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Archive for January 16th, 2015

Congressional Black Caucus to Travel to Ferguson to Commemorate Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Show Support for Community

Posted by Admin On January - 16 - 2015 Comments Off on Congressional Black Caucus to Travel to Ferguson to Commemorate Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Show Support for Community

WASHINGTON, D.C.– On Sunday, Congressman Wm. Lacy Clay (MO-01) will welcome a delegation of ten Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) members led by CBC Chairman G. K. Butterfield to Ferguson, Missouri to attend a special church service that will both honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and show support for increasing civic participation in the local community.

The public is invited to join the CBC as they pray for unity, courage, healing and direct transformative action in Ferguson, New York, and across our nation.

Reporters, photographers, and camera crews are invited to attend.


Reverend F. Willis Johnson, Pastor of Wellspring Church

Congressman G.K. Butterfield (NC-01), Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus

Congressman Wm. Lacy Clay (MO-01)

Congressman Emanuel Cleaver (MO-05)

Congressman Jim Clyburn (SC-06), Assistant Democratic Leader

Congressman André Carson (IN-07)

Congresswoman Karen Bass (CA-37)

Congresswoman Joyce Beatty (OH-03)

Congresswoman Marcia Fudge (OH-11)

Congresswoman Shelia Jackson-Lee (TX-18)

Congressman Donald M. Payne, Jr. (NJ-12)

Congressman Cedric Richmond (LA-02)

CBC to Attend Church Service in Ferguson to Commemorate Dr. King’s Legacy and Show Support for Civic Participation in Community, Sunday, January 18, 2015, at  Wellspring Church, 33 South Florissant Road, Ferguson, MO.

Program begins at 10:45 a.m. CST

For more information, contact:

CBC/National Press: Kim Atterbury, (202) 465-5125 or Kim.Atterbury@mail.house.gov

Rep. Clay/Local Press: Steven Engelhardt, (314) 504-4029 or Steven.Engelhardt@mail.house.gov

Wellspring Church: Philnetta “PJ” Johnson, (314) 521-4217 or WellspringChurchSTL@gmail.com


Attorney General Holder Urges Improved Data Reporting on Both Shootings of Police Officers and Use of Force by the Police

Posted by Admin On January - 16 - 2015 Comments Off on Attorney General Holder Urges Improved Data Reporting on Both Shootings of Police Officers and Use of Force by the Police

In a speech at a Justice Department ceremony honoring the late Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., Attorney General Eric Holder said Thursday that the nation must improve police officer safety at the same time that it confronts the sense of mistrust between law enforcement and the communities they serve.  As an initial step, the Attorney General called for better reporting of data on both issues, noting that the current level of reporting by localities on both uses of force by police—as well as officer fatalities—was incomplete.

“The troubling reality is that we lack the ability right now to comprehensively track the number of incidents of either uses of force directed at police officers or uses of force by police,” the Attorney General said in his remarks.  “This strikes many – including me – as unacceptable.  Fixing this is an idea that we should all be able to unite behind.”

Currently, federal authorities publish annual figures on the number of “justifiable homicides” by law enforcement, as well as figures on the number of law enforcement officers killed or assaulted.   But since reporting is voluntary, not all police departments participate, causing the figures to be incomplete.  In his comments Thursday, the Attorney General urged improving the method for collecting both these sets of data.

“This would represent a commonsense step that would begin to address serious concerns about police officer safety, as well as the need to safeguard civil liberties,” he said.

A complete version of the Attorney General’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, appear below:

“Thank you, Vanita [Gupta], for those kind words – and thank you all for being here.  It’s a privilege to welcome such a distinguished crowd to the Great Hall for this important observance and on what will be my last opportunity to share it with you as Attorney General.  It’s a pleasure, as always, to join so many valued colleagues and good friends in paying tribute to the enduring legacy of an extraordinary leader; in celebrating the contributions of a singular figure in our nation’s history; and in honoring the memory of a lifelong champion for equality, for peace, and for justice: the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“I am glad to share the stage this morning with Dorothy Williams, Richard Toscano, Thomas Wright, and of course Assistant Attorney General Gupta.  I’d like to thank every member of the Junior ROTC Color Guard for opening today’s ceremony.  I want to extend a special welcome to civil rights activist Dorie Ann Ladner, whom we’re honored to have with us today.  And I particularly want to thank all of you for taking time out of your busy schedules to participate in this annual event – on what should have been Dr. King’s 86th birthday – as we join millions of our fellow citizens, throughout the country, in remembering the man who helped to lead a sweeping movement that forever changed the face of America – and inspired people around the world to reach for opportunity and inclusion.

“The remarkable and enduring achievements of the Civil Rights Era – in tearing down segregationist policies, expanding access to the ballot box, and enshrining key protections into law – did nothing less than alter the course of history.  The impact of the Movement has been transformative, and its power impossible to measure, over the last five decades.  Yet, as we’ve been reminded all too clearly in recent months – despite this once-unimaginable progress – there’s no denying, as we gather for this important commemoration, that a great deal of work remains to be done.  Even today, in 2015, our journey is not yet complete.  Economic progress remains uneven, educational opportunity is still not uniform, the right to vote is under siege.  And we continue to live in a world that’s too often divided – a world riven by misunderstanding and despair.  A world beset by momentous challenges, old and new.  And a world badly in need of the compassion, the inclusion, and the healing that Dr. King stood for, and worked toward, throughout his too-short 39 years.

