Civil Rights Groups Expect Swell of Support ~Black History Month


          The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gestures during his "I Have a Dream" speech at the March on Washington on Aug. 28, 1963. Some at the National Urban League conference have called for another such march in the wake of the Trayvon Martin verdict and the Supreme Court's decision on the Voting Rights Act.
Leaders at the National Urban League convention say recent Voting

Rights Act decision and Trayvon Martin case have galvanized many

By Elizabeth Flock

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gestures during his “I Have a Dream” speech at the March on Washington on Aug. 28, 1963. Some at the National Urban League conference have called for another such march in the wake of the Trayvon Martin verdict and the Supreme Court’s decision on the Voting Rights Act.

PHILADELPHIA – The 50th anniversary of the March on Washington was intended to be a look back on the historic march of 1963 and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech during the height of the civil rights movement.

But the recent Supreme Court decision that struck down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act coupled with the “not guilty” verdict in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin has lent new urgency and more participants to the anniversary event, according to groups involved.

[PHOTOS: Joe Biden Leads Re-enactment of Voting Rights March]

In Philadelphia, where the National Urban League is holding its annual conference on Thursday and Friday, president Marc Morial says that both the conference and march have changed in focus and in tenor because of “what’s happened in the last 30 days.”

“The Voting Rights Act decision [and] the Trayvon Martin tragedy [have] created a different mood among the people who are here. It’s a different kind of focus in their hearts and minds,” he says. “It’s a different enthusiasm.”

Some of that emotion, he says, has shown itself in the form of renewed distrust in the criminal justice system. Several panels at the conference also expressed frustration with the Supreme Court. And in a speech at the conference Thursday morning, Barbara Arnwine, executive director of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, was greeted by frustrated cheers when she told the crowd she’d better see them at the 50th anniversary march next month.

[READ: Holder Says Texas Must Get Pre-Approval Before Changing Voting Laws]

But Morial hopes those frustrations can be channeled into calls for action at the march: for a congressional fix to the Voting Rights Act, a hard look at the criminal justice system after the Trayvon Martin case and a plan for dealing with the lack of employment in minority communities.

The National Urban League is just one of some two dozen civil and human rights groups involved in the event. Five participating groups took part in the original 1963 march, but many more are new, including Rev. Al Sharpton‘s National Action Network, which has 40 chapters across the country, the National Council of Churches, which includes 100,000 local congregations, and the National Park Service.

“There were 250,000 people in 1963,” says Morial. “It remains to be seen this time… [But] these recent events have been encouragement for more people to attend.”

The Charleston Shooting … In memory of


By

Wednesday’s tragic murder of nine black parishioners in Charleston’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church by a 21-year-old white man wanting “to start a civil war” is weighing heavily on the hearts of all of us. We cannot begin to understand the grief felt by the families of those lost or the Charleston community. But we can speak about what we do know. This was a racist committing a racially motivated murder. This was another tragic example of how guns too easily fall into the hands of dangerous people. This was a terrorist act.

Here is a round-up of the columns and news that we are reading and talking about. We hope they foster and inform your conversations, reflections, and actions too:

1. Jelani Cobb in The New Yorker: Murders in Charleston. “We have, quite likely, found at 110 Calhoun Street, in Charleston, South Carolina, the place where Columbine, Aurora, and Newtown cross with Baltimore, Ferguson, and Sanford.”

2. Ta-Nehisi Coates in The Atlantic: Take Down the Confederate Flag—Now. “Moral cowardice requires choice and action. It demands that its adherents repeatedly look away, that they favor the fanciful over the plain, myth over history, the dream over the real. Here is another choice. Take down the flag. Take it down now.”

3. Jeff Duo in the Washington Post: The legal loophole that allowed Dylann Roof to get a gun. “Dylann Roof, the man accused of a shooting spree that left nine people dead at a historic black church in Charleston on Wednesday night, should not have been able to get a gun.”

