Oprah & Ava: ‘Own Spotlight: Culture Connection & August 28th


Ava DuVernay: Black Women Always Lead the Way | OWN Spotlight | Oprah Winfrey Network

LOS ANGELES – Continuing conversations surrounding issues impacting Black lives, “OWN Spotlight: Culture Connection & August 28th, Ava DuVernay & Rev. Sharpton,” which originally aired Friday, August 28 at 1 p.m., 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. ET/PT on OWN, will stream for free on the Watch OWN app and the OWN Facebook and Youtube pages.

The special features Oprah Winfrey as she speaks separately with both acclaimed director Ava DuVernay and Rev. Al Sharpton regarding the historical context of August 28th and the significance of the upcoming election, along with a special presentation of DuVernay’s short film “August 28: A Day in the Life of a People.”

During the special, Winfrey speaks with DuVernay about the work she is doing in support of social justice, how she uses history to inform her activism, and how imperative it is for everyone to vote in the upcoming election. Winfrey later discusses with Rev. Al Sharpton the connection of the ‘Get Off Our Necks’ Commitment March which took place on the same day as the historic March on Washington 57 years ago. Rev. Sharpton shares ways that everyone can show their support in this moment, reiterating his intention for the march is not about numbers but long-term impact.

The interviews bookend DuVernay’s scripted short-film entitled “August 28: A Day in the Life of a People,” starring Lupita Nyong’o, Angela Bassett, Don Cheadle, Regina King, David Oyelowo, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, André Holland, Michael Ealy and Glynn Turman.

DuVernay uses a robust combination of both documentary and narrative techniques to transport viewers through six stunning historical moments that all actually occurred on the same day – August 28th – in various years. Written, produced and directed by DuVernay, “August 28” traverses a century of black progress, protest, passion and perseverance of African American people.

The project gives historical perspective within the creative framework of one date that has had a profound effect on America including: the passing of The Slavery Abolition Act on August 28, 1833, the lynching of Emmett Till on August 28, 1955, the first radio airplay from Motown Records on August 28, 1961 with The Marvelettes “Please Mr Postman,” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech during the massive March on Washington on August 28, 1963, Hurricane Katrina making its tragic landfall on August 28, 2005 and then-Senator Barack Obama’s acceptance of the Democratic nomination for the presidency on August 28, 2008.

The film was lensed by cinematographer Malik Sayeed and edited by Oscar nominee Spencer Averick. Ten-time Grammy nominee Meshell Ndegeocello composed the score. Paul Garnes produced, with co-producers Tilane Jones and Tammy Garnes.

This special is part of OWN’s overall OWN YOUR VOTE initiative, a bipartisan registration and get-out-the-vote campaign partnering with national and local grassroots and voting rights organizations to provide tools and resources that will empower Black women to vote this November. Black women powerfully influence election outcomes, and OWN YOUR VOTE supports this group of voters to show up to the polls and help friends, family, and their community to do the same. Winfrey recently shared that OWN will grant November 3rd as a company holiday to ensure all employees have the time to vote and volunteer. “I challenge other companies to do the same because this might be the most important election of our lives,” Winfrey said in her social post.

“OWN Spotlight: Culture Connection & August 28th, Ava DuVernay & Rev. Sharpton” is produced by OWN. The executive producers are Oprah Winfrey and Tara Montgomery.

It’s Time To Rein In The Administrative State

Unelected officials, while helpful and necessary, shouldn’t be given authority to govern. Yet, for a long time, our nation has been progressively handing over power to the administrative state and, during the pandemic, it seems we’ve given it over completely. Overlapping mandates from the federal government and state, county and city governments have left citizens with little certainty and, in our collective panic, we’ve relented control over our lives. But in our efforts to let the experts make the right calls for us, we’ve hurt ourselves.

The recent dustup over school reopening between Maryland Governor Larry Hogan and a local health officer is the perfect example.

On August 1, 2020 the (unelected) County Health Officer for Montgomery County, Dr. Travis Gayles, announced that all non-public schools in the county were to remain closed for in-person instruction through October 1, 2020, saying that “the data does not suggest that in-person instruction is safe for students or teachers,” and that it is “necessary to protect the health and safety of Montgomery County residents.” That same day, Governor Larry Hogan responded via Twitter that the schools “should be empowered to do what’s best for their community.” Days later, Gov. Hogan issued an order countermanding Dr. Gayles’ statement, stressing that “private and parochial schools deserve the same opportunity and flexibility to make reopening decisions based on public health guidelines.”

He added that, “the blanket closure mandate imposed by Montgomery County was overly broad and inconsistent with the powers intended to be delegated to the county health officer.”