“Especially in this time of trial, it is not only fitting – but essential – that we rededicate ourselves to the vision, and the values, that guided Dr. King at every stage of his career.  Today – just as they did 50 years ago – these values point us away from tired rhetoric and stale talking points.  They move us toward open dialogue and constructive engagement.  They impel us to remember the common humanity that Dr. King found in every person he met – in police officers as in protestors; in prisoners as in presidents.  And they call us to the service of our fellow citizens, the betterment of our nation, and the protection of all that is exceptional about the country we love.  After all, as Dr. King once said, “everybody can be great [. . .] because everybody can serve.”

“I am mindful, as we come together this morning, that there are few who answer this call to greatness more heroically – and fewer still who make more contributions and sacrifices in the name of public service – than those who stand on the front lines of our fight for public safety: America’s brave men and women in law enforcement.

“As the brother of a retired police officer, I know in a personal way that these courageous individuals perform their difficult and dangerous jobs with extraordinary valor, compassion, and honor.  They serve as steadfast guardians of our rights and liberties – shouldering tremendous and often-unheralded burdens.  They incur significant risks in order to keep the rest of us safe.  And they are routinely called upon to make split-second decisions to protect themselves and those around them.

“In short, they are true American heroes – whose patriotism, integrity, and commitment to the highest standards of excellence are simply beyond question.  I know this.  And I have been troubled and deeply disturbed by recent mischaracterizations of this Administration’s regard for those who wear the badge.

“Over the past six years, our record of support for law enforcement has been both strong and unambiguous.  This Justice Department, under my leadership, has taken significant, and in some cases unprecedented, steps to protect and empower our local, state, tribal, and federal law enforcement colleagues.  This is simple fact.  In 2011, I created an Officer Safety Working Group in response to concerns about officer-directed violence.  Through groundbreaking initiatives like VALOR, the Department is providing cutting-edge training to help prevent violence against law enforcement, to improve officer resilience, and to increase survivability during violent encounters.  We’re currently funding thorough analysis of 2014 officer fatalities, including ambushes and other incidents, so we can mitigate risks going forward.  Under our Bulletproof Vest Partnership Program, we’re helping to provide lifesaving equipment to those who serve on the front lines.  And through programs like the Public Safety Officers’ Benefits Program, we’re offering our strongest support to brave officers and their loved ones during the toughest of times.

“As someone who knows firsthand the pride of seeing a family member in uniform – and the anguish that comes with knowing a loved one is in harm’s way, out patrolling the street – my personal support for those who serve has been steadfast throughout my career.  I believe that every law enforcement officer is deserving not merely of our utmost respect, but our deepest gratitude.  And that’s why last month’s devastating and barbaric attack – which claimed the lives of two of New York’s finest, Officers [Wenjian] Liu and [Rafael] Ramos – was so shocking, and so deplorable.

“These senseless murders were assaults on us all – on our nation, on the rule of law, and on everyone who stands for justice.  They serve as tragic reminders of the dangers that all of our police officers regularly face.  And they have lent new urgency to our ongoing, national conversation about the need to reduce crime – while at the same time building public trust wherever it has been eroded.

“This afternoon, I’ll be traveling to Philadelphia to convene the latest in a series of roundtable discussions – with law enforcement leaders, elected officials, community members, young people, and civil rights advocates – in order to keep advancing this dialogue.  Over the course of my travels throughout the country, I’ve had the chance to discuss these critical issues with Americans of all ages, backgrounds, races, ethnicities, and walks of life – from Atlanta to Cleveland; from Memphis to Chicago.

“I’ve heard from police officers, protesters, faith leaders, and concerned citizens.  On many occasions, I have been deeply moved by the stories and perspectives I’ve heard – from parents hoping to secure brighter and safer futures for their children; from passionate young people becoming engaged in our national debate; from police officers valiantly putting their lives on the line to make our neighborhoods just a little bit safer.

“Through all of these interactions, I have been struck not by the differences that have emerged, but by the remarkable commonalities.  By the desire for peace, for safety, and for justice that drives everyone who’s engaged in this discussion.  And by the shared vision of a better tomorrow, and a more secure and inclusive future, that unites all Americans.

“Let me be clear: none of these goals are in tension.  None of our aims are in conflict.  And so it is incumbent upon all of us to protect both the safety of our police officers and the rights and wellbeing of all of our citizens.

“We can, and we must, examine new ways to do both.  The first step to achieving this is to obtain better, more accurate data on the scope of the challenges we face.  For instance, I’ve heard from a number of people who have called on policymakers to ensure better record-keeping on injuries and deaths that occur at the hands of police.  I’ve also spoken with law enforcement leaders – including the leadership of the Fraternal Order of Police – who have urged elected officials to consider strategies for collecting better data on officer fatalities.  Today, my response to these legitimate concerns is simple: we need to do both.

“This would represent a commonsense step that would begin to address serious concerns about police officer safety, as well as the need to safeguard civil liberties.  The troubling reality is that we lack the ability right now to comprehensively track the number of incidents of either uses of force directed at police officers or uses of force by police.  There has been some effort to address this in the past – in the 1990s, for example, Congress enacted legislation intended to help the Justice Department collect data on officer-involved shootings.  But since the reporting remains optional, and perhaps lacks sufficient incentives, many localities do not provide this data.  Likewise, absent a requirement for reporting of injuries and deaths of police officers, many localities fail to report these statistics as well.  This strikes many – including me – as unacceptable.  Fixing this is an idea that we should all be able to unite behind.

