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 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.
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.
|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.|
As the U.S. Department of Education investigates whether Seattle Public Schools discriminated against African-American students by disciplining them more frequently and more harshly, Superintendent José Banda promises to find solutions.
Seattle Times staff reporters
The numbers are stark, although Seattle school administrators and many parents have been aware of them, and troubled by them, for years.
African-American students are suspended from school more than three times as often as white students from elementary schools to high schools.
Now the U.S. Department of Education is investigating whether Seattle Public Schools discriminates against African Americans by disciplining them “more frequently and more harshly than similarly situated white students,” department spokesman Jim Bradshaw said Tuesday.
The “compliance review” began in May but didn’t become public knowledge until it was reported Tuesday by KUOW radio.
District Superintendent José Banda acknowledged problems with student discipline — and said he intends to do something about them.
Banda pledged cooperation with the investigation and said he expects the Department of Education will find disproportionate disciplining of black students.
“I think we have a serious problem here,” Banda said. “We do. We acknowledge that. We acknowledge the fact that the data is clear that there is a disproportionate number of students of color being suspended and expelled.
“It’s something that we’re moving on, in addition to working with the Department of Education, who are conducting their own review,” he said.
Seattle Public Schools has set up two advisory committees — one called Positive Climate and Discipline, the other Equity and Race — that are studying disproportionality in discipline.
Banda said he didn’t know how long the federal compliance review will take, and the Department of Education’s Bradshaw declined to provide additional information.
In September the department settled its first discipline-related compliance case in years when it reached an agreement with California’s Oakland Unified School District.
Oakland school officials agreed to avoid suspensions or expulsions as much as possible; to collaborate with experts to create positive, nondiscriminatory school climates; to give more help to at-risk students; to revise discipline policies; and to survey students, staff members and families each year.
James Bible, president of the Seattle-King County branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, welcomed the federal investigation, saying uneven treatment of races is “so deeply embedded in the fabric of this particular school district, and perhaps others in our region, that it’s absolutely necessary for outside entities to intervene.
“I think that until we have true transparency and something in place in terms of the outside looking in, we’re not going to see much in terms of change here,” Bible said.
Doug Honig, spokesman for the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington, said the group is concerned about the 50,000 students suspended or expelled in the state each year, both because of racial disparities and because too many of those students receive no education while they’re being punished.
“In effect, the suspension or expulsion can put them so far behind in schoolwork that it becomes an educational death sentence,” Honig said.
About two years ago, Seattle’s School Board asked to see statistics on expulsions.
“Those numbers showed us we had a growing problem,” said board President Kay Smith-Blum. “They showed a disproportionate amount of students being disciplined at the suspension or expulsion level in our minority groups.”
Banda and several board members said discipline policies should be clear and consistent and should, in most cases, provide a way for students to continue their studies even if they are removed from their regular classrooms.
“The goal should be, obviously, to get every kid in school so that we can teach them. It’s hard to teach a student who’s not in school,” said board member Harium Martin-Morris.
Board member Marty McLaren said she wants to shut down the “schools-to-prison pipeline” that can begin with inappropriate discipline.
Several board members and a district spokeswoman said they weren’t aware of the federal investigation, which began last year. “I just became aware of that myself,” Banda said.
The district’s new attorney, Modessa Jacobs, recently told other district officials the Department of Education was requesting district data as part of its review.
Stephanie Alter Jones, a Seatle school parent and a community organizer in Southeast Seattle, said that while she wasn’t aware of the investigation, discipline has been a topic of much debate both in Seattle and in the Legislature.
Kids who are tossed from the classroom are often “the ones most in need of the education,” she said.
Keith Ervin: 206-464-2105 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Late Tuesday night, congressional negotiators unveiled a spending deal to keep most of the government funded through September 2015, but on Wednesday it became clear that the substantial policy concessions made by Democrats in a bid to attract enough Republican votes to keep the government open are likely to shrink the coalition supporting the last-minute bill.
The 1,600-page spending document could be forced through the House and Senate in less than one week, giving lawmakers little time to review its contents but enough time to be angered that certain controversial provisions were included, most notably major changes to two of the biggest laws approved by Congress since 2000, which had rewritten Wall Street rules and reformed the campaign finance system.
The current government spending bill expires on Thursday, and failure to pass new legislation by then will trigger another shutdown a little more than a year after Republicans forced a 16-day government closure in October 2013. That GOP standoff over defunding the Democrats’ health care law cost the nation an estimated $24 billion.
