Posts tagged with "civil rights"

image by Sara Davidson for use by 360 Magazine

CHARLOTTESVILLE REMOVES STATUES

THREE YEARS AFTER UNITE

By: Clara Guthrie

On Saturday, the university town of Charlottesville, Virginia removed four controversial statues from its public grounds: two of Confederate generals and two that depicted Native Americans in a distinctly disparaging way.

The first bronze statue to be lifted from its stone pedestal was that of Robert E. Lee, the infamous commander of the Confederate Army, which stood in Market Street Park. This public park was once named in the general’s honor until June of 2017 when it became known as Emancipation Park; one year later, it was yet again renamed as Market Street Park.

As the crane was put in place to remove the statue of Lee, the city’s mayor, Nikuyah Walker, spoke to onlookers. “Taking down this statue is one small step closer to the goal of helping Charlottesville, Virginia, and America grapple with the sin of being willing to destroy Black people for economic gain,” she said.

Two hours later, the statue of Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson—who gained his enduring nickname after successfully commanding a brigade in the First Battle of Bull Run—was taken down from its place in Court Square Park. Similar to the tale of Market Street Park, this spot once boasted the name of Stonewall Jackson, was renamed Justice Park and has since become Court Square Park.

In response to the removal of both statues, associate professor of religious studies at the University of Virginia Jalane Schmidt said, “I literally felt lighter when the statues came down, it was such a relief.”

According to CNN, both statues have been placed in storage while the city pursues different places to preserve and, more importantly, contextualize them such as museums, historical societies or Civil War battlefields. The city has reportedly already received 10 offers, six of which are out of state and four of which are within the state of Virginia.

This ultimate removal and push for contextualization came after nearly five years of heated court battles and protests. Back in 2016, then-high school student and current student at the University of Virginia, Zyahna Bryant, launched a petition to get the statues removed from their dominant positions over the city. Early the following year, city council voted to take down the statues, but this action was thwarted by a legal challenge. During the summer of 2017, “the statues of Lee and Jackson—and threats to remove them—served as a rallying cry for the far right,” as NPR said. On August 11 and 12 of that summer, this tension boiled over into the horrific, violent and racist riots of the Unite the Right Rally. On the second day of rioting, white supremacist neo-Nazis came to a head with counter-protesters when one man drove his car into a crowd, killing one woman, Heather Heyer, and injuring 19 others, only a few steps away from the statue of Robert E. Lee.

It was not until April of this year that the Supreme Court of Virginia overturned the original challenge to the removal of the statues. On June 7, the city council voted once again to remove the state-owned statues.

The racist legacy of these statues and the necessity of their overdue removal goes deeper than the obvious immortalization of individuals who dedicated themselves to the perpetuation of the enslavement of Black people. These statues are also artifacts of the Jim Crow era in Virginia, seeing as they were not erected in the immediate wake of the Civil War, but in fact decades later. The Robert E. Lee statue, for example, was not dedicated until 1924. NPR described the unveiling ceremonies of these statues:

“Charlottesville’s statues of Lee and Jackson were erected in the early 1920s with large ceremonies that included Confederate veteran reunions, parades and balls. At one event during the 1921 unveiling of the Jackson statue, children formed a living Confederate flag on the lawn of a school down the road from Vinegar Hill, a prominent Black neighborhood. The Jackson statue was placed on land that had once been another prosperous Black neighborhood.”

The programs coordinator from the Albemarle Charlottesville Historical Society, Sterling Howell, said on the installment of Confederate memorials, “This was at the height of Jim Crow segregation, at the height of lynchings in American history. […] There was a clear statement that [Black people] weren’t welcome.”

In addition to the removal of these bronzed Confederate generals, the city also took down two statues that included harmful depictions of Native Americans.

The first statue was of Revolutionary War general George Rogers Clark on his horse in front of three crouching Native Americans and two frontiersmen behind them, one of whom was raising his rifle. This statue sat on University of Virginia grounds, across from the popular dining and shopping area called “The Corner.”

The second statue depicted famous explorers, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, standing tall and looking outwards while Sacagawea squatted beside them. The statue stood outside a federal courthouse downtown.

Just as Zyahna Bryant opened the door to the conversation around removing Confederate statues across the city, Anthony Guy Lopez, a University of Virginia graduate and member of the Crow Creek Sioux tribe, started a petition to remove the Lewis and Clark statue back in 2009. “If art can be evil, these were evil,” Lopez said. “What this says to American Indians is that violence is a part of our lives, and that we have to not only accept but glorify it.”

According to city council member Michael Payne, the council voted in favor of the removal of the Lewis and Clark statue in the fall of 2019. The process of removal was significantly sped up, however, after the contracting company that removed the Lee and Jackson statues offered last-minute to take down the George Rogers Clark and Lewis and Clark statues at no additional cost.

While these four statues no longer loom over the busy streets and passing-by residents of Charlottesville, Virginia, the fight to come to terms with the racist history of Virginia, the South and the entirety of America is nowhere close to over. In Charlottesville alone, ties to this dark past are enduring. As just one example, the man who commissioned all four of the aforementioned statues, Paul Goodloe McIntire, is still immortalized across the city, including as the name for the University of Virginia’s McIntire School of Commerce.

Vaughn Lowery illustration by Allison Christensen for his book Move Like Water x Be Fluid produced by 360 MAGAZINE

Move Like Water × Be Fluid

By Katrina Tiktinsky

Vaughn Lowery, founder and publisher of 360 MAGAZINE, is set to release his first book this month. Move Like Water × Be Fluid is a stunning memoir documenting the author’s journey from a childhood in the Detroit’s subsidized, section 8 housing to a successful career in fashion and media. The arc of this remarkable passage twists and turns in surprising ways, ensuring readers will believe in the concept that this life truly is what you make it. The text will debut as an exclusive multi-volume installation within 360 MAGAZINE and marks the inception of the brand’s foray into publishing.

