Posts tagged with "human rights"

Rita Azar illustrates March on Washington for 360 MAGAZINE

Get Your Knee Off Our Necks

By Payton Saso

On Friday, August 28, 2020, tens of thousands of Americans from all racial, religious and geographic backgrounds gathered in Washington, D.C. on the 57th anniversary of the historic March on Washington to recommit themselves to the fight for justice; a fight that calls for the eradication of systemic racism, police reform and full and open access to the ballot box in November’s presidential election and beyond.

Others joined virtually from cities and states across the world to show their solidarity and to call for longstanding change. You can watch the complete coverage here on C-Span.


The day was empowering. Reverend Al Sharpton issued a clarion call for the next steps. Between now and November, National Action Network will organize voting education brigades and train poll workers to work the polls on Election Day. Our vote will not be suppressed.

According to CBS News, “Sharpton first announced plans for the march during a memorial service for George Floyd, the 46-year-old father who died at the hands of police in Minneapolis in May.” After the unjust killing of Floyd at the hands of police, cases of police brutality against the black community gained media attention, sparking protests across the world.


Many of those families who had been dismantled because of this violence epidemic had the opportunity to speak at this year’s march, coined the “Get Your Knee Off Our Necks” Commitment March on Washington. Philonise Floyd, George Floyds brother, and Tamika Miller, mother of Broenna Taylor who was killed in her home by police, both took the podium to speak to the crowd. NPR reported that Floyd told the crowd, “My brother, George, he’s looking down right now. He’s thankful for everything that everybody is doing right now. Our leaders, they need to follow us while we’re marching to enact laws to protect us.”


The March also hoped to bring attention to the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. According to the New York Times the bill would, “overhaul law enforcement training and conduct rules to try to limit police misconduct and racial bias.” Which comes after months of protest demanding the defunding of police departments and more education for those pursuing a career in law enforcement.


We will work tireless to push for the passage of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020 and the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act of 2020, named in honor of our beloved Congressman who recently passed away after a heroic battle with cancer. You can read more about these proposed pieces of legislation below.

More importantly, if you are not registered to vote, please do so today. Most states are offering mail-in and early voting. The 2020 presidential election may be the most significant election of our lifetime. Key issues that impact the civil rights community will be on the ballot. Additionally, you will want to make your voice known in your local elections, particularly on issues relating to education.

• Click here to find out deadlines for registering to vote.

• Join National Action Network today to stay engaged

• Volunteer to be a poll worker

• Call your Senators and urge them to support the John Lewis Voting Rights Act and the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020.


Organizers originally estimated that there would be 100,000 protestors, according to the Washington Post; however, following a permit from the National Park Service that number was decreased to an allowed 50,000.. Organizers urged protesters to abide by COVID regulations by keeping social distance, causing some to step out into the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting pool in efforts to keep a six-foot distance.


Even with this cut, the immense power of the crowd was still felt. Protestors filled the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park holding signs painted with the faces of those who have been murder by police, calls voter registration and the dauntless reminder of the 8 minutes and 46 second George Floyd was pinned at the neck by an officer.


Martin Luther King III, King Jr’s son, spoke at the rally on the 57th anniversary of his father’s historical speech. CNN reported King III said, “If you’re looking for a savior, get up and find a mirror. We must be (our own) hero.” He reminded the crowd that quoting his father who died for this movement was not enough. King III stressed the importance of this generation of protestors to continue their activism and to vote in this upcoming election.


2020 has been a historical year engulfed by the flames of a pandemic and police brutality which both disproportionately affect black Americans. This years march served as a reminder that 57 years later, King’s dream has a long way to go and the fight for racial equality is still emanating through out America.

The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act

The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act is the first-ever bold, comprehensive approach to hold police accountable, end racial profiling, change the culture of law enforcement, empower our communities, and build trust between law enforcement and our communities by addressing systemic racism and bias to help save lives. This bill addresses a wide range of policies and issues regarding policing practices and law enforcement accountability. It includes measures to increase accountability for law enforcement misconduct, to enhance transparency and data collection, and to eliminate discriminatory policing practices. The bill facilitates federal enforcement of constitutional violations (e.g., excessive use of force) by state and local law enforcement. Among other things, it does the following:

• lowers the criminal intent standard—from willful to knowing or reckless—to convict a law enforcement officer for misconduct in a federal prosecution,

• limits qualified immunity as a defense to liability in a private civil action against a law enforcement officer or state correctional officer, and

• authorizes the Department of Justice to issue subpoenas in investigations of police departments for a pattern or practice of discrimination.

