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    (BPRW) PBS to Present AMERICA AFTER FERGUSON Friday, September 26, 2014, 8-9 p.m. ET

    Moderated by PBS NEWSHOUR’s Gwen Ifill, town hall meeting will explore the complex issues surrounding the events in Ferguson, Missouri


    (BLACK PR WIRE) -- ARLINGTON, Va. -- PBS today announced that Gwen Ifill, PBS NEWSHOUR co-anchor and managing editor, and moderator and managing editor of WASHINGTON WEEK, will moderate AMERICA AFTER FERGUSON, a town hall meeting that will explore the many issues that have been brought into public discourse in the wake of Michael Brown’s death in Ferguson, Missouri. The program, produced by WGBH Boston in partnership with the Nine Network/KETC in St. Louis and WETA in Washington DC, will air Friday, September 26, 2014, 8:00-9:00 p.m. ET on PBS (check local listings).

    While the facts of the case are still in dispute, for many the story of Ferguson has become a symbol of the larger social divides in America, exposing a persistent disconnect along lines of race, class and identity. Through conversations and special reports, AMERICA AFTER FERGUSON will explore these complex questions raised by the events in Ferguson.

    AMERICA AFTER FERGUSON will be taped before an audience on Sunday, September 21, at the Touhill Performing Arts Center on the campus of the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Intended for audiences in communities across the country, AMERICA AFTER FERGUSON will include national leaders in the areas of law enforcement, race and civil rights, as well as government officials, faith leaders and youth.

    “The upheaval in Ferguson stirred up an all too familiar stew of debate over race, justice and citizenship," Ifill said. "It’s a discussion fueled by community outrage and resentment on all sides, but it is one that shouldn’t end. Our town hall conversation will shed light rather than heat on the topic, as we seek out the voices interested in digging deeper.”

    “In light of the ongoing events in Ferguson, we wanted to help convene a conversation to delve deeper into these complex cultural questions,” said Beth Hoppe, Chief Programming Executive and General Manager, General Audience Programming, PBS. “By bringing together PBS’ trusted brand of news and public affairs analysis with the local expertise of our St. Louis PBS member station KETC, we will deliver a compelling and informative program that helps move these important conversations forward.”

    “This can be a town hall where a civil dialogue happens not only in the auditorium and over the air, but also through social media,” said Marie Nelson, WGBH executive producer for the program. “It’s a chance for a wide range of voices and ideas to be heard in a truly national discourse.”

    As a multi-platform initiative, AMERICA AFTER FERGUSON will also deliver content and conversation through a robust digital presence and social media discussion. To continue the dialogue after the town hall, visit pbs.org/afterferguson and follow #AfterFerguson.

    About PBS
    PBS, with its over 350 member stations, offers all Americans the opportunity to explore new ideas and new worlds through television and online content. Each month, PBS reaches nearly 120 million people through television and nearly 28 million people online, inviting them to experience the worlds of science, history, nature and public affairs; to hear diverse viewpoints; and to take front row seats to world-class drama and performances. PBS’ broad array of programs has been consistently honored by the industry’s most coveted award competitions. Teachers of children from pre-K through 12th grade turn to PBS for digital content and services that help bring classroom lessons to life. PBS’ premier children’s TV programming and its website, pbskids.org, are parents’ and teachers’ most trusted partners in inspiring and nurturing curiosity and love of learning in children. More information about PBS is available at www.pbs.org, one of the leading dot-org websites on the Internet, or by following PBS on Twitter, Facebook or through our apps for mobile devices. Specific program information and updates for press are available at pbs.org/pressroom or by following PBS Pressroom on Twitter.

    About WGBH
    WGBH Boston is America’s preeminent public broadcaster and the largest producer of PBS content for TV and the web. Television channels include WGBH 2, WGBX 44, and the digital channels World and Create. WGBH Radio serves listeners across New England with 89.7 WGBH Boston’s Local NPR®; 99.5 WCRB; and WCAI, the Cape and Islands NPR® Station. Find more information at wgbh.org.

    – PBS–


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    On 49th Anniversary of Voting Rights Act Signing,
    Civil Rights Organization Demands Walmart Release Surveillance Tapes of Man Killed Inside Store

    More than 60,000 ColorOfChange.or Members Signed Petition

    **VIEW PETITION: http://act.colorofchange.org/sign/ReleaseTheTapes/**


    Dayton, OH -- On August 5, 2014, 22-year-old John Crawford III was fatally shot by police in a Walmart in Beaver Creek, Ohio while leaning on a pellet gun from the store's shelves. Since his murder, Walmart has refused requests from family attorneys to publicly release security tape footage from the more than 200 cameras in the store. In response, ColorOfChange.org, the nation’s largest online civil rights organization, launched a petition demanding Walmart publicly release the surveillance videos to ensure justice for John Crawford, and help customers and workers feel safe in Walmart stores.

    Rashad Robinson, Executive Director of ColorOfChange.org, said, “Walmart thinks by hiding these tapes they can avoid a conversation about their responsibility for the safety of customers and workers in their stores: they're wrong. Walmart owes John Crawford's family, Walmart workers and future shoppers answers for why police stormed one of their stores and murdered one of their customers.”

    Robinson continued, “The 911 caller is now changing his story, saying that Crawford never aimed the gun at anyone in the store. Releasing the tapes publicly will help John Crawford's family, the community, and Walmart workers restore their faith in a legal process that too often refuses to deliver justice when Black people are hurt or killed. Ironically and tragically, Ohio is an open carry state; even if the pellet gun John Crawford picked up was a real gun, he would have committed no crime. Crawford’s death exemplifies how open carry laws provide no protection for Black people in a culture that doesn’t value our dignity or humanity.”

    “ColorOfChange supports the determined work of advocates on the ground, like the Ohio Student Association, who continue to demand justice for John Crawford. We demand full accountability of the police officers responsible. “

    With more than 900,000 members,ColorOfChange.org is the nation’s largest online civil rights organization.


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    On 49th Anniversary of Voting Rights Act Signing,
    Bend the Arc Organizes Jewish Voters in Fight to Protect Voting Rights

    As Congress Leaves Town, Voters Sign Petition Urging Lawmakers to Advance Voting Rights Amendment Act


    Washington, DC—To honor the 49th anniversary of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s signing of the Voting Rights Act, activists launched a nationwide petition on Wednesday calling on members of the record-breakingly unproductive 113th Congress to pass the Voting Rights Amendment Act (VRAA) when they return to work in September. Drafted in response to the Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby County v. Holder, which overturned a key provision of the Voting Rights Act, the VRAA will modernize and strengthen the landmark Civil-Rights era bill with common-sense fixes to protect voters nationwide against discrimination at the ballot box.

    As part of the national coalition pushing for the VRAA, Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice today will begin gathering signatures from Jewish voters on a petition calling on lawmakers to reestablish basic voting rights before the November elections by passing the VRAA. From the joint coalition petition:

    “States and localities around the country are making changes that will discriminate against voters based solely on the color of their skin or the language they speak. And voters will feel the impact of these changes this November. Congress must protect all voters.”

    Congress’ refusal to advance the VRAA marks a severe and unprecedented divergence from the past four decades, when voting rights enjoyed strong support across the political spectrum. Since its original passage in 1965, Congress reauthorized the Voting Rights Act with overwhelming bipartisan support four times, most recently in 2006. These reauthorization bills were signed into law by Presidents Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush—all Republicans.

    “I’m not sure whether to be astonished or appalled by the brazenness of lawmakers who are blocking the VRAA from moving forward, especially since so many of them voted to protect voting rights in 2006,” said Stosh Cotler, CEO of Bend the Arc. “We have no illusions about this Congress, but we don’t think it’s too much to ask that our lawmakers take action to protect the very right that serves as the foundation for our system of government.”

    America’s Jewish community has deep roots in the Civil Rights Movement. Young Jew Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel marched with Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma and Rabbi Joachim Prinz had the honor of speaking before him to the crowd at the March on Washington. Building on this legacy, Bend the Arc held a National Day of Action in June, culminating in a candlelight vigil on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, to commemorate the deaths of Andrew Goodman, Mickey Schwerner and James Chaney, three young activists who were murdered 50 years ago for working to register black voters in Mississippi. In partnership with the Andrew Goodman Foundation, Bend the Arc is galvanizing Jewish participation in the national, multi-racial, interfaith and intergenerational coalition to protect voting rights and promote civic engagement.

    Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice is a national organization inspired by Jewish values and the steadfast belief that Jewish Americans, regardless of religious or institutional affiliations, are compelled to create justice and opportunity for Americans.


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    Civil Rights Groups Demand Twitter Release Diversity Data

    ColorOfChange.org Joins with Rev. Jesse Jackson and Rainbow Push Coalition Calling on Twitter to Publicly Disclose Employee Demographic Data and Commit to Real Inclusion


    **VIEW PETITION HERE: http://act.colorofchange.org/sign/twitter_diversity_data**

    New York, NY - Today, ColorOfChange.org, the nation’s largest online civil rights group, joined with Rev. Jesse Jackson and the Rainbow Push Coalition, to demand that Twitter publicly disclose its demographic data and hold a forum to discuss Silicon Valley’s diversity problem.

    In response, Rashad Robinson, executive director of ColorOfChange.org said, "Although not on the payroll, Twitter has been built off the creativity of Black people and owes our community a transparent conversation about the state of diversity at the corporation. Disclosure of employee data is an important first step, but we hope -- given the growing power of Black Twitter -- that the company will take seriously the call to recruit and retain more Black employees at every level of the corporate structure.”

    In recent weeks as other Silicon Valley tech companies like Facebook, Yahoo, Google, and LinkedIn took the historic first step to release data about the racial and gender composition of their staffs, Twitter has remained silent -- refusing to jump on the data-release-bandwagon.

    To date, most of the data disclosures have confirmed that Silicon Valley prefers its workers to be male and either white or Asian. And although Twitter is unlikely to break any diversity trends that have emerged, transparency and a public commitment to improving the recruitment and retention of Black employees are critical first steps.

    With over 900,000 members, ColorOfChange.org is the nation’s largest online civil rights organization.


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    Last 100 Executed & Ogletree Op Ed

    I write to draw your attention to a new study on 100 people executed during 2012 and 2013. The research shows that the death penalty system has failed to identify and execute “the worst of the worst.” In fact, the overwhelming majority of executed offenders (nearly nine out of ten) had deficits of at least one kind, such as intellectual disability, severe mental illness, being under 21 at the time of the offense, or chronic childhood trauma -- characteristics that made them the same as, or very similar to, offenders the U.S. Supreme Court has exempted from the death penalty.

    The data is summarized in today’s Washington Post opinion editorial by Harvard Law School Professor Charles Ogletree at wapo.st/1nUPYNn

    The research was published in The Hastings Law Journal at http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2446950

    In Atkins v. Virginia (2002), the U.S. Supreme Court exempted intellectually disabled offenders from the death penalty because of their diminished capacity. Yet, one-third of the last 100 executed offenders had intellectual disabilities, borderline intellectual function or traumatic brain injury, a similarly debilitating intellectual impairment.

    Similarly, in Roper v. Simmons (2005), the Court held the death penalty unconstitutional for offenders aged 17 and under based, in large part, on science showing that the brains of juveniles are still developing. Among the last 100 people executed, however, more than one-third committed a capital crime before turning 25 – the age at which the brain fully matures. Twenty offenders had not yet reached the age of 21.

    More than half (54 percent) of the last 100 people executed had severe mental illness such as schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress disorder or psychosis, but the courts did not find them incompetent for execution under Ford v. Wainwright (1986).

