As Black women in South Carolina head to the polls, a media and membership company created by and for Black women, released The Black Woman’s Guide to the 2020 Elections, a primer to demystify the electoral process and provide Black women with the information and inspiration they need to vote in the presidential primaries and election.
“Black women are some of the most reliable voters and a critical progressive voting bloc,” said Jocelyn Harmon, co-founder and editor of BlackHer. “Unfortunately, our contributions, especially to the Democratic party, often go unnoticed. We wanted to create a resource that provides Black women with the information we need to exercise our political power and elevate our political leadership.”
The online guide offers clear, accessible guidance to Black women on voting, volunteering, and giving to political campaigns and candidates this election season. It provides links to key voter resources to help Black women:
-Verify their voter registration;
-Find their polling place; and,
-Register to vote.
It also underscores key issues that are at stake in this election including:
-Ending voter suppression;
-Expanding affordable healthcare; and,
-Reforming the criminal justice system.
The guide highlights Black women incumbents running for reelection and candidates running for Congress in 2020. And includes inspirational quotes from current and legendary Black women in politics including: Shirley Chisholm, the first African-American female elected to Congress, Lori Lightfoot, the first African-American mayor of Chicago, and Ayanna Pressley, the freshman Congresswoman from Massachusetts.
The authors cite and link Black women to key organizations like Black Futures Lab, BlackPAC, Black Voters Matter Fund, Higher Heights for America, and the Black Women’s Roundtable that are advancing Black women’s political power.
“Black women understand the importance of being at the table each election season. Together, we have the power to elect a new president, politicians who will actually represent our interests, and create progressive change.” said Angela Dorn, co-founder of BlackHer.
Patapsco Heritage Greenway, in partnership with the Maryland Heritage Areas Program, will host “Centering Black Stories: A Primer for Heritage Professionals” on April 7, 2020 @10:00AM-2:00PM. This event is free and open to the public and will be held at the Westchester Community Center, 2414 Westchester Ave., Oella, Baltimore County, Maryland 21043. Registration is requested: Register Online.
Black history is American history. However, due to a variety of factors, centering and appropriately interpreting black stories can be difficult for museum professionals. Join a panel of experts for a “how-to” workshop on Black history. Panel participants will share their insights into researching, interpreting, and exhibiting black history in Maryland. Broad lessons on the topic applicable to partners from around the state will be complimented by a special focus on Patapsco Valley stories.
Patapsco Heritage Greenway and the Maryland Heritage Areas Program invite area staff and stakeholders of cultural, history, park, and natural resource organizations for this free, two part workshop held in Oella, adjacent to Ellicott City, MD. The morning session will be a moderated panel discussion of experts in the field with time for questions. Lunch will be provided. The afternoon session will consist of table top discussions led by panel participants to work directly with participants.
The panel of experts will include:
Chanel Compton, Executive Director, Banneker-Douglass Museum and the Maryland Commission on African American History and Culture
Louis Diggs, Local Historian/Author
Dennis Doster, Black History Program Manager, The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, Department of Parks and Recreation, Prince George’s County
Nastassia Parker, Public Historian, Character Interpreter, and Lecturer.
Michelle Wright, Associate Professor, History & Africana Studies Community College of Baltimore County
● For more information about Patapsco Heritage Greenway visit www.patapsco.org
When Juanita Jackson Mitchell died in 1992 at the age of 79, she was praised as one of Maryland’s heroines and as the matriarch of a family whose name became synonymous with civil rights causes.
“It was fitting that she received recognition because she was always one of those unsung champions of the cause and one who needs to be celebrated during both Black History and Women’s History month,” said Shane Carter, a self-described “black history buff.”
Mitchell, the daughter of legendary NAACP leader Lillie Carroll Jackson, spent most of her life fighting against racism and segregation.
“I am an old freedom fighter. I came up in that tradition,” Mitchell once said in describing her upbringing.
Mitchell’s parents, who were living in Baltimore at the time, were traveling in Hot Springs, Arkansas when Mitchell was born.
She’d later become one of the first black women to graduate from the University of Maryland Law School and the first black woman to practice law in the state of Maryland.