4. Jamelle Bouie in Slate: The Black American Holiday Everyone Should Celebrate but Doesn’t. “Juneteenth isn’t just a celebration of emancipation, it’s a celebration of our commitment to make it real.”

5. Jennifer Mascia in The Trace: Charleston Area Faced Gun Violence Spike Before Church Shooting. “Nearly eight out of every 10 killings in the area last year involved a firearm.”

6. Dan Wasserman’s editorial cartoon in The Boston Globe:

wasserman charleston

CREDIT: Dan Wasserman

And be sure to check out the latest news and opinions from our partners at ThinkProgress:

1. Judd Legum: NRA Board Member Blames Charleston Victim For His Own Death. Seriously.

2. Ian Millhiser: When John Roberts Said There Isn’t Enough Racism In America To Justify The Voting Rights Act. It’s a sordid business, this divvying up the amount of racism in the United States to decide whether Congress is allowed to enact laws intended to fix it.

3. Jack Jenkins: How The Charleston Shooting Is Linked To The Confederate Flag, According To A South Carolinian. While the Confederate flag is certainly about heritage, it is and always has been about hate.

4. Kiley Kroh: Charleston Victim’s Son Addresses Media On The Baseball Field. “Love is always stronger than hate. So if we just love the way my mom would, then the hate won’t be anywhere close to where the love is.”

Wishing you a safe and peaceful weekend.

Sarah Breedlove … Millionaire 12/23/1867


This Child of Slaves Grew Up to Become America’s First Female Millionaire

Random Celebrity Article By on October 20, 2014

 

America is considered to be the “land of opportunity”. Historically, it’s the country people have run to in order to escape persecution, poor living conditions, or lack of opportunities somewhere else. However, for the large number of African people stolen from their homes, shipped across the Atlantic, and sold into slavery, America was anything but a land of opportunity. So it’s pretty darn incredible that America’s first female self-made millionaire, Madam C.J. Walker, was the child of former slaves. Her story is one of perseverance, ingenuity, and triumph. If her amazing life doesn’t make you want to get off your butt and go make your dreams happen, than nothing will.

Madam C.J. Walker, also known as Sarah Breedlove, was born on December 23, 1867, just outside of Delta, Louisiana. She was born on the cotton plantation where her family had been enslaved. She held the distinction of being the first free-born child in the family. The youngest of five, she was the first person in her family born after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. However, by age 7, she was orphan. Both of her parents passed away within a year of each other. Their cause of death was not recorded. She was sent to live with her older sister in Mississippi, where it is believed she worked picking cotton and doing housework. Her life in Mississippi was anything but ideal, and though slavery had technically been abolished, most people in the South had yet to “get the memo”, as it were. She worked the same hours she would have worked as a slave and was paid a pittance. Then, she and her family members had to pay exorbitant fees to live in the very same shack that her sister had lived in while she was a slave. Making matters worse, was that her brother-in-law was physically abusive. Eventually, she couldn’t take it anymore. At 14, she married a man named Moses McWilliams, mostly in an effort to get away from her current living situation.

madame

The pair had a baby in 1885. Two years later, Moses passed away, and Sarah and her daughter A’Lelia moved to St. Louis to be closer to Sarah’s older brothers. Her brothers had found some success working as barbers. In St. Louis, she began working as a washerwoman. Her pay was only $1.50 per day. She used the majority of the money to pay for her daughter’s schooling, and also took whatever classes she could herself. She subsequently met and married Charles J. Walker. Mr. Walker worked in advertising and their relationship would prove to be a fortuitous one.

