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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 14, 2012
Tiger Woods hopes to be smiling on Sunday in the
final round of the U. S. Open
Tiger Woods Seeks First Major Golf Championship In Four Years
Tiger Woods, who won the Memorial Tournament on June 3 in Dublin, Ohio, is the favorite in this year’s U.S. Open, which begins today at The Olympic Club in San Francisco.
Woods, the 2008 U.S. Open winner, Phil Mickelson and Bubba Watson will tee off at 7:33 a.m. (PDT) for the first round of the 2012 U.S. Open.
Woods has not won any of the four majors in four years and a victory would mark a comeback for one of the most recognized athletes in the world and also one of the most polarizing.
His world, which may have seemed perfect to outsiders, turned upside down in 2009 when he wrecked his car outside his home amid disclosure of multiple extramarital affairs.
Since then Woods and his then-wife, Elin Nordegren, have divorced. Tiger's former wife, Tiger, and Woods’ mother, Kultida, all reportedly live in separate homes near each other in South Florida. The arrangement maintains a sense of family for Woods’ children, Sam, a four-year-old girl, and son Charlie, who is three.
Woods has sought to rebuild his image since the scandal, but with varying degrees of success. Television ratings continue to spike when he is in contention, but he has lost much of his once-wholesome image. However, that has not hurt his pocketbook. In 2010 – the year after the scandal – he reportedly earned more than $90 million. The bulk of the income came from endorsement deals that were already in place.
He continues to earn tens of millions of dollars a year as an endorser for Nike Golf, EA Sports, Rolex, TLC Laser Eye Centers and Upper Deck, a sports card and collectibles company. His relationship with the African-American community remains mixed.
His mother is from Thailand but his late father, Earl, was African-American. In the eyes of many African-Americans, that makes Woods a black man, but he has always insisted that he is “Cablinasian,” a term he uses to describe a racial mixture of Caucasian, Black, American Indian and Asian.
Black America largely rose to his defense during his sex scandal despite the fact that he never openly embraced the black community. Winning the U.S. Open against a tough field would help the rebuilding of his overall image, especially on the golf course. The U.S. Open is one of four major golf championships; the others are the Masters, the British Open and the PGA Championship.
Woods has 14 major championships – just four less than all-time leader Jack Nicklaus, who has 18. Four years ago Woods defeated Rocco Mediate in a sudden-death playoff to win the U.S. Open. He was on such a roll then that many assumed he would have eclipsed Nicklaus’ record by now. He can get back on track with a win at Olympic Club.
Woods, however, has tied Nicklaus for second in all-time PGA tour wins.
Sean "Diddy" Combs
Sean "Diddy" Combs Closes Atlanta Restaurant
Mogul Sean "Diddy" Combs has closed Justin's, his Atlanta restaurant, after 14 years in business.
Bad Boy Worldwide Entertainment Group, a privately held New York-based company, announced that it closed Justin's to pursue other business ventures in music, television, fashion, fragrance and spirits, according to the
Atlanta Journal Constitution
A spokesperson for Bad Boy Worldwide Entertainment could not be reached for comment. Combs is the company's founder.
Combs recently announced plans to launch Revolt, a cable–television network.
The New York Justin's closed in 2007. Combs named the soul and Caribbean food restaurant chain in honor of his son, Justin.
Vice President Joe Biden
Vice President Joe Biden to Speak to Black Journalists
Vice President Joe Biden will address members of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) during the organization's 37th annual national convention and career fair in New Orleans.
Biden will speak to attendees on Wednesday, June 20, the first day of the five-day convention. More than 2,500 journalists and media professionals are expected to attend this year's gathering.
The convention will emphasize changes within the media industry and how journalists can position themselves in the digital age. Plenary sessions will focus on the 2012 presidential election, the U.S. Supreme Court challenge to the federal health care law and the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.
(photo by Nancy Crampton)
Natasha Trethewey, Pulitzer Winner, Named Poet Laureate
James H. Billington, the Librarian of Congress, has named Natasha Trethewey the Library's Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry for 2012 through 2013.
Trethewey, the nation's 19th Poet Laureate, will take up her duties this fall, opening the library's annual literary season with a reading of her work on Sept. 13, 2012, in Coolidge Auditorium in the Library of Congress.
Trethewey, who succeeds Philip Levine as Poet Laureate, is the author of three poetry collections, including
, which won the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.
She also authored
in 2002 and
in 2000. Her newest collection of poems,
is scheduled to be published this year. Trethewey also wrote the nonfiction book,
Beyond Katrina: A Meditation on the
Mississippi Gulf Coast
, which was published in 2010.
Born in Gulf Port, Miss., in 1966, Trethewey is also Poet Laureate of Mississippi, a position she will hold for the next four years.
Trethewey teaches English and creative writing at Emory University in Atlanta. When she assumes her duties as Poet Laureate, she will live in Washington, D.C., from January to May 2013, to work in the Poets Room of the Poetry and Literature Center.
