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

Farewell FLOTUS: Watch Michelle Obama’s Final White House Speech (VIDEO)

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Michelle Obama (photo via npr.org)

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (follow @lakinhutcherson)

According to cnn.com, First Lady Michelle Obama gave her final White House remarks in an emotional speech today, thanking her supporters and saying, “being your first lady has been the greatest honor of my life and I hope I’ve made you proud.”

She included these powerful, encouraging thoughts in her last words to the public as FLOTUS:

I want our young people to know that they matter, that they belong,” Obama said, her voice breaking several times near the end of her remarks. “So don’t be afraid. You hear me, young people? Don’t be afraid. Be focused. Be determined. Be hopeful. Be empowered. Empower yourself with a good education. Then get out there and use that education to build a country worthy of you boundless promise. Lead by example with hope; never fear.

Watch her moving speech about education in its entirety below:

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

Kamala Harris Sworn in as California’s 1st Black U.S. Senator and 1st Indian American Senator – LA Times

U.S. Senator Kamala Harris (D) California [photo via latimes.com]

article by Sarah D. Wire via latimes.com

Before friends and family in a packed chamber, Kamala Harris was sworn in as California’s newest U.S. senator Tuesday morning. She became  the first black woman the Golden State has sent to the Senate and the first Indian American to ever serve in the body.

Harris, 52, a Democrat from Los Angeles, was sworn in by Vice President Joe Biden shortly after 9 a.m. PT as Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and her new Senate colleagues looked on. Harris’ husband, Los Angeles attorney Doug Emhoff, her stepchildren, brother-in-law Tony West, sister Maya Harris, extended family as well as several state officials from across the country who traveled to celebrate with the now former state attorney general watched from the gallery.

“Whatever advice she wants, all she has to do is ask,” Feinstein said. “I have said to her that I would like to have a close relationship.”

Feinstein and Harris met repeatedly in the weeks since the election, with Feinstein sharing advice on how to set up the largest Senate office in the country, including how to deal with the up to 100,000 emails, letters and phone calls that can come into a California senator’s office in a given week.

Harris, one of seven new senators, replaces Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer, who retired after 24 years in the Senate.

To read full article, go to: Kamala Harris sworn in as first Indian American senator and California’s first black senator – LA Times

President Barack Obama Ranked by Gallup Poll as Most Admired Man of 2016

President Obama Signs 21st Century Cures Act

U.S. President Barack Obama delivers remarks before signing the 21st Century Cures Act into law at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building December 13, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Chip Somodevilla—Getty Images)

article by Sarah Begley via time.com

For the ninth year in a row, respondents to a Gallup poll ranked President Barack Obama as the most admired man in America.

Among women, Hillary Clinton was the most admired for the 15th year in a row, and the 21st time overall. Since 1993, her first year as First Lady, she has only lost out on the honor three times: in 1995 and 1996, to Mother Teresa, and in 2001, to then-First Lady Laura Bush. Current First Lady Michelle Obama came in second among women, while Donald Trump came in second among men (15% of respondents mentioned him, compared with the 22% who mentioned Obama and the 12% who picked Clinton).

To read full article, go to: http://time.com/4618890/barack-obama-most-admired-man-2016/