Death of Emmett Till – 60th Anniversary

Emmett Till Memorial

Emmett Till photographed by his mother on Christmas Day 1954
Emmett Till photographed by his mother on Christmas Day 1954

Emmett Louis Till (July 25, 1941 – August 28, 1955) was an African-American teenager who was murdered in Mississippi at the age of 14, after reportedly flirting with a white woman.

Till was from Chicago, Illinois, visiting his relatives in Money, Mississippi, in the Mississippi Delta region, when he spoke to 21-year-old Carolyn Bryant, the married proprietor of a small grocery store there. Several nights later, Bryant’s husband Roy and his half-brother J. W. Milam went to Till’s great-uncle’s house. They took Till away to a barn, where they beat him and gouged out one of his eyes, before shooting him through the head and disposing of his body in the Tallahatchie River, weighting it with a 70-pound (32 kg) cotton gin fan tied around his neck with barbed wire. Three days later, Till’s body was discovered and retrieved from the river.

Till’s body was returned to Chicago. His mother, who had raised him mostly by herself, insisted on a public funeral service with an open casket to show the world the brutality of the killing. “The open-coffin funeral held by Mamie Till Bradley exposed the world to more than her son Emmett Till’s bloated, mutilated body. Her decision focused attention not only on American racism and the barbarism of lynching but also on the limitations and vulnerabilities of American democracy”. Tens of thousands attended his funeral or viewed his casket and images of his mutilated body were published in black-oriented magazines and newspapers, rallying popular black support and white sympathy across the U.S. Intense scrutiny was brought to bear on the condition of black civil rights in Mississippi, with newspapers around the country critical of the state. Although initially local newspapers and law enforcement officials decried the violence against Till and called for justice, they soon began responding to national criticism by defending Mississippians, which eventually transformed into support for the killers.

In September 1955, Bryant and Milam were acquitted of Till’s kidnapping and murder. Protected against double jeopardy, Bryant and Milam publicly admitted in an interview with Look magazine that they killed Till. Problems identifying Till affected the trial, partially leading to Bryant’s and Milam’s acquittals, and the case was officially reopened by the United States Department of Justice in 2004. As part of the investigation, the body was exhumed and autopsied resulting in a positive identification. He was reburied in a new casket, which is the standard practice in cases of body exhumation. His original casket was donated to the Smithsonian Institution.

The trial of Bryant and Milam attracted a vast amount of press attention. Till’s murder is noted as a pivotal event motivating the African-American Civil Rights Movement. Events surrounding Emmett Till’s life and death, according to historians, continue to resonate, and some writers have suggested that almost every story about Mississippi returns to Till, or the region in which he died, in “some spiritual, homing way”.

For more: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emmett_Till

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Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr. Speaks at Emmett Till Tree Planting Ceremony at the U.S. Capitol
Washington, D.C.,
United States
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Monday, November 17, 2014 justice.gov
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Thank you all, and especially Senator [Susan] Collins, Senator [Thad] Cochran, Senator [Roger] Wicker, Stephen Ayers, and my good friend Janet Langhart Cohen, for the opportunity to be here this morning.
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Nearly six decades have passed since the terrible night when young Emmett Till – a 14-year-old Chicagoan on a trip to visit relatives in Mississippi – was abducted, in the early-morning darkness, by violent men with hatred in their hearts.  Yet even today, the pain from this unspeakable crime, this unspeakable tragedy, still feels raw – perhaps because those responsible for this hate crime were never held to account.  Or perhaps because the progress that generations have fought and died to achieve – progress that made possible my own life and career, and those of leaders like President Obama – came too late for Emmett Till.  Or perhaps even because, despite the extraordinary steps forward our country has witnessed in the years since that murderous, hate-filled summer night, our nation’s journey – along the road to equality, acceptance and opportunity for all – is not yet complete.  And perhaps because our history – including our recent history – is dotted with the stories of far too many other Emmett Tills, Matthew Shepards, and James Byrds: talented, thriving people, many of them young, with promising futures stretching out before them – all cut down, brutally and unnecessarily, because of what they looked like or who they were.
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Although today our hearts still ache for Emmett Till, and for so many others – before and since – who have suffered the same fate, from the darkness of these tragic losses there have arisen great sparks of humanity that have transformed our nation to be more strong, more equal, and more free.  Just months after Emmett Till was laid to rest, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery bus, later saying she had thought of this young man the moment she was challenged.  In the decades that followed, countless Americans – from brave young people who integrated schools and universities across the South, including my late sister-in-law, Vivian Malone; to leaders like Dr. King and the legendary John Lewis; to Freedom Riders and activists who launched the Mississippi Freedom Summer – have carried with them the memory of what happened, one night in 1955, on the banks of the Tallahatchie River.
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So although Emmett Till died senselessly – and far too soon – it can never be said that he died in vain.  His tragic murder galvanized millions to action.  And today, we commemorate this legacy by planting a tree in his honor – a tree that will become his living memorial, here at the heart of our Republic, in the shadow of the United States Capitol.
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Like the work it symbolizes and the cause it represents, this tree will outlast us.  Like our ongoing efforts, it will honor the enduring legacy of a young man – a boy, really – who never had the chance to grow old.  And it will ensure that Emmett Till’s story, his example, and his too-short life will be preserved forever – on these grounds now made hallow, but also in the memories of all who knew him, in the work of those who carry on his fight, and in the hearts and minds of generations yet to come.  In remembering that young man in the way we do today, we ennoble our nation and make our union more perfect.
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Thank you.