CNN’s Roland Martin Says He Survived Suspension Just Fine
CNN contributor Roland Martin says he learned a lot from his month-long suspension from the network in January. Arguably the most visible African-American journalist in television, Martin was suspended by CNN after making what the network considered insensitive remarks about soccer player David Beckham.
Martin made his remarks on his Twitter account when he saw Beckham dressed in underwear during a Super Bowl TV commercial. Martin recently told MediaBistro that he survived the controversy by simply letting it be.
“First of all, my thoughts were the same then — I was cracking on soccer and that’s what I talked about,” Martin told MediaBistro. “It happened, you deal with it and you move on. My deal is, if you spend significant amounts of time freaking out and going nuts, you’ll simply go crazy. My philosophy is very simple: You keep it moving.”
Media Bistro described Martin as a “man of 1,001 jobs,” and it may seem that way to his followers. In addition to appearing on CNN, Martin is a senior news analyst for the
Tom Joyner Morning Show
, has a nationally syndicated opinion column, and is the managing editor of
on TV One. He also writes books and appears around the country for speaking engagements.
His roots extend to the black press, including a stint with the
before leaving for CNN.
MediaBistro asked Martin if black newspapers can survive amid increasing pressure from the Internet. Martin says they can – maybe. “If black newspapers are able to understand how valuable their niche is and if they are truly able to make the switch to the digital medium, then I think they can do extremely well. ... I always make the point that the mainstream papers could never out-black me,” he told MediaBistro.
“What I mean by that is it's not my job to try to compete with them every day on the news of the day. You cannot win that fight. But when it comes to stories that are unique to our audience, I've made it perfectly clear that they can't beat me at my game. That means you got to have quality talent; you got to have the leadership that's going to do what's necessary. There's a place for black newspapers just like there's a place for Hispanic media, media targeting women. But those black newspapers can't keep thinking that the printed world is still going to be there. They have to understand that we are now operating in a digital and mobile world, and they must be able to keep up.”
Victor J. LaGroon
Chicago Panel Will Discuss Prostate Cancer Facts for Black Men
Frederick H. Lowe
Thapelo Institute, a Chicago-based organization that educates African-American men about health issues, will host a panel discussion on Saturday about prostate cancer, one of the leading causes of cancer deaths among black men.
The discussion, which will be held from 10 a.m. to noon, June 16, at Malcolm X College in Chicago, will focus on the latest information and scientific evidence regarding prostate cancer.
According to the American Cancer Society's booklet “Cancer Facts & Figures for African Americans 2009-2010,” prostate cancer is the No. 1 cause of cancer among black men and the second-leading cause of cancer deaths. Lung and bronchus cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths among black men.
Based on the cancer society's 2009 estimates, 27,130 black men suffered from prostate cancer and 3,690 died from the disease. African-American men are at a much higher risk for prostate cancer, compared with men in other ethnic and racial groups, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which is based in Atlanta.
The prostate is a walnut-sized gland that only men have. It is located in front of the rectum and just below the bladder. The prostate produces fluid, which is secreted at the time of ejaculation. Prostate cancer occurs when cells do not grow normally, according to the booklet, “Prostate Cancer Screening: A Decision Guide for African Americans,” by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The cells divide and create new cells the body does not need, forming a mass of tissue or a tumor, the CDC reports. The abnormal cells sometimes spread to other parts of the body, multiply and cause death. The booklet's website is
Black men can screen for prostate cancer through prostate specific antigen or PSA.
is a substance that evokes the production of one or more antibodies.
To complete this test, a physician draws blood from the patient's arm. The physician then checks the blood sample to determine if the antigen falls within a normal range.
The higher the blood PSA level, the more likely a prostate problem is present. But the CDC warns that some prostate glands produce more PSA than others, PSA levels increase with age, and PSA levels tend to be higher in African-American men than in others. PSA levels also could be affected by certain medical test or procedures, an enlarged prostate or a prostate infection.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, a non-federal panel of medical experts, recently advised healthy men of all ages to forego PSA because the test is not always accurate. For example, the task force said PSA often detects tiny tumors that pose little threat to the individual.
The group’s warning does not apply to all men, said Victor J. LaGroon, community relations outreach program manager for the Department of Medicine at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
If a man is experiencing the warning signs of prostate cancer, such as difficulty urinating or if he is a member of a family with a history of the disease, he should take the PSA test, LaGroon said. If the PSA indicates a problem, the next step in testing for prostate cancer is a digital rectal examination.
Men who are concerned about their risk of prostate cancer and men who have been diagnosed with the disease should attend the conference. In addition, physicians who have a patient who has been diagnosed with prostate also should attend.
The half day event is called, “The Prostate and Cancer: Everything You Need to Know.” The panel will include: Dr. Terry Mason, chief medical officer for the Cook County Health and Hospital Systems; Dr. Jeffrey Steinberg, chief executive officer of Vanguard/Weiss Memorial Hospital; Dr. Clement Rose, Illinois Division Board of Directors for the American Cancer Society; Dr. Durado Brooks, director of Prostate and Colorectal Cancers at the American Cancer Society, and Rick Kittles, Ph.D., who is associate professor of Medicine and Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Thapelo Institute also will host its 10th Annual Health & Fitness Men's Expo from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on June 16 at Malcolm X College. The expo will provide free testing for HIV/AIDS, high blood pressure, diabetes, prostate cancer, cholesterol levels, and kidney disease. Expo officials also will give advice on how to live a healthy lifestyle.
