Monday, March 30, 2020

Washington, DC mayor issues stay-at-home order

Today, due to an increasing number of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in Washington, DC and across the region and the nation, Mayor Muriel Bowser issued a stay-at-home order for the District of Columbia. This order reinforces the Mayor’s direction to residents to stay at home except to perform essential activities.

“Our message remains the same: stay home,” said Mayor Bowser. “Staying at home is the best way to flatten the curve and protect yourself, your family, and our entire community from COVID-19. Many people want to know how they can help right now, and for most people this is how – by staying home.”
The Mayor’s Order specifies that residents may only leave their residences to:
  • engage in essential activities, including obtaining medical care that cannot be provided through telehealth and obtaining food and essential household goods;
  • perform or access essential governmental functions;
  • work at essential businesses;
  • engage in essential travel; or
  • engage in allowable recreational activities, as defined by the Mayor’s Order.
Any individual who willfully violates the stay-at-home order may be guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, subject to a fine not exceeding $5,000, imprisonment for not more than 90 days, or both.
The stay-at-home order goes into effect on April 1, 2020 at 12:01 am.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Spike Lee releases the script of his unmade Jackie Robinson film online

On Sunday Oscar winning director Spike Lee went online to present film and baseball fans with the script of his unmade Jackie Robinson film.

Lee described the film as a “dream project”. The plan back in 1996 was for the director to again team up with Denzel Washington for their take on the life and legacy of the Brooklyn Dodgers legend who shattered MLB’s color barrier.

Sadly, for fans of cinema and baseball Spike says that Denzel said he was too old to play Robinson and the project never happened.

Read the full script here: jackie-robinson-spike-lee-script

Stephon Marbury trying to get 10 million N95 masks from China for N.Y.

Former New York Knicks guard Stephon Marbury is trying to arrange a deal that would deliver 10 million N95 masks to New York City.

Marbury told the New York Post that he arranged for a supplier in China to sell the masks for $2.75 each, nearly two-thirds less than their standard price tag.

"At the end of the day, I am from Brooklyn," Marbury told the Post from Beijing, where he coaches the Chinese Basketball Association's Royal Fighters. "This is something that is close and dear to my heart as far as being able to help New York."

Marbury added: "I have family there in Coney Island, a lot of family ... who are affected by this, so I know how important it is for people to have masks during this time."

Marbury has reached out to Brooklyn borough president Eric Adams to help coordinate the sale.


Saturday, March 28, 2020

Barack Obama statement on the passing of civil rights leader Rev.Joseph Lowery

The Rev. Joseph Lowery, who was often called the “dean” of the America's civil rights movement, died Friday at the age of 98.

In 1957, as racial tensions rose across the United States, Lowery helped start the Southern Christian Leadership Conference civil rights organization with King. Their work helped lead to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which President Lyndon Johnson signed. Lowery later served as the SCLC's president for more than two decades.

Former President Barack Obama released the following statement via Twitter on Lowery's passing:

Rev. Joseph Lowery was a giant who let so many of us stand on his shoulders. With boundless generosity, patience, and moral courage, he encouraged a new generation of activists and leaders. Michelle and I remember him fondly today, and our love and prayers are with his family.

What a joy it was to watch him pray and preach. I took heart in him saying, “We ain’t going back. We’ve come too far, marched too long, prayed too hard, wept too bitterly, bled too profusely, and died too young to let anybody turn back the clock on our journey to justice.”

We are grateful for what he did for this country. He carried the baton longer and surer than almost anybody. It falls to the rest of us now to pick it up and never stop moving forward until we finish what he started—that journey to justice.

The Congressional Black Caucus Statement on Senate Passage of Coronavirus stimulus package

The Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) released the following statement after the bipartisan Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security, or CARES Act, passed the Senate: 
“When America catches a cold, Black America catches pneumonia. So as America continues to deal with the impact of the coronavirus health crisis, the CBC is fighting for bold solutions to support the needs of Black families, seniors, workers, businesses, and communities.” On March 20, the CBC submitted an extensive 11-page proposal to House and Senate leadership with recommendations to support the recovery of Black America.
The original bill introduced in the Senate gave a bailout to rich people and big corporations, but after several days of negotiations, the bill has been amended to address the needs of main street Americans.
Members of the Congressional Black Caucus, including Senator Cory Booker and Senator Kamala Harris, fought for the legislative issues outlined in the CBC proposal. These priorities included a higher amount of direct payment assistance for people, from $600 in the original bill introduced by Senate Republicans, to $1200 in the final bipartisan agreement. Members also fought for an additional $500 child tax credit per child and a moratorium on foreclosures and evictions. Additionally, CBC Members secured $447 million for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), among other priorities included.
Congress must first ensure the health, security, and financial stability of the American people impacted by COVID-19, and not just the health of Wall Street.
That’s why the Congressional Black Caucus advocated for several provisions adopted in the Senate Coronavirus relief package such as: 
  • Unemployment Compensation: Expansion of unemployment benefits to $600 per week in addition to the base max eligible for unemployment insurance; 
  • Funding HBCUs: $447 million to HBCUs of the $1.05B for Minority Serving Institutions;
  • Direct Financial Payments: Direct payments for as much as $1,200 for individual taxpayers, and $500 per child, phased out when incomes exceed $75,000 for individuals and $150,000 for couples filing jointly.
  • Protection for Families:  $15.5 billion in additional funding for SNAP to ensure all Americans, including seniors and children, receive the food they need. 
  • Support for college students: Provides temporary moratorium of 6 months for federal student loans.
  • Protecting Homes: Temporary Moratorium on eviction filings for all federally backed mortgage loans
  • Black Businesses: Gives the Minority Business Development Agency $10 million to make grants to minority-owned businesses. 
  • Small Businesses: Provides funding through the Small Business Administration for special emergency loans of up to $10 million for eligible nonprofits and small businesses.
  • Criminal Justice Support and Reform: $100 million for the Federal Bureau of Prisons to respond to the coronavirus pandemic with critical resources. Additional benefits for the prison system will include: ensuring all incarcerated individuals and staff are tested for Coronavirus, prioritizing the release of incarcerated individuals in prisons, jails, and detention centers through clemency, commutations and compassionate release; immediate temporary release to home confinement for those determined to be low-risk defenders; and for individuals who will remain incarcerated during this time the allowance of video conferencing and telephone calls free of charge to preserve families and their visitation needs 
  • Anti-poverty support: Provides $1 billion for the Community Services Block Grant and $750 million for Head Start.
  • Community Development: Authorizes $2 billion in Community Development Block Grants to build healthier communities.
  • Protection for the Homeless: $4 billion in homeless assistance grants 
  • Health Care: $127 billion for medical response efforts, including tax credits for manufacturers of ventilators, masks, and other resources; both funding and flexibility to address the surge in mental health needs.
  • Protection for Our College Students:  Use of Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (SEOG) for emergency financial aid to assist undergraduates or graduate students; also allows institutions to make Federal Work-Study payments to students unable to fulfill their work obligations up to one year.
  • Support for Education: $1.1 billion of emergency education relief funds will go directly to Title I, ESEA schools; $100 million for Project SERV to help schools implement distance learning; $25 million for Distance Learning and Telemedicine to expand investments in telemedicine and broadband; and an additional $100 million for the Rural Utilities Service’s Distance Learning, Telemedicine, and Broadband Program, and prioritize 90 percent of the funds to go to rural areas.
The CARES Act  is a welcomed next step to providing some relief for Black people around the country and the CBC will continue to fight for full and equitable relief for our communities in subsequent stimulus packages.