    The study of 100 people executed between 2012 and 2013 further shows that at least half of the offenders experienced severe childhood trauma including physical abuse, sexual molestations, domestic violence, and chronic poverty and homelessness. The 50 percent figure, like the other statistics in the study, is probably lower than the reality. The records in death penalty cases are usually scant and under-resourced capital litigators often do not have the opportunity to investigate and present all available mitigation evidence.

    Please let me know if you wish to speak with the researchers who analyzed the data, Robert Smith, Assistant Professor of Law at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Law or Sophie Cull, Co-Director of the National Consensus Project.


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    TOP JEWISH EDUCATORS URGE GRADUATES TO STAND UP FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE

    Bravery of Activist Rabbis of the ‘60s Cited on the 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Movement and Civil Rights Act


    NEW YORK, NY – As the nation memorializes the 50th anniversary of civil rights activism during “Freedom Summer” of 1964 and the passage of the Civil Rights Act, the deans of five rabbinical schools are urging the graduating class of newly ordained Jewish spiritual leaders to stand up for social justice around the world. Through an “open letter” with Ruth Messinger, president of American Jewish World Service (AJWS), leaders representing the Orthodox, Conservative, Reform and Reconstructionist movements of Judaism called upon hundreds of students graduating from rabbinical, cantorial and other graduate schools this month to commit themselves to social justice and taking action to stop injustices that occur around the world.

    Rabba Sara Hurwitz of Yeshivat Maharat (Orthodox), Rabbi Asher Lopatin of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah (Orthodox), Rabbi Daniel Nevins of Jewish Theological Seminary Rabbinical School (Conservative), Rabbi Aaron Panken, Ph.D. of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (Reform), and Rabbi Deborah Waxman of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College (Reconstructionist) joined Messinger in the letter. They recalled an incident from 50 years ago when 17 rabbis were arrested and held in a jail cell in St. Augustine, Florida after engaging in a non-violent protest by swimming alongside African-American protestors in a segregated hotel swimming pool. In their letter, the leaders urged the 2014 graduates to act just as those rabbis did 50 years ago to stand up for the rights of all people around the world.

    “Our call to you today is to muster the time and courage—like your predecessors in the civil rights movement—to stand up for what you believe and take action to stop the injustices that plague our world. You have the potential to be powerful change makers and to inspire others to join you in building ever-greater momentum for social justice,” the leaders wrote.

    The full letter can be read here.


    Inspired by the Jewish commitment to justice, American Jewish World service (AJWS) works to realize human rights and end poverty in the developing world. www.ajws.org


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    Civil Rights Group Urges President Obama and Congress to Take a Stand Against Discriminatory Profiling

    ColorOfChange.org, Members of Congressional Black Caucus and other civil rights groups Ask President for Federal Law Enforcement Guidance to Curb Racial Profiling


    New York, NY - ColorOfChange.org, the nation's largest online civil rights organization, urges President Obama to take immediate action to close discriminatory profiling loopholes for Federal law enforcement, and urges Congress to pass the Eliminate Racial Profiling Act (ERPA).

    “While the President has the authority to reduce profiling abuses by Federal law enforcement, Congress can go many steps further by passing the The Eliminate Racial Profiling Act (S. 1038 / H.R. 2851), said Rashad Robinson, Executive Director of ColorOfChange.org. “This legislation provides an opportunity to fix a major broken piece of our criminal justice system and address a law enforcement culture that has forced millions of Black folks to live in fear and cast entire communities as suspect.”

    Targeted profiling by law enforcement across the country, including by federal law enforcement is part of a deeply racist, brutal culture that is in desperate need of reform. These discriminatory practices cause tremendous harm to Black families and communities and can lead to unlawful arrests, deportations, incarceration and in some cases serious injury or death. Blacks folks are twice as likely to be arrested and almost four times as likely to experience the use of force during encounters with police.

    “By taking a stand against discriminatory profiling, President Obama and Congress can send a strong message that they intend to protect the civil rights and liberties of our nation’s increasingly diverse communities, help rebuild the trust in law enforcement and go a long way toward ensuring equal treatment under the law for all individuals regardless of race or ethnicity," said Robinson.

    Today leaders of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Black Caucus, Hispanic Caucus and Asian Pacific American Caucus joined other members of Congress and civil rights advocates to call on the Obama administration to issue improved profiling guidance for federal law enforcement that closes current loopholes.

    With over 900,000 members, ColorOfChange.org is the nation’s largest online civil rights organization.


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    New Orleans Education Justice Organizations Call for State Superintendent of Education John White to Resign


    NEW ORLEANS – With the closure of the last traditional public school in New Orleans’ Recovery School District last week, local parents, educators and community advocates are stepping up pressure on State Superintendent of Education John White to resign. On Wednesday, two community-based organizations, which recently filed a federal civil rights complaint alleging racial discrimination in New Orleans school closures, delivered a letter to White demanding an immediate resignation in light of his dismissal of the complaint in news reports as “a joke.”

    According to Coalition for Community Schools (CCS) and Conscious Concerned Citizens Controlling Community Changes (C-6) – which filed the complaint in mid-May with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights and the U.S. Department of Justice – the superintendent’s dismissive comments are only the latest in a long pattern of turning a blind eye to discrimination in New Orleans’ school system and disregarding the experiences of Louisiana families. Instead of listening to the communities he is supposed to serve, their letter details, White has instead shown allegiance to the pro-charter, pro-privatization agenda.

    “The discriminatory effects of school closures that students of color and their families experience in New Orleans are no laughing matter,” says the letter, which was also sent to the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice, as well as to Charles Roemer, president of the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. “We find no humor in our school communities being dissolved, no amusement in being forced to send our children to charter schools that are unaccountable to our families, and no comedy in schoolchildren waiting outside before sunrise for school buses to take them across the city because we have no neighborhood schools left. It is with utmost seriousness that we have called for a civil rights investigation of the harmful school closure policies that have shuffled countless black and brown children from failing schools to other failing or near-failing schools, year after year.”

    The letter cites several challenges that the Recovery School District has suffered under White’s department, including:

    More than 30 traditional public schools have closed in the last several years. Of the students impacted by last week’s round of school closures, approximately 1,000 are black. Only five are white. The majority of Recovery School District schools are ranked “C,” “D,” or “F.”

    Despite repeated opposition to mass school closures in New Orleans, including extensive advocacy, protests and a separate civil rights complaint filed last year by a local mother, White’s department has failed to investigate these concerns.

    “John White’s decision to call our civil rights complaint against his department ‘a joke’ is reprehensible and further proves his disregard for the lived experiences of Louisiana students and families,” said C-6 founder Frank J. Buckley. “As superintendent, he should take seriously any charge of discrimination.”

    “We have had enough of misguided policies that treat children of color as collateral damage,” said Karran Harper Royal of CCS. “We are tired of our complaints being disregarded and derided. This is why we are calling for John White’s immediate resignation and a moratorium on school closures.”

    See the open letter calling for Superintendent John White’s resignation here: http://bit.ly/1rMRGnF

    See the Title VI civil rights complaint here: http://b.3cdn.net/advancement/24a04d1624216c28b1_4pm6y9lvo.pdf


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    100K Call on Gov Rick Scott to Fire Prosecutor in Marissa Alexander Case


    - Women, Civil Rights Advocates Join Forces to Call For Firing of Prosecutor for Abuse of Power -

    TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA -- Dozens of people gathered outside of the Florida State Capitol today to deliver 100,000 signatures demanding that Gov. Scott remove Angela Corey, the prosecutor pursuing a 60 year sentence for Marissa Alexander. Alexander is a domestic violence survivor being prosecuted for firing a warning shot in the presence of her abuser. No one was hurt. The case has become a touchstone for women’s advocates and civil rights advocates as an example of the shear failure of the justice system in treating people of color and survivors of abuse fairly.

    See photos here: http://bit.ly/1itTuvm

    A giant flower arrangement spelling “60 Years?” was set up as a part of the protest, and the group carried boxes of petitions and signs reading “60 years for Marissa? That’s wrong.”

    See the petition from UltraViolet: http://act.weareultraviolet.org/sign/marissa_alexander/
    See the petition from Color of Change: http://act.colorofchange.org/sign/StopCorey/

    Marissa Alexander's case has struck a nerve because of the way it demonstrates the racial bias that exists in our justice system, resulting in disproportionate prosecution and harsher sentences handed to women of color. This case also demonstrates how the justice system has failed women-- 75% of female prisoners are domestic violence survivors and 82% are survivors of child abuse. Worse, 1 in 10 face further sexual abuse while in prison.

    Statement from Color of Change’s Executive Director Rashad Robinson:

    "Marissa Alexander has been targeted by Angela Corey — a harsh prosecutor who has a track record of unjustly charging and punishing Black defendants — and who intends to put Marissa, a Black domestic violence survivor and mother of three, in prison for the rest of her life. Florida's criminal justice system is continually failing Black folks, and Corey is central to the problems facing the state's criminal justice system."

    “Governor Scott has the power and responsibility to intervene and demand justice for Marissa and for Florida as a whole. By demanding that Gov. Scott hold Corey accountable for her actions, we have a real opportunity to move forward a national conversation on the ways in which Black people are mistreated in our criminal justice system — and take steps to secure systemic change.”

    "As long as Angela Corey remains at her post, Florida's criminal justice system will continue to fail Black folks. Black women face unique harm and discrimination in the criminal justice system, and are today's fastest growing population of people in prison. Black domestic violence survivors are disproportionately more likely to be punished for the abuse and violence they experience.”

    Statement from UltraViolet Co-founder, Nita Chaudhary:

    “Marissa Alexander’s case represents just how thoroughly our justice system fails survivors of domestic violence. Angela Corey has clearly abused her power in seeking an excessively long and inhumane sentence for Marissa, and we demand her cycle of abuse and intimidation end now. Gov. Scott: stand with survivors of domestic abuse and fire Angela Corey.”

    To contact Gov. Rick Scott’s office, please call: (850) 717-9282

    For more information, or for interviews with UltraViolet or Color of Change, please contact Molly Haigh at 907.750.1999 or molly@fitzgibbonmedia.com.

    # # #


    UltraViolet is an online community of over 550,000 women and men who want to take collective action to expose and fight sexism in the public sector, private sector and the media. Find out more at WeAreUltraViolet.org

    With more than 900,000 members, ColorOfChange.org is the nation’s largest online civil rights organization.


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    Elected Officials, Civil Rights Groups Join Family of Ramarley Graham to Call on Justice Department to Act with Formal Investigation of Police Shooting


    - Black, Latino & Asian caucuses of NYS Legislature and NYC Council request DOJ consider convening grand jury, national civil rights group ColorofChange launches nationwide petition effort to members -

    ***View ColorOfChange Petition Here: http://act.colorofchange.org/sign/ramarley_graham/***

    New York, NY – Just days after Ramarley Graham would have celebrated his 21st birthday, family members of Graham were joined by elected officials and civil rights groups to demand that the U.S. Department of Justice conduct a formal and thorough investigation into his shooting death by the NYPD. Graham, an 18-year-old Bronx resident, was shot and killed by NYPD Officer Richard Haste in the bathroom of his family’s home in front of his grandmother and 6-year-old brother after Haste unlawfully busted into the house in February 2012. After the Office of the Bronx District Attorney failed to indict, the U.S. Department of Justice indicated it was reviewing the case, but there have been no indications that it has opened a full investigation.

