Category: Justice

Samaria Rice to Open Tamir Rice Cultural Center in Cleveland in 2019

Samaria Rice, mother of Tamir Rice (photo via ohio.com)

by Angela Helm via theroot.com

Samaria Rice, mother of Tamir Rice, the 12-year-old who was gunned down on a playground by an erratic “officer of the law” in 2014, is mending her heartbreak by opening a cultural center in the name of her son.

The Tamir Rice Afrocentric Cultural Center will honor Tamir’s legacy by operating as a place of refuge for black children in Cleveland, a space where they can participate in visual art, drama, music, as well as teaching them civics as well. “Nobody is talking about Tamir anymore in Cleveland,” said Samaria. “And that’s sad.”

Through the Tamir Rice Foundation, Samaria has already purchased a building for the center, and, in addition to serving the children’s artistic ambitions (Tamir, she said, loved to draw cartoons and make pottery), the young people who come through its doors will be mentored on how to “dissect and participate in political systems,” something the 41-year-old mother of three says she had to learn, after her son was killed as he played.

Rice has already faced opposition to opening the center, a baffling notion, given what she has been through, but according to a recent profile by the Cleveland Plain Dealer, someone recently put superglue in all of the locks on the 3,500-square-foot former newspaper building.

“I don’t pay no attention to them,” she said. “They can’t beat me for the simple fact that their child wasn’t killed by the state. I’m going to do it through the grace of God and I’m going to do it because the city of Cleveland gave me no choice but to do it as far as building my son’s legacy and keeping his legacy alive.”

Next month, Rice is throwing a “Sweet Sixteen” party for the birthday Tamir will never see. She seeks to raise $21,000 to help renovate the space, including new windows, and a stage for performances. She purchased the building in March for $162,680, using part of the $6 million settlement of the wrongful death suit she’d filed against the city and the two officers involved (none of whom faced a day in jail). The Plain Dealer reports that after lawyer’s fees and costs and payments to other relatives, Tamir’s estate was left with about $1.8 million.

Samaria Rice hopes to complete work and open the center in 2019.

Tickets for June 14 fundraiser at the Cleveland Museum of Art are $55  and contributions to the renovation are also being collected online.

To read full article, go to: https://www.theroot.com/samaria-rice-to-open-tamir-rice-cultural-center-for-cle-1826177821

In Wake of Wrongful Arrests, Starbucks Announces New Policy: No Purchase Needed to Use Restrooms or Sit in Cafes

(Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images)

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

According to the Chicago Sun TimesStarbucks Coffee announced a new policy yesterday that allows anyone to sit in its cafes or use its restrooms, even without buying anything. The new policy comes five weeks after two black men who hadn’t bought anything were arrested at a Philadelphia Starbucks. Company executives have said its previous policies were ambiguous, leaving decisions on whether people could sit in its stores or use the restroom up to store managers. Starbucks now says it has instructed workers to consider anyone who enters its stores a customer, “regardless of whether they make a purchase.”

The company said anyone can use its cafes, patios or restrooms, but noted workers should still call the police if someone is a safety threat. “We are committed to creating a culture of warmth and belonging where everyone is welcome,” Starbucks said in a statement.

The two men who were arrested April 12 in Philadelphia were awaiting a third person for a meeting. One of them was denied use of a restroom because he hadn’t bought anything. A worker called police, and the men, Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson, were arrested. They spent hours in jail before they were released. The incident, video of which was posted on social media, was a major embarrassment for the coffee chain.

In response to the arrests, Starbucks plans to close more than 8,000 of its U.S. stores on May 29 for racial-bias training for its employees.The men who were arrested settled with Starbucks earlier this month for an undisclosed sum and an offer of a free college education. They also reached a deal with Philadelphia for a symbolic $1 each and a promise from city officials to set up a $200,000 program for young entrepreneurs.

#MeToo Founder Tarana Burke to Keynote National Conference “Facing Race 2018” in Detroit this November

Tarana Burke will deliver a keynote address at Facing Race National Conference in Detroit. (Photo: Erin Zipper)

by Xakota Espinoza  via colorlines.com

Social justice activist, author, and founder of the #MeToo movement, Tarana Burke, will be delivering a keynote address at Facing Race 2018 in Detroit, Michigan.

