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Archive for June 23rd, 2015

Columbia University to Divest From Private Prisons

Posted by Admin On June - 23 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

Student Organizing Results in Columbia University Becoming First to Divest from Private Prison Industry

On Monday June 22nd, following sixteen months of relentless student activism, the Columbia University Board of Trustees announced its decision to divest from the private prison industry and institute a policy banning reinvestment in companies that operate prisons. This decision makes Columbia the very first university to divest from the private prison industry.

“We targeted the university’s investments in two private prison companies, but we hope that private prison divestment campaigns, with the abolitionist vision of a larger anti-prison movement, can help us start working towards divesting from the idea that prisons equal justice, which we believe to be fundamentally racist.” – Dunni Oduyemi

The Columbia Prison Divest campaign was launched in February 2014 by Students Against Mass Incarceration, a Black-led prison abolitionist student group, after students discovered that approximately $10 million of Columbia University’s endowment was invested in two for-profit prison companies: the Corrections Corporation of America and G4S. CCA, GEO Group, and G4S have played major, active roles in pushing for legislation that further criminalizes marginalized communities such as mandatory minimum laws and Arizona’s infamous SB1070 statute.  Alumni, faculty, staff, and West Harlem community members came together to support the student-run campaign demanding immediate divestment from these companies and a permanent negative screen against any future investments.

“My involvement in this campaign has been about acknowledging my complicity in racist systems of incarceration and policing.  As a student at an elite university, I have a choice to quietly benefit or take  the opportunity to leverage my privilege to hold my school accountable” – Ella Every-Wortman, student organizer

“These companies have a fundamental interest in expanding incarceration in order to maximize profit. We will not see an end to the racism and exploitation embedded in our contemporary systems of mass incarceration and detention if we do not dismantle the economic engines of this prison-industrial complex.” – Gabriela Catalina Pelsinger, student organizer

Prison Divest is a strategy born out of collaboration between immigrant justice and anti-mass incarceration organizers in a common fight against the criminalization of marginalized communities. Student organizers have situated prison divestment in the context of broader visions for change.  Through their actions, political education, and avid social media presence, Columbia Prison Divest has tied their work to the Black Lives Matter movement, anti-gentrification efforts in West Harlem, the movement to divest from the Israeli police state, and activism against immigrant detention and the militarization of the U.S.-Mexico border.

“Universities investing in prisons reinforce systems of inequality that allow only some to succeed. As a Black student, I know that Columbia is actively doing violence against people that look like me in a number of ways. I refuse to be just another brown face in a college brochure that my school can use to mask the systemic racism it participates in.” – Asha Rosa, student organizer

“From the start we wanted to establish those links that what’s happening globally is happening domestically”- Imani Brown, alum and former organizer

“For us, prison divestment has been an entry point for addressing the ways in which students at elite colleges and universities are directly and specifically in the privileged positions that we are because of systems of inequality.  The racist, classist images of “criminals deserving of punishment” are created in tandem with images of “hard-working college students deserving of opportunity,” and each is defined in relation to the other. Through prison divestment, we have worked to challenge these narratives and structures. We refuse to buy into the false narratives that justify our privilege at the expense of the suffering of others. We hope this victory opens doors to more campaigns, to more organizing, to more victories. This is not the end. This is a beginning”- Columbia Prison Divest campaign organizers

There are over a dozen active prison divestment campaigns on college campuses across the United States. Notable victories in prison divest organizing include United Methodist Church’s divestment from CCA and GEO Group and the Gates’ Foundation’s divestment from G4S.

Just Say No To Fast Track Rally Today at the Dirksen Federal Building

Posted by Admin On June - 23 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

Beginning at 9:30 A.M., June 23, 2015 and continuing preferably  through the cloture vote on Fast Track trade authority, currently scheduled for 10 A.M. central time, protesters will rally outside the Dirksen Federal Building, 219 South Dearborn, in Chicago.

Organizers of the event said they are rallying to “tell (U.S. Senators) Dick Durbin and Mark Kirk that we care and we notice what they do; to tell them if they don’t vote no on fast track we will vote no for them and campaign against them as hard as we can. They will be primaried out and voted away! We will be bringing noise, costumes, and lots of creative energy. We are rallying to express our revulsion for fast track to Durbin and Kirk as well as  the USTR and the “Free” Trader-In-Chief!  Stop fast track before it’s too late!”