The bill also creates a national registry—the National Police Misconduct Registry—to compile data on complaints and records of police misconduct. It establishes a framework to prohibit racial profiling at the federal, state, and local levels. The bill establishes new requirements for law enforcement officers and agencies, including to report data on use-of-force incidents, to obtain training on implicit bias and racial profiling, and to wear body cameras.

The John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act

This bill establishes new criteria for determining which states and political subdivisions must obtain preclearance before changes to voting practices in these areas may take effect. (Preclearance is the process of receiving preapproval from the Department of Justice or the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia before making legal changes that would affect voting rights.)

A state and all of its political subdivisions shall be subject to preclearance of voting practice changes for a 10-year period if (1) 15 or more voting rights violations occurred in the state during the previous 25 years; or (2) 10 or more violations occurred during the previous 25 years, at least one of which was committed by the state itself. A political subdivision as a separate unit shall also be subject to preclearance for a 10-year period if three or more voting rights violations occurred there during the previous 25 years.

A state or political subdivision that obtains a declaratory judgment that it has not used a voting practice to deny or abridge the right to vote shall be exempt from preclearance. All jurisdictions must preclear changes to requirements for documentation to vote that make the requirements more stringent than federal requirements for voters who register by mail or state law. The bill specifies practices jurisdictions meeting certain thresholds regarding racial minority groups, language minority groups, or minority groups on Indian land, must preclear before implementing. These practices include changes to methods of election, changes to jurisdiction boundaries, redistricting, changes to voting locations and opportunities, and changes to voter registration list maintenance.

The bill expands the circumstances under which (1) a court may retain the authority to preclear voting changes made by a state or political subdivision, or (2) the Department of Justice may assign election observers. States and political subdivisions must notify the public of changes to voting practices.

The bill revises the circumstances under which a court must grant preliminary injunctive relief in a challenge to voting practices.

vaughn lowery attends BLM march on washington for 360 MAGAZINE
vaughn lowery attends BLM march on washington for 360 MAGAZINE
vaughn lowery attends BLM march on washington for 360 MAGAZINE
vaughn lowery attends BLM march on washington for 360 MAGAZINE
Rita Azar illustrates article on white militia and violence for 360 MAGAZINE

ARMED WHITE MILITIA VIOLENCE

Leading national racial justice organizational leaders issued a joint statement on armed white militia violence and police camaraderie with militia members following the arrest of a militia member in connection with the killing of two police accountability protesters in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

“Tuesday night, two protesters who were advocating for accountability following the horrific police shooting of Jacob Blake were allegedly shot and killed by a 17-year-old associated with a white militia group. We are outraged by these killings. The ability of a minor to travel from another state at the urging of adult white supremacists organizing on Facebook highlights the corrosive and dangerous convergence of race, police violence, and the presence of these violent groups. That this volatile cocktail was allowed to develop led directly to one of the most violent nights in the city’s history. In light of the fact that the suspect apparently crossed state lines in order to commit this crime, the federal government should launch an investigation to determine whether he was involved in an interstate criminal conspiracy.
“We are equally outraged by videos showing Kenosha Police Department Officers exhibiting camaraderie toward militia members – who were out in violation of the curfew before the shootings — and also seemingly ignoring protesters who tried to identify the shooter in this incident. Police solidarity with white militia members is abhorrent and intolerable – and it represents a highly dangerous threat to the lives and rights of people of color. In addition, the fact that Kenosha Police Chief Daniel Miskinis blamed protestors for the killings is another example of the racially disparate treatment that Americans across the country have been protesting against since May and for decades before. We call on Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers and Attorney General Josh Kaul, to immediately investigate and prosecute these killings, the shooting of Mr. Blake, and the increasingly pervasive issue of armed white militia members confronting and attacking protesters demanding police accountability. They must also demand the immediate removal of Chief Miskinis.

“Finally, turning to Facebook, the prevalence of armed white militia groups organizing on the platform is not new. Facebook must also be held accountable for its inaction while these violent groups have been allowed to grow and organize. Facebook must take immediate steps to ensure that its platform is not used to foment violence and hatred — and to take immediate and comprehensive action to put an end to groups using its services to organize activities that perpetuate racism and cause harm.”
 
