Wednesday, April 26, 2017

National News

From Various Wire Service Reports

New York City and other law enforcement officials are still seeking to piece together the cause of the reasons for the death of  Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam, whose body was found floating in the Hudson River last week.

As the investigation into her death continues, homicide has not been ruled out. The initial reason suggested was suicide, for there were no signs of trauma or other foul play after her body was pulled from the river on April 12.

Abdus-Salaam was the first Black woman to serve on New York State’s highest court. While it was widely reported that she was the first Muslim to be a member of the New York Court of Appeals, she never converted to Islam. Rather, she merely took her first husband’s Islamic surname, according to the Washington Post.

According to one law enforcement officials, Judge Abdus-Salaam called her Midtown Manhattan chambers on April 11 morning to say she would not be coming in because she was not feeling well.

When the judge failed to appear the following day, her assistant sent a text to her husband of eight months, who called 911 to report her missing a short time later. Her body was found that afternoon, floating in the river by the shore near West 132nd Street.

The judge was wearing a gray zippered sweater, Black sweatpants, a gray T-shirt and New Balance sneakers, the official said. She also had a white watch on her wrist and a MetroCard in her pocket. Investigators do not believe that she had been in the river long.

According to media reports, she was  last seen leaving her office on Monday evening.

Investigators tracked her to the subway – the No. 6 line – at about 8 p.m., the official said. Investigators found the judge’s cellphone in her apartment, another official said, and the door had been locked with keys from the outside. Both officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because the investigation is continuing.

“She was a lovely, genteel lady,” Jonathan Lippman, a former chief judge of New York State, said. “We’re all just shocked. No one has any idea what happened.”

Her death has shocked many including her neighbor and friend Deborah Audate. In a recent interview in New York Daily News, Audate said, “Even though she was an appellate judge, which is a position of high authority, she was just an ordinary person on the block. She’s just very smart. She really was a very humble person.  She’s very well respected on this block. I think we’re still stunned by it.”

But, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio suggested her death might be related to personal issues, in an interview in USA TODAY.

“Obviously, we’re still waiting for the full investigation but to the extent that the challenges and the stresses in her life contributed to this, it’s a reminder that even the most accomplished people still deal with extraordinary challenges inward, and we don’t get to see that,” de Blasio said. “And it is humbling. It’s a sad day, someone who got so far and was lost so soon.”

Abdus-Salaam, 65,  who was the first African-American woman on the state’s highest court, in recent years lost her brother and mother, both around Easter, according to sources.

Her brother was troubled over the death of his mom, and shot himself with a handgun, the sources said.

Abdus-Salaam struggled with depression, according to family members who spoke with investigators.

“We don’t believe she was in the water the whole time,” Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said. “We have a long way to go. We’ve spoken to many people in her family about her history.”

Police haven’t found a suicide note, but Abdus-Salaam had told a doctor she was stressed recently, law-enforcement sources said.

Abdus-Salaam was born in 1952 to a working-class family of seven children in Washington, D.C., where she attended public schools.

Her great-grand father was a slave in Virginia.

As a teenager, she was inspired to enter the legal profession after an encounter with civil rights attorney Frankie Muse Freeman, according to a 2013 news release from Seymour W. James Jr., attorney-in-charge of criminal practice of the Legal Aid Society in New York City.

She was elected to the Civil Court of the City of New York in 1991, before moving on to the Supreme Court of New York County in 1993. She was the  first female judge in 1994, when she was appointed by the Governor.

Then, in March 2009, Gov. David A. Paterson appointed her an Associate Justice of the Appellate Division, First Department.

He was the state’s first Black Governor from 2008 to 2010, after Eliot Spitzer resigned for being involved in a prostitution scandal.

Abdus-Salaam graduated from Barnard College in 1974 and from Columbia Law School in 1977, and spent time working with indigent clients as a staff attorney at Brooklyn Legal Services. She also served as an assistant state attorney general.

Abdus-Salaam was married three times. Her second husband was James Hatcher. And she is survived by Jacobs, whom she married in 2016 and is a minister at the Episcopal Diocese of Newark.

This article was compiled from media reports by Leonard E. Colvin and Rosaland Tyler.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has heard the call for a new report on federal advertising and they’re listening.

One year ago, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) stood on Capitol Hill with members of the National Association of Hispanic Publications (NAHP) and the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) urging the GAO to issue a new report detailing how much money federal agencies spend on advertising in Black- and Hispanic-owned newspapers and media companies. Now, the GAO said it that will launch a formal investigation.