Justice Department Sues Florida for Purging Voters
Frederick H. Lowe
The U.S. Justice Department announced on Tuesday that it has sued the state of Florida and the Florida Secretary of State charging violations of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 by purging voters from the state's voter registration rolls within 90 days of a federal election.
The Justice Department, which filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida in Tallahassee, charged that Florida purged voters within the three-month quiet period before the state's Aug. 14, 2012, primary election.
The complaint also alleges that Florida's use of inaccurate and unreliable voter-verification procedures violate Section 8 of the National Voter Registration Act that any such program must be uniform and nondiscriminatory.
Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner has been working with the state department of highway safety and motor vehicles to identify registered voters for possible removal from Florida's voter-registration system.
The Justice Department alleged in its lawsuit that the department of motor-vehicles database contains inaccurate information.
“Among the eligible voters erroneously identified as non-citizens by the defendants are individuals who became naturalized U.S. citizens within the past several years or who are native-born citizens, including decorated combat veterans who served in the United States Armed Forces,” the lawsuit alleges.
The Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law charged that the purges have targeted Florida's communities of color, particularly Hispanics. Although Hispanics comprise 14 percent of Florida's registered voters, they make up 61 percent of those on the list to be purged, said the Lawyers Committee.
“The Department of Justice has an overriding interest in protecting the rights of eligible citizens to register and vote free from unlawful burdens, while at the same time ensuring that ineligible persons do not register and vote in federal elections in violation of the law,” said Thomas Perez, assistant attorney general for civil rights.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott told several television networks that he is enforcing the law by preventing individuals who are not citizens from voting.
The Sunshine State will pay a key role in the 2012 presidential election. President Barack Obama won Florida in the 2008 election.
100 Black Men of America Holds 5-Day Conference in Atlanta
U.S. Rep. John L. Lewis, D-Georgia, is among the individuals scheduled to speak at the 26th Annual Conference of 100 Black Men of American Inc. in Atlanta.
The conference began Wednesday, June 13, and will end Sunday, June 17. This year's theme is “The 100 As One.”
The global network of 100 Black Men chapters will come together for a five-day event focusing on education, empowerment and enrichment, according to a statement from the organization.
100 Black men was founded in New York City in 1963. The national organization, 100 Black Men of America Inc. , is based in Atlanta, and it has 116 chapters in the United States, England and the Caribbean.
“In addition to offering unique training and one-of-a-kind experiences for youth and adults, The 100 As One conference will celebrate and honor civic leaders and civil-rights icons while awarding the achievement of excellence of individuals who are leaders in their industries,” said Albert E. Dotson, Jr., chairman of 100 Black Men of America Inc.
In addition to Rep. Lewis, Martin Luther King, III, CEO of Realizing the Dream Inc., Michael Lomax, president and CEO of the United Negro College Fund and others are scheduled to speak.
Trayvon Martin's Suspension From School is Not Unique for Black Boys
Study: 59 percent of black boys and 43 percent of black girls are suspended or expelled
Frederick H. Lowe
Trayvon Martin had been suspended from school for 10 days at the time he was fatally shot by George Zimmerman. And Martin's experience wasn't much different from other black boys, who are kicked out of class at much higher rates than their white and Hispanic peers, according to study authored by Dr. Ivory A. Toldson, a Howard University professor.
The Dr. Michael M. Krop High Senior High School in Miami, Fla., suspended Martin on three occasions. The suspensions were for having an empty plastic bag with marijuana residue, writing graffiti on a school locker and being truant and tardy.
“Why would a school suspend a student who is truant and tardy?” asked Toldson, an associate professor in the Counseling and Psychology Program. “It is the best way for a school to tell a student we don't want you here.”
In a report, “Monitoring the Future: A Continuing Study of American Youth, “ Toldson found that Martin's treatment was not unique. The study explored suspensions and disciplinary referrals by analyzing the treatment of 4,164 black, white and Hispanic males.
“The findings revealed unsettling patterns in disciplinary processes in schools, which leave black male and female students more vulnerable to exclusionary corrective action,” Toldson wrote.
The study reported that 59 percent of the black boys were either suspended or expelled from school, compared with 42 percent of the Hispanic boys and 26 percent of white boys.
The nation's schools also suspend and expel 43 percent of black girls, which is higher than the rates for white and Hispanic boys.
Students who attend schools in the South are more than twice as likely to be suspended as students who attend schools in the Northeast, Midwest and West, the study reported.
So why are black students suspended at such high rates?