The following leaders signed the statement:
 
·       Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.
·       Reverend Al Sharpton, founder and president, National Action Network
·       Melanie L. Campbell, president and CEO, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, Convener, Black Women’s Roundtable
·       Kristen Clarke, president and executive director, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
·       Vanita Gupta, president and CEO, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
·       Derrick Johnson, president and CEO, NAACP
·       Marc H. Morial, president and CEO, National Urban League
 
Founded in 1940, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is the nation’s first civil and human rights law organization. LDF has been completely separate from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957—although LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights. LDF’s Thurgood Marshall Institute (TMI) is a multi-disciplinary and collaborative hub within LDF that launches targeted campaigns and undertakes innovative research to shape the civil rights narrative. In media attributions, please refer to us as the NAACP Legal Defense Fund or LDF. Follow LDF and TMI on TwitterInstagram and Facebook.
 
National Action Network is one of the leading civil rights organizations in the Nation with chapters throughout the entire United States. Founded in 1991 by Reverend Al Sharpton, NAN works within the spirit and tradition of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to promote a modern civil rights agenda that includes the fight for one standard of justice, decency and equal opportunities for all people regardless of race, religion, nationality or gender. For more information go to www.nationalactionnetwork.net.
The National Coalition on Black Civic Participation (NCBCP), founded in 1976, is one of the most active civil rights and social justice organizations in the nation “dedicated to increasing civic engagement, economic and voter empowerment in Black America.” The Black Women’s Roundtable (BWR) is the women and girls empowerment arm of the NCBCP. At the forefront of championing just and equitable public policy on behalf of Black women, BWR promotes their health and wellness, economic security & prosperity, education, and global empowerment as key elements for success. Visit www.ncbcp.org and follow us on Twitter @ncbcp and Instagram @thenationalcoalition.
 
The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination. Now in its 56th year, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is continuing its quest to “Move America Toward Justice.” The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice for all, particularly in the areas of criminal justice, fair housing and community development, economic justice, educational opportunities, and voting rights.
 
The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights is a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 220 national organizations to promote and protect the rights of all persons in the United States. The Leadership Conference works toward an America as good as its ideals. For more information on The Leadership Conference and its member organizations, visit www.civilrights.org.
 
Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation’s largest and foremost grassroots civil rights organization. The mission of the NAACP is to secure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights in order to eliminate race-based discrimination and ensure the health and well-being of all persons. Members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights and social justice in their communities. You can read more about the NAACP’s work by visiting naacp.org
 
The National Urban League is a historic civil rights organization dedicated to economic empowerment in order to elevate the standard of living in historically underserved urban communities. The National Urban League spearheads the efforts of its 90 local affiliates through the development of programs, public policy research and advocacy, providing direct services that impact and improve the lives of more than 2 million people annually nationwide. Visit www.nul.org and follow us on Twitter and Instagram: @NatUrbanLeague.

Naomi Campbell, 360 MAGAZINE, supermodel

Naomi Campbell – #BLM Episode

NAOMI CAMPBELL RETURNS WITH THE SECOND SEASON OF “NO FILTER WITH NAOMI” THE SERIES RELAUNCHES WITH A SPECIAL EPISODE DEDICATED TO #BLACKLIVESMATTER AND FEATURES GUESTS REV. AL SHARPTON, OPAL TOMETI AND ALPHONSO DAVID 

LIVE STREAM THE SERIES FOR HER “BEING NAOMI” YOUTUBE CHANNEL WEEKDAYS AT 3PM ET

International supermodel, activist and philanthropist Naomi Campbell kicks off the relaunch of the second season of her highly popular and well received series, “No Filter with Naomi” – a limited-time production as a part of her “Being Naomi” YouTube channel.

The first episode is completely focused around the #BlackLivesMatter movement; Naomi has curated a special guest conversation that will feature Rev. Al Sharpton, Opal Tometi (Author and Co-Founder of Black Lives Matter) and Alphonso David (President of the Human Rights Campaign) and will touch on current cultural and political talking points that speak toward what humanity is experiencing globally – the fight for social justice, race, gender and sex equality and its effect on world citizens.

The intimate, live streamed daily series which first debuted on April 6th, has invited fans to #stayhome and save lives during this critical time and has focused on in-depth, career spanning conversations between Naomi and a close group of her friends.

