Category: Protests

And The Children Shall Lead Them: Georgetown University Students Vote to Pay Fee to Benefit Descendants of Enslaved People Sold By School

Georgetown University Healy Hall (photo via wikipedia.org)

According to jbhe.com, the student body of Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. recently voted on a proposal to add a semester fee of $27.20 that would go toward a fund to benefit descendants of the 272 enslaved persons once owned and then sold in 1838 by the university to pay off debt. The referendum passed by a vote of 2,541 to 1,304, which means nearly two-thirds of enrolled students are in favor of the new fee.

“The university values the engagement of our students and appreciates that 3,845 students made their voices heard in yesterday’s election,” said Todd Olson, Georgetown’s Vice President for Student Affairs, in an official statement. “Our students are contributing to an important national conversation and we share their commitment to addressing Georgetown’s history with slavery.”

Georgetown administrators, however, have said the student referendum is nonbinding, and the school’s 39-member board of directors would have to vote on the measure, according to the school’s student newspaper, the Hoya.

If Georgetown’s board approves, reports The Huffington Post, it would be one of the first major U.S. institutions to create a fund for slavery reparations.

Critics of the reparations fund have argued that it should not be current students’ responsibility to atone for the school’s past.

Like many American institutions in recent years, Georgetown has been grappling with its role in slavery. Last year, Georgetown issued a formal apology to the descendants of the 272 slaves and announced a policy to give them priority in admissions. The university also renamed two campus buildings, including one in honor of Isaac Hawkins, the first person listed in the 1838 sale.

Nationally, the issue of reparations has been in the spotlight lately. Earlier this week, the New York Times published an opinion piece entitled “When Slaveowners Got Reparations”, pointing out how President Lincoln signed a bill in 1862 that paid up to $300 to slaveholders for every enslaved person freed when he emancipated those in bondage in Washington D.C. In 2014, journalist and best-selling author Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote “The Case for Reparations,” for The Atlantic, highlighting the topic, and even typically conservative NY Times writer David Brooks wrote in March why he’s come around to the cause.

Several 2020 Democratic presidential contenders have expressed support, including Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), who this week announced legislation to study the issueSens. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) also have called for a closer look at the issue.

Bronx Students Protesting for Change Declare Victory After Three-Day Lockout of Administration Sparked by Racist Video

According to bronx.news12.com, after days of students protesting for change at the Ethical Culture Fieldston School in Bronx, NY, their lockout of administration has ended in victory.

Nearly 90 students took part in the lockout that started Monday, and some even slept at the school. Thirty students spent Wednesday afternoon and evening negotiating with board members and school administrators – alongside alumni mediators who were involved in a similar push for equality at the school almost 50 years ago.

The campaign for change was launched at Fieldston after a video surfaced recently showing students engaging in racist and hateful behavior a few years back.

Isbella Ali was one of the students who helped secure the changes, which include racial bias training for all staff and parents, recruiting more students and faculty of color, and introducing a mandatory black studies course to the curriculum.

“We’ll make sure that they implement the demands that they have agreed too,” says Ali.

The Board of Trustees signed off on 16 long-term improvements put forth by members of the “Students of Color Matter” movement. One of their demands for the administration was establishing a new system to report bias.

State Attorney General Letitia James released a statement saying, “Students in this state and around the country often learn about the importance of activism, civil rights, and social justice in their textbook, but rarely do they have the opportunity to live it.”

To see video: http://bronx.news12.com/story/40124399/fieldston-students-end-lock-out-claim-administration-accepted-demands

To read more: https://www.teenvogue.com/story/students-of-color-matter-are-protesting-at-ethical-culture-fieldston-school

Update: Honoring the Legacy of Marielle Franco from Los Angeles to New York

Today, March 14, 2019, marks one year after the assassination of Brazilian Councilwoman Marielle Franco, who fought tirelessly for the rights of women, the poor and the Black communities in her native country. Two recent events in the United States were held in celebration of her too-short-yet-impactful life, and more are listed below:

International Women’s Day Honor – The Bronx, NY

A seventh grade class at Fannie Lou Hamer Middle School selected Marielle Franco as their honoree this year for International Women’s Day. Shirley Phillips, CEO and Founder of Go Girlz Inc., stated, “Marielle ignited a new generation of young activists willing to protect her legacy. These students did all the artwork themselves. I did nothing except direct and lead them to research.”

