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"I do not expect the white media to create a positive black-male image." -
Huey P. Newton
The NorthStar News & Analysis -
June 23, 2011
High Unemployment Rate Affects Black Churches
Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sr., founder of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, said a number of the nation's black churches are in foreclosure or are bordering on foreclosure because large numbers of their congregants are unemployed, making it difficult for them give offerings to their churches.
Jackson, who made his comments Sunday during a news conference at Rainbow PUSH's 40th annual conference in Chicago, did not provide details about the number of African-American-owned churches that are facing difficulty paying their mortgages but as an indication of the unemployment problem plaguing the black community, he asked members of the audience who were unemployed to either raise their hands or stand up. Most of the audience stood.
High unemployment continues to devastate the African-American community, and it is particularly troubling for black men. The unemployment rate during May climbed to 17.5 percent for black men 20 years old and older on a seasonally adjusted basis, up from 17.0 percent in April, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported June 3.
There were 1.411 million black men out of work and seeking jobs in May compared with 1.382 million who were out work and looking, according to the bureau. The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate, however, among African-American women held steady. The unemployment rate among black women in May was 13.4 percent, the same as it was in April. Some 1.210 million black women were out of work in May compared with 1.217 million who were jobless in April.
The overall unemployment rate in the black community continued rise on a seasonally adjusted basis. In May, 16.2 percent of black men and women 20 years old and older were unemployed compared with 16.1 percent in April. Bureau officials reported that 2.880 million African Americans were out of work in May compared with 2.882 million black men and women who were out of work in April.
The seasonally adjusted jobless rate among African Americans is much higher than other racial and ethnic groups. May's unemployment rate among whites was 8 percent, the same as it was in April. Among Hispanics, May's unemployment rate rose slightly to 11.9 percent, up 11.8 percent in April. The jobless rate for Asians was 7 percent, but that was not on a seasonally adjusted basis.
In May, nonfarm payroll employment added 54,000 jobs and the overall unemployment rate was essentially unchanged from the previous month at 9.1 percent.
During the Rainbow Push news conference, which was billed as a rally for jobs, Jackson asked attendees who brought their job resumes to give them to him. Most of the audience handed Jackson their resumes.
Federal Reserve Cuts Growth Outlook For The Economy
Ben Bernanke, chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, said on Wednesday the economy will grow at a slower pace than the Federal Reserve predicted in April due to higher prices for food and gas and the ongoing effects caused by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan. The disaster disrupted the supply chain for the automobile and other manufacturers in the United States.
Bernanke expects the economy to grow between 2.7 percent and 2.9 percent this year, down from 3.1 percent to 3.3 percent the Federal Reserve estimated in April. As a result, unemployment will fall "painfully slowly," he said. The overall unemployment rate was 9.1 percent in May, but it was 17.5 percent for black men and 13.4 percent for black women.
The Federal Open Market Committee, which makes key decisions about interest rates and the growth of the United States money supply, reported that the economic recovery is continuing at a moderate pace, though more slowly than committee members expected.The committee reported that household spending and business investment in equipment and software continue to expand, but investment in nonresidential structures is still weak, and the housing sector remains depressed.
Despite the low-economic growth projections, Bernanke expects the economy to pick up steam in the latter half of the year.
Tennessee Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of Inmate Seeking DNA Testing
The Tennessee Supreme Court has ruled that a man who has spent 30 years in prison for two rapes he said he did not commit is entitled to DNA testing to prove his innocence under a 2001 law enacted by the state legislature.
Rudolph Powers was 20 years old and did not have a criminal record when Memphis, Tenn., police arrested him in the spring of 1980. Police charged him with two rapes in two separate incidents near a shopping center, where Powers worked.
Both victims identified Powers in separate trials, and a judge sentenced Powers to life in prison. After exhausting all of his appeals, Powers turned to Innocence Project, which is associated with the Cardozo School of Law in New York. Innocence Project attorneys in December 2007 filed a petition on behalf of Powers under the Post-Conviction DNA Analysis Act of 2001, according to court documents.
Powers' lawyers argued that if the analysis produced exculpatory results, a reasonable possibility existed that Powers would not have been prosecuted for or convicted of the rapes. The physical evidence either has been lost or destroyed in one of the cases, but the evidence was recovered from the second attack.
Powers' attorneys further argued that because of the prosecutors' theory that the same man committed both rapes that exculpatory DNA results from the first victim's underwear would also have made it reasonably likely that he would not have been prosecuted for or convicted of the aggravated rape of the second victim," the Tennessee Supreme Court wrote.