In response, and citing particular sections of the Maryland state code to back up his powers, Dr. Gayles reissued his original order, keeping schools closed. It was only on the seventh that Montgomery County backed down after new policies from the state department of health were released. And even now, the reopening issue is caught up in litigation.

This incident isn’t really about education policy or school reopening. It’s not even about the coronavirus. Ultimately, it’s about the administrative state taking another step forward in its encroachment on the sphere of elected officials. It’s about the government an entity that never lets a good crisis go to waste taking advantage of the pandemic to expand already over broad powers.

During a global pandemic that has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives, a level of caution and concern over schools reopening is of course warranted. But we should be careful not to sacrifice our democracy in the name of safety. This isn’t ancient Rome, and we don’t let single people take absolute power, even in a crisis. Our elected officials are supposed to be just that elected.

The administrative state the collection of bureaucrats and agents, elected by no one, operating under nebulously defined mandates that are twisted and manipulated to grant them more power naturally expands, especially in this hyper polarized age. Our elected officials, hesitant to make decisions that will make them unpopular to their constituents, often hand off the decisions to bureaucrats, who regulate, rule make, and basically govern in their stead. This is true on a grand scale in federal agencies and the executive branch, but it’s also true on the smaller scale for school boards and county governments.

The result of this abandonment of authority is an inflexible government, unresponsive to the interests of its constituents an entrenched apparatus of administrators and managers, writing regulations and enacting decrees at a whim. Doctor Gayle is probably not scheming to take more power for himself. I’ve no doubt he has nothing but the best interests of everyone in Montgomery County in mind. Surely, he is just doing his job. But the fact remains: The one who makes these decisions in Montgomery County (who gets to decide how citizens act, how we can associate with each other) is unelected and therefore unaccountable. He is ultimately just a bureaucrat.

This isn’t staking out a position on school reopening. It isn’t even against the existence of the county health officer. We should have experts involved in decision making processes, but as advisors to elected officials not as the decision makers themselves.

Sam Rutzick is a contributor to Young Voices and a graduate of Columbia University.

Trump Administration Ramps Up Efforts to Dismantle Post Office

President Donald Trump has made no secret of his desire to dismantle the United States Postal Service or revamp the agency in a way that has angered Democrats and others who said it’s a tactic to prevent mail-in voting for the upcoming election.

The CARES Act passed in April authorized the postal service to borrow up to $10 billion from the Treasury Department for operating expenses if it’s deter- mines that, due to the COVID-19 emergency, the post office would not fund operating expenses without borrowing money.

“They have withheld that money. They have broken the law,” Congressional Black Caucus Chair Karen Bass told BlackPressUSA during a livestream inter- view last month. Other Democratic law- makers, including Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.), and Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.), also told BlackPressUSA that the president is try- ing to dismantle the postal service.

Trump has steadfastly opposed funding the postal service. Despite recently vot- ing with his wife by mail in a Florida primary election, the president said he’s against mail-in voting.

“Trump is not stupid. He knows if there is a decent-sized turnout in this election, he loses,” Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) wrote on Twitter. “He and his friends believe they can suppress the vote by destroying the post office. We aren’t Toulouse Oliver (D), Louisiana Secretary of State R. Kyle Ardoin (R), Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson (D) and Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose (R) joined in signing the letter.

“State and local election officials are busy planning for the November general election, and many expect an increase in the use of absentee and mail ballots, along with other election-related mailings,” the state officials wrote. “We view the [United States Postal Service] as a vital partner in administering a safe, successful election and would like to learn more about any planned changes around USPS service due to COVID-19, preparations for increased election-related mail, USPS staffing levels and process- ing times, and other pertinent issues.”

The postal service has sent letters to warn 46 states that it could not guarantee all mail-in ballots cast for the November election would arrive in time to be counted.

Some states, like Maryland and Vir- ginia, received a “heightened warning” that the postal service could not meet state-mandated deadlines.

In response, a large group of protesters staged a “noise demonstration” on Satur- day, August 15, 2020 outside of Post- master General Louis DeJoy’s home in Washington, D.C.

The demonstration was organized by the direct action group “Shut Down D.C.” The organization said they believe DeJoy is “dismantling” the U.S. Postal Service in favor of President Donald Trump’s reelection. They said his actions contribute to voter suppression. “DeJoy has fired or reassigned much of the existing USPS leadership and ordered the removal of mail sorting machines that are fundamental to the functioning of the postal service. Meanwhile, mail delivery is slowing down under other decisions made by DeJoy, such as eliminating overtime for postal workers,” the organization wrote in a statement.

This week, the U.S. Inspector General opened an investigation into DeJoy’s policy changes at the post office.

According to some lawmakers, those changes are reportedly taking a toll on military veterans who are experiencing much longer wait times to receive mail order prescription drugs. Slowdowns at the post office have reportedly also resulted in seniors receiving their medications late and other important mail like social security checks. It has also angered those who work for the agency.