“Based on measured differences between races, it stands to reason that racial differences in the rate of suspensions are primarily due to racial inequities and biases in school disciplinary policies. Other studies have found evidence to support the discipline gap. One study found that black students with a history of disciplinary referrals were more likely to receive negative perceptions and less deference from teachers,” he said.
There are three categories of students who are suspended Toldson said.
In Category One are students who have delinquent-behavior patterns, including bringing drugs, alcohol, weapons and other contraband to school. Category Two covers students who are disengaged from school and routinely arrive late to class, miss assignments and have difficulty understanding school work. Category Three is for students with aggressive behavior, who admit to fighting with classmates.
Toldson found it surprising that students in Category Two are more likely to be suspended. He added disengaged students often feel “the wrath of uncompromising zero-tolerance policies.”
“As a researcher, I did not subjectively create these categories,” he said. ”These categories emerged through statistically analyzing response pattern among the students.”
Toldson's report on school suspensions is included in “Breaking Barriers 2: Plotting the Path away from Juvenile Detention and Toward Academic Success for School-age Black Males,” which is a 95-page report.
Zimmerman shot to death Martin in February
George Zimmerman's Wife, Shellie, Arrested on Perjury Charge
The Seminole County, Fla., Sheriff's Department on Tuesday arrested Shellie Zimmerman, wife of George Zimmerman, who is charged with second-degree murder in the shooting death of Travyvon Martin. Prosecutors charged Shellie Zimmerman with one count of perjury, regarding a bond hearing in April for her husband.
Shellie Zimmerman testified that the couple had very little money to pay her husband's bond.
Prosecutors later learned that the couple had raised nearly $200,000 through a website for George Zimmerman's defense
Shellie Zimmerman posted a $1,000 bond on Tuesday and she was released.
With Jobs In U.S. Lacking, Black Journalists Consider The Middle East
How tough is the job market for African-American journalists? Media blogger Richard Prince writes that it is so tough that some black journalists are moving overseas to the Middle East to work. Prince reported recently that Bradley C. Bennett, a former assistant city editor for the
, is now a city editor at the
, an English-language newspaper in Abu Dhabi.
Bennett told Prince, “I would encourage more black journalists who are seeing fewer opportunities in America to spread their wings a little and try for a job in the Middle East or the Far East, where newspapers are generally thriving. “The best part of moving (to Abu Dhabi) is that my twin daughters, who were born in South Florida and now attend a school of predominantly Emirati citizens, now speak Arabic and Spanish, as well as English.”
is aggressively recruiting journalists from the U.S. Two recent job postings on the Journalism Jobs website showed openings for a business editor with a salary of up to $100,000, and for a sports production editor with a salary of up to $75,000.
No one can say for sure how many American-born blacks are working in the Middle East or Far East. Without a doubt, many black journalists in the United States are being forced to become more creative about their job searches if they want to stay in journalism, especially newspapers. The daily newspaper industry has cratered in America, with the size of some newsroom staffs shrinking by more than 50 percent over the past 10 years as the Internet has threatened to put traditional newspapers out of business.
Nonstop layoffs have hit black journalists hard, especially those with lots of experience. As newspapers have cut back, many have shed their most veteran and highest-paid writers and editors. Letting such talent go has helped the papers significantly reduce payroll as competition from the Internet eats away at profits.
In May, the
in New Orleans announced the once unthinkable: It said it would reduce its print schedule to just three days a week and significantly reduce the size of its staff. If the move works, more newspapers are likely to follow, leading to even more layoffs that will affect all journalists, including blacks who may well have to give working in the Middle East at least a passing thought.
Brian Banks Tells Audience of 3.6 Million on
The Tonight Show
of His Wrongful Conviction
Frederick H. Lowe
Brian Banks, who was exonerated for a crime he didn't commit after serving five years in prison, recently appeared on
The Tonight Show
with Jay Leno before the largest television audience ever to see and hear from a wrongfully convicted man.
Banks received a standing ovation from the studio audience when he appeared on the program that aired June 6, 2012.
During the first 37 weeks of the 2011-2012 broadcast year, the show’s nightly television audience reached 3.695 million viewers, versus
The Late Show with David Letterman
, which reached 3.196 million television viewers, according to the website TV By The Numbers.
Justin Brooks, director of the California Innocence Project at the California Western School of Law, which represented Banks, said his client “reached an amazingly diverse audience."
In an e-mail message to
The NorthStar News & Analysis
, he added: “We have had emails and good wishes from all over the country. Brian looks forward to working with others who have been exonerated bringing, the issues that led to his wrongful conviction to even more people."
The studio audience included his parents and other relatives. Actress Julia Louis Dreyfus, who was also a guest on the show, patted Banks on the shoulder. Leno had Banks recount what had happened to him so members of the studio and television audience who were not familiar with his story would know it in some detail. Leno appeared to be clearly touched by Banks' story.
Banks was a student at Long Beach Polytechnic High School in Long Beach, Calif., when Wanetta Gibson, a classmate, told school officials that Banks dragged her into a school elevator, where he raped and sodomized her. Although the Los Angeles County Sheriff's department did not find DNA evidence implicating Banks, his unnamed lawyer told Banks to plead guilty to two counts of forcible rape, one count of sodomy and one count of kidnapping.