Shelby County, Tenn., prosecutors argued that the victims positively identified Powers as the rapist and that police gathered other evidence connecting him to the crimes. Prosecutors also argued that they would have tried Powers without DNA evidence. The Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals agreed with prosecutors' arguments and denied Powers access to DNA testing.
The Tennessee Supreme Court on Thursday, June 16, in a decision titled
Rudolph Powers vs State of Tennessee
, reversed the Court of Criminal Appeals decision, sending the case back to the trial court for DNA testing.
"We hold that the Post-Conviction DNA Analysis Act permits access to a DNA database if a positive match between the crime scene DNA and a profile contained within the database would create a reasonable probability that a petitioner would not have been prosecuted or convicted if exculpatory results had been obtained or would have rendered a more favorable verdict or sentence if the results had been previously available. Because the criteria for ordering DNA analysis under the DNA Analysis Act are established, the judgment of the Court of Criminal Appeals is reversed and the cause is remanded to the post-conviction court for entry of an order granting DNA analysis," the Tennessee Supreme Court wrote in a 27-page decision.
The Tennessee Supreme Court's ruling ends a nearly four-year effort by Powers, now 51, to have his DNA tested to prove his innocence.
"it's unfortunate that Mr. Powers has had to fight so long for access to this testing," said Craig Cooley, staff attorney for the Innocence Project. "But this decision sends a clear message that DNA testing should be granted under the state statue when it might be probative. This will be a huge help to other people in Tennessee prisons who are seeking to prove their innocence through DNA."
Racist Comments Result In The Overturning Of A Black Man’s Murder Conviction
The Washington State Supreme Court this week threw out the 2007 gang-related murder conviction of a 25-year-old black man because of racist comments made during the questioning of African-American witnesses and during closing arguments to the jury by veteran prosecutor James Konat.
In its 8-to-1 decision, the court agreed with arguments made by attorneys for Kevin L. Monday, Jr. that Konat had “made a blatant and inappropriate appeal to racial prejudice and undermined the credibility of African-American witnesses based on their race.”
Konat, King County, Wash., deputy prosecutor, challenged black witnesses for Monday by suggesting there was a “street code,” which prevented them from “snitching’ to the police. The questioning also became demeaning when he cross examined black witnesses and referred to law enforcement officers as the “PO-leese” and not “police.” Seattle is the largest city in King County.
Even though witnesses denied the existence of such a “street code,” in closing arguments to the jury, Konat charged, “the code is black folk don’t testify against black folk. You don’t snitch to the police.” One justice labeled Konat’s comments “repugnant.”
Monday was convicted of first-degree murder and first-degree assault that occurred in Seattle's Pioneer Square neighborhood. He was sentenced to 64 years in prison. He now gets a new trial.
Elvis Mitchell Named Curator Of A New Los Angeles Film Series
Elvis Mitchell, a former
New York Times
' film critic, has been named curator of Film Independent's and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art's new film series, which is scheduled to premiere later this year.
Film Independent is a Los Angeles-based nonprofit arts organization that produces the Spirit Awards and the Los Angeles County Film Festival. The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), Film Independent and
The New York Times
have partnered to present a new film series this fall in Los Angeles.
Mitchell will be a full-time staff member at Film Independent, and he will work closely with its programming department and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art's curatorial staff. He is scheduled to start his new job July 11 after moving to Los Angeles from New York City.
For Mitchell, the new gig is a homecoming.
"This position is a double reunion for me," he said. "Selling tickets at the Bing Theater at LAMCA was my first job in LA, and to get to return to supervise a program at a place that is an intersection of art and popular culture is a dream come true. I couldn't be happier. That is, until I get started."
Mitchell is currently host of "The Treatment, "a weekly radio series that looks inside creators' popular culture. The program airs on KRCW, a National Public Radio affiliate that broadcasts in Los Angeles , Orange, Ventura counties and other areas throughout Southern California.
Mitchell has held a number of jobs, including being one of three film critics at
The New York Times
. He joined the newspaper in 1999 and left in 2004. His career at the Old Grey Lady, as the
at one period was called, however, was considered strange. He didn't look like a
staffer. He wore his hair in dreadlocks.
A fellow reporter accused Mitchell of "always looking for something better," which is unheard of once one becomes a member of the Times staff.
Mitchell's new bosses are welcoming him with open arms.
"Elvis has served on our board of directors and Independent Spirit Award nominating committees, and he has participated in many L.A. Film Fest programs over the years," said Sean McManus, interim executive director of Film Independent.
Rebecca Yeldham, director of the Los Angeles Film Festival, described Mitchell as a visionary with an extensive knowledge and passion for cinema and popular culture.
In his new job, Mitchell is facing a challenge. The Los Angeles County Museum of Art announced in 2009 that it planned to drop its weekend film program because it lost more than $1 million over 10 years. A month after LACMA officials said the film series was fading to black, it received a $150,000 grant to keep rolling.