The GAO is an independent, nonpartisan agency that works for Congress and investigates how the federal government spends taxpayer dollars, according to the group’s website.

Norton has been at the forefront of the call for the report, noting that the federal government spends billions of dollars on advertising services each year, but spends very little with minority-owned publications and media companies.

In March 2016, Norton sent a letter to Gene Dodaro, the comptroller general at the GAO, asking for a new investigation and a long overdue follow up to a 2007 GAO report that revealed the lack of advertising by federal agencies in minority-owned media companies.

Norton’s letter was signed by several members of Congress including: former Congressional Black Caucus Chairman G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.); Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.); Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.), Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio); Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.); Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) and Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.).

In December, Sens. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) joined Norton’s efforts, each sending their own letters to the GAO.

“Yes, we have accepted the request,” said Chuck Young, the managing director of public affairs for the GAO.

Through a spokesman, Norton said she was pleased that GAO is moving forward. No start date is set yet.

Norton said that the federal government is the largest advertiser in the United States and it’s important that news outlets and media companies owned or published by people of color with a primary mission to serve communities of color have the same opportunities as other media outlets, especially as the Black and Hispanic populations continue to grow in our country.

In 2007, the GAO investigated the spending on advertising contracts with minority-owned businesses by five agencies – the Department of Defense, Department of the Treasury, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of the Interior, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) – and found that just five percent of the $4.3 billion available for advertising campaigns went to minority-owned businesses.

The NAHP and NNPA enjoy an estimated reach of 43 million readers each week across the United States, representing 33 percent of the total population.

Additionally, the buying power of the African-American and Hispanic communities, currently at more than $2.3 trillion combined, continues to outpace the national average. Due to their positions of trust in the community, minority-owned media companies remain the most practical advertising and outreach partners for all federal and private agencies.

“News outlets and media companies owned or published by people of color are critical to ensuring that diverse viewpoints are presented to the American people,” said Rep. Menendez. “As one of the largest advertisers in the United States, the federal government should play an active role in ensuring that minority-owned media outlets have fair opportunities to compete for and be awarded federal advertising contracts.”

By Stacy M. Brown
NNPA Newswire Contributor

When James Baldwin left America and moved into a comfy home in the South of France several decades ago, he did not aim to start a war.

But that is  the situation these days. About two decades after Baldwin died of stomach cancer at age 63 in his home in the South of France,  a white, female American novelist in Paris is raising funds to buy Baldwin’s six-acre home, convert it into a writers’ retreat, and dedicate it to the writer who wrote about many controversial topics during his lifetime. The problem is she does not have the blessing of Baldwin’s family, who mainly live in Baltimore where Baldwin grew up.

On the one hand, Baldwin’s niece Alisha Karena-Smart asked,  “Who gets to represent James Baldwin’s legacy and who gets to speak about who he was?”

On the other hand, the white female writer, who wants to turn Baldwin’s home into a type of shrine, moved to the South of France, and exercised squatter’s rights by living in Baldwin’s dusty home for a week or so, in an effort to buy the property, “I cannot believe I have the privilege to be alive at this moment on earth when James Baldwin’s house is in danger and I happen to have the skills and temperament to do this work,” said Shannon Cain, a novelist.

This means  while Baldwin’s relatives and a handful of mostly white writers fight over the home where Baldwin lived and died, the structure still does not even have a plaque with his name. The wing where Baldwin lived was torn down a few years ago. The remaining two houses on the property are in disrepair; the once expansive gardens are unkempt. Still, a local real estate developer wants to buy the plot that the Baldwin family lost control of more than a decade ago, and construct  apartment buildings and a swimming pool on the site.

Cain, who described how she squatted in the house, suffered, and now plans to   draw a salary from the fund-raising, said, “A successful nonprofit needs a professional running this place.”

While Baldwin had a habit of looking  surprised, even flustered in old, Black-and-white newsreels that often spoke of  raical angst. Baldwin grew up as the son of a Baltimore minister. His mother remarried, moved to New York and remarried.

His stepfather was cruel. Baldwin, an  expatriate African-American novelist, was only 24 when he left New York with just $40 in his pocket. The chain-smoking writer who scribbled on a yellow legal pad died of stomach cancer at age 63. He lived in the house in Paris with his Swiss lover, Lucien Happersberger,

Now a local developer wants at least 9 million euros (about $9.5 million) for the property, according to news reports. Several African-American artists who have recently visited Baldwin’s home are saying, “You can’t take this from me.”

