By NewsOne Now
Malcolm X, one of the most important figures of the second half of the 21st century, brought a different perspective to Black America and the world. His perspective was different from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; it was different from many other civil rights activists, but he operated within the same pantheon as his counterparts.
Malcolm X spoke truth about what was taking place in urban ghettos. He brought attention to the plight of people of color in America and doing so in a controversial manner.
On Friday, Roland Martin, host of “NewsOne Now,” spoke with comedian and Civil Rights activist Dick Gregory, writer, Peter Bailey, Howard University’s Dr. Greg Carr and photographer Earl Grant about the life and legacy of Malcolm X.
Bailey told Martin, Brother Malcolm was “truly a visionary leader. He understood the system.”
“When I refer to him, I call him a master teacher. There is no more an important member of the community than a master teacher,” said Bailey.
Dr. Greg Carr, Chair of Howard University Department of Afro American Studies, described Malcolm X as being “incredibly disciplined.”
Click here for full article and video.
Almost 52 years ago, August 28, 1963,Martin Luther King, Jr., the 20th Century’s pre-eminent Apostle of non-violence, social justice, and commitment to the pursuit of excellence, inspirationally described the road African-Americans had travelled from slavery and his “dream” to enable them to access future opportunities.
He was 34 years old, I was 32. Until April 4, 1968, the date of his assassination in Memphis, TN, I had the privilege of serving as one of his political advisors, his personal lawyer and draft speechwriter. I am now 84 years old as we consider where we as a people go from here today.
Repeatedly, in speeches and articles I have said that if “The surviving Lions, don’t tell THEIR stories, the Hunters will get all of the credit!”
If “Black Lives” REALLY MATTER, then we must acquire and exercise the right to vote to insure that we elect officials who will impartially administer the laws and manage those State and Municipal Agencies having jurisdiction over our children and our own daily lives.
THE most important thing that white supremacist political power feared and continues to fear is the right to vote, and it’s exercise in the hands of African-Americans. The Civil War, the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments to our Constitution constitute the cornerstones of our struggle to make sure, going forward, that we have the political power to assure that Black lives really do matter.
The extent to which we as parents and as a community are prepared to exercise 24/7 disciplined and parental leadership will determine where we go from here. Our guidance, love and leadership can physically save our children from wanton gun violence, and spiritually save them from the denigrating effects of depression, self-hate and misplaced anger at innocent third parties. Most important we can save them from self-indulgent mediocrity.
Our ancestors survived the Middle passage; slavery, Jim Crow, lynching’s, the Klu Klux Klan and State government imposed racial segregation. We are the sons, daughters, grandsons and granddaughters of: Zora Neal Hurston, Richard Wright, Blanche K.Bruce, Mary McCleod Bethune, W. E. B. Dubois, Ida B. Wells Barnett, Fredrick Douglass, Sojourner Truth, Langston Hughes, Marcus Garvey, James Weldon Johnson, Malcom X, Samuel B. Cornish and John Russwurm, Dred Scott, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Jr, Richard Allen, and many others.
To quote a chorus from our Negro National Anthem:
“We have come over a way that with tears has been watered,
We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered,
Out from the gloomy past,
Till now we stand at last
Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast.”
Everyone who reads this post should also read, for the first time, or again, Howard Fast’s novel FREEDOM ROAD. Reading it will refresh your recollection of just how, historically essential, has been and will be the acquisition and exercise of voting power to shaping our destiny as a people in the second decade of this 21st Century.
Envisioning where we go from here therefore, first depends upon whether we adults, who are trustees of our children’s current welfare and security, are prepared to step up to the plate and accept our historically and spiritually mandated calling:
“Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” (Isaiah 6:8)
This post is part of the “Black Future Month” series produced by The Huffington Post and Black Lives Matter for Black History Month. Each day in February, this series will look at one of 28 different cultural and political issues affecting Black lives, from education to criminal-justice reform. To follow the conversation on Twitter, view #BlackFutureMonth — and to see all the posts as part of our Black History Month coverage, read here.
In 2010, Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) began offering elective courses specifically for its lowest-performing students: African-American males. Several years later, the initiative, known as the Manhood Development Program (MDP), has been successful in narrowing achievement gaps and improving school culture, says the report from Vajra Watson, director of research and policy for equity at the University of California, Davis.
