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DC Football Team Loses Trademarks, Name Ruled to be Racist

Department of Commerce Patent and Trademark Office
(TriceEdney) - That racist nickname has been tackled for another loss.The latest setback for the Washington professional football team: The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has canceled the federal trademarks held by the D.C. team on the name.

“We decide. … that these registrations must be cancelled because they were disparaging to Native Americans at the respective times they were registered,” the board wrote in its opinion.”

Speculation that the decision could prod billionaire owner Daniel Snyder to consider a name change appears to be as solidly grounded as the notion that the moon is made of green cheese. He already has vowed to appeal the decision and expects to win. He’s fended off calls to change the name for the last 14 years, vowing never to do so.

The team has had its nickname since the 1930s and first registered the name as a trademark in 1967. Without a registered trademark, the D.C. team would be unable to protect its brand name or retain the exclusive rights to sell merchandise with the team name and logo.

The financial hit likely would be in the tens of millions of dollars annually.The D.C. team made $2.5 million at last year’s training camp in Richmond, mostly through merchandise sales.Five Native American citizens petitioned the patent office to overturn the team’s six registered trademarks.The named plaintiff in Blackwell v. Pro Football Inc.is Amanda Blackhorse, a Navajo and psychiatric social worker.

“It is a great victory for Native Americans and for all Americans,” Ms. Blackhorse stated. “I hope this ruling brings us a step closer to that inevitable day when the name of the Washington football team would be changed.”The plaintiffs had largely made the same argument as those who filed a trademark suit in 1992. The Patent Office canceled the trademarks in 1999, but the decision was overturned on appeal to federal court. A judge ruled that the petitioners had waited 25 years too long to challenge the trademark.The team is confident the latest decision also will be overturned on appeal.

“We’ve seen this story before,” team attorney Bob Raskopf said in a statement issued shortly after the ruling was announced Wednesday.“And just like last time, today’s ruling will have no effect at all on the team’s ownership and of the right to use the (racist mascot’s) name and logo,” he added. “We are confident we will prevail once again.” The plaintiffs believe that the current decision is based on appropriate grounds that will be upheld. Raymond H. Boone, the late Free Press editor/publisher,was the first newspaper owner in Virginia to ban the use of the D.C. team’s racist nickname from his paper’s news and editorial columns.He announced the ban last year.

President Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and 50 other U.S. senators are among others who have blasted the racist nickname. Sen. Reid said this week he would never attend another home football game until the team changes a name that he calls a racial slur.

We Can Make the Future Come Faster in the South

by Benjamin Todd Jealous

(TriceEdney) - We have the antidote to voter suppression: massive voter registration.

We proved it 50 years ago during Freedom Summer. We proved it again in Florida in 2012, when NAACP activists registered 115,000 people in a year when the legislature had effectively made traditional voter registration strategies illegal.

We need to prove it again this summer. As we prepare for November's midterm elections - and look forward to 2016 - our focus should be on the stretch of heavily black states and counties below the Mason-Dixon Line that make up the "Black Belt".

Our new report from the Southern Elections Foundation and the Center for American Progress shows that a massive wave of voter registration could upset the balance of power in many Black Belt states.

For instance, registering 30 percent of unregistered black voters would create enough "new black voters" - even after accounting for turnout rates - to swing a governor's race in Virginia or North Carolina. Meanwhile, registering 60 percent of unregistered black, Hispanic, and Asian voters could upset the balance of power in Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.

The conventional wisdom would say that this is impossible - that candidates who represent the views of communities of color and progressive whites simply do not have a chance of winning statewide office in these southern states. This conventional wisdom is wrong for two reasons.

First, it ignores the changing demographic and political trends in the Black Belt. Black re-migration and Latino and Asian immigration are reshaping the demographics of the region. Meanwhile, the extremism of the ruling far-right wing is pushing away white women and young voters of all races.

Second, it takes a pessimistic view of progress. Many people look at the Black Belt and say that nothing has changed for years, and ask why we should invest in the region. This has it exactly backwards. If we invest, then things will change. The light of southern politics has no dimmer switch. It is either on or it is off, and we have the power to switch it on again.

The summer of 2014 can be a season of revival. In the coming months, as black political conventions convene across the country to discuss their political strategy for the coming year, we should remember the mistakes of 2010, when low turnout rates led to a wave of extreme right wing candidates winning office across the country.

