Tag Archives: Race and ethnicity in the United States Census

Asian-Pacific American ~~ HERITAGE MONTH …


May is Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month.

The month-long observance was officially designated in 1992 and the month of May was chosen to commemorate the first Japanese immigrants to the U.S. on May 7, 1843 and to recognize the Chinese immigrants who helped lay tracks for the transcontinental railroad, which was completed on May 10, 1869.

Visit asianpacificheritage.gov to learn more about the contributions of Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States.

a repost

This Black mayor challenged White authorities … Black History


It’s like a scene from the 1960s — a Black mayor stepped out of line with powerful White politicians in a small Louisiana town, and it cost him his freedom. Now it’s up to us to help win it back.

Bobby Higginbotham, mayor of Waterproof, LA, started making policies intended to bring the town more revenue and give it more control over police matters. In doing so, Higginbotham made mistakes, but he didn’t commit any crimes. But District Attorney James Paxton took advantage of the errors to arrest Higginbotham on 44 trumped-up charges and install a political ally in his place.

After being forced to represent himself in trial, Higginbotham was convicted before a nearly all-White jury in a parish where the majority of residents are Black.

This isn’t the first time a Louisiana prosecutor has abused his power against Black folks who don’t “know their place” — a similar scene played out in the case of the Jena Six. But if enough of us speak out, we can expose his behavior and help free the former mayor. Please join us in calling on Paxton to end his bogus prosecution of Bobby Higginbotham, and then ask your friends and family to do the same:  www.colorofchange.org

Waterproof is a town of only 800 people in Louisiana’s Tensas Parish, the last parish in the state to allow Black folks to vote. The parish is more than 55% Black, but it’s the wealthy Whites who hold the power there. Journalist Jordan Flaherty writes that “Waterproof is ‘reminiscent of the bygone days of southern politics,’ with a White power structure maintaining political power over a black majority…”1 Even with a minority of citizens, Whites controlled the wealth, the jobs, and the politics.

Soon after Bobby Higginbotham took office in tiny Waterproof, LA the new Black mayor began challenging the area’s most powerful White officials — namely Sheriff Rickey Jones and District Attorney James Paxton — by establishing a local police force that would provide better local service, in effect competing with the parish Sheriff. Before Higginbotham took office, the Waterproof police force was anemic. According to former Waterproof Police Chief Miles Jenkins, “[If] You called the Waterproof police for help before, [they] would say, ‘wait ’til tomorrow, it’s too hot to come out today.'” Under Higginbotham and Jenkins, Waterproof’s new police force grew in size and collected its own traffic tickets — siphoning revenue and influence from the Sheriff.

A Black deputy sheriff warned not to push against the system too hard: “You’ve got to adapt to your environment. You can’t come to a small town and do things the same way you might in a big city. Like the song says, you got to know when to hold ’em, and know when to fold ’em.”

Mr. Higginbotham didn’t fold. Instead, he brought a direct, some say in-your-face, attitude that rubbed figures like the Sheriff and DA the wrong way. According to Waterproof resident Annie Watson,“The Mayor and the Chief said you can’t treat people this way, and the Sheriff and DA said you got to know your place. If you’re educated and intelligent and know your rights in this parish, you are in trouble. They are determined to let you know you have a place and if you don’t jump when they say jump you are in trouble.”2

As a result, Higginbotham and Jenkins endured major harassment by Paxton and Jones — Jenkins alleges being beaten by Sheriff’s deputies, while both Waterproof officials claim that Paxton and Jones had them arrested under false pretenses on several occasions. The harrassment culminated with Higginbotham’s arrest on bogus, trumped-up corruption charges. With Higginbotham out of the way, Paxton pulled levers to replace Higginbotham with a political ally.

It’s clear to us that Higginbotham made mistakes as mayor, mistakes pointed out in a 2008 Louisiana legislative auditor’s report. But what also seems clear is that Higginbotham’s errors as mayor did not rise to the level of the criminal. In the wake of the report, the mayor sought to correct all issues highlighted by the audit, including hiring an independent auditor to review the town’s financial records. That didn’t stop the District Attorney from charging Mr. Higginbotham with 44 counts of corruption, all but two of which were later dropped.

Higginbotham was charged with felony theft for giving himself what the DA claims is an unauthorized raise. But this raise was in the budget passed by the Board of Aldermen, along with raises for themselves which they received, just as he did. Higginbotham was also charged with malfeasance in office for allegedly using a town credit card for personal charges — an honest mistake that Higginbotham immediately corrected. Both of these charges are the result of an intentional distortion of facts based on a personal vendetta against Higginbotham.

At trial, Higginbotham was forced to represent himself. It also appears that the record of the meeting where the mayor’s raise was approved, which could clear him, is now “missing.” He was convicted by a jury containing five White members to only one Black member — in a parish where Blacks make up nearly 60% of the residents. The judge gave the jury polling slips that had “guilty” pre-selected. Higginbotham was not told of the error until a week after he had been convicted and sent to jail without bond. Higginbotham wants to appeal, but the court reporter failed to keep a trial record during several of the prosecution’s key witnesses.

Mayor Higginbotham has been denied bail at every turn since his conviction — a consequence usually reserved for violent offenders and flight risks — and he’s been sitting in jail for nearly a year awaiting final sentencing.