Due to a severe scalp condition, most likely caused by the lye-based products used to straighten her hair, Sarah Breedlove had begun to lose her hair in bunches. Whenever she had a spare moment in her kitchen, she began making her own hair care products, and experimenting with ways to treat her own scalp. A black woman named Annie Turnbo Malone heard about Sarah. Ms. Malone made and marketed her own line of African-American hair care products. She invited Sarah to come work for her as a commission agent. So Sarah, Charles, and A’Lelia relocated to Denver, Colorado and launched a hair care business under Ms. Malone. At the urging of her husband, Sarah changed her professional name to Madam C.J. Walker, and launched her business in earnest. Between her genuinely effective and well-made products and her husband’s advertising acumen, her business grew by leaps and bounds. The couple spent much of the early 1900s, traveling around selling her products all over the south. By 1908, she was able to go out on her own. She opened a factory and her own beauty school in Pittsburgh.

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The company continued to grow, so Sarah, now Madam C.J., moved operations to Indianapolis. She began training a group of employees who were both salespeople and beauticians. Known as “Walker Agents“, these African-American entrepreneurs began selling her products all over the United States. She began sponsoring conventions, sales awards, and community events. She and her husband divorced in 1913, and rather than slowing her down, it seemed to galvanize her. She traveled to the Caribbean and Latin America, adding more and more “Walker Agents” to her roster and increasing her sales base. By this time, her daughter A’Lelia, had begun to take charge of some portions of operations. A’Lelia purchased prime real estate in Harlem and made it the new base of operations for Madam C. J. Walker Manufacturing. As more responsibility was shifted to her daughter, Madam C.J. Walker began focusing on philanthropy and community improvement. She created scholarship funds, sponsored the building and maintenance of multiple homes for the elderly, donated large sums to both the NAACP and the National Conference on Lynching, and, in 1913, donated the largest amount of money by an African-American to the Indianapolis YMCA.

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She built a home in Irvington-on-Hudson, New York sometime around 1916 or 1917, and passed away there in 1919, due to hypertension. She was 51 years old. She was the sole owner of Madam C.J. Walker Manufacturing for most of its existence, and the company was worth over $1 million when she died. Additionally, she was worth close to $700,000 herself, separate from the company. That’s the equivalent of $13 million in today’s dollars. It was an astronomical amount in 1919.

At the time of her death in 1919, Madam C.J. Walker was the wealthiest African-American in the United States. She was also generally believed to the country’s first self-made female multi-millionaire. Assuming her net worth was approximately $2 million the year she died, that would be equivalent to $37 million today.

house

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When she died, her will dictated that 2/3 of all future company profits be donated to charity from that point on. One third of her estate went to her daughter. Her home in Irvington-on-Hudson is now a registered landmark, and the arts center named after her in Indianapolis, the Walker Center, has become nationally famous.

Madam C.J. Walker, aka Sarah Breedlove, went from absolutely nothing, to wealthier than just about everyone else around her. Along the way, she made sure to give back to the community that supported her, and trained hundreds of “Walker Agents” about entrepreneurship, civic duty, and pride. She proved to an entire generation of African-Americans, many of whom had grown up enslaved, that success was possible. Historically and socially, the example she set has proven far more valuable than her millions of dollars.

Brilliant Lights: Four Amazing Talents — In Memory of


NMAAHC -- National Museum of African American History and Culture

Lonnie Bunch, museum director, historian, lecturer, and author, is proud to present A Page from Our American Story, a regular on-line series for Museum supporters. It will showcase individuals and events in the African American experience, placing these stories in the context of a larger story — our American story.

A Page From Our American Story

Talent knows no color barrier, so much so that it has often provided African Americans a path to knocking down racial barriers. In the case of Sissieretta Jones, Lillian Evanti, Hazel Scott, and Lena Horne, their talent opened doors on stages around the world and paved the way for countless black entertainers to come.

Born in Portsmouth, Virginia, in January 1868, Matilda Sissieretta Joyner Jones began formally studying music at the Providence Music Academy in Rhode Island at the age of 14. She is believed to have completed her training some years later at Boston’s renowned New England Conservatory of Music.