Postal workers throughout the country have reported low morale, and many have cited the actions of Dejoy, who was ap- pointed by Trump. On Friday, August 14, 2020, the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC), a union that boasts nearly 300,000 active and retired postal workers, endorsed Presumptive Democratic Presidential Nominee Joe Biden.

“Vice President Biden is, was, and will continue to be a fierce ally and defender of the United States Postal Service, letter carriers, and our fellow postal brothers and sisters,” NALC President Fredric Rolando said in a statement. “Together, Biden and [vice presidential running mate] Sen. Kamala Harris fully exhibit the experience, dedication, thoughtfulness and steady hands that will work to ensure that letter carriers and working families are put first.”

SheRises Non-Profit Helps Teen Moms during Pandemic

Sherise Holden, founder of SheRises, Inc. knows how difficult it can be for teen moms to take care of their children, especially during a pandemic. A teen mom herself, Sherise started her non-profit organization in 2019 to provide support and guidance for young mothers.

The Prince Georges County native was 17, and three months away from graduating high school when she gave birth to her daughter Autumn. She didn’t feel ready to be a mom and planned to give her baby up for adoption until her mother convinced her to keep the baby.

On Tuesday, September 11, 2001, Sherise and her baby were homeless while she tried to make ends meet working a minimum wage job. She knew they couldn’t go on living that way, so she met with a pastor to discuss adoption options. Later that afternoon, she got a message from her boss telling her not to come into work. She was not yet aware of the terrorist attacks that occurred that morning, so she turned the news on and was flooded with emotions: sympathy, anger and the deep desire to keep her daughter.

And, she did just that! She was committed to being the best mother she could be while attending college courses at night until she earned her Associates degree in accounting. She would go on to earn her Bachelors in Business Administration, Masters in Project Management and MBA.

Sherise, now a mother of two girls, is a project manager for the IRS. She grew up poor and said “I had very little support from my family, and I was too ‘proud’ to accept government assistance.”

Sherise with boxes of Pampers at her home before the second Diaper Distribution event in May in Severn, Maryland.

Dutchess Selah

Sherise with boxes of Pampers at her home before the second Diaper Distribution event in May in Severn, Maryland.

Although her family couldn’t provide substantial monetary support, her mother gave her an excellent work ethic, which took her from a homeless single mother, to a successful mom, professional and entrepreneur.

Although disappointed that she had to cancel her Teen Career Development Workshop scheduled in April due to the shutdown of Maryland in March, she saw the opportunity to provide for moms in another way.

She immediately galvanized her team and sought donations for a diaper distribution using word of mouth and social media. Donations poured in through the non-profit’s Amazon Charity account and drop-offs. Within a week, her team was able to bless families in need.

During the first event on April 23, 2020, the SheRises team organized no contact porch deliveries in the rain in Bowie, Crofton and Glenn Dale for families who applied on their website.

Sherise handing out diapers during a She Rises Diaper Distribution event

Courtesy Photo

Sherise handing out diapers during a She Rises Diaper Distribution event

By May, SheRises had partnered with Elevation Outreach and Helping Hands of America to host diaper distributions in five different locations across the country. Diapers, wipes, formula and other items were donated through socially distanced drive up pick-ups.

To date, SheRises has held seven diaper and baby items distributions with no plans to stop.

Sherise is dedicated to “inspiring teen mothers to rise and discover that there is a beautiful and wonderful life on the other side of teen pregnancy.”

Join SheRises in reaching, inspiring, strengthening and empowering teen mothers by volunteering or donating at: www.she-rises.org

Joe Biden selects Kamala Harris as running mate

California Senator Kamala Harris is Joe Biden’s choice for vice president.

Following months of speculation and debate over whether Biden should pick a Black woman as his running mate, Har- ris was named Tuesday as Biden’s choice. Biden reportedly had called Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.), former Ambassador Susan Rice, and three other candidates to inform them on Tuesday morning that they were not his pick.

Harris had routinely been seen as the top pick, but her clashes with Biden dur- ing the Democratic debates appeared to give Biden pause.

However, Biden had been pho- tographed in recently weeks with talking points, which noted not to hold a grudge against Harris.

Sworn in as Senator in 2017, Harris became the second African American woman and the first Suth Asian-Ameri- can senator in history.

She has said that her life as a prosecu- tor and fighting justice was inspired by her mother, an Indian American immi- grant, activist and breast cancer re- searcher.

Growing up in Oakland, Harris had “a stroller-eye view of the Civil Rights movement,” according to her official biography.

Through the example of courageous leaders like Thurgood Marshall, Con- stance Baker Motley, and Charles Hamilton Houston, Harris says she learned the kind of character it requires to stand up to the powerful and resolved to spend her life advocating for those who could not defend themselves.