“On a more fundamental level, our shared objectives also require that we work together to confront the mistrust that exists – in some places – between law enforcement officers and the communities they serve.  This is why President Obama and I have announced a variety of proposals that will enable us to bridge these divides wherever they are uncovered – from a National Initiative for Building Community Trust and Justice, to new funding for body-worn cameras.  In recent weeks, I have also announced improvements to racial profiling guidance that applies to all federal law enforcement agents conducting law enforcement activities.  And the President has taken the historic step of convening a new Task Force on 21st Century Policing – which held its first hearing just two days ago, and which – under the leadership of Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey, former Assistant Attorney General Laurie Robinson, and other law enforcement leaders and experts – will provide strong, national direction to the profession as a whole, on a scale not seen since the Johnson Administration.

“I want to emphasize that these reforms are not aimed at individual officers themselves – who perform their jobs with distinction each and every day.  Rather, they are intended to strengthen the criminal justice system as a whole, as well as the policies and procedures that shape this system and govern the way it functions.  This will improve public confidence – allowing law enforcement to operate with maximum safety, effectiveness, fairness, and legitimacy – in every case and circumstance.  And it will help to ensure that our present dialogue can be translated into positive, meaningful action.

“We owe it to our brave law enforcement officers, to peaceful demonstrators – and, especially, to our youngest citizens – to talk forthrightly about the issues we face, no matter how difficult or complex they may be.  We owe it to ourselves and our nation to seek areas of consensus, rather than to exploit old divisions and reopen old wounds.  Most of all, we owe it to those who, throughout history, have fought, and sacrificed, and given their lives to bring our country to this moment – from Dr. King and the pioneers of the Civil Rights Era, to Officers Ramos and Liu and the colleagues who carry on their work – to lay aside meaningless grievances.  To reject political posturing from those who only demonstrate their interest in front of television cameras.  And to do everything in our power to confront the challenges of our time – and find a way to move forward – together.

“During my visit to Memphis last month, I had the opportunity to tour the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel, where Dr. King’s room is preserved just as it was on April 4, 1968 – the night he was taken from us by the very same forces of intolerance against which he had stood throughout his life.

“I could not help but think, as I stood on that motel balcony, about this great leader’s unshakeable belief that promoting love – and condemning all forms of violence – is the only way to “cut off the chain of hate.”

“I thought, as well, of the words of my predecessor as Attorney General, Robert Kennedy – who spoke about Dr. King’s legacy, and what he called the “mindless menace of violence,” just one day after Dr. King’s untimely murder.  In that emotional speech, then-Senator Kennedy urged a grieving nation to remember that “[t]he victims of . . . violence are black and white, rich and poor, young and old, famous and unknown.”  And he reminded us that – no matter where they came from or who they were – in life, all of these victims were “. . . human beings whom other human beings loved and needed.”

“As we gather today, in the shadow of recent acts of senseless violence, I cannot help but reflect on the lives that have been lost over the past few months – in communities where tragic deaths have exposed rifts between citizens and law enforcement; in New York City, where two brave police officers were murdered because of the uniforms they wore; and in Paris, where heinous and cowardly acts of terror shocked the world and targeted the freedoms we all hold dear.

“Unfortunately, none of this is new to us.  Senseless violence has coursed through the veins of this world for ages.  And we have seen, throughout history, that acts of hatred breed only hatred.  We understand that words of division only deepen division.  And we know that our most serious and systemic challenges continue to demand the very best of us – just as they did in Dr. King’s time.

“So today, once again, let us not shy away from – but embrace – the noisy discord of honest, frank, and vigorous debate.  Never forget – this great nation was born of protest – by residents of this land who took to the streets to demand fairness from those who governed them.  Let us never fail to support those who wear the badge, or to work alongside them in building a constructive dialogue – a dialogue founded on our common humanity.  Let us act on the crucial recognition that those who serve with honor serve greatly – and they deserve our deepest respect.  And let us reject the empty rhetoric of anyone who would engage in cynical attempts to divide and cast blame – choosing instead to affirm once more that Americans from all backgrounds and perspectives must come together to be part of positive change.

“In this great country – a nation of laws and of high ideals – we have always had the power to forge our own future.  Dr. King’s example offers inspiring proof of this fact.  And that’s why, as our present work unfolds – so long as we continue to rely on the engagement of our citizens, the ongoing commitment of our police officers, and the singular expertise and experience of leaders like you – I believe there is good reason for confidence in where this effort will take us.

“I want to thank you all, once again, for your dedication to this work.  Wherever I am and whatever I am doing, I will always be proud to count you as colleagues and partners in the work of making better the nation that we all love.

“Thank you for all that you have done these past six years and for all that you will do in the years ahead. “

Source: Office of the Attorney General

Vice President Biden Announces $25 Million in Funding for Cybersecurity Education at HBCUs

Posted by Admin On January - 16 - 2015 Comments Off on Vice President Biden Announces $25 Million in Funding for Cybersecurity Education at HBCUs

Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz, and White House Science Advisor John Holdren are traveling to Norfolk State University in Norfolk, Virginia to announce that the Department of Energy will provide a $25 million grant over the next five years to support cybersecurity education. The new grant will support the creation of a new cybersecurity consortium consisting of 13 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), two national labs, and a k-12 school district.

The Vice President will make the announcement as part of a roundtable discussion with a classroom of cybersecurity leaders and students at Norfolk State University. The visit builds on the President’s announcements on cybersecurity earlier this week, focusing on the critical need to fill the growing demand for skilled cybersecurity professionals in the U.S. job market, while also diversifying the pipeline of talent in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. The event and announcement is also an opportunity to highlight the Administration’s ongoing commitment to HBCUs.

Details on the Announcement

As highlighted by the President earlier in the week, the rapid growth of cybercrime is creating a growing need for cybersecurity professionals across a range of industries, from financial services, health care, and retail to the US government itself. By some estimates, the demand for cybersecurity workers is growing 12 times faster than the U.S. job market, and is creating well-paying jobs.