In April, LACMA, Film Independent and
The New York Times
announced they would inaugurate a new weekly film series beginning in September with previews of feature-length narrative and documentary films, archival films and repertory series.
President Obama Faces A Political Rebellion Over His War in Libya
A recently released Rasmussen poll shows that only 26 percent of likely American voters approve of President Obama’s continued military bombing and other military actions in the North African nation of Libya. That finding has apparently emboldened Obama opponents and anti-war activists.
The U.S. House of Representatives earlier this month passed a resolution demanding a report from the White House justifying the military operation. This week, House Speaker Republican John Boehner threatened a Constitutional confrontation saying this coming Sunday the president would be in violation of the War Powers Acts, which requires Congressional approval of military actions after 90 days.
Liberal Congressman Dennis Kucinich of Ohio,however, is not waiting for a presidential report. He filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday seeking to halt American military actions in Libya calling them unconstitutional. Kucinich told members of the media, “We have gone to court to move to protect the American people from the results of these illegal policies.”
The Obama administration is pinning its policies on a United Nations resolution authorizing the implentation of a “no fly zone” over Libya in order to prevent Libyan leader Moammer Gaddafi from harming civilians. U.S. and NATO actions under that resolution have been widely criticized. Critics say the alleged campaign to protect civilians has become little more than an attempt to either drive Gaddafi from power or assassinate him. Both actions are illegal under international law.
Two weeks ago, the nations of black Africa met in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and unanimously passed a resolution calling on the United States and NATO to end the bombing campaign and cease all attempts to kill Gadaffi.
This Week in Black History
Week of June 25 to July 1
1773 – Massachusetts slaves petition for their freedom. As a result of the petition a bill ending slavery in the state was actually drawn up and passed by the legislature. But the governor refused to sign it and there were not enough votes to override his veto.
1941 – President Franklin D. Roosevelt issues Executive Order #8802 banning racial discrimination in the nation’s war industries on the eve of America’s involvement in World War II. The order came as a result of pressure from black labor leader A. Phillip Randolph who had threatened a massive “March on Washington” to protest discrimination by the military and the military industry.
2009 – Pop music superstar Michael Jackson dies of cardiac arrest in a Los Angeles home after reportedly being given propopol, a powerful sedative to help him sleep. Jackson was 50 years old and was in the process of preparing a major comeback tour. His physician Conrad Murray has been charged with manslaughter in the case which has not yet gone to trial.
1968 – Lincoln Alexander becomes the first black member of the Canadian parliament.
1899 – Black inventor William H. Richardson redesigns the baby carriage. While the idea for the baby carriage is nearly 300 years old, Richardson’s patent, filed at the Boston patent office, included several new features including a special joint which allowed the bassinet to be turned to face the mother or whoever was pushing the carriage. Many of Richardson’s designs are still in use today. There is some authority that Richardson’s patent was actually filed on June 18th.
1942 – Harvard medical student, Bernard W. Robinson, becomes the first African American to win a commission to the United States Navy.
Paul Laurence Dunbar
1833 – Prudence Crandall, a liberal white woman, is arrested in Canterbury, Conn., for operating an academy designed to educate young black women. The academy was permanently closed.
1872 – Paul Laurence Dunbar, one of the most popular poets in black American history, is born in Dayton, Ohio. Dunbar first gained national recognition with a collection of works published in 1896 entitled “Lyrics of a Lowly Life” which included “Ode to Ethiopia.” Despite the power of his poetry, Dunbar angered some Blacks who were concerned about “what will white people think” because he generally used black dialect and not Standard English in much of his poetry. Dunbar’s first poem was published in a newspaper owned by high school friends and American airplane pioneers Orville and Wilbur Wright. The Wright brothers would also provide Dunbar with funds to open the
– a newspaper geared toward the city’s black community. Unfortunately, Dunbar dies at the age of 34 in 1906 of tuberculosis.
1839 – Cinque (original name Senghbe), after being kidnapped and sold into slavery, is placed on the Spanish slave ship Armistad. The son of a King of the Mende (Mendi) tribe in West Africa would lead the most successful revolt on a slave ship during the entire history of the slave trade. The Armistad was captured by the slaves who killed the captain and attempted to sail the ship to Africa. But due to delaying tactics by the remaining white crew the ship was captured by a U.S. naval ship. Cinque and the rebellious slaves were taken to New Haven, Connecticut and put on trial for murder. Amazingly, they won their case and were allowed to return to Africa.
