Category: Politics

THIS WAY FORWARD: John Legend Teams Up with New Profit to Help Formerly Incarcerated Entrepreneurs Succeed via Unlocked Futures Program

by Dena Crowder

“I care deeply about issues of incarceration and criminal justice reform,” says Tulaine Montgomery, managing partner at New Profit, a philanthropic venture capital fund. It’s a passion she shares with Grammy award-winning singer/songwriter John Legend.  Like Legend, whose mother cycled “in and out of jail for charges related to drug addiction” when he was growing up, Montgomery has seen the impact of prison on families firsthand.

“This idea that there is a group of people we can *other*…that we cannot advocate for – that’s not something I’ve been able to entertain,” she explains. Montgomery believes that when someone who’s been incarcerated faces barriers preventing successful re-entry into society, it doesn’t just damage them alone.  On the contrary, it wreaks havoc on their extended family, community and nation, often for multiple generations. 

In addition, she says that treating entire groups of people as “expendable” and “counting them out” of making productive contributions makes zero economic sense. The USA spends $80 billion a year to keep people behind bars. Once paroled, even non-violent, first-time offenders struggle to find housing, jobs, or chances for further education.  Feeling locked out of opportunity and unable to sustain themselves, many end up right back in prison.  It’s a costly revolving door. Providing a path to success rather than creating a class of “throwaway people” is not only morally redemptive, it’s also economically sound. 

Tulaine Montgomery, New Profit’s Managing Partner (Photo Courtesy of New Profit)

Transforming inequities and imbalances in the criminal justice system is part of the larger mission behind Unlocked Futures, a partnership between New Profit, John Legend’s Free America campaign, and Bank of America. A 16-month accelerator program that supports entrepreneurs who have been previously incarcerated, Unlocked Futures provides funding, leadership training, business skills building, executive coaching, content development and peer support to eight members or cohorts. 

The program identifies innovative entrepreneurs whose businesses solve problems that affect those impacted by the criminal justice system.  They are uniquely qualified to address the “most pressing challenges” and break down barriers, precisely because they’ve been there, Montgomery says.   

It’s her belief that “someone who has served time—one of the most dehumanizing conditions we pay federal dollars to create—and emerged mentally intact and ready to lead a business, that’s a leader I want to know.

Topeka Sam is one of the eight inaugural Unlocked Futures cohorts and a case in point. Her organization, Ladies of Hope Ministries, helps women transition from incarceration back into meaningful participation. She knows the terrain and has insight into how to navigate the road to re-entry because she’s lived it.  

Marcus Bullock, CEO of Flikshop, a mobile app company that delivers postcards to inmates from loved ones, says the idea came to him because it was “connection” with family and his mother in particular that gave him a thread of hope during imprisonment.

Every dollar invested in correctional education returns $19.76 back to society,” according to Dirk Van Velzen, founder of the Prison Scholars Fund. Van Velzen’s organization helps inmates gain degrees and skills that are marketable in the job sector because he knows that if they’re employable, they’re far less likely to commit new crimes. The statistics are staggering: national recidivism stands at 68%. For graduates of the Prison Scholars’ Fund, that rate plummets to 4%. 

When Unlocked Futures kicked off at the end of last year, John Legend joined New Profit and the eight cohorts for a round table discussion. After listening to their stories, Legend remarked “with people like you working tirelessly to change the system and the narrative, I’m optimistic.” Continue reading “THIS WAY FORWARD: John Legend Teams Up with New Profit to Help Formerly Incarcerated Entrepreneurs Succeed via Unlocked Futures Program”

Lezley McSpadden, Mother of Slain Teen Michael Brown, Announces Candidacy for Ferguson City Council

Lezley McSpadden, whose son Michael Brown was fatally shot by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, four years ago, announced that she is running for city council in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson. (photo via thegrio.com)

by Natasha S. Alford via thegrio.com

Lezley McSpadden says Michael would’ve wanted it.

The mother of 18-year-old Michael Brown, unarmed Black teenager who was shot to death by police officer Darren Wilson, is running for Ferguson City Council.

Four years after Brown’s death, McSpadden made the announcement Friday afternoon.