The mayor of Saint-Paul-de-Vence, Joseph Le Chapelain, who signed the building permit last year, said the project was out of his hands. “It’s a private company,” he said. “The city has no power over it.”

But what would Baldwin say about his home today?  He worked for a short while with the railroad, moved to Greenwich Village,and worked for a number of years as a freelance writer. He published his first novel, “Go Tell it On The Mountain,” in 1953.He created  moving prose and even appeared on the cover of Time magazine. And while he held parties for many famous people at his Paris home, he never bought it.

The property has been acquired by a real estate developer who plans to demolish what’s left of the house, subdivide the land, and build luxury villas.

Currently artists  aim to  spur a general realization of the house’s value, and restore it, before the bulldozers destroy what is left of it and the garden.  In January 2015, Harlem named a site after Baldwin. The site is located between E. 128th St. and Madison and Fifth Avenues.

By Rosaland Tyler
Associate Editor

By Barrington M. Salmon

The Rev. Dr. Bernice A. King, at the close of Women’s History Month, electrified an audience of men and women at the National Press Club, challenging them to rise above bickering with people with whom they may have political and cultural disagreements and find common ground – including with President Donald Trump.

In a speech she called, “What Does the Black Lives Matter Movement and Trump Have in Common?” she focused on the reality of the anger and animus on one side and the disgust, concern and fear of Trump on the other. She said the way to move forward from to the vilification hurled from both sides is to find common ground.

“We need people to rise above it and engage in conversation, real conversation,” she advised. “We’re not hearing each other right now because we’re not listening. We’re trying to react to what is said. We have to realize that that individual (with whom we disagree) is still of value. We have to win over people. The next generation is watching us for cues.

“We must listen and hear even though we don’t want to,” she continued. “We should not be drawing the line, unfriending people on Facebook, disconnecting links on LinkedIn or dragging them on Twitter. We must resist separation in the face of difference. We must love unconditionally …”

Chief executive officer at the King Center in Atlanta, Dr. King was keynote speaker at the 7th annual Stateswoman for Justice Luncheon and Issues Forum, sponsored by the Trice Edney News Wire. The event, also in celebration of the 190th anniversary of the Black Press, drew about 200 men and women to the Press Club.

King offered Black Americans four policy and moral prescriptions they should pursue if they hope to achieve the justice and equality for which her father fought and died:
• She said the Black community must be willing to value and embrace all of the community and all aspects of justice.
• She said they and others must realize that we’re all on the same boat – that justice can’t be narrow and one-sided.
• She said there is a great need for people who’re working to forge an agency for justice and who value long-term strategic planning in that area.
• Lastly, she said the community needs people who value building the “beloved community.”

In a matter of two weeks,  U.S. Attorney  General Jeff B. Sessions has announced a proposed reversal on Obama-era policy to curb and monitor abusive  police conduct, and Sessions appears to support resurrecting the War on Drugs, which drove  up the incarceration of  poor and Black  people.

Civil rights activists have begun to express concern about  Session’s ordering Justice Department officials to  review all of the reform agreements with over 20 abusive police departments, including Baltimore.

Baltimore came under the scrutiny of the DOJ  after the death of Freddie Gray, who was injured while being transported  by police officers to jail. His death sparked riots in the city.
Sessions said his  decision is an effort to assure that the decrees do not work  against the Trump Administration’s goals of supporting the ability of police officers to effectively fight crime in the streets.

Another  Obama Administration policy under threat was led by former Attorney General Eric Holder to reduce harsh prison sentences for nonviolent drug offenders. It won support not only from liberal activists but conservatives. Both wanted to reduce the cost and rate of incarceration and  the effect of long mandatory minimum prison sentences.
President Obama commuted the sentences of thousands of non-violent federal prisoners who  were caught up in the War on Drugs related to crack cocaine from the early 1980s until the  early 2000s.

But Steven H. Cook, a former police officer and  federal prosecutor based in Knoxville, Tenn., supported the harsh  law enforcement policies and the increase in incarceration  of many poor Black  and Hispanic  men, especially.

“The federal criminal justice system simply is not broken. In fact, it’s working exactly as designed,” Cook said at a criminal justice panel at The Washington Post in 2016.
The Obama administration  ignored Cook, who   was  president of the National Association of Assistant U.S. Attorneys. Sessions recently hired him as one of  his top  lieutenants.
Sessions has not  announced any  new and  specific policy changes related to these two  issues, yet.