Facing Race is a national conference presented by leading racial justice organization and Colorlines publisher, Race Forward. The 2018 conference will be held at Detroit’s Cobo Center from November 8-10.

Burke, who was recently named by Time magazine as one of the “100 Most Influential People of 2018,” is the first of two keynote speakers to be announced for the Detroit conference. As the largest conference for multiracial justice movement-making, Facing Race Detroit will serve as a unique, collaborative, and essential space for alliance building, issue-framing, and advancing solutions during a critical moment in our nation’s history.

Burke first used the phrase “Me Too” in 2006 as a means of providing strength and healing to young women of color. Her upcoming memoir, set to be released in Spring 2019, will explain the necessity of #MeToo while also detailing her own journey from victim to survivor to thriver.

“So often today, conversations about race, class, and gender exist in silos, and the truth is that the potential for change lives at the intersection of all,” said Burke who currently serves as Senior Director at Girls for Gender Equity. “I’m thrilled to be part of a space that is intentionally multiracial and multigender as we envision a meaningfully inclusive society.

“Tarana Burke has dedicated more than 25 years of her life to the intersection of social justice issues, and has laid the groundwork for an international movement that inspires solidarity,” said Race Forward President Glenn Harris. “We’re elated and honored that she will be sharing her words of wisdom, inspiration, and power building with the thousands of Facing Race attendees.”

In addition to inspiring speakers, film screenings, and networking opportunities, Facing Race will present over 80 panels and breakout sessions on a wide array of key issues, with a focus on four key tracks:

  • Arts, Media, & Culture
  • Organizing and Advocacy
  • Inclusive Democracy
  • Racial Identities and Innovation

Since Facing Race was created in 2004, Race Forward has held the national conference in cities around the country, working together with local racial justice leaders to lift up regional history and current challenges faced by communities of color.  Previous speakers have included Jose Antonio Vargas, Roxane Gay, Melissa Harris Perry, Van Jones, and W. Kamau Bell.

To register and find more information, visit: https://facingrace.raceforward.org/.

Source: https://www.colorlines.com/articles/metoo-founder-tarana-burke-keynote-facing-race-2018-detroit

D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser Awards $4,000 to High Schoolers India Skinner, Mikayla Sharrieff and Bria Snell, who Faced Online Racist Backlash in NASA Competition

India Skinner, left, Mikayla Sharrieff and Bria Snell, 11th-graders from Banneker High School in Washington, will receive $4,000 from the city to further their work on a method to purify lead-contaminated water in school drinking fountains. (Evelyn Hockstein for The Washington Post)

 via washingtonpost.com

Mayor Muriel E. Bowser’s administration announced Thursday that it would award $4,000 to help three D.C. high school students who faced a torrent of racist comments when they used social media to encourage people to vote for them in a NASA competition.

The three black Banneker High students — whose method to purify lead-contaminated water in school drinking fountains landed them in the final round of the science competition — were featured in a Washington Post article this week. The all-female team was subject to racist comments from users of the controversial and anonymous online forum, 4chan, who tried to ruin the students’ chances of winning by urging people to vote against them because of their race.

The 4chan posters recommended computer programs that would hack the voting system to give a team of teenage boys a boost, prompting NASA to shut down voting early.

Bowser (D) said in her weekly newsletter that the city should be celebrating the students — Mikayla Sharrieff, India Skinner and Bria Snell, all 17-year-old high school juniors — for their successes.

“Mikayla, India and Bria are reminding us that the good in our world is stronger than the hate, and we want them to know that the District has their back,” Bowser wrote.

The teens said in interviews with The Post that they planned to attend college and graduate school, and they aspire to be doctors and engineers. They volunteer at the city-funded Inclusive Innovation Incubator — a technology lab focused on diversity and entrepreneurship near Howard University — and their mentor at the incubator encouraged them to compete and supervised them on weekends as they built a prototype for the NASA competition.