This provocative coming-of-age story explores the power of branding strategy, a technique the writer developed at an early age and carried with him throughout his lifetime. Lowery, from the time he was a young child, is able to comprehend that one’s innate, individual self is their greatest commodity in life. Through the highs and lows that inform his experience, he stays true to that ideal. Lowery puts forward a raw and compelling narrative of a child, and later a man, who repeatedly picks himself up, reimagines his life, and finds innovative ways to move forward. The self-empowerment so emblematic in Lowery’s character and story promotes readers to adopt the author’s tactics in their own lives.

The influence of prominent civil rights leader Joseph Lowery, the writer’s grandfather, is prevalent in this work. A beacon for both hope and progress during the Civil Rights Movement, the legacy of Joseph Lowery weighs heavily on the narrator. This, along with his upbringing and existence as a black man in America, make Lowery both introspective and contextually aware when it comes to race. Moreover, draws parallels between the movement his grandfather championed and led, and the Black Lives Matter movement of today, exposing the failures of our system and calling for meaningful, systemic change. Both Joseph and Vaughn Lowery are members of the first intercollegiate historically African American organization Alpha Phi Alpha. Lowery simultaneously considers the work he can do, as a singular human being, to forward social justice causes in his day-to-day life and interactions with others. 

In 1920, his grandmother, Agnes Christine Moore Lowery (the little girl in the blue dress, also a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha), came with her grandmother to become the first black to vote in Tennessee. The kids’ book, The Big Day, depicts their journey the day she voted, now available on Amazon here.

Photo of LaJUNE by Armon Hayes for 360 Magazine

Photo: Armon Hayes, Talent: LaJUNE

360 Magazine is also now selling one of a kind home goods via Chairish, a curated marketplace for the best in vintage and contemporary furniture, decor and art. Check out this piece designed by 360’s founder Vaughn Lowery.

In the year 2020, which has been afflicted with an overwhelming amount of change, there has never been a timelier moment for insight from a man like Lowery. As mentioned, Lowery’s deep ties and connections to racial justice in America feels incredibly relevant, as do his thoughts on digital media, something Lowery pioneered years before COVID-19 forced the world hurriedly online. Constantly at the forefront of social change, Move Like Water × Be Fluid offers an understanding of the current moment, yet looks forward to the possibility of an evolved, cosmopolitan world. One that Lowery aspires to through all his works, including this installation and 360 MAGAZINE.

As we follow the author through grade school, high school and on through Cornell University, we collect advice from a myriad of powerful secondary characters. From all walks of life, these secondary support systems offer Lowery the push he needs to continue on striving towards something better. We watch Lowery model the work ethic of his admired older sister, gain confidence from an encouraging teacher, change the trajectory of his life due to a neighborhood mentor, and learn from the critique of a Residential Advisor. This self-help-book stands apart for never failing to appreciate the importance of an individual’s support system. Fittingly, while the book catalogues Lowery’s journey to success, it inspires and encourages readers in the same way Lowery’s community uplifted him – to take action towards a meaningful life.

Comparable titles to Move Like Water × Be Fluid include other stories of individuals who later turned to publishing their experiences in self-help books. Numerous celebrity examples include Becoming by Michelle Obama, Shoe Dog by Phil Knight, or The Path Made Clear by Oprah Winfrey. These titles, as well as Lowery’s first book, all feature introspection and explanations regarding the course of the authors’ lives. 

The following descriptions outlines the chapter-by-chapter journey within Move Like Water × Be Fluid.

Chapter 1: The beginning of Lowery’s journey is marked by his complicated childhood in Detroit, distinctly connected to his sense of place and community. Financial struggles and surroundings reminiscent of the song “Gangsta’s Paradise,” as well as the author’s early experience with assault contextualize the course of Lowery’s life.

Chapter 2: A childhood mood, coupled with the realization of his intelligence, swiftly changed the direction of Lowery’s life. Following a move to New Jersey to live with his older sister, Lowery’s early experiences of racism shine a light on his passion for racial justice today. The opportunity to participate in an honored education program again changes the trajectory Lowery follows.

Chapter 3: This chapter offers insight into the ups and downs of high school, a narrative many are familiar with. Yet, Lowery’s poised observations throughout the chapter reflect his early understanding of the world.

Chapter 4: After a remarkable yet complex journey through high school, Lowery achieves the first of many dreams by gaining the chance to attend Cornell University in New York. At Cornell, he is able to expand his understanding of self and what he hopes to accomplish.

Chapter 5: Saks Fifth Avenue recruits Lowery to work in their corporate office, marking Lowery’s first foray into the world of economics and fashion. The advice he gains from mentors in the field prompts him to shift towards a career in acting and modeling, supplemented by working in the Medicare Department of U.S. Healthcare.

Chapter 6: New York, in all its hectic nature, pointed Lowery west towards California where he could further capitalize on his talents in the entertainment industry.

Chapter 7: This chapter details one of the events in Lowery’s life for which he is best known: his commercials as “Joe Boxer Guy” that overwhelmed the nation. Following ups and downs in Los Angeles, this success cemented Lowery’s understanding of his own talents as well as his ties to L.A.

Chapter 8: Following an offensive home invasion, Lowery pivots to continue embracing what life throws at him with appearances on NBC’s “Scrubs” and “America’s Next Top Model.”

Chapter 9: With plenty of capital and the space to complement his next steps, Lowery founded 360 MAGAZINE in 2008, powering through the tidal wave that was the recession all due to his own brains and the belief in his product and brand.

Chapter 10: After another painful reminder of the inadequacies of the justice system in America due to an unjust prison stay, Lowery’s comprehension of what is truly important is once again realigned. Despite his negative experiences, his magazine is able to be on the cutting edge of the Los Angeles scene.

Chapter 11: The number 360 is ubiquitous to Lowery – one embodies the other. His appreciation for both his own capabilities and expertise, as well as the ones of others, assures his magazine and brand are constantly evolving. 

Chapter 12: Thinking on the future following the tragic death of a friend, Lowery is nowhere near finished and is more than ready to continue is many metamorphoses. He now exists in a space where he strives to empower others, all around the world. 360.