The Tonight Show
audience his mother sold her house and car, and she borrowed a large amount of money to hire a lawyer to defend her son. Banks said, however, he was given 10 minutes to agree to the plea bargain without being able to seek counsel from his parents.
“They refused to let me see my parents,” Banks told the audience.
On Oct. 8, 2003, a judge sentenced Banks to six years in prison and ordered him to pay $200,000 in restitution. The judge also ordered Banks to register as a sex offender. Banks served five years in prison and five years on parole.
After Banks was released from prison, he received a friend request on Facebook from Gibson, who admitted she made up the entire incident because she did not want her mother, Wanda Rhodes, to know she was sexually active. In a face-to-face meeting, Gibson appeared not to understand the seriousness of what she had done. He said she told him, “Let bygones be bygones.”
The California Innocence Project, which is based in the California Western School of Law in San Diego, presented the new evidence to Judge Mark C. Kim of the Los Angeles Superior Court. On May 24, 2012, Judge Kim exonerated Banks based on Gibson's admission.
“May 24 was the biggest day of my life because I was given my freedom,” Banks told “The Tonight Show” audience.
Before his arrest and incarceration, Banks was one of the nation's top high school football prospects. He planned to attend the University of Southern California on a football scholarship as a stepping stone to a pro football career.
Pete Carroll, who was head coach of the USC Trojans football program from 2000-2009, recruited Banks to play for the school.
Carroll, who is now head coach of the Seattle Seahawks of the National Football League, recently invited Banks to the team's football mini-camp. Five other NFL teams have requested that Banks try out.
Banks is raising funds to film a documentary regarding his ordeal. Readers can donate through the website
General Motors Paid Victims of South Africa's Apartheid Regime
General Motors has paid victims who charged that the automobile manufacturer produced parts for vehicles employed by South Africa's former apartheid government to raid homes and to track down and assassinate apartheid opponents.
GM, which is based in Detroit, paid $1.5 million in company stock to 25 South Africans who suffered torture, arrest and harassment at the hands of the regime, according to the Khulumani Support Group, which represented the victims in U.S. courts.
Although the automobile company paid a small amount, the victory is considered symbolic step toward a reparation package, said Shirley Gunn, director of the Human Rights Media Centre in South Africa, which is based in Cape Town.
"There will be tangible benefits," Gun told
The Korea Herald
newspaper. "Each claimant received a small sum of money and the rest will be used to push for compensation for other victims of apartheid."
The agreement was reached in late February.
Charles Abrahams, attorney for Khulumani Support Group, said the settlement is a step in the direction of corporate accountability.
In November 2002, Khulumani Support Group sued 23 firms for their alleged support of the apartheid regime. Most have settled, but not car manufacturers Ford and Daimler, the computer manufacturer, IBM, and a German defense contractor, Rheinmetall.
South Africa ended apartheid in 1994 with the election of Nelson Mandela as the country's first black president.
The color green denotes Sub-Saharan Africa
U.S., Sub-Saharan Trade Conference Begins Thursday
The United States will host this week the 11th annual U.S.-Sub-Saharan African Trade and Economic Cooperation Forum, which will focus on a region with one of the world's fastest rates of economic growth.
The conference, which will be held on Thursday, June 14 and on Friday, June 15, in Washington, D.C., is mandated by the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).
It is the U.S. government's premier, high-level, bi-lateral event with sub-Saharan Africa, a geographical term describing the countries that are either partly or completely located south of the Sahara, the world's largest hot desert, consisting of 3.6 million square miles.
Countries are eligible to become AGOA members based on improved labor rights and movement toward a market-based economy.
The AGOA agreement, which was signed in 2000, is scheduled to expire in 2015, but the Brookings Institution, a Washington, D.C.-based independent research and policy institute, has called for its extension until 2025.
Sub-Saharan Africa is commonly referred to as “Black Africa” because of the regions large black populations.
The region is developing economically, according to research paper, “The African Growth and Opportunity Act: Looking Back, Looking Forward,” by Brookings. The projected growth rate in Sub-Saharan Africa for 2012 is 5.5 percent. Last year, the
, the British magazine, reported that six of the 10 fastest–growing economies of the last decade were located in Africa.
In the mid-1990s, Sub-Saharan Africa's per capita growth rate was a minus 1.1 percent. From 2000 to 2008, the region's per capita growth rate was just under 5 percent, Brookings reported.
This year's AGOA conference theme is “Enhancing Africa's Infrastructure for Trade.”
Ministers will focus on developing transport, energy, telecommunications, improving the business climate and realizing effective regulation of the key infrastructure sectors. The conference also will focus on regional economic integration through regulatory harmonization. In addition, it will highlight trade opportunities for U.S. business.
The event attracts more than 600 participants, including senior U.S. and African officials, as well as U.S. and African members of the private sector and civil society.