After earning an undergraduate degree from Howard University and a law de- gree from the University of California, Hastings, she began her career in the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office.

In 2003, Harris became the District Attorney of the City and County of San Francisco.

Among her achievements as District Attorney, Harris started a program that gives first-time drug offenders the chance to earn a high school diploma and find employment.

Having completed two terms as the District Attorney of San Francisco, Kamala was elected as the first African American and first woman to serve as California’s Attorney General.

In this role, she “worked tirelessly to hold corporations accountable and pro- tect the state’s most vulnerable people,” according to her biography.

Over the course of her nearly two terms in office, Harris won a $25-billion settle- ment for California homeowners hit by the foreclosure crisis, defended California’s landmark climate change law, protected the Affordable Care Act, helped win mar- riage equality for all Californians, and prosecuted transnational gangs that traf- ficked in guns, drugs, and human beings.

Since taking office, she has introduced and cosponsored legislation to raise wages for working people, reform our broken criminal justice system, make healthcare a right for all Americans, address the epidemic of substance abuse, support veterans and military families, and expand access to childcare for work- ing parents.

Earlier Tuesday, President Donald Trump suggested that, “some men are insulted” that Biden had long ago narrowed his search to women. However, Trump’s statements were seen as a last- minute bid to rattle the Democrats.

Women’s groups and the civil rights community in recent days had blasted media members and individuals on so- cial platforms for racist and sexist at- tacks against Harris and others who were considered in the vice-presidential sweepstakes.

In an open letter by nearly 700 Black women leaders, the attacks were roundly denounced.

“Black women are many things. We are business executives, political strategists and elected officials, philanthropists, and activists,” the letter, circulated through- out the media and posted to various so- cial media accounts, read.

“We are health and wellness practition- ers. We are entertainers and faith lead- ers. We are wives, mothers, daughters, educators, and students. We set and shift culture. We build power, and we are powerful.”

Counting among the many Black women who signed the open letter are Dr. Johnnetta B. Cole, Maya Cummings, Dr. Hazel Dukes, Suzanne DePasse, Valeisha Butterfield Jones, Cora Masters Barry, Melanie Campbell, and Karen Boykin-Towns.

“We are the highest propensity voters in this nation. We are a coalition of Black women leaders, who, in this in- flection point of the Black liberation movement, where people around the world are galvanized to action, know that the time for Black women in the United States is now,” the women penned in the letter.

Earlier, 100 prominent Black men including Sean “Diddy” Combs, Charla- magne Tha God, NBA Star Chris Paul, Bakari Sellers, and rapper Doug E. Fresh, signed a letter of solidarity calling for Biden to select a Black woman.

“As someone who has said throughout the campaign that VP Joe Biden needs to choose a Black woman VP, the urgency for that pick has gone from something that should happen to something that has to happen. It disgusts us that Black women are not just being vetted in this VP process but unfairly criticized and scrutinized,” the men wrote in the missive.

“Was Joe Biden ever labeled ‘too ambi- tious’ because he ran for president three times? Should President Obama not have made him the VP because he had to worry about his ‘loyalty’ when he clearly had ambitions to be president himself? Why does Senator Kamala Harris have to show remorse for ques- tioning Biden’s previous stance on inte- grated busing during a democratic primary debate?”

A Select Reason To Remember John Lewis

John Lewis succumbed to pancreatic cancer, Friday, July 17, 2020. He was 80 years old. For many reasons, John Lewis’ death reverberates in my mind. No, not because of his tenure in the United States House of Representatives, representing Georgia’s 5th congressional district for 33 years.

No, not because he once served as the head of the Student Non violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) as a young man. No, not because the cops beat, battered and bruised him and other freedom riders of numerous times to remember because of his nonviolent mantra and his ongoing involvement. No, not because he spoke at the historic March on Washington August 28, 1963.

No, not because he led marchers across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama. One of the marches went down in history as Bloody Sunday when Alabama police with guns pummeled and beat unarmed civil rights demonstrators. The first attack almost killed Lewis.

Yes, there was a select reason to remember John Lewis. The day was August 28,1963— the day of the March on Washington. Five members of the Big 6— A. Philip Randolph; Whitney M. Young Jr.; Martin Luther King Jr.; James Farmer; Roy Wilkins; and John Lewis— the men who put the March together, made a unique request that morning. Bayard Rustin served as a lead national organizer.

They asked John Lewis and other SNCC members that very morning to water down Lewis’s speech that he was going to give on the afternoon of August 28, 1963. The SNCC folks did. Still many claimed Lewis’s speech remained the most militant of the day.

Moyers and Company, an online journal commemorating the March’s 60th anniversary authored by Lauren Feeney, compared the Lewis original draft and the speech Lewis gave in August 2013. Look them up.