    “I was unable to celebrate Ramarley’s 21st birthday last Saturday or his last two birthdays, and instead have been forced to memorialize his life,” said Constance Malcolm, the mother of Ramarley Graham. “All I want is justice for the murder of my son and the Department of Justice is truly the only level of our justice system left that can provide accountability for the violation of Ramarley’s civil rights. They must act and provide a sense of basic equality that demonstrates our country equally respects the rights and lives of young men of color.”

    The chairs and members of the New York State Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic & Asian Legislative Caucus and the New York City Council Black, Latino & Asian Caucus stood with the family to announce that they had sent letters to Attorney General Eric Holder requesting an official investigation by the Department of Justice into the death of Ramarley Graham.

    “The fact that there has not been a thorough and exhaustive investigation into the death of Ramarley Graham compounds the tragedy this family has faced,” said Assemblyman Karim Camara, chair of the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic & Asian Legislative Caucus. “From an alleged gun that was never discovered to the callous manner in which this family alleges they were treated by NYPD--there are too many unanswered questions. Not only must we ensure the circumstances surrounding his tragic death are not forgotten, but we must also send a strong message to young men of color that we value their lives and we will fight to protect their civil rights. It is my hope that the Department of Justice acts promptly as it is abundantly clear that this case necessitates further investigation.”

    “As we reflect on the young life of Ramarley Graham, who would have celebrated his 21th birthday this past Saturday, we can only speculate what contributions he would have made to society. We can only reflect on a young life that will never know a full life. We ask the question: Will there be justice for the unarmed teenager shot by police? We're asking the Justice Department to evaluate the case of Officer Richard Haste vs. Ramarley Graham so that justice and fairness can be served,” said 12th District Council Member Andy King, co-chair of the City Council's Black, Latino and Asian Caucus.

    National civil rights organization ColorofChange – the nation’s largest civil rights online advocacy organization that has mobilized Black Americans across the country on various racial and social justice issues – announced that it launched a nationwide petition demanding that the U.S. Department of Justice conduct a thorough investigation and bring charges against NYPD officer Richard Haste, who shot and killed Graham.

    “The petitions signed by ColorOfChange members represent the voices and stories of thousands of everyday people who want to trust our law enforcement officials, and who want to believe that justice will be served regardless of the color of one’s skin or the amount of money in one’s pocket,” said Rashad Robinson, Executive Director of ColorOfChange.org. “Ramarley's family, Bronx community and supporters across the city have organized for more than two years to ensure that the local officials are fairly and thoroughly investigating the killing of an unarmed 18-year-old. The Department of Justice has a duty to protect our community against violent policing, racial profiling and to make sure that the justice system is working to equally protect Black youth, especially when local and state officials fail to do so.”

    Four months after the 2012 shooting, a Bronx grand jury indicted Haste on two counts of manslaughter; the first indictment of an NYPD officer for killing a civilian since 2007. But in May 2013, Judge Steven Barrett dismissed the indictment due to a technical error made by an assistant district attorney. A second grand jury decided not to re-indict Haste, but the U.S. Justice Department indicated it was reviewing the case.

    “The U.S. justice system must not continue to utterly fail the families of those who have unjustly lost their lives to the NYPD,” said Loyda Colon, Co-Director of Justice Committee. “Ramarley Graham, Sean Bell and Noel Polanco are just a few of those who have been killed by the NYPD without any justification and despite being unarmed. The U.S. Department of Justice has a choice to make: it can fail to provide equal justice or it can send a message to the nation that the justice system values the lives of young people of color by bringing federal civil rights charges against officers responsible for the killing of Ramarley Graham.”

    The family was also joined in support by State Senators Adriano Espaillat, Ruth Hassell-Thompson and Bill Perkins, Assembly Members Walter T. Mosley, Félix Ortiz, Keith L.T. Wright, and New York City Council Black, Latino & Asian Caucus co-chair Rosie Mendez, Council Member Jumaane Williams, and Pastor Que English.

    “We’re here today because, more than two years after Ramarley Graham was killed, New York has failed to provide any meaningful accountability,” said New York Civil Liberties Executive Director Donna Lieberman. “When a child gets killed by a police officer in the bathroom of his family’s house, something has gone terribly wrong. And yet no one has provided any answers to explain how this tragedy occurred, or to prescribe remedies to ensure that no family ever has to suffer again in the way that the Graham family has. If New York City and New York State refuse to investigate, then that means it’s time for the Department of Justice to do so. We’re here talking about a child’s life. The stakes are too high to allow this tragedy to go unanswered.”

    The renewed push comes just months after the two year anniversary of Ramarley’s death, when the family was joined by 1199SEIU President George Gresham, community supporters, and the family members of several New Yorkers killed by NYPD officers over the past 20 years at a memorial service. Graham’s mother, Constance, is a member of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, which has supported the family’s struggle for justice.

    “There is no way to ever fill the deep void left by the loss of a child. But it is our strong hope that the Department of Justice fully investigates the killing of Ramarley Graham so that justice can be served and we can prevent these types of deplorable shootings in the future,” said George Gresham, President of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, the largest union in New York and the largest healthcare union in the nation. “The number of young people of color killed with impunity in this country is an ongoing moral outrage. We will continue to organize with Ramarley’s family and our allies to put an end to these killings, advance policies that will safeguard the lives of our youth, and demand that justice be done.”

    Ramarley Graham would have turned 21 on April 12, 2014.


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    BANANAS, Major Civil Rights Organizations Join Child Care Advocates to Bridge the Achievement Gap in Communities of Color


    - As early childhood learning becomes a priority for dozens of states and President Obama, Raising California Together, a statewide coalition of parents, academics, educators, community leaders and child care providers, is expanding its organizational partners in order to involve all communities in the fight for early learning and child care for all California’s children. -

    The move comes as early learning programs are gaining in popularity nationally, the President renewing his call for universal pre-Kindergarten, Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York proposing funding for a pre-K program for every New York child and various governors using State of the State addresses to prioritize early education and boosting K-12 outcomes.

    BANANAS Executive Director, Dr. Richard Winefield, expressed enthusiastic support in becoming the latest member of Raising California Together: "We're proud to stand with others who share our commitment to California's young children, and to the professionals who serve them."

    BANANAS serves as a critical source of early learning and care support to families and providers in Oakland, Berkeley, Alameda, Albany, Emeryville, and Piedmont. Their services include referrals to child care providers, workshops and support groups for parents, emergency child care support for families in crisis, professional development for child care providers, licensing and accreditation assistance, and health and safety information.

    “The achievement gap separates far too many of California’s children in low-income communities and communities of color, putting our kids behind just as they start out in life. Fortunately, we know that early learning and care for children ages 0 to 5 helps close the achievement gap, leading to higher-performing, better-prepared students in every community,” said Mark Friedman, co-chair of Raising California Together and Executive Director of First 5 Alameda. “Our coalition of over 50 organizations statewide is dedicated to making early education a priority in California and is excited to welcome into the coalition BANANAS, which has done critical work in Northern California to bridge the gap, as well as the NAACP of Los Angeles, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Greater Los Angeles, the Martin Luther King Coalition and other proud organizations which represent and provide services to the African American community. On the eve of Black History Month, we are excited for this expansion that re-emphasizes the critical importance of early education to California’s African American community.”

    Other groups that have recently joined the Raising California Together coalition include: NAACP, Los Angeles; National Action Network, Los Angeles; the Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Greater Los Angeles; Black Women for Wellness; Association for Black Social Workers, Los Angeles; and the Martin Luther King Coalition.

    Raising California Together (@RaisingCA) is a broad coalition of child care providers, agencies, parents, educators, clergy and interfaith networks, unions, small businesses, women’s and children’s advocates, community groups, and public health organizations united to press for local, state, and national policy solutions to increase access to quality child care and early learning choices.

    Raising California Together Statewide Steering Committee:
    Dion Aroner, former CA Assemblywoman & Founder, AJE Partners • Jessica Bartholow, Western Center on Law & Poverty • Patty Bellasalma, NOW-CA • Dr. Barbara Bowman, Oakland Pre K-6 Principal & School Administrator • Nancy Harvey, Child Care Providers United •Rev. Lewis Logan II, Ruach Christian Community Fellowship • Tonia McMillian, Child Care Providers United • Maria Elena Meraz, Parent Institute for Quality Education • TJ Michels, SEIU • Noushin Mofakham, South of Market Child Care, Inc. • Alicia E. Perez, Safe Passages • Courtni Pugh, SEIU Local 99 • Amy Reisch, First 5 Marin County • Kendra Rogers, First 5 Fresno County • Elmer Roldan, United Way of Greater LA • Lori Vandermeir, Orange County NOW

    Organizational Partners:
    AFSCME • Alliance for a Better Community • Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE) • Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, AFL-CIO (APALA) • Association of Black Social Workers, Los Angeles • BANANAS •Black Women for Wellness • Brotherhood Crusade • California College Democrats • California Fair Share • California Food Policy Advocates • California Immigrant Policy Center • California Labor Federation • California School Employees Association • Child Care Law Center • Child Care Providers United • Children's Advocate | Defensor de los Niños • Children’s Defense Fund, California • Community Coalition of South LA • C.S.U Graduate Assistants, UAW 4123 • Oscar Dela Torre, School Board Member Santa Monica/Malibu School District • DREAM Team Los Angeles • First 5 Alameda County • First 5 Fresno County • First 5 Marin County • Sandra Fluke, Attorney and Social Justice Advocate • Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant Rights (ICIR-CLUE-CA) • LAANE • Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church, Oakland • Martin Luther King Coalition • Mi Familia Vota • Mujeres Unidas y Activas • National Action Network, Los Angeles • NAACP, Los Angeles • National Council of La Raza • National Organization for Women (CA-NOW) • Orange County NOW • Our Family Coalition • Our Walmart • Parent Institute for Quality Education • Pico Youth and Family Center • Planned Parenthood of California • Restaurant Opportunities Centers United – CA • Ruach Christian Community Fellowship • Safe Passages • Service Employees International Union (SEIU) • SEIU Locals 99 & 521 • Special Needs Network, Inc. • St. John’s Well Child & Family Center • South of Market Child Care, Inc. • U.C. Postdoctoral Scholars, UAW 5810 • United Way of Greater Los Angeles • Western Center on Law & Poverty


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    Principal Financial Group CEO to Meet with Obama, While Coming Under Fire by Civil Rights Group for Company’s Massive Investments in Private Prisons


    - Statement by Rashad Robinson, executive director of ColorOfChange, the nation's largest online civil rights organization, on President Obama’s plans to meet with The Principal Financial Group's (The Principal) CEO Larry Zimpleman (the new chairman of the Financial Services Roundtable) and his company’s continued investment in the private, for-profit prison industry: -

    “As President Obama looks to some of our nation’s top CEOs for help dealing with the long-term unemployed, it is important the President keep in mind that while Mr. Zimpleman claims to be running an ethical company, his company’s massive investments in private prisons -- housing shares valued at more than $113 million -- show otherwise. And the failure of Zimpleman to implement safeguards to prevent these kinds of investments that condone and support an industry responsible for such egregious human rights abuses and deeply corrupt business practices, make Zimpleman a questionable government ally.

    The Principal’s executives can’t have it both ways. They have an important choice to make: Either demonstrate leadership in the industry and join the growing number of companies that are disassociating from private prisons or continue profiting off of torture and immense human suffering. In his meetings with Principal Financial CEO Larry Zimpleman, we hope the President will remind the company of the important choices that lay in front of them.”

    FOR MORE INFORMATION:
    http://www.desmoinesregister.com/article/20140129/BUSINESS/301290055/?odyssey=nav|head

    More than 45,000 ColorOfChange members have signed onto the campaign urging investors to withdraw their investment in an inhumane industry.

