Category: Politics

DOCUMENTARY: “Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project” Tells Story of Marion Stokes, Activist and Archivist Who Single-Handedly Preserved Over 30 Years of TV History

Marion Stokes privately recorded television twenty-four hours a day for over thirty years.

Stokes is the subject of Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project, a new documentary that highlights her work as an archivist, but paints a complex picture of a woman who was brushed off as an eccentric for most of her life. For thirty-plus years, multiple tapes (sometimes as many as eight) would record concurrently across multiple televisions as Stokes personally watched two monitors at once.

Former librarian Stokes, who became independently wealthy through technology and real estate investments, began casually recording television in 1977 and taped a variety of programs, but thought news was especially important.

In 1979 during the Iranian Hostage Crisis, which coincided with the dawn of the 24-hour news cycle, Stokes began recording MSNBC, Fox, CNN, CNBC, and CSPAN around the clock by running as many as eight television recorders at a time. Marion single-handedly built an archive of network, local, and cable news from her Philadelphia home, one tape at a time, recording every major (and trivial) news event until the day she died.

The taping ended on December 14, 2012 while the Sandy Hook massacre played on television as Stokes passed away from lung disease at the age of 83. In between, she recorded on 70,000 VHS tapes, capturing revolutions, lies, wars, triumphs, catastrophes, bloopers, talk shows, and commercials that tell us who we were, and show how television shaped the world of today.

“She was interested in access to information, documenting media, making sure people had the information they needed to make good decisions,” says the film’s director, Matt Wolf.

Stokes was no stranger to television and its role in molding public opinion. An activist archivist, she had been a librarian with the Free Library of Philadelphia for nearly 20 years before being fired in the early 1960s, likely for her work as a Communist party organizer.

From 1968 to 1971, she had co-produced Input, (which itself was recently recovered and digitized) a Sunday-morning talk show airing on the local Philadelphia CBS affiliate, with John S. Stokes Jr., who would later become her husband.

Input brought together academics, community and religious leaders, activists, scientists, and artists to openly discuss social justice issues and other topics of the day. Marion also was engaged in civil rights issues, helping organize buses to the 1963 civil rights march on Washington, among other efforts.

“Our vision is really aligned with Marion’s,” says Roger Macdonald, director of the television archives at the Internet Archive. “It’s really bold and ambitious: universal access to all knowledge.” Marion’s son had contacted the Internet Archive when he was trying to find a home for her tapes in 2013.

Macdonald immediately seized the opportunity. Those tapes were soon donated to the Internet Archive and are still in the process of being organized and digitized.

To read more about Marion Stokes and Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project (https://recorderfilm.com):

https://www.fastcompany.com/3022022/the-incredible-story-of-marion-stokes-who-single-handedly-taped-35-years-of-tv-news

https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/marion-stokes-television-news-archive

https://theoutline.com/post/7370/recorder-documentary-marion-stokes-interview-matt-wolf?fbclid=IwAR3eFB6ld4rxYoKnFfEgR19qbBk76OAD1P_Ok2NcgQQeYylgacCKyoIBm0M&zd=3&zi=g25ve4g2

Upcoming screenings of Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project:

Montclair Film Festival
May 8, 12

Maryland Film Festival
May 9, 10

SF DocFest
June 8, 10

MCA Chicago
June 21

Interview with Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project director Matt Wolf, which includes clip from film at 6min mark:

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.

Princeton Seminary Students Call for Reparations and Creation of Black Church Studies Program for School’s Role in Slavery

Alexander Hall at Princeton Theological Seminary (photo via commons.wikipedia.org)

According to the Washington Post, the Association of Black Seminarians, who are comprised of Princeton Theological Seminary students, have petitioned for and are calling on the institution to offer reparations for its role in and past ties to slavery. To quote the Post:

“A group of black seminarians has collected more than 400 signatures in an online petition calling on the institution to “make amends” by setting aside $5.3 million annually — or 15 percent of what the seminary uses from its endowment for its operating expenses — to fund tuition grants for black students and establish a Black Church Studies program.

As a progressive seminary, Princeton could become a pioneer by distributing reparations, said Justin Henderson, president of the Association of Black Seminarians, the group behind the petition. The school has confessed and repented for the “sin” of its role in slavery, but “repentance doesn’t end with confession,” said Henderson, who will finish his master of divinity studies in May.

“Restitution is evidence of the repentance,” he said. “This is how we know the person has repented.”

To read further, click here.

