Showing posts with label African American. Show all posts
Showing posts with label African American. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Environmental Racism, Fueling Toxic Exposure and Increasing the Burden of Disease Among Michigan's Communities of Color

Environmental Racism, Fueling Toxic Exposure and Increasing the Burden of Disease Among Michigan's Communities of Color By Jonathan Sharp


Due to past racial segregation, the inaccessibility of affordable land, and lack of political power to fight corporations, many communities of color are stuck living near pollution hotspots such as landfills, industrial facilities, airports, truck routes, incinerators, and military bases. This is a phenomenon known as environmental racism and affects numerous Black and Hispanic people across the country. As a result of residing close to sources of toxic exposure, these vulnerable communities have a significantly greater burden of disease than the general population. For instance, Black individuals have the highest mortality rate of any racial and ethnic group for all cancers, whereas cancer is the leading cause of death among Hispanic people, accounting for 20% of deaths. While there are other factors contributing to these unsettling statistics, environmental racism also plays a role.


The form of segregation that haunts communities to this day was known as redlining and it was historically used as a tool of discrimination and oppression which prevented communities from enjoying equitable access to housing, healthcare, educationaland employment opportunities. Redlining is so deeply entrenched; its effects of systematic discrimination continue after 94 years in the form of health disparities and wealth inequalities. The term originated from the practice of banks who used red lines to separate neighborhoods that were deemed ‘too risky’ for investment. Without access to mortgage financingBlack and Hispanic families were forced to live in areas with limited resources and poor infrastructureleading to a greater concentration of minorities in less desirable areas. The state-sponsored Home Owners’ Loan Corporation first organized and institutionalized this practice by using four color-codes who allegedly reflected the worthiness of locals, based on arbitrary and unjust factors. As part of this common pattern in the U.S., the communities of color in New Jersey were forced to live near sources of pollution such as industrial sitesmilitary facilities,and other unfavorable areas such as airports and highways. This practice has caused disproportionate exposure of Black and Hispanic communities to environmental hazards, with effects that persist to the present day.


Drinking Water Contaminated with "Forever Chemicals" Increases Cancer Risk in Communities of Color Residing Near Military Bases


Also known as PFAS or "forever chemicals" because of their ability to persist in the environment and the human body for a long time, perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances are now present in the bloodstream of up to 97% of Americans. They have become ubiquitous due to their many uses, and on military facilities, these harmful substances are released by firefighters using AFFF, a fire suppressant containing PFAS in a concentration between 50% and 98%. Since "forever chemicals" are possible human carcinogens, exposure can be responsible for potentially fatal illnesses, such as kidney, testicular, and prostate cancer


A recent study by Harvard University found that PFAS detection was positively associated with the number of these chemicals' sources and proportions of residents of color who are served by a water system. Each industrial facility, airport, and military fire training area in a community water system's watershed was linked to a 10% to 108% increase in PFOA and a 20% to 34% increase in PFOS in drinking water. As two of the most dangerous substances from the "forever chemicals" class, PFOA and PFOS are also some of the most studied agents. However, PFAS refer to nearly 15,000 different substances.


New Jersey is part of EPA’s Superfund mission to clean the nation’s most contaminated land. The state is home to a staggering 115 Superfund sites and a few examples can give you an idea about the scale of the contamination. With 264,000 parts per trillion, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst exceeds the ‘safe’ exposure limit of PFAS by a whopping 66,000 times. Located in Egg Harbor Township and serving central and southern New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware, Atlantic City International Airport has recorded a level of 87,250 ppt, which is 21,800 times over the limit. Another PFAS hotspot is The Naval Warfare Center Trenton, located in Ewing Township. The site has recorded a level of 27,800, which is lower than the others but still holds significant health risks due to its proximity to the surrounding communities and high toxicity of PFAS even at low levels.

There is a historically strong demographic presence of Hispanics and people of color around the PFAS hotspots. In the communities surrounding Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, Atlantic City International Airport, and The Naval Warfare Center Trenton, Hispanic and Black people make up 56.80%, 24.20%, and 37.80% of the total population. Located to the southeast of Atlantic City, Pleasantville represents an example of the demographic reality, with Black and Hispanics comprising 50% of its population. Due to historical and environmental factors, PFAS will only worsen the communities’ decades-long health challenges, considering their susceptibility to the highly toxic PFAS.