Her late husband, Clarence M. Mitchell Jr., was a nationally recognized Capitol Hill lobbyist for the NAACP and her children, Michael B. Mitchell and Clarence M. Mitchell III, went on to become state senators.
Mitchell and her family frequently moved across the South as her father showed feature films in church basements, often the only facilities available to Black people while she was growing up. While her father changed movie reels, Mitchell would recite poetry to the moviegoers, according to BlackThen.com.
In 1937, Mitchell became the NAACP’s first national youth director and visited the Scottsboro Boys in prison. Under her leadership, the NAACP youth groups launched a letter-writing campaign to protest the conviction of the Scottsboro Boys.
They also set up a fundraising drive to help support the young men.
She also led the key NAACP Baltimore branch during the same crucial period.
Mitchell founded the Baltimore City-Wide Young People’s Forum in 1931 and the NAACP Youth Movement in 1935.
In 1942, she directed a march on Maryland’s Capitol with 2,000 citizens, as well as the first city-wide “Register and Vote” campaign. The campaign resulted in 11,000 new voter registrations on the books.
In 1958, Mitchell directed the NAACP’s “Register to Vote” campaign, which resulted in over 20,000 new registrations.
She was appointed to Presidential Commissions by Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, and Lyndon B. Johnson.
Mitchell was also a member of various organizations that supported the well-being of African Americans, such as Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, the National Association of Negro Business, and the Black American Professional Women’s Club.
In 1986, she was inducted into the Maryland Women’s Hall of Fame.
“Folks like Juanita Jackson Mitchell are the folks we often miss during Black History Month and during Women’s History Month because everyone wants to concentrate on celebrities and superstars,” Carter said. “But people should take a minute to look at the history of our real heroes,” he said.
NEXT & LAST COMMUNITY CONVERSATION – Conversation 3 (Vision For A Healthier Baltimore) March 7, SAT btcommconvo3.eventbrite.com at the Impact Hub 10 E North Ave, 10am-1pm. See you there.
Cheryl Casciani: Reflections in Baltimore’s Changing Neighborhoods
Cheryl Casciani, Director of Planning and Community Revitalization, Baltimore’s Department of Planning reflects on Baltimore’s Changing Neighborhoods: A Community Conversation sponsored by The Baltimore Times. This first of three sessions was held February 22, 2020 at The Impact Hub. Morgan’s Department of Strategic Communication students are media partners on the project.
The Baltimore Times opened its three-part community conversations series with a forum entitled “Baltimore’s Future: A Conversation on Baltimore’s Changing Neighborhoods” on February 22, 2020 at Impact Hub Baltimore.
The meaningful discussion, made possible by a grant from The Lenfest Institute for Journalism and Facebook Journalism Project Community Network, was a way of bringing the community together to create informative sharing opportunities.
Community members, stakeholders, real estate investors and nonprofit leaders convened along with the editorial staff of the Baltimore Times to participate in a session centered around the importance of fair and affordable housing, home ownership and real estate investment.
Following the welcome address by emcee Cassandra Vincent and Baltimore Times publisher Joy Bramble was an informative panel discussionbetween Khalil Uqdah and Kyara Gray of Charm City Buyers, Pamela Curtis of Park Heights Renaissance Inc., Nneka Nnamdi of Fight Blight Bmore and LaQuida Chancey of Smalltimore Homes.
In addition to providing insight on their respective organizations and their community involvement, panelists covered a diverse array of subject matters, including opportunity zones, revitalization, improvements and innovation, investing in disadvantaged communities, redlining and gentrification.
Further, panelists identified unfair housing policies and practices and expressed solutions for what many may perceive as a worsening housing crisis in Baltimore – particularly for Black residents.
Joy Bamble, publisher of the Baltimore Times, gives a welcome address to the participants of the opener of a three-part community conversations series at Impact Hub Baltimore.
Cassandra Vincent, special project lead for the three-part community conversations series at Impact Hub Baltimore and special project and programming manager at The Baltimore Times.
