LOCAL HERO: How Perman Hardy, 59, Helped Drive Doug Jones to Victory in Alabama’s Black Belt with her SUV

Perman Hardy has driven Lowndes County voters to the polls for 25 years. (PHOTO: Connor Sheets)

If you live in Lowndes County and are of voting age, it’s a safe bet that Perman Hardy has spoken with you about voting at some point in the past 25 years.

As one of the thousands of sharecroppers who worked white men’s land in Lowndes County over the years, 59-year-old Hardy recalls picking cotton after school growing up. She eventually finished her education, bought her own home, and had a successful career as a home health nurse.

But for the past two-and-a-half decades, Hardy has dedicated much of her free time to another pursuit: trying to ensure that every single person in Lowndes County shows up to the polls for every election in Alabama. A native of the unincorporated community of Collirene, she has done about as much as one person possibly could to boost turnout in the impoverished, majority-black county with a population of just 10,458 people.

“That’s my goal is to make sure everyone votes. That’s always been my goal. This is what I do every election,” she said as she steered her forest-green Chevrolet Tahoe through Collirene, a rural area that was once home to several cotton plantations that employed generations of slaves and sharecroppers. “We’re in an epidemic poverty county so it’s so important for us to vote today,” she told AL.com. “I took some people today who’ve never cast a ballot before.”

On Tuesday, like she says she does every time Alabamians head to the polls, Hardy spent more than 10 hours driving registered voters to polling stations who did not have transportation or were otherwise unable to make the trip without help. Over the course of the day, she personally drove more than 50 people to polling sites across Lowndes County.

Most of the people Hardy transported Tuesday were black supporters of Democrat Doug Jones, which contributed to his win in the Black Belt county, where 3,779 people voted for Jones and just 988 voted for Republican Roy Moore, a margin of 79.1 percent to 20.7 percent. Black voters played a decisive role in Jones’s victory in the hotly contested Senate election, with 96 percent of African-Americans voting for Jones, versus the 30 percent of white voters who backed him Tuesday, according to a Washington Post poll. Continue reading

New Study Shows News Outlets Skew Towards Negative Portrayals of Black Families, Contrary to Government Data

Photo: ABC

Photo: ABC

via blavity.com

According to the Washington Post, a recent Color of Change and Family Story study found that the news media has had a significant hand in negatively skewing the perceptions of black families.

The study’s researchers reviewed over 800 local and national news pieces published or aired between January 2015 and December 2016, sampling major networks such as ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, Fox News and MSNBC as well as major print publications such as The Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, USA Today, Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune.

The study — conducted by  University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign communications professor Travis L. Dixon — found that national news outlets were more likely to show black families as broken and dysfunctional while white families were depicted as possessing social stability.

These images are not only distorted, but contradict government data.

Dixon found that black families represented 59 percent of poor people portrayed in media, but actually only make up of 27 percent of Americans living in poverty. In contrast, white families only make up 17 percent of the poor representated in media, but make up 66 percent in reality. As far as criminal depictions go, black criminals represented 37 percent of the media’s criminals while only 26 percent of those arrested on criminal charges are black in real life. White criminals represented 28 percent the criminals portrayed in the media, but make up 77 percent of real life’s crime suspects.

The report argues that constant depictions of black people living in poor, welfare-dependent and broken homes due to absentee fathers has created a negative image of black families in general.

“This leaves people with the opinion that black people are plagued with self-imposed dysfunction that creates family instability and therefore, all their problems,” said Dixon.

Further, these depictions can affect black families on a systematic level. Dixon noted that the images can spark political rhetoric and the powerful buying into these narratives are what causes Congress to “gut social safety net programs,” bosses to implement harsher work and drug testing requirements and general disdain for welfare programs.

The study also notes that during the Great Depression, white families suffering from poverty were presented in the media as having run into “hard luck,” and that there were campaigns to “help them through tough times.”

However, over time, the media and political leaders have “worked to pathologize black families in the American imagination to justify slavery, Jim Crow, mass incarceration, widespread economic inequity and urban disinvestment — as well as to gain and maintain political and social power,” argues Nicole Rodgers, founder of Family Story.

And this effort has borne terrible fruit, according to Color of Change’s executive director, Rashad Robinson, who said, “There are dire consequences for black people when these outlandish archetypes rule the day: abusive treatment by police, less attention from doctors, harsher sentences from judges.”

Overall, the report concluded that in order to make real change in the news industry, stricter sourcing requirements will have to be implemented, journalists must be encouraged to provide social and historical context and the editorial standards process should include people of color.

Source: https://blavity.com/color-change-study-news-outlets-promote-false-negative-portrayals-black-families-reality

‘Englewood Four’ to Receive $31 Million in Settlement of Chicago Wrongful Conviction Case

Harold Richardson, from left, Vincent Thames, Terrill Swift and Michael Saunders were convicted of a 1994 rape and murder but later were cleared. (Terrence Antonio James/Chicago Tribune)

by Fran Spielman via chicagosuntimes.com

Four Englewood teenagers coerced into confessing to a rape and murder they did not commit before being exonerated by DNA evidence will divide a $31 million settlement from Chicago taxpayers, one of the largest in the city’s history.