“The Obama trade agenda that Congress is considering fast tracking through Congress will lower wages, export jobs, increase the wealth divide and increase the trade deficit. This is the consistent history of trade agreements written for trans-national corporations. They benefit big business interests at the expense of the people and planet. Senators who vote for Fast Track are driving the race to the bottom for the US economy and voters need to know they are the reason our downward decline,” said Kevin Zeese, co-director of Popular Resistance.

“The international treaties being negotiated by the president go beyond trade to impact every area of our lives. They will raise the costs of health care, undermine food safety, lead to more poisoning of the water, land and air and worsen the climate crisis. Additionally, the ISDS provisions mean that we will not be able to enact laws that protect our health and safety even at the local level,” added Dr. Margaret Flowers, also co-director of Popular Resistance.

On June 12th the House of Representatives voted in a landslide to reject the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) portion of the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) bill passed by the Senate. This should have resulted in the Obama trade bill’s defeat. But Speaker John Boehner called for a revote, then delayed that until the end of July, and with Majority Leader McConnell and President Obama, manipulated the congressional process not for a re-vote, but to avoid a re-vote. They then split the bills into two: TPA and TAA, rapidly pushed TPA through the House with 218 votes for (but 210 against) and now are trying to ram it through the Senate. The indadequate TAA bill will be included by the Senate;s version of the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) in order to prevent a re-vote on TAA in the House. AGOA is popular with Democrats and the Republican leadership, with President Obama are trying to pass TAA by making it part of AGOA.

“This manipulated approach in Congress was necessary because there has been a populist revolt across the political spectrum urging elected officials to oppose another job-killing trade treaty. Hundreds of thousands of phone calls have been made to Congress in the last three weeks with protests held across the country. At the same time $200 million has been donated to Members of the House to encourage them to support TPA. Speaker Boehner received over $5 million from transnational corporate interests. This has become a battle between people and money. People won on June 12th, but corrupt legislative leaders have manipulated the process, linking votes on trade to pension and intelligence bills in the House and tying TAA to a bill on Africa. Corruption is winning, but the people will continue to oppose the three Obama trade deals no matter how TPA turns out,” added Zeese.

Organized by:

Mara Cohen
National TPP Team
847 – 471 – 4129
Facebook page: https://facebook.com/groups/448515881931246

Revealing Black Men on Father’s Day: By Ben Jealous and Trabian Shorters

Posted by Admin On June - 23 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS
It is time to reclaim Father’s Day, and in so doing celebrate what we are actually doing and what we have to be proud of.
This Father’s Day week, let’s reveal Black men to America. Let’s upend the stereotypes and honor what is best about the men who are raising children in our communities and our country.

This Father’s Day, tell somebody that according to the U.S. Army, Black men serve this country in uniform at a higher rate than all other men. By that measure, Black men are the most patriotic men in America.

This Father’s Day, post on Facebook that according to the U.S. Census, the rate of business creation by Black males has been growing at nearly twice the national average for more than a decade. By that measure, Black men are among the most enterprising men in America.

This Father’s Day, share on Twitter that according to the Cultures of Giving Report by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Black households continue to give to charity at a higher rate than all other households. By extrapolation, Black men may be among the most generous men in America.

This Father’s Day, enlighten somebody that according to the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics, Black men who live with their children are the most likely to bathe, dress, diaper and interact with them daily. Also, Black men who do not live with their children are the most likely to still maintain contact even after remarrying. By these measures, Black men are arguably the most engaged fathers in the country.

By the numbers, black men may lead the nation in patriotism, entrepreneurship, generosity and parental engagement. But that’s not the story you’ve heard, is it?

Well, you can change that. You can begin to see and tell a more accurate story, one that is fact-based, optimistic and aspires to illuminate Black men’s roles in society as community-builders.

This is not just a wish on our part. Over 100 Black men who head community organizations, called “BMe Leaders”, have agreed to promote a vision of America’s future based upon valuing all members of the human family, recognizing Black men as assets, rejecting narratives that denigrate people, and working together in asset-oriented ways to strengthen communities.

The nation is hungry for a better story about who we are and where we are heading. We should not ignore the problems facing the Black community – but we must stop ignoring our community builders whose actions create safety, knowledge, opportunity and community. And you can get involved at www.bmecommunity.org

Black men are willing to lead. Are you willing to #ReachWithUs to build more caring and prosperous communities this Father’s Day and beyond?

Ben Jealous is Partner at Kapor Capital and former President and CEO of the NAACP. Trabian Shorters is founder and CEO of BMe, a growing network of all races and genders committed to building better communities across the U.S. They are co-editors of the 2015 bestseller, “REACH: 40 Black Men Speak on Living, Leading & Succeeding.” Purchase a copy and gift it to a father or friend who can use the inspiration. www.reachwithus.com.