Move Like Water x Be Fluid, by Vaughn Lowery, is available this month exclusively on the 360 MAGAZINE’s website. 360 MAGAZINE has received numerous accolades, and has recently been featured on Dancing with the Stars. Stay in touch by following both Lowery (@vaughnlowery) and 360 (@360magazine)

Additionally Vaughn has an audio book titled, “Say Uncle: The Story of Vaughn Lowery” which loosely based on his childhood. It is available for here on Amazon Music. For additional info on Vaughn Lowery visit Wikipedia and IMDb.

Move Like Water x Be Fluid is available in PDF format on Blurb.

Move Like Water x Be Fluid is available in hard copy format at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Google Books and Target.

Signed copies of Vaughn’s memoir,  Move Like Water × Be Fluid, are available in our shop.

Art courtesy of The Purple Agency for use by 360 Magazine

Shabazz Center × Scholly Scholarship Fund

THE SHABAZZ CENTER AND SCHOLLY ANNOUNCE THE MALCOLM X AND DR. BETTY SHABAZZ SCHOLARSHIP FUND,TO CELEBRATE MALCOLM X’S 96th BIRTHDAY, SCHOLLY AND THE SHABAZZ CENTER WILL BE AWARDING THREE STUDENTS $10,000 SCHOLARSHIPS

To celebrate Malcolm X’s 96th birthday and to honor he and his wife, Dr. Betty Shabazz’s legacy, the Shabazz Center has partnered with the scholarship search app Scholly to launch the Malcolm X and Betty Shabazz Scholarship Fund.

Malcolm X and Dr. Betty Shabazz’s daughter, Ilyasah Shabazz, wanted to create the scholarship program to honor her parents’ commitment to education and empowerment of people of color. My father, Malcolm X, once said that, Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today,  Shabazz said. The opportunity to support young developing leaders and change-makers through the Scholly Scholarship in partnership with The Shabazz Center is such a rewarding investment that equally honors the lasting legacy of Malcolm X and Dr. Betty Shabazz.

Every year, thousands of graduates leave colleges and universities with millions in student debt, making it harder to begin a family, start a small business, or buy a house. Since 2015, Scholly has helped students of all ages earn more than $100 million in scholarships. 

Malcolm X and his wife Betty Shabazz are icons of the civil rights movement so the Scholly team is excited to be a part of this program to help empower even more students, said Scholly CEO Christopher Gray. Also to announce such a program on Malcolm X’s birthday is a great way to honor his legacy. 

In order to qualify for the scholarship, students would need to complete the application, which includes an essay writing component, to receive one of three $10,000 scholarships to be used at any college or university. Students can apply for the Malcolm X and Dr. Betty Shabazz Legacy Scholarship by visiting their website starting May 19th. The deadline to apply for the award is July 15th and the scholarship recipients will be announced in August.

About Scholly

Scholly is the #1 rated scholarship app in the world and has helped students win more than $100 million dollars since 2015. Scholly provides students and families access to thousands of scholarships, for college or graduate school, tailored just for them! Scholly also provides a service that gives  brands, celebrities, and non profits a turn key way to create, promote, manage, and payout scholarships and student loan payoffs.

About the Shabazz Center

Rooted in our abiding belief in Black power, possibility, and sovereignty, The Shabazz Center facilitates thought exchange around racial equity, justice, and cultural production, in the spirit of Malcolm X and Dr. Betty Shabazz. Through global and local outreach, educational programming, and engagement with the African Diaspora, The Shabazz Center is a generative, action-oriented community organization committed to growing social movements that empower and prepare people for leadership in civil society.

Respect Poster via Metro Goldwyn Mayer for use by 360 Magazine

Soul Icon Aretha Franklin is the Subject of Upcoming Film: Respect

Respect is a new biopic that covers an iconic female performer, Civil Rights Activist, and Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin.  Following the rise of Aretha Franklin’s career from a child singing in her father’s church’s choir to her international superstardom, Respect is the remarkable true story of the music icon’s journey to find her voice.

It will star another icon in her own right, Jennifer Hudson, as Franklin. This is not her first time acting, and has also been in films like Spike Lee’s Chi-raq and in the first season of the Fox hit series: Empire. Given her background as a singer, her acting chops and what we’ve seen of the film so far, I’m certain Hudson will be excellent. The film also stars Forest Whitaker (Star Wars, Black Panther) and Tituss Burgess (The Unbreakable Kimmy Shmidt.)   

According to Billboard, the film has had a rough journey, being originally slated for release in the fall of 2020, and has been delayed several times due first to the pandemic and then because of a number of other factors. Thankfully, the film is finally set to release so we’ll get to see the film that’s been in the works for so long. 

Director Liesl Tommy makes her feature film debut with Respect. She’s previously been known for directing plays. Tommy is the first Black woman ever nominated for a Tony award for Best Direction of a Play in 2016 for Eclipsed, and is an Associate Artist at the Berkeley Rep and an Artist Trustee with the Sundance Institute’s Board of Trustees. 

With a story by Callie Khouri (Oscar® winner for Writing, Thelma & Louise) and Tracey Scott Wilson, and screenplay written by Tracey Scott Wilson. Wilson and Tommy have worked together creatively since the 2009 play The Good Negro written by Wilson, directed by Tommy at The Public Theatre. Wilson was a writer on FX’s hit series: The Americans which garnered her a Peabody Award as well as an Emmy® and WGA Award nominations.

The film is set to release in theatres on August 13, 2021. To watch the new trailer, click HERE.

JENNIFER HUDSON ANNOUNCES ORIGINAL SONG FROM ARETHA FRANKLIN BIOPIC RESPECT: “HERE I AM (SINGING MY WAY HOME)” CO-WRITTEN WITH CAROLE KING OUT FRIDAY

RESPECT ORIGINAL MOTION PICTURE SOUNDTRACK OUT AUGUST 13 VIA EPIC RECORDS

IMPACTING RADIO ON JUNE 21

Academy® Award-winning actress and GRAMMY® Award-winning recording artist Jennifer Hudson announces a new original song entitled “Here I Am (Singing My Way Home),” co-written with four time GRAMMY® Award winner, Kennedy Center Honoree, and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Songwriters Hall of Fame Inductee Carole King (marking their first collaboration) and Jamie Hartman [Lewis Capaldi, Christina Aguilera] out Friday. GRAMMY® Award-winning Black Eyed Peas co-founder and mega-producer will.i.am produced the track. Hudson announced the collaboration on her social platforms this morning – HERE

Paving the way for Hudson’s blockbuster bigscreen turn as Aretha Franklin, it will appear on the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack to RESPECT and serve as the film’s only original song. Hudson was handpicked by Franklin to portray her in the film from MGM, which opens in theatres nationwide on August 13. The soundtrack will be available on the same day.