T.I. Honored by Georgia Senate For His Philanthropy

T.I. (photo by ConcertTour.org via commons.wikipedia.org)

Grammy Award-winning hip hop artist, actor and Atlanta native T.I. was honored at the Georgia State Capitol last Friday.

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Democratic State Senator Donzella James sponsored a resolution applauding T.I. (née Clifford Joseph Harris, Jr.), for spearheading several non-profit organizations, including Harris Community Works, which works with the disadvantaged, and For The Love of Our Fathers, which aids people with Alzheimer’s and dementia.

T.I. is also credited for mentoring youth at local area schools in his hometown, hosting Thanksgiving turkey drives and delivering Christmas presents to families in need throughout Atlanta. He also started a real estate company called Buy Back The Block to help rebuild his old neighborhood in the Center Hill section of Atlanta.

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”

BHM: Marielle Franco – The Voice of the People Who Had No Voice

Marielle Franco (Photo: Property of Midia Ninja)

In solidarity with our brothers and sisters who were spread out all through the Americas, we aim to build a stronger bridge between African Americans in North America to African Americans in Latin America, the deeper south. Thus, to officially close out this Black History Month, Good Black News presents… Marielle Franco.

Marielle Franco was an African American from Brazil who fought for human rights in a country that has never had a Martin Luther King, Jr.

During three centuries of international slave trade, over ten times as many Africans were enslaved and trafficked to Brazil than the U.S. Marielle Franco proudly served as the rising hope and promise for a better future for these descendants of enslaved Africans in a country where blackface is currently accepted as “normal” entertainment on TV, movies and at community celebrations. It is also the place where the overall deplorable treatment of African Americans needs to be vitally changed.

Marielle proved a deeply committed love for the people of her community. She tirelessly fought to protect the black community, the poor, women, and the LGBT+ community from violence and discrimination. This phenomenal woman didn’t seek power. With a loving approach, she merely accepted the mission presented before her by saying the things that needed to be said and fighting the battles that needed to be fought.

While serving with a fearless commitment, she paid the ultimate price. In her short 38 years of life, Marielle accomplished much while overcoming incredible odds in order to do so.

Born in the vulnerable area of Maré, Rio De Janeiro, Marielle began working at the age of 11 to help her parents pay for school. At 19, she began raising her daughter as a single mother while working as a teacher and earning a scholarship to one of the highest ranking universities in all of Latin America, Pontifical Catholic University of Rio De Janeiro.

Marielle was one of two black students attending the university even though the country of Brazil is over 50% black. She graduated with an emphasis in social sciences and went on to complete her master’s degree in public administration at Fluminense Federal University. After graduation, Marielle worked for civil society organizations and shaped the state legislature’s Committee for the Defense of Human Rights and Citizenship.

Marielle’s life experiences, studies, and work inspired her to run for Rio’s City Council despite the overwhelmingly high number of white men who dominated the field. In 2016, Marielle won her campaign with the 5th highest number of votes out of a pool of 1,500 candidates.

During her career as councilwoman, Marielle served as President of the Council’s Women’s Defense Commission. She spoke out about the violence that inequalities create among poor areas and proposed bills as solutions to the systematic injustices plaguing her community.

Continue reading “BHM: Marielle Franco – The Voice of the People Who Had No Voice”

BHM: Extra! Extra! Read All About Ethel Payne, “First Lady of the Black Press”

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

Now that the government shutdown is over and national museums are open again (unless that mess happens again), Black History Month is an especially poignant time to visit the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) if you are in the D.C. area.

I had the good fortune to visit NMAAHC two years ago, and still remember acutely its “Making a Way out of No Way” exhibit, which focusses on the six avenues African-Americans pursued post-slavery to gain equity and agency in the United States – Activism, Enterprise, Organization, Education, Faith, and… the Press.

Because of my lifelong interest in journalism, I am personally drawn to stories about the Black Press, which has existed in some form since antebellum times (the first black publication of record is the Freedom Journal in 1827), and exists to this day.

Yet so many don’t know about its rich history and how its presence and its reporters not only served often unrecognized communities, but also were (and still are) deeply involved in activism and social justice at every turn in every era on local, state and national levels.

Enter Ethel Lois Payne.

Long before former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer attempted to call out American Urban Radio Networks’ correspondent April Ryan for giving him what he thought was a disrespectful headshake while simply trying to do her job, Ethel Payne was agitating White House officials in the press room on a daily.

Payne set the standard in the 1950s when she became one of only three black journalists to be credentialed as a member of the White House Press Corps.

