City of Baltimore Removes Confederate Statues in Overnight Operation 

(Workers removed the Robert E. Lee and Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson monument in Baltimore. JERRY JACKSON / THE BALTIMORE SUN, VIA ASSOCIATED PRESS)

by Russell Goldman via nytimes.com

Statues dedicated to Confederate heroes were swiftly removed across Baltimore in the small hours of Wednesday morning, just days after violence broke out over the removal of a similar monument in neighboring Virginia.

Beginning soon after midnight on Wednesday, a crew, which included a large crane and a contingent of police officers, began making rounds of the city’s parks and public squares, tearing the monuments from their pedestals and carting them out of town.Small crowds gathered at each of the monuments and the mood was “celebratory,” said Baynard Woods, the editor at large of The Baltimore City Paper, who documented the removals on Twitter. “The police are being cheerful and encouraging people to take photos and selfies,” Mr. Woods said in an interview.

The statues were taken down by order of Mayor Catherine Pugh, after the City Council voted on Monday for their removal. The city had been studying the issue since 2015, when a mass shooting by a white supremacist at a historic black church in Charleston, S.C., prompted a renewed debate across the South over removing Confederate monuments and battle flags from public spaces.

To see more and read full article, go to: Baltimore Removes Confederate Statues in Overnight Operation – NYTimes.com

Marshawn Lynch Sits During National Anthem in Raiders Pre-season Game

Oakland Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch (24) sits during the national anthem prior to the team’s NFL preseason football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

by Jeremy Woo via si.com

Oakland Raiders player Marshawn Lynch appeared to stage a silent protest before Oakland’s preseason game against the Arizona Cardinals on Saturday, taking a seat during the playing of the national anthem. AP photographers snapped Lynch taking a seat on a cooler on the sidelines as the anthem played.

Lynch’s apparent protest comes in wake of this weekend’s violent white nationalist rallies in Charlottesville, Va. and falls in line with what Colin Kaepernick started around the NFL last season as players found ways to protest racism and police brutality during the playing of the anthem before games.In Charlottesville, white nationalists with torches marched, chanted racial slurs and attacked counter-protestors in Charlottesville on Friday and Saturday.  The situation escalated and resulted in one person’s death and 19 injured after a car driven by an angry member of a white nationalist group plowed over another group of counter-protestors.

LeBron James is chief among a number of other athletes who have spoken up against the violent, racist rhetoric on display. Lynch came out of a one-year retirement to join his hometown Raiders this season. He is expected to play a major role for the team this year.

To read more, go to: Marshawn Lynch sits during national anthem in Raiders preseason | SI.com

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe to White Nationalists: ‘There is No Place for You in America… Shame on You… You Are Anything But A Patriot’

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe (photo via variety.com)

by Ted Johnson via Variety.com

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe condemned the white supremacists whose rally in Charlottesville, Va. led to clashes and at least one death, telling the Nazi marchers that “there is no place for you here. There is no place for you in America… Shame on you. You pretend that you are patriots, but you are anything but a patriot,” he said.

McAuliffe appeared at a press conference in Charlottesville in the aftermath of the bloody confrontations on the street. Earlier in the day, he declared a state of emergency to assist authorities in the city in controlling the situation. Police said that a 32-year-old woman was killed as she was crossing the street and a car was driven into a crowd of counter-demonstrators. The driver of the vehicle has been apprehended and the case is being treated as a criminal homicide, with 19 more injured in the incident. Police have not released the name of the victim or the suspect.

State police also are investigating a helicopter crash that occurred in a wooded area near Charlottesville that occurred just before 5 p.m. ET on Saturday. A spokeswoman confirmed that two people were killed in the crash, but did not verify if the helicopter belonged to the Virginia State Police. Throughout the day, cable news networks played shocking and even chilling images of neo-Nazis and white nationalists marching in the streets of Charlottesville as they were protesting plans to remove a statute of Confederate general Robert E. Lee. They quickly clashed with counter-protesters before police declared an unlawful assembly and ordered them to disburse.

McAuliffe said that he spoke with Trump on Saturday and twice told him that “there has got to be a movement in this country to bring people together. The hatred and the rhetoric that has gone on and it’s intensified over the last couple of months is dividing this great nation.” Trump, too, responded with tweets and a statement calling for unity, and condemning “in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides.”

But he faced criticism for not specifically calling out the white supremacists or citing the car crash. Some members of Trump’s own party called on the President to specifically cite the Charlottesville tragedy as a terror attack, or to call out white nationalists.

