College of William and Mary Creating Mural to Honor Lynn Briley, Karen Ely and Janet Brown, 1st Black Students Who Lived on Campus

Left to right: Janet Brown Strafer, Karen Ely, Lynn Briley were the first African-American students to live at William & Mary. (Photo by Ameya Jammi ’12)

via jbhe.com

The College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, is commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the first Black residential students on campus by creating a mural that will be permanently displayed at the university’s Swen Library.

In the fall of 1967, Lynn Briley, Karen Ely, and Janet Brown became the first African American students to live in residential housing. All three graduated four years later in 1971. The three women all came to the university last month to have bronze casts made of their faces, which will be included on the mural.

Bob Leek, a local potter who participated in the creation of the bronze masks, stated that “this is an amazing process, and what we’re going to create is just going to be amazing; it’s just going to be very powerful.” The mural will be unveiled on August 31.

A video about the making of the masks of the three women can be seen below:

Source: College of William and Mary Honoring the First Black Students Who Lived on Campus : The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education

University of Virginia Historian Andrew W. Kahrl Documents How Black-Owned Land Was Stolen

via jbhe.com

Andrew W. Kahrl, an associate professor of history at the University of Virginia, who is affiliated with the Carter G. Woodson Institute for African American and African Studies at the university, is using local tax records to document the history of racial discrimination and residential segregation in the state. Dr. Kahrl is conducting research on how tax liens and tax sales became a tool used by predatory land speculators to acquire Black-owned land.

“Many of these places were legally stolen from Black people by private investors working in concert with local officials,” Dr. Kahrl found.Dr. Kahrl discovered that local officials assessed Black property owners at highly inflated rates in an effort to tax them off the land. “This practice was pervasive,” Dr. Kahrl said. “It was something that was taking place throughout the South and it is clear that it is discriminatory in nature. African-Americans were consistently taxed higher on their property than White homeowners and landowners in the same neighborhood.”

In some states, if the Black landowners missed a tax payment, a lien would be put on the property – and the lien or the property would eventually be sold at a tax sale, where speculators could purchase the debt, add legal fees to it and eventually seize the property for much less than it was worth. Dr. Kahrl is the author of The Land Was Ours: How Black Beaches Became White Wealth in the Coastal South (University of North Carolina Press, 2016).

Source: University of Virginia Historian Documents How Black-Owned Land Was Stolen : The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education

R.I.P. Dick Gregory, 84, Groundbreaking Comedian, Civil Rights Activist and Nutrition Guru

Dick Gregory (photo via hollywoodreporter.com)

by Dennis McLellan via latimes.com

Dick Gregory, who became the first black stand-up comic to break the color barrier in major nightclubs in the early 1960s, a decade in which he satirized segregation and race relations in his act and launched his lifetime commitment to civil rights and other social justice issues, died Saturday. He was 84.

His death was confirmed on his official social media accounts by his family. “It is with enormous sadness that the Gregory family confirms that their father, comedic legend and civil rights activist Mr. Dick Gregory departed this earth tonight in Washington, DC.,” his son Christian Gregory wrote. Even before the confirmation from the family, Rev. Jesse Jackson, a longtime friend of Gregory’s, had memorialized him in a tweet: “He taught us how to laugh. He taught us how to fight. He taught us how to live. Dick Gregory was committed to justice. I miss him already.”

In a life that began in poverty in St. Louis during the Depression, the former Southern Illinois University track star became known as an author, lecturer, nutrition guru and self-described agitator who marched, ran and fasted to call attention to issues ranging from police brutality to world famine. An invitation from civil rights leader Medgar Evers to speak at voter registration rallies in Jackson, Miss., in 1962 launched Gregory into what he called “the civil rights fight.” He was frequently arrested for his activities in the ’60s, and once spent five days in jail in Birmingham, Ala. after joining demonstrators in 1963 at the request of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

Gregory, who was shot in the leg while trying to help defuse the Watts riots in 1965, made a failed run for mayor of Chicago as a write-in candidate in 1967. A year later, he ran for president as a write-in candidate for the Freedom and Peace Party, a splinter group of the Peace and Freedom Party. Hunter S. Thompson was one of his most vocal supporters.

In the late ’60s, Gregory began going on 40-day fasts to protest the Vietnam War. In 1980, impatient with President Carter’s handling of the Iranian hostage crisis, he flew to Iran and began a fast, had a “ceremonial visit” with revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and met with the revolutionary students inside the embassy. After four and a half months in Iran, his weight down to 106 pounds, he returned home.

