Obamas Announce New Community-Based Endeavor via The Obama Foundation (VIDEO)

Michelle and Barack Obama (photo via Obama.org)

Michelle and Barack Obama (photo via Obama.org)

article by Ryan Reed via rollingstone.com

On the morning of Donald Trump‘s inauguration, outgoing President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama unveiled The Obama Foundation, (https://www.obama.org) their first major project upon exiting the White House. The Foundation will be based in the south side of Chicago and facilitate projects “all over the city, the country and the world.”

In a video, the Obamas ask viewers to help shape the Foundation by contributing suggestions via the site’s “Your Voice” section. “After eight years in the White House, Michelle and I now rejoin all of you as private citizens,” Obama said. “We want to thank you once again from the bottom of our hearts for giving us the incredible privilege of serving this country that we love.”  To watch it, click this link: https://youtu.be/ODVxuN6m6E8

Before they get to work on this massive endeavor, the former First Couple plan to enjoy a much-needed vacation. “First, we’re gonna take a little break,” Michelle Obama said. “We’re finally gonna get some sleep and take some to be with our family – and just be still for a little. So we might be online quite as much as you’re used to seeing us.”

To read more, go to: Watch Former President Obama, Michelle Obama Announce New Endeavor – Rolling Stone

Obama Commutes Sentences of 330 Drug Prisoners on Final Day of Presidency

President Barack Obama (photo via huffingtonpost.com)

article by Ryan J. Rielly and Elise Foley via huffingtonpost.com

President Barack Obama shortened the sentences of 330 federal prisoners on Thursday, less than 24 hours before Donald Trump takes office. With Thursday’s announcement, Obama has now granted commutations to 1,715 federal prisoners.

A review of Thursday’s list indicates that all of those 330 clemency cases were for drug or drug-related cases. Obama’s announcement followed the Tuesday commutations of the sentences of Chelsea Manning and of more than 200 federal prisoners charged with drug offenses.

“With this last act of mercy, President Obama has closed out a historic effort to restore some balance and fairness to a federal prison system that has caused needless destruction of thousands of lives and families,” Jessica Jackson Sloan, national director of the #cut50 initiative, said in a statement. “We continue to waste our precious resources to lock up people who have committed drug-related crimes that do not warrant decades, and certainly not life, in prison.”

Jackson Sloan said there are “still too many people incarcerated in the federal system who are not a threat to public safety” who would be “assets, mentors, and leaders in their communities if they were given the chance to come home.”Clemency lawyer Brittany Byrd, campaign director for #cut50, said Obama had “saved Trenton Copeland’s life” by granting him clemency.

To read full article, go to: Obama Grants 330 Drug Prisoners Early Freedom On Final Day Of Presidency | The Huffington Post

Obama Designates Three Civil Rights Monuments as National Monuments in Last Week of Presidency

A young protester confronted by a police officer and a snarling police dog is depicted in a sculpture in Kelly Ingram Park in Birmingham, AL (Butch Dill/AP)

article by Chandelis R. Duster via nbcnews.com

Evoking images of newly freed slaves who sought to help reconstruct a war-torn nation and Birmingham civil rights crusaders who marched against injustice, President Obama announced Thursday several new civil rights monuments on the eve of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

The Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument, Freedom Riders National Monument, and the Reconstruction Era National Monument designations comes during Obama’s last days in the White House.

“These monuments preserve the vibrant history of the Reconstruction Era and its role in redefining freedom. They tell the important stories of the citizens who helped launch the civil rights movement in Birmingham and the Freedom Riders whose bravery raised national awareness of segregation and violence. These stories are part of our shared history,” President Obama said in a statement.

The Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument includes the Birmingham Civil Rights District, a historic landmark in Alabama and the heart of the civil rights movement, where civil rights leaders such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. marched and fought racism. The district includes the 16th Street Baptist Church, where four young African American girls were killed and others injured when a bomb exploded during a church service. Kelly Ingram Park, the A.G. Gaston Motel, Bethel Baptist Church, and the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute are also part of the monument.

The Freedom Riders National Monument is located in Anniston, Alabama honors those who rode integrated buses and were often brutally beaten, jailed or killed in their quest for equality.

