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TO BE EQUAL

ToBeEqual_ScoopUSAMedia

Congratulations to Rep. Karen Bass, Elected to Chair the Largest Congressional Black Caucus History

"More than building a career, what I have done throughout my life is followed my passion for activism… So the theme I've noticed in my life is that great success has come when I was simply doing the things I was passionate about to make whatever difference I could. That's the lesson I would have to offer to anyone and that's always lead with your passion. But I'm not done yet.” – U.S. Rep. Karen Bass, chair-elect, Congressional Black Caucus

In January, the most ethnically and culturally diverse Congress in United States history will be seated. Among the historic “firsts,” the Congressional Black Caucus will exceed 50 members for the first time in its 47-year history and Rep. Karen Bass has been elected its chair.

Rep. Bass, of California’s 32nd District, has a history of blazing trails for Black women. 

Early voting and expanded absentee voting are key to Fair Elections


Marc H. Morial, President and CEO

National Urban League


“Georgia elections officials deployed a known strategy of voter suppression: closing and relocating polling places. Despite projections of record turnout, elections officials closed or moved approximately 305 locations, many in neighborhoods with numerous voters of color. Fewer polling places meant that the remaining locations strained to accommodate an influx of voters. Yet elections officials failed to supply sufficient, functioning voting machines and enough provisional ballots…


Read more.. check out the December 7, 2018 edition of  Scoop USA Media. 

Urban League Movement mourns Ntozake Shange, “One of the Original Conjurers of Black Girl Magic”

“Somebody/ anybody sing a black girl's song

bring her out to know herself

to know you but sing her rhythms

carin/ struggle/ hard times sing her song of life

she's been dead so long closed in silence so long

she doesn't know the sound of her own voice

her infinite beauty she's half-notes scattered

without rhythm/ no tune sing her sighs

sing the song of her possibilities 

sing a righteous gospel let her be born

let her be born & handled warmly.” 

― Ntozake Shange, for colored girls who have considered suicide/ when the rainbow is enuf

The story of the civil rights movement in America is very much the story of Black women in America.  Yet their stories are seldom afforded the celebration they deserve. It was into this cultural shadow that Ntozake Shange‘s groundbreaking work, for colored girls who have considered suicide/ when the rainbow is enuf, flashed like a bolt of lightning in 1976.

The Urban League Movement mourns the loss of the poet and playwright, whåo passed away this week at the age of 70. 

Does the Democratic takeover in the house mean the ACA is safe?

“I’m signing it for 11-year-old Marcelas Owens, who’s also here.  Marcelas lost his mom to an illness. And she didn’t have insurance and couldn’t afford the care that she needed. So in her memory he has told her story across America so that no other children have to go through what his family has experienced… We are a nation that faces its challenges and accepts its responsibilities.  We are a nation that does what is hard.  What is necessary.  What is right.  Here, in this country, we shape our own destiny.  That is what we do.  That is who we are.  That is what makes us the United States of America.” President Barack Obama, March 23, 2010, on signing the Affordable Care Act.

The Affordable Care Act of 2010, also known as “Obamacare,” is one of the most consequential acts of Congress in the 21st Century, especially for African Americans. The ACA slashed the Black uninsured rate by 40%. According to the National Urban League’s annual report on the social and economic status of African Americans, State of Black America, racial health disparities began to narrow as a result of the law.

First step Act is the most important Federal Criminal Justice Reform in decades

“For too long, sentencing in our country has been overly severe and has disproportionately targeted communities of color – especially Black men. Reforming some of the most draconian federal sentencing laws, including unfair mandatory minimum sentences under two- and three-strikes laws, will make our system more just … However, to be clear, the FIRST STEP Act is very much just that – a First Step. It is a compromise of a compromise, and we ultimately need to make far greater reforms if we are to right the wrongs that exist in our criminal justice system.”  -- Senator Kamala Harris

The U. S. Senate this week took the most significant step toward federal criminal justice reform in decades with the passage of the First Step Act.  As the House previously had passed a nearly identical bill, and the President has committed to signing it, the First Step Act is virtually assured of becoming law.