Though the so-called cromnibus bill funds the majority of the government through an omnibus package for the rest of the fiscal year, it pays for the Department of Homeland Security only through February via a stopgap measure known as a continuing resolution, or CR. Conservatives hope to isolate the department, which is tasked with implementing President Barack Obama’s recent executive order exempting millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation, and the bill will give Republicans a chance to freshly debate its funding in the new year, when they will control both the House and Senate.
Yahoo News’ list of the most interesting and significant policy changes in the year-end spending bill:
Eliminating a key Wall Street reform. The Democratic-controlled Congress in 2010 approved sweeping changes to the nation’s financial systems, many of them tailored to prevent the kind of crisis that tanked the economy in 2008. One of the centerpieces of the bill was a measure designed to spin off banks’ riskiest activities into subsidiaries, isolating the main functions of banks from those risks and also ensuring that taxpayers would not be on the hook to pay for losses created by those risky trades in the event that they failed. The spending bill approved by Congress eliminates the so-called push-out provision from the Dodd-Frank law, meaning that the trading of derivatives — the risky swaps or bets made against the rise and fall of value in assets — can now once again happen in-house in Wall Street’s largest banks.
Democrats led by Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren are outraged by this return to old ways, and she has said she will oppose the whole bill if the provision remains in it.
Dismantling what was left of campaign finance reform. The Supreme Court since 2010 has repeatedly struck down political donation restrictions approved by Congress in the 2002 McCain-Feingold campaign finance law. With the spending bill approved by Congress this week, lawmakers at the last minute agreed to undo the most significant remaining changes from the law: the limits for individuals on how much they can give to political parties. Before the change, which was inserted in the last few pages of the mammoth spending bill, the most any one person could give to a party group like the Democratic National Committee or Republican National Committee was $32,400 per year. Now any individual will be able to give anywhere from $97,200 to $777,600, depending on the interpretation of the language included in the government-spending bill.
Meddling in D.C. politics. Because the District of Columbia is not a state, it relies on Congress annually to appropriate its budget. And so Washington, D.C., perennially bears the brunt of congressional compromises as Republicans target D.C. programs to highlight social issues they oppose and Democrats acquiesce in the knowledge that the District will vote overwhelmingly for Democrats no matter what Congress does. During the first shutdown threat of Obama’s tenure in 2011, the GOP pushed through a ban on funds for abortion services in D.C. and started a school voucher program.
This year, Democrats agreed to support Republican language targeting a D.C. ballot initiative legalizing recreational marijuana, which voters approved by nearly 70 percent in November. The wide-ranging appropriations bill bars funds from being used for the implementation, regulation and taxation of marijuana and also, adding insult to injury, mandates that no money provided by Congress can be used by D.C. officials to petition for representation in Congress. Instead of a regular congressperson, D.C. has a delegate, Democrat Eleanor Holmes Norton, who does not have voting privileges in the House.
Cutting IRS and EPA funding. Republicans are touting cuts to the budgets of the Internal Revenue Service and the Environmental Protection Agency. The spending deal reduces IRS spending by $345 million in an olive branch to conservatives still miffed over a scandal involving the agency and its targeting of political groups that were using nonprofit loopholes to avoid paying certain taxes. The IRS funding levels in 2015 will now be lower than they were in the 2008 fiscal year.
Republicans have cut the EPA’s budget for the fifth consecutive year. In a press release the day after the deal was announced, Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, touted cuts to the EPA as one of the “Ten Things You Should Know About the Omnibus Appropriations Bill” and the fact that the bill reduces EPA staffing “to the lowest level since 1989.”
Setting up a messy immigration funding fight. A key feature of the deal for Republicans is that it funds most of the government while specifically preventing Congress from filling the Homeland Security department’s coffers. That particular bargain will allow the House and Senate GOP majority in 2015 to fight over how to appropriate overall Homeland Security programs while withholding funds for the implementation of the president’s immigration executive order. As Yahoo News previously reported, it will be difficult for the GOP to defund implementation of the order because the DHS agency that oversees immigration status changes is self-funded through fees it levies on immigration applications. And yet by agreeing to this particular deal, Democrats are setting themselves up for a messy fight with Republicans about the immigration issue at a time when they will have much less leverage to get their way.
Rolling back truck safety regulations. A policy rider added to the bill to sweeten the deal for Republicans will roll back truck safety regulations issued by the Department of Transportation in 2011 to prevent traffic accidents resulting from trucker fatigue. The two basic requirements were that drivers take a 30-minute rest break within the first eight hours of their shifts and take a “restart” period of 34 hours of rest weekly. According to the Department of Transportation, the “net effect of these changes was to reduce the average maximum week a driver could work from 82 hours to 70 hours.” Trucking companies have been lobbying against these changes and now appear to have secured a victory by getting their repeal included in the spending bill.