Get “Here I Am (Singing My Way Home)” HERE Friday via Epic Records. 

Pre-order the Soundtrack HERE

Hudson added, “Music is such a living and breathing character in this film, as it was in Ms. Franklin’s life. The process of creating this song was like constructing the greatest tribute I could possibly offer to her spirit. It was the final exhale of this extraordinary project and one that I let out with complete fulfillment. Being able to do so with Carole and Jamie was an incredible privilege. Carole is one of the greatest songwriters of all time and, whether we were trading stories, playing piano together over video conference, or working through lyrics, it was always a masterclass – both in life and music. Jamie and I have collaborated together in the past and it’s always so wonderful to create with him – he is continuously thinking outside of the box in a way that deepens the musical experience in indescribable ways. Our goal was to show that music was always the anchor for Ms. Franklin, in all that she did, and I hope this song illustrates the strength of her voice – both literally and figuratively – which always brought her home.”

About the collaboration, King commented, “Writing a song with Jamie Hartman and Jennifer Hudson felt both familiar and fresh at the same time. The process of songwriting continues to amaze me.  One minute there’s nothing, and then a song grows out of the seed of an idea.  The seed was dormant when Jennifer, Jamie, and I first met virtually. Jennifer and I had previously performed together, and I was excited about writing with her for no less than a film called Respect in which Jennifer plays Aretha Franklin! I’m so pleased to have not just one but two songs as part of the soundtrack of Respect-the 21st century song “Here I Am (Singing My Way Home)” and my 20th century co-write with Gerry Goffin, “(You Make Me Feel Like a) Natural Woman.”

Epic Records Chairwoman and CEO Sylvia Rhone said, “What Jennifer, Carole, and Jamie have created together is nothing short of historic. It celebrates the legacy of Aretha Franklin by channeling her spirit and style in an original, no less. As soon as I heard it, I was speechless. It has all the elements of a future American songbook staple.”

“Here I Am (Singing My Way Home)” highlights Hudson’s earthquaking range with a seismic crescendo. Right out of the gate, she proclaims, “It’s time for me to sing” over glorious church organ before twinkling piano wraps around her vocals. It officially impacts Hot AC and Urban AC on Monday June 21.

One of the biggest, boldest, and brightest voices in contemporary music, Jennifer Hudson stands alone. Not only is she a two-time GRAMMY® Award winner and best-selling author, but she has received an Academy® Award, a Golden Globe®, and countless other honors as an actress. Her self-titled 2008 debut Jennifer Hudson earned a platinum certification, the 2011 follow-up I Remember Me went gold, and 2014’s JHUD drew a GRAMMY® nod. She has starred in films ranging from Dreamgirls and Sex and the City to Chi-Raq and Sing, in addition to taking over Broadway in The Color Purple, for which the soundtrack garnered Hudson another Grammy win. Along the way, she became a best-selling author and served as a coach on The Voice UK and U.S.  In 2019, she appeared as Grizabella in the big-screen adaptation of Cats, and she also contributed “I’ll Fight” to the critically acclaimed documentary RBG, garnering an Academy® Award nomination. In 2021, she stars as Aretha Franklin in director Liesl Tommy’s highly anticipated biopic Respect, of which she is also an executive producer. Franklin personally chose Hudson to star. She will be releasing new music soon.

ABOUT RESPECT

From MGM, Respect follows the rise of Aretha Franklin’s career from a child singing in her father’s church’s choir to her international superstardom, Respect is the remarkable true story of Franklin’s journey to find her voice.

 

by Kaelen for use by 360 MAGAZINE

Hot Cheetos Inventor Richard Montanez

The SCLC’s Streets to the Suites Campaign Will Target PepsiCo to Help Resolve Dispute Between the Global Food and Beverage Giant and Retired Longtime Hispanic Executive Richard Montanez

Montanez’s Legacy of Creating Flamin’ Hot Cheetos for Frito-Lay is Being Challenged by the Company. SCLC President Dr. Charles Steele, Jr. Said Montanez’s Contributions Should Not Be Diminished

Dr. Charles Steele, Jr., president and CEO of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), the organization co-founded and first led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., said the SCLC will lead a campaign to help resolve a dispute between PepsiCo and retired, long time Hispanic executive Richard Montanez, who is known as the creator of Frito-Lay’s successful snack brand, Flamin’ Hot Cheetos.

Montanez, who was a keynote speaker during the SCLC’s annual conference in 2017, shared his journey of climbing the corporate ladder in PepsiCo from a janitor to an executive vice president after he introduced Flamin’ Hot Cheetos to the company.

His rags to riches story has been chronicled in numerous media reports and in his recently published memoir. His life’s story will also be featured in an upcoming film by Christian Producer Devon Franklin and Hispanic American actress and director Eva Longoria. Shooting for the film is scheduled to begin this summer.

Dr. Steele said SCLC officials will seek an immediate meeting with Ramon L. Laguarta, the chairman and CEO of PepsiCo, to help mediate an agreement between both sides and to protect Mr. Montanez’s legacy. The outreach by the SCLC is part of a national campaign the organization launched last fall called “From the Streets to the Suites,” targeting corporations that have been accused of discriminating against employees of color or maintaining environments that are hostile or unjust. The first protest was waged against the Nielsen Co., the global data and measurement company, which was sued by a senior Black executive for discrimination. That lawsuit was settled in March.

Dr. Steele said the timing of PepsiCo’s claims is suspect.