To meet this growing need, the Department of Energy is establishing the Cybersecurity Workforce Pipeline Consortium with funding from the Minority Serving Institutions Partnerships Program housed in its National Nuclear Security Administration. The Minority Service Institutions Program focuses on building a strong pipeline of talent from minority-serving institutions to DOE labs, with a mix of research collaborations, involvement of DOE scientists in mentoring, teaching and curriculum development, and direct recruitment of students.

With $25M in overall funding over five years, and with the first grants this year, the Cybersecurity Workforce Pipeline Consortium will bring together 13 HBCUs, two DOE labs, and the Charleston County School District with the goal of creating a sustainable pipeline of students focused on cybersecurity issues. The consortium has a number of core attributes:

  • It is designed as a system. This allows students that enter through any of the partner schools to have all consortia options available to them, to create career paths and degree options through collaboration between all the partners (labs and schools), and to open the doors to DOE sites and facilities.
  • It has a range of participating higher education institutions. With Norfolk State University as a the lead, the consortium includes a K-12 school district, a two-year technical college, as well as four-year public and private universities that offer graduate degrees.
  • Built to change to evolving employer needs: To be successful in the long term, this program is designed to be sufficiently flexible in its organization to reflect the unique regional priorities that Universities have in faculty research and developing STEM disciplines and skills, and DOE site targets for research and critical skill development.
  • Diversifying the pipeline by working with leading minority-serving institutions: As the President stated in Executive Order 13532, “Promoting Excellence, Innovation, and Sustainability at Historically Black Colleges and Universities” in February 2010, America’s HBCUs, for over 150 years, have produced many of the Nation’s leaders in science, business, government, academia, and the military, and have provided generations of American men and women with hope and educational opportunity.

The full list of participating consortium members are:

Norfolk State University (lead)

Clark Atlanta University
Paine College

Bowie State University

North Carolina
North Carolina A&T State University

South Carolina
Allen University
Benedict College
Claflin University
Denmark Technical College
Morris College
South Carolina State University
Voorhees College
Charleston County School District

US Virgin Islands
University of the Virgin Islands

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

New Mexico
Sandia National Laboratories

Howard Morgan freed Wednesday but…”Ten-year struggle” still a legal nightmare

Posted by Admin On January - 16 - 2015 Comments Off on Howard Morgan freed Wednesday but…”Ten-year struggle” still a legal nightmare

By Chinta Strausberg

After fighting for three-years to free her husband from prison, Rosalind Morgan, the wife of former Chicago police officer Howard Morgan who was shot 28 times by four white cops, Wednesday confirmed her husband is finally home.

Saying “this has been a ten-year struggle,” Mrs. Morgan told this reporter her husband’s release poses even more legal challenges because she said the Illinois Prison Review Board “went back to Gov. Quinn and asked that a stipulation be placed on his commutation—a three-year parole period.”

Mr. Morgan’s release comes at a time when state law enforcement officials and some police are furious at former Gov. Quinn for commuting the 40-year sentence of Mr. Morgan who at the time of the incident was a railroad detective.

When told many activists are fearful that police will try to frame him once again, Mrs. Morgan said, “God saved him from 28 bullets. They can’t touch him,” she told this reporter.  However, supporters of the Morgan’s have asked the Nation of Islam (NOI) to provide security to Mr. Morgan.

Admittedly overwhelmed by the problems the commutation of her husband’s sentence has brought, Mrs. Morgan referred to his second trial.

“Judge Clayton Crane did not allow those jurors to know anything about the first acquittal. They never brought his vest into court. He was acquitted of the shooting. He should never have been retried,” she said. Mrs. Morgan said her husband was not tried by a jury of his peers explaining in the second trial there were 10 whites, 1 Hispanic and 1 black.

“I want people to understand that this is not a pardon and that there is still a struggle for a pardon and expungement,” Mrs. Morgan said.

Interviewed while she was on her way to Dixon, Illinois to pick up her husband and after he arrived home, Mrs. Morgan said her husband’s health is declining but that “he is protected by God. “

Mr. Morgan, a former 21-year Chicago police veteran who at the time of the incident was a detective for a railroad, was driving down the wrong way on February 21, 2005 when he was stopped by four white Chicago police. One of them, a rookie cop, reportedly saw his holster and shouted, “gun” triggering the firing of a barrage of bullets at Morgan who was hit 28 times.

In 2007, Morgan was found not guilty of battery and of not discharging a gun as the states attorney’s office had claimed, but the jury had no verdict on the attempted murder charges resulting in a second trial and his conviction in January of 2012. With a battery of uniform police in the courtroom, Judge Clayton Crane sentenced Morgan to 40-years in prison even though an eyewitness said she did not see Morgan with a gun.

On Gov. Quinn’s last day in office, he commuted the sentence of Morgan. Several activists wondered why didn’t he simply pardon him. Quinn also commuted the sentences of two other prisoners, Tyrone Hood, 51 and Anthony Dansberry, 51, both convicted of murder.

While glad her husband is free, Mrs. Morgan said putting a three-year parole sentence on her husband’s commutation is “totally ridiculous. We will fight to change that.”

But State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez is also upset that is with former Gov. Quinn for commuting the “prison sentences of convicted criminals without any explanation or justification as to why these defendants were selected to have their sentences commuted,” she said in a press statement.

Sally Daly, a spokesperson for Alvarez, said there is a process which would allow prosecutors “to be provided sufficient notice, given the opportunity to object in the interests of public safety and allowed to provide facts and argument to members of the Prisoner Review Board so they may make educated recommendations to the Governor before he takes action on such significant requests.