Matilda Sissieretta Joyner Jones The Black Patti, Mme. M. Sissieretta Jones: The Greatest Singer of Her Race. Color poster. New York: Metropolitan Printing Co., 1899. Performance Arts Posters.  Library of Congress – Prints & Photographs Division. LCUSZc4-5164.

With her New York opera debut at Steinway Hall in 1888, Jones’ talent was quickly recognized. She toured overseas and became known as the world’s “first Negro prima donna.” Her voice and striking presence led to comparisons with Italian soprano Adelina Patti — considered the premier diva of the day. Jones was nicknamed “Black Patti” — which she resented for obvious reasons — but as Miss Jones proved to all, a woman of color was capable of giving world class performances.

Though racism kept her from performing on America’s most renowned stage, New York’s Metropolitan Opera, she did perform at the White House, and gave a command performance before England’s Royal Family. In June 1892, she became the first African American to take the stage at Carnegie Hall, and by 1895 she was the highest paid black entertainer in the world. By showing the world that a black woman could perform classical opera, Jones laid the ground work for future entertainers, including Lillian Evanti.

Lillian Evanti was born Lillian Evans on August 12, 1890 in Washington, D.C. She graduated with a music degree from Howard University in 1907. Thirteen years later she left America for Europe. There she became the first African American to sing with professional opera companies in Nice and Paris.

Evanti spoke (and sang in) five languages and critics praised her commanding coloratura soprano. In the 1930s, Evanti returned to Washington, D.C. to perform in the city’s premier theater, the Belasco, one of the few major venues that permitted performances before integrated audiences. The Washington Post called her appearance a “home-coming triumph.”

Lillian Evanti in France, 1926 American operatic soprano Lillian Evanti (1880-1967) in France in 1926. Bibliothèque nationale de France.

In 1932, the director of the Metropolitan Opera asked her to audition. The Opera’s board of directors, however, refused to allow Evanti to join the company, a decision based solely on her race. That, however, did not prevent her from performing in front of tens of thousands at Madison Square Garden and other substantial venues. It would take 23 more years before an African American female, Marian Anderson, would actually perform at the Metropolitan Opera, thanks in no small part to the trail blazed by Lillian Evanti.

A gifted musician and performer, Hazel Scott is an American Jazz legend who used her talent to fight against racist stereotypes and attitudes.

Born in Port of Spain, Trinidad on June 11, 1920, Hazel Scott was a child prodigy. After moving to New York City, Scott was given a special exemption to enroll in the prestigious Juilliard School of Music when she was only 8 years old — half the normal enrollment age of 16. By the time she was in high school she was hosting a radio show on WOR and performing in the evening.

Before long, Scott was the premier entertainer at New York’s Café Society, the city’s first fully integrated club. An accomplished pianist, she also played trumpet, and saxophone — the latter in a stint with Louis Armstrong’s All Girl Band. She spoke seven languages, appeared in a handful of movies, and married New York Congressman Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., a celebrity in his own right.

Scott didn’t shy away from fighting for civil rights. Included in her performance contracts was a clause mandating that the venues be fully integrated. In addition, she was an outspoken critic of the stereotypical roles offered to black actresses.

Lena Horne, 1964. Publicity photo of Lena Horne performing on The Bell Telephone Hour television show. NBC Television, 1964.

In June 1950, Scott was wrongly linked to communist-leaning organizations by the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). In September, Scott voluntarily appeared before the committee. Though she gave a rousing defense of her patriotism, and no ties to communist groups were found, the stain of the HUAC damaged her career. By the time she was able to make a comeback in the early 1960s, jazz’ popularity had been eclipsed by rhythm and blues, and rock and roll. Jazz critics and aficionados consider her critically acclaimed 1955 album, Relaxed Piano Moods, one of the most important jazz recordings of the twentieth century.

