Tag: Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr.

R.I.P. Dick Gregory, 84, Groundbreaking Comedian, Civil Rights Activist and Nutrition Guru

Dick Gregory (photo via hollywoodreporter.com)

by Dennis McLellan via latimes.com

Dick Gregory, who became the first black stand-up comic to break the color barrier in major nightclubs in the early 1960s, a decade in which he satirized segregation and race relations in his act and launched his lifetime commitment to civil rights and other social justice issues, died Saturday. He was 84.

His death was confirmed on his official social media accounts by his family. “It is with enormous sadness that the Gregory family confirms that their father, comedic legend and civil rights activist Mr. Dick Gregory departed this earth tonight in Washington, DC.,” his son Christian Gregory wrote. Even before the confirmation from the family, Rev. Jesse Jackson, a longtime friend of Gregory’s, had memorialized him in a tweet: “He taught us how to laugh. He taught us how to fight. He taught us how to live. Dick Gregory was committed to justice. I miss him already.”

In a life that began in poverty in St. Louis during the Depression, the former Southern Illinois University track star became known as an author, lecturer, nutrition guru and self-described agitator who marched, ran and fasted to call attention to issues ranging from police brutality to world famine. An invitation from civil rights leader Medgar Evers to speak at voter registration rallies in Jackson, Miss., in 1962 launched Gregory into what he called “the civil rights fight.” He was frequently arrested for his activities in the ’60s, and once spent five days in jail in Birmingham, Ala. after joining demonstrators in 1963 at the request of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

Gregory, who was shot in the leg while trying to help defuse the Watts riots in 1965, made a failed run for mayor of Chicago as a write-in candidate in 1967. A year later, he ran for president as a write-in candidate for the Freedom and Peace Party, a splinter group of the Peace and Freedom Party. Hunter S. Thompson was one of his most vocal supporters.

In the late ’60s, Gregory began going on 40-day fasts to protest the Vietnam War. In 1980, impatient with President Carter’s handling of the Iranian hostage crisis, he flew to Iran and began a fast, had a “ceremonial visit” with revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and met with the revolutionary students inside the embassy. After four and a half months in Iran, his weight down to 106 pounds, he returned home.

Dick Gregory runs for President (photo via latimes.com)

But before Dick Gregory the activist, there was Dick Gregory the groundbreaking comedian. He was a struggling 28-year-old stand-up comic in Chicago who had launched his career in small black clubs when he received a life-changing, last-minute phone call from his agent in January 1961: The prestigious Playboy Club in Chicago needed someone to fill in for comedian Irwin Corey on Sunday night. Gregory was so broke he had to borrow a quarter from his landlord for bus fare downtown. Never mind that his audience turned out to be a convention of white frozen-food-industry executives from the South.

“Good evening, ladies and gentlemen,” Gregory said, coolly eyeing the audience. “I understand there are a good many Southerners in the room tonight. I know the South very well. I spent 20 years there one night. …“Last time I was down South, I walked into this restaurant, and this white waitress came up to me and said: ‘We don’t serve colored people here.’ I said: ‘That’s all right, I don’t eat colored people. Bring me a whole fried chicken.’ ”Despite having to deal with what he later described as “dirty, little, insulting statements” from some members of the audience, the heckling soon stopped as Gregory won them over with his provocatively funny but nonbelligerent satirical humor.

“Segregation is not all bad,” he said on stage. “Have you ever heard of a wreck where the people on the back of the bus got hurt?” What was supposed to be a 55-minute show, Gregory later recalled, went on for about an hour and 40 minutes. And by the time he walked off stage, the audience gave him a thundering ovation. He did so well, he was booked at the club for two weeks and then held over for several more.

To read full article, go to: Dick Gregory, who rose from poverty to become a groundbreaking comedian and civil rights activist, dies at 84 – LA Times

Tech Giant Apple Appoints former Boeing CEO James A. Bell to its Board of Directors

James A. Bell (photo via macdaily.com)
James A. Bell (photo via macdaily.com)

Technology companies have been the target of questioning when it comes to hiring minorities. In fact, with the lack of adequate minority representation in companies like Facebook and Google, civil rights activists such as the Rev. Jesse Jackson along with the Rev. Al Sharpton have called out these companies. By calling out major technology companies with regard to their hiring practices of minorities to managerial and upper management positions, some companies are listening.

In a recent development, Apple has elected James, A. Bell to its board of directors. This move is without a doubt, a move in the right direction for a company as powerful as Apple.

Bell is the former chief financial officer and corporate president of the Boeing Company. With a 38-year tenure at Boeing, Bell served as the interim CEO of the the company in 2005.

When asked about his election to the board of directors for Apple, Bell said “I am an avid user of Apple products and have a tremendous respect for the company’s ability to innovate. I am delighted to join the Apple board and look forward to contributing to its continued success in any way I can.” according to The Root.

With all of his vast experience in corporate America, Bell brings quality leadership and strategic planning to the board. In addition to that, his experience in finance will definitely be a huge contributing factor.

“In August, Apple said it was making efforts to hire more women and underrepresented minorities, recruiting more diverse candidates in the past 12 months than in any previous year, but overall there was little change in the demographics of the company, which is overwhelmingly male and white, USA Today reported Thursday.”