The original draft of his speech said, “In good conscience, we cannot support wholeheartedly the [Kennedy] administration’s civil rights bill, for it is too little and too late. There’s not one thing in the bill that will protect our people from police brutality.

“We won’t stop now. All of the forces of Eastland, Barnett, Wallace, and Thurmond won’t stop this revolution. The time will come when we will not confine ourmarching to Washington. We will march through the South, through the heart of Dixie, the way Sherman did. We shall pursue our own scorched earth policy and burn Jim Crow to the ground— nonviolently.

”Other draft passages hit the cutting board floor. “We are now involved in a serious revolution. This nation is still a place of cheap political leaders who build their careers on immoral compromises and ally themselves with open forms of political, economic, and social exploitation. What political leader here can stand up and say, ‘My party is the party of principles?’ The party of Kennedy is also the party of Eastland. The party of Javits is also the party of Goldwater. Where is our party?

His draft speech, never to see the light was extraordinary. Lewis, regardless, still practiced what he preached. Black lives always mattered. John Lewis thought.

Dr. Morgan is an activist scholar, retired Coppin State University faculty member, and journalist. He can be reached at kmorgan2408@comcast.net.

IN MEMORIAM: The World Mourns A True Icon and Freedom Fighter – John Lewis 1940-2020

Somewhere it’s raining. Somewhere the heavens have opened up, reflecting the tears that are falling across the globe as news of the death of civil rights icon Congressman John Lewis (D-GA) spreads.

Somewhere it’s raining. Somewhere the heavens have opened up, reflecting the tears that are falling across the globe as news of the death of civil rights icon Congressman John Lewis (D-GA) spreads.

The legislator, freedom fighter and justice warrior, who was famously beaten, bloodied and arrested in Selma, Alabama — and in other cities across the Jim Crow South — during the struggle for civil rights and racial equality, was 80.

His death came just hours after another the passing of another civil rights icon, Rev. C.T. Vivian, who was 95.

National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) President and CEO, and comrade in arms with both Rev. Vivian and Lewis, expressed the devastation he and the world feel at the loss of the two revered giants.

Chavis, like Vivian and Lewis, worked with and was a disciple of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He said the world would miss Lewis’s “good trouble,” quoting Lewis’s famous call to arms. “The Honorable John Lewis was a longtime master freedom fighter who set the eternal example of how and why we all should fight for the freedom and equality of all humanity,” Chavis remarked.

“May Lewis now have his rest in peace. As for those of us who worked with him and [those] who marched with him, we must keep fighting for freedom and equality with renewed vigor, courage and energy. Black Lives Matter.”

During the NNPA’s 2020 Virtual Annual Convention earlier this month, attendees were treated to a free screening of the documentary, John Lewis: Good Trouble, provided by the Census Bureau. Lewis was also a strong advocate for Census registration.

As he’d done earlier to honor Rev. Vivian, former president Barack Obama expressed his sorrow.

“John Lewis – one of the original Freedom Riders, chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, the youngest speaker at the March on Washington, leader of the march from Selma to Montgomery, Member of Congress representing the people of Georgia for 33 years – not only assumed that responsibility, he made it his life’s work,” Obama observed.

“He loved this country so much that he risked his life and his blood so that it might live up to its promise. And through the decades, he not only gave all of himself to the cause of freedom and justice but inspired generations that followed to try to live up to his example.”

The former president recalled his last meeting with Lewis.

“It’s fitting that the last time John and I shared a public forum was at a virtual town hall with a gathering of young activists who were helping to lead this summer’s demonstrations in the wake of George Floyd’s death. Afterward, I spoke to him privately.

“He could not have been prouder of their efforts – of a new generation standing up for freedom and equality, a new generation intent on voting and protecting the right to vote, a new generation running for political office,” Obama recounted.

“I told him that all those young people – of every race, from every background and gender and sexual orientation – they were his children. They had learned from his example, even if they didn’t know it. They had understood through him what American citizenship requires, even if they had heard of his courage only through history books.”

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), who served more than three decades on Congress with Lewis, declared Lewis’ death as one of the saddest days in American history.

“He dedicated his entire life to what became his signature mantra, making ‘good trouble.’ Despite being one of the youngest leaders of the Civil Rights Movement, John Lewis galvanized and inspired hundreds of his peers to join in the fight for equal rights,” Waters said.

“Very few people could have been harassed, arrested more than 40 times, beaten within inches of their lives, and still espouse Dr. King and Mahatma Gandhi’s teachings of nonviolence, peace, and love. However, these principles were core philosophies to John Lewis, and our nation is forever indebted to him for his humble sacrifices,” the congresswoman stated.

Lewis routinely credited King and Rosa Parks for inspiring his activism, which he famously called “good trouble, necessary trouble.” He also referred to his participation in the civil rights movement as a “holy crusade.”