But Cook’s hiring and  elevation to a  top  DOJ post may be viewed as  a sign that Obama-era reforms are threatened. If so, there may be increases in  prosecutions of drug cases and  mandatory minimum sentences could be revived.

The DOJ cites the  rise in street  homicides in  Chicago as an example to explain the policy reversals.

“Our nation needs to say clearly once again that using drugs is bad,” Sessions said to law enforcement officials in a speech in Richmond last month. “It will destroy your life.”
Sentencing reform advocates say the tough crime policies had a detrimental impact. The United States  incarcerated people at a rate higher than any other country — 25 percent of the world’s prisoners at a cost of $80 billion a year.

The nation’s  jail population jumped from  500,000 in 1980 to 2.2 million in 2015, filled with mostly Black men given lengthy prison sentences – 10 or 20 years, sometimes life without parole for first time drug offenses.

During his tenure at DOJ, Holder told federal  prosecutors, in an effort to make punishments more fairly fit the crime, to stop charging low-level nonviolent drug offenders with offenses that imposed severe mandatory sentences. He called his strategy, outlined in an August 2013 report, “Smart on Crime.”

Bobby N.  Vassar is a former Chief Counsel for the U.S. House Democrats  from 1999 to 2013. He also served as  Senior Counsel for and Legislative Director  to U.S. Congressman Robert  C. Scott of Virginia,    a strong advocate of the Obama’s reform efforts.

Vassar also was  Chairman of the Virginia Pardon and Parole Board from 1982-87 during the  first chapter  of the nation’s War on Drugs.

“It seems  (Cook and Sessions) are fixated  on  ideas not based on any kind of science … evidence or fact-based policy,” said Vassar. “This is a knee jerk reaction that African-Americans would do anything to avoid one day in jail.”

Vassar said the for-profit prison industry is salivating at the profits it will make from re-opening many of its units and money the DOJ will spend to house increasing number of inmates.
Vassar said Sessions’ policy  may be on a collision course with the growing  epidemic of opioid addiction by young Whites. He said White voters are complaining  about the  issue vehemently at lawmakers’ town hall meetings.

During the nation’s crack cocaine explosions, Blacks who were drug-addicted or distributed crack cocaine were jailed.  Vassar wonders  if  the Sessions’ DOJ will see alternatives to jailing large number of opioid-addicted Whites.

Congressman Scott   echoed  Vassar’s sentiments when he said rehabilitation and not incarceration is the best resolution  to the nation’s drug’s problem.

Scott said while other industrialized countries  jail  200 persons per 200,000 people a year, the  United States  jails 500 to 700 per 200,000.

He said anything over 400 per 200,000 is  counterproductive because it is expensive, jails parents,  creates employment barriers, and  is discriminatory toward minorities.

Scott said President  Obama reduced and commuted the sentences of 1,927 low level  drug offenders who were serving time and  now, Cook “wants to jail more” instead of reducing incarceration.

Scott called mandatory minimum sentences ineffective and wasteful.

He said the policies Sessions is proposing  poll well to the GOP’s base  and are good “sounds bites” but do nothing to reduce crime.

In a wide-ranging discussion on Capitol Hill among lawmakers, activists, policy experts and former Obama administration officials about the state of civil rights in the Trump administration, the consensus was unanimous that the current climate for civil rights is the most dangerous that has been experienced in decades.

The April 6 event was hosted by Congressman John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI), ranking member of the House Committee on the Judiciary.

“Although the Trump presidential campaign promised changes that would benefit minorities in the areas of crime, equal justice, and economic equality, his political allies and surrogates have sent a different message that has served to heighten national divisions and anxiety,” said Conyers, the longest-serving member in the House, known as “the dean” of the Congressional Black Caucus.

The forum took place only a few days after U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the Justice Department would review all of the consent decrees that the Obama administration entered into with law enforcement agencies that had demonstrated and documented histories of abuses and misconduct.

“The misdeeds of individual bad actors should not impugn or undermine the legitimate and honorable work that law enforcement agencies perform in keeping American communities safe,” the DOJ memo stated. In February, Sessions, who admittedly was unfamiliar with the details of the reports that led to decrees with police departments in Ferguson and Chicago, for example, nonetheless described them as “pretty anecdotal.”