Achieving Environmental Justice – An Uphill Battle for Communities of Color


Undoubtedly, combating environmental injustice is going to be a very challenging endeavor for Black and Hispanic communities. The status quo is unnerving, as it is actually cheaper for a corporation to pollute communities of color than white communities. Although corporations will receive a fine if they violate environmental laws, the fines tend to be lower in communities of color, particularly Black and low-income communities. Nevertheless, using a combination of grassroots activism and collaboration with private law firms might turn out to be effective in deterring corporations and government entities from polluting communities of color.


About the Author


Jonathan Sharp is Chief Financial Officer at Environmental Litigation Group, P.C. Headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama, the law firm assists individuals and communities affected by toxic exposure. Jonathan Sharp is responsible for the management of firm assets, case evaluation, and financial analysis.

Monday, May 06, 2024

Dr. Ruth Ray Jackson Appointed President of Langston University

The Oklahoma A&M Board of Regents announced the appointment of Dr. Ruth Ray Jackson as the seventeenth President of Langston University. Dr. Jackson’s selection follows an extensive eight-month national search that attracted several qualified candidates.

“Dr. Jackson’s appointment underscores her exceptional leadership and vision for our institution. During her tenure as Interim President, Dr. Jackson maintained continuity and stability and managed to build momentum. Her unwavering commitment to Langston’s mission and her ability to navigate critical transitions have been commendable. We are confident that under her guidance, Langston University will excel,” commented Board Chair Joe Hall.

Dr. Jackson served as Vice President for Academic Affairs prior to assuming the role of Interim President in July 2023. Prior to advancing to the Vice Presidency, she also served as the university’s Associate Vice President for Student Success. Dr. Jackson’s association with Langston University began in 2014 as Dean and Professor for the School of Education and Behavioral Sciences.

Before joining Langston University, she spent 11 years at Louisiana State University in Shreveport as a faculty member, graduate program director, and department chair. Before transitioning to higher education, Dr. Jackson worked as a high school English teacher, assistant principal, and principal in public education.

“I am honored to lead Langston University into its next chapter,” commented Dr. Jackson in response to her appointment. “I love this university and believe in its faculty, staff, students, and alumni. Our mission must be focused on empowering students, celebrating student success, and contributing to the betterment of Oklahoma and beyond. Together, we will build upon Langston’s legacy and create a future where excellence knows no bounds.”

“As a proud graduate of Langston University, I wholeheartedly applaud the selection of Dr. Ruth Ray Jackson as our next President. Her admiration for our beloved institution and the excellent job she did as interim President have been truly remarkable. Dr. Jackson’s leadership embodies the spirit of Langston, and I am confident that she will continue to elevate our university to new heights,” commented Sherman Lewis, a distinguished Langston University alumnus and member of the Langston University Presidential Search Committee.

“Our search for a new president attracted an impressive pool of candidates, which is a testament to Langston University’s potential and the importance of its mission. We extend our heartfelt congratulations to Dr. Ruth Ray Jackson on her selection as the next President of Langston University. We appreciate the support of the members of the search committee and the Langston University community as Dr. Jackson leads the university to new heights,” commented A&M Regent Billy Taylor, who chaired the Presidential Search Committee.

About Langston University: Founded in 1897, Langston University is a beacon of educational opportunity, social justice, and community impact. As Oklahoma’s only Historically Black College or

Dr. Twinette Johnson named dean of Saint Louis University School of Law

Twinette Johnson, J.D., Ph.D., dean and professor of law at the University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law (UDC Law), has been selected as the next permanent dean of Saint Louis University School of Law. She will succeed William Johnson, J.D., who has served as dean since 2017. Saint Louis University Provost Michael Lewis announced she will assume the role effective July 1, 2024. 

Dr. Johnson, a former SLU LAW faculty member who earned both her B.A. and Ph.D. degrees at SLU, returns to the University with a distinguished track record of national success and leadership in legal education. She currently serves as the dean and professor of law at UDC Law in Washington, D.C., a position she has held since 2022. Over her seven years at UDC Law, Dr. Johnson also served as interim dean, associate dean for academic affairs, and director of academic success.

