Tag: Sen. Cory Booker

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.

Selma “Foot Soldiers” from 1965 Civil Rights Marches Receive The Congressional Gold Medal

Aided by Father James Robinson, Mrs. Coretta Scott King, widow of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., center, and John Lewis of the Voter Education Project, a crowd estimated by police at 5,000, march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge from Selma, Alabama Saturday, March 8, 1975. The march commemorated the decade since the violent struggle for voting rights began in 1965 with “Bloody Sunday” at the bridge as police tried to stop a march to Montgomery. (AP Photo)
Aided by Father James Robinson, Mrs. Coretta Scott King, widow of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., center, and John Lewis of the Voter Education Project, a crowd estimated by police at 5,000, march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge from Selma, Alabama Saturday, March 8, 1965. The march commemorated the decade since the violent struggle for voting rights began in 1965 with “Bloody Sunday” at the bridge as police tried to stop a march to Montgomery. (AP Photo)

article via newsone.com

On Wednesday, Congressional leaders honored the “Foot Soldiers” of the Selma to Montgomery Marches in 1965 with the nation’s highest civilian award, the Congressional Gold Medal.

Anecdotally, Paul Ryan – Speaker of the House of Representatives, who also spoke during the ceremony and praised the foot soldiers for their part in the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 – will not act on a bill to restore the Voting Rights Act that was essentially gutted by the Supreme Court nearly two years ago.

The ceremony, held in the U.S. Capitol’s Emancipation Hall, featured speeches by Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), and Rev. Frederick D. Reese, the former president of the Dallas County Voters League.

Thursday morning, Congresswoman Terri Sewell (D-AL), who introduced the bill to honor the foot soldiers; Charles Mauldin, former president of the Student Movement; and Joyce O’Neal, a member of the Student Movement, joined Roland Martin on NewsOne Now to discuss the award.

Rep. Sewell told Martin, “Yesterday was about making sure this nation’s history is righting a wrong, they (the foot soldiers) should be given all of the credit [for] forcing this nation to live up to its ideals of equality and justice for all.”

Congresswoman Sewell continued, “I think it’s up to us, this generation and future generations, to continue the fight,”because there is so much more needed to be done to “strengthen the Voting Rights Act.”

In reflecting on yesterday’s ceremony, Mauldin thanked Congresswoman Sewell for introducing the bill and said, “This is probably the first time in about 51 years in my being involved in things that we’ve gotten recognition” from government officials.

He added, “We are certainly invited to the protests to demonstrate, but seldomly invited to the celebration. This is the first time that people like us have been invited to the celebration.”

To read more, go to: http://newsone.com/3359436/selma-foot-soldiers-receive-the-congressional-gold-medal/

Obama to Announce Executive Action to “Ban The Box” as Part of Criminal Justice Reforms

President Barack Obama (CHICAGO TRIBUNE VIA GETTY IMAGES)

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama on Monday will announce a series of measures designed to reduce obstacles facing former prisoners reintegrating into society, including an executive action directing federal employers to delay asking questions about a job applicant’s criminal history until later in the application process.

Many states, cities and private employers have already taken steps to “ban the box,” which refers to the checkbox on employment applications asking if the applicant has ever been convicted of a crime. However, some federal employers and contractors still ask the question. Obama’s executive action will apply to federal employers, but not to contractors.

Civil rights activists have urged Obama to propose the measure, noting that such questions can limit the ability for people with a criminal record to gain employment and get their lives back on track after prison. Advocates argue that those formerly in prison should be allowed to prove their qualifications for a job instead of being eliminated early in the process due to their criminal background.

The issue has come up on the campaign trail, with all three Democratic presidential candidates pledging support for a “ban the box” policy.

Obama will also announce other initiatives designed to improve rehabilitation and re-entry for former inmates, including education and housing grants, as well as partnerships between local municipalities and private companies that would provide jobs and training in technology.

He will also propose more funding for legal aid programs and policies to reduce the legal hurdles for former prisoners applying for public housing, a process which also uses an applicant’s criminal history as a factor in determining eligibility.

Obama will unveil these policy proposals at an event in Newark, New Jersey, that will draw attention to success stories of former prisoners. While in Newark, Obama will appear with the city’s mayor, Ras Baraka (D), as well as Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), who has introduced criminal justice reform legislation in the Senate. Obama will also visit a residential facility for individuals recovering from substance abuse and participate in a roundtable on criminal justice reform at the Newark campus of Rutgers University.

The announcement continues Obama’s recent efforts toward reforming the criminal justice system. As he approaches the end of his presidency, he has pledged to do more to address problems like mass incarceration, mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent offenders and police brutality. This summer, he became the first sitting president to visit a federal prison.

This story has been updated to clarify that the executive action will apply to federal employers, but not to contractors.

article by Marina Fang via huffingtonpost.com