Category: Adults

Colin Kaepernick, Dave Chappelle and Bryan Stevenson Are Among Those Honored With Harvard’s 2018 W.E.B. DuBois Medal

The Hutchins Center for African and African American Research honors eight distinguished people with the W.E.B. Du Bois Medal. Honorees include Colin Kaepernick, Dave Chappelle, Kenneth I. Chenault, Shirley Ann Jackson, Pamela J. Joyner, Florence C. Ladd, Bryan Stevenson, and Kehinde Wiley. (Jon Chase/Harvard Staff Photographer)

by Jill Radsken via news.harvard.edu

With powerful, poignant speeches from presenters and honorees alike, this year’s W.E.B. Du Bois Medal awards felt more like a gospel church service-cum-rock concert than an academic award ceremony.

Athlete and social activist Colin Kaepernick set the tone before an exhilarated crowd that included some 150 local high school students, declaring that people in positions of privilege and power have a “responsibility” to speak up for the powerless.

“People live with this every single day and we expect them to thrive in situations where they’re just trying to survive,” said the NFL free agent who famously took a knee during pregame national anthems to protest racial injustice in America. “If we don’t, we become complicit. It is our duty to fight for them.”

Bryan Stevenson
Bryan Stevenson, founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, dedicated his award to the “people who did so much more with so much less.” (Jon Chase/Harvard Staff Photographer)

Kaepernick was one of the eight laureates who received medals at Sanders Theatre on Thursday night. Others were comedian Dave Chappelle; writer and social critic Florence C. Ladd; Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute President Shirley Ann Jackson; renowned artist Kehinde Wiley; General Catalyst chairman and CEO Kenneth I. Chenault; philanthropist and Avid Partners founder Pamela J. Joyner; and human rights lawyer Bryan Stevenson.

The awards are bestowed by the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research for contributions to African and African-American history and culture. Ladd, the former director of the Bunting Institute at Radcliffe, donned her medal, then pumped her fist in the air and told the cheering crowd: “A takeaway must be protest, protest, protest.”

Chappelle and Joyner
Pamela J. Joyner and Dave Chappelle enjoy hearing parts of Chappelle’s famous skit “The Racial Draft” being recited by incoming Dean of Social Science Lawrence D. Bobo. (Jon Chase/Harvard Staff Photographer)

Stevenson, M.P.P. ’85, J.D. ’85, L.L.D. ’15, who founded the Equal Justice Initiative, dedicated his award to “people who did so much more with so much less” and asked the audience to think of hope as “your superpower.” To the students, he made a more pointed request: “You’ve got to be willing to do uncomfortable things. You’ve got to be willing to do inconvenient things. Don’t ever think that your grades are a measure of your capacity.” Stevenson himself won a historic Supreme Court ruling that declared that mandatory sentences of life without parole for children 17 or younger are unconstitutional.

Moments of humor punctuated the call to resistance, particularly when presenter and incoming Dean of Social Science Lawrence D. Bobo recited parts of Chappelle’s famous skit “The Racial Draft.“ He called the comedian a “teller of uncomfortable truths.”

Chappelle, for his part, praised his parents, especially his mother, a professor of African-American studies. “She raised me well. I am not an uninformed person,” he said.

Chappelle said he was humbled to be on stage with his fellow honorees: “You all make me want to be better,” he said. He promised another comedy special and ended his speech with a quote from favorite writer James Baldwin’s book “The Fire Next Time.”

“God gave Noah the rainbow sign. No more water. The fire next time.”

Hutchins Center director Henry Louis Gates Jr., the Alphonse Fletcher Jr. University Professor, reflected on the critical nature of the honorees’ work in the fight for racial and social justice.

“When we recall the dramatic progress we’ve made in this country’s struggle for civil rights, it’s tempting to remember only our long arc of progress. But we find ourselves in a new nadir in our country’s race relations,” he said, quoting Du Bois, the first African-American to earn a Ph.D. at Harvard.

“Agitation is a necessary evil to tell of the ills of the suffering. Without it, many a nation has been lulled to false security and preened itself with virtues it did not possess.”

To watch the full ceremony, click below:

The Voter Registration Deadline For Every State

(image via my.lwv.org)

via getuperica.com

According to headcount.org, here is the list of voter registration deadlines in all 50 states. If you haven’t signed up already, sign up!