Catherine Lhamon, chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and a former assistant secretary for civil rights at the Education Department under President Obama, described the first 76 days of the Trump administration’s civil rights record as “harrowing,” which she said was being “charitable.”

Recalling the immense challenge of getting a consent decree to reform the Los Angeles Police Department in 2000, despite years of abuses that included beating a homeless woman, lying to judges, planting drugs on innocent people to secure convictions, racially based stops and assaulting citizens, she said that Sessions’ decision was a signal of the “low value” the new administration places on civil rights.

“It was only through federal involvement that conditions [in LA] materially improved and that provided the impetus for real change for communities that were desperately in need of it,” Lhamon said. “The one ray of hope remaining now is that the federal courts have to approve the end of consent decrees that have already been implemented.”

This week, U.S. District Judge James Bredar denied the Justice Department’s request to delay the implementation of a consent decree for the Baltimore Police Department.
Roy Austin, former director of the White House Office of Urban Affairs, Justice, and Opportunity, delivered an equally pessimistic assessment.

“In my humble opinion, the greatest current threat to civil rights in this great nation is this current administration. In record time [it] has already shown not simply a willingness to not defend civil rights, but it has shown an intent to violate civil rights, and at a minimum make it easier for others to violate civil rights. No marginalized, struggling, excluded, discriminated against, or protected individual or group is safe from what [it] has already done or appears to be planning to do,” Austin declared.

By Jane Kennedy

The same day that Fox News host Bill O’Reilly insulted Congresswoman Maxine Waters by comparing her hairstyle to a James Brown wig–White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer actually told April Ryan, (a grown, 49-year-old woman who works for American Urban Radio Networks) to stop shaking her head in a White House press conference.

Meanwhile, two African-American women filed a lawsuit against Fox News the same day, on March 28. Tichaona Brown, a payroll manager and Tabrese Wright, a payroll coordinator sued Fox News and 21st Century Fox in a Bronx court, according to news reports. The lawsuit said that they and “other dark-skinned employees suffered years-long racial animus” from Judith Slater, a former senior vice president and company comptroller, according to USA TODAY. The women claim Slater’s racist behavior created a hostile work environment that resulted in “severe and pervasive discrimination and harassment.”

This means each woman dropped what she was doing and became a movement on the same day.

“Be a movement,” is how Carlos Clanton, the president of the National Urban League Young Professionals, put it in a recent blog. “As we have entered a new year and a new Presidential administration, many Young Professionals of color are left to answer the question: what now?”

“I would remind folks that we have been here before,” said Clanton, also Executive Director of the Norfolk Education Foundation, a non-profit that drives community investments back into public schools.

“We have always been a people who are resilient, and we will survive,” Clanton said. “Survival in this era will entail applying lessons demonstrated by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Whitney M. Young. These leaders achieved great accomplishments because they worked together; they found strength in each other.”

Clanton continued in his blog, “There is opportunity for change in our local communities, every day, every year … When you come to the table, you help make the Movement … There is plenty of work to do and everyone can contribute.”

In other words, this is exactly what several women of color, in different cities, did on the same day that Congresswoman Maxine Waters and journalist April Ryan came face-to-face with a mean, angry white man and became a movement.

Meanwhile, two employees of color at Fox News also became a movement after they endured years of mean hateful behavior. For example, according to court documents, Brown said she would stop by Slater’s office to say goodbye at the end of the day. Slater would respond by raising her hands up in the air like demonstrators in the “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” movement. Slater also asked Brown and Wright to teach her how to “beat box.” Black employees’ speech was mocked.

But here’s how the movement played out after O’Reilly insulted Waters. An avalanche of critical tweets took aim at O’Reilly including one from Joy Reid of MSNBC who said, “I seem to recall Don Imus being fired for (a) similar commentary.” CNN commentator Angela Tye tweeted to O’Reilly, “Go straight to hell.”

Activist Brittany Packnett encouraged people to tweet under #BlackWomenAtWork. And former DNC chair Donna Brazile tweeted, “#BlackWomenAtWork face the double bind of gender and race.” Actress Zendaya tweeted, “This is so disrespectful.” Film producer Jordan Horowitz, who is best known for producing the film, La La Land, tweeted, “Bill O’Reilly is racist and should be removed from your airwaves.”

Scott Goodson, author of the 2012 book, Uprising: How to Build a Brand – and Change the World – By Sparking Cultural Movements, said a movement is powerful because it can start with “just a small group of people.” A movement can change cultures and the world.