“When students begin the program, many of them define blackness in America to be ugly, to be bad and all of these negative attributes,” said Watson in audio that accompanied a January press release for the report. “And then after being a part of the program and the brotherhood and learning about themselves, they start to identify as young kings, as scholars.”
The Manhood Development Program is part of the district’s Office of African American Male Achievement, which was created in 2010 and was the first of its kind nationally. The program brings together African-American male students and teachers for classes designed to build leadership and foster brotherhood. High- and low-achieving students are accepted to MDP, as are mid-level pupils. The lessons mix culturally relevant history and literature with identity development and college preparation.
Since the inception of this program, suspension rates have dropped among black male students in the district, while graduation rates have risen. Students in the program have seen an increase in their grade point averages. MDP students are more likely than their peers to report that their teachers want them to succeed and that they feel proud to be African-American, according to surveys administered through the report.
The report focuses on anecdotal evidence to illustrate MDP’s success, although quantitative results back it up as well. In conducting her research, Watson heard about the experiences of some of the 450 students currently enrolled in the program.
“He’s like a father,” one student told Watson of his MDP instructor, according to the report. “Especially because some of us don’t have fathers… So to have somebody that cares like that, it feels good.”
“[These boys] are healthier to have as friends, they are healthier as boyfriends,” she said. “[The MDP] work also paves the way for other identity-based programming. It is OK for a school district to say, ‘We’re going to do deep work and healing around [a specific] group.'”
Other districts have approached Oakland schools for help, expressing an interest in putting together similar offices, said Christopher Chatmon, executive director of the Office of African American Male Achievement.
“We haven’t figured it all out in Oakland. We just have the audacity to really call out structural racism,” Chatmon told HuffPost. “We’ve seen some amazing data points moving in the right direction, but there’s still a lot more work to go.”
State Rep. Gene Alday (R) initially said that his remarks had been taken out of context and that he didn’t have a problem with African-Americans in his hometown.
“I didn’t do it with intent, but I am deeply sorry for my recent statements and I was wrong to say what I did and there is no excuse for my behavior,” Alday said on Tuesday. “I value the relationships I’ve made with everyone in this House.”
Alday’s apology came after he made inflammatory comments to The Clarion-Ledger earlier this week.
“I come from a town where all the blacks are getting food stamps and what I call ‘welfare crazy checks.’ They don’t work,” he told the paper. Alday also said that during a trip to an emergency room, he had to wait for hours because “they (black people) were in there being treated for gunshots.”
Last year the Center for American Women and Politics and Higher Heights joined forces to produce and distribute “The Status of Black Women in American Politics,” a report on black women’s representation at all levels of government. The report makes clear that the rise in Black women officeholders is a rather recent history, with the most significant gains occurring over the past four decades. The numbers of Black women elected to date are stark and small relative to Black men and all women. However, interpreted differently, these data exemplify the opportunity for Black women to identify, expand, and capitalize upon electoral opportunities. Thus, when it comes to Black women’s political representation, we have much history left to make.
What history did Black women make in the 2014 elections? And what is the status of Black women in American politics today?
Eighteen Black women (17 Democrats and one Republican) serve in the 114th Congress, four more than served before Election Day 2014. Another two Black women serve as delegates from Washington, D.C., and the Virgin Islands, respectively. Alma Adams (D-North Carolina) became the 100th woman in Congress upon her special election to fill a vacant seat for the remainder of the 113th Congress. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-New Jersey) and Mia Love (R-Utah) both became the first Black women to represent their states in Congress (ever!) in January 2015. Love also made history as the first Black Republican woman to serve in Congress. Two other newcomers, Brenda Lawrence (D-Michigan) and Stacey Plaskett (Delegate, D-Virginia) joined the freshman class of Black congresswomen this year. In fact, Black women are one third of the new women elected to the 114th Congress.
Black women’s congressional representation increased in both number and proportion by every measure from 2014 to 2015. Black women are 21.4 percent of all women in the U.S. House in 2015, up from 17.7 percent of women in the fall of 2014. They also represent 9.6 percent of the Democratic Caucus, up from 7 percent before Election Day 2014. Still, Black women are only 4.1 percent of all members of the House in 2015 (up from 3.2 percent in 2014), despite being nearly 7 percent of the population.
There remain opportunities for Black women to make congressional history in 2015. Only 35 Black women have ever served in Congress, 11.4 percent of the 307 women who have served as representatives or senators to date. Carol Moseley Braun (D-Illinois) remains the only Black woman to ever hold a U.S. Senate seat. Finally, even including the Black women newly elected in 2014, 35 states have yet to send a Black woman to Congress.