    VIEW THE PETITION HERE: http://act.colorofchange.org/sign/privateprison_divestment/

    With more than 900,000 members, ColorOfChange.org is the nation’s largest online civil rights organization.


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    Civil Rights Group Rejects The Principal Financial Group's Defense of Massive Private Prison Investment

    - “‘Ethical’ Company Has An Ethical Dilemma” -


    NEW YORK, NEW YORK — For weeks, ColorOfChange has corresponded with The Principal Financial Group (The Principal) demanding divestment of the company's private prison shares, valued at more than $113 million. Now, the company has publicly responded for the first time claiming a lack of control over their investment decisions as their defense. ColorOfChange members understand The Principal’s role in financing the private prison industry and they remain committed to holding them accountable and urging them to divest immediately.

    View original correspondence here: https://s3.amazonaws.com/s3.colorofchange.org/images/
    The_Principal_ColorOfChange_correspondence_.pdf


    Principal Financial’s public response may be seen here: http://www.principal.com/banners/landing/colorofchange.htm

    In reaction, Rashad Robinson, Executive Director of ColorOfChange, issued the following statement:

    “We reject The Principal’s cowardly response to hundreds of calls from ColorOfChange members demanding divestment from private prisons. Their statement ignores the company’s control over the investment options offered to their clients, as well as their explicit duty to ensure that these options are ethical. The Principal’s denial of discretion in choosing investments is particularly ridiculous. ”

    “An ethical company would implement safeguards to prevent the investment of their client's and company’s money in an industry responsible for egregious human rights abuses and deeply corrupt business practices. The Principal’s refusal to implement such safeguards and divest speaks volumes about their priorities and is a direct contradiction to their public brand. The Principal’s executives have a important choice to make: Either demonstrate leadership in the industry and join the growing number of company's that are disassociating from private prisons or continue profiting off torture and immense human suffering.”

    More than 45,000 ColorOfChange members have signed onto the campaign urging investors to withdraw their investment in an inhumane industry.

    VIEW THE PETITION HERE: http://act.colorofchange.org/sign/privateprison_divestment/

    For more information, or for interviews with ColorOfChange.org, please contact Brett Abrams at 516-841-1105 or by email atbrett@fitzgibbonmedia.com.

    With more than 900,000 members, ColorOfChange.org is the nation’s largest online civil rights organization.


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    UPMC’S CLAIM THAT THE GOVERNMENT DOES NOT HAVE AUTHORITY TO INVESTIGATE AND ENFORCE DISCRIMINATION LAWS IS CHALLENGED BY LEADING WOMEN’S, CIVIL RIGHTS AND WORKERS’ GROUPS

    - Groups’ Amicus Briefs Defend Forty Years of Established Rules Assuring Opportunity for Everyone -


    (Washington, D.C.) Two amicus briefs were filed Monday in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit Court challenging the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s (UPMC) claim that the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFFCP) does not have authority to conduct audits to ensure compliance with non-discrimination laws that provide equal employment opportunities for women and people of color. The briefs—one filed by the National Women’s Law Center, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, and the National Partnership for Women & Families and the other by SEIU—underscore the critical role OFFCP plays in protecting the rights of workers. Although UPMC—Pennsylvania’s largest health system and non-governmental employer with over 55,000 employees—provides services to federal employees in the western part of the state, it initially claimed that it was not a federal subcontractor. When UPMC lost its bid to evade equal opportunity regulations, it appealed and argued that the government has no authority to require fairness in contracting.

    UPMC offers medical services to federal employees under contracts with the UPMC Health Plan, which has a contract with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management to provide health insurance to federal employees working in southwestern Pennsylvania. As a government subcontractor, UPMC must legally comply with non-discrimination and affirmative action provisions.

    The two amicus briefs cite UPMC’s legal challenge as an unprecedented and radical move that, should it prevail, would undo decades of established federal protections created to eradicate discrimination and ensure equal employment opportunities for all American workers. Rather than adhere to basic compliance measures like countless other federal contractors and subcontractors, UPMC has chosen a litigious route to avoid disclosing its employee hiring practices. Specifically, UPMC is urging a federal appeals court to invalidate the U.S. Department of Labor’s equal opportunity regulations that require federal contractors and subcontractors to provide information about their hiring practices of women and people of color.

    “UPMC’s efforts to dismantle these regulations should concern the workers at these hospitals and really workers across the country,” said Fatima Goss Graves, NWLC Vice-President of Education and Employment. “What may appear to be a small legal appeal has the potential to unravel decades of anti-discrimination measures that protect workers and are widely supported.”

    “Americans fought long and hard for these crucial protections that make sure women and people of color have equal opportunity in the workplace,” said Veronica Joice of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. “We trust that the court will not set us back decades to a time when millions of Americans were treated as second class citizens.”

    "Equal opportunity laws and regulations have been essential in advancing fairness in the workplace for women and people in communities of color for decades,” added National Partnership for Women & Families Senior Advisor Judith L. Lichtman. “Particularly at this time when there is a national mandate to reduce health disparities and improve outcomes, the public and governmental interest in promoting a diverse health care workforce and fighting discrimination could not be more clear."

    “UPMC is not above the law. It aggressively attacks workers who speak up for their rights, and the federal government has already issued historic complaints against UPMC because of its treatment of workers,” said Neal Bisno, president of SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania. “Now, in addition to these attacks, this massive employer is actually seeking to change the rules and evade its role in uplifting all workers, including women and people of color.”

    BACKGROUND
    Three UPMC facilities—UPMC Braddock, UPMC McKeesport, and UPMC Southside—are contracted to provide medical services and supplies to federal employees enrolled in UPMC Health Plan.

    Like all federal contractors and subcontractors, UPMC is required to report on its compliance with affirmative action provisions. In January 2004, the OFCCP sent letters to UPMC stating that it had been selected for a compliance review. UPMC refused to submit information demonstrating compliance and refused to allow OFCCP representatives to conduct routine inspections. Instead of complying, UPMC sent a joint response denying that it held government subcontracts, and therefore that it was not required to submit to inspection.

    In 2006, the OFCCP submitted a complaint against the hospitals, and a government review board concluded that the hospitals were government subcontractors. UPMC’s hospitals then appealed that decision to the Federal District Court in the District of Columbia, arguing again that they were not government subcontractors and therefore were not subject to the affirmative action and equal opportunity requirements imposed on government subcontractors. The District Court concluded that the hospitals were government subcontractors and ordered them to comply.

    Rather than allow a routine OFCCP inspection, UPMC decided to take further legal action, appealing the District Court’s decision to the United States Circuit Court of Appeals. In this current appeal, UPMC makes the unprecedented and extremely dangerous argument that the OFCCP and the Department of Labor have no authority to impose affirmative action and equal opportunity on any government contractors or subcontractors.

    ###


    About The National Women's Law Center
    The National Women's Law Center is a non-profit organization that has been working since 1972 to advance and protect women's legal rights. The Center focuses on major policy areas of importance to women and their families including economic security, education, employment and health, with special attention given to the concerns of low-income women. For more information on the Center, visit: www.nwlc.org.

    About The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund
    NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is the country’s first and foremost law firm fighting for racial justice in America. Founded in 1940 under the leadership of Thurgood Marshall, who became the first African-American U.S. Supreme Court Justice, LDF’s mission is to achieve racial equality and an inclusive society. LDF has been a separate entity from the NAACP since 1957. Therefore, if you need to shorten our name please refer to us as “Legal Defense Fund” or “NAACP Legal Defense Fund.” More information about LDF is available at www.naacpldf.org.

    About The National Partnership for Women & Families
    The National Partnership for Women & Families is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy group dedicated to promoting fairness in the workplace, access to quality health care and policies that help women and men meet the dual demands of work and family. More information is available at www.NationalPartnership.org.

    About SEIU and SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania
    With 2.1 million members in Canada, the United States and Puerto Rico, SEIU is the fastest-growing union in the Americas. Focused on uniting workers in healthcare, public services and property services, SEIU members are winning better wages, healthcare and more secure jobs for our communities, while uniting their strength with their counterparts around the world to help ensure that workers--not just corporations and CEOs--benefit from today's global economy. www.seiu.org. SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania unites 25,000 health care workers from all areas of the health care industry. Members are the nurses, caregivers, dietary workers, lab technicians and housekeepers who work in Pennsylvania’s nursing homes, hospitals, home health care agencies, state health facilities and auxiliary health care services. www.seiuhcpa.org.


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    The Washington Post Urged to Fire Columnist Richard Cohen for Deeply Racist de Blasio Editorial


    New York, NY - The following is a statement from Rashad Robinson, Executive Director of ColorOfChange.org, the nation’s largest online civil rights organization, in response to Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen’s woefully out of touch column this week:

    “Yesterday, Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen wrote a deeply hateful editorial in which he stated that ‘people with conventional views’ are challenged by New York Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio’s interracial marriage and family, to the point that the average person would have to suppress their ‘gag reflex’ when seeing them on TV.

    “Since when did the editors of one of our nation’s premier newspapers become the arbiters of conventional, or traditional, American views? And since they have decided to play that role, how did they come to the decision that, in 2013, the average American is disturbed by the sight of an interracial family -- to the point of running for the barf bag?

    “If the editors of Mr. Cohen’s article--and Mr. Cohen himself--took a moment to think about the recent history of our nation, they could see that the American people actually are interested in learning more about our commonalities and connections -- from Bill de Blasio’s family to the First Family--rather than worn out and racist ideas about our differences. In fact, an overwhelming majority of Americans approve of interracial marriages.[1]

    “Cohen’s offensive and racist sentiments are unacceptable and undeserving of a major national media platform. This is the type of racebaiting that is intended on elevating and advancing the worst in us, and the Washington Post’s readers deserve better.

    “The Washington Post should apologize for running this column and fire Richard Cohen immediately.”

    With more than 900,000 members, ColorOfChange.org is the nation’s largest online civil rights organization.

    1. http://www.gallup.com/poll/163697/approve-marriage-blacks-whites.aspx


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    DC-area construction contractor to pay $875,000 to settle discrimination case with US Labor Department


    - Nearly 400 minority applicants to receive back wages as company reviews hiring practices -

    DULLES, Va.—The U.S. Department of Labor today announced that federal construction contractor M.C. Dean Inc. has settled allegations that it failed to provide equal employment opportunity to 381 African American, Hispanic and Asian American workers who applied for jobs at the company’s Dulles headquarters. A review by the department’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs determined that the contractor used a set of selection procedures, including invalid tests, which unfairly kept qualified minority candidates from securing jobs as apprentices and electricians.

    “Our nation was built on the principles of fair play and equal opportunity, and artificial barriers that keep workers from securing good jobs violate those principles,” said OFCCP Director Patricia A. Shiu. “I am pleased that this settlement will provide remedies to the affected workers and that M.C. Dean has agreed to invest significant resources to improve its hiring practices so that this never happens again.”

    Under the terms of the agreement, M.C. Dean will pay $875,000 in back wages and interest to 272 African American, 98 Hispanic and 11 Asian American job applicants who were denied employment in 2010. The contractor will also extend 39 job offers to the class members as opportunities become available. Additionally, M.C. Dean has agreed to undertake extensive self-monitoring measures and personnel training to ensure that all of its employment practices fully comply with Executive Order 11246, which prohibits federal contractors and subcontractors from discriminating in employment on the bases of race, color and national origin.

    M.C. Dean is a construction, design-build and systems integration corporation with more than 30 offices worldwide. Since 2006, the company has held more than $600 million in contracts with federal agencies, including the U.S. Department of Defense.