Dr. Johnson is a national expert in bar exam preparation and focuses her scholarship on higher education access policy, learning theory models in legal education, affinity group formation and identity, and disaster policy. 

Dr. Johnson began her academic career at the Saint Louis University School of Law over 20 years ago, when she served as the associate professor of legal writing, associate director of bar preparation programs, and also briefly serving as interim director of student activities and leadership. After SLU LAW, she moved on to Southern Illinois University at Carbondale where she served as an associate professor of law and director of academic success.

Dr. Johnson’s previous professional experience includes a clerkship on the Missouri Supreme Court with Judge W. Duane Benton. She was also an associate attorney with Shearman and Sterling, LLP, in New York, where she practiced in the Bank Finance group representing financial institutions and corporations in investment grade and non-investment grade financing transactions.Dr. Johnson earned her Ph.D. in Public and Social Policy, with a concentration in Implementation and Management from Saint Louis University; her J.D. from Tulane University School of Law; and her B.A. in English Literature from Saint Louis University. 

Her return to St. Louis and the University marks a welcome highlight in her career.

“I am absolutely thrilled to become SLU’s next law dean,” said Dr. Johnson. “SLU LAW’s mission driven commitment to social justice and to the community in which it resides are very attractive to me and I am humbled by the opportunity to work with the faculty, staff, students, alumni, and larger SLU and Saint Louis communities in leading this great law school in continued excellence.” 

Throughout her career, Dr. Johnson has served a number of constituencies, most notably students, alumni, her fellow law professors, and staff. During her time at UDC Law, Dr. Johnson implemented strategies to optimize law school operations and ensure financial stability. She also created programs to enhance the law school’s connection to the local community including spearheading a law school sponsored program at the local detention facility. Dr. Johnson has also established a fund to support students facing issues that would interfere with academic pursuits.

Of her appointment, Provost Lewis said, “I am very excited to have Dr. Johnson join our team here at SLU. She will be a transformational leader for the institution and is committed to expand the reach of our Law programs and clinics through innovative programming and student support initiatives. Her focus on academic success, bar preparation, faculty development and DEI initiatives align tightly with SLU's Jesuit Mission.”

Dr. Johnson succeeds Dean William Johnson, who has served as dean since January 2017. His tenure marked an emphasis on increasing diversity and equity within the law school community. Under his leadership, the School of Law’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion was expanded, a community council for justice and equity was established, and deepening relationships with affinity bars have led to increased scholarship opportunities for students.

“I could not be more pleased with the selection of Dr. Twinette Johnson as the next permanent dean of this remarkable institution,” said Dean Johnson. “She has an incredible breadth and depth of directly relevant experience, which will position her and the entire law school community for continued success. And her commitment to mission is clear. Under her leadership, the difficult work of seeking justice and equity that this mission-driven law school community has undertaken will flourish. I am so proud to call her my dean, and I look forward to doing everything I can to ensure the best possible transition.”

Monday, March 25, 2024

Shateria Wilson Is Missing

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — A 25-year-old Rochester woman has been missing since early March. Rochester Police say Shateria Wilson was last seen March 5 in the area of Lake Avenue and Driving Park, and is believed to be in the local area. A missing person report was completed March 7.

Shateria is a vulnerable adult with schizoaffective disorder and may be in need of medical attention, police said. She was last seen wearing a black jacket, blue scarf, blue jeans and moccasin shoes. Shateria’s mother says there has been no social media activity from Shateria, which is unusual.

Shateria is 5-foot-4 and 130 pounds. She is Black, with red hair and brown eyes.

Saturday, March 16, 2024

West Virginia Senate Republicans killed the CROWN Act intended to protect against discrimination based on hair style

Republican lawmakers in West Virginia have killed a bill that would have banned discrimination against Black hairstyles, known as the CROWN Act, in a blow for Black hair advocates in the state.

Despite initial optimism that this would be the year when lawmakers pass a bill to prohibit race-based hair discrimination, supporters were disappointed earlier this week when lawmakers killed the CROWN Act by taking it off the Senate floor and sending it back to the Senate Finance Committee.

Sen. Eric Tarr (Republican), the finance chair, did not take the bill back up, citing concerns that lawsuits over discrimination against West Virginians based on their hair styles would cost the state too much money.