We have the power to make sure that does not happen again. In some states it may ultimately be too late to marshal funds for the 2014 election, but there is no reason we cannot start focusing on 2016.

We have the power in Georgia, where the New Georgia Project is working methodically to register 120,000 black, Hispanic and Asian American voters in the state - the biggest voter registration drive in 20 years.

We have the power in Mississippi, where the Mississippi Freedom Summer 50th Anniversary Conference is meeting in late June to reflect on the past five decades of political organizing and put a plan into action for the next five decades.

We have the power through all of the black civic organizations, which can collectively reach hundreds of thousands of people of color below the Mason Dixon Line, and through the growing number of unions and other progressive organizations that are sprouting in the South.

During Freedom Summer and the turbulent 1960's, civil rights activists used to ask new recruits, "Are you willing to die for Freedom?" Today we need to ask each other, "Are you willing to live for Freedom?"

Doing the work to register voters in the South will take our collective time, treasure and dedication. But it is crucial, and it can make the future come faster than many people think.
Jealous is the former President and CEO of the NAACP. He is currently a Partner at Kapor Capital and a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress.

Afrocentricnews.com

TV Stations Deal Increases Black Ownership and Opportunities for Content Producers

(TriceEdney) Nexstar Broadcasting Group announced early this month that it had a definitive agreement with Pluria Marshall Jr. and Marshall Broadcasting Group, a Black-owned media company, for the sale of three network affiliated TV stations in three markets for $58.5 million. The financing for MBG's purchase will be guaranteed by Nexstar.

Perry A. Sook, chairman, President and CEO of Nexstar Broadcasting Group, said, "We believe the proposed transaction announced today presents an ideal framework for introducing and incubating a new, minority-controlled entrant to broadcasting, and for bringing additional news, information and specialized programming to MBG's markets at the earliest possible opportunity."

Under the terms of the agreement MBG will acquire three full-powered, FOX affiliated stations, KMSS-TV (Shreveport, LA), KPEJ-TV (Odessa-Midland, TX) and KLJB-TV (Quad Cities, IA).

In addition to securing from Nexstar the purchase, MBG will also enter into agreements with Nexstar to provide sales, technical and administrative functions while MBG maintains control of the stations and programming.

According to a Nexstar press release on the sale, under the terms of the proposed services agreements, MBG will be entitled to 70 percent of the advertising revenue sold by Nexstar for the stations and will not provide for any bonus payments to Nexstar for achieving revenue goals. It will not be a fixed-fee payment; as total revenues increase, so does MBG's share.

The terms and conditions reflect the FCC's concerns when it voted in March to close loopholes in Joint Sales Agreement. The practice of allowing JSAs, where the owner of one TV station was allowed to sell advertising for another station, led to stations being able to effectively operate as owners of multiple stations in a market.

Also, the deal comes at a time when minority ownership of broadcast properties has gone from 18, full-power commercial TV stations in 2006 to none today.

Marshall Broadcasting Group, Inc. is a newly formed minority owned media entity owned 100% by Pluria Marshall Jr. Marshall is currently the president and chief executive officer of Equal Access Media Inc., which owns several newspapers serving African-American and minority communities, including The Texas Freeman and Houston Informer Newspapers, The Los Angeles Wave Newspaper Group, and the Los Angeles Independent Publications Group.

"We are delighted to have the support of Nexstar to promote diversity of media ownership assets among minority operators," said Pluria Marshall. "Over the last 30 years, I've devoted significant time and effort in seeking to purchase television and radio stations. The single key factor in each unsuccessful opportunity has been the inability to access the funding necessary for the purchase.

"With Nexstar's support and commitment to guarantee financing for the Shreveport, Odessa-Midland and Quad Cities station purchases, we believe we are establishing a new paradigm that addresses recent proposed FCC regulation changes while expanding the opportunity for minority broadcasters to play a greater role in the U.S. broadcasting industry as owners and operators of television stations."

MBG also intends to develop minority-oriented public affairs programming that will air on its stations and be syndicated to other television stations nationwide. In addition, Nexstar will add 13.5 hours of local news and public affairs programming on the stations it owns in Shreveport, Odessa-Midland and Quad Cities.

In commenting on the proposed sale between Nexstar and Marshall, the Executive Director of the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters, Jim Winston, told Target Market News, "We have reviewed the application submitted by Marshall Broadcasting Group and Nexstar and are very pleased to see that the transaction appears to be the type of transaction NABOB was hoping to see as a result of the new JSA rule. It appears to be the kind of transaction that should receive a waiver of the rule."