    In addition to Executive Order 11246, OFCCP enforces Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974. These three laws require those who do business with the federal government, contractors and subcontractors, to follow the fair and reasonable standard that they not discriminate in employment on the basis of sex, race, color, religion, national origin, disability or status as a protected veteran. For more information, please call OFCCP’s toll-free helpline at 800-397-6251 or visit http://www.dol.gov/ofccp.

    U.S. Department of Labor news materials are accessible at http://www.dol.gov. The information above is available in large print, Braille or CD from the COAST office upon request by calling 202-693-7828 or TTY 202-693-7755.


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    Civil Rights Coalition Urges Funds to Divest From Private For-Profit Prison Corporations


    - Corporate Investors and Board Members Urged to Drop Exploitative Business, As Companies Come Under Increased Scrutiny for Corruption and Abuse -

    NEW YORK, NEW YORK -- ColorOfChange, in partnership with Grassroots Leadership, launched a national campaign to put an end to the for-profit private prison system. Through extensive and direct outreach, the campaign is asking investors and board members of for-profit prison companies to divest themselves of that business practice -- or face being held publicly accountable.

    JOIN THE CAMPAIGN HERE: http://www.colorofchange.org/campaign/end-profit-imprisonment/

    “The United States incarcerates more people than any other nation in the world. For-profit prison companies rake in billions in annual revenue by promoting and exploiting mass incarceration and racial-bias in the criminal justice system -- further accelerating our nation's prison crisis,” explained Rashad Robinson, executive director of Color Of Change. “The prison industry depends on investors and corporate backers for the capital it needs to keep growing. At the end of the day, the more people in prison, the better private prisons and their investors and corporate backers do. As a result, they hire lobbyists, advocate for harsh drug laws and mandatory minimums and promote a culture of support for incarceration all at the expense of Black and brown communities and taxpayers of all races.”

    SIGN THE PETITION HERE: http://act.colorofchange.org/sign/privateprison_divestment/***

    Federal agencies and state governments contract with three main companies to lock people up: Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), GEO Group, Inc., and the Management and Training Corporation (MTC). The top two prison companies, CCA and GEO, are publicly traded and financed by investors, major banks and corporations, who hold shares in the industry. CCA and GEO Group make money by charging a daily rate per body that is sent to them — costing taxpayers billions for dangerous, ineffective facilities. The industry also makes money by avoiding tax payments. CCA will dodge $70 million in tax payments this year by becoming a real estate investment trust (REIT) and designating their prisons as "residential".

    In order to maximize profits, prison companies cut back on staff training, medical care, and rehabilitative services — causing assault rates to double in some private prisons as well as by lobbying for and benefiting from laws that put more people in jail. In the 1990's CCA chaired the Criminal Justice Task force of shadowy corporate bill-mill, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which passed "3 strikes" and "truth in sentencing" laws that continue to send thousands of people to prison on very harsh sentences.

    In many parts of the country, the political tide is shifting against the for-profit prison industry. Earlier this summer, Kentucky, Texas, Idaho, and Mississippi broke ties with CCA after reports of chronic understaffing, inmate death, and rising costs to the states became undeniable. In April, New Hampshire rejected all private prison bids because the prison corporations could not show that they would follow legal requirements for safely housing prisoners. And, there is growing opposition to California Governor Jerry Brown's misguided plan to comply with a Supreme Court order to alleviate the State's prison overcrowding crisis by moving thousands of prisoners into private facilities, at a public cost of $1 billion over 3 years.

    With more than 900,000 members, ColorOfChange.org is the nation’s largest online civil rights organization.


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    Beyond Stop and Frisk: Communities Organize for Deeper Reforms
    by Kenyon Farrow


    A recent court decision against stop and frisk speaks specifically to racial profiling, but we know that other kinds of profiling—based on gender, sexual orientation, economic status, and other characteristics—are often used by police.

    On August 22, the New York City Council voted to override Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s veto of the Community Safety Act, which is composed of two bills seeking to create more levels of accountability within the New York Police Department (NYPD) and preventdiscriminatory practices, such as stop-and-frisk activity, from occurring.

    The Community Safety Act was passed one week after Judge Shira A. Scheindlin declared, in Floyd v. The City of New York, that the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk program is unconstitutional because it violates the Fourth Amendment. While we should be pleased a court ruled against the department’s stop-and-frisk policy—which is said to have violated the constitutional rights of many thousands of people, almost all of them Black and Latino, with the vast majority of them not found to have violated any crime—the ruling did not go far enough to ensure people in New York are protected from being unduly harassed and violated.

    But the Community Safety Act actually gives some teeth to Judge Scheindlin’s decision, and speaks to the need for community organizing to drive policy and ensure its enforcement.

    In her decision, Judge Scheindlin ruled on behalf of the plaintiffs represented in the stop-and-frisk case, arguing:

    [F]irst, plaintiffs showed that senior officials in the City and at the NYPD were deliberately indifferent to officers conducting unconstitutional stops and frisks; and second, plaintiffs showed that practices resulting in unconstitutional stops and frisks were sufficiently widespread that they had the force of law.

    In order to be able to use the stop-and-frisk tactic in ways that are lawful, Judge Scheindlin ordered the city to bring on a federal monitor to oversee reforms, change the way stops are documented, and institute a year-long pilot program through which officers must wear cameras to record their interactions.

    While many in the press declared the judge’s decision an end to stop and frisk, her decision stopped short of a full-on repeal. As long as the NYPD doesn’t use race as a blanket reason for stops, the tactic can move forward.

    Judge Scheindlin’s decision means that “if you have objectionable facts that add up to reasonable suspicion, the cop has the right to stop you and ask,” said Andrea Ritchie, co-director of Streetwise and Safe and a core member of the Communities United for Police Reform (CPR) coalition. “The judge ruled that that’s fine. But the way the NYPD does it, being Black equals reasonable suspicion.”

    The plaintiffs in Floyd v. New York were able to successfully demonstrate that the NYPD would not stop whites even if they were in exactly the same circumstances for which Blacks and Latinos were being frisked. “[Police officers] often just check off things like furtive movement, or the neighborhood you’re in as the reason,” said Ritchie.

    So not only does the judge’s decision not really end the practice of stop and frisk, and does not call for a reduction in the number of stops, it only speaks specifically to racial profiling. However, we know that other kinds of profiling—based on gender, sexual orientation,economic status, and other characteristics—are often used by police.

    Understanding the need for comprehensive police reform and greater accountability is what drove the formation of CPR, which includes dozens of community-based organizations and national advocacy groups. The coalition came together two years ago and began to push for the Community Safety Act.

    As Bloomberg is appealing the Floyd decision, the Community Safety Act goes above and beyond the limitations of that ruling. It will create an enforceable ban against intentional racial discriminations and any law enforcement action that has disparate impact, as well asprofiling on the basis of gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, immigration status, disability, and housing status. The act also supports the creation of an independent inspector general and gives a way for individuals to get some level of accountability if they are victims of these discriminatory patterns.

    Many LGBTQ and HIV advocates have also been advocating for a state bill that would bar police from using the possession of condoms as evidence of prostitution, a practice that stilldisproportionately targets Blacks and Latinos. I personally have had to advocate on behalf of people—mostly transgender women and queer youth of color—who were arrested for prostitution while actually performing HIV and sexually transmitted disease prevention outreach work, for which they were employed.

    Monifah Bandele, a member of the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement (MXGM) and CPR, also feels that the NYPD needs more enforceable restrictions beyond the stop-and-frisk ruling. “Law will not change the culture of how the NYPD functions, so we will be involved in all the ways the police functions that the Floyd [decision] does not cover,” she said.

    As Bandele notes, the issues within the NYPD go far beyond what happens on the streets. In July, a woman named Kyam Livingston died in Brooklyn central booking, after, according toother arrestees, she pleaded for medical attention for hours. These kinds of abuses aren’t new. MXGM and many other organizations in the coalition have been involved in organizing against abuses by the NYPD, dating back to the shooting of Amadou Diallo in 1999.

    “New York City set the standard for policing nationally and internationally—helping train police officers,” said Bandele. “So what happens in New York has national and global implications.”


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    BET.com - Commentary: We Should Add Climate Change to the Civil Rights Agenda


    In case you missed it -

    As President Obama takes the stage during today's Anniversary of the March on Washington, I'd like to share with you why we should add climate change to the civil rights agenda.

    It’s not difficult to see how injustice and inequality played out during Hurricane Katrina. Thousands of people were subjected to needless loss, suffering, even death — just because they didn’t have the resources to prepare and escape the storm.

    What’s harder to see is the imminent threat that severe weather — occurring with increased frequency and voracity — poses to our communities. Climate change isn’t just an environmental issue; it’s about keeping our communities safe. It’s a matter of justice. Because when it comes to disasters — from extreme temperatures to storms like Katrina — people of color are consistently hit first and worst.

    To read more on why Green For All is adding climate change to our retooled list of what the civil rights movement stands for, please see our BET.com commentary below.

    Phaedra Ellis Lamkins


    This week, tens of thousands of people from across America are streaming into the nation’s capital to observe the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington — and Green for All will be among them.

    We’re marching against the recent attack on voting rights. We’re demanding justice in the face of Stand Your Ground laws and racial profiling. We’re marching to raise awareness on unemployment, poverty, gun violence, immigration and gay rights. And we are calling for action on climate change.

    Chances are, when you think about civil rights, environmental issues aren’t on the radar screen. But stop and think about it. Remember Hurricane Katrina?

    The hurricane that leveled New Orleans showed that severe weather in low-income neighborhoods and communities of color is a matter of life and death. The images from the storm are hard to forget: bodies floating in water for days and thousands of people stranded without shelter, waiting for help that was too slow to come.

    It’s not difficult to see how injustice and inequality played out during Hurricane Katrina. Thousands of people were subjected to needless loss, suffering, even death — just because they didn’t have the resources to prepare and escape the storm.

    What’s harder to see is the imminent threat that severe weather — occurring with increased frequency and voracity — poses to our communities. We should never again witness the kind of devastation and preventable suffering we saw during Katrina. That’s why we have to add climate change to our retooled list of what the civil rights movement stands for.

    Climate change isn’t just an environmental issue; it’s about keeping our communities safe. It’s a matter of justice. Because when it comes to disasters — from extreme temperatures to storms like Katrina — people of color are consistently hit first and worst.

    African-Americans living in L.A. are more than twice as likely to die in a heat wave as other residents in the city, thanks to an abundance of pavement and lack of shade, cars and air conditioning in neighborhoods with the fewest resources. Factor in a steady rise in temperature — last year was the hottest year on record in the U.S. — and we’re looking at an urgent problem.

    Meanwhile, our communities are at the tip of the spear when it comes to pollution. Fumes from coal plants don’t just accelerate climate change — they cause asthma, heart disease and cancer, leading to 13,000 premature deaths a year. And people of color are once again most vulnerable; 68 percent of African-Americans live within 30 miles of a toxic coal plant. That might help explain why one out of six Black kids suffers from asthma, compared with one in ten nationwide.

    But that’s not the only reason we should pay attention. Fighting global warming — the right way — will get us closer to achieving the dream Martin Luther King Jr. spoke about on that day in Washington 50 years ago.

    The solutions to climate change won’t just make us safer and healthier — they are one of the best chances we’ve had in a long time to cultivate economic justice in our communities. Clean energy, green infrastructure and sustainable industries are already creating jobs and opportunity. There’s a clean tech boom unfolding right now that is on par with the tech boom that made Silicon Valley. And this time, we don’t want to miss the boat.

