Tag: National Council Of Negro Women

R.I.P. Dovey Johnson Roundtree, 104, Army Captain, Minister and Trailblazing Civil Rights Lawyer

Dovey Johnson Roundtree outside the United States District Court in Washington, about 1985. “As a woman, and as a woman of color in an age when black lawyers had to leave the courthouse to use the bathrooms, she dared to practice before the bar of justice and was unflinching,” the co-author of her memoir said. (Credit: via Dovey Johnson Roundtree)

by Margalit Fox via nytimes.com

The jurors were looking at her when they filed into court. That, Dovey Johnson Roundtree knew, could have immense significance for her client, a feebleminded day laborer accused of one of the most sensational murders of the mid-20th century.

Little had augured well for that client, Raymond Crump Jr., during his eight-day trial in United States District Court in Washington: Mr. Crump, who had been found near the crime scene, was black and poor. The victim was white, glamorous and supremely well connected. The country, in the summer of 1965, seethed with racial tension amid the surging civil rights movement.

Federal prosecutors had amassed a welter of circumstantial evidence — including 27 witnesses and more than 50 exhibits — to argue that on Oct. 12, 1964, Mr. Crump had carried out the execution-style shooting of Mary Pinchot Meyer, a Washington socialite said to have been a former lover of President John F. Kennedy.

By contrast, Ms. Roundtree, who died on Monday at 104, had chosen to present just three witnesses and a single exhibit to the jury, which comprised men and women, blacks and whites. Her closing argument was only 20 minutes long.

Now, on July 30, 1965, the jury, having deliberated, was back. The court clerk handed the verdict slip to the judge, Howard F. Corcoran. For most observers, inside the courtroom and out, conviction — and an accompanying death sentence — was a foregone conclusion.

“Members of the jury,” Judge Corcoran said. “We have your verdict, which states that you find the defendant, Ray Crump Jr., not guilty.”

Ms. Roundtree’s defense, which hinged partly on two forensic masterstrokes, made her reputation as a litigator of acuity, concision and steel who could win even the most hopeless trials. And this in a case for which she had received a fee of one dollar.

“As a woman, and as a woman of color in an age when black lawyers had to leave the courthouse to use the bathrooms, she dared to practice before the bar of justice and was unflinching,” Katie McCabe, the co-author of Ms. Roundtree’s memoir, “Justice Older Than the Law,” said in an interview for this obituary in 2016. “She was a one-woman Legal Aid Society before people used that term.”

Officer, Lawyer, Minister

Ms. Roundtree’s victory in the Crump case was not her first noteworthy accomplishment, and it was by no means her last. Born to a family of slender means in the Jim Crow South, Ms. Roundtree — or the Rev. Dovey Johnson Roundtree, as she was long formally known — was instrumental in winning a spate of advances for blacks and women in midcentury America, blazing trails in the military, the legal profession and the ministry.

As an inaugural member of the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (later the Women’s Army Corps), she became, in 1942, one of the first women of any race to be commissioned an Army officer. Attaining the rank of captain, she personally recruited scores of African-American women for wartime Army service.

Ms. Roundtree in Washington about 1963, not long before she took on the greatest criminal case of her career, the United States v. Raymond Crump Jr., in which she won acquittal for a black man accused of the murder of a white Washington socialite. (Credit: via Dovey Johnson Roundtree)

As a Washington lawyer, she helped secure a landmark ban on racial segregation in interstate bus travel in a case that originated in 1952 — three years before Rosa Parks refused to yield her seat in Montgomery, Ala.

As a cleric, Ms. Roundtree was one of the first women to be ordained a minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Church.

In 2009, in a statement honoring the publication of “Justice Older Than the Law,” the first lady, Michelle Obama, said, “As an Army veteran, lawyer and minister, Ms. Roundtree set a new path for the many women who have followed her and proved once again that the vision and perseverance of a single individual can help to turn the tides of history.”

Yet for all her perseverance, and all her prowess, Ms. Roundtree remained, by temperament, choice and political circumstance, comparatively unknown.

“One has to start with the fact — and I think it’s an acknowledged fact — that the civil rights movement was notoriously sexist,” Ms. McCabe said in 2016. “There were many men who did not appreciate being ground up into hamburger meat by Dovey Roundtree. There are many, many white lawyers — male — in Washington who were humiliated by having been beaten by a black woman. And I think that played out in a number of ways. And one of those ways has been a diminution in the recognition that I think her accomplishments merit.”

Continue reading “R.I.P. Dovey Johnson Roundtree, 104, Army Captain, Minister and Trailblazing Civil Rights Lawyer”

Spelman College Student Deanna Hayden Works to Raise Literacy Rates with “House of Knowledge” Project

by Robin White Goode via blackenterprise.com

It’s National Library Week, and at Spelman College a student is changing lives by improving a community’s literacy. Deanna Hayden, a junior Comparative Women’s Studies major, volunteers in an impoverished neighborhood in Atlanta, the West End community.

