Black Parents Sue Mississippi for ‘Inequitable’ Schools with Help of Southern Poverty Law Center

(photo via naacpms.org)

by thegrio.com

The Southern Poverty Law Center filed suit in federal court on Tuesday alleging that the poor performance of black students in Mississippi is the direct result of the state’s failure to live up to the terms of readmission to the Union at the end of the Civil War.

As part of the terms of readmission, Mississippi was required to create a “uniform system of free public schools” for all citizens, both black and white, in order to foster an environment of education that was necessary to democracy.“ Today, Mississippi schools are anything but uniform,” said Will Bardwell, a lawyer at the Southern Poverty Law Center.

“If you’re a kid in Mississippi, your chances of getting a good education depend largely on whether your school is mostly white or mostly black. That is not a uniform system.”

However, the state constitution changed several times until in 1890 it allowed only for “separate but equal” systems. According to the complaint, the constitution is now an “empty shell of the guarantee that Congress obligated Mississippi to preserve in 1870” and allows the state to severely underfund schools that serve African-American students.

To read more, go to: Black parents sue Mississippi for ‘inequitable’ schools | theGrio

NFL QB and Activist Colin Kaepernick to have Memorabilia Featured at National Museum of African American History and Culture

Colin Kaepernick (photo via Getty Images)

by thegrio.com

The National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) is already looking to include Colin Kaepernick in it halls. Director Lonnie Bunch reached out to sociologist Harry Edwards as the museum was being developed, and Edwards was part of the game-changers exhibit featuring famous black sports stars and their impact on the world. To that end, Edwards recently donated a collection of Kaepernick’s memorabilia to the museum, suggesting that they should put up an exhibit featuring Kaepernick sooner than later.

“I said, ‘Don’t wait 50 years to try to get some memorabilia and so forth on Kaepernick,’ ” Edwards told USA TODAY Sports. “ ‘Let me give you a game jersey, some shoes, a picture … And it should be put right there alongside Muhammad Ali. He’s this generation’s Ali.’ ”

Kaepernick was rocketed to nationwide attention when he decided to take a knee during he national anthem in protest of the state of race relations in the United States, a decision that prompted a wave of similar protests across the country.

To read more, go to: Colin Kaepernick memorabilia to be featured at the Smithsonian | theGrio

Young Black Democrats, Eager to Lead From the Left, Eye Runs for Office in 2018

Representative Stacey Abrams, 43, a likely Democratic candidate for governor of Georgia in 2018, at the State Capitol in Atlanta. (Credit Kevin D. Liles for The New York Times)

by Alexander Burns via nytimes.com

MACON, Ga. — In Georgia, a Democratic lawmaker planning a run for governor promises to confront President Trump and what she calls the “fascists” surrounding him. In Maryland, a former president of the N.A.A.C.P. warns national Democrats not to take African-Americans for granted.

The mayor of Tallahassee, Fla., goes even further, declaring that Democrats have failed by fixating on centrist voters.In states from Massachusetts to Florida, a phalanx of young black leaders in the Democratic Party is striding into some of the biggest elections of 2018, staking early claims on governorships and channeling the outcry of rank-and-file Democrats who favor all-out battle with Mr. Trump and increasingly question his legitimacy as president.

By moving swiftly into the most contentious midterm races, these candidates aim to cement their party in forceful opposition to Mr. Trump and to align it unswervingly with minority communities and young people. Rather than muting their differences with the Republican Party in order to compete in states Mr. Trump won, like Georgia and Florida, they aim to make those distinctions starker. And, these Democrats say, they are willing to defy the conventional strategic thinking of the national party establishment, which has tended to recruit moderate, white candidates for difficult races and largely failed to help blacks advance to high office under President Barack Obama.

Stacey Abrams, the Democratic leader in the Georgia House of Representatives and a likely candidate for governor, said Democrats would win by confronting a president who was viewed with fear and hostility by the party’s base. Rather than pivoting to the center, Ms. Abrams, 43, said Democrats should redouble their focus on registering and energizing blacks, Hispanics and Asian-Americans, as well as young and low-income voters, who often decline to participate in politics.“There is a hunger for representation,” Ms. Abrams said in an interview. “There is a desire to make certain the state starts to serve everyone.”