Fight Like Marielle Franco – Lute Como Marielle Franco – Los Angeles, CA

The L.A. Chapter of Coletivo Por Um Brasil Democratico gathered a group of music artists, activists and scholars together at Los Angeles City Hall for a tribute of heartfelt music, teary-eyed speeches, and readings of one of Marielle’s essays in Portuguese, Spanish and English. Continue reading “Update: Honoring the Legacy of Marielle Franco from Los Angeles to New York”

Chicago Police Officer Convicted of Second-Degree Murder in Shooting of Laquan McDonald

(photo via aljazeera.com)

by Jaweed Kaleem via latimes.com

A jury has found white Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke guilty of second-degree murder in the 2014 high-profile shooting death of a black 17-year-old, Laquan McDonald. He was also found guilty of 16 counts of aggravated battery.

The verdict marks the first time in five decades that a Chicago police officer has been found guilty of murder in a shooting.

The shooting led to widespread protests and political upheaval in the city, as many residents viewed it as a clear case of police abuse. Dashboard camera video, which a court forced the city to release in 2015, showed that McDonald was shot as he was walking away from Van Dyke and continued to be hit by bullets as he writhed on the ground. In all, Van Dyke shot McDonald 16 times in less than 15 seconds.

The murder verdict, announced in a courtroom three miles from the site of the shooting, means Van Dyke will face between four and 20 years in prison. He could face additional time for aggravated battery.

The killing happened on Oct. 20, 2014, after police received reports that somebody was breaking into vehicles in a trucking yard. Officers began following McDonald, who had a 3-inch folding knife.

They radioed a request for an officer with a Taser, but Van Dyke fired before that officer arrived. Van Dyke was charged with murder, aggravated battery and official misconduct.

During the trial, prosecutors argued that Van Dyke intended to kill the teen even though he was not a threat to Van Dyke’s life or that of other officers. Van Dyke and his lawyers argued the opposite: that McDonald seemed dangerous and had waved his knife at the officer even after falling to the ground.

Illinois law authorizes an officer to use deadly force when it’s “necessary to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or such other person” or “necessary to prevent the arrest from being defeated by resistance or escape.”

The 12-member jury, which civil rights groups criticized for including only one black juror even though African Americans make up 31% of the city’s population, began deliberations on Thursday after three weeks of proceedings that included more than 40 witnesses.

Over the years, the case led to the resignations of a county prosecutor and the police superintendent as well as criticism of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who said last month that he would not run for reelection.

The killing also led to an investigation of Chicago policing by the Department of Justice, which was released last year and found that officers routinely violated the civil rights of minorities and treated them as “animals or subhuman.”

Last year, two former and one current officer were charged in conspiring to cover up for Van Dyke after the shooting. Those officers will go to trial later in the year.

Source: http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-jason-van-dyke-verdict-2018-story.html

Colin Kaepernick Named Face of Nike’s 30th Anniversary of ‘Just Do It’ Campaign

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

According to hollywoodreporter.com, Nike unveiled the face of its campaign celebrating 30 years of its “Just do it” campaign – none other than that of Colin Kaepernick.  In the ad, the former NFL quarterback is looking at the camera, and printed over the image is: “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything. #JustDoIt.”

Kaepernick has been a Nike athlete since 2011, but the Super Bowl QB has not played on a team since 2016. Kaepernick created a national firestorm when he began kneeling during the National Anthem in an effort to protest African-American inequality and police brutality in America.  Since then, a number of players on all teams have kneeled or raised a fist during the anthem for the same protest.

Last season, as the debate over protesting was burning ever hotter, the NFL and the NFL Players Association defended the right for those who wanted to protest peacefully.

According to bleacherreport.com, Kaepernick opted out of his contract with the Niners in March 2017 and hasn’t been able to find a new team since. An April visit with the Seattle Seahawks was postponed after he did not assure the franchise he’d stand for the anthem if signed, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick told Steve Wyche of NFL Media about the decision he made in 2016. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

The 30-year-old quarterback filed a collusion grievance against the league, which claimed he was being kept out of the league because of the protests he started. His argument received a boost last week when arbitrator Stephen B. Burbank ruled there was enough evidence to require a full hearing.

Although Kaepernick has received numerous honors for his efforts, including being named GQ magazine’s Citizen of the Year for 2017, the movement he started remains polarizing.

Meanwhile, NFL owners approved anthem rules in May that would force players to stand if they are on the field or they must remain in the locker room during the anthem. Teams with players who did not comply with the new policy would be subject to league fines, and teams could also hand out individual punishments. Those guidelines are on hold, however, as discussions between the NFL and the players’ union continue with the 2018 season set to start this Thursday.

