Category: Justice

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

by Ashleigh Atwell via

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.”



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

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”

#MeToo Founder Tarana Burke to Publish Memoir “Where The Light Enters” via Simon & Schuster

National CARES Mentoring Movement's Third Annual For The Love Of Our Children Gala
Tarana Burke attends the National CARES Mentoring Movement’s third annual For The Love Of Our Children Gala on January 29, 2018 in New York City. (Photo: Bennett Raglin/Getty Images)

by Sameer Rao via

Tarana Burke first launched the #MeToo campaign in 2007 to build solidarity and healing power among Black girls and women who survived sexual assault. Nearly 11 years later, the organizer and activist will chronicle her and the movement’s journey in a memoir.

The Associated Press (The AP) reported today (February 2) that Burke is working with writer and fellow activist asha bandele on the upcoming book, titled “Where the Light Enters.” Simon & Schuster will publish it next year through 37 Ink, its imprint that previously released books by Issa Rae and Dr. Willie Parker.

Burke told The AP that the memoir will address her own “ordinary, extraordinary journey from victim to survivor to thriver,” as well as the evolution of the movement.

“The book will also help readers understand the often overlooked historical connections of the role sexual violence plays in communities of color, specifically Black communities, even today, while exploring ways the same communities have been both complicit and resilient,” Burke added. “More than anything, this memoir will provide survivors across the spectrum of sexual abuse a road map for healing that helps them understand that the ‘me too’ movement is more about triumph than trauma, and that our wounds, though they may never fully heal, can also be the key to our survival.”

via #MeToo Founder Tarana Burke Writes Memoir, ‘Where the Light Enters’ | Colorlines

GBN Celebrates Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2018 With Closer Look at Memorial in D.C.

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by Lori Lakin Hutcherson, GBN Editor-in-Chief

In April of 2017, I had the good fortune to visit the National Museum of African American History and Culture as part of a business trip. Once in Washington D.C. and at the National Mall, I was thrilled to learn that the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial was only a ten-minute walk away, so after my work was done, I headed over. Photos don’t do it justice, but it is an awesome space, and one I’d encourage every American to visit it if ever in our nation’s capital.  It’s the quotes that strike you first – the aesthetic beauty of the words coming out of the granite, then the meaning, then the context of each one of them. Like the MLK we know publicly, it is equal parts solemn, potent, righteous and wise.

I’ve since read that the grounds of the Memorial, which opened to to the public on August 22, 2011, cover four acres and includes the Stone of Hope, a granite statue of Dr. King carved by sculptor Lei Yixin. The inspiration for the memorial design is a line from King’s “I Have A Dream” speech: “Out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope.”  In a word, it is formidable. MLK stands as a beacon of strength, hope and possibility, despite seemingly insurmountable challenges and inequity and injustice. Reflecting upon the man, his journey and his words is of course doable from anywhere in any space, but there is something incredibly special about being to do it where he is honored in the same area as other lauded architects of this country such as Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson and George Washington.

There are fourteen quotes around the memorial – above are photos of the ones that I was able to get clear photos of before it started getting dark on my day. Enjoy and Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day!

Marian Spencer, Civil Rights Pioneer and Alumna of University of Cincinnati, Honored with Building on Campus

Marian Spencer (photo via


Marian Spencer, a civil rights leader and the first African American woman elected to the city council in Cincinnati, Ohio, is being recognized by having a dormitory on the campus of the University of Cincinnati named in her honor. Ironically, when Spencer was a student at the University of Cincinnati in the 1940s, she was not permitted to live in campus housing because of her race.

Spencer was born in 1920 in Gallipolis, Ohio. She lived with her grandfather who was a born a slave. As a child, she remembers watching the Ku Klux Klan parade in the street in front of her house.

Spencer joined the NAACP at the age of 13. She was the valedictorian of her high school class and earned a bachelor’s degree in English at the University of Cincinnati in 1942.

Spencer became active in the civil rights movement and was a major figure in the fight to desegregate the city schools and parks. She was the first woman to chair the Cincinnati chapter of the NAACP and in 1983 was elected to the city council. Spencer also served on the board of trustees of the University of Cincinnati.

The board of trustees recently announced that the university’s new high-rise residence hall on Campus Green will be known as Marian Spencer Hall.

Below is a video of Marian Spencer discussing her life story. More information is available in the book Keep on Fighting: The Life and Civil Rights Legacy of Marian A. Spencer (Ohio University Press, 2015).


Memphis Removes Two Confederate Statues Ahead of 50th Anniversary of MLK Assassination



On Wednesday night, the city of Memphis got rid of two Confederate statues, including a statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis. The first of the statues to be removed was of Confederate Lt. Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, a slave trader and a founder and “Grand Wizard” of the Ku Klux Klan, followed by the statue of Davis.

As police surrounded the scene with lights flashing, a jubilant crowd sang farewell to the statues: “Na na na na, na na na na, hey, hey, goodbye.”

Memphis is fast approaching the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. With that somber anniversary hanging over their heads, Memphis politicians suddenly lit a fire under their desire to get rid of the reminders of the Confederacy.

But the problem was the Tennessee Heritage Protection Act of 2016. That act prevented the removal of statues on public property without two-thirds of the board of the commission expressing their approval.

But facing the prospect of thousands of people coming to the city to celebrate MLK and finding Confederate statues there, the city worked around that law.

The kicker was the fact that statues “on public property” were affected by the law. On Wednesday, then, the city council let the mayor sell the parks to Memphis Greenspace Inc., a private nonprofit set up by Shelby County Commissioner Van Turner and others. Hours later, the statues, now on private property, were removed.

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

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