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Emmett Till 60th year commemoration events planned

Aug 26, 2015  Cheryl Lasseter – WLOX-TV Biloxi

This weekend, take a look back at the legacy of Emmett Till, 60 years after his death, with “The Emmett Till Legacy: 60th Year Anniversary Commemoration, A Time for Unity, Reflection & Remembrance.”

  • Thursday, Aug. 27: A documentary of Mamie Till Mobley’s visit in 2002. Cornerstone MBC, 1118 Martin Luther King St., Jackson, 6 p.m..
  • Friday, Aug. 28: Time for unity in black and white. Wear black and white attire. Observe a moment of silence at noon.
  • Friday, Aug. 28: Remembering Emmett Louis Till’s Legacy & Luncheon, 60 years later. Smith Robertson Museum, 528 Bloom Street, Jackson, 12-2 p.m.
  • Friday, Aug. 28: Candlelight vigil and prayer for peace. Jackson State University, 7:45-9 p.m..
  • Friday, Aug. 28: Meet and greet the Till family. Mediterranean Bar & Grill, 6550 Old Canton Road, Ridgeland, 10 p.m. – 1 a.m.
  • Saturday, Aug. 29: Emmett Till Parade, featuring Till family as grand marshals. Begins at Freedom Corner at 9:30 a.m.
  • Saturday, Aug. 29: A Delta, MS bus and walking tour. 12 p.m.-10 p.m..
  • Sunday, Aug. 30: Worship with Emmett Till family and Team Mississippi. Wear all white. Alabaster COGIC, 940 McDowell Road, Jackson,11:30 a.m.
  • Sunday, Aug. 30: Film screening: ‘Who Killed Emmett Till’ and ‘The Story of Mamie Till Mobley’. Community discussion to follow. New Highlights Building on Tougaloo College Campus, 4-6 p.m.

For the entire article: http://www.wlox.com/story/29885097/emmett-till-60th-year-commemoration-events-planned

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Women’s Equality Day 2015

Women’s Equality Day is a day proclaimed each year by the United States President to commemorate the granting of the vote to women throughout the country. Women in the United States were granted the right to vote on August 26, 1920, when the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution was certified as law. The amendment was first introduced many years earlier in 1878. Every president has published a proclamation for Women’s Equality Day since 1972, the year after legislation was first introduced in Congress by Bella Abzug. This resolution was passed in 1971 designating August 26 of each year as Women’s Equality Day.

Equal Pay - Women Breadwinners

The Paycheck Fairness Act is proposed legislation that would add procedural protections to the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and the Fair Labor Standards Act as part of an effort to address male–female income disparity in the United States. A Census Bureau report published in 2008 stated that women’s median annual earnings were 77.5% of men’s earnings, newer studies suggest, when the data is controlled for certain variables, the residual gap is around 7%, the same study concludes that the residual is due to the fact that “hours of work in many occupations are worth more when given at particular moments and when the hours are more continuous. That is, in many occupations earnings have a nonlinear relationship with respect to hours.”