“Most importantly, that process also provides victims and family members of victims of crime an opportunity to have their voices heard. Sadly, that process was circumvented by Quinn,” the statement said.

Chinta Strausberg is a Journalist of more than 33-years, a former political reporter and a current PCC Network talk show host. You can e-mail Strausberg at: Chintabernie@aol.com.

Northwestern Law to Present Collaboraction’s Crime Scene Chicago 2015: Let Hope Rise for Free on Jan. 21 as Part of Martin Luther King D.R.E.A.M. Week

Posted by Admin On January - 16 - 2015 Comments Off on Northwestern Law to Present Collaboraction’s Crime Scene Chicago 2015: Let Hope Rise for Free on Jan. 21 as Part of Martin Luther King D.R.E.A.M. Week

CHICAGO, IL – Collaboraction has updated its acclaimed theatrical docudrama, Crime Scene Chicago 2015: Let Hope Rise, a reaction to Chicago’s history of violent crime and a call to discover what it might take to create lasting change, and will perform it for free on Wednesday, January 21, as part of Northwestern University School of Law’s D.R.E.A.M. Week (Day to Recognize the Efforts and Achievements of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.)

The one-night-only performance will be held at Northwestern Law’s Thorne Auditorium, 375 East Chicago Avenue, Chicago, Illinois. The evening starts at 6 p.m. with a pre-show reception followed by Crime Scene at 7 p.m., and a Town Hall Discussion immediately following the 60 minute performance. Tickets are free and can be reserved by emailing boxoffice@collaboraction.org or calling (312) 226-9633. Crime Scene is recommended for ages 14 and up due to violence and mature content.

For this 2015 update, show creator and Collaboraction Artistic Director Anthony Moseley has remixed Crime Scene to include up-to-the-minute stories of Chicago violence, coupled with nonfiction source material such as interviews, articles, social media threads and online comments to raise critical questions surrounding segregation, poverty, the news media and popular culture.

The D.R.E.A.M. Committee is an organization of Northwestern University administrators and students that coordinates lectures and programs to inform faculty, staff and students on the Chicago campus about the teachings and contributions of Dr. King. This special event is partially supported by sponsorships from Northwestern Law law firm sponsors Perkins Coie, LLP, Chapman and Cutler, LLP, and Collaboraction sponsor AV Chicago.

Watch the original trailer for Crime Scene: a Chicago Anthology

Watch the original trailer for Crime Scene: a Chicago Anthology

More about Crime Scene

The world premiere of Crime Scene was universally lauded by the press when it debuted in 2013, drawing considerable attention and playing to sold-out houses at Collaboraction’s Wicker Park home.

The production returned as part of the Chicago Park District’s Night Out in the Parks program in 2013 and 2014 and toured to targeted neighborhoods including Englewood, Austin, Rogers Park and Bronzeville.

Press response included:

“Crime Scene, far and away the best Collaboraction show I’ve seen these past 14 years, is indeed a call for collaborative action. The ensemble piece probes the current epidemic of violent crime in this city, (and) offers a veritable plethora of problems, contexts and solutions.” – Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune

“Neither politicians, nor the police, nor community activists, nor parents seem capable of stopping the insanity. And it’s a good bet no theater company will be able to turn the tide either. Yet there is something about Crime Scene that is so direct, visceral, youthful and winningly honest (meaning not at all predictably politically correct), that you might at least find yourself listening again – willing to get beyond the overload of disgust, impotence and sense of futility.”

– Hedy Weiss, Chicago Sun-Times

“A gripping tale of the Chicago condition that gets to the heart of our suffering” – Mark Konkol, DNAinfo.com

Moseley added, “With the national attention focused on the effects of racism and segregation at all levels, we are excited to continue to use our brand of provocative, non-fiction theatre to explore and cultivate discussion and action towards increasing peace and equality in Chicago and thereby decreasing violence.”

Collaboraction’s Crime Scene ensemble includes Scott Baity Jr., Celeste Cooper, Luis Crespo, Brian Keys, Annie Pritchard and Nat Swift. The design team includes Anthony Moseley (Writer and Director), Adam Sediel (Co-Writer), Liviu Pasare (Video Design), Jeremy Getz (Co-Lighting Design), Heather Sparling (Co-Lighting Design), Elsa Hiltner (Costume Design) and Alexander St. John (Sound Design).

Anthony Moseley, Creator,

Crime Scene Founding Executive and Artistic Director, Collaboraction

In addition to creating Crime Scene, Anthony Moseley has produced over 50 productions, 13 SKETCHBOOK Festivals and over 250 events since Collaboraction was founded in 1999. Most recently he co-curated Collaboraction’s 14th SKETCHBOOK Festival, and starred and co-directed Collaboraction’s world premiere This is Not a Cure for Cancer, an immersive live theater experience that used the same docudrama style conceived via Crime Scene to attack cancer, its treatment and the way we live.

Moseley’s other directing credits also include Collaboraction’s world premieres of El Grito Del Bronx (a co-production with Teatro Vista in association with the Goodman Theatre), The Pull Toy (and His Pasian), and Heroes and Villains; Chicago premieres of dark play or stories for boys by Carlos Murrillo, Be a Good Little Widow by Bekah Brunstetter, Refuge (2000 Jeff Citation nomination for Best Direction), The Cosmonaut’s Last Message to the Woman He Once Loved in the Former Soviet Union, Trueblinka and Guinea Pig Solo; as well as Mud, To Kill a Mockingbird, and numerous world premiere short plays for SKETCHBOOK.