The next Attorney General must enforce civil rights laws William Barr won’t

“The responsibility of the attorney general is to change things and bring us closer to the ideals expressed in our founding documents.” – Eric Holder

This week I was proud to represent the Urban League Movement as I testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee in opposition to the confirmation of William Barr as Attorney General of the United States. 


JANUARY - MARCH 2019

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Spike Lee's Best Director nomination is long overdue

“People of color have a constant frustration of not being represented, or being misrepresented, and these images go around the world … I do not think there is going to be any substantial movement until people of color get into those gatekeeper positions of people who have a green-light vote. That is what it comes down to. We do not have a vote, and we are not at that table when it is decided what gets made and what does not get made.” – Spike Lee


Raise the Wage Act Is a Long-Overdue Dose of Economic Reality

To“In my Inaugural I laid down the simple proposition that nobody is going to starve in this country. It seems to me to be equally plain that no business which depends for existence on paying less than living wages to its workers has any right to continue in this country. By 'business' I mean the whole of commerce as well as the whole of industry; by workers I mean all workers, the white collar class as well as the men in overalls; and by living wages I mean more than a bare subsistence level – I mean the wages of decent living.” – President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, upon signing the National Industrial Recovery Act in 1933 Nowhere in the entire country can a full-time worker earning the federal or state minimum wage afford a two-bedroom apartment at fair market rent.

Blackface is a flaunting of White privilege

“Blackface isn’t just another costume. It’s a mask of privilege, the kind of unchallenged power that comes through denying the experience of others.” – Justin Ellis

As a black student in overwhelmingly white schools in Louisiana, I faced my share of racial insults and slights.  But one of the more memorable incidents was not even a deliberate slight directed at me. The offenders probably didn’t even think of me. But when a group of my classmates contemptuously affected exaggerated accents mocking Black people, as part of a school production, I walked out.

Vaping-more dangerous than once thought-is an epidemic among teens that We Must End

Marc H. Morial, President and CEO National Urban League

'We must take aggressive steps to protect our children from these highly potent products that risk exposing a new generation of young people to nicotine. The bad news is that e-cigarette use has become an epidemic among our nation’s young people. However, the good news is that we know what works to effectively protect our kids from all forms of tobacco product use, including e-cigarettes. We must now apply these strategies to e-cigarettes, including USB flash drive shaped products such as JUUL. To achieve success, we must work together, aligning and coordinating efforts across both old and new partners at the national, state, and local levels. Everyone can play an important role in protecting our nation’s young people from the risks of e-cigarettes.' – U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams A decade after the introduction of vaping – the inhalation of nicotine vapor rather than smoke produced by a cigarette – a growing body of evidence shows the practice is far more dangerous than assumed, and is a major gateway for teens to become addicted to nicotine.

Senate Must Pass Background Check Bill, Passed by House, Supported by 92% of Voters

Marc H. Morial, President and CEO National Urban League

Washington- Defenders of the status quo - advocates of the gun industry and the politicians paid to defend it - will tell you that events like these are virtual acts of nature, products of mental illness or bad parenting, beyond our ability to control. This couldn't be further from the truth. Every day we fail to take action, we chose this fate. We tolerate politicians who fail to acknowledge this crisis and vote against our safety. We let our gun violence epidemic continue day after deadly day. – Former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords, responding to the February 2018 mass shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

College Admissions Scandal Highlights Rampant Inequality in Educational Access

Marc H. Morial, President and CEO National Urban League

I have probable cause to believe that the defendants conspired with others known and unknown: (1) to bribe college entrance exam administrators to facilitate cheating on college entrance exams; (2) to bribe varsity coaches and administrators at elite universities to designate certain applicants as recruited athletes or as other favored candidates, thereby facilitating the applicants’ admission to those universities; and (3) to use the facade of a charitable organization to conceal the nature and source of the bribe payments.