The $4,000 will be given to the incubator and used to help the students further develop their water filtration system.

“The mayor was inspired by these young women,” said Andrew Trueblood, the chief of staff for the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development, which provides support to the incubator. “It was a natural next step to say what can we do for these young women.”

The students received a swell of support online this week. Chelsea Clinton tweeted at the teens Thursday, thanking them for using their “talents to tackle big problems!”

“I am so sorry that anyone would ever feel anything but gratitude for your clean water efforts.”

NASA expects to name the competition winners this month. In addition to the public voting, judges assess the projects to determine the winners, who are invited to NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt for two days of workshops, with the winning team receiving a $4,000 stipend to cover expenses.

Source: https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/mayor-awards-4000-to-black-high-school-students-who-faced-online-racist-backlash-in-nasa-competition/2018/05/03/315c3a24-4f08-11e8-84a0-458a1aa9ac0a_story.html?utm_term=.db95415f12d8

Wrongfully Arrested Starbucks Patrons Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson Settle with Philadelphia for $2 in Exchange for $200,000 Fund for Young Entrepreneurs

Image: Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson
Rashon Nelson, left, and Donte Robinson, right, sit on their attorney’s sofa as they pose for a portrait following an interview on April 18, 2018. (Jacqueline Larma / AP file) 

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

According to nbcnews.com, Rashon Nelson, 23, and Donte Robinson, 23, the two men whose arrest at a Starbucks last month set off a wave of protests against the coffee corporation for discrimination have reached a settlement with the city of Philadelphia, the Mayor’s Office stated today.They will each be paid a symbolic $1 and release the city and employees of all claims in exchange for the creation of a $200,000 fund that, through the help of a nonprofit organization, will assist young entrepreneurs in Philadelphia. Robinson and Nelson are to serve on the committee that will establish and award the grant, which will focus on starting a pilot curriculum for public high school students to attain the skills to become business owners.

The mayor’s office stated that Nelson, Robinson and their attorneys will not receive any payment from the grant funds. The money will come from the budget of the city’s Finance Department.

“I am pleased to have resolved the potential claims against the City in this productive manner,” Mayor Jim Kenney said in a statement. “This was an incident that evoked a lot of pain in our City, pain that would’ve resurfaced over and over again in protracted litigation, which presents significant legal risks and high financial and emotional costs for everyone involved.” He added that Robinson and Nelson themselves approached the city with the grant fund idea “in an attempt to make something positive come of this.”

Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson in a statement Thursday said a confidential financial settlement between Nelson, Robinson and Starbucks has been reached and thanked the men for their “willingness to reconcile.”

“I welcome the opportunity to begin a relationship with them to share learnings and experiences,” he said.

The coffee chain on May 29 plans to close more than 8,000 U.S. stores for an afternoon to train nearly 175,000 workers in “racial-bias education.”

Robinson, who said he’s been a Starbucks customer since he was 15, told The Associated Press on Wednesday that the agreement with the city of Philadelphia was the right decision. “We thought long and hard about it and we feel like this is the best way to see that change that we want to see,” he said. “It’s not a right-now thing that’s good for right now, but I feel like we will see the true change over time.”

March in Memphis to Honor Martin Luther King Jr. on 50th Anniversary of his Death

People hold signs resembling the signs carried by striking sanitation workers in 1968 as they join in events commemorating the 50th anniversary of the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. (photo via eurweb.com)

by Errin Haines Whack, Adrian Sainz & Kate Brumback, Associated Press via blackamericaweb.com

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — The daughter of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. remembered him as “the apostle of nonviolence” as admirers marked the 50th anniversary of his assassination Wednesday with marches, speeches and quiet reflection.

The Rev. Bernice A. King recalled her father as a civil rights leader and great orator whose message of peaceful protest was still vital decades later. “We decided to start this day remembering the apostle of nonviolence,” she said during a ceremony to award the Martin Luther King Jr. Nonviolent Peace Prize held at the King Center in Atlanta.

In Memphis, where King died, hundreds of people bundled in hats and coats gathered early in for a march led by the same sanitation workers union whose low pay King had come to protest when he was shot.