Michael Saunders, Vincent Thames, Harold Richardson and Terrill Swift were between 15 and 18 when they were arrested for the November 1994 murder of Nina Glover. An autopsy concluded that the 30-year-old prostitute had been strangled. Her naked body was discovered behind a liquor store at 1400 W. Garfield wrapped in a bloody sheet and stuffed in a dumpster.

In 2011, a judge overturned the conviction of the “Englewood Four,” freeing Richardson and Saunders after they spent 17 years behind bars. Swift and Thames, who served more than a dozen years, had already been released.

“These were four young men who no way possible they could have committed the crime they were manipulated and coerced into confessing to. They all spent . . . over a decade in prison for something they didn’t do. The number is very large and the magnitude of the injury is very large,” said attorney Locke Bowman, who represented Swift.

Bowman said the $31 million settlement would not have been possible if former assistant state’s attorney Terence Johnson hadn’t “broken ranks from the other law enforcement personnel” and provided a statement to the FBI that confirmed what the Englewood Four had long maintained.

“This was psychological coercion primarily in all four of the cases. They were tricked and coerced into confessing . . . They were fed the information. And they were the victims of police overreaching,” Bowman said Friday.

Continue reading

American Airlines Employees Must Take Anti-Racism Training Since NAACP Issued Travel Advisory

(photo via newsone.com)

via ktla.com

American Airlines is making employees undergo anti-racism training after the NAACP issued a “travel advisory” for the carrier in October. Starting in 2018, everyone at the company will need to complete annual implicit bias training, the company announced Thursday.

“We are proud of the diversity and inclusion initiatives already in place at American, but we know we can do even better. So we viewed the feedback as an opportunity,” CEO Doug Parker said in a letter to staff.

The training program’s curriculum is still being developed, and will be conducted both in-person and through an online module, according to a company spokeswoman. Parker said that airline executives met with NAACP leaders earlier Thursday.

In October, the NAACP issued a warning to black fliers, urging them to be careful when flying American Airlines. The organization said it had noticed “a pattern of disturbing incidents reported by African-American passengers, specific to American Airlines,” citing four examples of black fliers who were forced to give up their seats or were removed from flights.

The NAACP, in a statement released Friday, said the organization supports American’s plan, but will keep its travel advisory in place for now. “We think we’re on the right road, but the NAACP will continue to meet with Doug Parker and other senior‎ American Airline[s] employees to ensure that the company walks the walk as well as it talks the talk,” NAACP President Derrick Johnson said.

In addition to the implicit bias training, American is bringing in an independent firm to review its hiring practices, and has pledged to overhaul its system for managing discrimination complaints. “American Airlines can set a new standard in corporate diversity and inclusion, and we are humbled by the opportunity before us to do so,” Parker said.

Source: http://ktla.com/2017/12/01/american-airlines-employees-will-now-have-to-undergo-anti-racism-training/

In Honor of Rosa Parks Day, TV One Premieres “Behind The Movement” Trailer; Movie Slated to Air in February 2018

by Fisher Jack via eurweb.com

Rosa Parks’ refusal to give up her bus seat 62 years ago was only the beginning.

Premiering on TV One in February, Behind the Movement offers a closer look at how the history-making Montgomery Bus Boycott was planned in just three days and ultimately led to the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s.

A new trailer released today, provides a glimpse into Mrs. Parks’ thoughts as she sat on the bus that December evening.

“It was reported that I was tired and that wasn’t true,” states Meta Golding as Rosa Parks in the trailer. “I was tired of all the injustice, all the fear and indignity that they were putting us through. That’s the truth.”

meta golding as rosa parks

Meta Golding stars as Rosa Parks in TV One’s ‘Behind The Movement’ (photo via TV One)

Starring Meta Golding (“The Hunger Games”) as Rosa Parks, Isaiah Washington (“The 100”) as E.D. Nixon, Loretta Devine (“Waiting to Exhale”) as Jo Ann Robinson, Roger Guenveur Smith (“American Gangster”) as Raymond Parks and Shaun Clay as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Behind the Movement reveals the untold story of how a group of everyday people decided this incident was the right time to take a stand for their civil rights and demand equal treatment.