Black West Virginians have been pushing for the CROWN Act for years. There have been instances both in the state and nationally where Black people have been discriminated against when wearing their hair naturally or in traditional styles.

“There’s absolutely no reason why anyone should have to walk into an office or classroom and have to defend their hair,” Katonya Hart, who has pushed for the legislation for several years, said.


Sunday, January 07, 2024

Former Capitol Police officer Harry Dunn running for Congress

Harry Dunn, a former U.S. Capitol Police officer who has extensively spoken out about the violence he and other law enforcement experienced on Jan. 6, 2021, announced that he is launching a campaign for Congress in Maryland.

Watch this story below.

Sunday, November 05, 2023

Stanford University to open Department of African and African American Studies

The Stanford Board of Trustees approved the creation of the Department of African and African American Studies in the School of Humanities and Sciences (H&S) this week. The department – years in the making – officially opens in January.

The university has had a Program in African and African American Studies (AAAS) for more than 50 years, but long-standing efforts supporting AAAS departmentalization were galvanized by the murder of George Floyd in 2020. “Events since 2020 have made it increasingly apparent that the time has come for Stanford to put our work in AAAS on a permanent footing …” said R. Lanier Anderson, the J.E. Wallace Sterling Professor of the Humanities and professor of philosophy.

In 2021, a task force convened by former Provost Persis Drell and H&S Dean Debra Satz recommended the creation of a department.

Ato Quayson, the Jean G. and Morris M. Doyle Professor in Interdisciplinary Studies and professor of English, will serve as the AAAS department’s inaugural chair. The department will have tracks in African Studies, African American Studies, and Global Black Diaspora Studies. Also, it will provide opportunities for community-engaged learning, for students to study a language pertinent to Black Studies, and for creative expression in collaboration with the Institute for Diversity in the Arts, Quayson said in a presentation to the Committee of Student, Alumni, and External Affairs.

Shortly before the vote approving departmentalization, Quayson pulled out his well-worn original copy of Toni Morrison’s Beloved and gave a moving rendition of the character Baby Suggs’ sermon: “You got to love it. This is flesh I’m talking about here. Flesh that needs to be loved. Feet that need to rest and to dance; backs that need support; shoulders that need arms, strong arms I’m telling you.” Trustees enthusiastically applauded both Quayson’s reading and the vote approving creation of the AAAS department.


Tuesday, July 11, 2023

Claude Cummings Jr. will be Communications Workers first African-American president

Veteran union leader Claude Cummings Jr., 71, won a runoff late on July 10 for the presidency of the Communications Workers, becoming the influential and progressive union’s first-ever African American in its top job and its first-ever Southerner.

Cummings is the union vice president who leads CWA’s District 6, headquartered in Austin, Texas, and was the longtime president of Houston-based Local 6222. He defeated Ed Mooney, the union vice president and leader of mid-Atlantic District 2-13.

Cummings succeeds current President Chris Shelton, who is retiring at the end of this convention, on July 13, in St. Louis.

The victory for Cummings keeps the leadership of the union in the hands of a telecom worker, and the candidate with the longest union experience—50 years—a point he emphasized in his campaign.

Sunday, June 04, 2023

Lupus Awareness Campaign Empowers Black/African American and Hispanic/Latina Women to Stop Ignoring Symptoms That Could Be Lupus-Related

The Lupus Foundation of America (LFA) launched the rebranded Be Fierce. Take Control.™ campaign during Lupus Awareness Month with rebranded imagery to connect with young Black/African American and Hispanic/Latina Women at greater risk of developing lupus in their lifetime. The campaign empowers women to take control of their health, highlights common lupus symptoms and encourages those that may be experiencing symptoms to talk to their healthcare providers.

Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease where the immune system can’t tell the difference between healthy tissues and foreign invaders. This can cause pain, inflammation and tissue damage to any organ in the body, and it impacts each person differently making it difficult to diagnose.