Statewide Elected Executive Office
While the numbers of Black women in Congress inched up this year, Black women remain severely underrepresented in statewide elected executive offices in 2015. Two Black women, Connecticut State Treasurer Denise Nappier (D) and California Attorney General Kamala Harris (D), currently hold these offices, the same Black women who served in statewide elected executive office in 2014. They represent 2.6 percent of the 77 women serving in these offices but 20 percent of the Black women who have ever served in statewide elected executive posts. Only 10 Black women from nine states have ever held these offices, making up just 1.8 percent of all of the women officeholders at this level.
There was particular excitement about increasing these numbers in the 2014 elections, with five Black women nominees for statewide executive offices on Georgia’s ballot. All five Democratic women were unsuccessful on Election Day. Similarly, former Delegate Donna Christensen (D-Virginia) came close to making history in her bid for governor of the Virgin Islands but lost by just under 2,000 votes.
While women are better represented at the state legislative level than in Congress in 2015, Black women actually fare proportionately better at the federal level than they do in states. As of Jan. 30, 251 Black women legislators hold office, making up 3.4 percent of all state legislators nationwide and 14 percent of all women legislators in 2015. Before Election Day 2014 Black women were 3.3 percent of all legislators and 13.5 percent of all women state legislators. Unsurprisingly, Black women fare much better among Democratic legislators, representing 7.8 percent of all Democratic state legislators and 23 percent of all Democratic women state legislators in 2015.
Three states — Maine, North Dakota, and South Dakota — have never elected a Black woman to the legislature, and Utah just elected its first Black woman to the legislature in 2014 (Rep. Sandra Hollins [D]). Only seven states elected a Black woman to their legislature before 1960, reaffirming the recentness of Black women’s representational gains at all levels of office.
Beyond Black women’s representation in elected office, 2015 is likely to bring a historical appointment of the first Black woman attorney general of the United States. California Attorney General Kamala Harris has also announced her bid for the U.S. Senate in 2016, a chamber in which Black women have been almost completely absent. As these women seek to make history, they will be joined by Black women making the decision to put their names forward for office at all levels. But these women need not make these decisions alone. Organizations like ours work to highlight the need for better representation of women and provide access to information, training, and resources to help women move from potential candidates to officeholders or appointees.
Shirley Chisholm, the first Black woman elected to Congress and first Black woman to have her name placed in nomination for the Presidency, once said, “At present, our country needs women’s idealism and determination, perhaps more in politics than anywhere else.” As we celebrate Black History Month and Women’s History Month from now through the end of March, let’s all pay particular heed to the wisdom of Black political women like Chisholm who have made history already and together work to identify paths toward Black women’s political advancement.
For the larger part of the 20th century, housing discrimination in the United States was overt and unambiguous. Racial segregation was largely the norm, and those who worked to preserve it were under little obligation, legal or social, to hide their intentions. At least it was easy to spot:
The country has progressed since the late ’60s, and blatant prejudice is now much less common. Yet housing discrimination persists, often due to bias built into the system. So over the years, the federal courts have expanded the Fair Housing Act to cover practices with a discriminatory outcome. Under this theory, known as “disparate impact,” a policy or practice can be illegal if it disproportionately affects minorities, regardless if that was its purpose. Disparate impact claims are crucial to fighting racial inequality today.
But this key weapon could soon be taken away. The Supreme Court will likely rule this summer in a case, Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. The Inclusive Communities Project, that may forbid disparate impact claims under the Fair Housing Act. Such a decision would effectively defang the law. It would also shed a disturbing light on how this court believes the law should react to entrenched discrimination.
The underlying reality of the Texas case is that certain housing policies disadvantage minorities more than whites, whether by hidden design, careless disregard or unfortunate coincidence. It’s this type of discrimination — in housing, but also employment, voting and education — that today produces some of the biggest barriers to bridging the racial divide. If the Supreme Court acknowledges this truth and believes justice is best served by fostering equality “in fact, and not simply in form” — to borrow a phrase from Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg — its decision should be easy. That it probably won’t be helps explain why racial inequality remains such an unrelenting problem for the nation.
Here’s what you need to know about the case, its history and why it could be a landmark decision:
In the past, property owners and policymakers openly supported segregation.