Premiering during Black History Month, this original made-for-television movie honors the contributions of many unsung heroes of this watershed moment in the Civil Rights struggle. The film recounts the inner workings and behind the scenes preparation that took place during three intense days between the fateful evening when Parks refused to give up her seat through the launch of this significant protest. While Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a prominent leader of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, there was a chorus of lesser-known heroes, including Rosa Parks, who galvanized the most successful boycott of its time.

meta golding as rosa parks1

In a scene from TV One’s ‘Behind the Movement,’ Rosa (Golding) is finally allowed to make her one phone call to let her husband know she’s in jail (photo via TV One)

Behind the Movement is written by Katrina M. O’Gilvie and directed by Aric Avelino.  For TV One, Karen Peterkin is Director of Scripted Original Programming and shares Executive in charge of production duties with Tia A. Smith, Sr. Director of Original Programming & Production. Donyell McCullough is Senior Director of Talent & Casting; Robyn Greene-Arrington is VP of Original Programming, and D’Angela Proctor is Head of Original Programming and Production.

To read more, go to: http://www.eurweb.com/2017/12/in-honor-of-rosa-parks-day-tv-one-premieres-behind-the-movement-trailer-watch/

Michael B. Jordan to Star as Equal Justice Lawyer Bryan Stevenson in Drama ‘Just Mercy’ at Warner Bros.

by Justin Kroll via Variety.com

Michael B. Jordan has set legal drama “Just Mercy” as the next feature he will shoot, as Warner Bros. picks up the rights for the story.

The film was originally set up at Broad Green Pictures, but after the studio shuttered earlier this year, producers began looking for a new home, and Warner Bros. was eager to work with Jordan.

Sources say that Jordan would shoot “Just Mercy” at the beginning of 2018, and would follow that up with “Creed 2,” where he would reprise his role as Adonis Creed. “Creed 2” is slated to bow on Nov. 21, 2018. It’s currently unknown if it will stick to that date, but as of now, there’s no plan to move the release.

“Short Term 12” director Destin Cretton is helming and co-wrote the script with Andrew Lanham. Jordan will produce with Gil Netter. Niija Kuykendall will oversee for the studio.

Based on the book “Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption,” it follows the true story of Bryan Stevenson, a gifted young lawyer’s defense of the most vulnerable in our country and his fight for equal justice in a flawed legal system.

Along with “Just Mercy,” Jordan also recently set up his directing debut with “Stars Beneath Our Feet.” The actor is also gaining traction as a producer, as he is on board to produce a reboot of “The Thomas Crown Affair,” “Raising Dion,” and and untitled project with Tarell Alvin McCraney for OWN.

To read more, go to: http://variety.com/2017/film/news/michael-b-jordan-just-mercy-warner-bros-1202627412/

Federal Judge Catherine Perry Rules St. Louis Police Force Against Protestors Unconstitutional

Photo: St. Louis Public Radio

(Photo: St. Louis Public Radio)

via blavity.com

Wednesday, a federal judge placed restrictions on the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, claiming their conduct during recent protests has violated demonstrators’ constitutional rights.

U.S. District Judge Catherine Perry ruled that the plaintiffs in a lawsuit against St. Louis police “are likely to prevail on the merits of their claims” that their First and Fourth Amendment rights had been violated.

The case stems from protests which took place in September, following the “not guilty” verdict in the murder trial of Jason Stockley, a white police officer who shot and killed Anthony Lamar Smith, a black man, in 2011.

Perry found sufficient evidence that although there was no violence, police declared an assembly without taking the protesters’ rights and opinions into consideration. She also ruled that there was “no credible threat of force or violence to officers or property” when police rounded up citizens, including journalists, on Sept. 17. Following those arrests, the sitting head of the St. Louis MPD declared his department “owned” the night, as the officers mocked protesters by chanting “Whose streets? Our streets!”

Perry shared that officers had clearly retaliated against protected First Amendment speech simply because they did not prefer being criticized, and used chemical weapons to divert speech they didn’t favor.

“Plaintiffs’ evidence — both video and testimony ― shows that officers have exercised their discretion in an arbitrary and retaliatory fashion to punish protesters for voicing criticism of police or recording police conduct,” Perry wrote. “When all of the evidence is considered, plaintiffs have met their burden of showing that they are likely to succeed on their claim that defendant has a custom or policy of deploying hand-held pepper spray against citizens engaged in recording police or in expressive activity critical of police in retaliation for the exercise of their first amendment rights, in violation of the First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendments.”

Perry says police are not permitted to declare an unlawful assembly unless there’s a clear and present threat, and they cannot use the law to punish people engaged in protected activity, such as protesting. Perry additionally confirmed chemical agents can’t be used, unless there is probable cause to arrest, and police are not able to threaten to use chemical agents against anyone engaged in expressive, nonviolent activity.

In October, during a hearing, American Civil Liberties Union attorney Anthony Rothert proclaimed “pepper spray is the new fire hose,” and said officers were using pepper spray “arbitrarily, gratuitously and without warning.” We are hopeful that more injustices will be brought to light and rightfully punished, as well as justice be served as these officers and others misusing their duty to serve and protect are corrected.

To read more, go to: https://blavity.com/a-federal-judge-calls-st-louis-police-force-against-protestors-unconstitutional

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