    If we do this right, we can make sure the steps we take to fight pollution also build pathways into the middle class for folks who have been locked out and left behind. These green jobs are real — 3.1 million Americans already have them. And because they pay more (13 percent above the median wage) while requiring less formal education, they are exactly what’s needed to eradicate poverty in our communities.

    We have work to do to make sure more people of color have access to the opportunities created by responding to climate change. But if we are successful, we will help create a world where our kids can breathe clean air and drink clean water; where we’re safe and resilient in the face of storms; where more of us share in the nation’s prosperity.

    This is Dr. King’s dream reborn. And fighting climate change helps get us there.

    So, even as we confront the pressing dangers and injustices that cry for an immediate response — like attacks on our right to vote or racial profiling — we can’t lose sight of the future. We need to respond to climate change today to ensure safe, healthy, prosperous lives for our kids tomorrow.

    Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins is CEO of Green for All, a national organization working to build an inclusive green economy.

    Alyssa Ritterstein
    Press Secretary
    Green For All
    1101 17th Street NW - Suite 250
    Washington, DC 20036
    e: press@greenforall.org
    p: 202-828-0940
    c: 732-513-2192
    w: http://greenforall.org/
    #ImaPush! - The Green Anthem - http://bit.ly/11uSawA


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    ParadeAsks: What Would Dr. King Say Today?


    New York, NY August 23, 2013 – In Parade's "Views" column in the August 25th issue, the magazine asked three civil rights experts, on the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I have a dream” speech, what issues they thought he would raise in 2013. Excerpts from their responses follow:

    “What’s striking about the speech is how much of it remains relevant….Fifty years later, we haven’t committed ourselves to ridding America of poverty and all its destructive social consequences. He would be particularly surprised that a half century after a freedom movement overcame the southern Jim Crow system, there are too many African-Americanswhose freedom is limited by a criminal justice system that incarcerates blacks at a far higher rate than whites for similar offences…”

    - Clayborne Carson, Stanford University historian, editor of King’s papers and the author of Martin’s Dream: My Journey and the Legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.

    “It seems to me Dr. King would speak out about the 99 percent… He would take every opportunity to put the plight of the middle class and the problem of poverty at the top of the country’s agenda, which is exactly what we need today. Occupy Wall Street got people’s attention with this issue…But they lacked a credible leader. Nobody came forward. Dr. King was the sort of brilliant leader who could make that issue come alive.”

    - Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), a civil rights and feminist leader and former chair of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

    “ Dr. King would be talking about the need for quality education for all the nation’s youth. He would argue that while we managed to eject Jim Crow from public accommodations, we did not remove it from public schools….He would argue that education is also a constitutional right, and that allowing Jim Crow public schooling---meaning that poor kids don’t have the same access to resources as privileged kids---is effectively condemningthose children to similar lives of hopeless poverty, especially in the information age.”

    - Bob Moses, the founder and president of the Algebra Project Inc., and director of the Mississippi Voting Rights campaigns of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee from 1961 to 1965.

    For the full text of their remarks, see Sunday’s Parade or check online (LINK LIVE AS OF 5 A.M. EASTERN Saturday 8/31):

    http://www.parade.com/66509/billhewitt/what-would-rev-dr-martin-luther-king-jr-say-today/


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    LDF applauds landmark ruling declaring that the New York City Police Department’s stop and frisk tactics violate the rights of Blacks and Latinos.


    August 12, 2013

    Today, United States District Court Judge Shira A. Scheindlin issued a groundbreaking decision declaring that the New York City Police Department (NYPD) implements its controversial stop-and-frisk policy in an unconstitutional manner and violates the rights of hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers. Judge Scheindlin ordered sweeping reforms – including an independent monitor to oversee the NYPD – to fix the problems.

    The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (“LDF”), with co-counsel the Legal Aid Society, has filed a related lawsuit, Davis v. City of New York, on behalf plaintiffs challenging the constitutionality of the NYPD’s policy and practice of stopping and arresting public housing residents and their guests for the purported crime of trespassing. LDF’s case is scheduled for a jury trial before Judge Scheindlin in October.

    In her decision, Judge Scheindlin found that the NYPD encourages the targeting of young Black and Latino men based on crime statistics, which is a form of racial profiling in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. Between January 2004 and June 2012, 83% of all individuals stopped by NYPD officers were Black and Latino despite the fact that they comprise only 52% of New York City’s population. Judge Scheindlin also found that NYPD officers routinely stopped New Yorkers without reasonable suspicion in violation of their Fourth Amendment rights. Only 12% of all stops led to an arrest or summons.

    “Judge Scheindlin’s ruling is a historic recognition of the NYPD’s entrenched discriminatory practices that have violated the rights of Black and Latino New Yorkers for decades,” said Sherrilyn Ifill, LDF’s President and Director-Counsel. Although the ruling does not abolish the practice of stop and frisk, it mandates major changes in the way the policy is implemented to ensure that police officers do not discriminate when conducting stops. Additionally, Judge Scheindlin has required an independent monitor to supervise the NYPD and input from numerous stakeholders, including members of the community where stops most often take place.

    “The idea of universal suspicion without individual evidence is what Americans find abhorrent and what Black men in America must constantly fight,” Judge Scheindlin wrote in her decision. “It is important to recognize the human toll of unconstitutional stops. . . No one should live in fear of being stopped whenever he leaves his home to go about the activities of daily life.”

    “In the related Davis case, the NYPD’s discriminatory practices are especially pernicious because they are implemented in people’s homes under the guise of criminal trespass enforcement,” said Johanna B. Steinberg, Senior Counsel in LDF’s Criminal Justice Practice.

    ###

    NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is a leading voice in the struggle to ensure equal opportunity for all Americans. Founded in 1940 under the leadership of Thurgood Marshall, LDF has been recognized as the nation’s finest civil rights law firm. Although initially affiliated with the NAACP, LDF has been an entirely separate organization since 1957.

    The Legal Aid Society (LAS) is a private, not-for-profit legal services organization, the oldest and largest in the nation, dedicated since 1876 to providing quality legal representation to low-income New Yorkers. It is dedicated to one simple but powerful belief: that no New Yorker should be denied access to justice because of poverty.

    CONTACT: Jennifer Trent Parker, jparker@naacpldf.org, 212-965-2783


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    World premiere of Birmingham’s “A More Convenient Season” Sept. 21


    BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – A work of new music written by internationally renowned composer Yotam Haber especially for and about Birmingham’s Civil Rights struggle, will be the first world premiere presented by UAB’s Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center (ASC).

    The piece, “A More Convenient Season,” will be performed one night only at 8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 21, 2013, in the Jemison Concert Hall at the ASC, 1200 10th Ave. South. Tickets are $62.50, $51.50 and $39.50; visit the ASC online at www.alysstephens.org or call 205-975-2787.

    Yotam Haber at UAB's Alys Stephens Center
    Yotam Haber at UAB's Alys Stephens Center



    Haber, a Guggenheim fellow, was commissioned by philanthropist Tom Blount and the ASC to memorialize the 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham that killed four young girls — Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson and Denise McNair — an event that became a turning point in the Civil Rights Movement. The work will feature a short film and archival audio recordings, with music performed by the Alabama Symphony Orchestra conducted by Michael Morgan and electronic compositions by Philip White. In preparation, Haber studied oral histories from the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (BCRI) and interviewed Civil Rights foot soldiers and Movement historians, as well as canvassed the files and artifacts in the Birmingham Public Library Archives.

    For the performance, brothers David Harris of New York City and Quint Harris of Birmingham are preparing four of Birmingham’s most talented youth soloists and a female chorus, with accompaniment by Karen Krekelberg. The soloists are Margaret Marie Brewer of the University of Montevallo, Lillian Davis of the Alabama School of Fine Arts, Eliza Warden of Samford University and Racquel Williams of Homewood High School. The chorus will include members of approximately 40 choirs from the Birmingham area and beyond, including singers from historical Tuskegee University, UAB and various church choirs and choral groups. The chorus will sing text that inspired Haber’s work.

    “Every word spoken or sung will be words from the movement,” Haber said. “Words from the BCRI’s Oral Histories, words from FBI files and police records, words of the time.

    “I’m not coming here to tell Birmingham and Alabama their own story,” he said. “They know it far better than I do. I’m creating a work of art through the filter of my own experiences of growing up in Europe and Israel and immigrating to America from Africa. I’m listening and learning, not to be a historian but an artist.”

    The name of the work is taken from the text of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail”: “… who paternalistically feels he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by the myth of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait until a ‘more convenient season.’ Shallow understanding from people of goodwill is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.”

    In early 2014, the ASC will premiere this work on the West Coast in a performance featuring the CalArts Orchestra at REDCAT (Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theatre) near Los Angeles.

    “I was privileged to have Yotam play for me excerpts from all three movements of his masterful composition, ‘A More Convenient Season,’” said Theresa Harper Bruno, chair of the ASC Corporate Board. “It was incredibly uplifting and profoundly moving — like hearing a Beethoven symphony for the first time. It is music for the 21st century unlike anything I have ever heard before. I truly believe ‘A More Convenient Season’ will be a springboard for Yotam Haber to be one of the great composers of our time.”

    A short, high-definition film will be projected during the performance. Directed and produced by Academy Award-nominated director David Petersen, the video footage was culled from archival and historical sources, including the BCRI, The Library of Congress, The National Archives and other archival sources in the public domain, with contemporary production footage depicting moments that could not otherwise be represented from archival sources. Some archival sources include intimate home movies and materials that depict the daily life of citizens and children in Birmingham during the early 1960s, with special emphasis on those directly affected by the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church. Petersen’s films are in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the National Gallery of Art and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. His prize-winning documentary “Let the Church Say Amen” premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and was short-listed for an Academy Award as “one of the best documentaries of 2004” by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

    ArtPlay, the ASC’s home for education and outreach, will present a composition master class with Haber and young composers at 4 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 16, in the ASC’s Jemison Concert Hall. Those interested in observing the class should call 205-975-4769 for more information.

    Throughout September, the ASC and the City of Birmingham will present special events commemorating seminal moments of Civil Rights Movement. On Sunday, Sept. 15 – the actual 50th anniversary of the church bombing – the ASC and ArtPlay will present a staged reading of Christina M. Ham’s “FOUR LITTLE GIRLS: Birmingham 1963,” part of Project1Voice’s nationwide, simultaneous event of staged readings. Directed by ArtPlay Teaching Artist Alicia Johnson-Williams, and featuring ArtPlay students, members of ArtPlay’s teen Make It Happen Ensemble and community actors, the staged reading is set for 3 p.m. in the ASC’s Sirote Theatre. Tickets are $15; visit the ASC online at www.alysstephens.org or call 205-975-2787.

    Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame member Eric Essix will debut his landmark 20th album, “Evolution,” on Thursday, Sept. 19, with 5 Men on a Stool and vocalist Tracy Hamlin. It musically charts the growth and healing of his hometown Birmingham after the events that energized the Civil Rights Movement in 1963. Featured are six new, original compositions by Essix, plus hand-picked covers by popular artists. Tickets are $38.50; visit the ASC online at www.alysstephens.org or call 205-975-2787. ArtPlay will present a Meet the Artist School Show with Essix and hundreds of area schoolchildren at 10 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 20, in the ASC’s Jemison Concert Hall. For more information, call 205-975-4769.

    About UAB’s Alys Stephens Center
    The Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center, part of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, is one of the Southeast’s premier performing arts centers, presenting and producing the world’s best artists in music, dance, theatre, comedy, film and family entertainment. The ASC’s mission is to be a place where the entire community experiences and engages the arts. The ASC is home to ArtPlay, a new arts education center; the UAB departments of Theatre and Music; and the Alabama Symphony Orchestra.