During the first half of the 20th century, racially restrictive covenants were commonly used to keep minorities from moving into white neighborhoods. Under these private agreements, property owners would stipulate that their land could not be sold to or occupied by anyone who wasn’t white. Sometimes, a group of neighbors would sign a contract prohibiting all current and future owners of their properties from selling or leasing to African-Americans. Violating the contract could lead to forfeiture of the property.
Local authorities also played a role in maintaining segregated neighborhoods. Though the Supreme Court had ruled that explicit racial zoning was unconstitutional in 1917, exclusionary zoning to preserve the character of a community was — and is — allowed. Neighborhoods can be zoned to allow only more expensive, low-density housing while prohibiting smaller homes or affordably priced apartment buildings. Because of racial differences in household wealth, many minorities are priced out of the exclusive areas. This practice, which has repeatedly been upheld by courts, is still widely used around the nation.
A big part of the problem was how the federal government limited minority access to mortgages.
Established in 1934, the Federal Housing Administration enforced policies for decades that helped preserve segregation. Chief among these was “redlining,” under which it declined to back home loans to people living in certain often-minority neighborhoods. This discouraged mortgage lenders from extending financial services to those areas. The consequences of redlining on home ownership and economic development are still apparent today in many urban areas.
In the late 1960s, a group of black homeowners in Chicago began to fight this predatory system. A federal class-action lawsuit was filed in 1969 against speculators, contract sellers and financial institutions involved in the scheme. Activists also organized protests and holdouts, in which homeowners refused to make payments to the sellers. There were standoffs with police, arrests, negotiations, and in 1971, thanks to a policy change by regional banks and insurance companies, the homebuyers finally began converting their contracts into mortgages in large numbers.
Yet when the federal case finally went to trial in 1975, the black plaintiffs couldn’t convince the mostly white jury that they had been price-gouged because of their race. As one juror reportedly concluded, “It was economics, not civil rights, in play.”
Congress passed the Fair Housing Act in 1968.
Passed just a week after Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination, the law made it illegal to discriminate in the sale, rental or financing of housing based on race, religion and national origin. It prohibited the sort of straight-up racist language and policies long used to maintain housing segregation. The more blatant forms of redlining, for example, were banned. (Gender, familial status and disability were later added to the list of protected classes.)
In a rule issued in February 2013, the Department of Housing and Urban Development clarified the formula for deciding disparate-impact housing cases: If the plaintiff can demonstrate that a practice has a discriminatory effect, the burden shifts to the defendant to show that the practice serves a substantial, nondiscriminatory interest that can’t be served by a less discriminatory means. If the defendant meets that burden, the plaintiff can still win by showing that, in fact, there is a less discriminatory means that would serve the defendant’s needs.
Note this means that a policy with a disparate impact that also has a valid justification and no less-discriminatory alternative is legal. For that reason, there are plenty of legitimate housing restrictions and requirements that disproportionately affect minorities today — like occupancy limits, credit score standards and income verification.
Housing advocates and federal prosecutors still use the law to fight housing discrimination.
A number of high-profile disparate impact cases have been settled in the past few years alone. Many focused on financial institutions and lenders that were accused of offering less favorable rates and services, on average, to minority customers than to white customers.
In 2011, for example, mortgage giant Countrywide Financial reached a record $335 million settlement with the Department of Justice following allegations that it had charged higher fees and rates to hundreds of thousands of Hispanic and African-American customers than it had to white customers with similar financial standing. The Justice Department investigation also found that Countrywide, which was purchased by Bank of America after the alleged misconduct, had offered subprime mortgages to 10,000 minority borrowers while offering regular loans to white borrowers with similar credit profiles. Using a disparate impact argument, federal prosecutors didn’t need evidence that Countrywide’s practices were driven by discriminatory intent, only that they had discriminatory outcomes.
The National Fair Housing Alliance reported that 27,352 housing discrimination complaints were made nationwide in 2013. The organization estimates that at least 4 million violations actually occur each year.
It’s hard to overstate the ongoing importance of access to fair housing. Decades of segregation have helped to concentrate poverty in minority neighborhoods. Communities with large percentages of black and Hispanic residents tend to have fewer economic and employment opportunities; lower-quality education; less access to medical care, healthy food and public transportation; and lower levels of public safety.
“While recent modest declines in black segregation levels are welcome, the 2010 census shows that the average black resident still lives in a neighborhood that is 45 percent black and 36 percent white,” William Frey, chief demographer at the Brookings Institution, told The New York Times. “At the same time, the average white lives in a neighborhood that is 78 percent white and 7 percent black. Black segregation levels are even higher for children.”