Winston added, "We still have some questions about the transaction, and we anticipate that the Commission will seek additional information form the parties about the transaction. We are optimistic that, as additional information is supplied to the Commission, NABOB will be able to wholeheartedly endorse this transaction. As described it represents the type of agreement that could be beneficial to increasing minority ownership of broadcast properties and create increased opportunities for minority-owned content producers and channels."

Afrocentricnews.com

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New Nike Basketball campaign recognizes the baddest athlete around.

comedian and civil rights activist Dick Gregory.

The Baddest: Kevin Durant
Portrait of Kevin Durant NBA MVP Throughout his MVP season, Kevin Durant proved again and again that he is among the league’s elite; some would even say “the baddest.”
He broke scoring records while averaging 32 points a game, capturing his fourth scoring title and leading his team to 69 wins and the conference finals.  Durant’s scoring versatility, leadership and confidence have risen to new heights.
Nike Basketball celebrates KD and the launch of the new signature KD7 with “The Baddest” campaign. Highlighted by an old-meets-new television spot, the ad honors KD and his timeless renaissance style.

Notable cameos in “The Baddest” TV spot include basketball legends George “Iceman” Gervin, Chris Mullin and Charles Oakley; and sharp-witted comedian and civil rights activist Dick Gregory.

Ruby Dee Exits the Stage but Remains in Our Hearts

by Marc H. Morial

(TriceEdney) - “The kind of beauty I want is the hard-to-get kind that comes from within: strength, courage, dignity.” Ruby Dee

In the past several weeks, two remarkable African American women artists took their final bows. In the midst of mourning the May 28 passing of Dr. Maya Angelou, we learned that last Wednesday, June 11, the great actress and activist Ruby Dee died at her home in New Rochelle, New York. Both Maya Angelou and Ruby Dee used their incomparable talents to reshape our notions of beauty, womanhood and race. They also inspired millions of people around the world with their extraordinary wisdom and dignity. Everything about Ruby Dee was an expression of a lifelong dedication to human rights, racial equality and social justice -- from the roles she portrayed to the causes she championed, even to the man she loved and was married to for 56 years, actor Ossie Davis. Though her physical presence is no longer with us, the larger than life impact Ruby Dee had on the stage, screen and the public consciousness will live on forever.

Known widely for her 1959 Broadway and 1961 movie roles as Ruth Younger, the wife of Walter Lee Younger, as played by Sidney Poitier, in “A Raisin in the Sun,” Ruby Dee’s acting career spanned more than six decades and earned her numerous awards, including an Emmy, a Grammy, an Obie and a Screen Actors Guild Award. In 2008, she was nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her portrayal of Mama Lucas, the mother of Denzel Washington’s character, Frank Lucas, in “American Gangster.” In 1995, President Bill Clinton awarded her and Ossie Davis the National Medal of Arts. She also won widespread acclaim for her 1950 portrayal of Rachel Robinson, the wife of the first Black major league baseball player in “The Jackie Robinson Story.” She and Ossie Davis also had notable roles in several Spike Lee films including “Do the Right Thing” and “Jungle Fever.”

Ruby Dee’s elegant and tenacious presence radiated as much off the stage and screen as it did on. She and Ossie Davis, who died in 2005, were civil rights and social justice activists who supported and worked alongside Paul Robeson, Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. This unique husband-wife team even served as master and mistress of ceremonies for the historic 1963 March on Washington. They were both long-time members and supporters of numerous civil rights organizations. In 1970, the New York Urban League honored Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis with its prestigious Frederick Douglass Award. In 1986, the National Urban League presented them both our Equal Opportunity Day Award, and in 1985 at the National Urban League’s 75th anniversary Founders Day program, Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis served as key program participants, sharing poetry and reflections of Urban League history.

In 1998, the couple published a joint autobiography titled, “With Ossie & Ruby: In This Thing Together,” an epitaph that will adorn the urn that will hold both their ashes. According to the Washington Post, in 2008, Ruby Dee described the epitaph to Jet magazine: “If I leave any thought behind, it is that we were in this thing together, so let’s love each other right now. Let’s make sense of things right now. Let’s make it count somehow right now, because we are in this thing together.” That was not only the key to the remarkable marriage of Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis; it is a lesson for us all.