To read full article, go to: Virginia Governor to White Nationalists: ‘No Place for You Here’ | Variety

Frederick Clay, Wrongfully Convicted of Murder, Wins Freedom Back after Nearly Four Decades in Prison

Frederick Clay, center, who was wrongfully convicted of a 1979 murder, leaves Suffolk Superior Court with attorneys Jeff Harris, left, and Lisa Kavanaugh yesterday. (photo credit: Angela Rowlings)

by Chris Villani via bostonherald.com

A Boston man who has maintained his innocence through nearly four decades behind bars was granted his freedom after Suffolk, MA prosecutors admitted his 1981 murder conviction was tainted by discredited witness identification and police tactics. “To quote Sam Cooke, ‘it’s been a long time coming,’ ” Frederick Clay said after walking out of the Suffolk Superior courtroom yesterday. “It’s been 38 years for something I didn’t do. I’m overwhelmed and sort of nervous.”

Clay, 53, emerged from the Boston courthouse with his arms raised and a wide smile on this face, having last experienced freedom when Jimmy Carter was in the White House and “Bad Girls” by Donna Summer was at the top of the charts. He was convicted of the 1979 execution-style murder of 28-year-old cab driver Jeffrey Boyajian, who was shot five times in the head at a Roslindale housing project.

“From day one, they told me I was facing natural life in prison,” Clay told reporters, “and that scared me. But I was not going to voluntarily put myself in prison for something I didn’t do.” Professing his innocence cost Clay at his first parole hearing in 2015, when the three board members who denied his release wrote that he had “yet to accept responsibility for his actions.”

One of the witnesses to the crime said he was sure about Clay’s guilt after being hypnotized by police, then a widely-accepted practice thought to enhance recollection. A second witness ID’d Clay after being promised he and his family could be relocated from their housing project if he helped investigators. Another man convicted in the slaying, James Watson, is still behind bars and prosecutors remain confident of his involvement.

Boyajian’s brother Jerry spoke in support of releasing Clay.“All my family has ever wanted was justice for my brother,” Boyajian said, recalling his older brother as a “jock” with a great sense of humor. “I really feel that justice failed Mr. Clay and, in that respect, it also failed my brother.”

To read full article, go to: Frederick Clay wins freedom, innocence back after nearly four decades in prison | Boston Herald

U.K.’s Positive.News Publishes Good Black News Feature – “Black News Matters: the Website Dedicated to Positive News about People of Color”

Good Black News Founder and Editor-in-Chief Lori Lakin Hutcherson (photo: Atsushi Nishijima)

interview by Lucy Purdy via positive.news

Lori Lakin Hutcherson was shocked when she was unable to find a website dedicated to positive news about black people. So she started one 

Why did you start the Facebook page that became the website, Good Black News?

I actually started Good Black News by accident. It was 2010 and, in my work as a film and television writer and producer, I was collaborating with author Terry McMillan on the film adaptation of her new book. Before our writing session started one morning, she was telling me about a story she’d barely come across in the news: at an all-black academy in Chicago, 100 per cent of the seniors were accepted to college. Terry was wondering why there was no major news media coverage of this great achievement, and lamenting that the mainstream media primarily focused on negative news about African Americans. I figured that there must be a site dedicated solely to positive African American news, so searched the internet. To my shock, I couldn’t find one. In that moment I decided I had to create it, even if just a page on Facebook. So I did. And it slowly grew from there.

How do you think the mainstream media is biased towards people of colour? What damage can stereotypes do?

The media bias reflects the bias intrinsic in US culture and society. People of colour are often seen as threats or exceptions, but not commonly enough as typical human beings. More often than not, you’ll see adjectives or nouns that refer to someone’s ethnicity or skin colour rather than their name or age, or you will see images that are dour or intense instead of happy or light. The damage these micro-dehumanisations can do is reinforce prejudices about people of colour, as well as teach and perpetuate them. So every time I put up a positive story, I am conscious that I am combatting all of that, as well as offering a bit of uplift for anyone who comes across it.

What steps do you take with your stories; for example with headlines and photos, to make them more representative and balanced?

First of all, I make sure that they are accurate and informative, and properly credited and sourced. Secondly, I like to find the best image possible to represent the person or the subject of the story; if all anyone sees is the photo or the headline, I want to make sure either or both offer a story, as well as positive impact. Lastly, I like to put names in headlines. A person’s name offers individuality and acknowledgement that I think impresses on readers a level of humanity that descriptors just don’t. It may seem subtle, but to me, it’s not. Imagine, for example, the differing impact of The Autobiography of a Black Muslim v The Autobiography of Malcolm X or The Diary of a Jewish Girl v The Diary of Anne Frank.