For more on how ZIP codes correlate with opportunity, check out this tool created by Opportunity Nation and Measure of America.
The persistence of segregated communities suggests, at least in part, a decades-long failure at the Department of Housing and Urban Development. A lengthy 2012 report by ProPublica reported that HUD had injected billions of dollars into communities without vigorously enforcing the Fair Housing Act:
HUD’s largest program of grants to states, cities and towns has delivered $137 billion to more than 1,200 communities since 1974. To receive the money, localities are supposed to identify obstacles to fair housing, keep records of their efforts to overcome them, and certify that they do not discriminate.
ProPublica could find only two occasions since [George] Romney’s tenure [as HUD secretary, ending in 1972,] in which the department withheld money from communities for violating the Fair Housing Act. In several instances, records show, HUD has sent grants to communities even after they’ve been found by courts to have promoted segregated housing or been sued by the U.S. Department of Justice. New Orleans, for example, has continued to receive grants after the Justice Department sued it for violating that Fair Housing Act by blocking a low-income housing project in a wealthy historic neighborhood.
The Supreme Court is now debating whether disparate impact claims can even be raised in housing cases.
On Jan. 21, the justices heard oral arguments in Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. The Inclusive Communities Project. The Dallas-area nonprofit, which promotes racially and economically diverse communities, filed suit after finding that for the past few decades, the Texas housing department had allocated almost all affordable-housing tax credits to developments in minority neighborhoods, while denying credits to those in white neighborhoods. This effectively kept low-income residents from moving to white communities. The nonprofit is raising a disparate impact claim under the Fair Housing Act.
The Texas agency, unable to show there was no less-discriminatory alternative to its practice, lost the case in federal district court and in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit. It petitioned the Supreme Court to rule for the first time on the overall permissibility of disparate impact claims under the Fair Housing Act. Court watchers suggest the decision may come down to Justice Antonin Scalia, who during oral arguments indicated sympathy with both sides.
Opponents argue that disparate impact claims are unfair to policymakers, financial institutions and property owners. If housing policies and practices are instituted for legitimate reasons based on race-neutral criteria, the basic argument goes, then they should be legal despite any unintended discriminatory effects — and the people who implement those policies and practices should not be blamed.
During oral arguments, Texas Solicitor General Scott Keller suggested another problem: that housing officials and developers wary of possible Fair Housing Act lawsuits might make race-conscious decisions in favor of minorities, creating “the functional equivalent of a quota system.” This would raise constitutional issues of its own.
Other critics have expressed concerns that the idea of disparate impact is too fluid — that just because a practice unevenly affects a minority group doesn’t mean that it harms the group or that it doesn’t help other minority groups.
Supporters of disparate impact think the law is on their side, if not necessarily the justices.
Since 1974, 11 federal circuit courts have upheld an interpretation of the Fair Housing Act that allows for disparate impact claims. Moreover, in 1988, when Congress amended the statute, it chose not to add language ruling out such claims, but it did include language that implied their use.
Amicus briefs have flooded in — from lawmakers, public interest advocates and business interests — seeking to sway the justices. There are 14 supporting the Texas agency and 23 backing the nonprofit. One brief in favor of the Inclusive Communities Project comes from the federal government, 17 states and an assortment of civil rights groups.
“This was really the last legislative victory of the civil rights movement, and it was Dr. King’s last victory, too,” Philip Tegeler, executive director of the Poverty & Race Research Action Council, told The Washington Post. “This is the message that Dr. King brought to Chicago in 1966, talking about de facto segregation in the North, segregation wherever it exists — that we need to address it. That’s in large part what the Fair Housing Act was trying to do.”
Fair housing advocates remain concerned — in part because this is the third time the Supreme Court has agreed to consider disparate impact claims under the Fair Housing Act in less than four years. The two earlier cases were each settled less than a month before they were heard by the justices. Civil rights groups, which pushed for those settlements, worry that the justices’ eagerness to rule on this issue could spell trouble.
“It is unusual for the court to agree to hear a case when the law is clearly settled. It’s even more unusual to agree to hear the issue three years in a row,” Ian Haney López, a law professor at the University of California, Berkeley, told ProPublica.
A Supreme Court ruling against disparate impact would cap a string of controversial civil rights decisions.
“The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in a 2007 decision on school desegregation in Seattle. That sounds simple enough, but such a focus on explicit racial preferences overlooks the issues of structural discrimination — the kind found in housing and other areas today.