Marc Morial is president/CEO of the National Urban League

The Face of Economic Recovery

by Julianne Malveaux

(TriceEdney) - From its June 18-19 meeting, the Federal Reserve is hedging its bets. It says the US economy is on the mend, but more slowly than expected. They’ve reduced their estimate for economic growth and say that it will take a year or more to get to where we were six years ago. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has offered a starker forecast. Expected growth for the United States is about 3 percent, a level considered “normal” and “in recovery”. They projected something right above two percent earlier this year. Now they say the United States economy will grow at about 1.9 percent, below robust recovery, and that it will take until 20187 to get the labor market back on track.

Meanwhile, the stock market seems to signal a healthy recovery, and surveys of human resource professionals say that more employers are offering signing and retention bonuses to get the best employees and to keep them. Obviously the nearly 10 million people that are unemployed aren’t being offered any kind of bonuses. Most of them just want work. That’s not to mention the 3.4 million people who have not worked in half a year or more. Bonus? Please.

The economic recovery is as bifurcated as our economic reality has always been. The Occupy folks estimated it in a way that galvanized energy and spoke some truth. Does the top one percent of our population get all the benefits of economic growth? Just about. One of the most telling statistics deals with race and recovery. Aggregately, whites and Asians Americans have fully recovered from economic shortfalls, African Americans have seen their wealth rebound by only 45 percent. They have lost 55 percent of wealth, bearing a disproportionate burden from this recovery.

When we parse the data by class, we learn that President Obama’s focus on the middle class leaves the poor where they have always been – at the periphery of economic progress. Until the job markets open up at entry level, instead of providing opportunities for the middle class and more, the recovery will not trickle down. Meanwhile, there are members of Congress who truly believe that the unemployed are jobless because they want to be. These are folks who apparently refuse to read the data about the search for work.

What does economic recovery look like? It looks like vibrancy. It looks like people joyfully working. It looks like people who spend, if not freely, certainly less cautiously. They don’t have to run an algorithm in their brain before they decide that their child can have an ice cream cone. It means being able to put a few pennies aside for college possibilities. It means having a moment to exhale.

For all the talk of Wall Street exuberance and economic recovery, there are millions who are still waiting to exhale. While we mostly focus oh the officially unemployed, the equally pressing concern is about those who are underemployed, working part time when they want to work full time. All of these folks are in the job search mix, and they are too often the people we ignore.

In many ways this is also a “race matters” narrative. Economic recovery looks great for some, good for others, and absolutely dismal for those at the bottom. The unofficial unemployment rate among African Americans remains at someplace near 25 percent. The Bureau of Labor Statistics won’t measure that, because then they will have to report the economic failure inherent in this so-called economic recovery.

The Federal Reserve and the IMF are reporting economic projections that trickle down. They say the economic recovery will not happen as quickly as they once projected, and that they have a “wait and see” attitude. The Fed is moving closer to raising interest rates, and are withdrawing from their bond buying program that fostered economic stability. Their “wait and see” really means pulling back, which may help the overall economy. When will those on the bottom, the least, the last, and the left out, experience recovery. Until those who make public policy are prepared to deal with persistent economic bifurcation, economic recovery looks good for some, dismal as ever for others.

Julianne Malveaux is a DC based economist and author.

Clyburn to Black Church: ‘Let’s Rededicate Ourselves’ to Civil Rights Gains

FBI Flyer of three missing civil rights workers who were found murdered 1964
Copy of FBI flyer showing three missing civil rights workers who were found murdered during Freedom Summer of 1964
Congressman Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.)
Congressman Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) speaks to congregation at Greater Mount Calvary Holy Church. PHOTO: Courtesy GMCHC
by Hazel Trice Edney

(TriceEdney) - In a year with a string of civil rights anniversaries - including the 50th Anniversary of Mississippi Freedom Summer - one of the highest ranking African-Americans in the U. S. Congress, is warning commemorators to go far beyond simply recalling the pain and suffering.

U. S. Rep. James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.), who also serves as assistant House Democratic Leader, told a Washington, D.C. congregation that with the 70th anniversary of the signing of the GI bill (veterans’ educational benefits) June 22; the 60th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education desegregation ruling March 17, and the 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, signed into law on July 2, there is much opportunity for a civil rights revival of sorts.

“Whether you celebrate the 70th anniversary of a change in your life, the 60th anniversary of a change in your life or the 50th anniversary of a change in your life - whatever you celebrate - just remember that this year as we celebrate, let’s rededicate ourselves to the proposition that we will not allow those who lost their lives…and were beaten…Let’s rededicate ourselves to the proposition that we will not allow those lives to have gone down in vain.”