“Yesterday made four years for my son’s death. I thought that I would wake up and would be really sad… but when I woke up I had a different type of energy. I had a energy of get up out this bed and go.  You have work to do.” McSpadden told theGrio in an exclusive interview.

“[Michael] was just speaking to me, ‘Mom it’s time for you to shake it off. It’s time for you to do what you say you want to do.  And get justice for me.”

McSpadden’s announcement comes on the heels of another game-changing candidate, Wesley Bell, who beat out incumbent St. Louis County prosecutor, Bob McCulloch, in the Democratic primary.

McCullouch was criticized for how he handled Brown’s case and was accused of being “buddy buddy” with police. McSpadden says Bell supports her candidacy and inspires her. “Seeing him win for St. Louis County prosecutor gave me hope that I can do this.  That I can state adversity in the face and be the change my son needs,” said the 38-year old McSpadden.

McSpadden says she wants to use her platform to advocate for economic equality, access to health care, and a topic which surely hits close to home — community policing. “One of the things that I know to be true; the people who are employed as police officers do not live in this area, they are not familiar with the community or a regular John Doe who walks to and from the store. That’s a big issue.” McSpadden told theGrio.

McSpadden says she will advocate for building better community relations. “That should keep down this repeated pattern of words we hear in encounters ‘I fear for my life.’”

Despite battling with depression, McSpadden has worked diligently through her grief, going back to school for her high school diploma, traveling the world to speak about her son’s death and even writing a book.

“The only thing that has changed within me is time. People say ‘time heals all wounds— I don’t know if this wound will ever heal, but I’ve gotten wiser and educated myself to know. I’m putting my faith into God. I have no doubt that I’ll be elected.”

Source: https://thegrio.com/2018/08/10/lezley-mcspadden-mother-michael-brown-announces-candidacy-for-ferguson-city-council/

Oregon State University Changes Three Building Names That Honored Proponents of Slavery

Oregon State University buildings to be renamed (photos via cbsnews.com; facebook.com/DailyBarometer)

by Saul Hubbard via registerguard.com

After a two-year process, Oregon State University President Ed Ray announced recently that he has chosen new monikers for three university buildings whose previous namesakes have ties to historical racist positions or beliefs.

OSU’s Benton Hall will become Community Hall, honoring local residents who raised funds to start the college in 1860s and 1870s; Benton Annex, the university’s women center, will become the Hattie Redmond Women and Gender Center, after an African-American suffragette who lived in Portland in the early 20th century; and Avery Lodge will be renamed Champinefu Lodge, borrowing a word signifying “at the place of the blue elderberry” from the dialect of the local native Kalapuya Tribe.

“The names of buildings and places play a very important role in our university,” Ray said Monday in a prepared statement. “They speak to the history of OSU, the university’s values and mission, and our efforts to create an inclusive community for all. Names also recognize and honor the positive contributions of those associated with the university.”

The changes follow a push that has occurred across the country in recent years to proactively remove names and take down statues that honor people who held overtly racist views, in the name of improving race relations. Those efforts have faced blow-back from people who argue that they erase history and punish historical figures for views that were widely held during their lifetimes.

Ray decided last November that the building names associated with former Missouri U.S. Sen. Thomas Hart Benton and Corvallis co-founder Joseph C. Avery should be stripped from the buildings, following community input and scholarly research into their positions.

Hattie Redmond (photo via Ohio Historical Society)

An architect of the United States westward expansion and backer of the Manifest Destiny, Benton “supported federal legislation to remove Native Americans from their tribal lands and, while he was opposed to extending slavery into western states, he was not in favor of abolishing slavery elsewhere,” Ray wrote last November.

While the 1947 naming of Benton Hall was designed to honor Benton County residents, not Thomas Benton, Ray determined that the hall’s name didn’t make that distinction clear. Joseph Avery, meanwhile, pushed “views and political engagement in the 1850s to advance slavery in Oregon (that) are inconsistent with Oregon State’s values,” Ray wrote, making the 1966 name untenable.