Alabama

  • In-Person: You have until Monday, Oct. 22, to register to fill out this form and take it to a voter registration location. You can also conditionally register to vote up to and including on Election Day in person at your county elections office, or, in some counties, at a county elections satellite office or vote center.
  • By Mail: You can download this form to register by mail until Monday, Oct. 22.
  • Online: You can register here until Monday, Oct. 22.

Alaska

  • In-Person: You can register in person until Sunday, Oct. 7.
  • By Mail: You can download this form to register by mail until Sunday, Oct. 7.
  • Online: You can register here until Sunday, Oct. 7.

Arizona

  • In-Person: You can register at a county recorder’s office until Tuesday, Oct. 9.
  • By Mail: Download this form to register by mail before Tuesday, Oct. 9
  • Online: You can register here until Tuesday, Oct. 9.

California

  • In-Person: You have until Monday, Oct. 22, to register to fill out this form and take it to a voter registration location. You can also conditionally register to vote up to and including on Election Day in person at your county elections office, or, in some counties, at a county elections satellite office or vote center.
  • By Mail: To request a paper voter registration application be mailed to you, please call (800) 345-VOTE(8683) or email Elections Division staffby Monday, Oct. 22.
  • Online: You can register here until Monday, Oct. 22.

Colorado

  • In-Person: You can register on Election Day.
  • By Mail: Download this form to register by mail before Monday, Oct. 29
  • Online: You can register here until Monday, Oct. 29.

Connecticut

  • In-Person: You can register in person until Tuesday, Oct. 30. If the voter registration deadline has passed, you can still register to vote in person at the office of your Local Election Office on Election Day.
  • By Mail: You can download this form to register by mail until Tuesday, Oct. 30.
  • Online: You can register here until Tuesday, Oct. 30.

SEE ALSO: Erica Campbell Joins Michelle Obama, Kelly Rowland & More For “When We All Vote” Rally [VIDEO]

Delaware

  • In-Person: You can register in person until Saturday, Oct. 13.
  • By Mail: You can download this form to register by mail until Saturday, Oct. 13.
  • Online: You can register here until Saturday, Oct. 13.

District of Columbia

  • In-Person: You can register in person on election day with proof of residency.
  • By Mail: You can register by mail with this form as long as it is received by 4:45 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 16.
  • Online: You can register here until 4:45 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 16.

Florida

  • In-Person: You can register in person at a tax collectors office, drivers license office or voters office until Tuesday, Oct. 9. But if you or a family member has been discharged from the military or returned from a deployment outside the US after the deadline, you can register until 5 p.m. Nov. 2.
  • By Mail: Twenty nine days before Election Day. But if you or a family member has been discharged from the military or returned from a deployment outside the US after the deadline, you can fill out this form until 5 p.m. Nov. 2.
  • Online: You can register here until Tuesday, Oct. 9.

Georgia

  • In-Person: You can register until Tuesday, Oct. 9.
  • By Mail: Download this form to register by mail before Tuesday, Oct. 9
  • Online: You can register here until Tuesday, Oct. 9.

Hawaii

  • In-Person: You can register until Tuesday, Oct. 9. If you have missed the voter registration deadline, you can still register to vote and a cast a ballot at the same time during early voting at early walk-in locations and on Election Day at your polling place.
  • By Mail: Download this form to register by mail before Tuesday, Oct. 9
  • Online: You can register here until Tuesday, Oct. 9.

Idaho

  • In-Person: You can register until Election Day. (You must show proof of residence to register at the polls on Election Day.)
  • By Mail: Download this form to register by mail before Friday, Oct. 12.
  • Online: You can register here until Friday, Oct. 12.

Illinois

  • In-Person: You can register until Election Day.
  • By Mail: Download this form to register by mail before Tuesday, Oct. 9
  • Online: You can register here until Tuesday, Oct. 9.

Indiana

Chance The Rapper Donates $1 Million to Improve Chicago’s Mental Health Services

Chance The Rapper (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP, File)

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

According to the Associated Press, hip hop artist and philanthropist Chance the Rapper has announced he’s donating $1 million to help improve mental health services in Chicago.

Chance, a Chicago native, made the announcement Thursday during a summit for his nonprofit organization SocialWorks, saying those involved “want to change the way that mental health resources are being accessed.”

Six mental health providers in Cook County will each get $100,000 grants and SocialWorks is starting an initiative called “My State of Mind” to help connect people with treatment. Members of the Illinois Department of Human Services and the Chicago Department of Public Health were present for the announcement.

On Thursday, Chance also announced plans to give money to 20 additional Chicago Public Schools. His nonprofit has given millions to Chicago schools in recent years.