Congressman John Conyers
Conyers Predicts Tough Fight to Remain in Congress
U.S. Rep. John Conyers, Jr., D-Mich., co-founder of the Congressional Black Caucus, wrote in a June 7 e-mail message to supporters that he faces a difficult fight to remain in Congress because of re-districting
“The Republicans have gerrymandered my Michigan district in an effort to target me and the principles I represent,” Conyers wrote. “On August 7—less than two short months from now—I will face the political fight of my life in the Democratic primary, facing several well-funded opponents enticed to enter the new district."
Since 1994, the 83-year-old Conyers has represented Michigan's 14th district, which includes most of Detroit. He previously represented Michigan's 1st district from 1965 until 1993.
Because of re-districting, Conyers now will have to run in the 13th Congressional District, which includes more-conservative, suburban areas. A large part of the district is outside of Detroit. Its make up is approximately 40 percent Detroit, 40 percent Oakland County, and 20 percent Wayne County.
Conyers swapped congressional districts with U.S. Rep. Hansen Clarke, D-Mich, who represented the 13th Congressional District. Clarke is now running in the 14th Congressional District, said Dr. David A. Bositis of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, a Washington, D.C. -based think tank for black elected officials.
Although Roll Call, a Washington, D.C.-based newspaper published Monday through Thursday when Congress is in session, rates the 13th as a safe Democratic district, Conyers will have to defeat two challengers in the Aug. 7 Democratic primary to remain in Congress. The Republican candidate does not have any challengers.
Bositis expects voters to re-elect Conyers, but he said the congressman is worried because he has not faced any strong opponents for a number of years. The 83 year-old Conyers also has been in Congress 47 years and he may realize that his time in the legislative body may be coming to a close, Bositis said.
Conyers used the e-mail to raise funds to finance his campaign.
“If we are to win this fight, I will need your support to help me fight back,” he said. “I know times are tough, but would you consider a donation of $200, $100, $25 or any amount you're able to give?” Conyers is not the first member of the Congressional Black Caucus to face well-heeled opponents, following redistricting.
U.S. Rep. Edolphus “Ed” Towns, who has represented New York’s 10th Congressional District/Brooklyn since 1982, recently announced that he would not seek a 16th term
. Towns had a difficult challenge because he would have had to run in the re-drawn 8th Congressional District.
Lt. Commander Wesley Brown
Lt. Cmdr. Wesley A. Brown, First U.S. Black Naval Academy Graduate, Dies
Frederick H. Lowe
The United States Naval Academy recently honored the late Lieutenant Commander Wesley A. Brown, the academy's first African-American graduate.
“He [Brown] showed us one person can make a difference,” said Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert, Chief of Naval Operations, during a ceremony on June 6. “His accomplishments exemplify the importance to me of diversity in our service.”
Lt. Cmdr. Brown died May 22, 2012, in Silver Spring, Md., where he was a resident of an assisted living center. Brown was 85 years-old. He was born on April 3, 1927, in Baltimore. He attended Washington, D. C.'s Dunbar High School before enrolling in Howard University as an Army Specialized training student, majoring in electrical engineering.
In 1945, U.S. Rep. Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., D-N.Y., appointed Brown to the Naval Academy as a midshipman. He was the sixth African American named to the academy, which is based in Annapolis, Md., but the first to graduate. Others left the school because they were ostracized by white midshipmen and subjected to repeated acts of racism, according to the book,
Breaking the Color Barrier: The US Naval Academy's First Black Midshipmen and the Struggle for Racial Equality
, by Navy Historian Robert J. Schneller, Jr.
Brown also had a very difficult time at the Academy. He received so many demerits--largely fabricated--during his first year that the academy came close to discharging him. However, he completed his education and walked into the history books. In the 20 years following Brown, the Naval Academy graduated 34 African-American midshipmen. Navy Adm. J. Paul Reason, who was a member of the Class of 1965, became the first, and so far, the only African-American to attain four stars in the Navy, according to academy's public information office. Admiral Reason is retired.
In 1949, Brown graduated 370th in his class of 800. Newspapers nationwide covered his graduation because a year earlier, President Harry S. Truman issued an executive order desegregating the military. Brown was commissioned in the Navy Civil Engineering Corps and in that capacity, he was responsible for building homes for the military in Hawaii, roads in Liberia, wharves in the Philippines, a nuclear power plant in Antarctica and a desalination plant in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
During his four years at United States Naval Academy, Brown was an accomplished athlete who ran track and cross county. One of his cross country teammates at the academy was Jimmy Carter, who later became the nation's 39th president. Carter graduated in 1947. As president, Carter remembered Brown and wrote him a letter, which Brown cherished.
In 1969, Brown retired from the Navy after 20 years of service.
In 2008, the Naval Academy honored its first black graduate by opening the Wesley Brown Field House, a 140,000 square-foot facility that houses weight training, a volleyball court and sports-medicine facilities. Workmen also can convert the field house into an indoor track and an indoor football field.
Brown is survived by Crystal, his wife of 50 years, two sons, two daughters and seven grandchildren. He was buried in the Naval Academy columbarium during a private ceremony.