In 2009, the Supreme Court declared that New Haven, Connecticut, had violated the civil rights of white firefighters when it threw out a promotion exam that no black firefighter had passed. The city took the racial gap in exam results as a sign that the test itself might violate employment protections under the Civil Rights Act, but the court ruled against New Haven. In 2013, the Supreme Court gutted a key section of the Voting Rights Act that determined which states had to obtain pre-approval from the federal government before making changes to their voting systems. And last year, the justices upheld a Michigan ban on affirmative action, declaring that a state’s voters can prohibit the use of race as a factor in college admissions.
As ProPublica noted, a ruling against disparate impact claims this year would give the Roberts Court a dubious hat trick: It would have effectively undermined the three most substantial civil rights laws of the 1960s — the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the 1965 Voting Rights Act and the 1968 Fair Housing Act.
Whatever the Supreme Court decides in the current case, some of the justices are clearly unconvinced that discrimination not driven by overt bias is a problem, or at least one that the law should take a stand against.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor spoke to this troubling pattern last year in her dissent in the Michigan affirmative action case. “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to speak openly and candidly on the subject of race, and to apply the Constitution with eyes open to the unfortunate effects of centuries of racial discrimination,” she said, responding to Roberts’ quote from seven years earlier.
Sotomayor, one of only two racial minorities on the high court, chose to read aloud her dissent, something the justices do only when they feel particularly strongly.
A ruling in Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. The Inclusive Communities Project is expected sometime in June.
DETROIT, MI (BlackNews.com) — International Pretty Brown Girl Day was established by the Pretty Brown Girl Foundation. This is a special day to empower, inspire and encourage girls of color to love the skin
The mission statement of the organization is to encourage girls to celebrate the beautiful shades of brown all over the world; while inspiring positive self-esteem and confidence. The call to action is for organizations, schools, churches and community leaders to start a Pretty Brown Girl Club and launch them with celebrations on International
Pretty Brown Girl Day.
“It is significant that International Pretty Brown Girl Day is during Black History Month and will be hosted in Chicago this year where our story began,” says Sheri Crawley, Founder of Pretty Brown Girl. Girls of color will have a social platform to address, discuss and celebrate the very important topic of loving the skin they’re in. The theme this year
is to “Dream Big” with confidence, courage and character.
The Pretty Brown Girl Club, launched in 2012, is the first ever organization for girls of color to have a social platform to address, discuss and celebrate the topic of loving the skin they’re in. Pretty Brown Girl also offers a K-12 After-School Program Curriculum with interactive engagement and learning activities. Young ladies participating in the Pretty Brown Girl programs will be inspired to Dream Big and pledge to walk in their purpose.
The 2015 International Pretty Brown Girl Day Celebration will take place on Saturday, February 28, 2015 from 2 p.m.- 5 p.m. at the South Shore Cultural Center located in Chicago, Illinois. Registration is free, but seating is limited. More information can be found on their website www.prettybrowngirl.com or their Facebook page, Pretty Brown
Chelsey Cox –Change.org
Henrietta Lacks was a black tobacco farmer from Roanoke, Virginia who died of an aggressive form of cervical cancer in 1951. Unbeknownst to her, doctors removed cell tissue from her body during treatment then cultured and shared them with fellow researchers after her death. These cells were the basis of the immortal ‘HeLa’ line, which was used by Jonas Salk to develop the polio vaccine, NASA to observe human cell behavior in zero gravity, and in the creation of many of the drugs and medicines taken for granted today. HeLa remains a foundation for other landmark scientific discoveries, not excluding breakthroughs in cancer, AIDS, and genetics research.
Click here for more info and to sign the petition.
The 37-year-old died in November after her mother called 911 while Anderson was having a “mental health episode.” Officials say when officers tried to take Anderson to a treatment facility, she struggled and then went limp; her family says police slammed her to the ground and put a knee in her back. Her death was ruled a homicide.
In recent months, such deaths of unarmed black individuals — and in some cases, the lack of indictments for officers involved — have sparked protests in cities around the country, including Cleveland, where 12-year-old Tamir Rice was shot and killed by police a week after Anderson’s death as he carried a toy gun in a park. Rice, Eric Garner and Michael Brown have come to symbolize the Black Lives Matter movement focused on excessive force and racial disparities in policing.
But as thousands march for justice, the names of the women killed by police — particularly women of color killed by police — continue to be less known.