Lena Horne’s life was a remarkably powerful story of the triumph of the spirit. Born in Brooklyn, New York on June 30, 1917, she became a performer at the famous Cotton Club at 16. Stardom wasn’t far behind. In 1943, her sultry, moody rendition of Stormy Weather, from the film of the same name, became her trademark. Horne would win multiple Grammy Awards for singing, and Tony Awards for her performances on Broadway. By 1945, her voice, her beauty, and her electric stage presence had made her the highest paid African American entertainer in the nation.

Throughout her life, Horne stood up for justice. During World War II, Horne refused to sing for segregated audiences of troops, nor would she perform when the troops were split with whites in front rows and blacks in back. On one occasion, disgusted that black GIs were forced to sit behind German POWs, Horne walked through the audience to where the black troops were seated and performed with her back to the German prisoners. It was emblematic of her life.

Horne was outspoken in her call for equal rights. Her friendships with Paul Robeson, along with W.E.B. Dubois, landed Horne on Hollywood’s blacklist for a period of time — a list of celebrities and entertainers who were marked by HUAC for alleged communist ties. Still, her talent was far more powerful than rumors and innuendo, and she performed in night clubs and toured to sell out houses. She was recognized as a screen star and her demands — that she never be cast in the role of maid, for example — put Hollywood on notice that African American actresses would no longer endure the stereotypes they had played for decades. When Halle Berry became the first African American to win the Best Actress Academy Award in 2009, she noted that her victory was for those women who came before her, including Dorothy Dandridge and Lena Horne.

It is a tribute to the indefatigable spirits of these women that they are remembered not only for their tremendous gifts, but for their determination in the face of a society that pitted so much against them based solely on their color. African American actors, singers, and musicians today owe a debt of gratitude to this group of women for clearing a path toward equality.

 dd-enews-temp-lonnie-bunch-2.jpg All the best, Lonnie Bunch Director

 

P.S. We can only reach our $250 million goal with your help. I hope you will consider making a donation or becoming a Charter Member today.

‘Racial Justice Act’ repealed in North Carolina’ ~~ Information we must ALL read& know


By Matt Smith, CNN
updated 3:48 AM EDT, Fri June 21, 2013
 http://www.cnn.com/video/data/2.0/video/us/2013/06/21/ac-lavandera-pkg-death-due-to-race.cnn.html
STORY HIGHLIGHTS

  • The 2009 law allowed inmates to argue that race played a role in sentences
  • Gov. Pat McCrory said it effectively halted capital punishment in the state
  • Democrats say four condemned convicts had their sentences reduced to life under the law

(CNN) — North Carolina’s governor says he agreed to repeal a law that allowed inmates to challenge their death sentences on racial grounds because it effectively banned capital punishment in the state.

North Carolina legislators barred death sentences “sought or obtained on the basis of race” in 2009, when both houses of the state General Assembly were under Democratic control.

The, legislation, known as the Racial Justice Act, allowed condemned convicts to use statistical analysis to argue that race played a role in their sentencing.

Was race a factor in death sentence?

Republicans who took control of the Legislature in 2010 weakened the law last year, overriding a veto by then-Gov. Bev Perdue, a Democrat.

Gov. Pat McCrory, a Republican elected in 2012, followed legislative action and signed its complete repeal Wednesday.

“Nearly every person on death row, regardless of race, has appealed their death sentence under the Racial Justice Act,” McCrory said in a statement Wednesday. “The state’s district attorneys are nearly unanimous in their bipartisan conclusion that the Racial Justice Act created a judicial loophole to avoid the death penalty and not a path to justice.”

The state still allowed capital punishment even while the Racial Justice Act was on the books. But state Democrats said the law resulted in at least four convicts being taken off death row after judges ruled that their sentences resulted from racial bias, with their sentences commuted to life in prison instead.

About 53% of the 153 convicts awaiting execution in North Carolina are black, according to the state Department of Public Safety, while about 40% are white. African-Americans make up about 22% of the state’s population, according to Census figures.

CNN’s Joe Sutton contributed to this report.

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