“Wesley Brown will forever be remembered by generations of midshipmen and naval officers as the epitome of courage, strength and service,” said Vice Adm. Michael Miller, the Naval Academy Superintendent.
Black Civil War soldiers
NorthStar’s Week in Black History
June 14 through June 20
1864 ----- Congress passed the Enrollment Act, authorizing equal pay for black soldiers.
African-American soldiers formed 166 regiments and fought in more than 500 battles during the Civil War (1861-1865). Twenty-three black soldiers were awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.
Despite their involvement, effectiveness and achievement, African Americans in the military were discriminated against and paid less than white soldiers of the same rank.
In June of 1864, Private Sylvester Ray of the 2nd Colored Calvary was tried in military court because he refused to accept pay that was less than that paid to white soldiers. Ray was reported to have said,“None of us will sign again for seven dollars a month!”
Initially, black soldiers were paid $7 a month, plus $3 monthly for a clothing allowance. White privates were granted $13 per month.
Some Union officers were against blacks serving in the military. The majority of Union officers, however, asserted that black soldiers were highly desirable not just because they were needed but because they demonstrated a high level of motivation, drank little to no alcohol and evidenced a very low desertion rate.
1931 ----- Old-school R & B tenor sax man, vocalist and songwriter, Junior Walker, whose given name at birth was Autry De Walt Mixon II, was born on this date in Blytheville, Ark. Walker would produce some of the most popular and most danceable music for Motown Records during the 1960s.
Walker learned to play the sax while he was in high school in South Bend, Ind. Following his graduation, he played well enough to entertain in local jazz clubs. When he relocated to Battle Creek, Mich., in the late 1950s, he formed his own band, Junior Walker and the All Stars. Besides Walker, the group consisted to Vic Thomas, Willie Woods and James Graves.
Johnny Bristol discovered the young group and introduced the group’s four members to Harvey Fuqua, who signed them to his record label, Harvey. In 1963, Motown Records bought both of Fuqua’s labels, Harvey and Tri-Phi. Junior Walker and the All Stars began recording in 1964.
During the first weeks of 1965, the group released its first hit recording, the mostly instrumental “Shotgun,” written by Walker. Later the same year, the group recorded “Shake and Fingerpop” and “How Sweet It Is (to Be Loved by You).”
The following year, Junior Walker and The All Stars released “I’m a Road Runner,” and “Pucker Up, Buttercup.” In 1967, they recorded “Come See About Me.” Two years later, they released “What Does It Take (to Win Your Love)?” All four recordings climbed to the top of the charts.
Though the group’s commercial success was strong during the 1960s, it was only modest during the 1970s. They recorded and toured during that decade, and in 1979, Junior Walker launched a weak solo career, recording with a different label. Junior Walker and the All Stars released their last album,
Blow the House Down
, recorded for Motown Records, in 1983.
Junior Walker died in 1995 in Battle Creek from cancer. He was 64. That same year, he was inducted into the Rhythm and Blues Foundation Hall of Fame. In 2002, “Shotgun” was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.
Monument to Elias Clayton, Elmer Jackson and
1920 ----- On this day in Duluth, Minn., a mob lynched three young black men for allegedly raping a white teenage girl, although a physician determined there was no evidence that she had been sexually assaulted.
Nearly a century later, Duluth dedicated a monument to the three men, Isaac McGhie, 20, Elmer Jackson, 19, and Elias Clayton, 19, who were murdered for a crime they did not commit.
Irene Tusken, 19, and her boyfriend, James Sullivan, 18, told Sullivan’s father that they had been attacked and held at gunpoint on the circus grounds and that Tusken had been gang raped by five or six young black men, who were circus workers.
Sullivan’s father reported the incident to Duluth’s Police Chief John Murphy, who arrested nearly 150 men. Tusken and Sullivan were asked to identify their assailants.
Several young black men were “identified” as the attackers. These men were taken into custody and moved into the jail. Rumors of what had allegedly occurred at the circus spread rapidly, and an angry mob of 5,000 to 10,000 whites formed, stormed the jail, dragged McGhie, Jackson and Clayton outside and hung them from the nearest lamppost.
Although a physician examined Irene Tusken and found no evidence of either assault or rape, seven men were indicted for raping her. The charges against five of the seven young men were dropped. The remaining two, Max Mason and William Miller, were tried in court. Miller was acquitted and released. Mason was sentenced to 7 to 30 years in prison, but he was released after four under the condition that he leave the state.
Police did not charge anyone for the murders of McGhie, Jackson and Clayton.
In 2003, Duluth dedicated a memorial to the three young black men who were lynched. Sculptor Carla J. Stetson created the memorial to McGhie, Jackson and Clayton.
Known as the Clayton-Jackson-McGhie Memorial, it is the largest anti-lynching monument in the United States. It was installed on the city's plaza, and it consists of three seven-foot bronze statues. The dedication ceremony for the monument was attended by thousands of people from across the country.