“No Filter with Naomi,” which has already amassed over 2,844,000 views, has featured some of the most globally recognized figures in fashion, entertainment and beauty including: Cindy Crawford, Marc Jacobs, Nicole Richie, Ashley Graham, Pierpaolo Piccoli, Lee Daniels, Christy Turlington, Adut Akech, SharonStone, Paris Hilton, Serena Williams and Venus Williams, Karlie Kloss, Anna Wintour, Sean “Diddy” Comb and Jackie Aina.

WHO: International Supermodel, Activist and Philanthropist, Naomi Campbell

WHAT: Relaunch of Naomi’s YouTube exclusive series – “No Filter With Naomi,” dedicated to #BlackLivesMatter – featuring guests Rev. Al Sharpton, Opal Tometi (Author and Co-Founder of Black Lives Matter) and Alphonso David (President of the Human Rights Campaign)

WHEN: Weekdays at 3pm EST, starting Tuesday, June 23rd 2020

WHERE: Streaming live on Naomi Campbell’s YouTube Channel

ABOUT NAOMI CAMPBELL:

Naomi Campbell was born in London, England and discovered as a fashion model at age 15. Throughout her career, she’s fronted the covers of over 1000 magazines, been featured in campaigns for celebrated houses including Burberry, Prada, Dolce & Gabbana, Marc Jacobs, and Louis Vuitton, and walked iconic shows for Chanel, Azzedine Alaia, Christian Dior, and Versace.

Beyond her work in the fashion & entertainment industries, Campbell has used her celebrity for an array of fundraising and non-profit initiatives across the globe. Environmentalism, as well as Human Rights and Global Health, as it specifically pertains to women and children, have been critical sectors of Campbell’s work.

She has also formed her own non-profit, Fashion For Relief, a charitable organization founded in 2005 that has raised funds for various environmental and humanitarian causes. It holds events in association with the London-based non-profit organization CARE. Today, Campbell is undoubtedly solidifying her place as a cultural innovator- using her incredible platform and success for positive change across industries around the world.

Rita Azar, 360 Magazine, illustration, corporation

Companies Profiting from BLM

By Eamonn Burke

As the nation grapples with the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, among many others over many years, protests have called for massive police and corporate reform. Changes have already been made, as major companies and institutions have begun to exclude forms of racism and include new reforms and statements. However, as with many corporate sentiments, the genuine nature of these statements is being called into question and exposed as hollow.

It has become a trend for major companies to undertake policies and claim responsibility for social issues, in what is known as “Political Corporate Social Responsibility.” Media is flooded with brands preaching change and pledging to be a part of it. In today’s instant society, however, it is difficult to discern the true motives of these businesses in their support of the BLM movement.

Major companies like Microsoft and Amazon have been actively projecting support for the BLM movement, yet both corporations have shockingly low involvement of black people within their company structure. Intel joined in the trend with a cringey tweet as well.

Fast food companies like Wendy’s and Burger King, and Popeyes have also seemingly been using the movement to boost their reputation using tweets and ads, despite the fact that they thrive on minimum wage workers who are often people of color. The stark insensitivity is reminiscent of Pepsi’s distasteful ad that was pulled amidst the movement in 2017. Some companies, however, didn’t even try to voice support. One such company was Starbucks, who announced that employees were forbidden from wearing BLM merchandise, a policy that has since been reversed. Other food brands such as Quaker Oats are making real changes – the Aunt Jemima brand will be dropped because of it’s racial stereotyping, as well as Uncle Ben’s.

Following a petition signed by more than 5,000 people, Trader Joe’s announced in July that they would be changing the names of their “racist packaging” such as “Trader Ming’s” and “Trader José.” San Francisco High School student Briones Bedell, who started the petition, claimed that “The Trader Joe’s branding is racist because it exoticizes other cultures — it presents ‘Joe’ as the default ‘normal’ and the other characters falling outside of it.”

The company is now going back on that promise, and have says in a new statement that “We disagree that any of these labels are racist,” arguing that they are meant to show appreciation for these cultures. Company spokeswoman Kenya Friend-Daniel originally had accepted the petition, acknowledging that it may have the opposite effect of its intended inclusiveness. Now, however, she says that they will only look into these types of changes from employees, not from petitions online.

The racial revolution in the wake of George Floyd’s death has seen the downfall of other brands and images such as Aunt Jemima and the Washington Redskins, but Trader Joe’s is the first prominent one to resist the “cancel culture.”