Describing a movement’s impact, Goodson wrote in “How To Spark a Movement”  in Fortune magazine “Movements – the kind that gather around positive, creative, dynamic ideas can help build a better, fairer, more sustainable more interesting world.”

In a sense, this is what happened after Congresswoman Waters and April Ryan simply became a movement.  O’Reilly and Spicer have apologized.  O’Reilly said in The Washington Post, that his statement was simply a “dumb” comment.”  Spicer apologized and called Ryan a “tough woman” in an interview on Hugh Hewitt’s radio show.

More importantly, CNN recently announced that it had hired April Ryan as a political analyst. And according to The Wrap, “Many people, including Hillary Clinton came to Ryan’s defense, and Spicer went out of his way to be polite to Ryan at the next briefing.”

◆ ◆ ◆

But celebrities are not the only ones who are “becoming a movement” these days.

For example, Wells Fargo and Co. donated a dilapidated home in the Lakeside area in Suffolk to the Virginia Housing and Community Development Corp.

“It was appraised at $14,000 when we got it,” said James Taylor who heads VHCDC. “When we finish it is projected to be worth $125,000.”

But zero in on how Taylor actually became a movement: First, he contacted several banks and asked them to donate property. Second, he and the members of a savings clubs that he launched are paying to have the home renovated. Third, the renovated home will be purchased by a student who attended the first-time homebuyer’s class, which VHCDC launched several years ago.

“We started in January and are almost finished,” Taylor said of the home that is located in Suffolk at 527 Virginia Ave. Two skilled and one unskilled laborer are renovating the home that VHCDC acquired from Wells Fargo in August.

Taylor said, “We started by just reaching out to several banks including Wells Fargo, Chase, Bank of America, and BB&T. I wrote to them and asked if we could be community partners. Lo’ and behold we received an email from Wells Fargo. They said they had property they wanted us to consider. The property was essentially a write-off for them. There was no way they could sell it. It was a major gut.”

In an effort to create a pipeline for first-time homebuyers, Taylor and others, well, became a movement.

“Our objective is to offer this renovated house to those who are enrolled in our first time homebuyers’ class. We are using this property as a see- what- we-can-do-project. “But the opportunity to become a movement has been there all along, Taylor said. “The opportunity to gather around a positive, creative, dynamic idea and help build a better, fairer, more sustainable more interesting world, as Goodson put it in his book. ”That opportunity has been there all along,” Taylor said.

“We are doing what we have been saying for years, ‘Do! Do! Do!’ The problem is too many people want to talk.”

“My goals are always economic,” Taylor added. “I went out and spoke with a lot of local small business owners in late 2015 to build a partnership that would acquire property in rundown neighborhoods, rehab them and restore these neighborhoods. We want local people to invest in local communities because it puts people to work. It restores neighborhoods and it gives small minority-owned businesses an opportunity for work. So it is a win-win for everybody concerned. It is particularly a win for those who invested in this project because they will reap the financial rewards. They are the ones who put up the money to do this.”


The point is you do not have to sort through famous names on social media to see how someone can become an instant, overnight movement. Another example is Claude Burton who launched Uplift Enterprises, a foundation which operates a non-profit called Our Youth/Our Future about seven years ago. Both serve at-risk youngsters in Newport News and Hampton.

The math tells the story. About 200 people attended this year’s Teens Got Talent contest. It was held on March 19 at Kecoughtan High School in Hampton and about two dozen teens performed. The math helps to tell the story because only about 75 people came to the first annual Teens Got Talent contest at Thomas Nelson Community College seven years ago, and less than 10 teens performed.

“I launched Uplift Enterprises because not everybody wants to play sports,” said Burton, who has been a school counselor for about three decades. Burton is also a basketball coach and works with youth in his fraternity, Omega Psi Phi.

“Instead of playing sports, some students want to sing, play the piano, write poetry, play the violin, and dance,” Burton said. “And at this year’s Teens Got Talent contest, we had 18 performers who did all of that. They ranged in age from about 12 to 18. It was great.”

Burton has seen his movement’s impact with his own two eyes, in other words. “Some of the kids have already finished high school and graduated from college,” he said. “A lot of our former students have also returned and performed. I have former students who are now enrolled at Norfolk State, Morehouse, and Virginia State University. I have students who have finished college. They all want to give back.”