Clyburn was giving remarks at the Greater Mount Calvary Holy Church in North East D.C. as he prepared for a signing of his new memoir, Blessed Experiences: Genuinely Southern, Proudly Black. He told the mega-church congregation, led by Bishop Alfred Owens, that even his worst moments being jailed during civil rights battles in the 60s have come to be blessings and lessons to be passed on.

“I had experiences, and as I said in this book, all of them were not pleasant, but all of them were blessings,” he said. “Sometimes it required that I look back to see the blessings because many times when I was experiencing it, it felt like a curse.”

Clyburn’s remarks came as civil rights enthusiasts across America prepared to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of “Mississippi Freedom Summer” this week. It was during this summer in 1964 that three civil rights workers went missing as hundreds of volunteers – mostly young White northerners defying Jim Crow laws - converged on Mississippi to register Black voters.On June 21, 1964, it was discovered that the three men, Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman, and James Chaney, had been arrested, released and then beaten and killed by a Ku Klux Klan lynch mob.

According to the NAACP, the murders led to the first successful federal prosecution of a civil rights case in Mississippi that had been investigated by the FBI.
In sync with the same sentiments expressed by Clyburn, NAACP President Lorraine C. Miller issued a statement saying the best way to commemorate this horrific tragedy of Freedom Summer is to take action for voting rights in 2014 by pledging to vote this November “to honor the sacrifices made by Freedom Summer activists for our right to vote.”

A string of speakers and a gala will take place during the Mississippi Freedom Summer commemoration June 25-29. Details are outlined on the official website, http://freedom50.org/.

Miller concluded, “The circumstances under which we fight may have changed, but our values remain constant. All Americans, regardless of income or the color of their skin, must be able to freely exercise their constitutional right to vote…The work of civil rights activists to protect this right did not stop when Freedom Summer ended, or even with the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. As long as there are legislators fighting to keep our most vulnerable populations away from the polls, our work and our struggle continues.”


'Free Her Rally' Draws Crowd to National Mall

Free Her Rally' Draws Crowd to National Mall
Despite dark clouds, more than 200 people came out to the National Mall for Saturday's Free Her Rally
Despite dark clouds, more than 200 people came out to the National Mall for Saturday's Free Her Rally. PHOTO: Glynn A. Hill/TriceEdney
by Glynn A. Hill

(TriceEdneyWire.com)—Gray clouds and occasional drizzle didn’t stop more than 200 people from gathering on the National Mall Saturday to protest and demand an end to the alarming incarceration rate of women - disparately African-American.

Some came from as far as New Haven, Conn. for the rally, which featured speakers, singers, and a spoken word performance aimed at continuing to raise awareness of criminal justice disparities.

“Our focus is on the women and bringing them home,” said Andrea James, executive director of Families for Justice as Healing, a Boston, Mass.-based criminal justice reform group. She was also the organizer of the Free Her Rally. “It’s important to help the rest of the country understand how very wrong this slippery slope we’ve gone down is in terms of incarcerating women, particularly those who are African-American; and the impact it’s had on our children and our communities,” she said.

There are currently more than 200,000 women in prison or jail in the United States. That figure represents an increase of over 800 percent in the past three decades according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS).

Of those women in state prisons, more than half have been sentenced for drug or property crimes, which are non-violent offenses. In 2005, just 35 percent of women in prison were convicted of violent offenses, according to the BJS.

The rate of incarceration for African-American women has declined over the last 15 years, dropping 30.7 percent between 2000 and 2009. Yet, they are still imprisoned at nearly three times the rate of White women and have a higher incarceration rate than Hispanic women, according to the Sentencing Project, a research and advocacy group, pressing for reform.

Most of the speakers had friends and relatives who had been incarcerated or were imprisoned at some point themselves. They spoke about their personal experiences with a criminal justice system that they feel punishes communities just as much as individuals. For them, when mothers go behind bars, there are wide-ranging repercussions that intimately affect those around them.

“It’s destroying our communities,” said Patricia Allard, an attorney from New York who spoke at the rally.

“When you take a mother away from her child for a non-violent offense, you are essentially sentencing the child as well,” she said. “People talk about harm reduction around drug use. Instead I’d like to talk about reducing the harm that the prison industrial complex does to families.”