“PepsiCo is one of the leading companies in the world,” Dr. Steele said. “It hires the top PR and Marketing executives who are supported by the largest public relations, marketing and advertising agencies in the world. They review media reports daily. How can this story be in the public domain for years without being detected by the top executives in the world hired to protect their brand? Pepsi would not have elevated a Brown or Black man, with no high school diploma, unless he had contributed in a significant way. PepsiCo cannot disrespect a man like Richard Montanez without some fallout or repercussion.”

Dr. Steele added, “Our organization and our communities will not stand for this. We will not sit idly by and watch a valuable member of our community, who has contributed significantly, as confirmed by PepsiCo, be disrespected without evidence showing who presented the concept to the company. This idea originated in the brain of one person. This was not the creation of a team. Until proven otherwise, we will stick with Montanez’s claim. I just hope this is not systemic racism continuing in another corporation by PepsiCo refusing to grant what is due to a man who has served them well.”

ABOUT THE SCLC

Established in 1957, the SCLC, whose first president was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., is an international organization made up of chapters and affiliates with programs that affect the lives of all Americans: north, south, east, and west. Its sphere of influence and interests have become international in scope because the human rights movement transcends national boundaries. 

Transgender Sports illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

NCAA Opposes Anti-Transgender Legislation 

Top WNBA, NCAA Coaches & Players Call On NCAA To Take Urgent Action Against Anti-Transgender Legislation 

Minnesota Lynx Head Coach Cheryl Reeve and Forward Napheesa Collier Join HRC, Athlete Ally, Gender Justice, and NCAA Athletes to Urge NCAA to Make Good On its Commitment to Host Championship Games in Locations ‘Free of Discrimination’

Some of the nation’s top NCAA and WNBA coaches and players joined a growing chorus of athlete voices across the country today speaking out against the slate of discriminatory, anti-transgender bills in state legislatures across the country—aimed at banning transgender youth from participating in sports—calling on the NCAA to take urgent action in response to the legislation being taken up in more than 30 states. The calls for action—made during a press call today—come in the wake of last week’s comments by NCAA President Mark A. Emmert who said the discriminatory legislation conflicts “with NCAA’s core values” and that the NCAA is committed to hosting championship games in locations “free of discrimination.” Today’s remarks—in opposition to the discriminatory legislation and calling on the NCAA to take action—came from:

Cheryl Reeve, GM and Head Coach, Minnesota Lynx:

“The notion that the motivation of transgender athletes is to gain scholarships or a competitive advantage is simply a false narrative. This diminishes the athlete overall. Simply put, trans inclusion makes our sports, our teams, and our communities stronger.”

Napheesa Collier, Athlete (Forward), Minnesota Lynx:

“Transgender inclusion is so crucial for the health, safety and wellbeing of transgender kids …. The NCAA has to take action and withdraw all athletic competition from states considering harmful and anti-transgender sports bills.”

CeCé Telfer, former NCAA champion and transgender athlete:

“As a trans athlete, first of all, I am not a threat to women’s sports because I am a woman. The joy and beauty of finally embracing myself and being in a sport that I love and being on that line with the women I’m supposed to be with, it’s enlightening.”

Alana Bojar, NCAA and cisgender athlete:

“Trans women don’t threaten women and girls sports. They’re my teammates who want to play for the exact same reasons I do: to have fun, to improve ourselves, to make friends, and be physically fit.”

Zooey Zephyr, former high school transgender athlete in Montana:

“I can with the utmost certainty say that I am the woman I am today thanks to the sports I played in my youth and the sports I continue to play in adulthood. Trans girls are girls. Trans boys are boys. They deserve opportunities to become better athletes and better people.”

Aliya Schenck, NCAA and cisgender athlete:

“Sports teach really important life lessons. They teach teamwork. They teach leadership. They teach self-discipline and self control in stressful environments. And these are all lessons that trans kids would be robbed if these bills and these legislations get passed. Trans girls are girls. Trans kids are kids. They’re not a threat to women’s sports, and we’re proud to call them our teammates.”

Alphonso David, President, Human Rights Campaign:

“This is a moment of national crisis where the rights and the very existence of transgender young people are under attack. These [anti-trans sports] bills are nothing more than a coordinated effort from anti-LGBTQ extremists spreading fear and misinformation about transgender people in order to score cheap political points. At this time, though, we are asking the NCAA to do more and to use the power of their visibility to affirm and support transgender and nonbinary athletes across the nation.”

Anne Lieberman, Director of Policy and Programs, Athlete Ally:

“Every day the leadership of the NCAA stays silent, these hateful bills gain momentum. The time has passed for simply monitoring the situation. If you say nothing, even though you have clear policies and practices that support inclusion of trans student athletes, you are implicitly supporting these bills. I want each and every young person in this country to be able to live without fear and be able to play sports as who they truly are.”

Erin Maye Quade, Advocacy Director, Gender Justice:

“Transgender students participate in sports for the same reasons as anyone else: for the physical and mental health benefits, the invaluable lessons of teamwork and self discipline, the lifelong friendships, and, honestly, just to have fun. Like kids everywhere, transgender kids thrive when they are treated with dignity and respect. Being a kid is hard enough. We don’t need politicians making it even harder for kids who are transgender and singling them out for increased bullying and harassment. We need champions for all kids–individuals and institutions, including the NCAA.”

Growing Chorus of Professional and Student Athletes Across the Country Speaking Out Against Anti-Transgender Bills

Today’s calls for the NCAA to take action come amidst a growing chorus of athletes and other prominent sports figures across the country speaking out against the discriminatory measures.

Recently, 500 NCAA student athletes called on the Board of Governors to continue upholding its “NCAA Anti-Discrimination Policy and only operate championships and events in states that promote an inclusive atmosphere.” This week, Minnesota Lynx GM and coach Cheryl Reeve wrote: “Transgender exclusion pits woman athletes against one another, reinforces the harmful notion that there is only one right way to be a woman and distracts us from the real threats to women’s sports.”