Chicago Police Officer Convicted of Second-Degree Murder in Shooting of Laquan McDonald

(photo via aljazeera.com)

by Jaweed Kaleem via latimes.com

A jury has found white Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke guilty of second-degree murder in the 2014 high-profile shooting death of a black 17-year-old, Laquan McDonald. He was also found guilty of 16 counts of aggravated battery.

The verdict marks the first time in five decades that a Chicago police officer has been found guilty of murder in a shooting.

The shooting led to widespread protests and political upheaval in the city, as many residents viewed it as a clear case of police abuse. Dashboard camera video, which a court forced the city to release in 2015, showed that McDonald was shot as he was walking away from Van Dyke and continued to be hit by bullets as he writhed on the ground. In all, Van Dyke shot McDonald 16 times in less than 15 seconds.

The murder verdict, announced in a courtroom three miles from the site of the shooting, means Van Dyke will face between four and 20 years in prison. He could face additional time for aggravated battery.

The killing happened on Oct. 20, 2014, after police received reports that somebody was breaking into vehicles in a trucking yard. Officers began following McDonald, who had a 3-inch folding knife.

They radioed a request for an officer with a Taser, but Van Dyke fired before that officer arrived. Van Dyke was charged with murder, aggravated battery and official misconduct.

During the trial, prosecutors argued that Van Dyke intended to kill the teen even though he was not a threat to Van Dyke’s life or that of other officers. Van Dyke and his lawyers argued the opposite: that McDonald seemed dangerous and had waved his knife at the officer even after falling to the ground.

Illinois law authorizes an officer to use deadly force when it’s “necessary to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or such other person” or “necessary to prevent the arrest from being defeated by resistance or escape.”

The 12-member jury, which civil rights groups criticized for including only one black juror even though African Americans make up 31% of the city’s population, began deliberations on Thursday after three weeks of proceedings that included more than 40 witnesses.

Over the years, the case led to the resignations of a county prosecutor and the police superintendent as well as criticism of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who said last month that he would not run for reelection.

The killing also led to an investigation of Chicago policing by the Department of Justice, which was released last year and found that officers routinely violated the civil rights of minorities and treated them as “animals or subhuman.”

Last year, two former and one current officer were charged in conspiring to cover up for Van Dyke after the shooting. Those officers will go to trial later in the year.

Source: http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-jason-van-dyke-verdict-2018-story.html

WNBA President Lisa Borders Leaves League to Become 1st CEO of Advocacy Group Time’s Up

Time’s Up CEO Lisa Borders (photo via thegrio.com)

by Jay Scott Smith via thegrio.com

Lisa Borders has spent the last three seasons leading the WNBA but just announced on Tuesday that she is stepping down from her post to become the first president and CEO of the advocacy group Time’s Up.

The league, which is a subsidiary of the NBA, made the announcement in a tweet on Tuesday morning.

“It has been an honor and my absolute privilege leading the WNBA and being part of what it stands for,” Borders said in a joint statement with the NBA. “I want to thank [NBA Commissioner] Adam [Silver] for giving me the opportunity and support to help grow this league.

“I am most proud of the players for their amazing talents on the court and their dedication to making an impact in their communities. I look forward to continuing my support for the W in my new role with Time’s Up. I will always be the WNBA’s biggest advocate and fan.”

Time’s Up was formed in January after a series of sexual harassment allegations in the entertainment industry involving Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Brett Ratner, Louis CK, Matt Lauer, and others. The organization advocates for safer and more equitable work environments for women in Hollywood and in other industries.

The organization is also pushing for Hollywood to reach gender pay equity. Borders had overseen the WNBA since 2016 after serving as Coca-Cola’s Vice President of Global Community Affairs.

“We are extremely grateful for Lisa’s leadership and tireless commitment to the WNBA,” Silver said. “This is a natural transition for Lisa knowing what a champion she is for issues involving women’s empowerment and social justice and fortunately for us, she leaves the league with strong tail winds propelling it forward.”

Under Borders, the WNBA inked a new jersey deal with Nike, signed an agreement with Twitter to stream games on the social media platform and helped bring women to into the NBA Live video games for the first time through a deal with EA Sports.

NBA Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum will serve as interim WNBA president while the search for a new president begins.

TIME’S UP is actively working with various industries including advertising, entertainment, healthcare, press, tech, music, venture, and advocacy groups representing farmworkers, restaurant workers, domestic workers to ensure safer workplaces and economic parity for women.