Burton added, “I know being a movement works because I see positive outcomes in the youth I’ve worked with. Over the years, I have seen them get jobs, start different careers, or go to college. I’ve seen them all come back and give back. One of my students was on “America’s Got Talent.”

To learn more about Uplift Enterprises, please email Burton at

By Rosaland Tyler
Associate Editor

Half of the nation’s voters already think President Donald Trump has weakened the United States’ role in the world, according to a new McClatchy-Marist poll.

Trump has been criticized for a series of errors including a raid in Yemen that left a Navy Seal dead, insulting German Chancellor Angela Merkel by refusing to shake her hand, and the meeting that Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto canceled after Trump insisted Mexico would pay for the proposed wall along the U.S. southern border.

Fifty-five percent of voters think Trump has weakened the U.S.’s role, which is an increase from 52 percent in February. Not surprisingly, that includes 83 percent of Democrats but it also includes 59 percent of independents and 17 percent of Republicans as well as 12 percent of those who call themselves Trump supporters. Thirty-six percent think he has made the U.S. stronger. Nine percent were unsure.

“There is a fine line between showing strength and being confrontational in international matters and President Trump is still trying to find that line,” said Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion in New York, which conducted the survey.

“Even in the past month, his numbers for the image of the United States on the world stage and in his meeting with foreign leaders have declined, including among his GOP base,” Miringoff said.

He is expected to take his first trip abroad in May when he attends the G-7 and NATO summits in Belgium and Italy and is expected to visit Canada and Britain later this year.

The daughter of the wealthiest man in Africa has been appointed president of the Africa Center in New York City and will soon begin fundraising for the long-empty upper Fifth Avenue building.

Halima Aliko Dangote, daughter of the multi-billionaire Aliko Dangote, will hold an online press conference on March 30 as part of her major responsibility of raising capital for the center.

In 2017, three fundraising events are already planned including one in Nigeria by the Aliko Dangote Foundation at the Eko Hotels & Suite Victoria island.

The Africa Center was intended to help people understand and engage with contemporary Africa. Formerly the Museum for African Art, it was to have a soaring four-story wall, curved ceiling of rare Ghanaian wood and elaborate spiraling staircase.

After years of outsize promises and repeated postponements, it is hoped that Ms. Dangote and a new team will have the financial smarts or deep pockets to make the building come to life.
Until renovations are complete, the Africa Center will present pop-up events in the space.

Plans for the new building call for exhibition space, a theater, education center, library, classrooms, event space, restaurant and gift shop.

The Africa Center began life in 1984 in a set of townhouses on the Upper East Side, and moved to SoHo in 1993. Four years later, Elsie McCabe Thompson, a Harvard-trained lawyer who had been chief of staff for Mayor David N. Dinkins, took charge.

Ms. Thompson, who later married the city comptroller and 2013 mayoral candidate William C. Thompson Jr., managed to raise an impressive $75 million, the museum said, more than $32 million of it in public funds and tax credits. She also steered the project – originally scheduled to open in 2009 – through several crises, including the exit of a development partner and engineering problems.

The center was briefly led by Hadeel Ibrahim, daughter of philanthropist Mo Ibrahim, and Chelsea Clinton.

Ms. Dangote, one of three daughters of the billionaire entrepreneur, studied at the American Intercontinental University in London, graduating with a degree in marketing. She’s married to Suleiman Sani Bello and has two daughters.

In Africa, Mr. Dangote made his fortune in the cement, sugar and flour businesses. His cement factory is now the largest cement producer on the continent.

GLOBAL INFORMATION NETWORK creates and distributes news and feature articles on current affairs in Africa to media outlets, scholars, students and activists in the U.S. and Canada. Our goal is to introduce important new voices on topics relevant to Americans, to increase the perspectives available to readers in North America and to bring into their view information about global issues that are overlooked or under-reported by mainstream media.

In 1827, with the publication of the “Freedom’s Journal,” John Russwurm and Reverend Samuel Cornish established the Black Press and boldly declared their mission: to be the voice the African-American community, standing up for victims of injustice, and championing the unsung.

Dedicated, resilient and strong Black women, who account for a significant number of the 211 African-American owned newspapers and media companies, that are members of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), stand at the forefront of that mission, today.

As Women’s History Month concludes, NNPA President and CEO Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr., said that it’s important to recognize publishers like Rosetta Perry of “The Tennessee Tribune,” Elinor Tatum of the “New York Amsterdam News,” Janis Ware of “The Atlanta Voice,” Joy Bramble of “The Baltimore Times,” Brenda Andrews of the “The New Journal and Guide” and the many Black women that own and operate media companies in the United States and around the world.