At a “Macon Resists” town hall event in central Georgia last month, Ms. Abrams appealed to an auditorium of anxious Democrats with just that approach. The state, she said, is speeding toward a political crossroads, with Republicans “terrified of the evolving nature of our state.”“We can either move forward or we can let the president, and those fascists that surround him, pull us backwards,” she said. “I plan to go forward.”

Ms. Abrams, who filed paperwork this month to explore a run for governor, spent much of the event explaining the wrangling of the Georgia legislature in cool, pragmatic terms. But in the interview, she was adamant that Democrats could not “fake a conservative bent” in order to win the next election in her state, which voted for Mr. Trump by about six percentage points.“A Democrat wins an election in Georgia by speaking truth to power,” she said.In other states, black Democratic leaders have been just as pointed in their calls for the party to try something new.

Benjamin T. Jealous, a former president of the N.A.A.C.P., is exploring a campaign for governor of Maryland while warning the national party that minority voters could stay home if they are not inspired. Andrew Gillum, the mayor of Tallahassee and a declared candidate for governor of Florida, said Democrats had repeatedly erred by failing to “lean into our base” and by chasing votes nearer to the center instead.

These candidates have brandished data indicating that black turnout slumped in 2016, the first presidential election in a dozen years without Mr. Obama on the ballot: The Census Bureau found that black turnout last year dropped sharply from 2012.

The field of states where youthful black Democrats are competing in 2018 is likely to expand: In Massachusetts, Setti Warren, the 46-year-old mayor of Newton, is gearing up for a race against Gov. Charlie Baker, a hugely popular Republican. African-American candidates are more tentatively considering statewide races in Illinois, Nevada and Ohio. And in Virginia’s off-year elections, Justin Fairfax, a 38-year-old former prosecutor, is the favorite to become the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor.

To read full article, go to: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/15/us/politics/black-democrats-governor-races-2018.html?smprod=nytcore-iphone&smid=nytcore-iphone-share&_r=0

“The Equalizer” Director Antoine Fuqua to Develop Film Based on Police Murder of Black Panther Fred Hampton

Director Antoine Fuqua (l); Black Panther Fred Hampton (r) Credit: Getty Images

by Brennan Williams via huffpost.com

Antoine Fuqua is developing a film about the late activist and Black Panther affiliate Fred Hampton. The project is based on Jeffrey Haas’ 2009 book The Assassination of Fred Hampton: How the FBI and the Chicago Police Murdered a Black Panther, according to Variety. Beginning at the age of 15, Hampton inserted himself into the world of activism by organizing a chapter of the NAACP at his high school and later became the chairman of the Illinois Black Panther Party at age 20.

Haas’ book, adapted for the screen by screenwriter Chris Smith, uncovers the controversial events surrounding Hampton’s 1969 murder. The 21-year-old was shot dead in his bed as 14 officers opened fire during a police raid. Though Hampton’s death was ruled as a “justifiable” homicide by officials, Hampton’s surviving family members filed a civil lawsuit in 1970, which resulted in a settlement of $1.85 million in 1982. The untitled project is a part of Fuqua’s new production deal with Sony Studios.

For the filmmaker, the new deal is a homecoming of sorts as the film studio has helmed some of his biggest films including “The Equalizer,” “Training Day,” and his breakout feature, “The Replacement Killers.” “I started my feature film career almost 20 years ago at Columbia,” Fuqua said to Variety about rejoining Sony for his new deal. “Since then some of my biggest career achievements have been with the studio. I am proud of our work together and am very much looking forward to this new collaboration and our upcoming creative endeavors.”

As Fuqua continues to develop his Fred Hampton project, fans can expect the filmmaker to reteam with Denzel Washington for the sequel to their 2014 blockbuster, “The Equalizer,” which will hit theaters September 2018.

To read full article, go to: Antoine Fuqua To Develop Film Based On Black Panther Murdered By Police | HuffPost

Georgetown University Renames Building after Isaac Hawkins, an Enslaved Person Sold in 1838 to Pay Off School Debts

Georgetown’s Freedom Hall Renamed Isaac Hawkins Hall (photo via thehoya.com)

article by Brittney Fennel via jetmag.com

The effects of slavery are still being felt in 2017 and, in an effort to make amends for profiting from the sale of 272 Maryland enslaved people in 1838 to pay off school debts, Georgetown University has renamed two buildings on their campus to honor those who were sold.