MARCH - MAY 2019

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It’s time to sign Colin Kaepernick

Marc H. Morial, President and CEO National Urban League

“Though this legal battle with Kaepernick has been resolved, he isn’t going away either. The league will forever have to live with the fact that it was complicit in destroying someone’s career simply because he wished to bring attention to the injustices suffered by his people. If owners and Roger Goodell believe that they no longer will have to face questions about why Kaepernick isn’t in the league, they’re wrong. No matter what an arbitrator rules, how the NFL treated Kaepernick will always be the mistake they can never amend.” -- Jemele Hill Over the last several weeks, two incidents have served to remind us of the hypocrisy and racism that still permeates the National Football League.

Read More, Scoop USA Media, March 29, 2019

One Year Out, Efforts to Sabotage 2020 Census Must Be Defeated

Washington, DC -“The same folks who don’t want people of color to vote don’t want us to be counted. The Census is about three things: money, power and information. And unless we rise up to save Census 2020, this rigged, intentional undercount will cost us political power at all levels; billions in federal funding; and vital information to help lift up the communities that we fight so hard for.” – U.S. Rep. Lacy Clay The principle of “one person, one vote” is enshrined in the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution. It means that one person’s voting power should be equivalent to another person. While the Electoral College and the U.S. Senate give far more voting power to the citizens of sparsely populated states than densely populated ones, the one place where “one person, one vote” comes closest to being true is in the U.S. House of Representatives. But we can’t achieve equal representation without a fair census. 

Read More, Scoop USA Media, April 5, 2019

Congratulations to Chicago’s First Black Woman and LGBTQ Mayor, Lori Lightfoot

by Marc H. Morial, President and CEO National Urban League

Washington, DC-“ Out there tonight, a lot of little girls and boys are watching. They’re watching us and they’re seeing the beginning of something, well, a little bit different. They’re seeing a city reborn, a city where it doesn’t matter what color you are and where it surely doesn’t matter how tall you are. Where it doesn’t matter who you love, just as long as you love. Let me say that again: where it doesn’t matter who you love, just as long as you love with all your heart. In the Chicago we will build together, we will celebrate our differences. We will embrace our uniqueness, and we will make certain that all have every opportunity to succeed.” —Lori Lightfoot, Mayor-Elect of Chicago The National Urban League is proud to congratulate Lori Lightfoot, not only the first Black woman elected as Chicago’s mayor, but the first openly LGBTQ person to serve in that office.

Read More, Scoop USA Media, April 12, 2019

Find out how your state was graded on the National Urban League Report cards for education equity

“This bill upholds the core value that animated the original Elementary and Secondary Education Act signed by President Lyndon Johnson -- the value that says education, the key to economic opportunity, is a civil right. With this bill, we reaffirm that fundamental American ideal that every child, regardless of race, income, background, the zip code where they live, deserves the chance to make out of their lives what they will.” President Barack Obama, upon signing the Every Student Succeeds Act in 2015 The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the 2015 reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, establishes civil rights standards for educating students from historically underserved populations – like children of color, students with disabilities and those learning English as a second language – receive the resources they need Not every state is meeting its obligations. However, the National Urban League reviewed the plans states are required to submit to the federal government, outlining how they will meet their commitments to ensure equity and excellence to every student and every community. We found that only nine states’ plans qualified as “Excellent.”

Read More, Scoop USA Media, April 19, 2019

Hate crime surge continues with racially motivated burning of Black churches

'A lot of people want to make it a hate thing. Well, we don't represent hate. We represent love. Togetherness. Peace. Long suffering. Hope. That's what we're here today to say, not just to our community, but to our country. Be strong.'

-- Rev. Gerald Toussaint, pastor of Mount Pleasant Baptist Church, one of three Louisiana churches burned down over 10 days this month.

Though they were more than 100 years old, Greater Union Baptist Church, St. Mary Baptist Church and Mount Pleasant Baptist Church in St. Landry Parish, Louisiana, were nowhere near as grand and ancient as Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Tourists never flocked to admire them. The flames that burned them to charred ruins were not observed in horror by an international television audience.