Photo Caption (From Left): Ben Jealous and Trabian Shorters.

Jesse, Jonathan Jackson Called Charleston 9 Murders “Domestic Terrorism”

Posted by Admin On June - 23 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

By Chinta Strausberg

Calling the killing of the nine black members of the Emanuel A.M.E. church by 21-year-old Dylan Roof a “brutal, political assassination” Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr. said it was an act of “domestic terrorism,” and his son, Jonathan, said Roof learned to hate.

“It was a very strong act of terrorism,” Rev. Jackson said. “When someone leaves our country to join ISIS, that’s strange, but within our own country when somebody plots and plans to kill Americans, kill state officials and members of your church that it is what it is…. It’s innocent people who are being killed, unarmed without any provocation. This is a kind of anti- black tech mania that is a threat.”

As a Chicago State University professor, Jonathan Jackson asked, “Where did this young man learn to hate? The reason I am so concerned is that he is not a good student. I read his records that they posted online. They said he was disadvantaged.

“Who taught him about Rhodesia”? Asked Jackson referring to the emblem on Roof’s Jackson representing apartheid in South Africa. “ “I am concerned that this young man would have so much hate in him that on the 150th anniversary date, June 19, 1865…it is not random that he went to Mother Emanuel” church.

“This young man went to the roots of the tree to try and take it down,” young Jackson said. “When you go after Mother Emanuel, you are going after the only institutions African Americans have ever had…. He is not crazy. He’s calculated. He’s cold bloodied,” he said of Roof. Jackson said what Roof did “was an at of domestic terrorism.” “Where did he buy the gun? Who taught him to hate…?”

The Jackson’s made their comments Saturday, the first day of Rainbow PUSH convention held at the PUSH headquarters, 930 E. 50th St. This year’s theme is: “Beyond The Bridge: Life Beyond The Edmund Pettus Bridge.”

“We want unity,” said Rev. Jackson. “We have to take the glass out the wound for the wound to heal.”

Jackson said this act of murder “is an embarrassment because the whole world looks out of the lenses of eight…nine people killed in church and the minister assassinated, an elected official who stood tall against gun laws. Is it embarrassment or remorse?”

Jackson said it wasn’t too long ago that South Carolina voted to “not to have a hate crime law. Is it remorse? Susan Smith, a white woman who drove her two babies into the water and drown them. She said a black man did it who didn’t exist, but they went looking for him.

“About two-months ago, it was Walter Scott was shot in cold blood by police in that same state. Is it remorse? “The state is 25 percent African American but 75 percent are prisoners. Twenty-five percent are rented out every day on a prison lease program doing slave labor. Is this embarrassment because it hurts the tourism, or, is it remorse”?

Jackson, who addressed a number of social and economic issues, said one fourth of South Carolina is in poverty yet the governor rejected $10 billion Medicaid money “because it comes from the federal government…. They’ve lost 1,000 students from South Carolina State and it is about to close because they will not accept federal education money to keep that school open.

“Until we move beyond the embarrassment of the killings, remorse and change, we will not be satisfied,” said Jackson who said he has known Rev. Clementa Pinckney, who was one of the nine killed who was also a state senator, a very long time. He and Pinckney’s brother was Jackson’s classmates.

At a press conference held after the Saturday morning broadcast where the Jackson’s were joined by several civil rights leaders including U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield, chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), Jonathan Jackson said this is the 150 of June 19th “when General Granger went into Texas to inform the African Americans who had ben enslaved in this country that they too had been set three two-years ago…. They should have been a part of the governance and the enforcement of Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.”

Jonathan Jackson, added, “Assassins think in these terms of strategic purposes… This is a culminating event.” He believes Roof “was guided, directed and steered towards this great African American church…the oldest African American church South of Baltimore I do not think this was by coincidence.

“With the Confederate flag above the state capitol where a member (Rev. Clementa Pinckney who was also a state legislator for 19 years) of their body has been assassinated. It goes to show you that there is something very foul in the air. We pray for the A.M.E. church and their families.  “We want to remove fear and hatred that people should not be afraid to go to church,” said Jonathan Jackson.

He commended Rep. Butterfield and the CBC in their work in expanding jobs and opportunity “and eliminating prejudice and hate and to continue to expand our democracy for voting that we stand in unison with the CBC under the leadership of Butterfield.”