Lewis joined a Freedom Ride in 1961, organized by the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). He suffered one of many beatings at the hands of authorities when he and other CORE members attempted to enter a whites-only waiting room at a bus station in Rock Hill, South Carolina.

“If there was anything I learned on that long, bloody bus trip of 1961,” he wrote in his memoir, “it was this — that we were in for a long, bloody fight here in the American South. And I intended to stay in the middle of it.”

Lewis was the last surviving speaker from the famed 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. The world also will remember Lewis for leading hundreds of people in one of the most famous demonstrations for civil rights ever – Bloody Sunday.

On March 7, 1965, as Lewis and others journeyed across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, a mob of state troopers clad in riot gear attacked.

The authorities began their onslaught on Lewis and the other marchers using tear gas before brutally escalating the assault to bullwhips and rubber tubing that had been wrapped in barbed wire.

One of the cops attacked Lewis with a nightstick, fracturing his skull and knocking him to the ground.

In the aftermath of the police killing of George Floyd, Lewis praised this generation of freedom fighters. “This feels and looks so different,” he said of the Black Lives Matter movement and other ongoing demonstrations.

“It is so much more massive and all-inclusive. There will be no turning back.”

Lewis announced late last year that he had Stage 4 pancreatic cancer. However, stalwart in his resolve to fight until the end, he refused to quit the struggle. “I have been in some kind of fight — for freedom, equality, basic human rights — for nearly my entire life,” he said, “I have never faced a fight quite like the one I have now.”

“So, I have decided to do what I know to do and do what I have always done: I am going to fight it and keep fighting for the Beloved Community. We still have many bridges to cross,” Lewis said during one Sunday in late December of 2019.

Dr. King once said that, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” In words, deeds, actions, thoughts, influence, practice, and conscience John Lewis was rarely silent about the things that matter. For this reason, and for so many others, his legacy will remain alive forever.


The legislator, freedom fighter and justice warrior, who was famously beaten, bloodied and arrested in Selma, Alabama — and in other cities across the Jim Crow South — during the struggle for civil rights and racial equality, was 80. His death came just hours after another the passing of another civil rights icon, Rev. C.T. Vivian, who was 95.

Photo Caption:

Lewis announced late last year that he had Stage 4 pancreatic cancer. However, stalwart in his resolve to fight until the end, he refused to quit the struggle. “I have been in some kind of fight — for freedom, equality, basic human rights — for nearly my entire life,” he said, “I have never faced a fight quite like the one I have now.” (Photo: Lorie Shaull / Wikimedia Commons)

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@StacyBrownMedia @DrBenChavis @repjohnlewis @NNPA_BlackPress @BarackObama @RepMaxineWaters

IN MEMORIAM: Legendary Civil Rights Icon C.T. Vivian Dies at 95

The Rev. C.T. Vivian, the legendary civil rights activist who marched alongside Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., has died.

Rev. Vivian was 95.

Vivian’s daughter, Denise Morse, confirmed her father’s death and told Atlanta’s NBC affiliate WXIA that he was “one of the most wonderful men who ever walked the earth.”

Vivian reportedly suffered a stroke earlier this year, but his family said he died of natural causes.

“He has always been one of the people who had the most insight, wisdom, integrity, and dedication,” said former Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young, a contemporary of Vivian who also worked alongside King.

“The Reverend Dr. C.T. Vivian was one of my strongest mentors in the Civil Rights Movement,” National Newspaper Publishers Association President Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr., stated.

“Rev. Vivian, like Martin Luther King, Jr, and Joseph Lowery was a visionary theologian, genius, and a leading force in the tactical and strategic planning of effective nonviolent civil disobedience demonstrations. C.T. has passed the eternal baton to a new generation of civil rights agitators and organizers. ”

In a statement emailed to BlackPressUSA, the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks expressed their condolences.

“The Atlanta Hawks organization is deeply saddened by the passing of Civil Rights Movement leader, minister, and author, Dr. Cordy Tindell “C.T.” Vivian. The City of Atlanta and the entire world has lost a distinguished icon whose leadership pushed the United States to greater justice and racial equality for African Americans,” team officials wrote in the email.

“To inspire the next generation, Vivian founded the C.T. Vivian Leadership Institute in Atlanta, with the intent to create a model of leadership culture in the city that would be dedicated to the development and sustainability of our communities.”

They continued:

“Vivian also started Basic Diversity, one of the nation’s first diversity consulting firms, now led by his son, Al, who has been a great partner to our organization. We are grateful for Dr. Vivian’s many years of devotion to Atlanta and thankful that we had the opportunity to honor and share his legacy with our fans. The entire Hawks organization extends its most sincere condolences to the grieving family.”