In 2016, the NCAA Board of Governors instructed the association to relocate all seven previously awarded championship events from North Carolina after the vote of HB 2, legislation that eliminated existing municipal non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people and forced transgender students in public schools to use restrooms and other facilities inconsistent with their gender identity. The NCAA has continuously stated a firm position that if participating states do not meet the association’s “expectations of a discrimination-free environment,” they will “not hesitate to take necessary action at any time.”

A recording of today’s media briefing call, and full remarks of all speakers, can be found here. NCAA President Mark A. Emmert’s remarks last week on the NCAA’s commitment to ensuring hosting championship games in locations “free of discrimination” can be found here.

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organizations working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.

Trans Rights illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

The “Slate of Hate”

Anti-Trans Bills Moving in State Legislatures Across the Country, Explained

Many state legislatures across the country have embraced a discriminatory agenda as hundreds of bills that would weaken protections and rights for LGBTQ people—more than 100 of which vilify and marginalize transgender people, particularly trans youth—are moving through statehouses at an alarming rate. Despite widespread, overwhelming public opposition to the bills, a closer look reveals this onslaught of discriminatory legislation is being driven by a group of well-funded, national anti-LGBTQ organizations—including the Heritage Foundation, the Eagle Forum, and Alliance Defending Freedom, which is designated as a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

  • These national organizations have launched a full-throated strategy to chip away and weaken LGBTQ rights and protections by fomenting clashes in the states—using state legislatures to spread misinformation about LGBTQ (particularly transgender) people, and fabricate a groundswell of  seemingly anti-LGBTQ sentiment.
  • Using state legislatures as the strategic vehicles to embrace and pass a flurry of anti-LGBTQ legislation, the strategy is gaining ground — as discriminatory, anti-LGBTQ copycat bills are being pushed through state legislatures at an alarming rate.
  • This strategy, in many cases, seeks to vilify trans youth to undermine broader LGBTQ progress, and to reignite culture wars that most of the country has moved beyond.

Anti-LGBTQ Bills Seek to Vilify Trans Youth

So far, there are more than 200 anti-LGBTQ bills under consideration in state legislatures across the country. Of those, 106 directly target transgender people and 56 of those would ban transgender girls and sometimes women from participating in sports consistent with their gender identity. The legislation moving in these states seek to vilify and marginalize transgender youth by denying them the fundamental opportunities to participate in youth sports activities and — more egregiously — deny them health care:

  • Denying health care for trans kids: The anti-transgender effort to target transgender youth by denying them medically necessary services and gender-affirming care have sprung up in 20 states. These bills are opposed by organizations dedicated to children’s health, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Association of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, the National Association of Social Workers, and more. Some of these bills moving through state legislatures include:
  • The Alabama House of Representatives passed SB 10, which would make it a felony for medical providers to provide age-appropriate, best practice, medically-necessary care.
  • Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson’s veto of HB 1570 was overridden by the legislature.
  • The Tennessee state legislature is considering HB 578 (SB 657), which would classify providing gender-affirming care as child endangerment, triggering criminal, civil, and professional penalties.
  • Denying organized sports opportunities for trans youth: We’re seeing many extremely similar bills in states across the country that would ban transgender girls and sometimes women from participating in sports consistent with their gender identity at the elementary, secondary, or post-secondary level. These bills have been introduced in 30 states. We’ve already seen some of these bills signed into law, including:

Legislators across the country have failed to provide examples of issues in their states to justify these bills, laying bare the reality that these are attacks on transgender youth are fueled by discrimination and not supported by fact. State athletic associations, as well as collegiate and professional sports organizations, have had trans-inclusive policies for years without incident, and there is no reason states need a ban on transgender participation in sports.

Top Businesses, Athletes, Advocates Oppose Anti-Trans Hysteria  

These discriminatory bills—driven by national anti-LGBTQ groups, not local stakeholders or public concern—will have a devastating impact on LGBTQ people, particularly transgender youth. Legislators pushing these bills forward are also ignoring the views of leading corporations, health and welfare organizations, and the majority of voters, all of whom oppose anti-LGBTQ legislation.

Wide range of business and advocacy groups, athletes oppose anti-trans legislation.

  • Earlier this month, nearly 70 major U.S. corporations stood up and spoke out to oppose anti-transgender legislation being proposed in states across the country. New companies like Facebook, Pfizer, Altria, Peloton, and Dell join companies like Amazon, American Airlines, Apple, AT&T, AirBnB, Google, Hilton, IBM, IKEA, Microsoft, Nike, Paypal, Uber, and Verizon in objecting to these bills.
  •  The nation’s biggest advocates for women and girls spoke out in support of full and equal inclusion of transgender women and girls in sports, including the National Women’s Law Center, American Association of University Women, and the Women’s Sports Foundation, among many others.
  • This week, leaders of four of the largest food companies and major employers in the United States — Danone North America, Mars, Inc., Nestlé USA, and Unilever — spoke out against anti-LGBTQ legislation and called for the swift passage of the Equality Act in the Senate.
  • Nearly 550 college athletes have stood up to anti-transgender legislation by demanding the NCAA pull championships from states with anti-trans sports legislation. At the height of March Madness, NCAA President Mark A. Emmert also spoke out against the slate of discriminatory, anti-transgender bills in state legislatures across the country and committed to hosting championship games in locations that provide an environment that is safe, healthy, and free of discrimination.
  • The nation’s leading child health and welfare groups representing more than 7 million youth-serving professionals and more than 1000 child welfare organizations released an open letter calling for lawmakers in states across the country to oppose dozens of bills that target LGBTQ people, and transgender children in particular.

Trans equality is popular: Anti-transgender legislation is a low priority, even among Trump voters.

Trans Rights illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

Montana’s Anti-Trans Sports Bill

Montana Sends Anti-Trans Sports Bill To Gov. Gianforte 

Today, the Montana Senate passed House Bill 112, an anti-LGBTQ bill that would ban transgender girls and women from participating in sports at the elementary, secondary, or post-secondary level consistent with their gender identity. The bill now heads to Governor Greg Gianforte’s desk for signature or veto. Montana was the first legislature to take up anti-transgender legislation in the 2021 session, considering it in January in a rushed House process and before any serious legislation to address the COVID-19 crisis.