Be Fierce. Take Control.™ is a digital awareness campaign that aims to reach young, undiagnosed, Black/African American and Hispanic/Latina women who may be experiencing common lupus symptoms such as:

  • Joint pain or swelling
  • Extreme exhaustion
  • A rash across the face
  • Recurring sores in the mouth

The primary goal of the Be Fierce. Take Control. campaign, which is funded in part by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is to ultimately reduce the average time for diagnosis of six years from when a person first notices symptoms. Lupus is two-to-three times more prevalent in Black/African American and Hispanic/Latina women. Because of these disparities and the impact of lupus on the body, the LFA encourages women experiencing these symptoms to stop ignoring them and talk to their healthcare provider. Early diagnosis and treatment are critical to preventing long-term consequences of the disease and improving quality of life.

“Six months prior to my diagnosis, I had recurring skin infections and a rash across my cheeks that I mistook for sunburn. I was also experiencing hair loss and body swelling. I was finally diagnosed with lupus nephritis after an ER visit, three doctors visits and a kidney biopsy,” said Selena Colon, lupus warrior and Be Fierce. Take Control. campaign ambassador. “Not knowing what my future holds worries me sometimes, but I prioritize my health and take control of the condition and the effects it has on me. ‘Be Fierce. Take Control.’ is my personal slogan as well.”

The campaign website and digital advertising has been rebranded with powerful imagery of real women with lupus and women who have a personal connection to lupus. Like Selena, these women also share details of their personal lupus journey, providing a sense of connection for women learning more about common lupus symptoms and wondering if they have lupus.

The LFA encourages women experiencing symptoms to visit and learn more about lupus, what questions to ask yourself, and how to have a conversation with your healthcare provider.

Saturday, June 03, 2023

Xavier Jones, the teen who walked 6.5 miles to 8th grade graduation awarded full scholarship to college

CAHOKIA HEIGHTS, Ill-Xavier Jones, a teenager walked six miles in order to make it to his 8th graduation. His journey from two ends of the city has led him to secure a full ride for his future at Harris Stowe State University.

Thursday, May 11, 2023

NEW READ: The Almost Forgotten: America's First Black American Congressmen Paperback by Darryl J. Brackeen Jr.

The Almost Forgotten: America's First Black American Congressmen Paperback by Darryl J. Brackeen Jr.

The first Black American congressmen highlighted in this book have gone unnamed, unnoticed, and unrecognized due to the short-lived nature of the Reconstruction Era. For a moment after the civil war, Black political power was displayed by the significant voting efforts of African American men through the nominations and elections of Black men to elected office and leadership roles.

Historian, educator, theologian, and political practitioner Darryl Brackeen Jr pens his debut book, "The Almost Forgotten: America's First Black American Congressmen." This series of biographies of formerly enslaved men and free Black Americans who overcame one of the worst periods in American history to become highly respected educators, religious leaders, and business owners during the Reconstruction era. These individuals rose up to get involved in building political efforts for the Black community, despite the violent opposition of the Klu Klux Klan and former Confederate leaders. While this moment in American history is short-lived for Black Americans and many of the individuals in this book are the leaders to run for the United States Congress. Most were "almost forgotten" because many of them ended up in poverty or living in obscurity. Many of their stories have gone untold and under-recognized for generations, and now Brackeen will offer an opportunity to reintroduce some of the brave Black political leaders in American history.


Sunday, April 30, 2023

One of first African-American Marines celebrates 100th birthday

Lee Newby Jr. of Detroit, one of the first African-American Marines, was honored by state lawmakers during a celebration of his 100th birthday on Saturday.

The ceremony at the Detroit Marriott in the Renaissance Center was hosted by State Rep. Donavan McKinney, D-Detroit, and Joe Tate of Detroit, who became the first African-American elected Michigan's speaker of the House in November 2022.

Tate, a former National Football League player and Michigan State University offensive lineman, also served in the Marines.

“I can’t thank Mr. Newby enough for his service to our country. He is a true hero and trailblazer,” Tate said in a statement. “As a veteran of the Marine Corps myself, I am aware of the responsibilities he has carried and the sacrifices he has endured."

Newby, who resides in McKinney's district in Detroit, served during World War II. The first African-Americans joined the Marine Corps in 1942.

“This ceremony not only celebrates the life of a brave serviceman, but also truly honors Black Marines, their dedication through World War II and all their service to this country,” McKinney said in a statement.