Apple isn’t the only board appointment Bell has. He’s a board member of the following: Dow Chemical, JP Morgan Chase, and CDW. He’s also a trustee of the Chicago’s Rush University Medical Center
.

article via financialjuneteenth.com

Intel Allocates $300 Million to Diversify Tech Industry

Brian M. Krzanich, chief of Intel, in Las Vegas on Tuesday. “This is the right time to make a bold statement,” he said. (Credit: Rick Wilking/Reuters) 

SAN FRANCISCO — Over the last year, Apple, Google and other big technology companies have faced mounting criticism by civil rights leaders about the lack of diversity in their work forces, which are populated mostly by white and Asian men.

Now Intel, the giant chip maker, is taking more concrete steps to do something about it.

On Tuesday, Intel said the company’s work force would better reflect the available talent pool of women and underrepresented minority groups in the United States within five years. If successful, the plan would increase the population of women, blacks, Hispanics and other groups at Intel by at least 14 percent during that period, the company said.

In addition, Intel said it has established a $300 million fund to be used in the next three years to improve the diversity of the company’s work force, attract more women and minorities to the technology field and make the industry more hospitable to them once they get there. The money will be used to fund engineering scholarships and to support historically black colleges and universities.

The company also said it would invest in efforts to bring more women into the games business, partly as an antidote to the harassment feminist critics and game developers have faced in recent months. Intel became part of the furor last year when, under pressure, it withdrew an advertising campaign from a game website that had run an essay by a feminist game critic, a move it later said it regretted.

“This is the right time to make a bold statement,” Brian M. Krzanich, Intel’s chief executive, said in a phone interview. Mr. Krzanich announced the plans on Tuesday in a speech at the International CES, a huge trade show in Las Vegas. “It’s kind of Intel’s culture. We march by Moore’s Law. We say we’re going to reinvent Silicon every two years even though we don’t really know how we’re going to pull that off.”

Many of the largest technology companies have released reports showing that roughly 70 percent of their employees are men and 30 percent are women. Depending on the company, blacks account for anywhere from 2 to 7 percent of workers at big tech companies.

The Rev. Jesse L. Jackson Sr., who has led a campaign to pressure technology companies on diversity, said Intel was going beyond what others have done to remedy the imbalance in their work forces by setting more specific goals for hiring.

“There is no comparison,” said Mr. Jackson, the founder and president of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, who has spoken to Intel about its plans. “It is far beyond at this point. I think others are going to follow their lead.”

Intel’s goals, though, face the harsh reality described by many technology leaders: The supply of skilled workers from underrepresented groups, especially in technical fields like engineering, is limited.

Rosalind L. Hudnell, Intel’s chief diversity officer, cited statistics showing that just 18 percent of undergraduate engineering degrees go to women. That makes it especially difficult to improve diversity at Intel, which leans more heavily on technical employees than other tech companies.

“We hire more engineers; we just do, and that pipeline is less,” said Ms. Hudnell.

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Oprah Winfrey’s OWN Announces a Month-Long Celebration Honoring Civil Rights Legends

Oprah Winfrey and

OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network recently announced a month-long celebration in January honoring civil rights legends who paved the way as we approach the 50th anniversary of the historic Selma to Montgomery marches led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The network will air the star-studded television event Oprah Winfrey Presents: Legends Who Paved The Way (Sunday, January 18 at 9 p.m. ET/PT) where Oprah Winfrey hosts a gala of events honoring some of the legendary men and extraordinary women of the civil rights movement, the arts and entertainment who made history and redefined what was possible for us all. Honorees include Ambassador Andrew Young, Berry Gordy, Rev. C.T. Vivian, Diane Nash, Dick Gregory, Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr., Congressman John Lewis, Rev. Joseph Lowery, Juanita Jones Abernathy, Julian Bond, Marian Wright Edelman, Myrlie Evers-Williams, Quincy Jones, Sidney Poitier and Harry Belafonte.

On January 4 at 9 p.m. ET/PT, Oprah sits down for a special episode of her popular series Oprah Prime celebrating the life of Dr. King and the Selma marches 50 years later. The episode features an in-depth conversation with the star of the upcoming film Selma, acclaimed actor David Oyelowo who portrays Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., along with the film’s award-winning director Ava DuVernay. The episode will also feature stories of those who were impacted by the march and their reflections today on that time in American history.

The month of special programming begins on New Year’s Day as NBC News correspondent Tamron Hall hosts Race on The Oprah Winfrey Show with Tamron Hall (Thursday, January 1 at 10 p.m. ET/PT) which highlights those trailblazing Oprah show episodes that elicited shocking audience responses and sparked opportunities for growth towards greater connection, empathy and healing.

Other special programming airing throughout the month include special episodes of Oprah: Where Are They Now? (Thursday, January 1 at 9 p.m. ET/PT) which spotlights memorable civil rights newsmakers and Oprah’s Master Class (Sunday, January 4 at 10 p.m. ET/PT) featuring powerful firsthand accounts from iconic “masters” such as Berry Gordy, Cicely Tyson, Dr. Maya Angelou, Diahann Carroll and many more.

In addition, the world television premiere of the OWN original documentary Light Girls will air on Monday, January 19 at 9 p.m. ET/PT featuring an in-depth look into colorism and the untold stories of lighter-skinned women around the globe. The documentary features interviews with notable celebrities including Russell Simmons, Soledad O’Brien, Diahann Carroll, india.arie, Iyanla Vanzant, Michaela Angela Davis, Kym Whitley, Salli Richardson-Whitfield and more.

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