Journalist Michael W. Fedo wrote
The Lynchings in Duluth
, which was published in 2000 by the Minnesota Historical Society Press.
1822 ----- Denmark Vesey, whose given name was Telemaque, a free black man, who had purchased his freedom in 1799 with $600 in lottery winnings, was the mastermind who planned what almost was the greatest slave revolt in American history. It was to take place on this date.
A slave informant revealed the plans to the authorities, and the plot was suppressed. Inspired by the 1791 Haitian Revolt, the intricately organized rebellion was four years in the making and involved as many as 9,000 city and plantation slaves in and around Charleston, S. C.
After the planned insurrection was stopped, Vesey and as many as 35 of his co-conspirators were seized, tried and sentenced to death by hanging. Vesey was executed July 2, 1822. Thirty-five other black men were sold to West Indian plantation owners. Four white men were fined and imprisoned for encouraging the plot and lending their support.
Born in either St. Thomas, the Danish West Indies, or in Africa, Denmark Vesey sailed for 20 years with his master, Captain Joseph Vesey, a Bermuda slave trader and plantation owner whose surname he assumed. Vesey and his master eventually settled in Charleston, S. C. After Vesey purchased his freedom, he established a business as a carpenter in Charleston. Highly skilled in his work, his business flourished.
In addition to managing his business, Vesey was also ministering to blacks who were yet enslaved. He gained permission to enter plantations in the Charleston area. Under the guise of preaching from the Bible, Vesey encouraged blacks to organize and fight for their freedom. He also collected arms and stored them in various locations, including his home in Charleston.
The discovery of Vesey’s plan for a massive slave revolt and takeover of Charleston resulted in stricter and harsher limitations for those in slavery in Charleston and elsewhere.
James Weldon Johnson
1871 ----- James Weldon Johnson, who wrote the lyrics to “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” the Negro National Anthem, was born on this day in Jacksonville, Fla.
Johnson earned a bachelor's degree in 1894 from Atlanta University, and he enrolled in graduate school at Columbia University. He was admitted to the Florida Bar in 1897 after becoming a self-educated lawyer.
From 1901 to 1906, he collaborated with his brother and composer J. Rosamond Johnson. The two wrote “Congo Love Song,” and “Since You Went Away.” James Weldon Johnson wrote “Lift Every Voice and Sing” as a poem in 1900, and his brother set it to music.
The writing team broke up when Johnson was appointed U.S. Consul to Venezuela in 1906, according to the
Encyclopedia of Black America
Here are the lyrics to his famous song:
Lift every voice and sing, till earth and heav'n ring,
Ring with the harmonies of liberty;
Let our rejoicing rise, high as the list’ning skies,
Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.
Sing a song full of the faith
that the dark past has taught us,
Sing a song full of the hope
that the present has brought us;
Facing the rising sun of our new day begun,
Let us march on till victory is won.
Stony the road we trod, bitter the chast’ning rod,
Felt in the days when hope unborn had died;
Yet with a steady beat, have not our weary feet,
Come to the place for which our fathers sighed?
We have come over a way
that with tears has been watered.
We have come, treading our path
thro’ the blood of the slaughtered,
Out from a gloomy past, till now we stand at last
Where the white gleam
of our bright star is cast.
God of our weary years, God of our silent tears,
Thou who has brought us thus far on the way;
Thou who hast by thy might, led us into the light,
Keep us forever in the path, we pray.
Lest our feet stray from the places
Our God where we met Thee,
Lest our hearts drunk with the wine of the world
we forget Thee;
Shadowed beneath Thy hand
May we forever stand,
True to our God,
True to our native land.
1942 ----- The U.S. Navy commissioned Bernard Whitfield Robinson as its first black officer by mistake.
During the early days of World War II, the Navy made it priority to recruit doctors. Robinson, a Harvard University medical student, was recruited by the Navy because the recruiter thought the light-skinned Robinson was white. The Navy awarded him a naval reserve commission.
At the time, the Navy was not commissioning African Americans as officers. Realizing what had happened, the Naval Office of Personnel tried but was unable to rescind the commission. He was later placed on active duty, according to
The Black Collegian Archives
1864-----Navy sailor Joachim Pease won the Congressional Medal of Honor while aboard the U.S.S. Kearsarge when she destroyed the
off Cherbourg, France, on this day.
Acting as loader on the No. 2 gun during this bitter engagement, Pease exhibited marked coolness and impressive conduct and was highly recommended by the divisional officer for gallantry under fire.
1967 ----- World Heavyweight Boxing Champion Muhammad Ali was convicted by a federal court in Houston of violating the Selective Service Act by refusing induction into the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War.
Ali was fined $10,000 and sentenced to five years in prison. He also was denied a license to fight anywhere in the United States. After an exile of three and a half years, Ali returned triumphantly to boxing in 1970, although he lost his title to Joe Frazier in 1971. He eventually won back his title in 1974.
NorthStar's Week in Black History is compiled and written
by Frederick H. Lowe and Susan M. Miller.
The Northstar News & Analysis, Inc.
Chicago, IL | 312.504.0223
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