Born on this Day in 1929: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (follow @lakinhutcherson)

Martin-Luther-King-Jr-9365086-2-402Although Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday will not be nationally observed until tomorrow, January 16, we want to honor King today as well, on his actual day of birth.

To learn more about this monumental agent of political and social change, go to biography.com, and to listen to a speech of his more relevant today than ever, check out this concluding segment from 1967’s “Where Do We Go From Here?” above.

Some stirring quotes from this speech of Dr. King’s include:

… I’m concerned about a better world. I’m concerned about justice; I’m concerned about brotherhood; I’m concerned about truth. And when one is concerned about that, he can never advocate violence. For through violence you may murder a murderer, but you can’t murder murder. Through violence you may murder a liar, but you can’t establish truth. Through violence you may murder a hater, but you can’t murder hate through violence. Darkness cannot put out darkness; only light can do that.

And:

And I say to you, I have also decided to stick with love, for I know that love is ultimately the only answer to mankind’s problems. And I’m going to talk about it everywhere I go. I know it isn’t popular to talk about it in some circles today. And I’m not talking about emotional bosh when I talk about love; I’m talking about a strong, demanding love. For I have seen too much hate. I’ve seen too much hate on the faces of sheriffs in the South. I’ve seen hate on the faces of too many Klansmen and too many White Citizens Councilors in the South to want to hate, myself, because every time I see it, I know that it does something to their faces and their personalities, and I say to myself that hate is too great a burden to bear. I have decided to love.  If you are seeking the highest good, I think you can find it through love.

President Obama Pens 55-Page Article on Criminal Justice Reform in Harvard Law Review

(photo via theroot.com)

article via theroot.com

President Barack Obama returned to his Harvard Law Review roots (he was the first black president of hundred-plus year old journal in his last year at the school) as he penned a 55-page-article on criminal justice reform, how his administration has moved the needle, and how far we have to go.

Entitled “The President’s Role in Advancing Criminal Justice Reform,” the piece appeared in the January 2017 edition of the illustrious book, and according to Harvard magazine, “largely restates the bipartisan case for criminal-justice reform, with an emphasis on mass incarceration’s financial cost.”

Obama did touch on the racial bias in our criminal justice policymaking in the article, writing:

A large body of research finds that, for similar offenses, members of the African American and Hispanic communities are more likely to be stopped, searched, arrested, convicted, and sentenced to harsher penalties. Rates of parental incarceration are two to seven times higher for African American and Hispanic children. Over the past thirty years, the share of African American adults with a past felony conviction—and who have paid their debt to society—has more than tripled, and one in four African American men outside the correctional system now has a felony record. This number is in addition to the one in twenty African American men under correctional supervision…The system of mass incarceration has endured for as long as it has in part because of the school-to-prison pipeline and political opposition to reform that insisted on ‘a stern dose of discipline—more policy, more prisons, more personal responsibility, and an end to welfare.’ Today, however, much of that opposition has receded, replaced by broad agreement that policies put in place in that era are not a good match for the challenges of today.

To read full article, go to: President Obama Pens 55-Page Article on Criminal Justice

“Birth of a Movement”, PBS Documentary on William Monroe Trotter and his Protest of Original “The Birth of a Nation”, Premieres Feb. 6

birth-movement-boston-premeire-50

(Image via boston.eventful.com)

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (follow @lakinhutcherson)

Birth of a Movement, a documentary about African-American newspaper editor William Monroe Trotter‘s 1915 battle against America’s first blockbuster movie – D.W. Griffith‘s infamous The Birth of a Nation – will have its broadcast premiere Feb 6, 2017 on Independent Lens/PBS.

The documentary film was produced and directed by Bestor Cram and Susan Gray at NLP in Boston, is executive produced by Sam Pollard and Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (who is also interviewed in the film), is narrated by Danny Glover, and written by filmmaker Kwyn Bader and Edgar Award Winner and Pulitzer nominee Dick Lehr. Spike Lee and Reginald Hudlin appear in the film, as does Paul Miller aka DJ Spooky, who provided the score. There are also premiere screenings – open to the public – in Boston and NYC on Jan 30 and 31st, respectively.