HISTORY: Meet Solitude, the Great Warrior Woman of Guadeloupe who Fought Against French Troops in 1802 while Pregnant

Statue of Solitude of Guadeloupe

by Mildred Europa Taylor via face2faceafrica.com

“Live free or die” were Solitude’s last words when she was executed for her involvement in the 1802 slave rebellion in Guadeloupe.

Born in slavery in the plantations of Guadeloupe in 1772, Solitude’s father was a French sailor and her mother was an African woman who was reportedly raped during a voyage on the slave ship.

A beautiful woman with a brown skin and charming eyes which were of different colouration, Solitude was admired by many. When her mother fled the plantation where she was enslaved, Solitude was left all alone with her enslavers.

Slavery was abolished in 1794 in the French colonies due to the Haitian slave revolt. The French government took that move in order to avoid a generalized slave revolt in all its colonies.

But eight years after the abolition, Napoleon Bonaparte restored slavery in the French colonies and sent about 3,500 troops led by General Antoine Richepance to Guadeloupe to enforce that decree.

Solitude was freed in the first abolition of 1794, but after Napoleon’s decree, she was classified as a “maroon” and joined a group of freedom fighters that were led by men such as Louis Delgrès, Ignace, Paleme and Jacquet.

They organized as a small army and fought against the French troops. On May 10, 1802, Delgrès launched a proclamation entitled “To the whole universe, the last cry of innocence and despair”.

Solitude, though a few months pregnant, joined this fight against Richepance’s troops. She was said to be a fierce and fearless warrior who “pushed herself and her belly into the heart of the battles” at Dole, Trou-aux-chiens, Fond-Bananier, and Capesterre.

“From victory to victory, and then from setback to setback, she pushed herself and her womb all the way up into the mountains before the final defeat,” according to accounts. After eighteen days of combat, Richepance’s side overpowered the rebels and Delgrès and his comrades died in an explosion.

Solitude got injured in the explosion and was captured and sentenced to death. But since the child in her womb was to become the property of her slave owner, she was temporarily pardoned and her execution was rescheduled to the day after the birth.

She gave birth on November 28, 1802, and on the morning of the following day, the greatest heroine of the revolution, who was now 30 years, stepped out of jail peacefully while, according to accounts, maternity’s milk slowly stained her nightshirt.

She was then executed with no one knowing the whereabouts of her child.

Solitude has since been described as the symbol of Caribbean women who fought to protect the ideals of equality and freedom. Her name is still on the lips of many, and now graces squares and avenues in Guadeloupe. According to accounts, she has also been featured in a poem, a song, a library, and a museum room.

A statue honouring Solitude was erected in 1999 in the community called les Abymes (Guadeloupe).

Source: https://face2faceafrica.com/article/meet-the-great-warrior-woman-of-guadeloupe-who-fought-against-french-troops-in-1802-while-pregnant

Civil Rights Activist Rev. James Lawson Honored with New Scholarship at Vanderbilt University

Rev. James Lawson (l) and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (photo via ocregister.com)

via jbhe.com

A new scholarship fund has been established at Vanderbilt University to honor James M. Lawson Jr., a leading figure in the civil rights movement and an associate of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The new scholarship was made possible by a gift from Doug Parker, an alumnus of the Graduate School of Management at Vanderbilt, the CEO of American Airlines, and a new trustee of the university, and his wife Gwen.

The new scholarships will be given to students from underrepresented groups who have shown a commitment to civil rights and social justice.

Lawson, enrolled at the Vanderbilt Divinity School in 1958. While a student he helped organize sit-ins at lunch counters in downtown Nashville. In 1960, he was expelled from the university for his participation in civil rights protests.

Lawson completed his divinity studies at Boston University and then served as director of nonviolent education for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. From 1974 to 1999, Rev. Lawson was the pastor of the Holman United Methodist Church in Los Angeles.

Lawson returned to Vanderbilt as a distinguished visiting professor form 2006 to 2009. An endowed chair at the Divinity School was named in his honor in 2007.

Source: https://www.jbhe.com/2018/07/new-scholarship-at-vanderbilt-university-honors-rev-james-lawson/

Congressman John Lewis Inspires #FamiliesBelongTogether Crowd: ‘It’s Time for Some of Us to Get in Good Trouble’

Congressman John Lewis at Families Belong Together rally (photo via nbcnews.com)

by Kia Morgan-Smith via thegrio.com

You can always count on Civil rights icon, Congressman John Lewis to be fired up and ready to fight the good fight and he’s stepping up to the frontlines of the immigration debate.