What consumers really want, however, is not posts on social media. They want real action and real change. This means companies should “Open Their Purse” and donate to anti-racism organizations. Many companies have, but many have also donated to campaigns for Congress people that are rejected by the NAACP.

The public is skeptical of these statements and promises, and not without reason. The history of major businesses like Bank of America and Goldman Sachs have in the past had to cover up allegations of discrimation, and others fail to include minority members in their top ranks. Other major institutions like the NFL condemned the kneeling for the National Anthem just a few years ago, but is now apologizing and admitting the players were right. The question remains: have sentiments truly changed?

Brands and institutions are recognizing that being anti-racist and pro-BLM is selling more than ever. “Costs Signals,” which are the cost that companies pay to undertake these policy changes, are what should be used for judgement, says UPenn Marketing Professor Cait Lamberton to ABC News. Andre Perry, another ABC correspondent from Brookings Institution, warns that “These statements are a sign of defensiveness more so than an indication that they are proactively working to deconstruct racism in this country.”

For a list of donations made by major companies click here.

CNB Donates to NAACP

City National Bank, America’s Premier Private and Business Bank®, today announced that it will donate up to $400,000, including colleague donations and company matching funds, to support the fight for social and racial justice in America.

“As the nation collectively mourns the senseless murder of George Floyd, we are reminded of racism’s deep wound on our country and the harm it continues to inflict,” said City National Bank Chief Executive Officer Kelly Coffey and Chairman Russell Goldsmith in a joint statement. “We must do much more to end the longstanding pain and systemic and economic injustice that communities of color have endured at the hands of oppression and pervasive racism in our society. At City National, we have a long history of supporting our colleagues, clients, and communities, and we recognize that our commitment is more important than ever in this critical moment in our nation’s history.”

Following the acts of racism and violence that recently took the lives of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and countless others before them, City National will donate to:

The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, to help its mission to fight for racial justice and secure a society where all individuals have equal rights without race-based discrimination; and

The Equal Justice Initiative, to support its objectives of ending mass incarceration and excessive punishment in the U.S., challenging racial and economic injustice, and protecting basic human rights for the most vulnerable people in American society.

A portion of the funds will go toward the creation of a matching gifts program for City National colleagues who choose to donate to these organizations.

In addition to City National’s commitment today, the bank’s parent company, Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), previously announced a CAD $1.5 million donation to provide direct support to Black youth, the economic development of Black communities, and social and racial justice reform in North America through organizations including the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and the Equal Justice Initiative. In Minneapolis, RBC Wealth Management – U.S. donated $250,000 to support rebuilding efforts through a contribution to We Love Lake Street, a fund set up by the Lake Street Council to provide direct support to small businesses and nonprofits.

About City National Bank

With $69.1 billion in assets, City National Bank provides banking, investment, and trust services through locations in Southern California, the San Francisco Bay Area, Nevada, New York City, Nashville, Atlanta, Minneapolis, Washington, D.C. and Miami*. In addition, the company and its investment affiliates manage or administer $76.9 billion in client investment assets.

City National is a subsidiary of Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), one of North America’s leading diversified financial services companies. RBC serves more than 17 million personal, business, public sector and institutional clients through offices in Canada, the United States, and 34 other countries.

NO PRIDE W/O JUSTICE

Chicago based LGBTQ nightlife collective, A Queer Pride, has announced a weekly flash fundraiser series called There Is No Pride Without Justice to raise money for Black organizations in need.

June usually marks the start of Pride month, and while many were looking forward to a welcome rainbow-filled distraction from the stress of COVID-19, the collective felt it was necessary to take a bolder call to action. A Queer Pride is taking a clear stance against police brutality and discrimination faced by Black communities by using their platform and reach to uplift Black voices and their causes.

Each week, A Queer Pride and other important LGBTQ voices in Chicago will work together to boost A Queer Pride’s Fundly that will collect donations to be split with various organizations addressing the evolving needs of Black people in Chicago at this time. The collective urges other nightlife promoters and performers to rethink not just their social media presence, but how their events and profits can uplift and support Black artists and communities going forward.

Week One (6/1-6/7) of the “There Is No Pride Without Justice” fundraiser will benefit the following organizations.

  • Brave Space Alliance
    Black-led and trans-led space providing free resources to LGBTQ people on the South Side of Chicago.
     