Monday, April 17, 2023

NAACP Supports Lawmakers Now Reinstated to Tennessee House of Representatives

On Thursday, April 6, Tennessee State Representatives Justin Jones and Justin Pearson were expelled from the Tennessee House of Representatives for their participation in a demonstration in support of gun reform. Following widespread public outcry calling for the reappointment of the two young Black politicians, Rep. Jones was temporarily reinstated to his position on April 10th and Rep. Pearson was temporarily reinstated on April 12th. NAACP President & CEO, Derrick Johnson released this statement in response:

"This is America - where you receive more legislative 'action' for calling out the need for gun control than for actually addressing the loss of life as a result of gun violence. It is disappointing, but not surprising, to know that some lawmakers in Tennessee would rather spend precious time removing these brave young Black men from their duly elected positions than take a stance against inadequate gun policies. Reps. Justin Jones and Justin Pearson have demonstrated incredible leadership and commitment to protecting their constituents and our democracy through their unwavering support of gun reform in the absence of action from their state-level peers and legislative colleagues at the federal level."

Tuesday, April 11, 2023

National Reparations Organization Requests Designation for the Descendants of Persons Enslaved in the United States

The National Assembly of American Slavery Descendants (NAASD) has formally requested that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) designate the classification “African American” exclusively for the "Descendants of Persons Enslaved in the United States". Since 2021, NAASD has met directly with Biden Administration officials on this issue since President Biden has made equitable data collection a priority with the signing of the Executive Order On Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government. The OMB’s revised Statistical Policy Directive (SPD) 15 recommendation must conform to this Executive Order.

For the first time since 1997, the Office of Management and Budget is now accepting public comments on their initial proposal from the Federal Interagency Technical Working Group on Race and Ethnic Standards which was released in January 2023. The final proposal set to be unveiled by the end of this year, will revise the OMB’s Statistical Policy Directive which sets the “standards for maintaining, collecting and presenting Federal Data on Race and Ethnicity”. The OMB’s current definition of Black or African-American is “a person having origins in any of the Black racial groups of Africa”. This current definition does not denote any specific ethnic group and does not reflect that a distinct ethnic group emerged from U.S. Slavery.

Because of the present flawed definition of Black/African-American, in addition to the growing diversity of the Black community, current data collection on our community is not accurately providing insight to the well being of African Americans.

California's AB3121 has set precedence with specificity for Descendants of Persons Enslaved in the United States. California Governor Gavin Newsom also signed into law SB189; Section 14 which disaggregates Black Americans and provides a category for data collection specifically for “African Americans who are descendants of persons enslaved in the United States.”

It is time for the OMB to follow suit. It is the recommendation of NAASD that the OMB’s revised SPD 15 definition of “African American” means: “a person having origins in the United States with ancestors historically classified as African, Negro, Black or Colored who were either born free or enslaved in the United States and emancipated nationally by the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution”.

We urge the public to give public comment to the OMB and share this point of view through April 27, 2023 in support of our position here. If you need guidance, we have also prepared a toolkit to be shared with family, friends, and organizations within the African American Community. Now is the time for the largest Black population in the United States to unite for the disaggregation of data that will support accurate data collection and billions of dollars coming directly into our community.

The National Assembly of American Slavery Descendants was founded in 2019 to advance reparative policy and legislation for Black American Descendants of U. S. Chattel Slavery .

Friday, January 06, 2023

Congressional Black Caucus swears in its largest caucus ever

The Congressional Black Caucus of the 118th Congress was officially sworn in at a ceremony on Tuesday. The new class is the largest in CBC history.

Rep. Steven Horsford (D-Nev.) is replacing outgoing Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-Ohio) as chairman.

Horsford said the new CBC will have the opportunity to advance the vision of the first CBC from 50 years ago — one that had only 13 members, including Rep. Shirley Chisholm (D-N.Y.) as the only woman.

“The laws and policies of our nation did not always favor Black Americans, from the earliest slaves brought across the ocean to the Black soldiers who fought in the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. To those who braved the earliest fights through Jim Crow & Reconstruction, from the Tuskegee Airmen and Henrietta Lacks to the brave front-line workers in the COVID pandemic,” Horsford said. “In the work we do, we honor our history, like the many Black members that served before there was even a Congressional Black Caucus.”

