Category: Politics

Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, Widow of Rep. Elijah Cummings, to Run for His Seat in Congress

Maya Rockeymoore Cummings and the late Elijah Cummings (photo via heavy.com)

According to baltimoresun.com, Maryland Democratic Party Chairwoman Maya Rockeymoore Cummings,  widow of the late U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings, is running for her husband’s seat in Congress.

“I am, of course, devastated at the loss of my spouse, but his spirit is with me,” Rockeymoore Cummings, 48, said. “I’m going to run this race and I’m going to run it hard, as if he’s still right here by my side.”

Cummings passed away on Oct. 17 from cancer after serving more than two decades in the U.S. House of Representatives. He left a record of fighting for the needy and battling for social justice and voting rights.

Rockeymoore Cummings, a public policy consultant who is founder of the Washington consulting firm Global Policy Solutions LLC and a former 2018 candidate for governor, said her husband told her months before he died he would like for her to succeed him.

Rockeymoore Cummings plans to kick off her campaign Tuesday at her home office in Baltimore’s Madison Park neighborhood. She said she will focus on issues important to the late congressman, such as battling the opioid crisis and “fighting for the soul of our democracy” against the Trump administration, but also on her areas of expertise, which include health and education policy.

Rockeymoore Cummings also said she will have a preventative double mastectomy Friday. She said her mother died from breast cancer in 2015, and her sister was diagnosed last year with the disease.

To read more: https://www.baltimoresun.com/politics/bs-md-pol-maya-cummings-20191112-ptsbywxf45ecjgyu5ovdeyqvyy-story.html

R.I.P. U.S. Congressman and Chair of House Oversight and Reform Committee Elijah E. Cummings, 68

Rep. Elijah Cummings, a key Trump opponent, dies at 68
— Read on www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2019-10-17/us-representative-elijah-cummings-dies

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Awarded 2019 Nobel Peace Prize

Ethiopian Prime Minister Ahmed Ali (photo via commons.wikipedia.org)

According to the New York TimesAbiy Ahmed, the prime minister of Ethiopia, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for his work in restarting peace talks with neighboring Eritrea and beginning to restore freedoms in his country after decades of political and economic repression.

To quote the article:

Abiy, 43, broke through two decades of frozen conflict between his vast country, Africa’s second most populous, and Eritrea, its small and isolated neighbor. When he became prime minister of Ethiopia in 2018, he threw himself at a breakneck pace into reforms at home, and peace negotiations with the rebel-turned-dictator Isaias Afwerki, president of Eritrea.

To read more: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/11/world/africa/nobel-peace-prize.html

Steven L. Reed Elected Mayor of Montgomery; 1st African American to Lead Alabama’s Capitol Since its Founding

Newly-elected Montgomery, Alabama mayor Steven L. Reed (photo via wtvm.com)

Voters in Montgomery, Alabama made history Tuesday by decisively electing Steven L. Reed as their new and very first African American mayor in the 200 years since the city’s founding.

To quote the Washington Post:

Reed, already a trailblazer as Montgomery County’s first black probate judge, defeated David Woods, owner of the local Fox affiliate, in a non-partisan runoff election with 67 percent of the vote and all precincts reporting, according to the unofficial election results.

“This election has never been about me,” Reed, 45, said during his victory speech. “This election has never about just my ideas. It’s been about all of the hopes and dreams that we have as individuals and collectively in this city … and the way we found the opportunity to improve outcomes regardless of neighborhood, regardless of Zip code, regardless of anything that may divide us or make us different from one another.”

His victory reverberated well beyond Montgomery as many celebrated the milestone in a city remembered as both the cradle of the Confederacy and the birthplace of the civil rights movement. Montgomery, where about 60 percent of residents are black, was the first capital of the Confederate States of America, becoming a bastion of racial violence and discrimination in the Jim Crow era but also of protests and resistance in the civil rights era.

It’s home to the Montgomery bus boycott against segregation led by Rosa Parks, and it’s home to the Selma to Montgomery marches for voting rights led by Martin Luther King Jr. It was in Montgomery where, after the third march in March 1965, King addressed a crowd of 25,000 people on the steps of the Alabama Capitol, famously saying, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

“This is a historic day for our nation,” Karen Baynes-Dunning, interim president and chief executive of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which is based in Montgomery, said Tuesday on Twitter. “The election of Steven Reed, the first black mayor of Montgomery, AL, symbolizes the new inclusive & forward thinking South that so many have worked to achieve.”

To read more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2019/10/09/steven-reed-montgomery-first-black-mayor-alabama/

Taylor Dumpson, 1st Black Female Student Body President at American University, Awarded over $700K in Suit Against Neo-Nazi Website Founder

Taylor Dumpson (SAMAD AROUNA/THE EAGLE)

The United States District Court for the District of Columbia ruled that white supremacists who used social media to threaten and harass Taylor Dumpson, the first African American female student body president of American University in Washington D.C., were liable for over $700,000 in damages and attorneys’ fees.

