Young Black Democrats, Eager to Lead From the Left, Eye Runs for Office in 2018

Representative Stacey Abrams, 43, a likely Democratic candidate for governor of Georgia in 2018, at the State Capitol in Atlanta. (Credit Kevin D. Liles for The New York Times)

by Alexander Burns via nytimes.com

MACON, Ga. — In Georgia, a Democratic lawmaker planning a run for governor promises to confront President Trump and what she calls the “fascists” surrounding him. In Maryland, a former president of the N.A.A.C.P. warns national Democrats not to take African-Americans for granted.

The mayor of Tallahassee, Fla., goes even further, declaring that Democrats have failed by fixating on centrist voters.In states from Massachusetts to Florida, a phalanx of young black leaders in the Democratic Party is striding into some of the biggest elections of 2018, staking early claims on governorships and channeling the outcry of rank-and-file Democrats who favor all-out battle with Mr. Trump and increasingly question his legitimacy as president.

By moving swiftly into the most contentious midterm races, these candidates aim to cement their party in forceful opposition to Mr. Trump and to align it unswervingly with minority communities and young people. Rather than muting their differences with the Republican Party in order to compete in states Mr. Trump won, like Georgia and Florida, they aim to make those distinctions starker. And, these Democrats say, they are willing to defy the conventional strategic thinking of the national party establishment, which has tended to recruit moderate, white candidates for difficult races and largely failed to help blacks advance to high office under President Barack Obama.

Stacey Abrams, the Democratic leader in the Georgia House of Representatives and a likely candidate for governor, said Democrats would win by confronting a president who was viewed with fear and hostility by the party’s base. Rather than pivoting to the center, Ms. Abrams, 43, said Democrats should redouble their focus on registering and energizing blacks, Hispanics and Asian-Americans, as well as young and low-income voters, who often decline to participate in politics.“There is a hunger for representation,” Ms. Abrams said in an interview. “There is a desire to make certain the state starts to serve everyone.”

At a “Macon Resists” town hall event in central Georgia last month, Ms. Abrams appealed to an auditorium of anxious Democrats with just that approach. The state, she said, is speeding toward a political crossroads, with Republicans “terrified of the evolving nature of our state.”“We can either move forward or we can let the president, and those fascists that surround him, pull us backwards,” she said. “I plan to go forward.”

Ms. Abrams, who filed paperwork this month to explore a run for governor, spent much of the event explaining the wrangling of the Georgia legislature in cool, pragmatic terms. But in the interview, she was adamant that Democrats could not “fake a conservative bent” in order to win the next election in her state, which voted for Mr. Trump by about six percentage points.“A Democrat wins an election in Georgia by speaking truth to power,” she said.In other states, black Democratic leaders have been just as pointed in their calls for the party to try something new.

Benjamin T. Jealous, a former president of the N.A.A.C.P., is exploring a campaign for governor of Maryland while warning the national party that minority voters could stay home if they are not inspired. Andrew Gillum, the mayor of Tallahassee and a declared candidate for governor of Florida, said Democrats had repeatedly erred by failing to “lean into our base” and by chasing votes nearer to the center instead.

These candidates have brandished data indicating that black turnout slumped in 2016, the first presidential election in a dozen years without Mr. Obama on the ballot: The Census Bureau found that black turnout last year dropped sharply from 2012.

The field of states where youthful black Democrats are competing in 2018 is likely to expand: In Massachusetts, Setti Warren, the 46-year-old mayor of Newton, is gearing up for a race against Gov. Charlie Baker, a hugely popular Republican. African-American candidates are more tentatively considering statewide races in Illinois, Nevada and Ohio. And in Virginia’s off-year elections, Justin Fairfax, a 38-year-old former prosecutor, is the favorite to become the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor.

To read full article, go to: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/15/us/politics/black-democrats-governor-races-2018.html?smprod=nytcore-iphone&smid=nytcore-iphone-share&_r=0

“The Equalizer” Director Antoine Fuqua to Develop Film Based on Police Murder of Black Panther Fred Hampton

Director Antoine Fuqua (l); Black Panther Fred Hampton (r) Credit: Getty Images

by Brennan Williams via huffpost.com

Antoine Fuqua is developing a film about the late activist and Black Panther affiliate Fred Hampton. The project is based on Jeffrey Haas’ 2009 book The Assassination of Fred Hampton: How the FBI and the Chicago Police Murdered a Black Panther, according to Variety. Beginning at the age of 15, Hampton inserted himself into the world of activism by organizing a chapter of the NAACP at his high school and later became the chairman of the Illinois Black Panther Party at age 20.