In total, 58 members — nine of them new members — were sworn in, including Rep. Maxwell Frost (D-Fla.), the first Gen Z member and the only Afro-Cuban in Congress, as well as Rep. Summer Lee (D-Pa.), the first Black woman elected to the House from Pennsylvania.


Monday, January 02, 2023

The Martin Luther King “We Won’t Go Back” March To Be Held In Newark

The People’s Organization For Progress is sponsoring The Martin Luther King “We Won’t Go Back” March that will be held on Martin Luther King's actual birthday, Sunday, January 15, 2023.

The organization will be marching to protest racism, sexism, facism, and war.

The march will begin at 2:00pm at the Martin Luther King Statue, 495 Dr Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, Newark, NJ.

For more information call POP at (973) 801-0001. Contact POP if your organization would like to co-sponsor this event. Please wear masks and practice social distancing.

The People's Organization for Progress works to empower communities and fight for their needs. P.O.P. confronts issues about equality, justice, poverty, racism, umemployment, affordable housing and education, violence(of any sort), etc., as well as local, national, and international issues.

Saturday, December 24, 2022

African American Graduate Finishes College Education 50 Years After Starting

A University of Arkansas Little Rock history student is celebrating the completion of his lifelong dream of finishing his college education, a dream that is 50 years in the making.

By all measures, Ellis “Gene” Thompson of Little Rock has led a very successful life. He has a loving family and had a very successful career in media sales spanning more than four decades.

“After leaving KATV as the local sales manager here, I finished that career and was faced with what I want to do,” Thompson said. “Something that had always been nagging me was to get my degree. Life had taken that opportunity away from me earlier when I was in Washington, D.C.”

A native of Joliet, Illinois, Thompson joined the U.S. Navy and worked in an experimental surgery unit and then enrolled at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. in 1973.

“There I really started to mature and find my sea legs, as you will,” he said. “The doctors were very supportive of me going to college. That is why I went to Georgetown, but I was married and had a child and work. I couldn’t sustain a decent lifestyle and go to Georgetown, which was very demanding.”

In 1975, Thompson left Georgetown with an associate degree and a strong desire to one day finish his college education. His career took him from Washington, D.C., to Chicago, to Dayton, Ohio, to Orlando and New York City. His final stop brought him to Little Rock in 2010 to work at KATV.

“I had a great run in TV, but I’m done,” Thompson said. “I had a deep love of history, and I got that while I was at Georgetown. One of my instructors was the department head, and I fell in love with history after taking her class. I decided to come to UA Little Rock as a history major.”

Thompson joined UA Little Rock in 2017 and graduated with his bachelor’s degree in history in 2019. He graduated this semester with a master’s degree in public history, which brings his journey to complete his college education to an end 50 years after he started.

“It’s something that I feel I should have done a long time ago,” he said. “It’s basically been unfinished business as far as my life is concerned. So, getting this degree is a culmination of a lifelong search for my own comfort with myself. It’s a culmination of something that I felt I should have done a long time ago and should have been determined earlier in my life. However, it feels just as good now. This is who I should have been all my life, a person with a master’s degree.”

One of his favorite experiences in graduate school was participating in a class taught by Dr. John Kirk, George W. Donaghey Distinguished Professor of History, which examined the criminal cases of Robert Bell and Grady Swain, two African American teenagers who were convicted of the first-degree murder of Julius McCollum and sentenced to death. Bell and Swain confessed to the crime, but later said their confessions were forced. The class wrote a paper about the case that received the Lucille Westbrook Award from the Arkansas Historical Association for the best article manuscript on an aspect of local history.

“That class really grabbed me, and I learned so much about going through archives and dusty, old records,” he said.

Thompson wrote his thesis, “The Fight for Freedmen’s Minds in Arkansas,” about the development of educational programs for African Americans in the state in the 1860s and 1870s.

“Arkansas was one of the last states to develop a public primary and secondary school system for African American students,” Thompson wrote. “While education was for the most part privatized, an important philosophy for educating African Americans was developed early by the Free African Society and the AME (African Methodist Episcopal) Church that influenced Arkansas public and private Freedman education.”