“We wanted to make sure [Anderson’s death] didn’t get swept under the rug,” Rachelle Smith told The Huffington Post. She and others protested at Cleveland’s Justice Center this week over the lack of information in Anderson’s case. “We hear a lot about Tamir Rice and Eric Garner … There’s no hierarchy in these tragedies, but she was unarmed, and the police were called to help her — there’s this intersectionality of oppression there, and innocence.”
Some activists, like writer Dream Hampton, intentionally amplify the experiences of other black women. She told HuffPost she was encouraged the country was finally talking about police militarization after years of raising concerns in a “pro-policing culture,” but conversations need to be more inclusive.
“The reason why it’s important to center girls and women in this conversation is because the other narrative, and it’s not a competing narrative, but it’s just not a complete narrative, is that this only happens to black boys and men,” Hampton said. “We have always only framed this as a black male problem, and it is time to tell the entire truth about who police violence and terrorism happens to.”
The more complete narrative includes a small child shot while she was sleeping, as well as women killed while in violation of the law. While an important part of the latters’ stories, it doesn’t somehow erase their deaths or mean the actions of police involved shouldn’t receive scrutiny. Below, see the stories of 15 black women and girls killed during police encounters over the last 15 years.
The police department hasn’t finished an investigation into her death, though it will likely conclude by next week, a spokesman told The Huffington Post. The case will go to a grand jury as a matter of policy.
In a wrongful death lawsuit, Anderson’s family alleges CPD Officers Scott Aldridge and Bryan Myers did not provide medical attention as Anderson lay on the ground unconscious.
Aldridge had previously been suspended for violating the department’s use of force policies, according to Northeast Ohio Media Group, and was disciplined in 2012 for his role in the deaths of Malissa Williams (see below) and Timothy Russell. He is currently on desk duty.
In December, an investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice concluded Cleveland police have a pattern of using excessive force, including against people who are mentally ill, and don’t use appropriate techniques to account for mental illness.
Mauvion Green, Anderson’s daughter, told the Northeast Ohio Media Group she wanted to work for conscientious treatment of those with mental illnesses. “I’m fighting for my mother, but I’m fighting for everyone else, too,” Green said.
Willis was fired, and his previous record was questioned. An evaluation from a past employer stated he needed “more development in handling explosive situations” and “utilization of common sense.”
He was indicted by a grand jury for murder in June. Smith’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit in August.
“A part of me is gone, you know, and I wish I could have that back, but I can’t. I just want justice for her,” Yvonne Williams, Smith’s twin sister, told KVUE.
Her 1-year-old daughter was in the car at the time and survived.
An autopsy found Carey was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol, her family’s attorney said, and no weapons were found in her car. She had previously been diagnosed with postpartum depression and psychosis.
Federal prosecutors said in July that they would not file charges against the officers; Carey’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit.
“The emphasis shouldn’t be on why [Miriam was in Washington, D.C.],” sister Valarie Carey told the Washington Post. “The emphasis should be what those officers did. Were their actions proper?”
Campbell reportedly told investigators that he opened fire after the driver of the car tried to run him over. The other women and two children were in the car with Frey; they continued to drive away before stopping, and paramedics called to the scene were unable to revive her.
Frey had previously pleaded guilty to stealing shirts and meat from Walmart, according to Houston’s KHOU, and was prohibited from entering the store.
Her family has sued Walmart for wrongful death. Campbell has not faced any charges.
Harris was on probation for battery on a police officer and violating a court-ordered curfew when she died, according to the Advocate.
Guillot was previously accused of misconduct while working at three different law enforcement agencies, according to KATC of Lafayette, Louisiana. The incidents include shooting a dog while on patrol, allegedly fondling female inmates and alleged improper treatment of an inmate who died of cocaine intoxication while in custody. A lawsuit regarding the latter allegation was settled out of court.
A grand jury declined to indict Guillot.
Six officers were indicted in the car chase: Officer Michael Brelo was charged with manslaughter, and five supervisors were charged with dereliction of duty. Brelo, who allegedly fired 49 shots at the vehicle, 15 of them from atop the hood, goes to trial in April. The city settled a wrongful death lawsuit for $3 million.
“This shooting is one of the worst examples of police misconduct in American history,” attorneys for Williams’ and Russell’s families said in a statement last year. “This settlement sends the clearest signal yet that real reform must be achieved inside the Cleveland Police Department.”