Haas’ book, adapted for the screen by screenwriter Chris Smith, uncovers the controversial events surrounding Hampton’s 1969 murder. The 21-year-old was shot dead in his bed as 14 officers opened fire during a police raid. Though Hampton’s death was ruled as a “justifiable” homicide by officials, Hampton’s surviving family members filed a civil lawsuit in 1970, which resulted in a settlement of $1.85 million in 1982. The untitled project is a part of Fuqua’s new production deal with Sony Studios.

For the filmmaker, the new deal is a homecoming of sorts as the film studio has helmed some of his biggest films including “The Equalizer,” “Training Day,” and his breakout feature, “The Replacement Killers.” “I started my feature film career almost 20 years ago at Columbia,” Fuqua said to Variety about rejoining Sony for his new deal. “Since then some of my biggest career achievements have been with the studio. I am proud of our work together and am very much looking forward to this new collaboration and our upcoming creative endeavors.”

As Fuqua continues to develop his Fred Hampton project, fans can expect the filmmaker to reteam with Denzel Washington for the sequel to their 2014 blockbuster, “The Equalizer,” which will hit theaters September 2018.

To read full article, go to: Antoine Fuqua To Develop Film Based On Black Panther Murdered By Police | HuffPost

Darius Aikens, Oakland Teen With Tough Past, Becomes Youth Chapter President at local NAACP, Strives to Help Others

Darius Aikens (photo via sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com)

article by Sherry Hu via sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com

Being a student director on the Oakland school board is a warm up. Because Darius Aikens says his goal is to become the city’s mayor.

“My dream is just to impact the lives of so many people,” he said. “I definitely think my childhood prepared me for this position.”

When Darius was nine years old, his father died of cancer. His mother had her own issues and was unable to care for the family.  So, while still a child himself, Darius had to step in and raise his siblings.

“Many times I felt my life was worthless and that no one loved me,” he said. “Those days were really difficult, I remember my siblings and I went to school solely to eat.”  Despite those difficult years, Darius persevered and is determined to be a role model to his younger siblings.

“He just sees the good and the positive in everything he does,” said his history teacher and mentor, Isabel Toscano.

Today, Darius not only sits on the school board and works part time, he’s also the youth chapter president of the local NAACP and an ambassador for The Oakland Promise, a city initiative to triple the number of college graduates from Oakland.

“My purpose in life is not to give up, if I give up, who do my siblings have to look up to?” hea said. “They’re my motivation … I have to show them a better way of life.”

And that goes for everyone in his community.

“I just really do hope I can continue to be a voice for the voiceless and vulnerable. I just want to do all the good I can for as many people as I can.”

To read more and see video: Oakland Student With Heartbreaking Past Strives To Help Others « CBS San Francisco

NAACP Youth Division Hosting People’s Inauguration Rally at Howard University with Chance the Rapper Jan. 21

Chance The Rapper and NAACP Youth & College Division members (photo via NAACP / Twitter)

Chance The Rapper and NAACP Youth & College Division members (photo via NAACP / Twitter)

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (follow @lakinhutcherson)

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Youth & College division of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is hosting a gathering of youth activists next month to organize and plan responses to new civil rights threats expected under the new administration and Congress in 2017.

Leaders of the youth wing of the NAACP, along with partners in Justice League New York and the Empowerment Movement will work together at the “People’s Inauguration” rally at Howard University in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, January 21 at 9 a.m. Grammy-nominated artist Chance the Rapper is scheduled to appear as a guest speaker.

The rally will re-unite allies and partners who helped register thousands of new and young voters during the 2016 election with the goal to launch a new era of activism and protest against potential threats from the presidency of Donald J. Trump. During the meeting, attendees will begin collaborating to unite together and stand for a progressive policy agenda in the coming months and years.

“We are faced with a moral and ethical crisis during this critical time in our nation’s history after the election of Donald J. Trump,’ said Stephen Green, director of the NAACP Youth & College Division. “This moment calls for young leaders to gather together and develop a strategy to protect the human and civil rights of all Americans through nonviolent resistance.”

#StayWokeAndFight is the name of the new initiative, and it is intended to provide direct actions, protests and other activism to oppose threats to civil rights, education investment, criminal justice reform and other areas of concern posed by the Trump administration that takes office on January 20.

Organizers also plan to host a “People’s Inaugural Ball” on Inauguration night. Registration is  open online for individuals and groups to join and attend at www.staywokeandfight.com.

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Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation’s oldest and largest nonpartisan civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities. You can read more about the NAACP’s work and our six “Game Changer” issue areas here.