“There’s a lot of information about how we got to today that most people don’t know of. There’s a lot of things that are happening today that people aren’t aware of, so it’s good to have these community assemblies,” said Nnamdi, the CEO of Fight Blight Bmore.
“It also gives an opportunity for what they call creative collisions where people come together and create something authentically in that moment, and it opens the door for more collective and cooperative work going forward.”
Community and economic development, social advocacy, building generational wealth, establishing partnerships and tax credit programs were among some of the solutions discussed along with actionable recommendations like developing in estate plans, seeking financial counsel and investing in land trusts.
“I do think that it’s all about resource sharing, but more importantly it’s about getting the word out there that these organizations exist,” said Chancey, who has endeavors to reduce homelessness by creating more affordable housing through micro shelter and tiny home communities.
“So much of the work that’s done in Baltimore is really siloed and kind of split up, and everybody doesn’t know the impact that is happening around the city, so these kinds of conversations are necessary.”
Chris Ryer, director of Baltimore City Department of Planning, delivered a brief presentation following the panel discussion. In his lecture, Ryer discussed the federal disinvestment in housing and presented a framework for community development as he identified “impact investment areas” and outlined a plan to work with community partners to redevelop underserved neighborhoods.
Lucky Crosby Sr., a concerned resident and public housing advocate, is part of an organization based in Sandtown-Winchester that represents public housing residents and low-income residents in distressed communities. He attended the community conversation and offered insight, too.
“I’m very concerned about the changes in the community, the type of demographics that’s being brought in [and] the safety of the deconstruction of the demolition of the homes in my community,” Crosby said.
To conclude the afternoon, participants engaged in a table talk facilitated by Nnamdi and Chancey, which was somewhat of an extension of the panel discussion. During the roundtable discussion, attendees asked questions, expressed concerns and exchanged ideas related to housing in Baltimore City.
One of the suggestions at the table talk was partnering with the educational system to implement financial literacy in the school curriculum in hopes of increased home ownership for future generations.
The Baltimore Times opened its three-part community conversations series
“I think there’s a lot of very important information being imparted here and I highly recommend it,” said Jacqueline Fulton, a pediatrician based in west Baltimore. “I just think that it’s been very informative. For me, I didn’t know a lot about housing and it’s also letting me know about things happening in Baltimore that a lot of folks like me aren’t aware of.”
Likewise, Erika Jernigan, came to the community conversation to support the Baltimore Times and connect with different resources available at the forum.
Jernigan, the owner of Lexi’s Lil Bug, a children’s rideshare service that serves busy-working families in Baltimore City, Anne Arundel County and Baltimore County.
“I think it will make a major impact,” said Jernigan, “especially if we’re able to track all of the work that’s coming out of the community conversations, and then be able to replicate these conversations in a bigger scale, so that way they’re able to support and grow through the Baltimore Times.”
When Najah Aziz nodded off during an annual job performance review, she knew she had to make a move. She wanted out of the insurance business and into the hair salon, feeding a passion she developed as a child styling her six sisters’ hair.
Quitting the security of corporate America after 16 years, she told Zenger News, came with a second ambition: to inject a new sense of professionalism into the African American hair industry.
Aziz eventually took the leap and put her evening cosmetology classes to work. Fifteen years later she is a nationally recognized stylist, owns the Like The River Salon in Atlanta and wages a one-woman national crusade with “Beauty Beyond The Hair” clinics.
She travels the country up to 20 times a year to run four-hour “look and learn” sessions, three-hour business seminars for salon operators and a seven-hour “Short Hair Boot Camp.”
Students get a crash course on business etiquette, marketing, community service and client retention and growth.
“The model for African American salons has been broken for a long time,” she said. “It’s been broken in the way the businesses operated, the way business was conducted, the way stylists presented themselves, the atmosphere in salons.
“I was a client long before I became a hair care professional and so I noticed all the issues. I sat in a salon for six hours to get my hair done. I watched stylists talk on the phone as they worked. I saw people coming in off the street selling products to clients, while listening to rap music blast away.
“And none of it felt right. In fact, it was all disappointing.”
Aziz hosts some sessions at her award-winning salon where she coaches stylists one-on-one and in groups. And she offers hour-long telephone mentoring to share business advice.