Dixie Spencer, president of the Bolivar Hardeman County, Tennessee, branch of the NAACP, said remembrances of King’s death should be a call to action. “We know what he worked hard for, we know what he died for, so we just want to keep the dream going,” Spencer said. “We just want to make sure that we don’t lose the gains that we have made.”

The Memphis events were scheduled to feature King’s contemporaries, including the Rev. Jesse Jackson, the Rev. Al Sharpton and U.S. Rep. John Lewis, along with celebrities such as the rapper Common. In the evening, the Atlanta events culminate with a bell-ringing and wreath-laying at his crypt to mark the moment when he was gunned down on the balcony of the old Lorraine Motel on April 4, 1968. He was 39.

Wednesday’s events followed a rousing celebration the night before of King’s “I’ve Been To the Mountaintop” speech at Memphis’ Mason Temple Church of God in Christ. He delivered this speech the night before he was assassinated.

Inside the church, Bernice King called her older brother, Martin Luther King III, to join her in the pulpit, and she discussed the difficulty of publicly mourning their father — a man hated during his lifetime, now beloved around the world.

“It’s important to see two of the children who lost their daddy 50 years ago to an assassin’s bullet,” said Bernice King, now 55. “But we kept going. Keep all of us in prayer as we continue the grieving process for a parent that we’ve had yet to bury.”

A gospel singer led a rousing rendition of “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” and the gathering took on the air of a mass meeting.

Lee Saunders, a national labor leader, recounted how on that night in 1968, King made an unplanned appearance to deliver the famous speech without notes after his aides saw how passionate the crowd was: “There was one man they wanted to hear from.”

But Saunders stressed that the purpose of the week’s commemorations was not just to look to the past.

“Dr. King’s work — our work — isn’t done. We must still struggle; we must still sacrifice. We must still educate and organize and mobilize. That’s why we’re here in Memphis. Not just to honor our history, but to seize our future,” he said.

Some of the sanitation workers who participated with King in a 1968 strike sat in the front row and were treated like celebrities, with audience members stopping to take photos with them before the event started.

To read more: https://blackamericaweb.com/2018/04/04/many-march-in-honor-of-martin-luther-king-jr-s-death/

Matt Barnes Launches Scholarship Fund For Stephon Clark’s Sons

Matt Barnes (image via huffingtonpost.com)

by Jenna Amatulli via huffingtonpost.com

Ex-NBA player Matt Barnes announced that he will be launching a scholarship fund for Stephon Clark’s two sons to ensure that they can afford to go to college.

Barnes, whose lengthy basketball career included stints with the Sacramento Kings and Golden State Warriors, made an impassioned speech at a rally in Sacramento on Saturday while holding one of Clark’s children. He spoke about the fraught relationship between police officers and black America, and the need for reform.

“We fear what we don’t know. We don’t know these cops, so we fear them. They don’t know us, so they fear us,” Barnes said. “When you get out and know someone on a first-name basis, when you are called to the situation, next time you may be able to defuse the situation.”

Clark, 22, was killed on March 18 when Sacramento police officers shot him eight times in his grandparents’ backyard. The two officers, responding to reports of car break-ins in the neighborhood, said they believed Clark to be armed, though he was found with only his cellphone in hand.

Since Clark’s death, protests have roiled Sacramento and led to yet another uprising by a community imploring the government to do more in investigating deadly police shootings and prevent them.

Saturday’s march was organized by the Sacramento Black Lives Matter chapter. Barnes was involved in the rally because he heard of Clark’s death from one of his two 9-year-old sons. The child apparently asked his father if police were “bad” for what they did to Clark.

“I had to pause for a second because the emotion of me wanted to say yes, but at the same time cops aren’t bad, one cop doesn’t make every one bad,” Barnes said.

“But one black man doesn’t make everybody guilty. It’s more than color. It comes down to wrong and right.”

Barnes said of his sones, “I fear for them. I fear for the streets and now I’ve got to fear for the cops. How do we explain to our kids that because of the color of your skin people aren’t going to like you? That’s not fair, but that’s what we have to explain to our kids every day.”