PBS to Air Documentary on William Monroe Trotter, a Black Newspaper Editor Who Fought Against Original “The Birth of a Nation”

William Monroe Trotter (photo via colorlines.com)

article by Sameer Rao via colorlines.com

As D.W. Griffith’s “The Birth of a Nation” contributed to the Ku Klux Klan’s resurgence nearly 100 years ago, pioneering Black newspaper editor and activist William Monroe Trotter fought to ban the film in his native Boston. An upcoming PBS doc will explore his battle against the infamous 1915 film.

Birth of a Movement focuses on Trotter’s mobilization of community protests, which included an attempt to see the movie with supporters that ended in a scuffle and his arrest. These protests were part of a career spent critiquing segregationist policy that included founding and editing The Boston Guardian, criticizing Booker T. Washington, helping to create the NAACP and leading the National Equal Rights League. Trotter’s activism grew into a broader movement to combat the film’s violent aftermath.

The documentary premieres February 6 at 10 p.m. as part of PBS’ “Independent Lens” series.

To read more, go to: PBS to Air Doc on Black Editor Who Fought Original ‘The Birth of a Nation’ | Colorlines

The NAACP Challenges President-Elect Donald Trump to “Act With Moral Clarity” in Statement on 2016 Election

(photo via naacp.org)

(photo via naacp.org) 

BALTIMORE, MD – NAACP National President and CEO Cornell William Brooks issued the following statement regarding the results of the 2016 presidential election:

“Even as we extend our congratulations to President-Elect Donald J. Trump, the NAACP, as America’s oldest and largest civil rights organization, must bluntly note that the 2016 campaign has regularized racism, standardized anti-Semitism, de-exceptionalized xenophobia and mainstreamed misogyny. Voter suppression, as the courts have declared, has too become rampant and routine.

From the day that General George Washington accepted the people’s charge to become their first commander-in-chief, to the day that we elected Barack Obama as our country’s first African-American president, America has come together to ensure a peaceful transition of power. This most recent presidential election must meet this distinctly American standard. President-Elect Trump’s victory speech avoided a divisive tone and thus invoked this standard.

During this critical period of transition, we are now calling upon the next president to speak and act with the moral clarity necessary to silence the dog-whistle racial politics that have characterized recent months and have left many of our fellow citizens snarling at one another in anger and even whimpering in fear. The more than 120 million Americans who cast ballots in this election – as well as the more than 100 million more eligible voters who declined to vote – deserve no less.

The NAACP stands ready to work with a new administration to realize the racial justice concerns that not only compelled millions of people to go to the polls on Election Day but also inspired millions to protest in the streets in the preceding days and months. Depending upon the new administration’s fidelity to America’s ideals of liberty and the NAACP’s agenda for justice, we will either be at its side or in its face. We will not let this election distract or dissuade us; the NAACP will continue to stand strong at the frontlines, advocating for voting rights, criminal justice reform and equality for all.   

This election comes as a surprise to many, an affirmation to some and a rejection to others, and yet it is also a defining moment for the NAACP and the nation. Let us come together as a country – come together with the principled and practical unity that the needs of our nation and the need to govern demand.

Our beauty as a country shines brighter than the ugliness of this election. It is up to all of us to reveal the beauty of who we are as a people as we yet see the possibilities of the nation we can become.” 

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Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation’s oldest and largest nonpartisan civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities. You can read more about the NAACP’s work and its six “Game Changer” issue areas here.

Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to Join Board of NAACP Legal Defense Fund

(Image: iStock.com/Chip Somodevilla)

Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder (Image: iStock.com/Chip Somodevilla)

article by Hailey Wallace via blackenterprise.com

The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund has announced that Eric Holder is set to join the organization’s National Board of Directors.

Appointed by President Obama in 2009, Holder was the first black attorney general of the United States. During his tenure under the Obama administration, Holder prioritized voting rights and criminal justice reform.

Holder’s connections to the Legal Defense Fund run deep. The former attorney general interned for the LDF in 1974 after his first year at Columbia Law. Last year, Holder received the Thurgood Marshall Lifetime Achievement Award, which the LDF calls its “highest honor.”

Current LDF President, Sherrilyn Ifillhas spoken highly of Holder. “I have been unequivocal in my admiration for Mr. Holder’s leadership. He presided over the restoration of the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, launched the groundbreaking criminal justice reforms of President Obama, and confronted the challenges in Ferguson, Missouri, with tremendous sensitivity during a volatile time in our nation,” Ifill said.

In a statement announcing his appointment, the LDF praised Holder for his ‘Smart on Crime’ initiative, which called for “major changes to drug sentencing, the release of elderly prisoners and a decreased length of non-violent crime sentences, were bold measures that will continue to have a major impact on African American communities and are emblematic of LDF’s vision of justice.”