  • Chicago Freedom School
    Providing free meals to replace the paused CPS free lunch program that many depend on, among other vital efforts.
     
  • Chicago Community Bond Fund
    Working to free jailed protestors and to end money bail and pre-trial incarceration in Chicago.

###
About A Queer Pride:
A Queer Pride is a collective of seasoned professionals from Chicago’s nightlife landscape, working together to celebrate Pride throughout the year. A combined effort between AbhijeetBambi Banks-CouleéLoren J and Scott Cramer, A Queer Pride actively seeks to provide a platform to marginalized and underrepresented members of the LGBTQ community in a political climate that needs these voices to be heard even louder.
Follow A Queer Pride on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

COVID-19 × AFRICAN AMERICANS

As race-specific data for COVID-19 cases are published, African American civic and public health leaders are organizing to outline a number of urgent requests to the federal government and influential corporations. As has been widely reported in recent news, it is impossible to ignore the link between the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on African Americans and the longstanding and continuing economic and health disparities in the U.S. In response, NAATPN, Inc., in collaboration with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the Council on Black Health, have drafted a letter detailing immediate actions that need to occur as well as long-term solutions to health justice issues that must be addressed in order to eliminate health disparities.

According to Delmonte Jefferson, executive director for NAATPN, Inc. and convener of the group, the pandemic has exposed the country’s major health inequities in the U.S.

“The root cause of the COVID-19 disparities on African American populations is embedded in our country’s unjust history that devalues African American health and well-being.” He says that it is imperative that the country devises short- and long-term plans to achieve true heath equity.

Shiriki Kumanyika, a research professor at Drexel University and founder of the Council on Black Health, notes: “This would be an unparalleled opportunity for federal, state, and local governments to show leadership—to implement permanent solutions that ensure the health and well-being of all residents—giving particular priority to those disproportionately experiencing pervasive, cumulative forms of social and economic disadvantage and health risks.”

As noted by Derrick Johnson, president and CEO of the NAACP, “Increasingly, the data on COVID-19 underscore why our organizations exist and are joining forces at this time: Now more than ever, Black people are paying the price for our short- and long-term policy failures through compromised health and an early demise. Enough is enough.”

The letter, now signed by more than 25 African American-led organizations, requests that government agencies, corporations and philanthropic organizations develop a coordinated strategy to provide COVID-19 relief for the most affected communities.

Specifically, the letter’s short-term requests include:

  • Mobile COVID-19 testing for underserved communities
  • COBRA coverage for workers losing health insurance due to COVID-19 furloughs
  • Data on race/ethnicity and location for COVID-19 incidences, hospitalizations and deaths
  • A credible strategy to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in African American communities

Long-term requests include:

  • Investment in healthcare workers and systems that are culturally sensitive
  • Increased federal minimum wage and the poverty threshold
  • Investment in pre-k and elementary education to include before and after-school care as well as healthy meals

Most organizations signed on to the letter operate specific programs and policy advocacy efforts that address economic and health disparities among African American populations.

To view the letter, visit www.naatpn.org/covidcollective to download or sign the letter.­

SCLC Calls for Additional Stimulus Money

On the 52nd Anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s. Assassination, His Call for Economic Equality for All is Being Revived

The Southern Christian Leadership Conference Calls for Permanent Monthly Financial Subsidy for The Poor, Billions for Black-Owned Businesses and Reparations for Descendants of Slaves.

In Commemorating the 52nd Anniversary of the Assassination of its co-founder and first leader, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), has called on the U.S. Government to set aside $250 billion for black-owned businesses.

The civil rights organization also called on Congress, which recently approved a nearly $2 trillion stimulus package to provide emergency aid to Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic, to permanently extend monthly payments to the poor and to pay reparations for descendants of slaves. The coronavirus crisis, SCLC officials say, has highlighted the need for America to right its wrongs when it comes to income inequality, which is linked to disparities in education, health care, housing and access to capital. These life essentials are key components of wealth creation.

“We will circulate a petition that will be delivered to Congress asking for $250 billion for black-owned businesses,” said Dr. Charles Steele, Jr., president, and CEO of the SCLC. “The administration is turning the stimulus money over to banks, but banks are the main reason black Americans can’t get access to wealth and why most black Americans have lost their savings. Black America lost its wealth when the housing market collapsed, and banks played a major role in that collapse.”