The House of Represen­tatives approved the bill in January 2009. The United States Senate failed to move the bill forward in November 2010. President Barack Obama said in March 2011 that he will continue to fight for the goals in the Paycheck Fairness Act. The bill was reintroduced in both houses of Congress in April 2011.

The 2010 bill had no Republican Party co-sponsors, though a group of four Republican senators had supported an earlier bill to address gender-based wage discrimination, including Susan CollinsKay Bailey HutchisonLisa Murkowski and Olympia Snowe. On June 5th, 2012 the bill fell short of the 60 votes necessary to override a filibuster and did not make it to the Senate floor for debate. The vote went along party lines, excluding a vote against by Democrat Harry Reid. (A vote which left Democrats the option to introduce the bill again at a later time.) On April 9, 2014, in another straight-party-line vote, the Paycheck Fairness Act (S. 2199; 113th Congress) was again blocked by a Republican filibuster in the U.S. Senate. Once again, Senator Reid changed his vote from support to oppose, as a tactical maneuver to keep the bill alive.

The 2010 Senate version of the bill had the support of the Obama administration and that of Democrats in the Senate. The American Civil Liberties Union supported S.182, citing the 2008 data from the United States Census Bureau that women’s median annual earnings were 77.5% of the male median, African-American women’s median annual earnings were 64% of the white male median, and Hispanic women’s median annual earnings were 54% of the white male median. The American Association of University Women also supported the bill, citing the organization’s 2007 research report, Behind the Pay Gap, which showed that women earn less than their male colleagues just one year out of college. The pay gap has widened 10 years after graduation.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paycheck_Fairness_Act

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Did You Know That Women Are Still Paid Less Than Men?

On average, full-time working women earn just 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. This substantial gap is more than a statistic — it has real life consequences. When women, who make up nearly half the workforce, bring home less money each day, it means they have less for the everyday needs of their families, and over a lifetime of work, far less savings for retirement.

President Obama supports passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act, a comprehensive and commonsense bill that updates and strengthens the Equal Pay Act of 1963, which made it illegal for employers to pay unequal wages to men and women who perform substantially equal work.

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GET THE FACTS

GOP Blocks Equal Pay

Senate Republicans again kill Paycheck Fairness Act

4/09/14 01:06 PM – Steven Benen – maddowblog

The third time was not the charm. Democratic efforts to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act failed to overcome Republican opposition in the 111th Congress and the 112th Congress, and as of this morning, it failed once again at the hands of a GOP filibuster.

Senate Republicans filibustered a debate on a Democratic pay equity bill backed by President Barack Obama Wednesday.

Sixty votes were needed to allow the bill to be debated on the Senate floor, but Republicans refused to allow the bill to come up for debate after complaining Democrats weren’t allowing votes on their amendments.

The roll call from the vote is online here. Note that the final tally was 54 to 43 – six votes shy of the supermajority needed to end Republican obstructionism – but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) switched his vote for procedural reasons, leaving it at 53 to 44.

The legislation received exactly zero Republican votes, as was the case with previous efforts to pass the bill.I

In case anyone needs a refresher, the Paycheck Fairness Act is a perfectly credidble piece of legislation that would “enhance the remedies available for victims of gender-based discrimination and require employers to show that wage differences are job-related, not sex-based, and driven by business necessity. The measure would also protect employees from retaliation for sharing salary information, which is important for deterring and challenging discriminatory compensation.”

As we’ve discussed, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was an important step forward when it comes to combating discrimination, but it was also narrowly focused to address a specific problem: giving victims of discrimination access to the courts for legal redress. The Paycheck Fairness Act is a broader measure.

Republicans have responded that they endorse the idea of equal pay for equal work, but in recent years, much of the party remains opposed to policymakers’ efforts to do something about it. (This morning, some GOP senators also raised procedural objections about amendments.)

As for the electoral considerations, aren’t GOP lawmakers worried about rejecting measures like these in an election year?

Apparently not.

Senate Republicans aren’t sweating a ramped-up push by Democrats and President Barack Obama for new pay equity legislation – pushing forward women Republicans to rebut charges they have a woman problem and doubting the issue will resonate with voters. […]

Republicans argue that the Democrats’ bill – along with their so-called “Fair Shot” agenda for the year – is a political ploy that will not fool voters.