Under Border’s stewardship, TIME’S UP will continue its focus on creating solutions that increase safety and equity at work for women of all kinds.

Source: https://thegrio.com/2018/10/03/wnba-president-lisa-borders-steps-down-to-become-first-times-up-ceo/

Psychologist Dr. Joy Bradford Makes Mental Health Care More Accessible Via Therapy for Black Girls

Dr. Joy Bradford (photo via therapyforblackgirls.com)

by Dominique Fluker via forbes.com

According to the U.S Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Services, African-Americans are 20%  more likely to experience psychological distress such as depression, suicide, PTSD and anxiety than their non-Hispanic white counterparts.

Meet Dr. Joy Bradford, a licensed psychologist based in Atlanta, Georgia and founder of Therapy for Black Girls. Passionate about changing the stigma surrounding mental health issues and therapy which often prevents black women from taking the step of seeing a therapist, Bradford aims to alleviate the process of seeking relief for mental health-related issues within the black community, by fostering a safe space to present mental health topics to black millennial women in a digestible way.

Previously a college counselor, Bradford leveraged her people person and problem solver skills to create the Therapy for Black Girls platform in 2014. The Therapy for Black Girls platform now reaches over 32,000 members with its blog, podcast, social media communities, and very own national therapist directory, that lists black women mental health providers nationally.

I spoke with Bradford about what inspired her to create Therapy for Black Girls, why there’s a stigma surrounding mental health in the black community and the challenges that isolate black women millennials from seeking mental health care.

Dominique Fluker: As a licensed psychologist, speaker and host of the popular mental health podcast, Therapy for Black Girls, share why you decided to create the online space dedicated to encouraging the mental wellness of black women and girls? 

Dr. Joy Bradford: I created the space because I really wanted Black women to have a place to go to get information about mental health that felt relevant and accessible to them. I wanted to be able to share information about recognizing signs and symptoms of mental illness but also to have conversations about the kinds of things we can do to encourage mental wellness.

Fluker: How is the Therapy for Black Girls platform combating the stigma surrounding mental health issues and therapy for African-American women?

Bradford: I think it’s combating stigma because it is making topics that were once taboo, okay to be publicly discussed. I think that topics covered on the podcast have given people language for some of the things they may have been struggling with, and I think the directory has allowed scores of women to connect with mental health professionals across the country who are excited about providing high-quality care to them.

Fluker: What are the challenges that black women millennial face daily that might make them feel isolated from mental health care?

Bradford: I think that sometimes black millennial women worry that their issues are not “big” enough to go to therapy and so they don’t utilize the service. I also think that sadly a lot of black millennial women also don’t feel like providers will really get them and it feels really hard to go into space where you’re supposed to be very transparent but not able to be comfortable. Additionally, I think that the cost may be prohibitive for some people who may want to go to therapy. Even with insurance, it may be difficult to afford therapy, but without it, there can be a lot of hoops to jump through to find lower cost therapy that is a good fit.

Continue reading “Psychologist Dr. Joy Bradford Makes Mental Health Care More Accessible Via Therapy for Black Girls”

Former Time Warner CEO Richard Parsons Named Interim Chairman of CBS’ Board of Directors

Richard Parsons ( Photo by Donald Traill/Invision/ AP/REX/Shutterstock)

by Cynthia Littleton via Variety.com

Richard Parsons, former chairman and CEO of Time Warner, has been named interim chairman of the CBS board of directors.

The newly configured CBS board had its first formal meeting via teleconference on Tuesday after the shakeup that began Sept. 9 with the forced resignation of longtime CEO Leslie Moonves amid sexual misconduct allegations.

Parsons was appointed to the CBS board earlier this month along with four other new members. He’ll be tasked with leading the board at a time of great transition for CBS.

Also on Tuesday, two more long-serving CBS board members, Bruce Gordon and William Cohen, confirmed that they have resigned from the board. Their departures leave the panel at 11 members. It’s not immediately clear if their seats will be replaced.

Gordon, former head of the NAACP and a former top Verizon executive, was credited with stepping up and leading the negotiations that led to Moonves’ resignation and the settlement of the lawsuit CBS filed against its controlling shareholder, National Amusements Inc.

Source: https://variety.com/2018/biz/news/richard-parsons-interim-chairman-cbs-board-1202957772/

Elton Brand Becomes One Of Three Black General Managers in NBA For Philadelphia

Philadelphia 76ers new GM Elton Brand (photo via Chicago Tribune)

via blackamericaweb.com

CAMDEN, N.J. (AP) — Only two years out of the NBA, Elton Brand is set to return to the league as a 39-year-old general manager of the Philadelphia 76ers.