Rep. Butterfield said, “This is not only the 150th anniversary of Juneteenth but also the 150th anniversary of the 13th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. It was on January 31, 1865 that congress passed the 13th Amendment and submitted it to the states for ratification. It was finally ratified on December 6, 1865…. The 13th Amendment was the final legal document that ended slavery. President Lincoln was assassinated April 14, 1865 during the time the 13th Amendment was being circulated to the states. That’s a very powerful historical context that we should remember.”

Referring to the Voting Rights Act of 1965, Jackson said, “it is under attacked…nullified by the enforcement division in Shelby, Alabama on June 25, 2013.” He said that act now dilutes the black vote.

Butterfield said, “The black community is in a state of emergency unlike anything we have seen in over 100-years. Not only is our right to vote under attack but the whole idea of 1 out 4 African American families living in poverty, 1 out of 3 black children living in poverty in every category you would review, you would see the statistics show we lag far behind and we must do better than that.”

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.

Urban League Launches “One Nation, One Flag” Campaign in Support of Effort to Remove Confederate Flag

Posted by Admin On June - 23 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

NEW YORK — The National Urban League and its South Carolina affiliates today launched the “One Nation, One Flag” campaign in support of South Carolina legislators’ efforts to end public displays of the Confederate Flag, and promote unity around the United States Flag.

“It’s a complex process that forms a violently racist heart and compels it to slaughter innocent men and women,” said Marc H. Morial, President and CEO of the National Urban League. “But public sanction of the symbols of division and hatred does not create an atmosphere of reconciliation. It’s time for the flag to come down.”

“One Nation, One Flag,” is an effort to have the Confederate flag removed from all public spaces, particularly from the grounds of the South Carolina State Capitol, and to promote the U.S. flag as a symbol of unity, tolerance and justice.  The campaign has adopted the social media hashtag #OneNationOneFlag, as a companion to #TakeItDownSC, and asks supporters to sign the petition at IAmEmpowered.com.

“In the wake of the racism-fueled massacre of nine innocents at Mother Emmanuel, the sight of the Confederate flag is salt in our wounds,” Charleston Trident Urban League President and CEO Otha Meadows said. “Our focus now should be on healing and unity.”

Like other organizations, the Urban League Movement has upheld a convention boycott of South Carolina over the issue of the flag.  Morial and the affiliate CEOs pledged to bring a national meeting to the state after the flag is removed from state capitol grounds.

“The hollow argument that display of the flag carries no racial animosity is belied by the fact that it was raised over the capitol in 1962, in direct response to the Civil Rights Movement and desegregation,” said James T. McLawhorn, Jr., President and CEO of the Columbia Urban League.   McLawhorn, along with other civic and community leaders, has been at the forefront of the movement to remove the flag for the last 15 years. “If we are truly to put those dark days behind us, we must put that flag behind us as well.”

Several South Carolina state legislators have announced their intention to introduce proposals in the next legislative session to remove the Confederate flag from the state house grounds.

“Governor Nikki Haley should call a special session of the legislature to address the flag issue, “ Urban League of the Upstate President and CEO Jil Littlejohn said. “So often in the aftermath of a such a tragedy we feel helpless to respond. But there’s something meaningful and restorative that we can do, and that’s take down the flag.”

The American Dream on Hold: Economic Challenges in the African American Community

Posted by Admin On June - 23 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS
Congressional Black Caucus and Joint Economic Committee Democrats Hold Public Forum and Press Conference in Baltimore

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A public forum on the impact of economic challenges and persistent inequities facing African Americans across the country will be held Tuesday (tomorrow), June, 23, 2015, at the University of Baltimore at 9:30 a.m. until 12.p.m. EDT.  Congressman G. K. Butterfield, Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney, Ranking Democrat on the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee (JEC), and Congressman Elijah E. Cummings, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform will host the forum.  Participants will hold a press conference immediately following the event.


•           Congressional Black Caucus Chairman G. K. Butterfield (D-NC)

•           Joint Economic Committee Ranking Democrat Carolyn Maloney (D-NY)

•           Representative Elijah E. Cummings (D-MD)


•           Maya Rockeymoore, President and CEO, Global Policy Solutions

•           James Carr, Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress

•           William Darity, Samuel DuBois Cook Professor of Public Policy, Duke University

•           Michael Cryor, Chairman, One Baltimore

•           Stokey Cannady, Founder and CEO, The Stokey Project

•           Darius Davis, President and Chief Operating Officer, Harbor Bank

•           Sheridan Todd Yeary, Pastor, Douglas Memorial Community Church

•           Dr. Louis Wilson, Pastor, New Song Community Church

•           Munir Bahar, COR Health Institute

WHAT: Public forum, “The American Dream on Hold: Economic Challenges in the African American Community”

WHEN: Tuesday, June 23, at 9:30 a.m. until 12:00 p.m.