I’m not sure who’s trying to fool whom in this model. Dems put together a bill; the bill is popular; and they’ve pushed it repeatedly for six years. That sounds less like a p.r. stunt and more like an effort to address a problem.

As for the midterms, Republicans have struggled of late with the gender gap. At a minimum, today’s vote won’t help.

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US National Heritage Areas

Preserve Natl Heritage Areas

National Heritage Areas Map
National Heritage Areas Map

A National Heritage Area is a site designated by United States and intended to encourage historic preservation of the area and an appreciation of the history and heritage of the site. There are currently 49 National Heritage Areas, some of which use variations of the title, such as National Heritage Corridor.

National Heritage Areas (NHA) are not National Park Service units or federally owned or managed land. National Heritage Areas are administered by state governments or non-profit organizations or other private corporations. The National Park Service provides an advisory role and limited technical, planning and financial assistance.

NHAs are created by Congress. Each area has its own authorizing legislation and a set of unique resources and goals. Areas considered for designation must have specific elements. First, the landscape must be a nationally unique natural, cultural, historic, or scenic resource. Second, when the related sites are linked, they must tell a unique story about the U.S.

For more: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Heritage_Area

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What are National Heritage Areas?

National Heritage Areas (NHAs) are designated by Congress as places where natural, cultural, and historic resources combine to form a cohesive, nationally important landscape. Through their resources,NHAs tell nationally important stories that celebrate our nation’s diverse heritage. NHAs are lived-in landscapes. Consequently, NHA entities collaborate with communities to determine how to make heritage relevant to local interests and needs.

NHAs are a grassroots, community-driven approach to heritage conservation and economic development. Through public-private partnerships, NHA entities support historic preservation, natural resource conservation, recreation, heritage tourism, and educational projects. Leveraging funds and long-term support for projects, NHA partnerships foster pride of place and an enduring stewardship ethic.

The National Heritage Area Program

NHAs further the mission of the National Park Service (NPS) by fostering community stewardship of our nation’s heritage. The NHA program, which currently includes 49 heritage areas, is administered by NPS coordinators in Washington DC and six regional offices – Anchorage, Oakland, Denver, Omaha, Philadelphia, and Atlanta – as well as park unit staff.

NHAs are not national park units. Rather, NPS partners with, provides technical assistance, and distributes matching federal funds from Congress to NHA entities. NPS does not assume ownership of land inside heritage areas or impose land use controls.

FAQs

How do National Heritage Areas work?

National Heritage Areas (NHA) expand on traditional approaches to resource stewardship by supporting large-scale, community driven initiatives that connect local citizens to the preservation and planning process. 

What is the role of the National Park Service?

The National Park Service (NPS) provides technical, planning and limited financial assistance to National Heritage Areas. The NPS is a partner and advisor, leaving decision-making authority in the hands of local people and organizations. 

The National heritage Areas staff at NPS headquarters are available to help answer any questions about the program. 

How is it different from a National Park?

A National Heritage Area is not a unit of the National Park Service, nor is any land owned or managed by the NPS. National Park Service involvement is always advisory in nature.

For more: http://www.nps.gov/heritageareas/FAQ/

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19th Amendment – 95th Anniversary Women’s Right to Vote

The  Nineteenth Amendment (Amendment XIX) to the United States Constitution prohibits each state and the federal government from denying any citizen the right to vote based on that citizen’s sex. It was ratified on August 18, 1920.

The Constitution allows the states to determine the qualifications of voters, subject to limitations imposed by later amendments. Until the 1910s, most states disenfranchised women. The amendment was the culmination of the women’s suffrage movement in the United States, which fought at both state and national levels to achieve the vote. It effectively overruled Minor v. Happersett, in which a unanimous Supreme Court ruled that the Fourteenth Amendment did not give women the right to vote.

The Nineteenth Amendment was first introduced in Congress in 1878 by Senator Aaron A. Sargent. Forty-one years later, in 1919, Congress approved the amendment and submitted it to the states for ratification. It was ratified by the requisite number of states a year later, with Tennessee‘s ratification being the final vote needed to add the amendment to the Constitution. In Leser v. Garnett(1922), the Supreme Court rejected claims that the amendment was unconstitutionally adopted.