Ray decided against renaming OSU’s Gill Coliseum and the Arnold Dining Center, however, after ruling that their namesakes, Benjamin Lee Arnold and Amory Gill, displayed some signs of forward-thinking racial acceptance, outweighing the more controversial parts of their biographies.

The new names announced Monday were chosen by Ray, after receiving input from OSU faculty, students and leaders of the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians of Oregon.

Champinefu, which is pronounced CHOM-pin-A-foo, was chosen because Native Americans of the Kalapuya Tribe traveled to the area around Corvallis to harvest wild blue elderberries.

Hattie Redmond, meanwhile, was part of the successful push in 1912 to give women the right to vote in Oregon, after voters previously had rejected it five times. According to the Oregon Historical Society, Redmond’s role was little known and not celebrated until 2012, when details of her biography were discovered during the centennial celebration of woman suffrage in Oregon. Redmond, the daughter of slaves, moved to Portland in 1880, in an era when the state still had a black exclusion law in its constitution. Redmond was the president of the Colored Women’s Equal Suffrage Association during the 1912 campaign and organized meetings and educational lectures on the issue in a local church.

Read more: http://www.registerguard.com/news/20180730/osu-changing-three-building-names-to-promote-inclusivity

Pharrell Williams Announces Yellow Ball Gala, Talks Protecting Artists & Taking a ‘People’s Stance’ on Federal Arts Funding

Artwork by Daniel Arsham, a member of the American Express Platinum Collective.
Courtesy Photo: Artwork by Daniel Arsham, a member of the American Express Platinum Collective.

by  via billboard.com

Since becoming the creative director for American Express Platinum in December 2016, Pharrell Williams has worked closely with the financial services company to bring awareness to the importance of arts education and advocacy. Nearly two years later, the “Happy” singer is taking his efforts one step further with the inaugural Yellow Ball gala.

The event will take place on Monday, Sept. 10 at the Brooklyn Museum and will benefit the Young Audiences Arts for Learning, the nation’s largest arts-in-education network. The Yellow Ball title was chosen by Pharrell himself, as the color has many meanings — and ties in with the purpose of the event.

“Pharrell views the color and event as helping to shine a light on the need for arts education and its ability to pave the way for a brighter future,” Elizabeth Rutledge, chief marketing officer of American Express, says. Pharrell adds, “That’s what this is about — bringing light to this cause.”

The Yellow Ball will feature musical performances, including a special set from Missy Elliott. Along with music, the event will also include multi-room art experiences from American Express Platinum Collective member Daniel Arsham, and a multi-course dinner experience by American Express Global Dining Collection Chef Dominique Crenn.

Ahead of the announcement, Billboard chatted with Pharrell about his latest initiative, his thoughts on today’s young generation of artists, and why the arts (and the color yellow) are so important for all ages.

When you were named creative director of AmEx Platinum, what were your goals and where does the yellow ball kind of fit into all of that?

My goals were to work with a company that I felt like had the means to make a difference, but just maybe needed a nudging, or maybe needed some direction. But then when I started working with them and got an education on all the things that they’ve done — from the Tribeca Film Festival to the sales program they have for small businesses on Saturdays — I realized that they had been doing this the entire time. When we talked about doing the Yellow Ball and I told them I wanted it to be about arts and education, they didn’t blink. What I wanted to do with them was just going to be just yet another great thing that they do in the world.

Why did you decide on the name the Yellow Ball, and what does the color yellow mean to you?

Not to get all esoteric, but yellow is like the color of the solar plexus. Yellow is the color for creativity, yellow is the color for curiosity. Art is largely diminishing throughout the curriculum throughout this country, and we need to protect the creative mind.

Everything around you right now versus everything you’re using, it’s just not organic, it was someone’s epiphany. That’s creativity, that needs to be protected. If we don’t have that, I don’t know what kind of future we have. We have to protect the artist community at all costs, across all artistic disciplines.

Why do you think it’s so important for people to be exposed to the arts and learn from it at a young age?

On a more paramount level, everyone is a creative. Everyone that makes a move or does anything in life is a co-creator, but the ones who actually create things that we use and things that we need, that needs to be protected. There is a future that will have corporations that will have more say. You see all the things happening with lobbyists now, you just can never doubt that. In the artistic community, it’s the educational portion of it is eroding, what kind of future is that for us? So we need to talk to all the corporations that we can — that care — now.