WHERE: The University of Baltimore – Learning Commons

1415 Maryland Avenue, Baltimore,

Maryland  21201

This event will live stream at http://pointers.audiovideoweb.com/stcasx/nj45winlive9756/play.asx

Statement by President Obama on the Observance of Juneteenth

Posted by Admin On June - 23 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

President Barack Obama:

On this day 150 years ago, more than two years after President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, the slaves of Galveston, Texas finally received word that the Civil War was over.  They were free.   A century and a half later, Americans still recognize this occasion, Juneteenth, as a symbolic milestone on our journey toward a more perfect union.  At churches and in parks, lined up for parades and gathered around the barbecue pit, communities come together and celebrate the enduring promise of our country: that all of us are created equal.

Yet this year, our celebrations are tinged with sorrow.  Our prayers are with the nine members of the Mother Emanuel community — nine members of our American family — whose God-given rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness were so cruelly snatched away.  Our hearts go out to their families, their friends, and the entire city of Charleston.

We don’t have to look far to see that racism and bigotry, hate and intolerance, are still all too alive in our world.  Just as the slaves of Galveston knew that emancipation is only the first step toward true freedom, just as those who crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge 50 years ago knew their march was far from finished, our work remains undone.  For as long as people still hate each other for nothing more than the color of their skin – and so long as it remains far too easy for dangerous people to get their hands on a gun – we cannot honestly say that our country is living up to its highest ideals.  But Juneteenth has never been a celebration of victory, or an acceptance of the way things are.  Instead, it’s a celebration of progress.  It’s an affirmation that despite the most painful parts of our history, things do get better.  America can change.

So no matter our color or our creed, no matter where we come from or who we love, today is a day to find joy in the face of sorrow, to count our blessings and hold the ones we love a little closer.  And tomorrow is a day to keep marching.

The Tears Of A Black Mother

Posted by Admin On June - 23 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

The Tears Of A Black Mother


By Dennis J. Freeman

Tritobia Ford, mother of Ezell Ford, the mentally ill man who died during an altercation with LAPD officers, is comforted during the “Black Mothers Standing in the Gap” event that was co-sponsored by Congresswoman Maxine Waters and the Black Women’s Forum. Photo by Dennis J. Freeman/

LOS ANGELES-Trayvon Martin walked home with a bag of Skittles and iced tea in his hands. Eric Garner had just broken up a fight. Tamir Rice was playing around on a playground being a kid. Ezell Ford was minding his own business. Michael Brown had his hands up. Alesia Thomas dropped her two kids off at a police station with a note for their grandmother to be called. They’re all dead. And it shouldn’t be this way.

The pain has not gone away for the mothers of Trayvon Martin, Ezell Ford, Alesia Thomas, Eric Garner, Michael Brown and Tamir Rice. It may never go away. You can hear it in the crackle of their voices when they speak. You can see it in the stream of tears that flow down their broken faces. The hurt is unimaginable.

Trayvon Martin’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, tries to convey her message at the “Black Mothers Standing in the Gap” event sponsored by Congresswoman Maxine Waters and the Black Women’s Forum at the Westin Los Angeles Airport Hotel, May 30, 2015. Photo by Dennis J. Freeman/News4usonline.com

They’re now taking that pain to the masses to assist with the healing process and to help other mothers going through what they’ve already experienced. This is not what they signed up for when they became mothers. These mothers are now the faces of a social movement of reform to combat excessive and deadly force used by the police. Their lives are now intertwined with one another, their voices now a collective blend of harmony for justice.

Trayvon Martin was minding his own business when George Zimmerman stalked, confronted and shot him to death after the two got into a physical brawl. Eric Garner was choked to death by a New York police officer while committing no crime at the time of his demise. Tamir Rice was playing with a toy gun when Cleveland police rolled up on him unsuspectingly and shot him to death.

Thomas and Ford died at the hands of LAPD officers-directly and indirectly. The shooting death of Michael Brown set off the Ferguson unrest and unleashed “Black Lives Matter” banter across the world. In the case of Thomas and Ford, the outcome of their respective cases, turned 180 degrees from one another.

LAPD, in their own investigation, cleared the officers involved in the shooting death of the mentally challenged Ezell Ford. Sandra Thomas received some heartening news when a jury convicted the officer involved in her daughter’s death.