More about Collaboraction

Collaboraction (collaboraction.org) collaborates with artists, community leaders, health professionals and citizens from throughout the city to create original theatrical experiences that push artistic boundaries and explore critical social issues with a diverse community of Chicagoans.

The overwhelming response to its 2013 world premiere Crime Scene: A Chicago Anthology was the first step in Artistic Director Anthony Moseley’s new vision for Collaboraction to be used as an artistic tool to explore critical social issues in an effort to create dialogue and incite change.

Following Crime Scene, Collaboraction employed the same provocative, docudrama style to attack cancer, its treatment and the way we live with the world premiere of This is Not a Cure for Cancer, and examined the state of public education in Chicago and the U.S. with the debut of Forgotten Future: The Education Project.

Collaboraction continues its 2014-15 season with a remount of Forgotten Future, back by popular demand February 12-March 8 at the company’s home in Chicago’s Flat Iron Arts Building, 1579 N. Milwaukee Avenue in Wicker Park.

Soon after, Collaboraction will premiere Family of War, a new immersive theatre piece exploring the costs of war shouldered by American veterans and the ongoing impact on their families. Performances are May 21 – June 21, 2015.

For tickets and information, visit collaboraction.org or call (312) 226-9633.

Celebrate Dr. King’s Legacy with Service

Posted by Admin On January - 16 - 2015 Comments Off on Celebrate Dr. King’s Legacy with Service

By Marc Morial

President, National Urban League

With a central part of his legacy – the Voting Rights Act – currently in the forefront of American dialogue via the release and success of the Ava DuVernay-directed Selma, millions of Americans have been fittingly reacquainted with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. – the man, his mission and his message.

As we mark what would have been his 86th birthday today and prepare to celebrate the 30th national observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday, I wanted to also focus on the meaning of the King holiday.

In the timeless words of Coretta Scott King:

“The Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday celebrates the life and legacy of a man who brought hope and healing to America…

We commemorate Dr. King’s inspiring words, because his voice and his vision filled a great void in our nation, and answered our collective longing to become a country that truly lived by its noblest principles. Yet, Dr. King knew that it wasn’t enough just to talk the talk, that he had to walk the walk for his words to be credible. And so we commemorate on this holiday the man of action, who put his life on the line for freedom and justice every day, the man who braved threats and jail and beatings and who ultimately paid the highest price to make democracy a reality for all Americans.

On this day we commemorate Dr. King’s great dream of a vibrant, multiracial nation united in justice, peace and reconciliation; a nation that has a place at the table for children of every race and room at the inn for every needy child. We are called on this holiday, not merely to honor, but to celebrate the values of equality, tolerance and interracial sister and brotherhood he so compellingly expressed in his great dream for America.

It is a day of interracial and intercultural cooperation and sharing. No other day of the year brings so many peoples from different cultural backgrounds together in such a vibrant spirit of brother and sisterhood. Whether you are African-American, Hispanic or Native American, whether you are Caucasian or Asian-American, you are part of the great dream Martin Luther King, Jr. had for America. This is not a black holiday; it is a peoples’ holiday. And it is the young people of all races and religions who hold the keys to the fulfillment of his dream…

The King Holiday celebrates Dr. King’s global vision of the world house, a world whose people and nations had triumphed over poverty, racism, war and violence. The holiday celebrates his vision of ecumenical solidarity, his insistence that all faiths had something meaningful to contribute to building the beloved community…

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is not only for celebration and remembrance, education and tribute, but above all a day of service. All across America on the Holiday, his followers perform service in hospitals and shelters and prisons and wherever people need some help. It is a day of volunteering to feed the hungry, rehabilitate housing, tutoring those who can’t read, mentoring at-risk youngsters, consoling the broken-hearted and a thousand other projects for building the beloved community of his dream.

…And when Martin talked about the end of his mortal life in one of his last sermons, on February 4, 1968 in the pulpit of Ebenezer Baptist Church, even then he lifted up the value of service as the hallmark of a full life. ‘I’d like somebody to mention on that day Martin Luther King, Jr. tried to give his life serving others,’ he said. ‘I want you to say on that day, that I did try in my life…to love and serve humanity…’

May we who follow Martin now pledge to serve humanity, promote his teachings and carry forward his legacy into the 21st Century.”

Read more at http://www.thekingcenter.org/meaning-king-holiday

Pullman Rail Journey Auctioning 1st Class Train Trips to New Orleans to Support Museum

Posted by Admin On January - 16 - 2015 Comments Off on Pullman Rail Journey Auctioning 1st Class Train Trips to New Orleans to Support Museum

Enjoy a First-Class Train Trip to New Orleans While Supporting A Philip Randolph Pullman Porter Museum

Trip Valued at Nearly $4,000 Will Go to Auction Winners

As a generous show of support of the mission of the A Philip Randolph Pullman Porter Museum, the Pullman Rail Journey company is offering a four-day-weekend trip for two to New Orleans.  The first-class adventure to the Crescent City, which is valued at nearly $4,000, is one of the popular items that will be up for auction at the Museum’s gala on February 28 at the Parkway Ballroom from 5:30 to 9PM. The Pullman Rail Journey will put 11 such trips up for auction but you must attend the gala to have the opportunity to bid and ultimately enjoy this trip. For ticket information, log on to: www.aprpullmanportermuseum.org/special-events.html

Proceeds will go to the Museum to continue its mission as the only Museum worldwide exclusively devoted to showcasing the history, struggles and ultimate triumphs of the Pullman Porters and A. Philip Randolph.

The trip includes one double bedroom sleeping accommodations, with a shower. A personal attendant will be available to make sure every winner takes advantage of every offering available.