Known as the “First Lady of the Black Press,” Payne was a columnist, lecturer, and freelance writer. She combined advocacy with journalism as she reported on the Civil Rights Movement during the 1950s and 1960s, and was known for asking questions others dared not ask.

It was just unheard of for blacks to be standing up and asking presidents impertinent questions and particularly a black woman. – Ethel Payne

Payne became the first female African-American commentator employed by a national network when CBS hired her in 1972. In addition to her reporting of American domestic politics, she also covered international stories, and questioned every president from Eisenhower to Reagan.

As Payne’s biographer, James McGrath Morris, who wrote Eye on the Struggle: Ethel Payne, the First Lady of the Black Press says, “Her not being known today is really a legacy of segregation, in that she was iconic to a large segment of the U.S. population, but like most black institutions, the Chicago Defender was entirely invisible to white Americans. So the notion of discussing civil rights with the President of the United States, in that case Eisenhower, she felt she was part of ‘the problem’ and couldn’t pursue typical objective reporting. Instead she adopted a measure of being fair. It may seem like a small distinction but it wasn’t. Her questions were laden with an agenda.”

Born in Chicago, Illinois, the granddaughter of slaves, Payne’s father worked as a Pullman Porter, one of the best jobs open to African Americans in those times. He died at age forty-six after contracting an deadly infection from handling soiled linens and clothes on the train, when Ethel was fourteen years old. Her mother then took various domestic jobs to support the family, which made it difficult to educate all of her children.

Ethel spent her childhood in the predominantly black neighborhood of West Englewood bit attended Chicago public schools, notably the mostly white Lindblom Technical High School. Payne longed to be a writer and pushed to continue her education at Crane Junior College and the Chicago Training School for City, Home, and Foreign Missions.

Continue reading “BHM: Extra! Extra! Read All About Ethel Payne, “First Lady of the Black Press””

New Jersey Senator Cory Booker Announces 2020 Presidential Run

Cory Booker (photo via dailybeast.com)

by Nick Corasaniti and Shane Goldmacher via nytimes.com

Senator Cory Booker, the former mayor of Newark who has projected an upbeat political presence at a deeply polarized time, entered the 2020 race for president on Friday, embarking on a campaign to become the second black president in American history.

Mr. Booker, in a morning email sent to supporters, drew on the spirit of the civil rights movement as he laid out his vision for a country that will “channel our common pain back into our common purpose.”

“The history of our nation is defined by collective action; by interwoven destinies of slaves and abolitionists; of those born here and those who chose America as home; of those who took up arms to defend our country, and those who linked arms to challenge and change it,” Mr. Booker said in an accompanying video:

More: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/01/us/politics/cory-booker-presidential-run.html

NAACP to Host 2019 Women in Power Town Hall With Sen. Kamala Harris and Reps. Karen Bass, Lucy McBath and Marcia Fudge

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) will host its first tele town hall of the year, the Women in Power Town Hall, on Tuesday, January 15, 2019, at 5pm PST/8pm EST. The telephone program, NAACP’s first public forum of the year, will provide a platform for leading women in policy and activism to engage listeners in a critical discussion about the top priorities for the next 12 months. Interested participants can RSVP for the event here.

Following the swearing in of the most diverse Congress in history, filled with more women of color than ever before, this event will feature Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) members, elected officials, NAACP leaders, along with business and civic leaders in a candid conversation about the 2019 agenda, issues impacting communities of color, and how women can continue to be leading advocates.

Women in Power Town Hall

Special guests for the town hall include Senator Kamala Harris, who was the driving force behind the historic anti-lynhcing bill which passed in the Senate at the end of 2018, CBC Chairperson and California Representative Karen Bass, and Representative Lucy Mcbath of Georgia’s 6th district who won on a campaign of reform after her son Jordan Davis was killed by a white man for playing his music too loud.

The NAACP’s Panelists will be Derrick Johnson, NAACP President & CEO, Lottie Joiner from The Crisis Magazine and Tiffany Dena Loftin, the NAACP’s Youth & College National Director. The event will be moderated by Errin Whack of the Associated Press.

“Our country spoke up last year, and what we said collectively is that we want women at the forefront of our nation for at least the next two years,” said  Loftin. “NAACP is poised to hit the ground running this year, and we’re proud to have some of the most powerful women in America lead our first town hall this year.”

The NAACP tele town hall series draws up to 3,000 participants and takes the form of a radio Q&A program.