In 2017, Taylor Dumpson was elected as American University’s student body president. The day after she was inaugurated, a hate crime targeted her on the basis of her race and gender. A masked person hung nooses around campus with bananas tied to them. Some bananas had “AKA” written on them – referencing Plaintiff’s historically black sorority.

Others read “Harambe bait,” referencing a gorilla killed at the Cincinnati Zoo as a racist and threatening comparison to African Americans. Defendant Andrew Anglin, an avowed neo-Nazi and publisher of the neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer, then directed his white supremacist followers to threaten and harass her on social media to amplify the harm of the hate crime.

In addition to other allegations, the suit alleged that Defendants interfered with the Ms. Dumpson’s ability to fully enjoy places of public accommodation and interfered with her equal opportunity to education. The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and pro bono counsel Kirkland & Ellis LLP, along with the Washington Lawyers’ Committee, filed the lawsuit on behalf of the Plaintiff.

Continue reading “Taylor Dumpson, 1st Black Female Student Body President at American University, Awarded over $700K in Suit Against Neo-Nazi Website Founder”

Ta-Nehisi Coates Makes Compelling Case for Reparations on Capitol Hill (WATCH)

In response to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell‘s recent dismissal of reparations as not “a good idea” for the U.S. government to consider giving descendants of enslaved people, especially since no one currently alive “is responsible,” “Between the World and Me” author Ta-Nehisi Coates told lawmakers at a House committee hearing that the debate over reparations is “a dilemma of inheritance.”

Coates told lawmakers that many of the inequalities created by centuries of slavery persist today, including in the form of economic and health disparities. Watch Coates above read his 2014 “The Case for Reparations” essay here, read some of his testimony below:

The method of cultivating this asset was neither gentle cajoling nor persuasion, but torture, rape, and child trafficking. Enslavement reigned for 250 years on these shores. When it ended, this country could have extended its hallowed principles — life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness — to all, regardless of color. But America had other principles in mind. And so, for a century after the Civil War, black people were subjected to a relentless campaign of terror, a campaign that extended well into the lifetime of Majority Leader McConnell.

It is tempting to divorce this modern campaign of terror, of plunder, from enslavement, but the logic of enslavement, of white supremacy, respects no such borders, and the god of bondage was lustful and begat many heirs. Coup d’états and convict leasing. Vagrancy laws and debt peonage. Redlining and racist G.I. bills. Poll taxes and state-sponsored terrorism.

We grant that Mr. McConnell was not alive for Appomattox. But he was alive for the electrocution of George Stinney. He was alive for the blinding of Isaac Woodard. He was alive to witness kleptocracy in his native Alabama and a regime premised on electoral theft. Majority Leader McConnell cited civil rights legislation yesterday, as well he should, because he was alive to witness the harassment, jailing, and betrayal of those responsible for that legislation by a government sworn to protect them. He was alive for the redlining of Chicago and the looting of black homeowners of some $4 billion. Victims of that plunder are very much alive today. I am sure they’d love a word with the majority leader.

What they know, what this committee must know, is that while emancipation deadbolted the door against the bandits of America, Jim Crow wedged the windows wide open. And that is the thing about Senator McConnell’s “something”: It was 150 years ago. And it was right now.

The typical black family in this country has one-tenth the wealth of the typical white family. Black women die in childbirth at four times the rate of white women. And there is, of course, the shame of this land of the free boasting the largest prison population on the planet, of which the descendants of the enslaved make up the largest share.

Universities Partner to Produce the Official Oral History of Barack Obama’s Presidency

President Barack Obama is photographed during a presidential portrait sitting for an official photo in the Oval Office, Dec. 6, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza via commons.wikipedia.org)

The Obama Foundation has selected the Columbia Center for Oral History Research to produce the official oral history of Barack Obama’s presidency, according to the Journal of Blacks in Higher Education.

The project will provide a comprehensive, enduring record of the decisions, actions, and effects of his historic administration. The University of Hawai’i and the University of Chicago will also serve as contributing partners for the project, documenting Obama’s early life in Hawaii and his years in Chicago, respectively.

“Michelle Obama famously observed, ‘You can’t really understand Barack until you understand Hawai’i,’” said University of Hawai’i President David Lassner. “UH and our extraordinary Center for Oral History are looking forward to exploring those early days with those who were part of President Obama’s story.”

“We are pleased to collaborate with Columbia on this exciting project,” said University of Chicago faculty members Adam Green and Jacqueline Stewart in a joint statement. “The stories of Michelle and Barack Obama are intertwined with the story of Chicago and the South Side in particular. We look forward to contributing to that historic narrative, with a focus on how their city helped to shape them as civic leaders.”

Starting this summer and over the next five years, the Obama Presidency Oral History Project will conduct interviews with some 400 people, including senior leaders and policy makers within the Obama administration, as well as elected officials, campaign staff, journalists, and other key figures outside the White House.

The project will also incorporate interviews with individuals representing different dimensions of daily American life, whose perspectives will enable the archive to include how the general public was affected by the Obama administration’s decisions. Additionally, the research team will collect information about Michelle Obama’s work and legacy as First Lady.