Dr. Steele said, “it’s time for restoration.” “The Covid-19 stimulus package can assist black-owned businesses, especially black-owned banks, and our historically black colleges and universities,” he added. “If we get our banks, businesses, and institutions healthy, our communities will recover, and we will achieve Dr. King’s dream for racial and economic equality.”

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in Memphis on April 4, 1968 while in the city advocating for fair wages for striking sanitation workers. Before Dr. King was killed at the age of 39, he had called for the U.S. government to address the injustices in the American economic system which provided government funding to the rich and the poor, but referred to the aid by different names. For the poor, it is called welfare. For the
rich, it is called subsidies. To end economic exploitation, Dr. King called for America to redistribute its wealth. He pushed for a guaranteed subsidy for the poor, saying a rich nation like the U.S. should not have citizens living in poverty.

“The U.S. Government response to the Coronavirus is a start, but the virus has made it clear that we are all tied to our nation’s survival and revival,” Dr. Steele said. “The only way for America to move forward as a stronger nation is for Congress to act on additional financial measures to ensure that poor and working-class families have the financial means to prosper. We need a permanent stimulus package, not a temporary one that is a band-aid approach to our financial problems. The $1200 check won’t cut it for poor folks. You can’t pay your bills and get out of this slump with that check.”

Dr. King believed in self-help, but he also believed in the government partnering with citizens to help them get on track economically, Dr. Steele said.

“The $1200 that the current administration is talking about giving to citizens is a slap in the face,” Dr. Steele said. “That is not a salary for folks who have lost their jobs. The money the government is giving is just pocket change. Poor folks need checks until they reach the next rung of the economic ladder.”

And descendants of slaves, Dr. Steele added, need reparations, because the remnants of that era still exist today where blacks face racism in every arena in society. Reparations can address some of the past injustices, persistent disparities and redistribute some of the wealth.

“Dr. King was a visionary and global leader,” Dr. Steele said. “He called for the government to take care of the people 52 years ago. It is taking the Coronavirus for us to see how we are all connected and linked to each other’s survival. And we see this not only in America but around the world. Dr. King’s vision was not destroyed. It was delayed, but the moment to fulfill that vision is in our hands. The SCLC is going to keep the issues and his dream front and center.”

Sara Sandman, 360 MAGAZINE, illustration, community service, philanthropy, humanitarian

COVID-19 TOWN HALL

Today, BET announced a partnership with civil rights organization and stewards of human rights, the NAACP, on a four-part tele-town hall series “Unmasked: A COVID-19 Virtual Town Hall Series Powered by NAACP & BET” focused on how the pandemic is affecting African Americans and what steps the community can take to build an action plan for positive change. The first town hall kicks-off on Wednesday, April 8, at 8 PM ET/ 5 PM PT, and will focus on the health, emotional, economic toll, congressional response and how activists can apply pressure to ensure legislation is equitable. Viewers can participate LIVE via an interactive toll-free conference call that will also be streamed at http://naacp.org/call-to-action-program/. To participate via phone dial 866-757-0756 and to join the conversation on social media follow @NAACP and @BET.
 
“As the world faces unprecedented times and new realities during this global pandemic, the health and safety of people around the planet, particularly African Americans, are at an unparalleled risk,” said Derrick Johnson, president and CEO, NAACP. “The occasion to uplift and educate our community during this pivotal moment charts a pathway forward through uncertain times. The NAACP, in partnership with BET, is committed to rising to meet this moment head-on through this informative four-part series focused on the health, economic and social impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the African American Community.”
 
“As the devastation from the COVID-19 pandemic mounts, BET is developing partnerships and programs to support our community through this global health and financial crisis,” said Scott Mills, President of BET.  “We’re proud to work with our long-time partner the NAACP on this important town hall series that will provide comprehensive information for African Americans that will empower and help the community move forward during these difficult times.”
 
In the United States alone, close to 200,000 cases of the coronavirus have been confirmed. Because of the racial and economic inequities embedded in our country’s infrastructure, the effects of the coronavirus could be compounded for Black and Brown communities. The town hall series will help separate facts from myths and directly address how to ensure that the policies and practices that are born out of this pandemic justly address the health, economic and social needs of all people. The weekly series will focus on issues such as the state impact, response, and what comes next to advocating for your local community to the impact to schools, school systems, colleges, and exposed divisions.