1971 – Muhammad Ali is allowed to box again after winning a victory in the United States Supreme Court. The court overturned his conviction for refusing to be drafted and serve in the United States war in Vietnam. Asked how he could claim to be a pacifist opposed to war while being a professional boxer, Ali’s most frequent response was “I am not going 10,000 miles from here to help murder and kill and burn poor people to help continue the domination of white slave masters over the darker people.”
1978 – The United States Supreme Court hands down the Bakke Decision which undermined affirmative action programs which had been designed to give preference to blacks and other minorities in education and industry in order to compensate for decades of past discrimination. Although the court ruled affirmative action programs were constitutional; it struck down the use of quotas and that had the effect of weakening the affirmative action programs.
1970 – NAACP Chairman Stephen Gill Spottswood creates a national controversy by telling the annual convention of the civil rights organization that the administration of President Richard Nixon was “anti-Negro” and was pursuing policies “inimical to the needs and aspirations” of African Americans.
1972 – The United States Supreme Court rules in a historic 5 to 4 decision that as it was being carried out in America, the death penalty was “cruel and unusual punishment” and thus violated the Constitution. The ruling also suggested that the death penalty was racist. At the time 483 of the approximately 600 people waiting to be executed in the nation were blacks or members of other minority groups. However, since the decision, at least 38 states and the federal government have re-instituted the death penalty by supposedly meeting U.S. Supreme Court guidelines.
Major Robert Lawrence
1847 – Dred Scott and his wife Harriet files his famous lawsuit in St. Louis Circuit Court arguing that after living with a slave master for several years in non-slave territories, they should be considered free. After several twists and turns, the case makes its way to the United States Supreme Court where the court rules against Scott and U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger B. Taney writes what may be the most-racist decision ever rendered by the court. Taney wrote that Scott was “private property” and had no right to sue in federal court. He also declared that blacks were not citizens of America and never could be. Then he topped the decision by writing of Scott and all blacks, “being of inferior order, and altogether unfit to associate with the white race … they have no rights which the white man is bound to respect.”
1917 – Glamorous singer-actress Lena Horne is born in Brooklyn, N. Y., to an upper income Black family. She would perform with Jazz greats such as Artie Shaw, Teddy Wilson, Billy Strayhorn and Duke Ellington. She also became the first African American woman to sign a long term contract with a major Hollywood studio. But she became disenchanted with Hollywood and returned to her nightclub career. She is best known for her 1940’s hit “Stormy Weather.” In her later years she became active in civil rights including participation in Martin Luther King, Jr.’s historic 1963 March on Washington. Horne died on May 9, 2010 at the age of 92.
1967 – Major Robert H. Lawrence is named the first black U.S. astronaut in the NASA space program. The Chicago-born Lawrence would later die under somewhat mysterious circumstances during a training exercise in December 1967.
1974 – A deranged black man, Marcus Chennault, shoots and kills the mother of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. Along with Mrs. Alberta Christine Williams King, a church deacon was killed and another church member wounded. Chennault, a Dayton, Ohio, native, reportedly claimed that Black Christians were deceiving and misleading black people.
1995 – Song stylist singer Phyllis Hyman commits suicide in New York City shortly before she was scheduled to perform at a concert. Hyman was one of the premier female vocalists of her day. The reasons for her suicide were unclear. She left a note which read in part “I’m tired. I’m tired.” Hyman was 45 – six days short of her 46 birthday when she took her life.
1863 – Walter Francis White is born in Atlanta, Ga. For nearly 25 years White was one of the most influential black leaders in the nation. He headed the NAACP from1931 to 1955. However, he first received national attention because of the way he looked. As a light-complexioned black man with blue eyes, White was able to infiltrate racist groups and investigate planned brutality against blacks. But in 1919, he barely escaped with his life while attempting to investigate the deadly Elaine Race Riot in Phillips County, Arkansas which had left over 200 Blacks dead. Somehow the mob discovered that White was in the area and set out to lynch him. But he was able to catch a train back to Little Rock before he could be identified. While on the train, the white conductor told him he was leaving town too early because the mob had discovered “a damn yellow Nigger passing for white, and the boys are going to get him.” White would die in New York City in 1955. His autobiography is entitled
A Man Called White
1899 – Thomas Andrew Dorsey is born in Villa Rica, Ga. Dorsey is widely credited with being the “Father of Gospel Music.” During the early 1930s, after leaving Atlanta for Chicago, Dorsey combined gospel and the blues while performing under the name “Georgia Tom.” He wrote over 400 gospel and blues songs including his most famous “Precious Lord, Take My Hand.” He died in Chicago in 1993 at the age of 96. Once asked to comment on his life, Dorsey said “I had hope, faith, courage, aspiration and most of all, determination to accomplish something in life.”
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