Read More, Scoop USA Media, April 26, 201

Foreign interference in American Democracy

“In the days leading up to the election, the IRA [Russian Troll Farm] began to deploy voter suppression tactics on the Black-community targeted accounts … As the election became imminent, themes were tied into several varieties of voter suppression narratives: don’t vote, state home, this country is not for Black people, these candidates don’t care about Black people.” – U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee Report, “The Tactics and Tropes of the Internet Research Agency”

The U.S. Intelligence community announced it was “confident” that it happened.

A Senate Intelligence Committee report confirmed it.

And now the Mueller Report has documented its scope in breathtaking detail.

Russia interfered to disrupt American democracy on a massive scale.  An administration official recently falsely downplayed this unprecedented act of sabotage as “a few Facebook ads.”

Read More, Scoop USA Media, May 3, 2019

MAY - JUNE 2019

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Judge Damon Keith: The Nation mourns a Peerless Champion of Justice

Washington-DC-“ By denying the most vulnerable the right to vote, the Majority shuts minorities out of our political process. Rather than honor the men and women whose murdered lives opened the doors of our democracy and secured our right to vote, the Majority has abandoned this court’s standard of review in order to conceal the votes of the most defenseless behind the dangerous veneers of factual findings lacking support and legal standards lacking precedent. I am deeply saddened and distraught by the court’s deliberate decision to reverse the progress of history. I dissent.” -- Judge Damon J. Keith, dissenting in the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals decision on Northeast Ohio Coalition, et al. v. Husted, et al.

Read More, Scoop USA Media, May 10, 2019

2019 Unveiled Amid an Increased Push for Voting Rights, Protection from Foreign Interference State

“This is not Russia. This is the United States of America. And I will fight until the death to make sure every citizen— whether they’re Green Party, whether they’re Freedom Party, whether they’re Democrat, whether they’re Republican, whoever – has that right to vote. Because it is the essence of our democracy. For so many people, their rights are pulled away from them, then they’ve got to put in laws to get them back. What does that mean? They cannot progress rapidly. They cannot progress with the rest of society. All they’re trying to do is control their own destiny.” – U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings, Chair, House Oversight Committee.

The National Urban League’s 2019 State of Black America ® report, “Getting 2 Equal, United Not Divided,” an unprecedented examination of the state of the Black Vote, was unveiled this week amidst a new push in Congress to protect voting rights and secure democracy.

Read More, Scoop USA Media, May 17, 2019

Graduation Season: Celebrating Accomplishments, Committing to Equality

“You are young, gifted, and Black. We must begin to tell our young, ‘There's a world waiting for you, Yours is the quest that's just begun.’” -- James Weldon Johnson

Each year I have the privilege to speak at commencement ceremonies at colleges and universities large and small, across the country.

Most recently I had the honor to address Grambling State University – an HBCU that is experiencing a resurgence under President Rick Gallot – most notably for its cutting-edge new cybersecurity program.  As an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters. I’m proud to join the “Gram Fam.” 

Read More, Scoop USA Media, May 24, 2019

Congressional Hearing in Queens Highlights Challenges and Importance of 2020 Census

“Despite the positive changes we have made throughout history, there is a persistent trend of bad actors playing politics with the survey in order to disenfranchise racial minorities. We see a present-day example of this type of bad faith provision in the 2018 announcement that the Department of Commerce planned to add a citizenship question to the census. There was no valid reason for this proposal other than a concerted effort to suppress the response rate of minorities and new immigrants.”

Read More, Scoop USA Media, June 7, 2019

School Vouchers Are a Failed Experiment

Washington, DC- “How bad are school vouchers for students? Far worse than most people imagine. Indeed, the use of school vouchers—which provide families with public dollars to spend on private schools—is equivalent to missing out on more than one-third of a year of classroom learning.”