Did the controversy surrounding the funding cuts for the NEA change the course of action for you in your involvement with AmEx platinum in any way?

A lot of decisions that are being made are having a domino effect on programs like the [NEA]. And while we might not like that, the powers that be are the powers that be, but we are still the people and we can do things to help the people with the resources that we have access to. That’s literally all we’re doing, there’s no political stance, it’s more of a people’s stance.

Has becoming a father had an impact on the way you think about how art can affect lives?

I want all children to have access to that kind of creative growth, access and support. All kids, not just my own. There’s a lot of variables in a situation as to why something falls apart, but there’s only one scenario where it holds together, and that’s when all the variables are there. The environment, the family, the school, the system — there’s so many things. We just want to do what we can to balance the odds so that as many kids as we can afford, or help and assist in whatever ways, get this access and support.

What do you think the younger generation of today’s musical artists are bringing to the table?

I love what they do and how they express themselves. It’s like these amazing pockets of lyrics or melodies that feel good to them. The music just takes on a direction of its own, it’s not so formatted. I love that this generation is just grabbing the instruments and using them in whatever way feels good to them. That’s just like a sign of how the times have changed.

It’s kind of like the fourth time that I’ve seen music and the spirit of it change — like drastically change. It’s been amazing to see it. You see certain things that feel familiar, then you see things that you’ve never seen or thought of in your entire life. As a musician I can feel connected to it.

Source: https://www.billboard.com/articles/news/8469193/pharrell-williams-interview-yellow-ball-gala-art-education

Missing Writings from “The Autobiography of Malcolm X”, Long a Mystery, are Sold to Schomburg Center in NY

Malcolm X in 1964. (Credit: Associated Press)

by Jennifer Schuessler via nytimes.com

For a quarter century, they have been the stuff of myth among scholars: three missing chapters from “The Autobiography of Malcolm X,” reputedly cut from the manuscript after his assassination in 1965 because they were deemed too incendiary.

Their possible existence was first teased at in 1992, when a private collector at an estate sale scooped up material belonging to Alex Haley, Malcolm X’s collaborator on the book. Years later, one biographer was allowed a 15-minute look at some of the papers, but otherwise they have been mostly locked away, surrounded by a haze of cultivated mystery.

But now the unpublished material, or at least some of it, has suddenly emerged and was offered for sale Thursday at a Manhattan auction house, along with another artifact that scholars have never seen: the manuscript for the published book, which bears dense traces of Mr. Haley’s and Malcolm X’s complex negotiations over the finished text.

At the auction, an unpublished chapter called “The Negro” was picked up by the New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture for $7,000. There were no offers on the manuscript for the published version, which had an opening minimum bid of $40,000.

But after some hushed conversations in side rooms, it was announced that the Schomburg — located on Malcolm X Boulevard in Harlem, and already home to a large collection of material that had been held by Malcolm X’s family — had acquired the manuscript for an undisclosed sum, along with nearly a dozen unpublished fragments that had also gone unsold.

“‘The Autobiography’ is one of the most important books of the 20th century,” Kevin Young, the director of the Schomburg, said after the auction. “To have the version with Malcolm X’s corrections, and to be able to see his thoughts taking shape, is incredibly powerful.”

The manuscripts were included in a sale of African-American historical artifacts by Guernsey’s auction house. The sale also included an item that had attracted considerable media interest in recent years: a Detroit house associated with Rosa Parks that had been bought by an artist, disassembled and shipped to Germany, then shipped back again for sale. (The house, which had a minimum price of $1 million, received no bids.)

But it was the appearance, with little advance fanfare, of the Malcolm X material that caused a stir among scholars, some of whom expressed alarm before the auction that manuscripts that had been locked away by one private collector might disappear into the hands of another.

The manuscript and unpublished pages were sold to settle debts as part of a bankruptcy case. (Credit: Jeenah Moon for The New York Times)

Komozi Woodard, a professor of history at Sarah Lawrence College who is writing a book about the final year of Malcolm X’s life, said he was “shocked” when he learned about the auction earlier this week. “If we’re trying to figure out where Malcolm would have taken us, some of those papers have clues to that puzzle,” he said.