    VIDEO: www.youtube.com/uabnews TEXT:   www.uab.edu/news TWEETS:  www.twitter.com/uabnews




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    Civil Rights movement 50th anniversary: The Saturday Evening Post


    The Saturday Evening Post—America’s most iconic magazine—gave extensive coverage of the question of civil rights in America. Articles on race began appearing in the 1950’s, and ran throughout the 1960s, but in 1963 (50th anniversary), it was covered in nearly every issue. Before the death of President Kennedy, race was the biggest news item other than the Cold War.

    Civil Rights movement 50th anniversary


    The Issue: Which was integration. It wasn’t racism in society but the actions of the government and banks that kept black Americans in a second-class status. Also, a look at who was resisting or accepting integration, who was fighting it, and who was trying to cooperate.

    The Players: students, urban leaders, white segregationists, politicians, and the people termed by the Post as extremists: Barry Goldwater and the Black Muslims.

    Regions: How the South was responding, vs. how the North was responding.

    Incidents: James Meredith’s registration at the University of Mississippi, George Wallace’s defiance at the University of Alabama, riots in Washington, Ohio, and Watts.

    Opinion: Black voices —Meredith, Rowan, King, May, Robinson, Lomax, Malcolm X Analysis, predictions: where resistance came from; where it was going.

    Jeff Nilsson is the director of Post archives and a website editor. He is a specialist in American History, with graduate studies at the University of Wisconsin, University of New Mexico, and Eastern Michigan University. He writes our website's weekly Retrospective feature, and is directing the program of digitally converting the magazine's 190 years of issues.

    The archives of The Saturday Evening Post will take you back to 1821. The Post is the oldest magazine in publication, tracing its historical roots to Benjamin Franklin in 1728. The magazine is now based in downtown Indianapolis, and its archives chronicle the history of the America, since the days of the 13 original Colonies. And in fact, the magazine is now in the process of digitizing every single issue—all 9,000 separate issues dating back to 1821—and will make them available to the public online.

    http://www.saturdayeveningpost.com/2013/08/03/archives/post-perspective/march-on-washington.html


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    National Coalition on Black Civic Participation Joins Coalition
    of Civil Rights Organizations Seeking Justice for Trayvon Martin


    WASHINGTON, July 15, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- As we process the unfortunate not guilty verdict in the trial of George Zimmerman regarding the tragic killing of Trayvon Martin, we must first lift up and commend his parents who have endured this heartbreaking ordeal with grace and class. Our prayers go out to Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton for the loss of their beloved son, and now this decision.

    Trayvon was an innocent teenager returning home from purchasing candy and tea. It's bad enough to suffer the loss of a son, but it's unacceptable for them to have to sit and witness a trial where people try to denigrate their son's name. We must be vigilant in our efforts to seek justice for Trayvon and his family, but also, honor his life by making sure this does not happen to any other teenager.

    The National Coalition on Black Civic Participation (NCBCP) and Black Women's Roundtable joins with The National Urban League, National Action Network, NAACP, National Council of La Raza and others asking the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to pursue a federal criminal civil rights investigation. We are urging the DOJ to examine the civil rights violations we believe were committed by George Zimmerman in connection with the death of Trayvon Martin, including the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.

    In the wake of this verdict and the recent Supreme Court decision to strike down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act there is a renewed fervor to mobilize for the 50th Anniversary March on Washington (50th MOW) to advocate for jobs, justice, peace and freedom.

    The 50th MOW Commemoration is being organized by Rev. Al Sharpton and Martin Luther King, III in partnership with A. Philip Randolph Institute, NAACP, National Urban League, SCLC, National Council of Negro Women, NCBCP, The King Center, American Federation of Teachers, SEIU, AFSCME, CWBI, National African American Clergy, National Organization for Women, National Congress of Black Women, LCCR, HRC, NBJC and others on August 21 -- 28, 2013 in Washington, DC. (For more information on 50th MOW Commemoration go to www.ncbcp.org).

    We encourage everyone who stands in solidarity with us in recognizing the miscarriage of justice that occurred with this verdict to let your voice be heard through peaceful protest, advocacy and continued prayers for justice to be served for Trayvon Martin and his family.

    When an innocent teenager can be stalked and killed and his killer is not found guilty of any crime we must wake up and TAKE ACTION NOW. We cannot sit idly by and watch the civil rights and social justice gains made over the past 50 years erode. Remember, we are all Trayvon Martin.

    CONTACT: Edrea Davis
    edmedia@dogonvillage.com
    PHONE: 770.961.6200

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    National Registry of Exonerations


    - Prosecutors and Police are Assisting with Exonerations at Record High Levels, New Data Shows National Registry of Exonerations Releases 2012 Data -

    In 2012, the number of cases in which prosecutors or police helped exonerate innocent defendants increased dramatically, according to a new report released today by the National Registry of Exonerations. Of 63 known exonerations in 2012, law enforcement initiated or cooperated in 34 or more than half (54 %).

    Since 1989, prosecutors and police cooperated in 30 percent of the exonerations that the Registry has been able to identify (317 of 1050 exonerations in the national database at the end of last year). In 2012, for the first time, law enforcement cooperated in the majority of known exonerations. The previous high was 2008 when prosecutors or police assisted in 22 of 57 known exonerations (39 percent). In general, official cooperation is least likely among exonerations in capital murder and mass child sex abuse cases, and most likely in robbery and drug crime exonerations.

    “We see a clear trend. Prosecutors and police are more open to re-investigating cases and clearing the names of innocent people who were wrongfully convicted,” said Michigan Law professor Samuel Gross, editor of the Registry and author of the “2012 Update” released today. “This is as it should be. The purpose of law enforcement is to seek truth and pursue justice. I’m glad to see they are now doing so more often after conviction, to help correct some of the terrible mistakes we sometimes make.”

    Professor Gross noted that the increase in prosecutor and police involvement in exonerations may reflect in part changes in state laws that facilitate post-conviction DNA testing and the emergence of Conviction Integrity Units in several District Attorneys’ Offices around the country, including Dallas County, Harris County (Houston), New York County (Manhattan), Santa Clara County (San Jose), Kings County (Brooklyn), Cook County (Chicago), and Lake County, Illinois. [Note: please contact mfriedman@dupontcirclecommunications.com for contact information for prosecutors involved with exonerations.]

    For example, David Ranta was released from prison last month after serving 23 years in maximum-security prisons. The Kings County (Brooklyn) D.A.’s Office established a Conviction Integrity Unit in 2011, reinvestigated Ranta’s 1991 murder conviction, and uncovered mistaken identification and perjured testimony. And in December 2011 Thomas Haynesworth was exonerated after a campaign of lobbying and litigation by the Virginia Attorney General and local prosecutors.

    The “2012 Update” reports 63 exonerations in 2012: 36 murder cases (57%) – including two in which the defendants were sentenced to death – 15 rape cases (24%), and 12 others.

    The 2012 Update also analyzes all known exonerations between 1989 and 2012, a total of 1050 as of the end of 2012 – 178 more cases than when the Registry was launched last May. Two thirds of the cases added are “old” (pre-2012) exonerations that were found in the Registry’s on-going effort to locate more of the many exonerations that remain unknown.

    In addition to the increase in prosecutor and police involvement, Registry data show a recent increase in exonerations in cases with defendants who pled guilty. In the last four years, 39 defendants who had pled guilty were exonerated for an average of 10 per year. Between 1989 and 2008, the average was three per year. This increase may reflect a greater willingness on the part of the government to reexamine cases of innocent people who took plea bargains rather than risk tougher sentences at trial.

    The Registry focused attention on searching for exonerations in California, the most populous state, which had a comparatively low rate of known exonerations per capita. As a result, 40 previously unknown exonerations were added in California, which now leads the country. The Registry expects to find more cases in other states as it shifts its focus.

    California contains three of the ten counties in the country that have more than 900,000 people but no exonerations or only one by the end of 2012: Riverside, San Bernardino, and Alameda. (There were two more exonerations in Alameda County in 2013, after the period covered by the report.) These numbers do not necessarily mean that there were few wrongful convictions in those counties, but rather few exonerations or a lack of publicity about them. (Table 10 at p. 16.)

    At 1:00 p.m. Eastern today, Professor Gross and Maurice Possley, the Registry’s lead writer/investigator and a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, will host a Twitter Q & A on their findings. The media and the public are invited to participate by following #NRE12 or #innocence or @exonerationlist.

    The National Registry of Exonerations is a joint project of the University of Michigan Law School and the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University School of Law. The Registry provides detailed information about every known exoneration in the United States since 1989 -- cases in which a person was wrongly convicted of a crime and later cleared of all charges. It is by far the largest and fastest-growing collection of exoneration cases ever assembled.

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    More Than 100 Civil Rights Leaders, Elected Officials, Clergy, Former Prosecutors and Judges, Current and Past ABA Presidents, and a Former TX Governor Call for New, Fair Sentencing for Duane Buck


    - NAACP Calls Mr. Buck’s Death Penalty Case a “Blatant Example of Racial Bias” -

    (Harris County, Texas, March 20, 2013) Today, 102 prominent individuals from Texas and throughout the country released a statement urging Texas officials to provide a new, fair sentencing hearing for Duane Buck. Mr. Buck is an African-American man who was condemned to death after his sentencing jury was told that he posed a future danger because of his race. The signatories write: “The State of Texas cannot condone any form of racial discrimination in the courtroom. The use of race in sentencing poisons the legal process and breeds cynicism in the judiciary. No execution should be carried out until the courts have a meaningful opportunity to address the evidence of fundamental injustice in Mr. Buck’s case. A new, fair sentencing hearing for Mr. Buck is absolutely necessary to restore public confidence in the criminal justice system.”

    Those calling for a new sentencing hearing free of racial bias include: Benjamin Todd Jealous, NAACP President and CEO; Gary Bledsoe, Texas NAACP President; Howard Jefferson, National Board Member, NAACP; Mark White, former Governor of the State of Texas; ten members of the Texas Legislature; seventeen former prosecutors and judges from Texas and across the county, including former Harris County Assistant District Attorney Linda Geffin (who served as a prosecutor in Mr. Buck's case); current ABA President Laurel Bellows and past ABA Presidents, Philip Anderson, William Ide, Carolyn Lamm, and Roberta Ramo; Earl Musick, President of the Harris County Criminal Lawyers Association and seven Past Presidents of the HCCLA; Mary Ramos, Texas LULAC Chief of Staff; Archbishop Joseph A. Fiorenza of the Galveston-Houston Archdiocese; Reverend William A. Lawson of Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church in Houston; Pastor James Nash of Houston Ministers Against Crime; Rev. Mike Cole, General Presbyter, Presbytery of New Covenant; and Richard Cizik, President of New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good, and former Vice President of Governmental Affairs of the National Association of Evangelicals.

    “The diverse chorus of voices calling for a new, fair sentencing hearing for Duane Buck reflect how Texas’s disturbing appeal to racial bias fundamentally undermines the integrity of the entire criminal justice system and makes each of us less safe,” said Sherrilyn Ifill, Director Counsel for the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc. which represents Mr. Buck, along with the Texas Defender Service and attorney Kate Black. “For anyone to trust the criminal justice system, it must be fair to everyone.”

    “Mr. Buck’s hearing was tainted by racial discrimination,” stated NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous, a signatory to the statement. “He deserves a new hearing that is not the product of race-based fear mongering posing as reasoned fact. This case is a blatant example of racial bias being allowed to seep into a justice system that is supposed to be fair and equitable to all.”