The slave sale was conducted by two Jesuit priests and was worth about $3.3 million in today’s dollars. They have renamed one building Isaac Hawkins Hall to honor the first person listed in documents related to the sale. Another building was renamed after Anne Marie Becraft, a free Black woman who taught Catholic Black girls in what was then the town of Georgetown.

This is just one of the many steps the university is taking in order to make amends for the part they played during a painful time in U.S. history. During a speech Thursday afternoon, Georgetown’s president, John J. DeGioia, announced the school would create an institute for the study of slavery and there will be a public memorial to the enslaved people whose labor benefited the school.

Dr. DeGioia also offered the descendants of all slaves whose work helped Georgetown University an advantage in admission which is similar to what they offer children and grandchildren of alumni. Many colleges have tried to hide the fact they benefited from slave labor, but at least Georgetown is not shying away from facts and is owning up to their actions.

Source: Georgetown University Will Name Two Buildings After Maryland Slaves – JetMag.com

Jay Z to Host and Produce New Docuseries on Race in America with National Geographic

Jay Z (photo via huffingtonpost.com)

article by Taryn Finlay via huffingtonpost.com

Jay Z is tackling race in the Trump era. The rap mogul is currently working on his third docuseries, “Race With Jay Z,” with National Geographic. The project, produced by Hov and The Weinstein Company, will explore systematic injustices such as incarceration and the wealth gap, social media, activism and family, Variety reported. It will look at how race became “the most pressing issue in the nation” following the election.

The six-part docuseries, hosted by Jay Z, will include documentary, animation and archival footage. It will also feature diverse voices from immigrants, first-generation Americans and others.“National Geographic and Jay Z are the world’s foremost storytellers in their own right, and we’re thrilled to be working with them on such an evocative and meaningful project,” Harvey Weinstein, co-chairman of The Weinstein Company, told Variety.

“By using highly cinematic storytelling techniques along with Jay Z’s singular point of view, the series will tell a dramatic, thought-provoking story on race in America.” “Race With Jay Z” is the artist’s latest reported docuseries. His first effort following the story of a teen unjustly incarcerated at Rikers Island, “Time: The Kalief Browder Story,” premiered in March. It was also recently announced that Jay Z is working on a project about the 2012 shooting and killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

Source: Jay Z Is Working On A New Docuseries On Race In Trump’s America | The Huffington Post

New Rules Adopted by the Los Angeles Police Commission Make Fewer Shootings by LAPD the Goal

LAPD (photo via latimes.com)

article by Kate Mather via latimes.com

The Los Angeles Police Commission voted Tuesday to require officers to try, whenever possible, to defuse tense encounters before firing their guns — a policy shift that marks a significant milestone in the board’s attempts to curb shootings by police.

The new rules formally incorporate a decades-old concept called “de-escalation” into the Los Angeles Police Department’s policy outlining how and when officers can use deadly force. As a result, officers can now be judged specifically on whether they did all they could to reduce tensions before resorting to their firearms.

Tuesday’s unanimous vote caps a 13-month effort by the Police Commission to revise the policy. Two sentences will be added to the department’s manual, the first of which tells officers they must try to de-escalate a situation — “whenever it is safe and reasonable to do so” — by taking more time to let it unfold, moving away from the person and trying to talk to him or her, and calling in other resources.Not everyone supported the new policy, however.

The American Civil Liberties Union sent the commission a letter before Tuesday’s meeting expressing concern the revisions did not go far enough to explicitly state that de-escalation would be considered when determining whether an officer’s use of force was reasonable. Without such language, the letter said, the ACLU urged commissioners to “refuse to accept the proposed revisions as complete.”

At Tuesday’s meeting, the commission’s inspector general said because commissioners can consider whether an officer’s actions before a shooting contributed to that shooting, the revisions do allow the panel to consider an officer’s de-escalation efforts — or lack of them — when deciding if a shooting was justified or not.

New training and directives from the LAPD reinforce the importance of de-escalation and the policy change, the inspector general, Alex Bustamante, added. LAPD officers expected to face more scrutiny over shootings with new rulesThe revamped policy is the latest in a series of changes the five-person Police Commission has made in hopes of reducing shootings by officers. For almost two years, the civilian panel has pushed LAPD brass for more training and to provide officers with less-lethal devices, as well as a stronger emphasis on avoiding deadly force whenever possible.

To read full article, go to: Fewer shootings by police — that’s the goal of new rules adopted by the L.A. Police Commission – LA Times