Since Malcolm X’s assassination there have been battles over the meaning of his life, in particular its tumultuous last year, when he broke with the Nation of Islam, traveled to the Middle East and renounced his philosophy of racial separatism.

There have been equally fierce battles over his literary remains. Papers removed from his family’s home by one of his daughters and later seized by owners of a storage facility were nearly auctioned in 2002, before scholars and family members organized an effort to have the collection placed intact at the Schomburg Center.

Lucy McBath, Mother of Racial Violence Victim Jordan Davis, Wins Democratic Primary for U.S. Congressional Seat in GA

U.S. Congressional Candidate Lucy McBath (photo via bradfordera.com)

by Sarah Ruiz-Grossman via huffingtonpost.com

Gun control advocate Lucia “Lucy” McBath won the Democratic nomination for the U.S. House in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District.

McBath beat her Democratic opponent, businessman Kevin Abel, in Tuesday’s runoff after they finished as the top contenders in the state’s May primary but neither garnered the majority of the vote. She won 53.7 percent of the vote.

McBath thanked her supporters early Wednesday morning, saying she was at a “loss for words.” “We deserve better representation in DC, and I intend to show the good people of #GA06 what a tough, determined mother can do,” she wrote on Twitter. “On to November.”

McBath, a national spokeswoman for gun control group Moms Demand Action, will now face a challenging race against incumbent Rep. Karen Handel (R-Ga.) in November’s general election. Handel famously beat Democrat Jon Ossoff in last year’s special election ― the most expensive U.S. House race in history, with more than $50 million spent on both bids.

McBath was spurred into activism by the 2012 death of her son, Jordan Davis, a black 17-year-old who was shot dead at a Florida gas station by a white man complaining about loud music. Initially planning to run for a state House seat, McBath decided to run for Congress after the February school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 people, most of them teens.

“I knew that I could no longer sit on the sidelines,” McBath wrote on her campaign site, “while the politicians in the pocket of the gun manufacturing lobby decide the future of our gun laws.”

She said Wednesday that Jordan was her “rock & inspiration” through the race.

As a “Mother of the Movement” ― part of a group of women who’ve lost a child to gun violence or in police custody ― McBath advocates for “common sense gun violence prevention laws,” including background checks, raising the age for firearm purchases to 21 years old and fighting against “conceal carry” measures. The two-time breast cancer survivor is also pushing for more affordable health care and improving women’s access to health services.

Source: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/lucy-mcbath-georgia-democratic-primary_us_5b4e6062e4b0de86f487c43d

Former National Teacher of the Year Jahana Hayes Running for U.S. Congress

PHOTO: Jahana Hayes, left, a high school history teacher from Waterbury, CT, celebrates winning the 2016 National Teacher of the Year with President Barack Obama at the White House in Washington, May 3, 2016.
Jahana Hayes, left, a high school history teacher from Waterbury, CT, celebrates winning the 2016 National Teacher of the Year with President Barack Obama at the White House in Washington, May 3, 2016. (Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images)

by Meghan Keneally via abcnews.com

In some cases, courage is contagious. That was the case for Jahana Hayes, a longtime teacher who decided to make her first foray into professional politics.

Hayes told ABC News that the wave of new candidates running for office across the country without formal political experience “gave me the courage to say, ‘You know what, maybe I will say yes this time.’”

Hayes, who gained country-wide attention in 2016 when she was named National Teacher of the Year and awarded the associated crystal apple statuette by then-President Obama, said that the flood of people running for office this year, in spite of a lack of political experience, helped motivate her to run.

She said that she had been approached “by folks in my community” to run for other positions in the past, including state senator and various executive offices in the state. But this time, when Rep. Elizabeth Etsy announced that she wouldn’t be seeking re-election, “it was just different.”

She said she saw so many candidates across the country “bucking the trend that you have to check off all these boxes before you’re even considered to be viable” and it helped give her “the courage for me to stand up this time.”