Sybrina Fulton (Tayvon Martin), Lesley McSpadden (Michael Brown), Gwen Carr (Eric Garner), Tritobia Ford (Ezell Ford), and Sandra Thomas (Alesia Thomas), showed up at the Westin Los Angeles Airport Hotel on Saturday, May 30, ready to speak their minds at a three-hour event that was hosted by the Black Women’s Forum and Congresswoman Maxine Waters. Emotions ran high and fluctuated with raw intensity.

One of the resounding narratives arising from all of these incidents is how character denouncement of the victims have run rampant and wild, an inescapable rebuke the media has taken part in.

“They victimize the victims,” Fulton said. “And what they do is they say things about the victims to probably justify the demon that came out from within them. And the reason why I say it’s a demon, because a lot of people don’t want to say what it is. I lot of people don’t want to say racial profiling, racial discrimination and things like that. But we have to speak it, because if we don’t speak it we are part of the problem.

“You have to acknowledge that there is a problem in the United States. Trayvon had just turned 17-years old three weeks before he was murdered…He was not lost. We didn’t lose our children. They were murdered…This has devastated our family.”

Make no doubt about it, these mothers’ testimonies pulled at the heartstrings of the audience. Re-telling the painful stories of how their children lives were inexplicably snuffed out by law enforcement personnel (the murder of Trayvon Martin being the exception) has been nothing short of nightmarish for these mothers.

No justice, no peace.

“My son wasn’t lost. He was murdered by LAPD,” Tritobia Ford said before the Los Angeles Police Commission ruling came out on her son’s case . “LAPD have not had the respect, the compassion…they have not had any concerns to get in touch with me and my family. They stalled the investigation. It’s been almost a year, and we still don’t have any answers. Chief Beck has not gotten in contact with my family. He gets on TV, and make LAPD look like this great police department, yet they ignore the fact they killed my son.”

The pursuit of justice for these mothers is an endless battle, but one they have no choice but to commit to. Their journey to peace is now an endless chase. As each of the mothers took turns to describe what life has been like for them, the intensity of achieving that justice in the name of their slain children, has picked up in an international way.

Reaction to Brown’s death triggered the unrest in Ferguson and sparked protests nationwide. Martin’s killing at the hands of neighborhood watchmen George Zimmerman, alarmed the nation with outrage. The situations surrounding the deaths of Ezell Ford, Thomas and 12-year old Tamir Rice, has also penetrated America’s consciousness.

Sadly, this commentary is not reflective of isolation incidents. There are way too many others. For black families across the country, there are just too many of these stories to count. The narrative has become disturbingly too familiar. It has become more than a trend.

It has almost become established practice to kill a young black person and get away with little or no accountability. Fulton, Thomas, Carr, Ford and McSpadden all spoke on this subject. Needless to say, there was a lot of hurt on display during the capacity-filled, “Black Mothers Standing in the Gap” event. And a lot of suppressed rage.

Gwen Carr, mother of Eric Garner, speaks to the audience at the “Black Mothers Standing in the Gap” event co-sponsored by Congresswoman Maxine Waters and the Black Women’s Forum on Saturday, May 30, 2015. The event was held at the Westin Los Angeles Airport Hotel. Photo by Dennis J. Freeman/News4usonline.com

Sandra Thomas has a lot of it these days. Her daughter, Alesia Thomas, died in the custody of LAPD officers, after she had dropped her two kids off at a local police station. Video catches a handcuffed Thomas being kicked in the crotch seven times and hit in the throat by LAPD officer Mary O’ Callaghan. Callaghan was recently convicted of assault on Thomas and faces three years in state prison. That may bring little solace to her mother.

Lesley McSpadden. mother of Michael Brown, speaks at the “Black Mothers Standing in the Gap” event that was co-sponsored by Congresswoman Maxine Waters and the Black Women’s Forum on Saturday, May 30, 2015. Photo by Dennis J. Freeman/News4usonline.com

“They just let her suffocate in the backseat of that car and die,” Sandra Thomas said. “I’m happy you’ve learned about my daughter…but under these circumstances I’m not so happy.”

Beyond the obvious veil of pain was a forged strength between the mothers. Strength comes in numbers. And there was plenty of quiet strength being exhibited by these mothers. It is because of that strength that communities must pick up the mantle of action and activism instead of engaging in passionless pageantry.

Dennis Freeman is a seasoned sports and news journalist. Dennis has covered the NFL, NBA, Major League Baseball and other major sports. He has also covered and written on topics such as civil rights, politics and social justice. An original member in the Associated Press Sports Editors Diversity Fellowship Program, Dennis is a graduate of Howard University.