” The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.

Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”

For more: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nineteenth_Amendment_to_the_United_States_Constitution

Women's_Vote

WH COUNCIL ON WOMEN AND GIRLS

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For more: http://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/eop/cwg .

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Justice Dept: Unconstitutional To Ban Homeless From Sleeping Outside

Homeless Family

DOJ Says It’s Unconstitutional To Ban The Homeless From Sleeping Outside

AUGUST 14, 2015 4:29 PM ET CARRIE JOHNSON – NPR

The Justice Department weighs in on an Idaho case, arguing that homeless people should not be charged with crimes for sleeping outdoors when there is not enough housing in their communities.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Many cities with a homeless problem have responded by passing laws that crack down on camping or sleeping in public places. In some places, they’ve effectively criminalized homelessness. Well, now the Obama administration is weighing in, arguing that for those who have no choice, sleeping in public is not a crime. NPR’s Carrie Johnson reports.

CARRIE JOHNSON, BYLINE: Seven homeless people in Boise, Idaho, are suing the city to overturn a ban on camping and sleeping because they’ve been punished under the local ordinances. This month, the U.S. Justice Department decided it wanted to use the Boise case to send this message.

VANITA GUPTA: Making it a crime for people who are homeless to sleep in public places when there’s insufficient shelter space in a city really is a violation of the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment.

JOHNSON: Vanita Gupta leads the civil rights unit at Justice. She says handing out tickets and fines for an innocent activity like sleeping in public ties up courts and jails, and advocates say that pushing homeless people into the justice system is counterproductive. That’s because having a criminal record hurts their chances when they apply for housing and jobs. Eric Tars works at the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty. He’s involved in the Boise case too.

ERIC TARS: Most homeless people aren’t criminals, but if you criminalize the simple acts that we all do every day to survive – sleeping, eating, even going to the bathroom – then you make homeless people into criminals, and then you have the criminal justice system dealing with a social problem.

JOHNSON: Tars says the number of ordinances that make it a crime to sleep, sit on the sidewalk or panhandle has gone up by double digits in the past three years. And he says the Justice Department filing in the Boise case could have wide impact since big cities, including Los Angeles, are still figuring out their approach.

TARS: The DOJ’s brief sends a really strong signal to the city of Boise and to communities across the country that homeless people do not lose their constitutional rights when they lose their homes.

For the entire article and audio interview: http://www.npr.org/2015/08/14/432280606/doj-says-its-unconstitutional-to-ban-the-homeless-from-sleeping-outside

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JUSTICE DEPARTMENT FILES BRIEF TO ADDRESS THE CRIMINALIZATION OF HOMELESSNESS

Thursday, August 6, 2015 doj.gov

The Department of Justice filed a statement of interest today arguing that making it a crime for people who are homeless to sleep in public places, when there is insufficient shelter space in a city, unconstitutionally punishes them for being homeless.  The statement of interest was filed in federal district court in Idaho in Bell v. City of Boise et al., a case brought by homeless plaintiffs who were convicted under Boise ordinances that criminalize sleeping or camping in public.

As stated by the Justice Department in its filing, “[i]t should be uncontroversial that punishing conduct that is a universal and unavoidable consequence of being human violates the Eighth Amendment. . .  Sleeping is a life-sustaining activity—i.e., it must occur at some time in some place.  If a person literally has nowhere else to go, then enforcement of the anti-camping ordinance against that person criminalizes her for being homeless.”

“Many homeless individuals are unable to secure shelter space because city shelters are over capacity or inaccessible to people with disabilities,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Civil Rights Division.  “Criminally prosecuting those individuals for something as innocent as sleeping, when they have no safe, legal place to go, violates their constitutional rights.  Moreover, enforcing these ordinances is poor public policy.  Needlessly pushing homeless individuals into the criminal justice system does nothing to break the cycle of poverty or prevent homelessness in the future.  Instead, it imposes further burdens on scarce judicial and correctional resources, and it can have long-lasting and devastating effects on individuals’ lives.”