Montana has been at the tip of the spear in the legislative fight to pass discriminatory anti-transgender legislation, a fast and furious effort led by national groups aiming to stymie LGBTQ progress made on the national level and in many states. There are so far 192 anti-LGBTQ bills under consideration in state legislatures across the country. Of those, 93 directly target transgender people and about half of those would, like HB 112, ban transgender girls and women from participating in sports consistent with their gender identity.  Legislators across the country have failed to provide examples of issues in their states to attempt to justify these attacks, laying bare the reality that these are attacks on transgender youth that are fueled by discrimination and not supported by fact.  Collegiate and professional sports organizations have had trans-inclusive policies for years without incident, and there is no reason Montana needs a ban on transgender participation in sports.  Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David issued the following statement in reaction:

“Montana legislators have sadly led the national effort to advance these discriminatory bills that put fear over facts, science, and medicine. Montana legislators are putting Governor Gianforte in a position to jeopardize the wellbeing of the state and put transgender kids in danger in favor of [this] anti-equality political talking point. While no Montana legislator has provided examples of what they claim to be legislating against, they continue to justify prioritizing this manufactured issue over addressing the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic fallout. Transgender kids are kids, and they deserve better than this targeted discrimination. Ultimately, this is a bad deal for all Montanans, who would also be subject to the catastrophic consequences that other states have faced after passing anti-transgender legislation.”

Wide range of business and advocacy groups, athletes oppose anti-trans legislation

  • Earlier this month, more than 55 major U.S. corporations stood up and spoke out to oppose anti-transgender legislation being proposed in states across the country. New companies like Facebook, Pfizer, Altria, Peloton, and Dell join companies like Amazon, American Airlines, Apple, AT&T, AirBnB, Google, Hilton, IBM, IKEA, Microsoft, Nike, Paypal, Uber, and Verizon in objecting to these bills.
  • Nearly 550 college athletes have stood up to anti-transgender legislation by demanding the NCAA pull championships from states with anti-trans sports legislation
  • The nation’s leading child health and welfare groups representing more than 7 million youth-serving professionals and more than 1000 child welfare organizations released an open letter calling for lawmakers in states across the country to oppose dozens of bills that target LGBTQ people, and transgender children in particular.

A fight driven by national anti-LGBTQ groups, not local legislators or public concern

These bills come from the same forces that drove previous anti-equality fights by pushing copycat bills across state houses — dangerous, anti-LGBTQ organizations like the Heritage Foundation, Alliance Defending Freedom (designated by Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group), and Eagle Forum among others.

  • For example, Montana’s HB 112, the first anti-transgender sports bill to be passed through a legislative chamber in any state, was worked on by the Alliance Defending Freedom.

Trans equality is popular: Anti-transgender legislation is a low priority, even among Trump voters

In a 10-swing-state poll conducted by the Human Rights Campaign & Hart Research Group last fall:

  • At least 60% of Trump voters across each of the 10 swing states say transgender people should be able to live freely and openly.
  • At least 87% of respondents across each of the 10 swing states say transgender people should have equal access to medical care, with many states breaking 90% support
  • When respondents were asked about how they prioritized the importance of banning transgender people from participating in sports as compared to other policy issues, the issue came in dead last, with between 1% and 3% prioritizing the issue.

Another more recent poll conducted by the Human Rights Campaign & Hart Research Group revealed that, with respect to transgender youth participation in sports, the public’s strong inclination is on the side of fairness and equality for transgender student athletes. 73% of voters agree that “sports are important in young people’s lives. Young transgender people should be allowed opportunities to participate in a way that is safe and comfortable for them.”

States that pass anti-transgender legislation suffer economic, legal, reputational harm

Analyses conducted in the aftermath of previous divisive anti-transgender bills across the country, like the bathroom bills introduced in Texas and North Carolina and an anti-transgender sports ban in Idaho, show that there would be or has been devastating fallout.

  • The Idaho anti-transgender sports bill that passed was swiftly suspended by a federal district court. The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) came out against the Idaho bill and others like it and subsequently moved planned tournament games out of Idaho.
  • The Associated Press projected that the North Carolina bathroom bill could have cost the state $3.76 billion over 10 years.
  • During a fight over an anti-transgender bathroom bill in 2017, the Texas Association of Business estimated $8.5 billion in economic losses, risking 185,000 jobs in the process due to National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and professional sporting event cancellations, a ban on taxpayer funded travel to those states, cancellation of movie productions, and businesses moving projects out of state.

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organizations working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.

church illustration by 360 Magazine

Montana’s Religious Refusal Bill

Montana House Sends Religious Refusal Bill To Governor Gianforte’s Desk

RFRA bill similar to controversial Indiana law signed by then Gov. Mike Pence

Today, the Montana House passed passed anti-LGBTQ Senate Bill 215, an expansive religious refusal bill that could grant a license to discriminate against Montanans and visitors, including LGBTQ people, people of faith, and women, across a wide range of goods and services in the state. The bill now heads to Governor Greg Gianforte for signature or veto. In 2015, then-Governor of Indiana Mike Pence signed a similar piece of legislation into law that encouraged widespread discrimination from medical providers, businesses, government officials and taxpayer-funded entities. Mississippi also passed a RFRA in 2016. In the wake of Indiana, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer vetoed a RFRA bill at the urging of Senators John McCain, Jeff Flake, and Mitt Romney, saying that it would have “unintended consequences” and divide the state. The Arizona bill faced serious business opposition, including Apple, AT&T, Delta Airlines, Major League Baseball, and the Super Bowl House Committee.

As reported by The 19ththis is among 36 anti-LGBTQ “religious freedom” measures coursing through state legislatures as part of a national flood of anti-LGBTQ legislation and an effort by national, far-right extremist groups to sow fear and division for political gain. This represents the fourth anti-LGBTQ bill sent to a governor’s desk this session, and just the second RFRA bill. Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David issued the following statement in reaction to today’s House vote:

Governor Gianforte was elected in part on the promise of bringing new businesses and industries to Montana. He should seriously consider vetoing this legislation, which would not just discriminate against LGBTQ people, but threaten to ward off the very businesses he is hoping to attract. In 2015, then-Indiana Governor Mike Pence saw a steep decline in revenue and loss of business that hurt Indiana. Montana could resign themselves to the same fate if this bill becomes law. The people of Montana believe in religious liberty and LGBTQ equality — those two values are not mutually exclusive. Rejecting this legislation is crucial for the equality of all and for the future of the state. In trying economic times and in the midst of a global pandemic, discrimination should not be on the agenda.