One of the people who gave her encouragement to throw her hat in the ring was Sen. Chris Murphy, who Hayes called “a tremendous advocate.” Murphy hasn’t issued a formal endorsement in the 5th District’s race – and because of the state’s Democratic Party rules based on delegate counts from the party’s nominating convention, Hayes’ opponent Mary Glassman got the party’s endorsement – but his office confirmed to ABC News that he did encourage Hayes to run for Congress.

Hayes and Glassman are running for an open seat, but Glassman has decades of experience in Connecticut politics, having served as a selectman and nominee for the lieutenant governor twice. “There’s an appetite for change,” Hayes said.

Hayes, 45, is one of a growing number of teachers now running for office, including some in states where drops in teacher funding prompted frustrated teachers into political action.

The mother-of-four, who is married to a detective, said that she is “concerned” by the current administration, pointing to the country’s immigration policy (which she said “is really one that tears me apart”), healthcare, and foreign relations as areas of change that have been particularly troubling. “I think that everything is about timing and I think that I probably would not have seriously considered this four years ago,” she said.

Like so many others who have decided to turn to politics, her personal narrative is a big part of how she feels a connection with voters. Hayes’ campaign website notes that she grew up in a Connecticut housing project, her family struggled with poverty and addiction, and after she got pregnant as a teen, “all hopes for any upward mobility seemed beyond her grasp.”

Hayes’ work as a high school social studies teacher first brought her to the White House for the National Teaching Award presentation in 2016, but then brought her across the country. She said she visited 30 different states in the year after the award, as is custom for all recipients, and that helped expose her to the universal problems facing communities across the country.

“The things that I’m struggling with and the things that my students are struggling with and the things that we’re struggling with in Waterbury [Connecticut] are not that different from the things that they’re struggling with in Wisconsin or California,” she said.

After finishing her year-long stint as a national teachers ambassador of sorts, Hayes returned to her school district, working on teacher recruitment instead of in the classroom, and it’s a position she still holds.

“It’s difficult” working full time and running a campaign, she said, “and I could have probably taken a leave of absence… but the whole point of me doing this is to stress that everyone should get involved” in the political process.

She now has until the state’s Democratic primary is held on Aug. 14 to get enough support to beat out Glassman for a spot in the general election.

“I really have to get out there… to have face-to-face voter contact,” she said.

Source: https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/national-teacher-year-now-running-congress/story?id=56624692

VOTE! Lucy McBath, Mother of Slain Teen Jordan Davis, in Runoff for GA Congressional Seat

Congressional candidate in Georgia’s 6th District Lucy McBath (R) speaks onstage during Vanity Fair’s Founders Fair at Spring Studios on April 12, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images for Vanity Fair)

by Jay Scott Smith via thegrio.com

She wants gun control reform for a very personal reason and decided to run for Congress with the hope of changing things herself.

Lucy McBath is set for a runoff election this coming Tuesday against Atlanta tech businessman Kevin Abel for the Democratic nomination in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District. McBath is a gun control activist and the mother of 17-year-old Jordan Davis, who was murdered in Jacksonville, Florida in 2012 when he was shot by Michael Dunn, a white man angered that he and his friends would not turn their music down.

Dunn, who attempted to claim the shooting was in self-defense because he felt “threatened” by the boys arguing back at him, was convicted of first-degree murder. “I didn’t understand how there were these kinds of tragedies happening all over the country,” McBath told CNN. “And why aren’t our legislators talking about it?”

Davis said she was inspired to run when she saw Donald Trump speak after February’s high school mass shooting in Parkland, Florida. She says she knew the president was lying when he implied he would challenge the NRA. “It’s just not enough to have the marches and the rallies and the speeches and the remarks, unless we have people who are willing to create the bills to make this a safer nation,” she told CNN.

After her son’s death, she retired from her job as a Delta Airlines flight attendant and became a national spokeswoman for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and Everytown for Gun Safety. She has testified before Congress, joined Hillary Clinton on the campaign trail in 2016, and was among the Mothers of the Movement who spoke at the 2016 Democratic National Convention.