Once the Porter yells “All Aboard!” those who successfully bid on this train adventure will board the City of New Orleans in Downtown Chicago on Thursday evening. In the spirit of the Pullman Porters that are memorialized by the Museum, auction winners will bask in the classic Pullman car where they will be catered to by a porter who will attend to their every need.

The itinerary features a picturesque and relaxing vacation with the best of the old- fashioned train tradition and modern conveniences like electrical outlets and wifi for those who wish to log on to the Internet.

Unlike other modes of travel where passengers are restricted in their movement, those who win the trips will have the opportunity to mingle with train mates in the ambiance of the dining area. There they will enjoy a delicious breakfast, lunch and dinner served by a skillful and caring wait staff. The train personnel are renowned for their commitment to providing extras to enhance and maximize comfort.  Because of their reputation, customer service will be paramount. Other plusses of the trip include opportunities to grab a quick snack at the car where passengers can fulfill their craving for anytime munchies.  They can also retire to their Pullman suite to relax and watch the countryside from the view of their bedroom.

The lucky winners will have a rare opportunity to understand why train travel was a popular mode of travel and why it is enjoying a revival. Ultimately, those who win the trip will discover that getting to the destination is as much fun as arriving.

Once in New Orleans on Friday, travelers can enjoy the jazz clubs, the cuisine and the unique environment of sites like Bourbon Street, the street cars, New Orleans gumbo, the Garden District and the historic sites. The trip does not include hotels in New  Orleans but consultants at Pullman Rail can arrange to book a hotel that will enhance the adventure.

After spending an exciting weekend in New Orleans, winners will board the train for the return trip on Sunday afternoon and return to Chicago on Monday.

Dr. Lyn Hughes, founder of the Museum expressed appreciation for the generosity of the Pullman Rail Journey for offering the trips for the silent auction at the gala.

Said Hughes, “Those who win this auction will not only enjoy the trip of a lifetime but will also know that their tax deductible contribution will go toward the Museum’s mission to keep alive the history of the black union movement and the legacy of A. Philip Randolph. That is the ultimate win/win!”

For more information, contact: Melody M. McDowell at 312-371-8917

Photo: Dr. Lyn Hughes

Tax Season Scams To Avoid: Recommendations From The Better Business Bureau

Posted by Admin On January - 16 - 2015 Comments Off on Tax Season Scams To Avoid: Recommendations From The Better Business Bureau

CHICAGO, IL -  As the saying goes nothing is certain except death and taxes. However, history shows us another certainty is fraud and scams and specifically, tax related frauds and scams. Tax season is quickly approaching and the Better Business Bureau (BBB) is encouraging consumers to be extra-vigilant to avoid becoming victims of predatory or fraudulent tax-related offers and scams.

Tax scams come in many varieties:

  • Tax-related ID Theft – The Federal Trade Commission reports that since 2009 tax or wage-related fraud has been the fastest-growing way that identity thieves misuse victim’s information. In 2011, the most recent figures show more than 34,000 cases of tax identity theft were reported. While there are no fool-proof methods to protect your identity consumers should:
    • Never carry your Social Security card with you.
    • Never give businesses your Social Security Number just because they ask for it. Have them explain the need.
    • Protect your personal computer with fire-walls and anti-virus software.
    • Never give your personal information to anyone over the phone, mail or the Internet.
  • Tax relief scams – Consumers who owe back-taxes, sometimes out of desperation, readily fall victim to claims from scammers that they can free taxpayers from having to pay the IRS. They claim to be able to settle the debt for pennies on the dollar. These shady businesses and individuals charge exorbitant up-front fees ranging from $3,000 to $25,000. Consumers who are having trouble paying their taxes should:
  • Tax preparer fraud – Taxpayers who use professional tax preparers must do their research to avoid dealing with fly-by-night-preparation outfits that appear quickly, hang a shingle, charge outrageous fees and then disappear. What to watch for:
    • Tax preparers who claim they can get larger returns than other preparers.
    • Those who base their fees on a percentage of the amount of the refund.
    • Preparers who ask their clients to sign blank tax forms
    • Anyone who refuses to provide a preparer tax identification number
    • Any preparer who refuses to provide a copy of the completed tax return

“Tax season rip-offs are increasingly more common,” says Steve J. Bernas, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois. “Tax payers often get in a rush to complete their tax returns either because they expect a hefty refund or they simply want to get it out of the way.”

In either case Bernas noted, “For their own protection they need to be very aware of who they are dealing with and what is being done on their behalf – to avoid losing money unnecessarily – and because ultimately they bear full responsibility for the tax return they submit.”

January 26th – 30th is Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week. During that week, consumers who need more information on what to do about these scams can contact their state and or federal offices for additional help.

For more information, visit www.bbb.org, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

Florida Black Rep Appointed to House Veterans Affairs Committee

Posted by Admin On January - 16 - 2015 Comments Off on Florida Black Rep Appointed to House Veterans Affairs Committee

Why We Should Be Excited About the Appointment of Rep. Corrine Brown (D-FL) as the New Ranking Member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee

By Ron E. Armstead

Nationwide (BlackNews.com) Democrats final approval of Rep. Corrine Brown of Florida as Ranking Member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee confirms the age old principle of seniority for Democratic leadership positions; where she has steadfastly served for more than twenty-years, knows the issues, and is committed to the work, including her 5th Congressional district (formerly the 3rd) which has a high number of veterans and family members as constituents.

As a result, Rep. Brown the senior member on the committee that has oversight and investigative authority for the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) shouldn’t warrant a wait-and-see attitude, or approach by opponents of the Democratic party and the White House as they go about the task of implementing the new VA reform law.