Dick Gregory runs for President (photo via latimes.com)

But before Dick Gregory the activist, there was Dick Gregory the groundbreaking comedian. He was a struggling 28-year-old stand-up comic in Chicago who had launched his career in small black clubs when he received a life-changing, last-minute phone call from his agent in January 1961: The prestigious Playboy Club in Chicago needed someone to fill in for comedian Irwin Corey on Sunday night. Gregory was so broke he had to borrow a quarter from his landlord for bus fare downtown. Never mind that his audience turned out to be a convention of white frozen-food-industry executives from the South.

“Good evening, ladies and gentlemen,” Gregory said, coolly eyeing the audience. “I understand there are a good many Southerners in the room tonight. I know the South very well. I spent 20 years there one night. …“Last time I was down South, I walked into this restaurant, and this white waitress came up to me and said: ‘We don’t serve colored people here.’ I said: ‘That’s all right, I don’t eat colored people. Bring me a whole fried chicken.’ ”Despite having to deal with what he later described as “dirty, little, insulting statements” from some members of the audience, the heckling soon stopped as Gregory won them over with his provocatively funny but nonbelligerent satirical humor.

“Segregation is not all bad,” he said on stage. “Have you ever heard of a wreck where the people on the back of the bus got hurt?” What was supposed to be a 55-minute show, Gregory later recalled, went on for about an hour and 40 minutes. And by the time he walked off stage, the audience gave him a thundering ovation. He did so well, he was booked at the club for two weeks and then held over for several more.

To read full article, go to: Dick Gregory, who rose from poverty to become a groundbreaking comedian and civil rights activist, dies at 84 – LA Times

Paypal, ApplePay, Spotify and Other Tech Companies Purge White Supremacist Groups from Their Platforms

by Jessica Yarvin via pbs.org

After the violent protests in Charlottesville, tech companies are rethinking their roles in providing online services for hateful groups. The fight is only beginning, as far-right groups and freedom of speech advocates have argued that tech companies are infringing on their first amendment rights by blocking their access to these services. For now, here are the companies who have taken steps to remove white nationalist and other hate groups from their platforms:

GoDaddy: The web domain name provider cut off the neo-nazi website The Daily Stormer, citing that the website had “crossed the line from exercising freedom of speech to provoking further mayhem.”

Apple Pay: On Wednesday, Apple Pay blocked websites that sell white nationalist merchandise, such as clothing with nazi symbols from using their payment services. A day earlier, Apple CEO Tim Cook sent a memo to employees where he said “hate is a cancer” and announced donations to the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League.

Discord: Members of the “alt-right” movement, whose beliefs are a mix of white nationalism, neo-Nazism and extreme populism, flocked to this group messaging service due to it’s privacy and anonymity; however, after the violence in Charlottesville, the company booted white nationalist groups and users off the app. In the days leading up to the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, the New York Times reported that some white supremacists used the app to organize transportation to and lodging for the event.

Spotify: The music streaming service removed dozens of white supremacist artists that the Southern Poverty Law Center had identified as hate music.

Facebook: Citing violations of the company’s guidelines, Facebook banned eight pages associated with the white nationalist movement, along with the personal page and Instagram account of a white nationalist featured in the Vice News documentary about the Charlottesville rally. Continue reading

Team USA Long Jumper Tianna Bartoletta Medals at Worlds Despite Being Homeless for Three Months

by Marissa Payne via washingtonpost.com

Tears streamed down the face of Team USA’s Tianna Bartoletta as she collected her bronze medal in the long jump during the final days of the IAAF world championships last weekend. Having previously won gold in the event at worlds twice before, and being the reigning Olympic gold medalist at the long jump, Bartoletta has had better finishes, but she wasn’t crying sad tears. Her tears came from relief — that she could persevere and even succeed through even the darkest of times.

“[Y]ou may find it hard to believe but this Bronze medal is THE most special medal I have ever won,” the 31-year-old wrote on Instagram after collecting her hardware. “Because just three short months ago I had to run away from my own home, I had to decide which of ALL my belongings were the most important, I had to leave my dogs, I had little money, I still have no actual address, all to give myself a chance at having a life and the love I deserved — one that didn’t involve fear or fighting, threats, and abuse.”

Bartoletta shocked her fans, revealing that she’s been homeless for three months, while she escaped what she has alleged was an abusive marriage to her husband of five years John Bartoletta. (For his part, John Bartoletta has characterized the couple’s divorce as “amicable,” per the BBC.) “I took a huge gamble blowing my life up in such an important year for me career-wise. But it was about time for me to see that I was worth it,” she continued. “It was worth it. Thanks so much for riding with me.”