Hundreds of thousands of protesters gathered nationwide over the weekend to  share their determination to fight the Trump administrations heartless decision to separate families seeking asylum.

They demanded the government quickly reunite families, their calls repeated from Washington to Los Angeles, to Chicago, Atlanta, Milwaukee, San Francisco and beyond.
According to CNN, protesters also marched by the White House in Washington and the Trump International Hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue. They reportedly yelled, “shame, shame, shame” and “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Donald trump has got to go.”
And in Atlanta, John Lewis was ready to inspire protestors with a message honed over the years he marched alongside Dr. Martin Luther King Jr and others.

“Look, you know, I’ve been talking for some time and getting in trouble. It’s time for some of us to get in good trouble, necessary trouble,” the venerable Democrat told the crowd at the Families Belong Together rally in Atlanta.

“In the final analysis, we may have to turn America upside down to set it right side up, but whatever we do, do it in an orderly, peaceful and nonviolent fashion,” he said.

Lewis shared the sentiments of Rep. Maxine Waters who has energized her base with fiery speeches calling for disgruntled Americans to confront Trump administration officials after migrant children were snatched and separated from their mothers because of Trump’s harsh immigration policies.

Lewis also wrote a letter in June criticizing Trump’s immigration policy and calling it a “shame, a disgrace and an outrage.”

John Lewis urged the crowd to stay passionate, but peaceful. “Never, ever, ever hate.”

Source: https://thegrio.com/2018/07/02/congressman-john-lewis-inspires-immigration-crowd-its-time-for-some-of-us-to-get-in-good-trouble/

Activist and Educator Angela Davis’ Papers Acquired by Harvard University’s Schlesinger Library (VIDEO)

Detail photos show materials from the papers of Angela Davis that are now housed at the Schlesinger Library. (Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer)

by Colleen Walsh via news.harvard.edu

For almost 60 years Angela Davis has been for many an iconic face of feminism and counterculture activism in America. Now her life in letters and images will be housed at Harvard University.

Radcliffe College‘s Schlesinger Library has acquired Davis’ archive, a trove of documents, letters, papers, photos, and more that trace her evolution as an activist, author, educator, and scholar. The papers were secured with support from Harvard’s Hutchins Center for African & African American Research.

The FBI wanted poster for Davis (Courtesy Schlesinger Library)

“My papers reflect 50 years of involvement in activist and scholarly collaborations seeking to expand the reach of justice in the world,” Davis said in a statement. “I am very happy that at the Schlesinger Library they will join those of June Jordan, Patricia Williams, Pat Parker, and so many other women who have been advocates of social transformation.”

Jane Kamensky, Carl and Lily Pforzheimer Foundation Director of the Schlesinger Library, sees the collection yielding “prize-winning books for decades as people reckon with this legacy and put [Davis] in conversation with other collections here and elsewhere.”

When looking for new material, Kamensky said the library seeks collections “that will change the way that fields know what they know,” adding that she expects the Davis archive to inspire and inform scholars across a range of disciplines.

Henry Louis Gates Jr. said that he’s followed Davis’ life and work ever since spotting a “Free Angela” poster on the wall at his Yale dorm. Gates, the Alphonse Fletcher Jr. University Professor, has worked to increase the archival presence of African-Americans who have made major contributions to U.S. society, politics, and culture. He called the Davis papers “a marvelous coup for Harvard.”

“She’s of enormous importance to the history of political thought and political activism of left-wing or progressive politics and the history of race and gender in the United States since the mid-’60s,” said Gates, who directs the Hutchins Center. “No one has a more important role, and now scholars will be able to study the arc of her thinking, the way it evolved and its depth, by having access to her papers.”

The acquisition is in keeping with the library’s efforts to ensure its collections represent a broad range of life experiences. In 2013 and 2014 an internal committee developed a diverse wish list, “and a foundational thinker and activist like Angela Davis was very naturally at the top,” said Kamensky.

Kenvi Phillips, hired as the library’s first curator for race and ethnicity in 2016, met with Davis in Oakland last year to collect the papers with help from two archivists. Together they packed 151 boxes of material gathered from a storage site, an office, and Davis’ home. Continue reading “Activist and Educator Angela Davis’ Papers Acquired by Harvard University’s Schlesinger Library (VIDEO)”

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/