In the 1860s and 70s, there were millions of newly freed formerly enslaved people who needed an education with competing methods of how that should work. Samuel Armstrong, founder of the Hampton Institute, created an educational model called the Hampton-Tuskegee Model, which emphasized character building through manual labor and learning occupational skills. The AME church strongly contested the Hampton-Tuskegee Model.

“The AME church put forth the philosophy that they wanted Freedman taught in the classical manner, emphasizing subjects like English, literature, and algebra,” Thompson said. “They wanted to train a middle-class population with doctors, teachers, and lawyers. The Hampton model emphasized teaching people manual labor skills – how to be a blacksmith, how to sew. They taught young girls how to work in houses as maids. It was being put out there that this was necessary because industrialists needed a large workforce.”

Thompson dedicated his thesis to his mother, who was the daughter of an AME preacher and an inspiration for him to complete college.

“I also did this for my mom who always believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself,” Thompson said. “She used to sit in the kitchen with me to do my homework when I was a child. She instilled in me that desire to get it done, and that was one of the real drivers in writing my thesis.”

With graduation approaching, Thompson is thankful to history professors James Ross, Barclay Key, Jess Porter, Edward Anson, Carl Moneyhon, and Marta Cieslak for inspiring him to succeed.

“My experience here has been absolutely magnificent,” he said. “I can’t say enough good things about the history department and the professors. These people are first rate, and I know because I came from one of those fancy east schools. I had a very successful career, but this is something different that I needed to do and I’m so glad I did it. I never in my wildest dreams would have thought that I would end up living in Arkansas and getting a master’s degree at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. I believe it’s a top-rate education.”

Friday, November 11, 2022

Connecticut Democrat Jahana Hayes wins reelection to US House seat in state's 5th Congressional District

The Associated Press projects that Democratic Rep. Jahana Hayes will win re-election in Connecticut's 5th Congressional District, defeating the GOP nominee George Logan in the state's tightest congressional race.

Hayes, the first Black woman to be elected to Congress from Connecticut, won her last two campaigns by double-digits in the district that extends along Connecticut's western border with New York.

Hayes said she was "tired but excited" on Wednesday night, adding she hadn't slept the night before and had endured a gruelling campaign. She knew the race would be close, but didn't think it would be this close, she said.

“I had to work twice as hard and really fight to hold this seat," she said during her press conference. "And at the end of the day, I think that was the message that resonated with the people of my community, that I’m one of them, that I'm going to continue to fight for them. And listen, a win is a win so I'm excited, I’ll take it.”

Austin Davis to be Pennsylvania’s first African American Lt. Governor

Austin Davis will be Pennsylvania’s first African American Lieutenant Governor after Josh Shapiro declared victory Tuesday night.

Davis, who was endorsed by gubernatorial nominee Josh Shapiro in the primary, received 63% support among the three-candidate primary race.

The son of a union bus driver and a hairdresser, Davis is in his third term in the state House of Representatives.

As outlined by his campaign website, Davis serves as chair of the Allegheny County House Democratic Delegation and vice-chair of the House Democratic Policy Committee, as well as serving on the House Appropriations Committee, House Consumer Affairs Committee, House Insurance Committee, and House Transportation Committee. Plus, he is also a member of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, Climate Caucus, and PA SAFE Caucus.

Davis and his wife reside in McKeesport where Davis began his career. In high school Davis founded and served as chairman of McKeesport Mayor Jim Brewster’s Youth Advisory Council. After graduation from the University of Pittsburgh, Davis joined the Allegheny County Executive’s office and ran for the State House in 2018.

Davis will be sworn in as Lieutenant Governor on January 17, 2023, and a special election will be called to fill his seat in the State House.

Wednesday, November 09, 2022

Democrat Emilia Sykes wins Ohio 13th district congressional race

Democratic Ohio Rep. Emilia Sykes of Akron on Tuesday defeated Republican North Canton attorney Madison Gesiotto Gilbert in a newly reconfigured congressional district that includes all of Summit County, a sliver of Portage County, and northern Stark County.

Unofficial results from the Ohio Secretary of State’s office showed Sykes with 146,621 votes, compared to 132,181 for Gesiotto Gilbert. The Associated Press called the race for Sykes at 1:54 a.m. on Wednesday, hours after statements began rolling in to tout a Sykes victory.