McBath came in first in the primary race in front of Abel, a South Africa native who she will face in the runoff this Tuesday. McBath won 36 percent of the vote in the May primary, while Abel secured 30.5 percent of the votes cast.  The runoff winner will challenge incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Karen Handel.

Abel claims that despite coming in second in the primary, he is the better candidate simply because he feels McBath “can’t beat Handel” in the bloody-red state of Georgia.

McBath is undeterred and unapologetic about her policy positions. “Yes, we are in a gun state,” says McBath. “And yes, we are in a red state. But I know people are sick and tired of being sick and tired. I know people now want change.”

Source: https://thegrio.com/2018/07/22/lucy-mcbath-jordan-davis-mother-runoff-for-ga-congressional-seat/

Michelle Obama Launches New Voter Registration Campaign #WhenWeAllVote

Michelle Obama (screenshot via twitter.com)

via essence.com

While Michelle Obama has no plans to run for office, this doesn’t mean she won’t get involved behind the scenes.

The former first lady is teaming up with several celebrities to launch a new voter registration initiative ahead of this year’s midterm elections. The new nonprofit, “When We All Vote,” is a nonpartisan organization with the goal to get more voters registered.

“Voting is the only way to ensure that our values and priorities are represented in the halls of power,” Obama said in a statement “And it’s not enough to just vote for president every four years. We all have to vote in every single election: for mayor, governor, school board, state legislature and Congress. The leaders we elect to these offices help determine just about every aspect of our lives and our democracy.”

According to Politico, the initiative is scheduled to be launched on Thursday and will also involve several other high-profile names, including actor Tom Hanks, singer Janelle Monae, “Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda and singers Faith Hill and Tim McGraw.

Also, former Obama advisor Valerie Jarrett will serve as president of the board. The initiative is its own non-profit entity and will operate independently of the Obama Foundation, the personal offices of Barack and Michelle Obama, and Citizen 44.

Source: https://www.essence.com/news/michelle-obama-voter-registration-campaign-midterms

Chance The Rapper Buys Media Outlet Chicagoist to Combat Racism and Promote Local Journalism

Chance the Rapper (photo by Santiago Bluguermann / Getty Images)

by Selena Hill via blackenterprise.com

Chance the Rapper dropped a new single on Wednesday boasting about his recent purchase of a news website in order to run “racists b—–s out of business.”

The 25-year-old Chicago native announced in a song titled “I Might Need Security” that he now owns the Chicagoist.com, a local news, food, and culture outlet, rapping:

“I got a hit-list so long I don’t know how to finish, I bought the Chicagoist just to run you racist b—-s out of business.”

In the politically charged song, Chance raps over a vocal loop of Jamie Foxx repeatedly singing “f–k you” and calls for the resignation of Chicago’s embattled mayor, Rahm Emanuel. The entertainer also accuses Emanuel of granting paid suspensions to police officers who’ve fatally shot unarmed black people.

According to the Chicagoist’s sister site the Gothamist, Chance’s newly formed company, Social Media LLC, purchased the site from New York Public Radio’s WNYC station, which acquired both the Chicagoist and the Gothmaist as well as the other -ist network of sites in February. Terms of the deal have not been disclosed.

“I’m extremely excited to be continuing the work of the Chicagoist, an integral local platform for Chicago news, events and entertainment,” said Chance in a statement. “WNYC’s commitment to finding homes for the -ist brands, including Chicagoist, was an essential part of continuing the legacy and integrity of the site. I look forward to relaunching it and bringing the people of Chicago an independent media outlet focused on amplifying diverse voices and content.”

Laura Walker, the president and CEO of New York Public Radio, also released a statement, saying:

“We are delighted that the Chicagoist assets are finding a new home in the hands of a proud Chicagoan. WNYC has a strong commitment to local journalism and building community, and we are pleased that these assets will be used to support local coverage in the great city of Chicago.”

In addition to combatting racism, Chance’s nonprofit SocialWorks has helped the homeless, empowered Chicago public school students learning how to code, and funded college-bound high school students. Now, with Social Media LLC, Chance promises to promote local investigative journalism, diversity, and representation for people of color in the media.

Source: http://www.blackenterprise.com/chance-the-rapper-media-racism/