Rev. Vivan was active in sit-in protests in Peoria, Illinois, in the 1940s, and met King during the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott — a demonstration spurred by Rosa Parks’ refusal to give up her seat to a white rider. The 13-month mass protest drew international attention.

Rev. Vivian went on to become an active early member of the group that eventually became the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, according to his biography.

Like King, Vivian was committed to the belief that nonviolent protests could carry the day.

“Some thoughts on the Reverend C.T. Vivian, a pioneer who pulled America closer to our founding ideals and a friend I will miss greatly,” Former President Barack Obama wrote in a statement. “We’ve lost a founder of modern America, a pioneer who shrunk the gap between reality and our constitutional ideals of equality and freedom.”

Rev. Vivian was born in Boonville, Missouri, on July 30, 1924. He and his late wife, Octavia Geans Vivian, had six children.

With the help of his church, he enrolled in American Baptist Theological Seminary in Nashville in 1955.

That same year he and other ministers founded the Nashville Christian Leadership Conference, an affiliate of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, according to the National Visionary Leadership Project. The group helped organize the city’s first sit-ins and civil rights march.

By 1965 Rev. Vivian had become the director of national affiliates for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference when he led a group of people to register to vote in Selma, Alabama.

CNN memorialized Rev. Vivian, noting that, as the county Sheriff Jim Clark blocked the group, Vivian said in a fiery tone, “We will register to vote because as citizens of the United States we have the right to do it.”

Clark responded by beating Vivian until blood dripped off his chin in front of rolling cameras. The images helped galvanize more comprehensive support for change.

Vivian also created a college readiness program to help “take care of the kids that were kicked out of school simply because they protested racism.”

“I admired him from and before I became a senator and got to know him as a source of wisdom, advice, and strength on my first presidential campaign,” Obama stated.

“I’m only here to thank C.T. Vivian and all the heroes of the Civil Rights generation. Because of them, the idea of just, fair, inclusive, and generous America came closer into focus. The trails they blazed gave today’s generation of activists and marchers a road map to tag in and finish the journey.”

Black workers more likely to face retaliation for raising coronavirus concerns

As more corporations jump into the fray, offering statements of support for African Americans in the aftermath of the police killing of George Floyd and the ensuing protests, a new study reveals that many companies’ actual policies and practices contradict their public statements. With just a small amount of research, short-term marketing and public relations positioning using words proclaiming empathy, understanding and support of black causes can too often be found to be in direct contrast of long-term human resources dictates.

A survey by the National Employment Law Project (NELP) about working conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic confirms that corporate America has treated black workers categorically worse than White workers during the pandemic.

African Americans were twice as likely to answer “Yes,” or “Maybe,” when asked if they or anyone at their company had been punished for raising COVID-19 safety concerns. The survey found that black workers were roughly twice as likely to have been retaliated against by their employers for speaking up about health concerns and requesting time off work.

For instance, Amazon fired black and brown workers who have organized to demand more substantial health and safety protections. Thousands of Instacart workers, many of whom are women of color, are reportedly waiting for facemasks and hand sanitizer promised months ago.

Three out of four black workers who took the survey said they showed up to work during the pandemic even though they believed they might have been seriously risking their health or the health of family members. Less than half of White workers said they had done the same.

“Our results suggest that virus transmission in the workplace may be exacerbated by employer repression and that the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on black communities may be related to greater exposure of black workers to repressive workplace environments,” the study’s authors wrote.

“While black workers at any given worksite tend to be treated worse than their white counterparts, the study’s authors suggest that black workers, as a whole, tend to work in more repressive environments than white workers,” noted vice.com.

The higher likelihood of retaliation that black workers face means fewer of them feel safe reporting concerns or have had their concerns addressed.

The survey found that black workers were more than twice as likely to have unresolved concerns about coronavirus at their workplace than their white counterparts.

Thirty-nine percent of workers surveyed reported that they had either raised concerns to their employer and did not receive a satisfactory response or did not out of fear of retaliation.

Meanwhile, only 18 percent of white workers found themselves in the same position.

“This is saddening to hear and somewhat unsurprising. I can’t believe the world we live in. Still, as I have lived in it for a great number of years, I am actually thankful that such practices are coming to light now,” Andrew Taylor, the director of the Net Lawman. This firm provides legal document templates and law-related services to individuals and businesses who are looking for an alternative to using a traditional firm of lawyers.

“My thoughts on this study pushed me to ask about the segregation of employment and where these people are working. Obviously, we must focus on the roles black workers are in to make changes from here.”

Amit Raj said he was working part-time as a pharmacist earlier this year when he raised concerns.

“As we were working within an office within a warehouse where there were

almost no changes to working practice despite the pandemic. Since we were deemed an ‘essential service,’ we were also not allowed to work from home,” Raj stated in an email.