“I believe in her mission of being more professional in our culture because it allows us to move in arenas that were not available to us,” Loriane Robinson, stylist and owner of In God’s Hands Beauty Salon in Chicago,” told Zenger. “We were completely blinded to the fact that the beauty industry is bigger than making money doing hair.”
Robinson first spotted Aziz on Instagram and embraced her teachings in a 2016 session in Chicago.
“I’ve learned that our industry also has to first be about being professional, on time for work, building your image, social media presence, continuing to be a student,” she said. “When we apply her knowledge, create new habits, we can experience this multibillion-dollar industry in a fresh and new way.”
Jasmine Ashley, owner of a Los Angeles salon that bears her name, said, “Every time I see Najah she drops a jewel or several. I’ve learned from her that staying relevant, current and professional at all times holds more weight than stylists know.”
Aziz said she started slowly with one or two clients a day. But she studied hair videos in her off-hours and observed other stylists’ work, gradually building her clientele.
“My intent was always to educate myself,” she said. “Even now, all this time later, I’m excited about learning and improving.”
Her salon is a soothing environment where clients have limited wait time
because there is no double booking.
Aziz flexes her community-service muscle three times each year, offering complimentary hair care services to homeless women in Atlanta. “I believe in giving back,” she said.
Her formula seems to work. More than 285,000 fans follow her on Instagram, hair magazines feature her work and annual industry mega-events like the Premier Hair Shows and International Beauty Show give her platforms to teach and tell her story.
“Najah is so amazing,” Brooklyn stylist Gillian Garcia told Zenger. “I support her mission. It’s time the ‘black salons’ treat our gifts, talent and purpose with a little more respect.
“I totally love that Najah continually references her corporate experience
because we are professionals also. She has shown you can be creative, professional and business savvy. She’s released an inner power within me and I have not been the same since I met her.”
An enthusiastic throng of about 300 well-dressed folks gathered at the Center Stage area of Maryland Live! Casino in celebration of Black History Month on Thursday, February 20, 2020. Ten Maryland and District of Columbia business and community leaders were recognized for their contributions to their communities in a positive way at the 7th Annual Black History Heroes Awards.
Hosted by Live! Casino & Hotel along with the Maryland-Washington Minority Companies Association (MWMCA), the special affair saluted Luther “Luke” Atkinson, Former Negro league Baseball Star, Satchel Paige All Stars; Adrienne A. Jones, Speaker of the Maryland House of Delegates, District 10; David L. Gadis, CEO and General Manager, DC Water; Joseph T. Jones, Jr., president and CEO, Center for Urban Families; Roz Hamlett, director of Multimedia Communications, Anne Arundel County; Le Gretta Ross-Rawlins, Baltimore Postmaster, United States Post Office; Bert J. Hash, Jr.’ former president and CEO, Municipal Employees Credit Union (MECU); Warner H. Session, Esq., principal and board member, Session Law Firm, P.C./Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA); Janice Hayes-Williams, coordinator, Cultural Resources, Department of Planning and Zoning, Anne Arundel County; and Dr. David Wilson, president, Morgan State University.
Each honoree received a special plaque denoting their individual awards.
In a special commendation letter Maryland Governor Larry Hogan stated: “This celebration seeks to honor and recognize Black History Heroes. Maryland is steeped in African-American history.
Numerous African American leaders have called Maryland home, includ- ing Frederick Douglass, Benjamin Banneker and Harriet Tubman. We are proud to celebrate these and other historical heroes here in Annapolis, and across our state.”
The Rev. Jerome Stephens, community outreach director for Senator Benjamin Cardin, delivered the prayer and described the ceremony as “a worthy tribute to our leaders, past and present.”
Several of the honorees gave remarks during the ceremony, including the Speaker of the Maryland House of Delegates, Adrienne Jones, who discussed the importance of educating future generations about influential African-American leaders in our nation’s history. She urged the crowd to take time to visit the two newly unveiled statues of Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass in the Old House of Delegates Chamber at the Maryland State House.
Former Negro League infielder Luther “Luke” Atkinson, 82, served as keynote speaker and offered insight into his playing days under the tutelage of legendary Hall of Fame pitcher, Leroy “Satchell” Paige. Atkinson also discussed the racism that he and his teammates faced on a daily basis, the poor playing conditions and the meager salaries that players of his generation had to endure.
“Although my teammates knew what we were up against, we persevered. We all played for tomorrow and for the love of the game,” Atkinson said.
Atkinson now volunteers for the Hubert V. Simmons Museum of Negro League Baseball Inc., located in Owings Mills, Maryland where Rayner “Ray” Banks is exhibits manager and hall of fame co-founder. He pointed out that 2020 as the 100th anniversary of Negro Leagues Baseball.
Live! Casino & Hotel, part of The Cordish Companies is committed to
diversity and inclusion is recognized as one of the top corporate philanthropists in the region. The Cordish Companies is committed to being a leader in the areas of diversity and inclusiveness. We embrace the diversity within the communities we serve nationwide, and we work with non-profit groups, civic leaders and civil rights organizations that, like us, are committed to ensuring the growth and
vibrancy of their communities, according to the company’s website.
“We are incredibly honored to host the seventh installment of the Black History Heroes Awards at Live! Casino & Hotel, honoring African-American community leaders across Baltimore and DC,” said Zed Smith, COO, The Cordish Companies. “Commitment to diversity and inclusion is core to our company culture, so this event is very special for our team. The honorees being recognized are influencers that are impacting change for
future generations and creating lasting legacy as we enter into a new decade. This celebration is just a small token of our appreciation for all of their efforts to positively impact the lives of others.”
Chart-topping singer/songwriter/actress Shirley Murdock will headline the high-acclaimed stage play, Ursula V. Battle’s “Serenity House: From Addiction to Deliverance.” The show is being presented by Unified Voices (UV) of Johns Hopkins and Battle Stage Plays.
Director Dr. Gregory Wm. Branch and Playwright Ursula V. Battle.
LaKeisha McClendon is the show’s Executive Producer. The production will be performed March 20, 21, and 22, 2020 in Johns Hopkins’ Turner Auditorium located at
720 Rutland Avenue in Baltimore.
The stage play takes a riveting and thought-provoking look at the opioid epidemic. The production will also feature National Recording Artist Randy “Fruity” Roberts of The Choir Boyz, Mavilyn Statham of the legendary Clara Ward Singers, internationally renown-ed gospel female trio “Serenity” and Baltimore’s own dynamic songstress Charisse Caldwell- Bowen.
Gospel/R&B recording artist Shirley Murdock will headline “Serenity House: From Addiction to Deliverance.”
Murdock will portray “Sister Claire C. Voyant,” and will also sing in the production.” Murdock’s R&B hits include As We Lay, Go On Without You, Husband, and In Your Eyes. Meeting Bishop T.D. Jakes in the late 1990s, led not only to features on his #1 CD, but the realization of her lifelong dream to sing Gospel. He signed Murdock to his Dexterity Sounds/EMI recording label and her debut Gospel CD entitled, Home was nominated for a Stellar Award.
The following project Soulfood (Tyscot Records), received both Stellar & Dove Award nominations. Her latest project, The Journey is a live CD/DVD recording featuring Regina Belle, Kelly Price, and Beverly Crawford. The songstress’ theatrical credits include Priest Tyaire’s hit stage play, Mrs. Independent.
Roberts portrays “James Franklin” in the production, and will perform Watch Me Work from his hit CD This Is My Story This is My Song featuring “Kingdom.” Serenity will perform several gospel favorites throughout the production. Dr. Gregory Wm. Branch is the Stage Director, while Howard “Buddy” Lakins, Jr. is the Musical Director for the powerful production, which will also include original music composed by the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University student, Allen Branch.
“We are excited to present Ursula V. Battle’s Serenity House,” said Dr. Branch, who serves as Executive
Director of UV. “Serenity House supports UV’s mission which is to spread hope, health, and healing through harmony. We are so honored to bring in the legendary Shirley Murdock. She is headlining a show of extraordinary performers. People can expect to laugh, cry, and most of all, be uplifted.”
The production is written by Baltimore Times writer Ursula V. Battle, who is being honored as a Women In the Arts 2020: “Valiant Women of Freedom” Honoree at Morgan State University on Saturday, March 14, 2020.
“Serenity House: From Addiction to Deliverance” centers around the journey six men and women— three months in recovery— after arriving at the imaginary United in Victory Tabernacle on the Hill Freewill Catholic Baptist and Episcopal Church of God in Christ’s newly opened “Serenity House.”
Through ministry, music, an unforgettable story and dance, the production takes a heart-wrenching, yet heart-warming look at the devastating impact that addiction has on society— particularly on families that in some cases, spans generations.
The production also highlights the supernatural power of God to help us overcome, and the transformative power of forgiveness.
The performances are being dedicated to the late poet Maya Angelou, who penned, And Still I Rise. The show is also dedicated to “Cynthia,” a woman who overdosed in front of the building where auditions for the production were held, but was revived by the NARCAN nasal spray.
Ursula V. Battle’s “Serenity House” is rated PG-13 due to some strong content and profanity. Show times are as follows: Friday, March 20, 2020 (7 p.m.); Saturday, March 21, 2020 (Noon and 7 p.m.) and Sunday, March 22, 2020 (5 p.m.) Seating is General with doors opening 30 minutes before the performance. For additional information or to purchase tickets call 410-955-8888 or 443-531-4787. You may also visit: www.unifiedvoices.com or www.battlestageplays.com.
Award-winning author and public health nutritionist Tracye McQuirter, MPH, has been changing the landscape of health and wellness over the course of the last 30 years. Now, McQuirter is bringing her expertise to the world with her new program “10,000 Black Vegan Women.”
Through a series of online 21-Day Vegan Fresh Starts throughout the year that include cooking videos, meal plans, vegan recipes, grocery shopping lists, meal prep guides, and nutrition tips, vegan expert Tracye McQuirter, MPH, will give black women the support they need to go vegan, get healthy, and feel great for life.
“The 10,000 Black Vegan Women program will help 10,000 African American women go vegan in 2020 to live longer, healthier lives,” says Tracye McQuirter. “Although we have a long history of being plant-based pioneers and activists, including Rosa Parks, Coretta Scott King, Angela Davis and others, we also have the most to gain from the health benefits of eating plant-based foods because we experience the highest rates of preventable, diet-related diseases in the country.”
With animal agriculture being the leading cause of global warming, the 10,000 Black Vegan Women program gives women of color an opportunity to do something good for their mind, body and the environment, too.
“I want to truly change the health paradigm of black women. We are leaders in so many progresive ways, but we are in a crisis when it comes to our health. And while there are many reasons for this, we have the power to take back control of our health. It’s about our greens, not our genes! Eating affordable, nutritious, and delicious plant-based foods is one of the best ways for us to get healthy now and for the rest of our lives.” For more information, please visit 10000blackveganwomen.com.
ABOUT TRACYE MCQUIRTER:Washingtonian Tracye McQuirter is a writer, speaker, public health nutritionist, and 33-year vegan who has been teaching people how and why to live a healthy vegan lifestyle for the past 30 years. She is the recipient of multiple awards for her public health nutrition and vegan advocacy and was named a national food hero changing the way America eats for the better by Vegetarian Times. She’s the author of the book Ageless Vegan, which Library Journal starred as “raising the standard of plant-based cuisine,” and the national best-seller By Any Greens Necessary, which established her as one of the most influential vegans in the country. She directed the nation’s first federally funded vegan nutrition program and was a nutrition advisor for the Black Women’s Health Imperative. Tracye recently created the first-of-its-kind, free African American Vegan Starter Guide in partnership with Farm Sanctuary and previously co-created one of the earliest vegan websites 20 years ago, which was also the first by and for African American vegans. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Today, Essence, Bon Appetit, Ebony, VegNews, The Huffington Post, and many more. Tracye is a graduate of Sidwell Friends School, Amherst College, and New York University, where she received a master’s degree in public health nutrition.
For more information about Tracye McQuirter and/or her new program, 10,000 Black Vegan Women, please contact Mary Beth Olson | MBO MEDIA | email@example.com
Lawmakers took a historic vote on Wednesday when the House of Representatives passed legislation to make lynching a federal crime.
The House passed HR 35, anti-lynching legislation introduced by Democratic Rep. Bobby Rush of Illinois, called the Emmett Till Antilynching Act. Fourteen-year-old Till was brutally murdered in a racist attack in Mississippi in 1955, an event that drew national attention to the atrocities and violence that African Americans have faced in the United States and became a civil rights rallying cry.
The measure passed with broad, bipartisan support in a 410-4 vote. Independent Rep. Justin Amash voted against the bill along with three Republicans: Thomas Massie, Ted Yoho, and Louie Gohmert.
Yoho told CNN that he voted against the measure because the bill is an “overreach of the federal government” and tramples on state’s rights.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke on the floor ahead of the vote in support of the measure, saying, “Today Congress has an opportunity to acknowledge its responsibility for its historic failure to confront and end the horror of lynching in America.”
The measure approved by the House was amended prior to the vote on final passage to sync up with anti-lynching legislation that has already passed the Senate.
The Senate bill, called the Justice for Victims of Lynching Act, makes lynching a federal crime by establishing it as a new criminal civil rights violation. The legislation would amend federal civil rights law to explicitly include provisions on lynching.
It passed the Senate last year by a unanimous vote and was sponsored by the Senate’s three black members: Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris of California, Democratic Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey and Republican Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina.
A senior Democratic aide told CNN on Monday that the House bill would be amended to carry the language of the Senate bill, but would keep the House’s title in honor of Till.
Since the bills still have different titles and numbers, additional action will be necessary in one of the two chambers before the legislation can go to the President’s desk, and the Senate is expected to next take up the House-passed legislation.
Rush and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said at a news conference ahead of the House vote that they anticipate the Senate will pass the legislation before the end of the week.
The measure had been expected to pass the House with at least a two-thirds majority since it was considered under a process used in the lower chamber for legislation with broad, bipartisan support.
The text of the legislation outlines the violent and racist legacy of lynching in the United States and the many earlier, and unsuccessful, attempts to enact federal anti-lynching legislation into law.
“The crime of lynching succeeded slavery as the ultimate expression of racism in the United States following Reconstruction,” the bill states, adding that “at least 4,742 people, predominantly African Americans, were reported lynched in the United States between 1882 and 1968.”
The bill notes that “nearly 200 anti-lynching bills were introduced in Congress during the first half of the 20th century,” and “between 1890 and 1952, 7 presidents petitioned Congress to end lynching.”
The legislation states, “Only by coming to terms with history can the United States effectively champion human rights abroad.”
This story has been updated with additional developments Wednesday.
2020 also marks sesquicentennial of 15th Amendment
“The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.” — The 19th Amendment:
This year marks the 100th anniversary celebration of American women’s right to vote. The passage of the 19th Amendment was won after a 72-year long struggle led by a number of prominent women, including one Harriet Tubman (1822 – 1913).
Tubman, a former slave and a “conductor” on the Underground Railroad for eight years, was also an abolitionist and political activist. She became a passionate suffragette, attending local meetings and national conferences.
When asked if she believed in women’s suffrage, she said “I suffered enough to believe it.”
Ernestine (Tina) Martin Wyatt is a great-great-great-grandniece of Tubman. An artist and activist, Wyatt’s work is featured as a permanent collection in the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture.
Wyatt joined other descendants of historical Blacks — Fredrick Douglass and Ida B. Wells — who were featured on the city of Pasadena’s float, “Years of Hope, Years of Courage” during the Rose Parade last month. The women’s suffrage centennial float was designed as a symbolic reminder of the responsibility to vote, and to continue the fight for equality and inclusion.
The day after the parade, Wyatt received a commendation from the office of County Supervisor Kathryn Barger, which read:
“As an innovative and ground-breaking educator, co-founder of Harriet Tubman Day and the Celebrate to Educate program in Washington D.C., you continue in her (Tubman’s) footsteps to inspire youth and educate young people about her many historical achievements during the underground railroad, civil war, emancipation and through the American suffrage movement.”
Wyatt’s great-grandmother worked alongside Tubman and also lived with her for a short period. Wyatt’s grandmother saw Tubman as just another aunt.
“We knew what family meant to her,” Wyatt said in a Focus features interview when the movie, “Harriet” debuted last November. “Her love of family was one of the things that was perpetuated. The other thing was her faith, a belief in taking yourself out of the center in order to serve the needs of other people. That is really something that has been passed down from aunt Harriet to my great-grandmother to my grandmother to my mother and now to me. And I am passing the same beliefs down to my children and my grandchildren.”
Black men gained their voting rights with the passage of the 15th Amendment to the Constitution, which was ratified in 1870. Wyatt understood why Tubman would join the fight to pass the 19th Amendment.
“It only takes one person to change things,” Wyatt said. “It is like a domino effect — what we do and how it affects others in a positive way.”
Michelle Duster is an award-winning author, speaker, historian and writing professor at Columbia College in Chicago. She is the great-granddaughter of prominent journalist, abolitionist and feminist Ida B. Wells (1862 – 1931). Wells was freed by the Emancipation Proclamation and went on to lead an anti-lynching crusade in the United States in the 1890’s. She also co-founded the National Association of Colored Women (NACW) in 1896 and was on the front lines of the Women’s Suffrage Movement.
Duster has written, published and contributed to a total of nine books, two of which include the writings of her great-grandmother: “Ida in Her Own Words” and “Ida from Abroad.” She gives presentations about her work to make sure that Wells’ legacy does not fade from public memory.
“I learned at an early age that my great-grandmother, Ida B. Wells, was a force to be reckoned with,” Duster writes in one of her articles. “At the end of the 19th century, as an investigative journalism pioneer, she uncovered and documented in meticulous detail the violence of lynching.”
In 1913, Wells founded the Alpha Suffrage Club, the first African American women’s group that advocated for the right to vote. The club aimed to give a voice to Black women who had been excluded from other suffrage organizations. Although women in Chicago were granted the right to vote in 1910, Whites tried to ban Blacks from voting altogether.
As Wells stated in her autobiography: “We (women) could use our vote for the advantage of ourselves and our race.”
Kenneth B. Morris Jr., is the great-great-great-grandson of Frederick Douglass (1818 – 1895) and the great-great-grandson of Booker T. Washington (1856 – 1915). His mother, Nettie Washington Douglass, is the daughter of Nettie Hancock Washington (granddaughter of Booker T. Washington) and Dr. Frederick Douglass III (great-grandson of Frederick Douglass).
Morris contributed to the afterword to “Picturing Frederick Douglass: An Illustrated Biography of the Nineteenth Century’s Most Photographed American.” He also wrote the forward to the 2017 centennial edition of the “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave,” which the Library of Congress named one of the 88 books that shaped America.
Douglass, whose biography was published in 1845, escaped slavery as a young man and devoted his life to ending it through his abolitionist speaking engagements. He became an adviser to President Abraham Lincoln. Later, he used the platform of his newspaper, the North Star, to enlist petitioners to sign the declaration supporting women’s rights.
A believer in the equality of all, Douglass was the only African American to attend the Seneca Falls Convention, the first women’s rights convention, held in upstate New York, where he spoke in favor of women’s suffrage.
Morris now carries the abolitionist torch of his ancestor’s legacy with his work in the fight against modern day slavery and his co-founding of the Atlanta-based non-profit Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives (FDFI), which has its mission to advance freedom through knowledge and strategic action.
He began his activism when a buddy passed along a magazine.
“The cover story was of 21st century slaves and I reacted the way I think most people do,” Morris said. “Slavery didn’t end with the work of Frederick Douglass, and I have two teenage daughters, who at the time were 12 and 9 years old. I got up and walked into my girls’ room and I found that I couldn’t look them in the eyes and not do anything.”
The FDFI teaches children about the 27 million people currently enslaved worldwide.
“As Frederick Douglass said, it’s easier to build strong children than repair broken men,” said Morris.