Chavis said that it’s also important to acknowledge the role that women play as leaders in the NNPA.

“Four out of five members of the NNPA executive committee are women and, in 2017, that shows that NNPA, as a national trade organization, is out in front of all other organizations in putting women in the top positions,” said Chavis.

Denise Rolark Barnes, the publisher of “The Washington Informer,” serves as chair of the NNPA; Karen Carter-Richards, publisher of the “Houston Forward Times” holds the position of first vice chair.

Atlanta Voice publisher Janis Ware serves as treasurer; and Shannon Williams, the president and general manager of the “Indianapolis Recorder” works as the organization’s secretary.

“For the Black Press, Women’s History Month becomes more noteworthy because of the women of the NNPA and their very important roles,” Chavis said.

Still, the pressure of operating a newspaper isn’t lost on publishers like Richards of the 57-year-old Houston Forward Times.

Richards took over after the death of her mother, Lenora “Doll” Carter, whom she shadowed at the paper for more than 30 years.

“The business isn’t for the faint of heart and being a female publisher requires you to be even stronger,” Richards said. “Because of what my mother taught me, Forward Times Publishing Company has grown to become a multimedia company and award-winning national publication.”

Chida Warren-Darby, managing editor and co-publisher of the “Voice & Viewpoint” in San Diego, said that being a female publisher has proven to be an “amazing experience.”
Warren-Darby also offered advice to the next generation of women.

“[Women publishers] should always remain true to themselves and never conform. There’s a lot of authenticity missing in the world of journalism and the media industry as a whole,” Warren-Darby said. “I believe it’s slowly returning, but it will take the next generation to maintain that authenticity. I would also encourage them to know that their voices and ideas matter, to never underestimate what they bring to the table, and to never feel like it’s too late.”

Others have spelled out what the Black Press has brought to the table.

“The New York Times” noted that, well before the Civil War, publications and, more recently, radio and television stations owned and operated by African-Americans have provided an important counterweight to mainstream media, simultaneously celebrating and shaping Black culture – from politics and government to fashion and music.

It all starts with the Black Press and many of its talented and savvy female publishers.

“The Black Press has been the heartbeat of Black America since its inception,” said Tatum, publisher and editor-in-chief of the New York Amsterdam News, one of the most influential Black-owned and operated media businesses in the world, which ran its first edition in 1909. “From the abolition movement, to the Civil Rights movement to the Women’s Rights movement, the Black Press has been our voice, a voice not heralded anywhere else.”

Tatum continued: “A voice so true to itself that our community still heeds the call today. A voice in many cases owned by women, run by women and nurtured by women.”

About 190 miles south of New York, Bramble founded The Baltimore Times on the premise that they’d publish only positive stories about Black people. After more than 30 years, Bramble said that The Baltimore Times paper, and its companion, “The Annapolis Times,” haven’t wavered.

“I am extremely proud to be a part of the long tradition of respected women publishers. My challenges as a publisher have not come from my gender, but rather my race,” Bramble said. “Black newspapers must jump through ridiculous hoops to receive or even be considered for advertising and promotional dollars.”

Women are changing the world and represent an important audience that should not be taken for granted, said Natalie Cole, publisher and CEO of “OurWeekly Los Angeles” which was formed in 2004 and boasts a readership of more than 200,000 weekly.

“As an African-American woman publisher, readers and investors and supporters should not get caught up on my ethnicity as the driving force to their decisions; as to do so would be to sell themselves short,” Cole said.

“Therefore, the challenges that exist today are challenges to doing business successfully in our global marketplace. Yes, racism and, in many cases institutional racism is evident … some will never buy what we are selling.”

Cole continued: “However, we must continue to educate our loyal readers as to major players or companies that support our communities as well as those that don’t support us with an emphasis on companies to which African-Americans are their core customers.”

With the diligence of the NNPA member papers, news, information and commentary have been delivered each week to more than 20 million readers.

Since, its founding, the NNPA has been lauded for consistently being the voice of the Black community, reporting news that makes history.

“Our papers are trusted, read from cover to cover and are a vital part of the community – 190 years and still going strong,” Bramble said. “I am sure that we will still be around another 190 years, as we continue to be the standard bearer for all the good news that’s happening in our communities.”

By Stacy M. Brown
NNPA News Wire Contributor

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