a woman as author. Johnson’s trajectory calculations were vital to the US space missions.
“There were no textbooks, so we had to write them,” Johnson said.
“It is with deep sadness that I learned of the passing of Katherine Johnson, a truly brilliant mathematician and pioneer. She broke down barriers as one of the few African-American women mathematicians working at the Flight Dynamics and Control Division at NASA Langley,” wrote Congressman Bobby Scott who represents Newport News, Va.
“Her work helped put the first Americans in space and send the Apollo 11 astronauts to the moon, thereby helping the United States win the Space Race. While I knew Katherine Johnson and her family personally for many years, like so many Americans I never fully appreciated the work that she, Dorothy Vaughn, Mary Jackson, Christine Darden and the many other African American women at NASA trailblazed for so many until their untold story was revealed in Hidden Figures. Mrs. Johnson was a true American hero, and we were so proud to have her call Hampton Roads home. I want to send my deepest condolences to her family and friends, and to everyone who was inspired by her remarkable life and work,” Rep. Scott added.
“Today we mourn the loss of an American hero and a pioneer for women and African Americans in STEM fields. Katherine Johnson played a pivotal role in the outcome of the space race during her 35-year career at NASA and its predecessor, NACA. Without her accomplishments and those of her fellow Hidden Figures, which went largely unrecognized until the last decade, the outcome of the Space Race may have been quite different. Her achievements and impacts on our country are great, and her loss will be felt by many. I send my heartfelt condolences to her loved ones and colleagues,” NASA said in a statement.
“We’ve lost an icon and brilliant mathematician with the passing of Katherine Johnson. A barrier breaker and inspiration for women of color everywhere, Katherine’s legendary work with NASA will forever leave a mark on our history. My heart goes out to her family and loved ones,” said Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA)