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Archive for March 9th, 2015

Attorney General Madigan Urges U.S. Supreme Court to Overturn Bans on Same-Sex Marriage

Posted by Admin On March - 9 - 2015 Comments Off on Attorney General Madigan Urges U.S. Supreme Court to Overturn Bans on Same-Sex Marriage

Amicus Brief Argues Laws Barring Same-Sex Couples from Marrying are Unconstitutional

CHICAGO, IL – Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan joined a coalition of states in filing an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court arguing that the Constitution requires marriage equality nationwide. The brief was filed in conjunction with challenges to the state laws in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee that ban marriages between same-sex couples and refuse to recognize same-sex marriages lawfully licensed by other states.

“Marriage equality is not only about ensuring everyone has the same rights and privileges by law. It is about upholding the principles this country was founded on, that all individuals are equal,” Attorney General Madigan said. “This fight will not end until every couple in the United States, regardless of where they reside, has the right to marry.”

The states’ brief argues that the continued refusal by some states to license or recognize marriages between gay and lesbian couples inflicts widespread harm on these couples and their families. Major life decisions made by married same-sex couples, including decisions about education, employment and residency, are affected by the non-recognition of their marriages. The brief details examples of the harms same-sex couples encounter in states that do not recognize their marriage, including the refusal to amend a child’s birth certificate to include both spouses, employers’ denial of healthcare coverage for spouses, or being barred from making medical decisions or visiting a spouse in the hospital.

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey led the filing of the amicus, which was joined by Madigan and Attorneys General from California, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington. Attorneys General from Hawaii, Minnesota and Virginia each filed separate briefs in support of same-sex marriage.

These briefs were submitted in the cases of Obergefell v. Hodges, Tanco v. Haslam, DeBoer v. Snyder, and Bourke v. Beshear, all on appeal from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. The U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral argument in the cases on April 28, 2015.

This is the third amicus brief supporting same-sex marriage Attorney General Madigan has filed in the U.S. Supreme Court. Previously, Madigan filed amicus briefs in the cases that sought to overturn state bans on same-sex marriage and the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

Madigan long has fought for equal rights for the LGTB community. She has publicly supported marriage equality since her term in the Illinois State Senate, and as Attorney General, she has advocated for expanding legal rights at the state and federal levels. She was a strong supporter of a change to Illinois’ Human Rights Act in 2005 to prohibit discrimination in the workplace based on sexual orientation and gender identity. And she has long advocated that the same protections be provided at the federal level. In 2009, she testified before the U. S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee urging lawmakers to follow Illinois’ lead and pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act to extend anti-discrimination workplace protections to the millions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans across the country. Also on the federal level, she lobbied in support of the passage of the Matthew Shepard & James Byrd Jr., Hate Crimes Prevention Act to expand federal hate crime law to include crimes motivated by a victim’s sexual orientation, gender and gender identity.

In Illinois, Attorney General Madigan became the first state constitutional officer to provide health benefits to same-sex partners. The Attorney General also lobbied heavily for passage of state legislation recognizing civil unions and later to legalize same-sex marriage. She also intervened in the Cook County Circuit Court in support of same-sex couples suing for the right to marry. Madigan has also partnered with the U.S. Department of Justice to convene summits around Illinois to discuss emerging legal strategies and law enforcement techniques aimed at improving investigations and the prosecution of crimes motivated by hatred and bias.

President Obama’s Remarks at the 50th Anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery Marches

Posted by Admin On March - 9 - 2015 Comments Off on President Obama’s Remarks at the 50th Anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery Marches

Edmund Pettus Bridge

Selma, Alabama

Audience Member: We love you, President Obama!

President Barack Obama: Well, you know I love you back.

It is a rare honor in this life to follow one of your heroes.  And John Lewis is one of my heroes.

Now, I have to imagine that when a younger John Lewis woke up that morning 50 years ago and made his way to Brown Chapel, heroics were not on his mind.  A day like this was not on his mind.  Young folks with bedrolls and backpacks were milling about.  Veterans of the movement trained newcomers in the tactics of non-violence; the right way to protect yourself when attacked.  A doctor described what tear gas does to the body, while marchers scribbled down instructions for contacting their loved ones.  The air was thick with doubt, anticipation and fear.  And they comforted themselves with the final verse of the final hymn they sung:

“No matter what may be the test, God will take care of you;
Lean, weary one, upon His breast, God will take care of you.”

And then, his knapsack stocked with an apple, a toothbrush, and a book on government — all you need for a night behind bars — John Lewis led them out of the church on a mission to change America.

President and Mrs. Bush, Governor Bentley, Mayor Evans, Sewell, Reverend Strong, members of Congress, elected officials, foot soldiers, friends, fellow Americans:

As John noted, there are places and moments in America where this nation’s destiny has been decided.  Many are sites of war — Concord and Lexington, Appomattox, Gettysburg.  Others are sites that symbolize the daring of America’s character — Independence Hall and Seneca Falls, Kitty Hawk and Cape Canaveral.

Selma is such a place.  In one afternoon 50 years ago, so much of our turbulent history — the stain of slavery and anguish of civil war; the yoke of segregation and tyranny of Jim Crow; the death of four little girls in Birmingham; and the dream of a Baptist preacher — all that history met on this bridge.

It was not a clash of armies, but a clash of wills; a contest to determine the true meaning of America.  And because of men and women like John Lewis, Joseph Lowery, Hosea Williams, Amelia Boynton, Diane Nash, Ralph Abernathy, C.T. Vivian, Andrew Young, Fred Shuttlesworth, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and so many others, the idea of a just America and a fair America, an inclusive America, and a generous America — that idea ultimately triumphed.

As is true across the landscape of American history, we cannot examine this moment in isolation.  The march on Selma was part of a broader campaign that spanned generations; the leaders that day part of a long line of heroes.

We gather here to celebrate them.  We gather here to honor the courage of ordinary Americans willing to endure billy clubs and the chastening rod; tear gas and the trampling hoof; men and women who despite the gush of blood and splintered bone would stay true to their North Star and keep marching towards justice.

They did as Scripture instructed:  “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”  And in the days to come, they went back again and again.  When the trumpet call sounded for more to join, the people came –- black and white, young and old, Christian and Jew, waving the American flag and singing the same anthems full of faith and hope.  A white newsman, Bill Plante, who covered the marches then and who is with us here today, quipped that the growing number of white people lowered the quality of the singing.  To those who marched, though, those old gospel songs must have never sounded so sweet.

In time, their chorus would well up and reach President Johnson.  And he would send them protection, and speak to the nation, echoing their call for America and the world to hear:  “We shall overcome.”  What enormous faith these men and women had.  Faith in God, but also faith in America.

The Americans who crossed this bridge, they were not physically imposing.  But they gave courage to millions.  They held no elected office.  But they led a nation.  They marched as Americans who had endured hundreds of years of brutal violence, countless daily indignities –- but they didn’t seek special treatment, just the equal treatment promised to them almost a century before.

What they did here will reverberate through the ages.  Not because the change they won was preordained; not because their victory was complete; but because they proved that nonviolent change is possible, that love and hope can conquer hate.

As we commemorate their achievement, we are well-served to remember that at the time of the marches, many in power condemned rather than praised them.  Back then, they were called Communists, or half-breeds, or outside agitators, sexual and moral degenerates, and worse –- they were called everything but the name their parents gave them.  Their faith was questioned.  Their lives were threatened.  Their patriotism challenged.

And yet, what could be more American than what happened in this place? What could more profoundly vindicate the idea of America than plain and humble people –- unsung, the downtrodden, the dreamers not of high station, not born to wealth or privilege, not of one religious tradition but many, coming together to shape their country’s course?

What greater expression of faith in the American experiment than this, what greater form of patriotism is there than the belief that America is not yet finished, that we are strong enough to be self-critical, that each successive generation can look upon our imperfections and decide that it is in our power to remake this nation to more closely align with our highest ideals?

That’s why Selma is not some outlier in the American experience.  That’s why it’s not a museum or a static monument to behold from a distance.  It is instead the manifestation of a creed written into our founding documents:  “We the People…in order to form a more perfect union.”  “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

These are not just words.  They’re a living thing, a call to action, a roadmap for citizenship and an insistence in the capacity of free men and women to shape our own destiny.  For founders like Franklin and Jefferson, for leaders like Lincoln and FDR, the success of our experiment in self-government rested on engaging all of our citizens in this work.  And that’s what we celebrate here in Selma.  That’s what this movement was all about, one leg in our long journey toward freedom.

The American instinct that led these young men and women to pick up the torch and cross this bridge, that’s the same instinct that moved patriots to choose revolution over tyranny.  It’s the same instinct that drew immigrants from across oceans and the Rio Grande; the same instinct that led women to reach for the ballot, workers to organize against an unjust status quo; the same instinct that led us to plant a flag at Iwo Jima and on the surface of the Moon.

It’s the idea held by generations of citizens who believed that America is a constant work in progress; who believed that loving this country requires more than singing its praises or avoiding uncomfortable truths.  It requires the occasional disruption, the willingness to speak out for what is right, to shake up the status quo.  That’s America.

That’s what makes us unique.  That’s what cements our reputation as a beacon of opportunity.  Young people behind the Iron Curtain would see Selma and eventually tear down that wall.  Young people in Soweto would hear Bobby Kennedy talk about ripples of hope and eventually banish the scourge of apartheid.  Young people in Burma went to prison rather than submit to military rule.  They saw what John Lewis had done.  From the streets of Tunis to the Maidan in Ukraine, this generation of young people can draw strength from this place, where the powerless could change the world’s greatest power and push their leaders to expand the boundaries of freedom.

They saw that idea made real right here in Selma, Alabama.  They saw that idea manifest itself here in America.

Because of campaigns like this, a Voting Rights Act was passed.  Political and economic and social barriers came down.  And the change these men and women wrought is visible here today in the presence of African Americans who run boardrooms, who sit on the bench, who serve in elected office from small towns to big cities; from the Congressional Black Caucus all the way to the Oval Office.

Because of what they did, the doors of opportunity swung open not just for black folks, but for every American.  Women marched through those doors.  Latinos marched through those doors.  Asian Americans, gay Americans, Americans with disabilities — they all came through those doors. Their endeavors gave the entire South the chance to rise again, not by reasserting the past, but by transcending the past.

What a glorious thing, Dr. King might say.  And what a solemn debt we owe.  Which leads us to ask, just how might we repay that debt?

First and foremost, we have to recognize that one day’s commemoration, no matter how special, is not enough.  If Selma taught us anything, it’s that our work is never done.  The American experiment in self-government gives work and purpose to each generation.

Selma teaches us, as well, that action requires that we shed our cynicism.  For when it comes to the pursuit of justice, we can afford neither complacency nor despair.

Just this week, I was asked whether I thought the Department of Justice’s Ferguson report shows that, with respect to race, little has changed in this country.  And I understood the question; the report’s narrative was sadly familiar.  It evoked the kind of abuse and disregard for citizens that spawned the Civil Rights Movement.  But I rejected the notion that nothing’s changed.  What happened in Ferguson may not be unique, but it’s no longer endemic.  It’s no longer sanctioned by law or by custom.  And before the Civil Rights Movement, it most surely was.

We do a disservice to the cause of justice by intimating that bias and discrimination are immutable, that racial division is inherent to America.  If you think nothing’s changed in the past 50 years, ask somebody who lived through the Selma or Chicago or Los Angeles of the 1950s.  Ask the female CEO who once might have been assigned to the secretarial pool if nothing’s changed.  Ask your gay friend if it’s easier to be out and proud in America now than it was thirty years ago.  To deny this progress, this hard-won progress -– our progress –- would be to rob us of our own agency, our own capacity, our responsibility to do what we can to make America better.

Of course, a more common mistake is to suggest that Ferguson is an isolated incident; that racism is banished; that the work that drew men and women to Selma is now complete, and that whatever racial tensions remain are a consequence of those seeking to play the “race card” for their own purposes.  We don’t need the Ferguson report to know that’s not true.  We just need to open our eyes, and our ears, and our hearts to know that this nation’s racial history still casts its long shadow upon us.

We know the march is not yet over.  We know the race is not yet won.  We know that reaching that blessed destination where we are judged, all of us, by the content of our character requires admitting as much, facing up to the truth.  “We are capable of bearing a great burden,” James Baldwin once wrote, “once we discover that the burden is reality and arrive where reality is.”

There’s nothing America can’t handle if we actually look squarely at the problem.  And this is work for all Americans, not just some.  Not just whites.  Not just blacks.  If we want to honor the courage of those who marched that day, then all of us are called to possess their moral imagination.  All of us will need to feel as they did the fierce urgency of now.  All of us need to recognize as they did that change depends on our actions, on our attitudes, the things we teach our children.  And if we make such an effort, no matter how hard it may sometimes seem, laws can be passed, and consciences can be stirred, and consensus can be built.

With such an effort, we can make sure our criminal justice system serves all and not just some.  Together, we can raise the level of mutual trust that policing is built on –- the idea that police officers are members of the community they risk their lives to protect, and citizens in Ferguson and New York and Cleveland, they just want the same thing young people here marched for 50 years ago -– the protection of the law.  Together, we can address unfair sentencing and overcrowded prisons, and the stunted circumstances that rob too many boys of the chance to become men, and rob the nation of too many men who could be good dads, and good workers, and good neighbors.

With effort, we can roll back poverty and the roadblocks to opportunity.  Americans don’t accept a free ride for anybody, nor do we believe in equality of outcomes.  But we do expect equal opportunity.  And if we really mean it, if we’re not just giving lip service to it, but if we really mean it and are willing to sacrifice for it, then, yes, we can make sure every child gets an education suitable to this new century, one that expands imaginations and lifts sights and gives those children the skills they need.  We can make sure every person willing to work has the dignity of a job, and a fair wage, and a real voice, and sturdier rungs on that ladder into the middle class.

And with effort, we can protect the foundation stone of our democracy for which so many marched across this bridge –- and that is the right to vote. Right now, in 2015, 50 years after Selma, there are laws across this country designed to make it harder for people to vote.  As we speak, more of such laws are being proposed.  Meanwhile, the Voting Rights Act, the culmination of so much blood, so much sweat and tears, the product of so much sacrifice in the face of wanton violence, the Voting Rights Act stands weakened, its future subject to political rancor.

How can that be?  The Voting Rights Act was one of the crowning achievements of our democracy, the result of Republican and Democratic efforts.  President Reagan signed its renewal when he was in office.  President George W. Bush signed its renewal when he was in office.  One hundred members of Congress have come here today to honor people who were willing to die for the right to protect it.  If we want to honor this day, let that hundred go back to Washington and gather four hundred more, and together, pledge to make it their mission to restore that law this year.  That’s how we honor those on this bridge.

Of course, our democracy is not the task of Congress alone, or the courts alone, or even the President alone.  If every new voter-suppression law was struck down today, we would still have, here in America, one of the lowest voting rates among free peoples.  Fifty years ago, registering to vote here in Selma and much of the South meant guessing the number of jellybeans in a jar, the number of bubbles on a bar of soap.  It meant risking your dignity, and sometimes, your life.

What’s our excuse today for not voting?  How do we so casually discard the right for which so many fought? How do we so fully give away our power, our voice, in shaping America’s future?  Why are we pointing to somebody else when we could take the time just to go to the polling places?  We give away our power.

Fellow marchers, so much has changed in 50 years.  We have endured war and we’ve fashioned peace.  We’ve seen technological wonders that touch every aspect of our lives.  We take for granted conveniences that our parents could have scarcely imagined.  But what has not changed is the imperative of citizenship; that willingness of a 26-year-old deacon, or a Unitarian minister, or a young mother of five to decide they loved this country so much that they’d risk everything to realize its promise.

That’s what it means to love America.  That’s what it means to believe in America.  That’s what it means when we say America is exceptional.

For we were born of change.  We broke the old aristocracies, declaring ourselves entitled not by bloodline, but endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights.  We secure our rights and responsibilities through a system of self-government, of and by and for the people.  That’s why we argue and fight with so much passion and conviction — because we know our efforts matter.  We know America is what we make of it.

Look at our history.  We are Lewis and Clark and Sacajawea, pioneers who braved the unfamiliar, followed by a stampede of farmers and miners, and entrepreneurs and hucksters.  That’s our spirit.  That’s who we are.

We are Sojourner Truth and Fannie Lou Hamer, women who could do as much as any man and then some.  And we’re Susan B. Anthony, who shook the system until the law reflected that truth.  That is our character.

We’re the immigrants who stowed away on ships to reach these shores, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free –- Holocaust survivors, Soviet defectors, the Lost Boys of Sudan.  We’re the hopeful strivers who cross the Rio Grande because we want our kids to know a better life.  That’s how we came to be.

We’re the slaves who built the White House and the economy of the South. We’re the ranch hands and cowboys who opened up the West, and countless laborers who laid rail, and raised skyscrapers, and organized for workers’ rights.

We’re the fresh-faced GIs who fought to liberate a continent.  And we’re the Tuskeegee Airmen, and the Navajo code-talkers, and the Japanese Americans who fought for this country even as their own liberty had been denied.

We’re the firefighters who rushed into those buildings on 9/11, the volunteers who signed up to fight in Afghanistan and Iraq.  We’re the gay Americans whose blood ran in the streets of San Francisco and New York, just as blood ran down this bridge.

We are storytellers, writers, poets, artists who abhor unfairness, and despise hypocrisy, and give voice to the voiceless, and tell truths that need to be told.

We’re the inventors of gospel and jazz and blues, bluegrass and country, and hip-hop and rock and roll, and our very own sound with all the sweet sorrow and reckless joy of freedom.

We are Jackie Robinson, enduring scorn and spiked cleats and pitches coming straight to his head, and stealing home in the World Series anyway.

We are the people Langston Hughes wrote of who “build our temples for tomorrow, strong as we know how.”  We are the people Emerson wrote of, “who for truth and honor’s sake stand fast and suffer long;” who are “never tired, so long as we can see far enough.”

That’s what America is.  Not stock photos or airbrushed history, or feeble attempts to define some of us as more American than others.  We respect the past, but we don’t pine for the past.  We don’t fear the future; we grab for it.  America is not some fragile thing.  We are large, in the words of Whitman, containing multitudes.  We are boisterous and diverse and full of energy, perpetually young in spirit.  That’s why someone like John Lewis at the ripe old age of 25 could lead a mighty march.

And that’s what the young people here today and listening all across the country must take away from this day.  You are America.  Unconstrained by habit and convention.  Unencumbered by what is, because you’re ready to seize what ought to be.

For everywhere in this country, there are first steps to be taken, there’s new ground to cover, there are more bridges to be crossed.  And it is you, the young and fearless at heart, the most diverse and educated generation in our history, who the nation is waiting to follow.

Because Selma shows us that America is not the project of any one person.  Because the single-most powerful word in our democracy is the word “We.”  “We The People.”  “We Shall Overcome.”  “Yes We Can.”  That word is owned by no one.  It belongs to everyone.  Oh, what a glorious task we are given, to continually try to improve this great nation of ours.

Fifty years from Bloody Sunday, our march is not yet finished, but we’re getting closer.  Two hundred and thirty-nine years after this nation’s founding our union is not yet perfect, but we are getting closer.  Our job’s easier because somebody already got us through that first mile.  Somebody already got us over that bridge.  When it feels the road is too hard, when the torch we’ve been passed feels too heavy, we will remember these early travelers, and draw strength from their example, and hold firmly the words of the prophet Isaiah:  “Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on [the] wings like eagles.  They will run and not grow weary.  They will walk and not be faint.”

We honor those who walked so we could run.  We must run so our children soar.  And we will not grow weary.  For we believe in the power of an awesome God, and we believe in this country’s sacred promise.

May He bless those warriors of justice no longer with us, and bless the United States of America.  Thank you, everybody.

Source: whitehouse.gov.

DOJ’s Recent Investigation: In Chicago We Are Ferguson Magnified Many Times

Posted by Admin On March - 9 - 2015 Comments Off on DOJ’s Recent Investigation: In Chicago We Are Ferguson Magnified Many Times

From: Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression

Analysis of the Department of Justice’s Investigation of the Ferguson Police Department

What this report does, is give in particular detail, social and statistical data that shows  Ferguson’s Black community existing under a state of siege; it is costing them their lives  and their democratic right to be free of racist-driven police repression.

The report shows a community being looted by police officials and the municipal court  under the guise of traffic tickets and municipal fees. But, after having done this, the DOJ  evades the exercise of the authority it has to stop these unconstitutional violations of civil  and human rights in Ferguson. It is not using its authority and constitutional obligations to  intervene. It basically exempted Darren Wilson from prosecution, based on the same  evidence and factual allegations presented by Ferguson authorities and the St. Louis  County Prosecutor. This is serious. There is no dispute that Michael Brown was unarmed  or that he was shot multiple times and that there was conflicting eye witness testimony, or  that he laid in a pool of his own blood for several hours-yet the DOJ found no probable  cause or reason to take this matter to the Federal Grand Jury. The DOJ presents  compelling evidence showing that Ferguson’s police are quick to use force yet they make  no claim that excessive force was used in Michael Brown’s case.

Here in Chicago we have brought to the attention of the DOJ sixty five cases of police  crimes involving murder and torture. Flint Farmer’s murder was recorded on a police  video camera over three years ago and the FBI is still investigating. There is also plenty  of distrust in our communities regarding the conduct of the DOJ when it comes to police  killing Black people.

How does it come to pass that the police have this tyrannical authority to trample on our  liberties and deny us the right to life?

We have seen this before. We saw it in the South doing the Jim Crow era when Black  people repeatedly appealed to the Federal Government to intervene and stop the  lynching, to stop the state and local police from forcing us to live under a virtual police  state. A police state where we lived under the most horrid economic and social  conditions, while being denied the right to protest and organize to change those  conditions.
We are now in a similar historical bind like we were in the fifties. No level of government  has the will to deal with our plight, as a people so we must organize in our communities  an uprising against these conditions. Organizing that turns victims into freedom fighters.

The report (Investigation of the Ferguson Police Department) is 105 pages long and it is  no more revealing than someone saying a Zebra has stripes; there is nothing in it that  surprises us for we have been telling the DOJ for years that the practices of law  enforcement is driven by racism. Ferguson is not unique. Ferguson is what is going on all  over this country and we are saying to the government, in the words of Eric Garner, THIS  ENDS TODAY!

In Chicago we are Ferguson magnified many times. In the last seven and half years over  120 people have been murdered, 74% were African American, and 14% Latino*. But the  first thing we did right was when we started to fight in 2012 for an elected Civilian Police  Accountability Council (CPAC). We are fighitng for community control of the police, for  real power to hold police accoutable for their crimes.

We the people need to put an end to police crimes and that process starts in earnest  when we get the City Council (here in Chicago) to Pass the Ordinance that will create an  elected Civilian Police Accountability Council (CPAC)!


*Independent Police Review Authority, http://www.iprachicago.org/resources.html (03/08/2014)

Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression
Stop Police Crimes Campaign


February’s Jobs Report is Encouraging News: Ron Busby, Sr., President, U.S. Black Chambers, Inc.

Posted by Admin On March - 9 - 2015 Comments Off on February’s Jobs Report is Encouraging News: Ron Busby, Sr., President, U.S. Black Chambers, Inc.

Busby’s  response to February Jobs Report

February’s jobs report is encouraging news. With 295,000 jobs created last month and the

unemployment rate dropping to 5.4 percent, we have good reason to feel optimistic about the future.

However, our economy still has major disparities in the number of jobs gained by African Americans versus other races, and lawmakers could be doing much more to encourage Black entrepreneurship.

At 10.4 percent, Black unemployment is still double that of other demographics. And, the African American community has seen the lowest participation rate during the past six months, meaning that despite job gains across the country, our communities continue to see a significant lag in job creation.

We must work to redouble our efforts to ensure African Americans have access to jobs. A large part of the stimulus to reduce Black unemployment should be centered on expanding African American small business owners’ opportunities to grow, create jobs and thrive. This includes increasing the availability of small business loans for our community. Black businesses employ nearly one million people. Last year’s startling report by the Wall Street Journal that found Black-owned small businesses receive about 1.7 percent of all loan money available through the Small Business Administration down from 8.2 percent before the recession is a trend that cannot continue.

The U.S. Black Chambers, Inc. will continue to work with Black entrepreneurs, the Administration and Congress on solutions to the problem of Black unemployment and on increasing African American entrepreneurs’ ability to access vital funds for their businesses and create jobs.

Graph from the Department of Labor Statistics Employment

Report released on March 6, 2015.

Illinois Celebrates AmeriCorps Week

Posted by Admin On March - 9 - 2015 Comments Off on Illinois Celebrates AmeriCorps Week

March 9-13, 2015 designated as a week to recognize 3,700 volunteers

SPRINGFIELD, IL – Each year, the nation celebrates the service that thousands of Americans perform through AmeriCorps. It is a time to salute the AmeriCorps members and alums for their hard work and thank the community partners that support them.

“AmeriCorps helps hundreds of thousands of Illinoisans each year,” said Scott McFarland, Executive Director of Serve Illinois. “AmeriCorps members dedicate a year of their lives to their communities, and AmeriCorps Week is a time for the rest of us to say ‘thank you’.”

AmeriCorps provides opportunities for adults of all ages and backgrounds to serve through a network of partnerships with local and national nonprofit groups. From neighborhood cleanups and building homes to tutoring children and signing up new volunteers, Illinois’ 3,700 AmeriCorps members are celebrating by doing what they do best – direct service. Since 1994, more than 35,000 Illinoisans have taken the AmeriCorps pledge to “get things done for America.” Those members have given back more than 48 million hours to their communities, which equates to over $1.1 billion in impact. Over the past 18 years, AmeriCorps members have earned more than $111 million in education awards to pay for college. For every dollar the state invests in Serve Illinois AmeriCorps program, local and federal organizations and governments invest $53.

Illinois AmeriCorps by the Numbers

  • 3,700 AmeriCorps Members Serving
  • 10,604 Veterans and Military Family Members Served
  • 26,975 Additional Volunteer Recruited
  • 238,817 Volunteer Hours
  • $5,745,897 Volunteer Impact
  • 425,714 Disadvantaged Youth Receiving Services
  • 35,000 Illinoisans Served in AmeriCorps since 1994
  • 48,000,000 AmeriCorps Hours Contributed since 1994
  • $111,000,000 Earned in Education Awards since 1994
  • $1,155,840,000 Impact to Illinois Communities since 1994

The Serve Illinois Commission is a 40-member (25 voting and 15 non-voting), bi-partisan board appointed by the Governor and administered by the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH). Its mission is to improve Illinois communities by enhancing volunteerism and instilling an ethic of service throughout the State.

For a full listing of AmeriCorps Week activities or information on how to find a volunteer opportunity any time of the year, please visit www.Serve.Illinois.gov.

TimeLine Theatre’s Chicago Premiere of INANA, Michele Lowe’s Timely Tale of Middle Eastern Culture and Romance, The Next High-Profile Project for Acclaimed Broadway Director Kimberly Senior, Runs May 6 – July 26, 2015

Posted by Admin On March - 9 - 2015 Comments Off on TimeLine Theatre’s Chicago Premiere of INANA, Michele Lowe’s Timely Tale of Middle Eastern Culture and Romance, The Next High-Profile Project for Acclaimed Broadway Director Kimberly Senior, Runs May 6 – July 26, 2015

CHICAGO, IL — As the world is shocked by news reports and video images of antiquities and literary treasures being destroyed in Mosul, Iraq, TimeLine Theatre Company announces the Chicago premiere of INANA by Michele Lowe, about an Iraqi museum curator desperately plotting to save his country’s cherished antiquities—including the only remaining statue of ancient mother goddess Inana—from destruction in advance of the U.S. invasion in 2003.

Against a background of international and personal intrigue, playwright Michele Lowe opens a window of hope and healing with her poignant and beautiful love story INANA, playing May 6 through July 26, 2015 at TimeLine Theatre, 615 W. Wellington Ave., Chicago. Acclaimed Chicago and Broadway director and TimeLine Associate Artist Kimberly Senior stages this Chicago premiere. For more information and to purchase tickets, call the TimeLine Theatre Box Office at (773) 281-TIME (8463) or visit timelinetheatre.com.

The most prominent female deity in ancient Mesopotamia, Inana is metaphorically considered the ancient mother goddess and very soul of Iraq. So when the embattled country’s only remaining statue of Inana is threatened by war, theft, desecration and destruction, Yasin, chief of the Mosul Museum, flees to London with his young bride, Shali, and makes a life-altering deal to ensure the statue’s preservation.

“By introducing us to human and complex Iraqi characters … Michele Lowe’s play wants to smooth the border that separates our nations like a line of sand in the desert,” praised The Denver Post after INANA was commissioned and received its world premiere at Denver Center Theatre Company in 2009. “[It] allows us to consider our ‘enemy’ in new and more humane ways. To consider the infuriating plight of Middle Eastern women. To reflect on the unconscionable desecration of a country’s sacred heritage … All while escaping into an unlikely but eventually sweet romance.”

TimeLine’s Chicago premiere of INANA features a seven-person cast, including TimeLine Associate Artist Behzad Dabu, Anish Jethmalani, Demetrios Troy, Atra Asdou, Arya Daire, Frank Sawa and Michael Woods.

Production staff includes Collette Pollard (Scenic Design), Samantha Jones (Costume Design), Charles Cooper (Lighting Design), Mikhail Fiksel (Sound Design), Sarah Burnham (Properties Design), Maren Robinson (Dramaturgy) and Ari Clouse (Stage Management).


PREVIEWS: Wednesday, May 6 at 8 p.m.; Friday, May 8 at 8 p.m.; Saturday, May 9 at 8 p.m.; Sunday, May 10 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.; and Wednesday, May 13 at 8 p.m.

OPENINGS: Press Opening on Thursday, May 14 at 7:30 p.m.; Opening Night on Friday, May 15 at 7:30 p.m.

REGULAR RUN: Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7:30 p.m, Fridays at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m., through July 26. Exceptions: There are two Tuesday performances, June 23 and June 30 at 7:30 p.m. No show Sunday, June 28. No 8 p.m. show Saturday, July 4.


Post-Show Discussions: A brief, informal post-show discussion hosted by a TimeLine Company Member and featuring the production dramaturg and members of the cast on Wednesday, May 20; Thursday, May 28; Sunday, May 31; Wednesday, June 10; Thursday, June 18; and Tuesday, June 30.

Pre-Show Discussions: Starting one hour before these performances, a 30-minute introductory conversation hosted by a TimeLine Company Member and the production dramaturg with members of the production team on Wednesday, June 4 and the 4 p.m. performance on Saturday, June 20.

Sunday Scholars Panel Discussion: A one-hour post-show discussion featuring experts on the themes and issues of the play on Sunday, June 7.

Company Member Discussion: A post-show discussion with the collaborative team of artists who choose TimeLine’s programming and guide the company’s mission on Sunday, July 12.

All discussions are free and open to the public. For further details about all planned discussions, visit timelinetheatre.com/inana/events.htm.


Ticket prices (inclusive of all fees) are $39 (Wednesday through Friday), $49 (Saturday) and $52 (Sunday). Preview tickets are $25. Student discount is $10 off the regular ticket price with valid ID. Special rates for groups of 10 or more are available. Advance purchase is recommended as performances may sell out. For more information and to purchase tickets, call (773) 281-TIME (8463) or visit timelinetheatre.com.


INANA will take place at TimeLine Theatre, 615 W. Wellington Ave., Chicago. TimeLine Theatre is located near the corner of Wellington and Broadway, inside the Wellington Avenue United Church of Christ building, in Chicago’s Lakeview East neighborhood. The location is served by multiple CTA trains and buses. TimeLine offers discounted parking at the Standard Parking garages at Broadway Center ($8 with validation; 2846 N. Broadway, at Surf) or the Century Mall ($9 with validation; 2836 N. Clark). There is also limited free and metered street parking.


TimeLine Theatre is now accessible to people with disabilities with the addition in November 2013 of two wheelchair lifts that provide access from street level to the theatre space and to lower-level restrooms. Audience members using wheelchairs or others with special seating needs should contact the TimeLine Theatre Box Office in advance to confirm arrangements.

Opening ReMARCs – Countdown to 2015 State of Black America Report!

Posted by Admin On March - 9 - 2015 Comments Off on Opening ReMARCs – Countdown to 2015 State of Black America Report!

By Marc Morial

President & CEO, National Urban League

It’s almost here! Our seminal State of Black America report, now in its 39th edition, is set for release on March 19. Join us at the launch event in Washington, D.C. to learn about this year’s findings and better understand where our communities stand in terms of education, jobs, justice, and many other equality indicators.

The State of Black America has become one of the most highly anticipated benchmarks and sources for thought leadership around racial equality in America across economics (including employment, income and housing), education, health, social justice and civic engagement. Each edition of the State of Black America contains thoughtful commentary and insightful analysis from leading figures and thought leaders in politics, the corporate arena, NGOs, academia and popular culture. We are especially excited to offer a multi-media and social experience that will encourage more interaction, deeper learning, and year-round updates and contributions.

We’re expecting a packed house on March 19, be sure to RSVP as space is limited.

Deadline Extended for 51st Chicago International Film Festival Television Awards

Posted by Admin On March - 9 - 2015 Comments Off on Deadline Extended for 51st Chicago International Film Festival Television Awards

CHICAGO, IL – The 51st Chicago International Film Festival Television Awards, now in its 51st year, is accepting entries for the 2015 competition. One of the most prolific and influential elements in the lives of millions, television has long been a fixture of the American experience. Presented by Cinema/Chicago and the Chicago International Film Festival, this international competition recognizes and honors outstanding television productions and commercials as they compete for the prized Gold and Silver Hugos.

Submissions have opened for the following categories: Individual Television Productions, Television Series, Television Commercials, Commercial Campaigns, Special Achievement, Online/Viral Commercials, and Online-based Television Programming. The deadline for submissions has been extended to Friday March 13, 2015.

Date of Awards Ceremony set for Wednesday, April 22nd at the Hyatt Chicago Magnificent Mile

Competition winners will be announced at the Chicago International Film Festival Television Awards Gala on Wednesday, April 22 at the Hyatt Chicago Magnificent Mile.

Last year’s Chicago International Film Festival Television Awards honored an exciting group of television productions and commercials from around the globe. Among the many exceptional works submitted, Gold and Silver Hugos were awarded to Cutters, Leo Burnett, mcgarrybowen, and CNN among others. Last year the T.V. Awards honored CSI Executive Producer Carol Mendelsohn, Chicago Fire actor Jesse Spencer, and commercial production company STORY. These honorees joined the distinguished list of past recipients, which includes Kelsey Grammer, David Fanning of FRONTLINE, Joe Pytka, Towers Productions, Kartemquin Films, and many others.

Rules, regulations, and entry forms can be found by visiting the T.V. Competition section of our website.

Disenfranchisement News: Minnesota and Maryland Advance Probation and Parole Voting Legislation

Posted by Admin On March - 9 - 2015 Comments Off on Disenfranchisement News: Minnesota and Maryland Advance Probation and Parole Voting Legislation

From: The Sentencing Project


Kentucky House passes voting rights bill

The Kentucky House of Representatives recently approved a bill to restore voting rights to people convicted of a non-violent felony offense once they have completed their parole and probation sentence. Currently, the only means by which anyone with a felony conviction can regain voting rights is to receive a pardon from the governor. House Bill 70 would affect an estimated 186,000 Kentuckians who have completed their sentence. If the Senate approves the measure, voters will decide on the constitutional amendment on the November 2016 ballot.


Bipartisan bill expands voting rights to people on probation and parole

A Senate committee passed a bipartisan bill that would allow people convicted of a felony to vote as soon as they are released from incarceration, instead of waiting until after they’ve completed their probation and parole sentence — which can take years to decades to complete.  Advocates say this bill would ease the burden for election officials and prosecutors, who have a difficult time determining who is qualified to vote. This bill would impact an estimated 47,000 Minnesotans.


Lawmaker with prior arrest record champions voting rights bill

Freshman Delegate Cory V. McCray (D-Baltimore City) is also championing a bill that would expand voting rights to people on probation and parole. According to The Washington Post, McCray, who was arrested several times in his youth, says it’s important to keep people with criminal backgrounds engaged in the democratic process so they don’t get left behind. If the measure is approved, Maryland will join the District of Columbia and 13 states that allow people on probation and parole to vote.


Civil Rights Voting Restoration Act

U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) and U.S. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) re-introduced the Civil Rights Voting Restoration Act, which would restore federal voting rights for people who have completed their prison sentence for a non-violent crime. People on probation would receive the right to vote after one year. The law also requires states to work with federal prison systems to notify people who will be allowed to vote in federal elections, or face the possibility of losing federal grants.


African American Disenfranchisement

In a recent book review of John E. Pinkard’s African American Felon Disenfranchisement: Case Studies in Modern Racism and Political Exclusion, Tanya Whittle writes: “Pinkard illustrates the human costs of felon political disenfranchisement by showing how it reduces life chances and opportunities for African American ex-felons and their communities and weakens democracy in general.” Pinkard concludes that felony disenfranchisement is unlawful as it contradicts U.S. democratic principles, and assures the debasement of specific segments of society, particularly African American communities.

Stand with Senator Elizabeth Warren: Tell the Federal Reserve board of governors: Retire Scott Alvarez – Sign The Petition

Posted by Admin On March - 9 - 2015 Comments Off on Stand with Senator Elizabeth Warren: Tell the Federal Reserve board of governors: Retire Scott Alvarez – Sign The Petition
Petition to the Federal Reserve board of governors:
“Retire Scott Alvarez as general counsel of the Federal Reserve, filling his position with someone who will not publicly or privately undermine commonsense rules designed to prevent another Wall Street meltdown.”