Rep. Brown the most senior Democrat on the committees’ strong support for both Congressionally chartered and non-chartered veterans groups, or veterans stakeholders such as the Montford Point Marines (Congressional Gold Medal, 2007), Tuskegee Airmen (Congressional Gold Medal, 2005), and the Veterans Braintrust (Congressional Black Caucus Foundation), etc. or more specifically those who have earned their rights and benefits on the battlefield, only to return home and have to fight for their own equal rights (i.e. Civil Rights, Voting Rights, Fair Housing and Equal Employment Opportunity) and still don’t have a voice in Congress and the Administration; and organizational recognition by the entire Congressional Black Caucus, would suggest she is a fierce fighter for ‘equity and justice for all.’

Thus, this historic moment that has propelled Rep. Brown to become the first woman since the 60’s, and the first African American woman in the committees history really offers an alternative to the long standing and existing status-quo (white and male) of the committee’s members and will hopefully be a game-changer for the whole Committee hearing dynamic, as well as testimonies way beyond the Department of Veterans Affairs, in terms of gender inclusiveness and racial diversity.

Dan Caldwell, CEO of Concerned Veterans for America, the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, and others who strongly opposed Rep. Brown makes me wonder how committed they are to veterans issues of fairness, equality, inclusion and diversity (or culture) given the current demographics of the modern-day military on the one hand, and on the other hand, issues of racism, discrimination and bias which frequently effect the VA’s – utilization rates, effective treatment, mental health diagnosis, disability awards and senior management positions – which somehow didn’t quite make it onto the national radar screen earlier this year. As the veterans affairs scandal chose to focus solely on issues of access, or long wait-care lists – with no mention of race, gender, quality of care, the VA service delivery system, or diversity of VA senior management – not specifically-related to deaths but definitively noted over decades of disenfranchisement starting as far back as the Tuskegee VA Hospital in 1923.

Further, the fact that the Democratic Party has passed the largest VA budget, and the biggest GI Bill increase in history, and tried to insure veterans against a Republican government shutdown by providing advanced appropriations for health care programs. Says, volumes about preparation, prevention, planning and action regarding veterans services and benefits in the future; and now appointing Rep. Corrine Brown shows the House Democratic leadership is more serious than ever about veterans, as well as seniority, fairness and particularly diversity while reforming, or fixing the VA for the 21st century.” For example: “If the Minority Veterans 2011 Report prepared by the National Center for Veterans Analysis and Statistics which came out on May 2, 2013, is any indication of future trends, or veterans population projections they couldn’t have put a stronger member in a leadership position on that committee, because heretofore addressing women, Blacks, or ethnic minority veterans estimated to become 30% of the entire veterans population by 2040 hasn’t been a priority.”

Lastly, Congresswoman Brown says, “I pledge to work in a bi-partisan manner, but will always provide a strong voice and stand-up for Democratic core values that protect the most vulnerable,” which is certainly refreshing for a die-hard Democrat, who is also a Vietnam theater veteran. Hoorah!

Ron E. Armstead serves as Executive Director for the Congressional Black Caucus Veterans Braintrust, and is a past consultant to the late Secretary Jesse Brown’s Veterans Administration’s Advisory Committee on Minority Veterans. To reach him, send an email to ronearmstead@gmail.com, visit the web site at http://vetransbraintrustonline.snappages.com, or like the organization on Facebook.

Photo: Rep. Corrine Brown of Florida

Fioretti to Release Economic Platform Today at a Press Conference in the Area Where Dr. King Lived When he Came to Chicago

Posted by Admin On January - 16 - 2015 Comments Off on Fioretti to Release Economic Platform Today at a Press Conference in the Area Where Dr. King Lived When he Came to Chicago

Mayoral candidate Bob Fioretti and Dr. Amara Enyia

On Friday, Bob Fioretti will hold a press conference in the Lawndale community both in honor of the neighborhood where Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. lived when he came to Chicago, and also to roll out an economic agenda premised on many of the principles of equity espoused by Dr. King.

The press conference will be held today, Friday, January 16 at 3414 West Roosevelt, at 11:00 a.m.

Speakers will include former mayoral candidate Dr. Amara Enyia, President of the Black Construction Alliance of Chicago Willie Thompson, and housing advocate Mark Carter.

“Chicago is at an important crossroads,” said Fioretti. “We have an opportunity to create a thriving economy that benefits all Chicagoans, but it requires us to establish clear priorities about where we invest our resources. We want to demonstrate that this agenda is about the residents in our communities who deserve to have their voice heard in city government.”

*A copy of the policy will be available on Fioretti’s website, www.BobFioretti.com at 9:30am.

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Welcome to CopyLine Magazine! The first issue of CopyLine Magazine was published in November, 1990, by Editor & Publisher Juanita Bratcher. CopyLine’s main focus is on the political arena – to inform our readers and analyze many of the pressing issues of the day - controversial or otherwise. Our objectives are clear – to keep you abreast of political happenings and maneuvering in the political arena, by reporting and providing provocative commentaries on various issues. For more about CopyLine Magazine, CopyLine Blog, and CopyLine Television/Video, please visit juanitabratcher.com, copylinemagazine.com, and oneononetelevision.com. Bratcher has been a News/Reporter, Author, Publisher, and Journalist for 33 years. She is the author of six books, including “Harold: The Making of a Big City Mayor” (Harold Washington), Chicago’s first African-American mayor; and “Beyond the Boardroom: Empowering a New Generation of Leaders,” about John Herman Stroger, Jr., the first African-American elected President of the Cook County Board. Bratcher is also a Poet/Songwriter, with 17 records – produced by HillTop Records of Hollywood, California. Juanita Bratcher Publisher

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