This isn’t right. Please join us in calling on District Attorney Paxton to drop all charges against Bobby Higginbotham and to allow his release on bond pending an appeal — and when you do, please ask your friends and family to join the effort. It takes just a moment:

http://act.colorofchange.org/sign/mayor

Thanks and Peace,

— James, Gabriel, William, Dani, Matt, Natasha and the rest of the ColorOfChange.org team

February 24th, 2011

Help support our work. ColorOfChange.org is powered by YOU — your energy and dollars. We take no money from lobbyists or large corporations that don’t share our values, and our tiny staff ensures your contributions go a long way. You can contribute here:

http://www.colorofchange.org/donate

References:

1. “Did a White Sheriff and District Attorney Orchestrate a Race-Based Coup in a Northern Louisiana Town?” The Huffington Post, 3-26-2010

http://act.colorofchange.org/go/741?akid=1915.1174326.fVPFVz&t=7

2. Ibid.

3. “Town of Waterproof Advisory Services Report,” Louisiana Legislative Auditor, 8-27-2008

http://act.colorofchange.org/go/751?akid=1915.1174326.fVPFVz&t=9

4. See reference 1

This is why POC should never ever sit on the sidelines… people wept, went without sleep, protested, got lynched, beat, endured racial slurs, injured, put in jail, and died to make the world a little more safe for the folks future present past… they loved! Mayor Higginbotham

– Nativegrl

Dorthy Height – In Memory


Dorothy Height: a civil rights heroine, educator and social activist ; She was a woman who had her finger print on all things American and as the President said,” deserves a place in our history”.    3/24/1912 – 4/20/2010

first posted 4/22/2011

 

 

A Picture Worth a Thousand More …Lonnie G. Bunch at The NMAAHC- Black History


a repost … 2011

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

Few things date history as readily as fashion. The caveat “that was the fashion of the times” can be applied to everything from bustles and corsets to micro-mini skirts and polyester pants suits — fashions at the turn of the twentieth century and styles created during the 1960s-’70s.

While designs have changed over the years, one thing remained the same: from department store catalogs to high-end fashion magazines, the models dressed in the latest fashions were white.

So it was a major event when Katiti Kironde appeared in the August 1968 issue of Glamour College, the first African American to appear on a American fashion magazine’s cover. Six years later, in August 1974, Beverly Johnson became the first African American woman featured on the cover of Vogue magazine — the industry’s supreme publication. It was another landmark.

Like virtually everything else on the path to equal opportunity for African Americans, progress was slow and came in steps, not leaps. So when an African American woman first appeared in one of the fashion industry’s premier magazines, it was not on a cover or with a huge, multi-page layout.

Instead, seven years before Kironde’s Glamour cover, a coed at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), Willette Murphy, quietly appeared on the pages of the August 1961 issue of another hugely popular magazine, Mademoiselle.

Murphy, now Willette Klausner, was pictured wearing a simple skirt, top and jacket, and walking on the UCLA campus. Initially, she viewed the moment as “just another thing I’d done.”

Far from it: Willette Murphy’s appearance in the magazine was not merely “just another thing.” Her Mademoiselle photograph was groundbreaking. Yet, Murphy was unaware of her place in history, until a New York Times’ reporter contacted her family. “I guess my sister found out when the New York Times called my parents,” Klausner said in a published interview.

Her family was used to Willette achieving things African Americans rarely experienced at that time — she was UCLA’s first black senior class president, for example — but the call from the Times made the family realize that their daughter had made history.

For decades, in high powered fashion magazines like Vogue, Glamour and Mademoiselle, to the Sears and Roebuck and other mail order catalogs, to models walking runways in Paris and New York, the face of fashion had been white.

Images of African Americans were scarce even in popular, mainstream American magazines. Many white Americans were shocked when Dorothy Dandridge became the first African American female to appear on the cover of LIFE in November, 1954. It would be nearly four years later before another black American, boxer Sugar Ray Robinson, would find his way onto that magazine’s front page. Another African American female celebrity would not grace LIFE’s cover again until the December 8, 1967 issue which featured Pearl Bailey.

Imagine growing up black and female and seeing dress after dress, swimsuit after swimsuit, shoe after shoe — all pictured only on white women. Along with every other message sent to African Americans, this underscored the sense that African Americans were, to a great degree, nonexistent — even when it came to buying clothes.

Today fashion marketers, like marketers from every other industry, recognize that the face of America is as diverse as its people. They also recognize that African Americans’ buying power was estimated at $913 billion in 2009. A University of Georgia economics study projects that figure will rise to $1.2 trillion in 2013 — nearly 9% of the country’s estimated purchasing strength.

Today the power of the African American pocketbook is reflected on the covers of countless magazines — fashion, entertainment, and political publications which routinely feature black models, entertainers, authors, politicians and more.

Willette Murphy Klausner
Photo Courtesy of Ms. Klausner

Today, it is no longer shocking to walk into a supermarket and find an African American on a magazine cover. In March 2009, First Lady Michelle Obama appeared on the cover of Vogue, only the second first lady to do so. In recent years Vogue has seen a number of black women grace its cover.

Sometimes history is made in giant leaps. More often, however, it is made in smaller, sometimes unexpected steps. Willette Murphy Klausner would become the first black merchandising executive at Bloomingdale’s, later the first female corporate vice president at MCA Universal Studios and, together with Julia Child and Robert Mondavi, the co-founder of the American Institute of Wine and Food in 1981. Today, she is a successful theater producer.

It is her photo in Mademoiselle that we celebrate today. A picture that would launch thousands more.

Lonnie Bunch, Director

All the best,
Lonnie Bunch
Director
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