Indiana passed a similar bill which cost them $60m in lost revenue

  • The backlash from the business community and voters was swift, and Pence soon became a national disgrace. Pence’s discriminatory bill had enormous consequences for Indiana’s economy and reputation. Indianapolis’s non-profit tourism agency estimated that in their city alone, Pence’s anti-LGBTQ bill cost up to 12 conventions and $60 million in lost revenue
  • The State of Indiana had to spend $365k of taxpayer money on a PR firm to help dampen the backlash and attempt to restore the reputation of Indiana
  • A reported by the Associated Press detailed that “12 out-of-state groups were surveyed and all said that the state’s controversial religious objections law played a role in their decision to hold their events elsewhere.”

Voters strongly disapproved of Indiana’s religious refusal law and punished Pence for signing it

  • And polling conducted by HRC after the 2015 fight found that 75 percent of Hoosiers said the law was bad for the state’s economy, and 70 percent of those surveyed said they opposed it.
  • Following the embarrassing fallout, his approval ratings tanked with voters and Pence decided not to run for re-election. Yet, his appalling record on LGBTQ equality won him a place on the ticket with Trump as his running mate. Now, Pence has been working behind the scenes at the White House to push his own disgraced values onto the national stage.
  • A poll conducted by the Indianapolis tourism department showed that the city was still facing the lingering repercussions of the reputational harm it incurred as a result of the legislation a year later

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organizations working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.

Film Premiere illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

Twenty Pearls Premiere

COMCAST ANNOUNCES EXCLUSIVE PREMIERE OF
TWENTY PEARLS – A DOCUMENTARY EXAMINING THE STORIED HISTORY OF ALPHA KAPPA ALPHA SORORITY, INCORPORATED – ON ITS NEWLY LAUNCHED BLACK EXPERIENCE ON XFINITY CHANNEL

Comcast NBCUniversal is excited to announce the exclusive premiere of the documentary film “Twenty Pearls: The Story of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated”, arriving Friday, March 26 on its newly launched Black Experience on Xfinity Channel, available on X1, Flex, and on-the-go with the Xfinity Stream app.

From award-winning filmmaker Deborah Riley Draper, produced by Coffee Bluff Pictures, and narrated by Phylicia Rashād, Twenty Pearls closely examines the founding and legacy of the first Black sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, which is now regarded as one of the most significant and influential Black organizations in historyThe documentary tells a powerful story of sisterhood. In 1908, nine Black women enrolled at Howard University made one decision that would change the course of history. These college students created Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated. For over 113 years, the sorority has influenced many of the most famous watershed moments in history.

Through narration, interviews, and rarely seen archival materials, the audience will see the sorority’s impact on World War II, NASA, Civil Rights, Women’s Rights, and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) culminating in the historic election of America’s first Black and South Asian woman Vice President. Twenty Pearls features interviews with members of the sorority including Vice President Kamala HarrisMiss Universe Ireland 2019 Fionnghuala O’ReillySmithsonian Secretary Lonnie Bunch III, Anna Eleanor Roosevelt Fierst, great-granddaughter of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, International President and CEO of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated Dr. Glenda Glover and many more.

 
Watch the Twenty Pearls trailer hereTrailer
 

“This is an extraordinary time to look back at our past to serve our future,” added filmmaker Deborah Riley Draper. “A future where Black women are centered. Helming this documentary love letter to the founders of Alpha Kappa Alpha, the generations of women that followed in their footsteps, and to all Black women everywhere is an honor. This is an important history for all of us to know and understand.”

“We’re thrilled to work with award-winning filmmaker, Deborah Riley Draper, and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority to bring this exclusive premiere to the Black Experience on Xfinity channel, furthering our company-wide mission of investing in and showcasing authentic Black stories and culture,” said Keesha Boyd, Executive Director, Multicultural Video & Entertainment, Xfinity Consumer Services. “We launched this channel to help facilitate the discovery of stories like Twenty Pearls while providing a platform for emerging Black content creators.”

“Telling our own story is essential to preserving our history and uplifting the culture,” said Alpha Kappa Alpha International President and CEO Dr. Glenda Glover. “Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated’s remarkable 113-year journey which began on the campus of Howard University is punctuated by stories of history makers, ceiling breakers, public servants, and ordinary women who have changed the course of American history.  Through this beautifully written and narrated odyssey, this film highlights in undeniable ways the vision, courage, tenacity, determination, and power of Black women while putting to bed the age-old questions about the relevance of Historically Black Colleges and Universities and the Divine Nine sororities and fraternities.”

Black Experience on Xfinity is a first-of-its-kind destination of Black entertainment, movies, TV shows, news, and more. It features high-quality content from many of Xfinity’s existing network partners, at no additional cost, while investing millions of dollars in fostering and showcasing emerging Black content creators. The channel is the only one of its kind endorsed by the African American Film Critics Association (AAFCA), the world’s largest group of Black film critics that gives annual awards for excellence in film and television. Available at home on Xfinity X1 and Flex, and on-the-go with the Xfinity Stream app, the Black Experience on Xfinity will entertain, educate and uplift, featuring Black actors, writers, producers and directors. At home, Xfinity subscribers can visit channel 1622 or simply say “Black Experience” into the Voice Remote to instantly enjoy the ultimate in Black storytelling.

Visit Xfinity to learn more about the Black Experience on Xfinity and other Black programming available on X1, Flex, and the Xfinity Stream app. Visit Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated to learn more about Twenty Pearls, which premieres on March 26 on Xfinity and is free for subscribers, and will be available nationwide, on-demand, starting on March 30, 2021.