In 2007, approximately 65,600 women in federal and state custody reported being the mothers of 147,400 minor children, according to a BJS special report. It said that 77 percent of incarcerated mothers reported providing most of the daily care for their children before incarceration. Eleven percent of incarcerated mothers reported that their children were being placed in foster care, compared to only two percent of fathers.

For advocates, this is also an issue of human rights.

“These are women who couldn’t even attend their own child’s funeral,” said Dorothy Johnson Speight, the founder and executive director of Mothers in Charge, which works toward violence prevention, education and intervention for youth, young adults, families and community organizations.

Speight says events like the Free Her Rally are important for raising awareness to ultimately bring about change.

If the change in lifestyle isn’t evident when incarcerated women are sentenced, it becomes clear after they are released.

Women face significant obstacles in effectively reentering society and providing for themselves and their children as they find themselves restricted from governmental assistance programs. Some states even impose bans on people with certain convictions working in certain industries such as nursing, child care, and home health care.

In light of this, there has been some progress on incarceration disparities.

The 2010 Fair Sentencing Act narrowed the disparity between penalties for crack and powder cocaine offenses. In 2013, President Obama granted clemency to 21 individuals (eight commutations and thirteen pardons).

Despite those successes, advocates are looking for more. They say that the passage of the Smarter Sentencing Act would help, but more must be done to heal the cultural scars that harsh or unfair sentences have done to communities.

James is the final speaker. When she is done talking, the crowd bursts out with chants of “Free Her! Free Her!”

James says this is only the beginning and that the next step is building off of their momentum.

“We’re working hard to get commutation for the women we support,” she said. “We’ve been around the country twice with the Free Her Rally, coming together and coalition-building. We want to push the legislation from state to state to make change, and ultimately bring the women in the federal system home too.”

Afrocentricnews.com


Former Congressman Jackson in Line for Early Prison Release

Former Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr
Former Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr.
by Frederick H. Lowe

(TriceEdney) - Good behavior has cut former Congressman Jesse L. Jackson Jr.'s time behind bars. Jackson is scheduled to be released from prison on Sept. 20, 2015, a spokesperson for the Federal Bureau of Prisons today told The NorthStar News & Analysis.

Jackson, who is serving his sentence in the federal prison camp at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Ala., had been scheduled to be released on Dec. 31, 2015.

U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson sentenced Jackson to 30 months in prison for misusing $750,000 in campaign funds. Judge Jackson and the former congressman are not related.

Former Congressman Jackson transferred to the federal prison camp from the federal prison in Butner, N.C., where he began his sentence last October.

The Bureau of Prisons cut Jackson's prison time because of good time he had already earned and the good time he will earn in the future.

Inmates can earn up to 54 days of good time for each year they are in prison, reducing their sentences, the spokesperson said. They can lose good time for fighting and other infractions that violate prison regulations.

When Jackson completes his prison sentence, his wife, Sandra Stevens Jackson, a former Chicago Alderman, will begin her time behind bars. Judge Jackson sentenced Sandra Jackson to 12 months in prison.

Judge Jackson allowed the Jacksons to served staggered sentences with the former Congressman serving his sentence first, followed by Sandra Jackson. The judge allowed the arrangement so one parent could be with their two young children. Sandra Jackson pled guilty in February to filing false federal income tax returns on $570,000 from 2006 through 2011.

Jackson is the son of Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr., founder of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, which is based in Chicago. His son represented Illinois 2nd Congressional District from 1995 to 2012.

Fifty Years After Civil Rights Act: A Land of Opportunity

by William Spriggs

(TriceEdney) - Fifty years ago this week, the U.S. Senate passed the version of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that would be passed by the House and signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson. The bill faced a filibuster of 14 hours and 13 minutes by the late Sen. Robert Byrd of West Virginia.

Between the passage by the Senate and debate by the House, three young civil rights workers—Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman and James Earl Chaney—disappeared into the night on June 21, 1964, driving in the rural area near Philadelphia, Miss. Schwerner, Goodman and Chaney were later found dead, having been murdered for trying to register African American voters in Mississippi.

On Monday, this week, the AFL-CIO supported a Moral Monday protest in North Carolina revisiting many of the issues America faced in 1964, and meant to be addressed by the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Many things have changed since then. Too many things have not.

The Senate debated the Civil Rights Act for 60 working days, including Saturday sessions. Rarely today does Congress meet to carefully craft legislation lifting the lives of people. An important purpose of the act was to ensure economic freedoms for African Americans, especially the right to hold a job. In the 1960s, major American newspaper want ads openly advertised for segregated job openings. Those cold hard lines denied access to earning a living. Today, Senate Republicans filibuster votes to raise the minimum wage, and House Republicans refuse to debate it. That cold hard line leaves more than 2.6 million Americans working full time, year round but living in poverty, and America’s poor families with workers are unable to earn enough to get out of poverty.

North Carolina is a state where a child born into poverty has less than a 6 percent chance of moving up to the top 20 percent of the income pile. In the Wilson area, a poor child has only a 3.9 percent chance of moving up above middle. This is not because of single parent households, individual irresponsibility or the water people in North Carolina drink. The problem is that North Carolina has policies that trap people who fall down into poverty.

Lose a job? In North Carolina, the average unemployment benefit will replace only 35 percent of your pay, ranking 30th out of 53 unemployment systems in the United States and its territories, and you only have a 35 percent chance you will get any benefit at all, ranking 51st out of 53. If you are a single mother, then your combined Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and Temporary Assistance to Needy Families benefit will just get you to the level of extreme poverty (50 percent of the poverty line), ranking 43rd out of 51 (the 50 states and the District of Columbia).

Hunt for a job, and you will be in one of the states where the minimum wage remains at the federal level of $7.25 an hour, making you a minority among American workers, since most now live in states where democracy is working to lift the minimum wage to more decent levels. Or, try landing a job that has paid sick days, health insurance and retirement benefits—meaning a union job; the share of jobs protected by a collective bargaining agreement in North Carolina stands at less than 4.8 percent, ranking 48th out of the 51.

At the August 1963 March for Jobs and Freedom, labor and civil rights leader A. Philip Randolph famously remarked: “Yes, we want all public accommodations open to all citizens, but those accommodations will mean little to those who cannot afford to use them.”

North Carolina and its radical Republican governor and legislature are hastily passing laws not to put government on the side of the people, but to put people at the servitude of the 1 percent. They have been limiting access to unemployment insurance, standing in the way of accepting federal support to extend access to health insurance to the working poor and in the way of lifting the minimum wage. And, to make sure that no one objects to their hijacking of democracy, they are taking actions to limit voting and to deny access to the state capitol for people to exercise their 1st Amendment “right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

So, while the Civil Rights Act of 1964 sought the end of race-based laws, the state of North Carolina is trapping people into poverty.

Female Genital Mutilation - A Horror of Dominance

by Dr. E. Faye Williams, Esq.

(TriceEdney) - When a girl prepares for marriage in the United States and the western world, she plans her trousseau and shops for her wedding gown. I recently learned from Angela Peabody, author of “When the Games Froze”, that in parts of Africa, the preparation for marriage is far removed from trousseau and wedding gowns. For too many, the practice of female genital mutilation (FMG) is at the top of the list for marriage preparations. FGM is the intentional removal of external parts of the female genitalia for non-medical reasons. There’re four related types of procedures.

Clitoridectomy: partial or total removal of the clitoris (a small, sensitive and erectile part of the female genitals) and, in very rare cases, only the prepuce (the fold of skin surrounding the clitoris).
Excision: partial or total removal of the clitoris and the labia minora, with or without excision of the labia majora (the labia are "the lips" that surround the vagina).
Infibulation: narrowing of the vaginal opening through the creation of a covering seal. The seal is formed by cutting and repositioning the inner or outer labia, with or without removal of the clitoris.
Other: all other harmful procedures to the female genitalia for non-medical purposes, e.g. pricking, piercing, incising, scraping and cauterizing the genital area.

Commonly, the question asked is, “Why is this done?" Some African men believe the woman is not marriageable if she hasn’t been mutilated. They believe the clitoris and labia are male parts on the woman, and should be removed. Others believe that pleasurable sexual activity is a privilege exclusive to men.

While FGM is a tradition of more than 5000 years, it's difficult to eradicate this time-worn tradition in Africa. More than 30 African nations still uphold the principles of FGM and it’s a primary source of income for the “Zoes” that perform it. An estimated 8000 girls experience this cruel ritual annually, while over 90 million African women are victims of it. World-wide, 100 to 140 million girls and women live with the physical repercussions and the psychological trauma caused by such a horrific procedure -- the kind of emotional scars that never really heal.

A 76-year old former “Zoe” said she stopped performing FGM in 2003, upon learning how harmful the practice is. She said, “I used to circumcise 15 to 20 girls a day during FGM season. It was a source of income.” She now condemns FGM and, despite any personal hardship, vows never to return to the practice.

FGM is practiced mostly in developing nations in Africa, particularly sub-Saharan Africa, and in Asia. Other smaller pockets of this practice exist in the Middle East and North America. FGM in North America is typically limited to immigrant cultures which have brought this brutal custom with them.

FGM has absolutely no health benefits and violates the fundamental human rights of security and integrity of females. Without proper education of men and women alike, females in Africa will remain powerless victims of FGM and its twin-tradition of early marriage. These traditions deny girls the most effective remedy to FGM -- the pursuit of higher education.

In a recent speech, Eva Flomo, a brave FGM survivor, said, “I am an avid fan of the perfect woman created by God. She has no defect. Her genitals were created for a purpose. Why must that perfect woman go through needless pain because someone wants to “fix” her for a man? If God needed our opinion to alter something about His creation, He would have offered the chance to do so.”

We live in an "enlightened era," but how can we claim enlightenment when millions of girls exist in the bondage of FGM?

(Dr. E. Faye Williams is National Chair of the National Congress of Black Women, Inc. www.nationalcongressbw.org. 202/678-6788.)

The Fight for the South

by Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr.

(TriceEdney) - With the Republican takeover of the Virginia State Senate, Republicans now control the state legislatures in all 11 former confederate states. Now the reconstruction of the New South that was launched by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Lyndon B. Johnson is under assault. King’s movement and Johnson’s presidential power transformed the South after the Supreme Court ruled segregation unconstitutional in Brown v. Board of Education.

The Voting Rights Act gave Blacks the right to vote. Civil rights legislation opened up public facilities and launched an era of affirmative actions to overcome segregation. The War on Poverty extended Medicare, food stamps, housing aid, jobs programs and more to the impoverished. The transformation generated its own reaction.

Johnson predicted that Democrats would lose the South for a generation. Under Nixon, the Republican Party adopted a southern strategy, making itself the party of white sanctuary, displacing conservative Democrats. Slowly, Republicans began picking up seats and consolidating their position, even as the country grew more diverse. Barack Obama’s election shocked many white southerners, accelerating the process. Now Republican governors and legislatures across the South are chipping away at the progress that has been made.

Emboldened when the Supreme Court overturned key parts of the Voting Rights Act, they are passing legislation that makes voting harder for working and poor people, disproportionately minorities. And when the Supreme Court affirmed state rights over the expansion of Medicaid in health care reform, Republican governors and legislatures across the South blocked the expansion, depriving millions of poor working families of decent health protection.

Where governors once sought to stand in the schoolhouse door, now they stand at the hospital door. These states are not opposed to federal money. Of the top 10 states with budgets containing the highest percentage of revenue from the federal government, five are in the South — Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi, Virginia and South Carolina. South Carolina, for example, suffers the third-highest poverty rate in the U.S., with nearly 20 percent of all residents and more than one-fourth of all children in poverty.

Yet, Gov. Nikki Haley has turned her back on $11 billion in federal resources for Medicaid expansion and hundreds of millions for education. The state lobbies for more money for military bases, ports and highways, but turns its back on the poor. Will the progress of the last decades be turned back? Will the Old South block the growth of a New South?

The political threat is clear. Republicans consolidate their position as a party of white sanctuary and dominate elections across the South. National Democrats decide it is not worth investing in those states, with the exception possibly of outliers, like Texas and Florida. The Deep South descends once more into a region of racial reaction. One problem with this is that a reactionary South can have an inordinate influence in our national politics.

We’ve seen how a Republican minority in the Senate, constructed significantly of senators from the southern states, can obstruct sensible reforms, from raising the minimum wage to paycheck fairness to allowing refinancing of student loans at a lower rate. This Republican Party could block steps to strengthen civil rights laws, enforce labor laws, or provide a helping hand to the poor. If the New South is to be revived, the battle must be fought at the state and local level.

As Dr. King taught us, only the victims of oppression can stop their own victimization. A new movement of poor working people — joining across lines of race or gender — must rise to challenge the new reaction. When that movement builds, people of conscience across the country will respond. In North Carolina’s Moral Monday demonstrations, we may be seeing the beginnings of that movement. It is spreading to Georgia and South Carolina. Once more, the battle for the future of the South is joined. We all have a stake in its outcome.

Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. is president/CEO of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition
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