“No one wants people to sleep on sidewalks or in parks, particularly not our veterans, or young people, or people with mental illness,” said Director Lisa Foster of the Office for Access to Justice.  “But the answer is not to criminalize homelessness.  Instead, we need to work with our local government partners to provide the services people need, including legal services, to obtain permanent and stable housing.”

For more: http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/justice-department-files-brief-address-criminalization-homelessness

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Homelessness Assistance

Who Needs Homelessness Assistance?

More than 1 million persons are served in HUD-supported emergency, transitional and permanent housing programs each year. The total number of persons who experience homelessness may be twice as high. There are four federally defined categories under which individuals and families may qualify as homeless: 1) literally homeless; 2) imminent risk of homelessness; 3) homeless under other Federal statues; and 4) fleeing/attempting to flee domestic violence.

Where Can Individuals Find Assistance?

Individuals looking for assistance can:

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* * * HOMELESS DOES NOT MEAN VOTELESS * * *

Homeless People’s Voting Rights – http://www.nationalhomeless.org/projects/vote/court.html

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A Year After Ferguson

August 9, 2015 Illustration by Peter Strain for The Washington Post
August 9, 2015 Illustration by Peter Strain for The Washington Post

A year after Michael Brown’s fatal shooting, unarmed black men are seven times more likely than whites to die by police gunfire

August 9, 2015  The Washington Post

It begins with a relatively minor incident: A traffic stop. A burglary. A disturbance. Police arrive and tensions escalate. It ends with an unarmed black man shot dead.

That pattern played out in March in Madison, Wis., where police responded to reports of a man yelling and jumping in traffic.

It was repeated two months later in Los Angeles, where beachgoers complained that a homeless man was harassing people on the Venice boardwalk.

It surfaced again in Cleveland, where police were called to a burglary at a corner store. And in Tallahassee, where a man was reported banging on someone’s door. And last month in Cincinnati, where Samuel DuBose, 43, wound up with a bullet in his head after being pulled over for driving without a front tag.

Perhaps most infamously, the pattern played out one year ago Sunday in Ferguson, Mo., where a white police officer searching for a convenience-store robber shot and killed an unarmed black teenager. That incident sparked a national movement to protest police treatment of African Americans and turned 18-year-old Michael Brown into a putative symbol of racial inequality in America.

So far this year, 24 unarmed black men have been shot and killed by police – one every nine days, according to a Washington Post database of fatal police shootings. During a single two-week period in April, three unarmed black men were shot and killed. All three shootings were either captured on video or, in one case, broadcast live on local TV.

Those 24 cases constitute a surprisingly small fraction of the 585 people shot and killed by police through Friday evening, according to The Post database. Most of those killed were white or Hispanic, and the vast majority of victims of all races were armed.

However, black men accounted for 40 percent of the 60 unarmed deaths, even though they make up just 6 percent of the U.S. population. The Post’s analysis shows that black men were seven times more likely than white men to die by police gunfire while unarmed.

For more: http://www.washingtonpost.com/sf/national/2015/08/08/black-and-unarmed/?hpid=z2

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Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Letter from Birmingham Jail, April 16, 1963

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International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples

IndigenousPeopleMapIntl Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples

The International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples is observed on August 9 each year to promote and protect the rights of the world’s indigenous population. This event also recognizes the achievements and contributions that indigenous people make to improve world issues such as environmental protection. It was first pronounced by the General Assembly of the United Nations in December 1994, marking the day of the first meeting of the UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations of the Subcommission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, in 1982.

The International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples was first pronounced by the General Assembly of the United Nations in December 1994, to be celebrated every year during the first International Decade of the World’s Indigenous People (1995 – 2004). In 2004, the Assembly proclaimed a Second International Decade, from 2005 – 2015, with the theme of “A Decade for Action and Dignity.” People from different nations are encouraged to participate in observing the day to spread the UN’s message on indigenous peoples. Activities may include educational forums and classroom activities to gain an appreciation and a better understanding of indigenous peoples.

By resolution 49/214 of 23 December 1994, the United Nations General Assembly decided that the International Day of the World’s Indigenous People shall be observed on 9 August every year during the International Decade of the World’s Indigenous People. The date marks the day of the first meeting, in 1982, of the UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations of the Subcommission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights.

For more: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Day_of_the_World%27s_Indigenous_Peoples

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