– Center for American Progress study, “The Highly Negative Impacts of Vouchers” School privatization has been a dismal failure, leaving students stranded in low-performing schools while transferring millions of taxpayer dollars into private, for-profit institutions. The latest proof that private school vouchers don’t work for students emerged from an investigation in Louisiana conducted by several news outlets. “The Cost of Choice” revealed that the state’s $40 million-a-year voucher program has pulled thousands of students out of public schools into failing private schools that receive almost no oversight.

Read More, Scoop USA Media, June 14, 2019

Why is the Insurance industry pushing repeal of discrimination protection?

 

“As long as the color of a man's skin determines his choice of housing, no investment in the physical rebuilding of our cities will free the men and women living there… A nation that aspires to greatness cannot be a divided nation-with whites and Negroes entrenched behind barriers of mutual suspicion and fear.” – President Lyndon B. Johnson, letter to Congress, April 1966 Racial discrimination in housing harms not only families who struggle to find homes, but communities still plagued by segregation. Housing segregation reinforces racism and diminishes us as a nation.

So why is the insurance industry fighting to tear down one of the most important tools we have for preventing discrimination?

Read More, Scoop USA Media, June 28, 2019

JULY 2019

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States should follow Illinois’ lead on Expungement, Opportunity in New Cannabis Law

“The U.S. “war on drugs” — a decades-long policy of racial and class suppression hidden behind cannabis criminality — has resulted in the arrest, interdiction, and incarceration of a high percentage of Americans of color. The legal cannabis industry represents a great opportunity to help balance the detrimental effects of the war on drugs by creating an equal playing field for all people to benefit from the changing legal landscape.” — Minority Cannabis Business Association

It’s difficult to overstate how devastating America’s racist “War on Drugs” has been for communities of color. Although Black and white people use marijuana at similar rates, Black people have been four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession.

In Michigan, which has already legalized marijuana for recreational use, a 68-year-old man named Michael Thompson is 25 years into a 40-to-60-year sentence stemming from the sale of three pounds of marijuana to an undercover officer.

Last week, Illinois made history when it passed a marijuana legalization law that seeks to atone for the injustice of the War on Drugs.

Illinois’ law gives low-income communities of color — the very communities ripped apart by decades of racist drug policies — a fair shot at dispensary and grow-shop licenses. A portion of tax revenue generated by cannabis sales will be directed to investment in those communities through the Restore, Reinvest, and Renew Program.

Under the new law, arrest records for possession of small amounts of marijuana will be expunged automatically, and the board that makes clemency recommendations to the governor will receive a list of everyone convicted of minor possession offenses.

Nearly 800,000 criminal histories could be erased under the law.


Read more To Be Equal, Scoop USA Media, July 19, 2019, page 5

No justice for Eric Garner: NYPD Must Terminate Officer Who Used Excessive Force

“It was Eric and my family five years ago, but it could be you and yours today or tomorrow. They want all of us to believe that we didn’t see what we saw on that video, but our eyes do not deceive us … Eric is no longer able to speak so I will be his voice and you will hear me.” – Gwen Carr, Eric Garner’s mother.

Eric Garner died pleading for his life on a New York City sidewalk. 

The chokehold that triggered his fatal asthma attack was illegal. 

Eleven times, Eric Garner said he couldn’t breathe, and Officer Daniel Pantaleo did not loosen his strangling, illegal grip on Garner’s neck. 

The world saw Pantaleo’s deadly assault. The world heard Garner’s pleas. But there will be no justice for Eric Garner. 

When U.S. Attorney General William Barr abandoned the civil rights case against Pantaleo, it sent a devastating message from an administration whose hostility toward civil rights protections is unprecedented in the last 50 years. 

Astonishingly, Pantaleo remains a member of the New York Police Department, pending a decision by an administrative judge who is expected to rule within a few weeks.  His continued employment by the NYPD diminishes the institution, and he should be terminated. 

It is difficult to imagine the grief of Garner’s family. To lose a father, a son, a brother, to an untimely death is painful enough. To have been dragged through five years of injustice after injustice, to see the person responsible for that death escape accountability seems almost too much to bear. 

Read more To Be Equal, ScoopUSA Media, August 9, 2019 page  11