“I grew up in rural Mississippi,” Hayden said, “where there was an overwhelming lack of educational resources. When I started volunteering at Paul Laurence Dunbar Elementary School in the West End, I noticed parallels between the education system here and in Mississippi.”

BOOKS TRUMP POVERTY

Hayden relayed there are students with low reading scores, ironically in a school named after a literary giant. “I sat in on third-grade classes and could see that there is a need to improve their literacy,” she says.

Hayden had noticed that in wealthy communities there are what she calls “free libraries”—not library buildings from which books can be borrowed, but small, house-shaped structures full of books that can be taken for keeps, or added to. (Hayden was most likely referring to the Little Free Library book exchange.)

Regular reading is critical to raising literacy and reading levels, but book ownership also makes a huge difference. According to a 2014 study cited in a New York Times article, the number of books in a home is “the most important predictor of reading performance” after gross national product. “The greatest effect was seen in libraries of about 100 books, which resulted in approximately 1.5 extra years of grade-level reading performance.”

Astonishingly, a home library appears to matter more than the family budget. The Times article goes on: “… in the United States, with the size of libraries being equal, students coming from the top 10% of wealthiest families performed at just one extra grade level over students from the poorest 10%.”

THE HOUSE OF KNOWLEDGE

Spelman
(Courtesy of Spelman College)

Similar to both the Little Free Library and Barbershop Shops, which sets up books targeting black boys from age 4 to 8 in barbershops, the House of Knowledge is a literacy initiative that Hayden developed in response to the struggling readers she encountered.

There are now seven Houses of Knowledge throughout the West End community “in places frequented by children, such as churches, recreation centers, and doctor’s offices,” Hayden told me. Each holds 25 books targeting readers in kindergarten to eighth grade.

“Each House of Knowledge has its own theme,” Hayden says. “Some offer books on science and technology—others are all about black women.” Each box has a sponsor which is responsible for monitoring the box to make sure there is always a selection of books inside. The sponsor—organizations like the NAACP, the National Council of Negro Women, and others on the Spelman campus—determines what books will be offered.

Hayden, who graduates next year and plans to study public health and educational policy in graduate school, still has plans for the House of Knowledge project. “I’d like the kids to do surveys and quizzes on the books,” she says. “Eventually I’d like to develop an after school component as well.”

In the meantime, she’s also hoping for a grant that will make the program more sustainable.

To learn more, visit the House of Knowledge website.

Source: http://www.blackenterprise.com/spelman-student-raising-literacy-skills/

Civil Rights Activist Dorothy Height to Be Honored on 2017 U.S. Postage Stamp

Dorothy Height U.S. postal stamp, 2017.
Dorothy Height U.S. postal stamp, 2017. BLACK HERITAGE: DOROTHY HEIGHT STAMP IMAGE © 2016 UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

article via theroot.com

The U.S. Postal Service just announced civil rights leader Dorothy Height will be honored as the 40th stamp in the Black Heritage Forever series. The painting of Height is based on based on a 2009 photograph shot by Lateef Mangum. Art director Derry Noyes designed the stamp.

Height was a tireless activist who dedicated her life to fighting for racial and gender equality. She lived a remarkable life that was in service to her community but African-American women in particular. Although she rarely gained the recognition granted her male contemporaries, she became one of the most influential civil rights leaders of the 20th century. She was the president of the National Council of Negro Women for forty years and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1994.

In 1990, Height, along with 15 other African Americans, formed the African-American Women for Reproductive Freedom. She served as national president of Delta Sigma Theta sorority from 1947 to 1956; was the chairperson of the Executive Committee of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights; and an honored guest at the inauguration of President Barack Obama on January 20, 2009, where she was seated on stage.

Height is the 15th African American woman to appear in the series. The stamp will be available in 2017.

To read full article, go to: http://www.theroot.com/blog/the-grapevine/dorothy-height-to-be-honored-on-2017-u-s-postage-stamp/

70 Years Ago Today: Etta Moten Barnett Becomes 1st African-American to Sing at the White House

Etta Moten Barnett (Photo: Chicago Library)

Broadway star and film actress Etta Moten Barnett sang at the birthday party for President Franklin D. Roosevelt on Jan. 31, 1943, becoming the first African-American to perform at the White House.

She performed “Remember My Forgotten Man,” which she also sang in the movie Gold Diggers of 1933 (1933), although she was not listed in the credits. A conaltro vocalist, she was best known for her starring role in the 1942 revival of Porgy and Bess on Broadway. 

Barnett was born November 5, 1901, in Weimar, Texas. She married Claude Barnett, founder of the Associated Negro Press, in 1934. In her later years, Barnett was active in many community organizations including the National Council of Negro Women, the National Conference of Christians and Jews and the African American Institute. She passed away from pancreatic cancer on January 5, 2004, at age 102.

article by Britt Middleton via bet.com

GBN Quote Of The Day

“Next to God we are indebted to women, first for life itself, and then for making it worth living.”

— Mary Mcleod Bethune, educator, feminist and founder of The National Council For Negro Women