For Boston ticket info, click here: http://boston.eventful.com/events/birth-movement-boston-premeire-/E0-001-098857426-8

For New York City ticket info, click herehttps://www.eventbrite.com/e/films-at-the-schomburg-birth-of-a-movement-the-battle-against-americas-first-blockbuster-tickets-30972781423

Former U.S. Atty. General Eric Holder Hired by State of CA as Legal Counsel to Prepare for Trump Presidency 

Former U.S. Attorney Eric Holder (photo via latimes.com)

article by Melanie Mason via latimes.com

Bracing for an adversarial relationship with President-elect Donald Trump, the California Legislature has selected former U.S. Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. to serve as outside counsel to advise the state’s legal strategy against the incoming administration.

The unusual arrangement will give Holder, leading a team of attorneys from the firm Covington & Burling, a broad portfolio covering potential conflicts between California and the federal government.  “He will be our lead litigator, and he will have a legal team of expert lawyers on the issues of climate change, women and civil rights, the environment, immigration, voting rights — to name just a few,” Senate leader Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) said in an interview.

Such a task typically falls to the state attorney general. On Tuesday, California Governor Jerry Brown formally nominated Democratic Rep. Xavier Becerra to replace former Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris, who now serves in the U.S. Senate. Becerra, whose nomination hearings in the Legislature begin next week, is expected to be easily confirmed.

But De León and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon began contemplating hiring outside legal counsel for the Legislature almost immediately after Trump’s election, in hopes of protecting existing state policies that are at odds with the president-elect’s stated positions.

To read more, go to: California braces for a Trump presidency by tapping former U.S. Atty. General Eric Holder for legal counsel – LA Times

President Barack Obama Signs Emmett Till Bill To Reopen Unsolved Civil Rights Cases

President Barack Obama (photo via vibe.com/Getty Images)

article via vibe.com

President Barack Obama signed legislation earlier this month that allows the FBI and the Department of Justice to reopen unsolved civil rights cases. Initially titled Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crimes, the updated version of this bill now allows both agencies to bring to justice those who committed crimes prior to 1970.

Named after Emmett Till, the 14-year-old boy from Chicago who was taken from his bed in the middle of night, beat and shot by two white men for allegedly whistling at a white woman, the Justice Department is being encouraged to reach out to “activists, advocates and academics working on these issues.”

Other departments who will aid in resolving these cases include the Cold Case Justice Initiative at Syracuse University, Northeastern University School of Law’s Civil Rights and and Restorative Justice Project, The Georgia Civil Rights Cold Cases Project at Emory University.

To read full article, go to: POTUS Signs Emmett Till Bill To Reopen Unsolved Civil Rights Cases

NAACP Youth Division Hosting People’s Inauguration Rally at Howard University with Chance the Rapper Jan. 21

Chance The Rapper and NAACP Youth & College Division members (photo via NAACP / Twitter)

Chance The Rapper and NAACP Youth & College Division members (photo via NAACP / Twitter)

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (follow @lakinhutcherson)

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Youth & College division of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is hosting a gathering of youth activists next month to organize and plan responses to new civil rights threats expected under the new administration and Congress in 2017.

Leaders of the youth wing of the NAACP, along with partners in Justice League New York and the Empowerment Movement will work together at the “People’s Inauguration” rally at Howard University in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, January 21 at 9 a.m. Grammy-nominated artist Chance the Rapper is scheduled to appear as a guest speaker.

The rally will re-unite allies and partners who helped register thousands of new and young voters during the 2016 election with the goal to launch a new era of activism and protest against potential threats from the presidency of Donald J. Trump. During the meeting, attendees will begin collaborating to unite together and stand for a progressive policy agenda in the coming months and years.

“We are faced with a moral and ethical crisis during this critical time in our nation’s history after the election of Donald J. Trump,’ said Stephen Green, director of the NAACP Youth & College Division. “This moment calls for young leaders to gather together and develop a strategy to protect the human and civil rights of all Americans through nonviolent resistance.”

#StayWokeAndFight is the name of the new initiative, and it is intended to provide direct actions, protests and other activism to oppose threats to civil rights, education investment, criminal justice reform and other areas of concern posed by the Trump administration that takes office on January 20.

Organizers also plan to host a “People’s Inaugural Ball” on Inauguration night. Registration is  open online for individuals and groups to join and attend at www.staywokeandfight.com.

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Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation’s oldest and largest nonpartisan civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities. You can read more about the NAACP’s work and our six “Game Changer” issue areas here.