“When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors” is Focus of Lightning Safety Awareness Week June 21-27

Posted by Admin On June - 23 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

NWS, emergency management officials seek to save lives, prevent injuries

SPRINGFIELD, IL – Recent thunderstorms have produced spectacular lightning shows, but the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA), the National Weather Service (NWS) and local emergency management agencies are urging people to stay safe by heading indoors during storms as part of Lightning Safety Awareness Week June 21-27.

“There’s no safe place outdoors when lightning is in the area,” said IEMA Director James K. Joseph. “If you’re close enough to hear thunder, you’re close enough to be struck by lightning. That first clap of thunder is your cue to get into a substantial building or hard-topped vehicle.”

Joseph said remembering the phrase, “When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors,” can help you stay safe this summer while you’re enjoying outdoor activities.  The catchy phrase is intended to remind people that hearing thunder means you’re close enough to the storm to be struck by lightning. Once inside a structure or hard-topped vehicle, stay there until 30 minutes after the last sound of thunder.

According to the NWS, there were no lightning-related fatalities in Illinois in 2014. Nationwide, 26 people were killed by lightning. Most of those fatalities occurred outdoors, including people in open areas, under trees, working, in water or participating in other outdoor activities.

“While lightning fatalities have decreased significantly nationwide over the past two decades, far too many people still take unnecessary risks when thunderstorms are in the area,” said Chris Miller, warning coordination meteorologist with the NWS in Lincoln. “Every year, hundreds of people survive lightning strikes. However, many of these people are forced to cope with life-long neurological problems from their injuries. The best advice to prevent a lightning strike continues to be: When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors.”

While less than 10 percent of people who are struck by lightning are killed, many lightning strike survivors suffer various degrees of disability.  Only a few lightning strike victims actually suffer burns, and these are usually minor.  However, many lightning strike survivors are left with debilitating life-long effects, including memory loss, personality changes, fatigue, irreparable nerve damage, chronic pain and/or headaches, difficulty sleeping and dizziness.

IEMA and the NWS offer the following tips for staying safe when thunderstorms approach:

Outdoor lightning safety tips:

  • No place outside is safe when thunderstorms are in the area.
  • If you hear thunder, lightning is close enough to strike you.
  • When you hear thunder, immediately move to a safe shelter.
  • Safe shelter is a substantial building or inside an enclosed, hard-topped vehicle.
  • Stay in the safe shelter at least 30 minutes after you hear the last clap of thunder.

If there is no safe shelter anywhere nearby:

  • Seek lower elevation areas.
  • Never use a tree for shelter.
  • Immediately get out and away from pools, lakes and other bodies of water.
  • Stay away from all metallic objects (fences, power lines, poles, etc.).
  • Do not raise umbrellas or golf clubs above you.

People shouldn’t hesitate to help someone who has been struck by lightning since victims do not carry an electrical charge.  The surge of electricity through a lightning victim’s body causes cardiac arrest in most fatalities, so immediate medical attention is critical.  If the victim doesn’t have a pulse and isn’t breathing, CPR should be administered immediately.

For additional tips on lightning safety visit the Ready Illinois website at www.Ready.Illinois.gov or contact IEMA at 217-785-9925.

State Board, IFT and IEA Recognize More Than 30 Exemplary Educators for Their Performance

Posted by Admin On June - 23 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

Teachers from across the state honored for their expertise and commitment to specific content areas

SPRINGFIELD, IL – The Illinois State Board of Education, along with the Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT) and the Illinois Education Association (IEA), will honor 33 educators whose professional education organizations selected as the best in their field of expertise during the 2014-15 school year. The educators, all of whom earned awards for teaching a specific subject, from mathematics to physical education, were recognized during a luncheon today at the Bloomington-Normal Marriott Hotel and Conference Center.

“We are happy to have the chance to recognize teachers of this caliber, who are strong leaders committed to helping students succeed,” said State Superintendent of Education Tony Smith. “The passion, enthusiasm and dedication for teaching these educators demonstrate daily is felt by students, colleagues, administrators, and parents alike. They go the extra mile every day to ensure students are learning, and we are pleased to publicly thank them for their tireless efforts.”

Today’s event will be the fifth annual Exemplary Teacher Recognition Award Luncheon hosted by the State Board and the two state teacher associations.

“The Illinois Education Association is always proud to help sponsor the Teacher Recognition Luncheon, a wonderful way to thank and acknowledge Illinois’ many outstanding educators,” said Cinda Klickna, President of IEA. “The award-winners have shown exemplary teaching in each of their fields, and they remind us that great education is being delivered to our students every day in every school in Illinois.”