He added: “This isn’t a Sacramento problem, this is a nationwide problem.”

Source: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/matt-barnes-launches-scholarship-fund-for-stephon-clarks-sons_us_5ac23676e4b0a47437ac86ea

Sacramento Kings Teaming Up with BLM and Local Group in Response to Stephon Clark Tragedy

(photo via washingtonexaminer.com)

by Jazzi Johnson via thegrio.com

A week after pledging to be a vocal player in awareness efforts surrounding the police shooting death of Stephon Clark, the Sacramento Kings announced they are teaming upwith Black Lives Matter and local activist organization Build. Black. Coalition to respond to activist demand for support for the community and the grass roots.

The new initiative aims “to support the education of young people and to provide the workforce preparation and economic development efforts” according to a statement from the Kings. The multi-year project is intended at spurring “deep investment” into the Sacramento community, beginning with an education fund for Clark’s children.

Sacramento mayor Darrell Steinberg praised the team’s efforts in a statement: “It is clear to me and I know the Kings that there remains a huge gulf between the exciting Sacramento renaissance and the daily struggles experienced by so many in our communities, especially communities of color.

“The Kings actions are a real step towards addressing those underlying issues and connecting the excitement and vitality in downtown to our neighborhoods, which is exactly what motivated me to run for mayor,” Steinberg said.

The Kings will also co-sponsor a forum to hear community voices on the shooting incident Friday night called “Kings and Queens Rise: A Youth Voice Forum for Healing.”

Response from owner

Last week, Kings owner Vivek Ranadivé made a public statement about Stephon Clark’s death following protests that blocked game attendees from entering their Golden 1 Center stadium space.

He vowed that the NBA franchise would not be acting as if business is usual and “are going to work really hard to bring everybody together to make the world a better place, starting with our own community,” he said. “[We’re] going to work really hard to prevent this kind of a tragedy from happening again.” 

Just three days later, the Kings’ themselves, sported T-shirts on the court that called for “accountability” by the police department and memorialized Clark’s name. Additionally, players from the Kings and their opponents that day, the Boston Celtics, joined together in a PSA about the tragedies of police violence.

READ MORE: Sacramento BLM activist vows to fight back for Stephon Clark

 “These tragedies have to stop,” “There must be accountability,” “We will not stick to sports,” and “We will not shut up and dribble,” were a few of the sentiments expressed.

Flames fanned

Tensions in Sacramento continue to rise as protests for justice in the death of Stephon Clark increase citywide and nationally. California’s Department of Justice is conducting an independent investigation, and civil rights attorney Ben Crump is now representing the family, but the frustrations of African Americans in the city continue to simmer.

On Tuesday, Stephon’s brother Stevante Clark appeared at the specially-convened City Council meeting and loudly voiced his love for his brother and fellow protesters, as well as his criticism of to the mayor — whom he boldly faced within an inch of separation — and the media’s coverage.

A funeral for Clark was held Thursday. Clark, a Muslim, was set to be honored with a ghusl or Islamic ritual washing by revered Imam Omar Suleiman, but clerics were not able to perform the task because of the way the 20 bullets wounds he received mangled his body. 

Imam Omar Suleiman expressed frustration over the inability to perform the ritual on Twitter.

Meanwhile, California attorney general Xavier Becerra announced Tuesday that he was joining the investigation into Clark’s death. His office will oversee the probe and review the Sacramento Police Department’s policies and use of force training, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

Source: https://thegrio.com/2018/03/30/sacramento-kings-stephon-clark-community/

ICU Nurse Ellen Harris, Who Received Racist Note and Picture of a Noose at Work, Awarded Over $3.8 Million in Damages

Nurse Ellen Harris (photo via theroot.com)

by Ashleigh Atwell via blavity.com

A jury awarded Ellen Harris, a nurse in Honolulu, Hawaii, over $3.8 million in damages after she claimed her employer ignored her reports of racial harassment, according to a press release from Harris’ lawyer.

Harris, who is black, worked in the Medical Intensive Care Unit at The Queen’s Medical Center from 2006 to 2011. During her time there, she reported a “potentially fatal event” involving another nurse who was allegedly harassing her.