What reactions have you had to Good Black News? Have any surprised you?

The majority have been positive, which isn’t surprising as much as it is heartwarming. It’s humbling knowing that what myself, my fellow editor Lesa Lakin and our volunteer contributors do is helping so many people access information and stories they might not otherwise have heard of. What has surprised me – even though, thankfully, it’s not a large number – is that there are people who spend their time trying to troll and mock and denigrate a site dedicated to sharing positive stories about people of colour. Each time I come across a wayward comment, reply or tweet and block it, I think ‘Who has time for this kind of vitriol in their life?

People of colour are often seen as threats or exceptions, but not commonly enough as typical human beings

Which sorts of stories are most popular?

Education stories. Whether it’s a boy or girl genius graduating college at 14, or a formerly homeless teen going to the Ivy League, or senior citizens finally getting their high school or college diplomas, education stories are always popular. Education has been the most accessible and democratic way people of colour have been able to improve their lives in the US. To go from it being a crime to learn to read and write, to earning PhDs and running universities – yeah, those stories always resonate.

To read rest of article, go to: Black news matters: the website dedicated to positive news about people of colour

Procter & Gamble Releases Powerful Video “The Talk” to Increase Awareness Around Bias as Part of “My Black is Beautiful” Campaign

(image via “The Talk” by Procter & Gamble)

by Lilly Workneh via huffintonpost.com

A new video released Monday titled “The Talk” compellingly tackles the impact of racial bias through the lens of black parents in America. The video ― which was released by My Black Is Beautiful, a beauty brand owned by Procter & Gamble ― is a powerful two-minute clip that explores racial bias by depicting some of the burdens placed on parents of black children, who are challenged with having necessary but difficult discussions with their children about their survival and self-esteem.

The video follows several black parents who have talks with their children about the ways in which their skin color can affect how they are perceived and treated by others. In one scenario, a mom asks her son if he has his ID before heading to practice, in case he is stopped by police. In another, a mother instructs her daughter, who is a new driver, on what to do in case she is pulled over by a cop. In the opening scene, a young girl is seen telling her mom that she was told she was “pretty for a black girl,” to which her mother later responds sternly: “You’re not pretty for a black girl. You’re beautiful period.”

“Our goal with ‘The Talk’ is to help raise awareness about the impact of bias,” Damon Jones, director of global company communications at Procter & Gamble, told HuffPost. “We are also hopeful that we can make progress toward a less biased future by recognizing the power of people of all backgrounds and races showing up for one another.”

With recent studies reporting that black girls are seen as less innocent than white girls as young as the age of 5 and with black boys frequently seen as a threat in the eyes of law enforcement, parents of black children often live in worry and discomfort. Jones said he hopes videos like this help to raise social consciousness around the affect bias can have in all of our lives and remind people of the many ways bias can take form across genders, races, ages, weight, sexual orientations and more.

“It’s time for everyone to #TalkAboutBias,” reads one of the last messages in the video, encouraging people to continue the conversation online by using the hashtag. “Let’s all talk about the talk so we can end the need to have it.”

Source: Powerful New Video Tackles Racial Bias To Remind Kids Their ‘Black Is Beautiful’ | HuffPost

Civil Rights Icon Fannie Lou Hamer Biopic to be Scripted by “Remember The Titans” Writer Gregory Allen Howard

Fannie Lou Hamer (photo via powerpacplus.org)

by Mike Fleming Jr. via deadline.com

Remember the Titans scribe Gregory Allen Howard has teamed with Chris Columbus1492 production company to tell the story of Fannie Lou Hamer, a sharecropper with a sixth-grade education who became an important voting-rights advocate and founded the first integrated political party in the South in mid-’60s Mississippi.

Hamer grew up in a family of 20 kids and picked cotton for most of her life. After going to a doctor to have a tumor removed, she discovered she was given a hysterectomy at age 47 by a white doctor, without her consent, because of a movement by the state to sterilize women to reduce the number of poor blacks in Mississippi.

Hamer became a Civil Rights activist, surviving assassination attempts

Gregory Allen Howard (photo via deadline.com)

and a near-fatal beating to get her moment at the Democratic National Convention, where she challenged President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1968 with her legendary, “Is This America?” speech.

While LBJ hastily called a ruse press conference in the hope of diverting attention away from her speech, Hamer’s powerful words were widely broadcast and reverberated around the world. Howard, who studied Hamer’s accomplishments as a college student, has long been obsessed with bringing her story to the screen. Hamer died in 1977.

To read more, go to: Civil Rights Icon Fannie Lou Hamer Movie; Gregory Allen Howard script | Deadline