For a franchise that underwent the painful “Process” for a few seasons and had its last GM caught up in a Twitter scandal, a youth movement in the front office could be what the Sixers need to take the next step into Eastern Conference contention. Brand is ready to help lead the way.

“I’m going to rely on my team,” Brand said. “Not just on the court, but the off-the-court team. I can’t keep saying it enough. In my opinion, we are one of the top groups in the NBA.”

Brand was introduced Thursday at the Sixers complex as the new GM, and it was made clear the two-time All-Star will not yield the power to make the final decisions, but rather work in concert with coach Brett Brown and the rest of the front office.

“The 76ers are on the cusp of something very special and the next 12 months are really important,” Brand said. “I think that’s why I was the leading candidate, to bring stability to the organization and this group that I know really well.”

Brand had worked for the Sixers as vice president of operations and was the general manager of the Delaware Blue Coats, the 76ers’ G League affiliate.

Sixers owner Josh Harris said Brand emerged from a list of at least 10 candidates as the right choice to steady a franchise rocked by Bryan Colangelo’s sudden departure. Colangelo resigned in June as the 76ers’ president of basketball operations after what an investigation concluded was “careless and in some instances reckless” sharing of sensitive team information on Twitter. “I’ll lead with honesty, integrity,” Brand said.

Brown had assumed interim GM duties but wanted no part of holding the job full time. But he will work as Brand’s partner in key decisions the franchise faces coming off a 52-win season.

“Coach and I are aligned,” Brand said. “Teams that have won in the NBA, the GM, the coach have to get along. He’s going to have the players. But when it comes to trades, draft process, I’m running that. That’s what I’ve been hired for. Final say? Coach is going to have a voice in it.”

Brand played in 1,058 career games over 18 seasons with the Bulls, the Los Angeles Clippers, Dallas, Atlanta and two stints with the Sixers. He posted career averages of 16 points, nine rebounds, two assists and two blocks per game.

A two-time All-Star and the 2000 co-rookie of the year, Brand was also the recipient of the 2005-06 Joe Dumars Trophy, presented each season to the player who exemplifies the ideals of sportsmanship on the court.

“I think we’re at a new point in our team’s development into hopefully an NBA championship,” Harris said. “We need to be attracting talent here. Certainly, Elton’s image and who he is as a person were real positives. But leadership and managerial skills and the things you’ve got to do in the front office that aren’t just about image, he’s got those, too. But certainly, that was a huge positive.”

Brand said it’s fair to question his inexperience as he skyrocketed through the organization from the G League to GM. But it’s a job he’s ready to handle. “I’ll take the hits,” he said. “When there’s decisions made on the basketball side, I’m taking the hits.”

Brand, the fourth black GM in the NBA, is ready for the Sixers to put the offseason mess behind them and make a jump in the East. “This is a special team, an incredible opportunity, and we will lead a disciplined and determined path to building a championship organization,” he said.

To read more: https://blackamericaweb.com/2018/09/20/elton-brand-becomes-one-of-three-black-gms-in-nba-for-philadelphia/

Valentino Dixon, 48, Gets Released from 27 Years of Wrongful Imprisonment after Gaining National Attention for Golf Course Drawings

In a May 2013 file photo, Attica (N.Y.) Correctional Facility inmate Valentino Dixon poses with one of his golf drawings he created while in prison. (Photo: AP)

by  via usatoday.com

Convicted of a crime he never committed and serving time in one of the USA’s most notorious prisons, Valentino Dixon spent much of his free time drawing serene scenes of lush golf courses.

After 27 years behind bars, Dixon, 48, walked out of the Attica (N.Y.) Correctional Facility a free man Wednesday as his murder conviction in a 1991 shooting was officially overturned.

Dixon’s case gained national attention when he was profiled six years ago by Golf Digest for his meticulous attention to detail in the colored-pencil drawings he made of courses such as Augusta National — despite never having picked up a club in his life.

“They always say I don’t need to be drawing this golf stuff,” he has said. “I know it makes no sense, but for some reason my spirit is attuned to this game.”

From there, the publication and several other groups — including the Georgetown University Prison Reform Project — began looking into the questionable circumstances surrounding his conviction.

Even though Dixon had exhausted all his appeals, the Erie County district attorney’s office eventually revisited the evidence in the case, which resulted in a confession from the real gunman.