Thomas died shortly after at a hospital. An autopsy found that she had cocaine in her system. The cause of death was listed as undetermined.
O’Callaghan pleaded not guilty to an assault charge in Thomas’ death in 2013. The trial is still pending.
Davis had been arrested eight times previously and was due in court the day after her death for kidnapping and attempted murder charges, according to The New York Times. She was unarmed when she was shot.
Atkins had been sued seven times over the previous decade, with allegations including undue use of force, according to DNAinfo.
Servin was driving near his home late at night when he saw a group of four people walking outside. He had a brief conversation with them through his window, then turned the wrong way on a one-way street. According to the Chicago Tribune, he said he then looked over his shoulder and thought he saw a man from the group pull a gun from his pants and point it at him.
Servin fired five rounds over his left shoulder through his car window, striking the man in the hand and Boyd in the back of the head. The man who Servin believed had a gun was actually holding a cell phone.
Boyd was taken to a hospital and died the next day.
In 2013, Servin was indicted on charges of involuntary manslaughter, reckless discharge of a firearm and reckless conduct. He has been stripped of his police powers, and the city awarded Boyd’s family $4.5 million as part of a wrongful death settlement.
“My mother holds a lot inside but she’s hurting, especially when she hears about police violence,” Martinez Sutton, Boyd’s brother, told the Chicago Citizen.
The family’s wrongful death lawsuit alleges Francis, who was unarmed, was not aware arriving NYPD officers were police because of her mental illness. When she tried to leave the room against their orders, they allegedly pursued her, grabbed her and “tackled” her onto a bed. The suit claims four officers put their weight onto Francis’ back while trying to cuff her, and her sister believes she saw them hitting and using a Taser on Francis until Francis stopped moving.
Francis was pronounced dead at a hospital shortly after the incident. Her cause of death was “compression of trunk during agitated violent behavior (schizophrenia) while prone on bed and attempted restraint by police officers,” according to the Village Voice.
The lawsuit said the officers overwhelmingly violated NYPD policies on mental illness, in part because the department has failed to provide training.
The city settled with Francis’ family for $1.1 million.
Police said the raid was in search of a murder suspect who lived in the second floor unit of the home.
Weekley was charged with involuntary manslaughter and a misdemeanor charge, but the case was dismissed after two mistrials.
Chavalia was acquitted of the misdemeanor charges of negligent homicide and negligent assault. He testified that he felt his life was in danger when he shot Wilson, thinking he saw a shadow and heard gun shots nearby, when they actually came from officers downstairs, according to the Associated Press.
The city settled a wrongful death suit with Wilson’s family for $2.5 million in 2011.
As the door opened, Johnston fired the pistol she kept for self-defense, hitting no one. Officers fired back 39 times. Five or six bullets hit Johnston, and several others hit fellow police.
Officers later admitted to falsely claiming cocaine submitted into evidence had come from a drug deal at her house, and to planting marijuana at her house after the raid.
Officers Jason Smith, Greg Junnier and Arthur Tesler pleaded guilty to charges related to her death and the subsequent coverup. All three received prison time.
The city of Atlanta agreed to pay Johnston’s family $4.8 million as part of a settlement.
The city of New York agreed to pay a $1.6 million settlement to Spruill’s family.
“This case for them is not about money. It’s about changing procedure,” Johnnie Cochran, lawyer for Spruill’s sisters, said in 2003. “It’s about the fact that their sister should not have died in vain.”
A grand jury declined to prosecute. The officer was initially suspended, but the disciplinary action was overturned by an arbitrator.
“It’s been 10 years later, justice has still not served,” James’ mother, Shirley Isadore, said at a 2013 rally marking the anniversary of her daughter’s death.
Three women had young children with them when they were killed.
Two were children when they were killed.
Two women with mental illnesses were killed after their family members called authorities for help.
Seven of the incidents resulted in charges. Only only one woman’s death has led to conviction. Several cases are still open.
There are many more women of color who have died in incidents involving police — including all-too-frequent encounters with the mentally ill, like Michelle Cusseaux, Aura Rosser, or Margaret Mitchell. These women were armed and considered dangerous according to police, but their deaths point to failings in how police work with with mentally ill individuals.
“That’s why it’s necessary for this to be out there,” George Francis told the Village Voice about the police’s role in his daughter Shereese’s death. “So that they put a new system in place to prevent this from happening to other people. They will be more careful when they know that they will be brought to account.”