    American Bar Association President Laurel Bellows also released a statement, stating: “The American Bar Association abhors racial prejudice of any kind, and it should go without saying that no one should be executed where there is a substantial issue whether race-based testimony infected the fairness of the legal proceedings.…The ABA urges that Buck receive a new and fair sentencing hearing free of racial prejudice.”

    At Mr. Buck’s 1997 capital sentencing hearing in Harris County, the trial prosecutor elicited testimony from a psychologist that Mr. Buck posed a future danger to society because he is an African American. The prosecutor relied on this testimony in arguing in favor of a death sentence.[1] The jury accepted the prosecutor’s argument, declared Mr. Buck a future danger, and sentenced him to death. Three years later, then-Texas Attorney General (now U.S. Senator) John Cornyn acknowledged that reliance on testimony connecting race to dangerousness was wholly unacceptable and promised that the Attorney General’s Office would seek new, fair sentencing hearings for seven identified defendants, including Mr. Buck. The State kept its word in every case – except for Mr. Buck’s.

    In their statement, the signatories highlight new research showing that at the time of Mr. Buck’s trial, the Harris County District Attorney’s Office was three times more likely to seek the death penalty against African-American defendants like Mr. Buck and Harris County juries were twice as likely to sentence African-American defendants like Mr. Buck to death. The significant new study was released in an appeal filed last week by Mr. Buck in Harris County’s 208th Criminal District Court, which will soon be pending before the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.

    Mr. Buck was convicted of capital murder in Harris County for the shooting deaths of Debra Gardner and Kenneth Butler. A third person, Phyllis Taylor, was shot but survived her wound. Ms. Taylor is also a signatory to the statement. She has forgiven Mr. Buck and does not wish to see him executed.

    Another signatory to the statement, former Harris County District Attorney Linda Geffin, one of Mr. Buck’s trial prosecutors, today started an online petition on Change.org in support of a new, fair sentencing hearing for Mr. Buck: http://chn.ge/ZS0yov

    Mr. Buck’s life was spared by the U.S. Supreme Court before his scheduled execution in September 2011. Although two U.S. Supreme Court justices agreed that Mr. Buck’s death sentence required review because “our criminal justice system should not tolerate” a death sentence “marred by racial overtones,” the case is now back in the hands of state officials.

    Mr. Buck’s exemplary behavior while in prison demonstrates the falsity of the racially biased future dangerousness evidence used in his case: In his fourteen years in prison he has not had a single disciplinary write-up.

    For more information about Mr. Buck’s case, please go to:
    http://www.naacpldf.org/case-issue/duane-buck-sentenced-death-because-he-black

    ###

    To speak with Mr. Buck’s attorneys, signatories to the statement, or other experts, please contact Laura Burstein at 202-626-6868 (o); 202-669-3411(c); or laura.burstein@squiresanders.com.

    [1] “You heard from Dr. Quijano, who had a lot of experience in the Texas Department of Corrections, who told you that there was a probability that the man would commit future acts of violence.” Source: State's Closing Argument, Cause No. 699684, Reporter's Record, Volume 28, p. 260 (1997).

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    class action lawsuit Floyd, et al. v. City of New York


    The NYPD’s controversial stop-and-frisk policy is being challenged on Monday, March 18th, 2013 as a federal court hears the class action lawsuit Floyd, et al. v. City of New York. Phillip Atiba Goff, professor at UCLA and head of the Racial Bias in Policing project at the Russell Sage Foundation, is available for interviews for your coverage. He can comment on the dynamics of the Floyd case, and put in in the broader context of racial issues in policing in the U.S.

    New Yorkers were stopped by the police over half a million times in 2012. Nine out of ten were innocent of wrongdoing and the overwhelming majority of those stopped were African American or Latino, according to the NYCLU. The plaintiffs in the case claim that the NYPD is engaging in racial profiling and suspicion-less stop-and-frisks that violate the Constitution’s protections against unreasonable searches and seizures and racially-discriminatory policing.

    A professor of social psychology, Professor Goff works with police departments across the country to study the implicit and explicit racial biases of some law enforcement officers. He is available to comment on the role race plays in policing, and on what systemic reforms are needed to prevent racial discrimination by officers with broad individual authority.

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    Legal and Policy Experts Available for Commentary On Voting Rights Case Impact on Communities of Color


    - Supreme Court will Hear Challenge to Voting Rights Act on February 27, 2013 -

    As the Supreme Court prepares to hear oral arguments for Shelby County v. Holder on February 27, legal and policy experts urging the Court to uphold key parts of the Voting Rights Act are available to discuss the case and its impact on ethnic and minority communities.

    The case challenges Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which requires jurisdictions with a history of voter discrimination to gain federal approval before voting law changes can go into effect. Section 5 has been instrumental in ensuring that every eligible citizen, regardless of race, has an equal opportunity to have a say and participate in our democracy.

    Background materials are available to explain how the Voting Rights Act has protected voters for nearly five decades. (Available here in Spanish).

    Experts available:

    Myrna Pérez, Senior Counsel, Brennan Center for Justice

    For interviews in English and Spanish, contact Desiree Ramos Reiner (desiree.reiner@nyu.edu, 646-292-8321)

    Arturo Vargas, Executive Director, NALEO Education Fund

    For interviews in English and Spanish, contact Amanda Bosquez (abosquez@naleo.org, 202-546-2536, ext. 12)

    Glenn D. Magpantay, Democracy Program Director, Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund

    For interviews, contact Ujala Sehgal (usehgal@aaldef.org, 202-966-5932, ext. 217)

    Terry Ao Minnis, Director of Census and Voting Programs, Asian American Justice Center

    For interviews, contact Charu Gupta (cgupta@veng-group.com, 617-830-1790, ext. 106)

    Judith Browne Dianis, Co-Director (English), or Katherine Culliton-González, Senior Attorney and Director of Voter Protection (Spanish), Advancement Project

    For interviews, contact Rich Robinson (RRobinson@advancementproject.org, 202-728-9557, x338, 202-696-3406 cell)

    Barbara Arnwine, President and Executive Director, or Jon Greenbaum, Chief Counsel, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law

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BLACK - AFRICAN AMERICAN CIVIL RIGHTS
   

  1. A. Philip Randolph...
    Celebrate the legacy of A. Philip Randolph and contributions made by African-Americans to America's labor history.

  2. African American History: Welcome...
    This project documents a selection of important events in African American history.

  3. Black History in America ...
    Complete African American history including black artists, athletes, war heroes, civil rights leaders, politicians, and scientists. Personal biographies and photos of African American leaders.

  4. Civil Rights Documentation Project...
    Intended to serve the needs of teachers and students, The Civil Rights Documentation Project demonstrates that Congress is capable of converting big ideas into powerful law, that citizen engagement is essential to that process, and that the public policies produced 40 years ago continue to influence our lives.

  5. Civil Rights in Mississippi Digital Archive...
    The Civil Rights in Mississippi Digital Archive is an Internet-accessible, fully searchable database of digitized versions of rare and unique library and archival resources on race relations in Mississippi.

  6. Civil Rights Museum...
    The Museum exists to assist the public in understanding the lessons of the Civil Rights Movement and its impact and influence on the human rights movement worldwide.

  7. CivilRightsLawFirms.com...
    Find local civil rights lawyer specializing in civil rights like police brutality, affirmative action, civil rights enforcement, disability, education, indigenous peoples, and religious freedom.

  8. Civil Rights Movement: March on Washington 1963...
    A short history leading to and folling the March 18, 1963 March on Washington D.C. for Jobs and Freedom.

  9. Documenting the Civil Rights Struggle in Arkansas ...
    This collection of images, broadsides, pamphlets, and publications documents the changing nature of civil rights in Arkansas from the territorial period through today.

  10. Duluth Lynchings Online Resource...
    An online resource guide to the tragic events surrounding the Duluth Lynchings of June 15, 1920.

  11. Electronic Archives: Sovereignty Commission Online...
    Electronic Archives of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History.

  12. Facing History and Ourselves...
    Educational organization. Site includes videoclips of individuals who involved the civil rights movement during the 1950s and 60s.

  13. Freedom Now!...
    Freedom Now! An archival project of Tougaloo College and Brown University.

  14. Freetown Villiage - A Living History Museum...
    Freetown Village is a living history museum which depicts the lives and lifestyles of free African Americans in the year 1870.

  15. Greensboro, North Carolina Sit-Ins...
    The Greensboro News & Record and Public Library chronicle the 1960 sit-in movement with a timeline, photos, and voices of the participants.

  16. Harry T. Moore Homesite - Mims, Florida...
    Harry T. Moore Homesite site commemorates lives of two pioneering American Black civil rights workers, murdered in 1951.

  17. Historical Publications of the US Commission on Civil Rights...
    Thurgood Marshall Law Library, University of Maryland School of Law.

  18. Historic Places in the Civil Rights Movements...
    The National Parks Services' story of the Civil Rights Movement centered around places listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

  19. Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia at Ferris State University...
    Racism and racial stereotypes in the Jim Crow Era. Racial discrimination against minorities, blacks and African Americans. Minstrel shows, Al Jolson and Amos and Andy.

  20. Jim Crow Online...
    The official home of the PBS documentary, The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow.

  21. Juneteenth Worldwide Celebration ...
    Website brings together the spirit of Juneteenth, the oldest known celebration of the ending of slavery.

  22. KODAK: Powerful Days in Black and White...
    KODAK: Powerful Days in Black and White, photographs.

  23. Little Rock Central High 40th Anniversary...
    Background and history of events during the integration of Central High in 1957. Photos, articles, and news releases are published. Museum and visitor's center information is provided.

  24. Mississippi Civil Rights Documentation Project...
    Funded by the Mississippi state legislature, presentation includes oral history bibliography, oral history transcripts, and civil rights timeline.

  25. Modern History of Blacks in Mathematics...
    A contemporary history of Blacks in Mathematics,featuring the first African Americans in the Mathematical Sciences and related events in the past 300 years.

  26. National Center for Public Policy Research: Brown v. Board of Education...
    Brown v. Board of Education I (1954), made available by The National Center for Public Policy Research's Constitution and the Courts Archive.

  27. Oral Histories of the American South...
    Documenting the American South: Oral Histories of the American South.

  28. Photographic History of The Civil Rights Movement...
    Photos and text from The Civil Rights Movement.

  29. Race & Place...
    Race & Place: An African American Community.

  30. Seattle Civil Rights & Labor History Project...
    The Seattle Civil Rights and Labor History Project is based at the University of Washington. It represents a unique collaboration involving community groups, UW faculty, and both undergraduate and graduate students.

  31. Sojourn to the Past...
    Offers students, educators and parents the chance to travel for ten days through the South visiting the most dramatic sites and hearing the speakers that first witnessed and created the civil rights movement.

  32. Television News of the Civil Rights Era...
    T 1950-1970, aims to collect, digitize, and present in streaming video format over the World Wide Web television news footage from the period and to make these valuable materials available to scholars, teachers, and students.

  33. The Pilgrimage of Jesse Jackson...
    Interviews with biographer Marshall Frady and with Jackson's friends and advisors, including audio clips from PBS Frontline.

  34. The 1963 Birmingham Church Bombing...
    Information and history of the Birmingham Church bombing of 1963.

  35. The Papers of Justice Tom C. Clark...
    Tarlton Law Library - The Papers of Justice Tom C. Clark.

  36. The Trials of The Scottsboro Boys...
    Trial transcript excerpts, original essays, images, maps, diagrams, court decisions, and other materials relating to the Scottboro Boys trials.

  37. Without Sanctuary...
    Website featuring photographs and descriptions from the book Without Sanctuary by Hilton Als and James Allen, with postcards of lynchings in America.













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