Each fall, ISBE names one teacher of the year and recognizes almost 200 educators nominated by their own district or members of their communities for outstanding service through the Those Who Excel program. Steve Elza, an automotive technology teacher, was named the 2015 Illinois Teacher of the Year. Elza teaches at William Fremd High School in Township High School District 211. The annual Exemplary Teacher Recognition Award Luncheon provides an opportunity to honor other award winning teachers from across the state.

“Illinois is home to outstanding educators who go above and beyond every day,” said Dan Montgomery, President of IFT. “It brings me great pleasure to honor these teachers who give so much of themselves for the students they serve.”

The following teachers were recognized as Exemplary Teachers:


Recognition Organization School
Richard Bell VFW National Citizenship Education Teacher of the Year Veterans of Foreign War LaVerna Evans Elementary School
Monica Blum 2014 Illinois School Nurse Administrator of the Year Illinois Association of School Nurses Marquardt SD 15
Troy Blunier Teacher of the Year Illinois Association for Career and Technical Education Timothy Christian High School
Denise Brown Elementary Teaching Award Illinois Council of Teachers of Mathematics Carruthers Elementary School
Sue Brown T.E.Rine Secondary Mathematics Teaching Award Illinois Council of Teachers of Mathematics Elmhurst
Kimberly Butts 2014 Illinois Elementary Art Educator of the Year Illinois Art Education Association Avon Center School
Rusty Clevenger Early Professional Award Illinois Art Education Association Wiley School
Kerry DiFusco 3M Outstanding Economic Educator Award 3M and Econ Illinois White Eagle Elementary School
David Elbaum Illinois History Teacher of the Year Gilder Lehrman Institute Adlai E. Stevenson High School
Jacqueline Fontillas New Teacher of the Year Illinois Association for Career and Technical Education Richmond-Burton Community High School
Annie Forest Excellence in Middle School Mathematics Teaching Award Illinois Council of Teachers of Mathematics (ICTM) Freedom Middle School
Reggie Good Illinois Dance Teacher of the Year 2014 Illinois Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance Rolling Meadows High School
Carol Harms National Federation of State High School Associations’ Outstanding Speech, Debate,Theatre Educator Award for NFHS Section 4 National Federation of State High School Associations’ Belleville East High School
Matt Herndon IAHPRD Middle School Teacher of the Year 2014 and Southwestern District of IAHPERD Middle School Teacher of the Year 2014 Illinois Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance Wood River High School
Andrew Horne Illinois Health Education Teacher of the Year Illinois Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance New Trier High School
Jeff Hudon Teacher of the Year Boys and Girls Club Alton High School
Richard Kaplan

Excellence in Secondary Mathematics Teaching Award (T.E.Rine Award)

Illinois Council of Teachers of Mathematics Evanston Township High School
Paul Karafiol

Fred Flener Award for Engaging Students in Mathematics Beyond the Classroom

Illinois Council of Teachers of Mathematics Walter Payton College Preparatory
Danyel Larsen

Lee Yunker Mathematics Leadership Award

Illinois Council of Teachers of Mathematics Oregon High School
Amy Lewis

Bob Haisman Teacher of the Year

Illinois Education Association Des Plaines
SD 62
Deyana Matt

Illinois Art Educator of the Year

Illinois Art Education Association Westfield Middle School
Maureen Moeller

2014 Illinois Adventure Education Teacher of the Year

Illinois Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance Maine West High School
Amy Moore

Illinois Secondary Art Educator of the Year 2014

Illinois Art Education Association Nicholas Senn High School
Tina Nocella

Illinois Promising New Teacher of Mathematics Award

Illinois Council of Teachers of Mathematics Niles North High School
Kathleen Priceman

2014 Illinois Foreign Language Teacher of the Year

Illinois Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages Abraham Lincoln School in Oak Park
Elizabeth Ramseyer Yerkes Educator of the Year 2013 Stars at Yerkes Observatory Niles West High School
Martha Reilly Excellence in Middle School Mathematics Teaching Award Illinois Council of Teachers of Mathematics Byron Middle School
Esther Song Promising New Teacher

Illinois Council of Teachers of Mathematics

Lindbloom Math and Science Academy

Melissa Tuccini

Illinois Adapted Physical Education Teacher of the Year

Illinois Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance

Disney II Magnet High School
Jessica Weldon

Outstanding Economic Educator

3M and Econ Illinois York Community High School
Mary Zumwalt

Ag in the Classroom Teacher of the Year

U.S. Department
of Agriculture

Altamont Lutheran School

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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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