Upon his release, Dixon said he planned to go “to Red Lobster to celebrate with my family and my support team, then we’re going to go to a park.”

More: https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/golf/2018/09/19/golf-artist-inmate-freed-27-years-after-being-wrongfully-convicted/1363037002/

John Bunn, Wrongfully Incarcerated for 17 Years, Says Learning to Read Saved Him – Now He Builds Libraries in Prisons

John Bunn leads a class at Ember Charter School in Brooklyn.
John Bunn leads a class at Ember Charter School in Brooklyn. (photo via cnn.com)

by Alexandra King via cnn.com

The first book John Bunn fell in love with, curled up in his cell at a maximum-security prison in upstate New York, was Sister Souljah‘s novel “The Coldest Winter Ever.”

In the book, a maternal woman advocates for the improvement of her black community in Brooklyn as she watches the people she loves suffer from the consequences of incarceration, violence and a seemingly endless cycle of poverty. “I related to that book on so many levels,” Bunn says.

Bunn knows more than most what it’s like to face injustice. Arrested and imprisoned as an adolescent in New York City, he spent 17 years in jail for a crime he didn’t commit and a further decade on parole, fighting for his exoneration. In that time, he battled, among others, the courts, police investigators, PTSD and the challenges of illiteracy. He was 16 before he could read and write.

Today Bunn is 41 and a free man at last, mentoring at-risk young people and advocating for the power of reading through his own program that brings books to prisons.

In many ways, his own story sounds straight out of a Sister Souljah book. Except that Bunn, who survived years of wrongful incarceration with his humanity intact, is determined to write the next chapter himself.

The arrest

Bunn’s ordeal began on August 14, 1991, when he was sitting in the kitchen of his mother’s apartment in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. It was 90 degrees in the shade and the AC was broken. Outside he could hear hip-hop music playing from passing cars and the thwack of basketballs on pavement as kids made their way to the courts. Bunn’s mother, Maureen, was making pancakes, his two-year-old sister, India, cooing in her high chair.

Bunn, 14 years old and out of school for the summer, was ready for a typical day of playing ball and demonstrating his famous back flips in and around the four-block radius between the apartment on Ralph Street (his mom) and the house on St Marks (his grandma). Those four blocks, snug between the love of the two women who raised him, were his whole world.

John Bunn, 14, at home in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.
John Bunn, 14, at home in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.

But then, a bang on the door. It was the police. “They wanted to take me down to the police station for questioning,” Bunn recalls now, sitting in that same small apartment festooned with family photos, nearly three decades later. He was taken to Brooklyn’s 77th precinct, put in a room and handcuffed to a pole.

“The interrogation was led by a detective by the name of Louis Scarcella. And he was threatening me, telling me that I was never coming home if I wouldn’t tell him what he wanted to know. He also told me that they already had beat up my co-defendant, that they had slammed his head into a wall and they already had him,” he recalls.

The co-defendant? A 17-year-old Brooklyn boy named Rosean Hargrave. Bunn knew Hargrave “from the block,” although he and the older boy were never more than acquaintances. But, as he soon found out, they were both now suspected of the same crime:

The killing of an off-duty Rikers Island corrections officer named Rolando Neischer. “I kept telling them, “No, I didn’t have any knowledge of it,” Bunn recalls. But Detective Scarcella, who worked in the Brooklyn North homicide unit for years before retiring in 1999, told the young John he did not believe him.

Bunn’s eyes fill with tears as he describes the moment he was placed in a police lineup with “grown men.” As an adult, Bunn, a slight man with a gentle disposition and a shy smile, stands only 5 feet 6 inches. At 14, he estimates he was no taller than 5-foot-2. He was so much smaller than the adults he was lined up with that the detectives had to improvise. They brought in stools so the lineup could be done sitting down. Bunn did what he was told. He sat down and held up a number.

A couple of minutes later, Scarcella came back into the room. “He told me, ‘It was my lucky day,’ that I got picked,” Bunn says, grimacing. “Ever since then, I’ve been fighting to prove my innocence,” he says, wiping his face and adjusting his hat.

On the front of his baseball cap, in bold white letters, are the words, “WRONGFULLY CONVICTED. On the side, “VICTIMS OF DETECTIVE LOUIS SCARCELLA.”

The hat, he adds, “speaks for itself.” Continue reading “John Bunn, Wrongfully Incarcerated for 17 Years, Says Learning to Read Saved Him – Now He Builds Libraries in Prisons”

The Good Things Black People Do, Give and Receive All Over The World
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