I knew defending my title would be difficult. And you may find it hard to believe but this Bronze medal is THE most special medal I have ever won. Because just three short months ago I had to run away from my own home, I had to decide which of ALL my belongings were the most important, I had to leave my dogs, I had little money, I still have no actual address, all to give myself a chance at having a life and the love I deserved–one that didn't involve fear or fighting, threats, and abuse. To stand on the podium today after not even being in the mix for 4 rounds means the world to me. I took a huge gamble blowing my life up in such an important year for me career-wise. But it was about time for me to see that I was worth it. It was worth it. Thanks so much for riding with me. ❤️

A post shared by Tianna T. Bartoletta (@tianna.bartoletta) on

Not having a permanent address, however, was just one of the many obstacles Bartoletta had to overcome on her way to Worlds. On Wednesday, she opened up to the BBC about the effect her relationship had on her mental health. “I lost my personality,” she said. “I felt like I became a stranger to myself almost.” Bartoletta said she even thought about suicide. “It got so dark that I was contemplated walking off a train platform in front of a train in Europe last season because it just started to feel like I had no way out, no way out of the feelings of frustration and shame,” she said. “It was just so tempting to call it quits.”

Bartoletta told the BBC it took her a while to open up to people about how she was feeling, including family, but doing so put her on the path to feeling better.“This has been my therapy — sharing this story with you, sharing the Instagram post, blogging,” she said. “It has kind of been my way of healing.” Now she hopes to inspire others who might also be struggling. “The most important thing is you’re not alone,” she said. “[Depression] is a very difficult situation, it’s complex, it’s confusing and hard for a lot of people who aren’t in it to understand, but … I understand.”

To read more, go to: Team USA’s Tianna Bartoletta medals at worlds despite being homeless for three months – The Washington Post

Abolitionist and Activist Sojourner Truth Honored as “Tail Fin Hero” by Norwegian Air

(photo via Norwegian Air)

by Judy Rife via recordonline.com

Norwegian Air will honor Sojourner Truth, the abolitionist and activist who was born a slave in Ulster County, NY, as a “tail fin hero.” Truth’s likeness will appear on the fourth Boeing 737 MAX 8 that Norwegian will take delivery of this month.

The airline, which began flights between Stewart International Airport and Europe in June, regularly honors historical figures from the countries where it operates on the tail fins of its aircraft. Last month, it honored its first American, Benjamin Franklin, as well as Sir Freddie Laker from England and Tom Crean from Ireland on the first three of the six MAXs that it will receive from Boeing this year. The remaining two planes will also honor Americans.

The six planes will be used on Norwegian’s new routes between three East Coast airports and Europe, including Stewart Airport, T.F. Green in Providence, R.I., and Bradley International in Windsor Locks, Conn. In announcing the selection of Truth, Thomas Ramdahl, Norwegian Air’s chief commercial officer, called her “an inspiration and a pioneer” for people around the world.“She is someone who pushed boundaries and challenged the establishment in more ways than one,″ said Ramdahl in a statement.

Truth, among the Smithsonian’s “100 Most Significant Americans of All Time,” was born into slavery as Isabella Baumfree around the turn of the 18th century, escaped in 1826 and changed her name to Sojourner Truth in 1843. A gifted orator, Truth is best known for her dedication to the abolition of slavery and women’s rights, but she also was a proponent of prison reform, property rights and universal suffrage. She died in 1883.

Source: Norwegian Air pays tribute to abolitionist Sojourner Truth

In Wake of #Charlottesville, Several National Charities Cancel Fundraisers at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago

byvia money.cnn.com

The American Red Cross, The Salvation Army and Susan G. Komen Foundation all said Friday they’re canceling events at Trump’s Palm Beach property Mar-a-Lago. That comes after three organizations made similar announcements on Thursday.

The cancellations follow the spectacular implosion of Trump’s business councils this week over the president’s insistence that counter-protesters shared the blame for violence at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

The collapse of the councils was an extraordinary rebuke to a president who prides himself on being business-friendly. High-profile CEOs like JPMorgan Chase‘s Jamie Dimon have publicly slammed Trump’s reaction to Charlottesville. Now, Trump’s words appear to be hurting his own business. “The American Red Cross has decided we cannot host our annual fundraising event at Mar-a-Lago, as it has increasingly become a source of controversy and pain for many of our volunteers, employees and supporters,” the organization said in a statement.

The Red Cross said it “provides assistance without discrimination to all people in need, regardless of nationality, race, religious beliefs, or political opinions, and we must be clear and unequivocal in our defense of that principle.” According to the Palm Beach Daily News social events calendar, The Red Cross was slated to host its International Red Cross Ball at the resort on Feb. 3, 2018 .The Salvation Army also pulled its Holiday Snow Ball off the venue’s events list.

“Because the conversation has shifted away from the purpose of this event, we will not host it at Mar-a-Lago,” spokesperson Kurt Watkins said. On Thursday, the Cleveland Clinic, the American Cancer Society and an organization that supports disaster relief said they were abandoning plans for fundraisers at the private club.

To read full article, go to: Now charities are dumping Trump, too – Aug. 18, 2017