The Reconstruction Era National Monument in coastal South Carolina includes four sites that chronicle the saga of newly freed slaves who sought to help rebuild and strengthen the region. Continue reading

President Obama Pens 55-Page Article on Criminal Justice Reform in Harvard Law Review

(photo via theroot.com)

article via theroot.com

President Barack Obama returned to his Harvard Law Review roots (he was the first black president of hundred-plus year old journal in his last year at the school) as he penned a 55-page-article on criminal justice reform, how his administration has moved the needle, and how far we have to go.

Entitled “The President’s Role in Advancing Criminal Justice Reform,” the piece appeared in the January 2017 edition of the illustrious book, and according to Harvard magazine, “largely restates the bipartisan case for criminal-justice reform, with an emphasis on mass incarceration’s financial cost.”

Obama did touch on the racial bias in our criminal justice policymaking in the article, writing:

A large body of research finds that, for similar offenses, members of the African American and Hispanic communities are more likely to be stopped, searched, arrested, convicted, and sentenced to harsher penalties. Rates of parental incarceration are two to seven times higher for African American and Hispanic children. Over the past thirty years, the share of African American adults with a past felony conviction—and who have paid their debt to society—has more than tripled, and one in four African American men outside the correctional system now has a felony record. This number is in addition to the one in twenty African American men under correctional supervision…The system of mass incarceration has endured for as long as it has in part because of the school-to-prison pipeline and political opposition to reform that insisted on ‘a stern dose of discipline—more policy, more prisons, more personal responsibility, and an end to welfare.’ Today, however, much of that opposition has receded, replaced by broad agreement that policies put in place in that era are not a good match for the challenges of today.

To read full article, go to: President Obama Pens 55-Page Article on Criminal Justice

President Barack Obama Ranked by Gallup Poll as Most Admired Man of 2016

President Obama Signs 21st Century Cures Act

U.S. President Barack Obama delivers remarks before signing the 21st Century Cures Act into law at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building December 13, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Chip Somodevilla—Getty Images)

article by Sarah Begley via time.com

For the ninth year in a row, respondents to a Gallup poll ranked President Barack Obama as the most admired man in America.

Among women, Hillary Clinton was the most admired for the 15th year in a row, and the 21st time overall. Since 1993, her first year as First Lady, she has only lost out on the honor three times: in 1995 and 1996, to Mother Teresa, and in 2001, to then-First Lady Laura Bush. Current First Lady Michelle Obama came in second among women, while Donald Trump came in second among men (15% of respondents mentioned him, compared with the 22% who mentioned Obama and the 12% who picked Clinton).

To read full article, go to: http://time.com/4618890/barack-obama-most-admired-man-2016/

President Barack Obama Signs Emmett Till Bill To Reopen Unsolved Civil Rights Cases

President Barack Obama (photo via vibe.com/Getty Images)

article via vibe.com

President Barack Obama signed legislation earlier this month that allows the FBI and the Department of Justice to reopen unsolved civil rights cases. Initially titled Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crimes, the updated version of this bill now allows both agencies to bring to justice those who committed crimes prior to 1970.

Named after Emmett Till, the 14-year-old boy from Chicago who was taken from his bed in the middle of night, beat and shot by two white men for allegedly whistling at a white woman, the Justice Department is being encouraged to reach out to “activists, advocates and academics working on these issues.”

Other departments who will aid in resolving these cases include the Cold Case Justice Initiative at Syracuse University, Northeastern University School of Law’s Civil Rights and and Restorative Justice Project, The Georgia Civil Rights Cold Cases Project at Emory University.

To read full article, go to: POTUS Signs Emmett Till Bill To Reopen Unsolved Civil Rights Cases

Trevor Noah to Interview President Barack Obama on “Daily Show” Dec. 12

Trevor Noah (l); President Barack Obama (r) [photo via vibe.com]

article by J’na Jefferson via vibe.com

“The Daily Show” host Trevor Noah will sit-down with President Barack Obama, and their “in-depth” discussion will air on Monday, Dec. 12 on multiple channels such as Comedy Central, MTV and BET.

The interview, which will take place in the White House, will not be the President’s first time on the Comedy Central show. He was interviewed by former host Jon Stewart on the program seven times. He’s also no stranger to the late-night circuit, as he’s appeared on “The Tonight Show” with both Jay Leno and Jimmy Fallon, “The Colbert Report,” “The Late Show With David Letterman” and “Jimmy Kimmel Live!”

Noah has interviewed former President Bill Clinton and the former chairman of Hillary Clinton’s campaign, John Podesta. This will be the first time Noah has interviewed President Obama.

To read more, go to: Trevor Noah To Interview President Barack Obama