“Despite bringing this up on many occasions and management being aware, I was first just ignored. And was soon

demoted from an assistant manager position,” he said. “However, the reason given for the demotion was that my

part-time hours were not allowing me to manage effectively. I have now decided to place my focus on my digital marketing business.”

Raj has since founded Amit Digital Marketing.

Talia Fox, the CEO of KUSI Training, a global transformational leadership development firm, said in an email that the study concerns her mostly because of her two sons who have to work in the current environment.

“I have two sons and wear three hats, mother, black woman, leadership strategist. If I am honest, I am afraid, afraid of the challenges my two young black men will face in the world,” Fox noted via email.

“When my fear settles, it turns to anger, and I wonder why people are not doing anything. I want to blame someone, anyone for the injustices in the world,” Fox noted. “Then, my anger leads me to look in the mirror. What do I have to give? What is my role in this? I am a leadership strategist and an educator. I have seen knowledge, understanding, and strategy, and implementation transform businesses and inspire people to drive and lead change, which anchors my hope that a better future is possible for my two black men.”

How to get ready for hurricane season during coronavirus outbreak

Fairfax, Va.— As we all deal with challenging demands of the coronavirus, the June 1 start of hurricane season is coming and it’s important to get prepared. Because of COVID-19, getting prepared will look a little different than in other years. With that thinking in mind, the American Red Cross of the National Capital & Greater Chesapeake Region has tips to help you.

“Disasters won’t stop, even during a pandemic,” said Linda Voss, Chief Executive Officer, American Red Cross of the National Capital & Greater Chesapeake Region. “Hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30 and early reports predict a busy year with as many as four storms reaching major hurricane strength. Make your preparations now, thinking about the coronavirus situation as you do.”

Make a Plan: In light of the coronavirus, you may have to adjust any previous plans you made.

•If authorities advise you to evacuate, be prepared to leave immediately with your evacuation kit (see below).

•Plan now if you will need help leaving or if you need to share transportation.

•Ask friends or relatives outside your area if you are able to stay with them. Check and see if they have symptoms of COVID-19 or have people in their home at higher risk for serious illness. If they have symptoms or people at higher risk in their home, make other arrangements. Check with hotels, motels and campgrounds to see if they are open. Find out if your local emergency management agency has adapted its sheltering plans.

•Check with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and update emergency plans due to Coronavirus.

•Plan ahead for your pets. Keep a phone list of pet-friendly hotels/motels and animal shelters that are along your evacuation routes. Remember, if it’s not safe for you to stay home, it’s not safe for your pets either.

Build a Kit: Assemble two kits of emergency supplies and a one-month supply of prescription medication. Some supplies may be hard to get, and availability will worsen in a disaster, so start gathering supplies now. Start with this basic supply list:

•Stay-at-home kit: Include everything you need to stay at home for at least two weeks with items such as food, water, household cleaning and disinfectant supplies, soap, paper products and personal hygiene items.

•Evacuation kit: Your second kit should be a lightweight, smaller version that you can take with you if you must leave your home quickly. Include everything you need to be on your own for three days:

— Food and water

— Personal hygiene items

— Cleaning and disinfectant supplies that you can use on the go (tissues, hand sanitizer with 60 percent alcohol and disinfecting wipes)

— Cloth face coverings for everyone in your household who can wear one safely. Cloth face coverings are not a substitute for physical distancing. Continue to keep about 6 feet between yourself and others in public. Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing or is unable to remove it without help.

— Infant formula, bottles, diapers, wipes and diaper rash cream

— Pet food and extra water for your pet

— Cash or traveler’s checks

— Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records saved electronically or in a waterproof, portable container

• One-month supply of prescription medication, as well as over-the-counter medications like cough suppressants and fever reducing drugs and medical supplies or equipment. Keep these items together in a separate container so you can take them with you if you have to evacuate.

Be Informed: Have access to weather alerts and community notifications. Be sure that you can receive official notifications even during a power outage.

Always follow the directions of your state and local authorities.

•Use the Red Cross interactive map to identify likely disasters in your area.

•Learn about your community’s response plan for each disaster and determine if these plans have been adapted because of COVID-19.

•Find contact information for state, local and tribal governments and agencies, and for state emergency management agencies.

•Because of COVID-19, stay current on advice and restrictions from your state and local public health authorities as it may affect your actions and available resources and facilities.

Take a First Aid and CPR/Course online to learn what to do in case emergency help is delayed. Download the Red Cross Emergency App for instant access to weather alerts for your area and where loved ones live. Expert medical guidance and a hospital locator are included in the First Aid App in case travelers encounter any mishaps. These apps are available to download for free in app stores or at redcross.org/apps.

For more information about what to do before, during and after a hurricane, visit: redcross.org/hurricane.