Add your name:

The Federal Reserve’s top lawyer – an appointee of former Chairman Alan Greenspan – has been undermining regulations behind the scenes since the Bush administration. But now, Scott Alvarez may have met his match: Senator Elizabeth Warren, and you.

In a recent Senate Banking Committee hearing, Senator Warren blasted General Counsel Scott Alvarez for criticizing Wall Street reform.1 Alvarez has so much influence, in an organization ruled by a board of seven governors, he is referred to as the “Eighth Governor.”2 In fact, while we were fighting to block the White House from making Larry Summers chair of the Federal Reserve, the New York Times suggested that as long as Alvarez was general counsel it might make little difference who got the top job.

Alvarez joined the Fed during the Reagan administration and became its chief counsel during the George W. Bush era. He is a diehard free-marketer appointed by former Fed Chair Alan Greenspan, with a long history of staunch opposition to any regulation of Wall Street. And as Senator Warren made clear, he doesn’t appear to have learned any of the lessons of the financial crisis, stubbornly sticking to an agenda of deregulation even after big bank fraud nearly brought down our economy. If we ever want to clean up Wall Street’s act, it’s time for the Fed to bring in a new lawyer committed to reining in the big banks.

Tell the Fed board of governors: Retire Scott Alvarez. Click here to sign the petition.

Alvarez first joined the Fed in the 80’s under his mentor, former Chairman Alan Greenspan. Throughout the 90’s, he helped Greenspan blow holes in existing regulations and lobby for more and more deregulation, like the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act, all of which contributed to today’s skyrocketing inequality and the 2008 financial crash. It would be one thing if he had learned his lesson and reversed course, but he appears to be as wedded to a Wall-Street-first ideology as he was then – only today, he has far more influence.3

Remember the Volcker Rule, which would ban big banks from making risky gambles for their own gain? Hundreds of thousands of CREDO members fought for a strong Volcker Rule before and after Wall Street reform was passed. But last November, Scott Alvarez publicly criticized the rule, and insiders widely blame the Federal Reserve’s recent announcement that it would delay the Volcker Rule’s implementation for two years on Alvarez.4

During the Senate Banking Committee hearing, Senator Warren noted that last year Alvarez also publicly criticized the “swaps push-out” provision of the Dodd-Frank law, before Congress eventually repealed it on the recommendation of Citigroup and JPMorgan Chase, and despite fierce resistance from thousands of CREDO members and other progressive allies. He’s also spoken out against a provision curtailing the ratings agencies that contributed to the crash, once pushed Congress to allow the Federal Reserve leeway to go easy on big insurance companies, and even had the gall to tell lawmakers to revisit Dodd-Frank.5

As Senator Warren said: “The Fed’s general counsel – or anyone at the Fed’s staff – should not be picking and choosing which rules to enforce based on their personal views.”6

Tell the Fed Board of Governors: Retire Scott Alvarez. Click here to sign the petition.

Alvarez is more than publicly critical – he’s privately powerful. As general counsel, Alvarez oversees a massive team of lawyers that advise on every single aspect of the Federal Reserve’s work. One top regulator who regularly deals with the Fed reportedly said, “He’s a major player in everything. You can’t overstate his role. Everything has to go to him for approval and to be passed on.”7

While Chairwoman Janet Yellen is committed to fighting inequality, and Governor Daniel Tarullo technically overseas regulation, it is Alvarez and his team who are deep in the weeds of every decision. To understand the impact one person can have, just look at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, another Wall Street regulator that was consistently friendly to big banks before replacing its general counsel in 2012.8

The general counsel reports to a group of seven governors on the Federal Reserve board, most of whom were appointed by President Obama. Allowing the general counsel to run roughshod over badly needed Wall Street reforms imperils the Federal Reserve’s mission of maintaining stability in the U.S. banking system. Worse, Alvarez’s outdated ideas put all of us at risk of more bank meltdowns, economic crashes, and too-big-to-fail bailouts. It is time for the Fed to appoint a new lawyer who will be committed to reining in Wall Street.

Tell the Fed board of governors: Retire Scott Alvarez. Click below to sign the petition:


Thank you for speaking out.

Becky Bond, Political Director
CREDO Action from Working Assets

Add your name:

  1. Danielle Kurtzleben, “Elizabeth Warren just revealed her next big fight” Vox.com, February 24, 2015.
  2. Jesse Eisenger, “The Power Behind the Throne at the Federal Reserve” The New York Times Dealbook, July 31, 2013.
  3. Matt Stoller, “Why Is Alan Greenspan’s Lawyer, Scott Alvarez, Still Controlling the Federal Reserve?” Naked Capitalism, October 22, 2014.
  4. Zach Carter, “Elizabeth Warren’s Next Target Is The Fed’s Top Lawyer” Huffington Post, February 24, 2015.
  5. Matt Stoller, “The Federal Reserve’s independence is dangerous, undemocratic, and a boon to Wall Street” The Week, November 19, 2014.
  6. Carter, “Elizabeth Warren’s Next Target Is The Fed’s Top Lawyer.”
  7. Eisenger, “The Power Behind the Throne at the Federal Reserve.”
  8. Stoller, “Why Is Alan Greenspan’s Lawyer, Scott Alvarez, Still Controlling the Federal Reserve?”.

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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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