“We are honored to document the legacy of President Obama. Our goal is to set a new benchmark for presidential oral histories in terms of the diversity and breadth of narratives assembled and depth of understanding achieved,” said Mary Marshall Clark, director of the Columbia Center for Oral History Research and a project co-investigator. “Central to our project is a commitment to candidly document the stories of key administration alumni and bring them into conversation with the varied experiences of Americans from all walks of life.”

In addition to hosting the project, Columbia has announced the formation of the Obama Presidency Oral History Advisory Board, composed of leading presidential historians, authors, and scholars who can speak to how the Obama administration affected the lives of those inside and outside of Washington D.C.

To read more: https://www.jbhe.com/2019/06/universities-partner-to-produce-the-official-oral-history-of-barack-obamas-presidency/

University of Nebraska-Lincoln Offers New Online Database of Court Cases of Enslaved People Seeking Their Freedom

According to the Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, the Center for Digital Research in the Humanities at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln recently debuted an online database of more than 500 court cases in which enslaved persons had sued to gain their freedom. The Dred Scott case in 1857 is the most famous of such cases, but there were many more.

The project collected, digitized, and makes accessible the freedom suits brought by enslaved families in the Circuit Court for the District of Columbia, Maryland state courts, and the U.S. Supreme Court. African-American enslaved families accumulated legal knowledge, legal acumen, and experience with the law that they passed from one generation to the next.

The freedom suits they brought against slaveholders exposed slavery a priori as subject to legal question. The suits in Washington, D.C., the nation’s capital, raised questions about the constitutional and legal legitimacy of slavery, and by extension, affected slavery and law in Maryland, Virginia, and all of the federal territories.

One such case was that of Ann Williams, who leapt from the third floor window of a tavern on F Street in Washington, D.C., after she was sold to Georgia slave traders and separated from her family. She suffered a broken back and fractured her arms, but she survived.

In 2015, original documents about her came to light at the National Archives. Williams and her husband were reunited and had four more children. Then she sued for her freedom. And won. Below is a short film about her story:

The online database concentrates on cases filed in Washington, D.C. in the 1820s and 1830s. More than 100 of these cases involved enslaved persons who were represented by Francis Scott Key, the author of the “Star Spangled Banner.” As such the database is named “O Say Can You See: Early Washington, D.C., Law and Family.”

Source: https://www.jbhe.com/2019/05/new-online-database-of-court-records-of-cases-of-enslaved-people-seeking-their-freedom/

Historic Shelley House in St. Louis Gets Official Recognition on New U.S. Civil Rights Trail

When J.D. Shelley and Ethel Shelley attempted to buy this house at 4600 Labadie Avenue in St. Louis in 1948, they were told it could not be sold to blacks. Their fight went to the U.S. Supreme Court, resulting in a ruling that struck down racial covenants in housing. (Photo: FrancisNancy via commons.wikipedia.org)

The historic “Shelley House” at 4600 Labadie Avenue in St. Louis was dedicated yesterday by the National Park Service as Missouri’s first official site on the new U.S. Civil Rights Trail. U.S. Rep. William Lacy Clay and Aurelia Skipwith, deputy assistant Secretary of Interior, headlined the event.

The U.S. Civil Rights Trail, created by legislation written by Clay, aims to preserve significant places that had critical roles in the civil rights movement in the United States.

The Shelley House was at the center of the U.S. Supreme Court decision (Shelley v. Kraemer) which struck down restrictive racial covenants in housing in 1948. The nationally impactful decision pitted J.D. and Ethel Shelley, a black couple who wanted to buy the house, against Louis and Fern Kraemer, white neighbors who tried to keep them out.

Other notables in attendance were St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson, St. Louis NAACP President Adolphus Pruitt, and members of the Shelley family.

Source: https://www.stltoday.com/news/local/columns/joe-holleman/historic-civil-rights-house-in-st-louis-gets-official-u/article_2c7013a7-11db-511e-8955-80d61b1e85cf.html

Sybrina Fulton, Trayvon Martin’s Mother, to Run for Office in Florida

Sybrina Fulton, mother of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old whose shooting death by a neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman set off a national conversation on racial profiling and the inequities in the criminal justice system, formally announced yesterday she is running for local office in Florida.

Fulton became an activist after the death of her son in Sanford, Fla., in 2012 by making speeches around the country as she worked to curb gun violence. She now she aims to do so from inside the government as a policy maker. She will contest the mayor of Miami Gardens Oliver G. Gilbert III for a seat on the Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners.

“At first I didn’t want to be the voice for Trayvon after he died, but I decided I have no choice,” Ms. Fulton said in an Instagram video announcing her campaign. “Now I am called to act and called to serve,” she said. She joins other mothers such as Lezley McSpadden and U.S. Congress member Lucy McBath, who also senselessly lost their unarmed sons to gun violence, in running for office.

Fulton is a former housing agency employee who believes a new chapter of serving the public is in order for her. “My time as a public servant began 30 years ago at Miami-Dade County. Since 2012, I have advocated tirelessly to empower our communities and make them safer,” she relayed in an Instagram post. “But the work is not done. I am proud to announce that I will run to represent District 1 on the county commission.”

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