When she told officials about the incident, her supervisor told her to write a statement; which she did. The day after she turned in her statement, she found a note in her work mailbox that read “LAZY *SS N*GGER B*TCH.”

Harris made another report and mentioned that the nurse who was harassing her was also acting “erratic,” and may have been under the influence. That nurse later resigned after the supervisor discovered she had been stealing “tremendous” amounts of fentanyl, a highly addictive narcotic. Harris’ supervisor and the hospital’s human resources director investigated the matter, and concluded that the note wasn’t threatening, but rather “a comment on Harris’ work ethic and communication skills.”

It took seven weeks for the investigators to interview two parties related to the note, and on Christmas Eve 2011, the night after the second person was interviewed, Harris found a picture of a noose taped to her locker. The incident was reported to Honolulu Police and investigated as terror threat.

Harris, who worked the night shift, requested a security escort to her car, additional security in the MICU, the results of any investigations and an apology. The HR department denied her security escort because the incidents didn’t occur in the parking lot.

She filed a lawsuit in 2013. Five years later, after a five week trial, Harris got her day in court. The jury declared that Harris was entitled to $630,000 in general damages and $3.2 million in punitive damages. Harris was happy with the decision and expressed that her safety, along with that of her patients, was important to her.

“I am so grateful to this jury for hearing my case and understood this is wrong.  No one should be degraded or threatened like this,” Harris said. “I was only trying to make sure my patients were safe and received critical care they needed.  After I found the noose on my locker, I did not think my patients or I were safe. Nurses depended on each other in the MICU. I was afraid something would happen to one of my patients or me after receiving this threat of violence.”

 

Source: https://blavity.com/nurse-that-received-note-reading-lazy-ss-ngger-picture-of-a-noose-awarded-over-38-million-in-damages?utm_content=bufferfc805&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

Jackson Elementary School in Utah, Named for Andrew Jackson, Votes to Rename Itself After Mary Jackson, NASA’s 1st Black Female Engineer

Mary Jackson, NASA’s first black female engineer
Mary Jackson, NASA’s first black female engineer(Photo: NASA Langley Research Center)

by Marina Koren via theatlantic.com

An elementary school in Utah has traded one Jackson for another in a change that many say was a long time coming.

Jackson Elementary School in Salt Lake City will no longer be named for Andrew Jackson, the seventh U.S. president, whose slave ownership and treatment of Native Americans are often cited in the debate over memorializing historical figures associated with racism.

Instead, the school will honor Mary Jackson, the first black female engineer at nasa whose story, and the stories of others like her at the space agency, was chronicled in Hidden Figures, a 2016 film based on a book of the same name by Margot Lee Shetterly.

A unanimous vote by the the Salt Lake City school board this week was met with a standing ovation from the crowd in the room, reports The Salt Lake Tribune’s Erin Alberty. School employees and parents have discussed changing the elementary’s school name “for years,” Alberty reported, and last year started polling and meeting with parents, alumni, and others. More than 70 percent supported the change. Of the school’s 440 students, 85 percent are students of color, according to the Salt Lake City School District.

Mary Jackson, a native of Hampton, Virginia, worked as a math teacher, a receptionist, and an Army secretary before she arrived at NASA’s Langley Research Center in 1951 as a member of the West Area Computing unit, a segregated division where African American women spent hours doing calculations with pencil and paper, including for the trajectories of the country’s earliest space missions.

Two years in, a NASA engineer picked Jackson to help him work on a wind tunnel that tested flight hardware by blasting it with winds nearly twice the speed of sound. The engineer suggested Jackson train to become an engineer. To do that, Jackson had to take night courses in math and physics from the University of Virginia, which were held at the segregated Hampton High School. Jackson successfully petitioned the city to let her take the classes. She got her promotion to engineer in 1958. After 34 years at the space agency, Jackson retired in 1985. She died in 2005, at the age of 83.

Continue reading “Jackson Elementary School in Utah, Named for Andrew Jackson, Votes to Rename Itself After Mary Jackson, NASA’s 1st Black Female Engineer”

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