Local marchers, leaders say Martin Luther King Jr. Day is relevant to modern inequalities and push for change


ST. LOUIS COUNTY — Residents and community leaders gathered — and marched — Monday in remembrance of Martin Luther King Jr. and his life’s work advancing basic rights of African Americans.

Many said that Monday’s federal holiday in his honor not only provided a chance to commemorate King but also to reflect on wide-ranging examples of “unfinished business” amid the ongoing push for racial equality in American society. They cited inequalities spanning educational and economic opportunities, law enforcement and criminal justice, housing, health care and voting.

“We’ve made progress, but there’s a lot of unfinished business,” said FeliceSkye Hutchinson, president of the Wellston Community Coalition, before starting the day’s march.

“It’s so relevant today,” added Terry Wilson, a Jennings City Council member, describing the enduring significance of King’s work. “He laid the blueprint. … There’s still a lot of work to do.”

Starting just beyond the St. Louis city limits, marchers traveled more than a mile from Wellston to Pine Lawn, in north St. Louis County, for the annual Mid-County Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration. In speeches that capped the event and in conversations during the march, many participants said modern racial inequalities illustrate a continued need for activism and progress.

Some said that, as someone who had been jailed, King would likely take an interest today in matters tied to unequal policing and sentencing in the criminal justice system. Others pointed out that King’s message powerfully resonates in other aspects of today’s society, where radically different opportunities and outcomes are found from ZIP code to ZIP code — often characterized by race.

Some marchers said the differences are perhaps most starkly reflected in housing and economic development policies in Black communities.

“The fact that every Martin Luther King Boulevard looks the way it does, that’s a problem,” said Aniya Betts, an ambassador for Young Voices With Action, the local organization that arranged Monday’s event.

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Mid-County Martin Luther King Jr. Parade and Program

Rep. Cori Bush, D-St. Louis, gives a speech during the Mid-County Martin Luther King Jr. Parade and Program in Pine Lawn on Monday, Jan. 17, 2022.

A host of local and state elected officials attended the day’s march and ceremony, as well as U.S. Rep. Cori Bush, D-St. Louis. During a speech following the march, Bush said King’s ideals stand in stark contrast with widespread Republican efforts to limit voting rights and influence elections — including 440 voting-related bills in 49 states, by her tally.

“It’s a reminder of how much work we still have to do,” she said.

She said King’s push for civil rights also faced an obstacle that’s at the heart of national politics today: the filibuster, which is currently holding Democrats back from advancing legislation with sweeping safeguards for voting rights.

“It’s an arbitrary Senate rule — a rule that is a relic of Jim Crow,” said Bush. She said that, in the past, the same procedural rule was used to delay passage of the Civil Rights Act and to stop lynching from being designated as a federal hate crime.

Amid the continued struggle for changes, reforms and greater equality, some said it’s important to keep King’s approach in mind. He showed it’s OK to be angry but that harnessing frustration in a constructive and peaceful way was an effective means of countering injustices.

And no matter the odds or difficulties in bringing about change, it’s most important to try, Wellston Councilman Samuel Shannon said ahead of the march.

“The only thing that’s out of reach are the things that we won’t reach for,” he said.

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Martin Luther King Jr., internationalist

Martin-Luther-King-cy-Bettmann-Archive, Martin Luther King Jr., internationalist, Culture Currents Featured
Martin Luther King – Courtesy Bettmann Archive

King looked beyond our borders – not only at injustice, but how people worked together to end it. It’s an example we need today.

by Khury Petersen-Smith

We celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day not only to commemorate King’s historic role in overcoming racism and other injustice, but because his work and vision remain relevant.

Today’s persistent racism in policing, health care, housing and elsewhere and attacks on voting rights –particularly for Black Americans –show that Martin Luther King Jr. Day is not just about the past or the South.

King got arrested in Alabama. He marched in Chicago. He spoke truth to power in Washington. He worked with countless activists and ordinary people to take action that transformed the Jim Crow South and impacted this whole country.

But his outlook went well beyond our borders. Martin Luther King was an internationalist.

He spoke out against the U.S. war in Vietnam, appalled by a government that came up short when it came to investing money to end poverty but found endless funds for destruction.

But beyond opposing the war on the grounds of its violent misuse of the national wealth, King was compelled to speak out because of the suffering of the people of Vietnam. “They watch as we poison their water, as we kill a million acres of their crops,” he said in 1967. “They must weep as the bulldozers roar through their areas preparing to destroy the precious trees.”

Stamps-commemorating-Martin-Luther-King-from-Guinea-Liberia-India-Paraguay, Martin Luther King Jr., internationalist, Culture Currents Featured

King’s anti-war stance is painfully relevant today.

Describing the false belief that an American invasion would make life better for the people of Vietnam, King said that “we again fell victim to the deadly Western arrogance that has poisoned the international atmosphere for so long.” Those words could tragically apply to U.S. actions in Afghanistan, Iraq and many other places, especially over the past 20 years.

But King’s global perspective was not limited to condemning war – it was also about making change. He took inspiration from struggles for freedom around the world and used it to fuel campaigns for civil rights and against poverty here.

King was inspired by the Indian anti-colonial movement, studied Gandhi’s strategies and brought lessons to fellow activists as they crafted campaigns against racism and poverty in the United States. He was also present in Ghana for that country’s declaration of independence from British rule and the inauguration of its first prime minister, Kwame Nkrumah.

As an active observer of struggles against colonialism around the world, King brought lessons from freedom struggles elsewhere to the U.S. to motivate change here. Writing in 1963, King lamented that “the nations of Asia and Africa are moving with jetlike speed toward the goal of political independence, and we still creep at horse-and-buggy pace toward the gaining of a cup of coffee at a lunch counter.”

We face any number of injustices and social problems in the U.S. today. To solve many of them, it would help to expand the conversation beyond our own country.

After all, the United States is not the only place where conflicts rage about how to overcome racism, sexism, discrimination against LGBTQ people, and other forms of division and oppression. It is not the only country where there is deep disagreement about national history and how to teach it. And it is far from the only place where there are battles over basic democratic rights.

And then there are problems that truly demand an international perspective and collaboration because they extend across borders – such as pandemics and climate change.

People around the world confront these problems, and we should join them. As we celebrate Martin Luther King and his legacy, we should be sure to honor his internationalism, and see its urgent relevance today.

Khury-Petersen-Smith-1400x1407, Martin Luther King Jr., internationalist, Culture Currents Featured

Khury Petersen-Smith is the Michael Ratner Middle East Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies. He researches U.S. empire, borders and migration. Khury graduated from the Clark University Graduate School of Geography in Massachusetts after completing a dissertation that focused on militarization and sovereignty. He is one of the co-authors and organizers of the 2015 Black Solidarity with Palestine statement, which was signed by over 1,100 Black activists, artists and scholars. This op-ed was distributed by OtherWords.org; contact them at otherwords@ips-dc.org.

New Publication Seeks to Change Narratives Around Race

When The Emancipator was first published in 1820, it was created with an intention that was radical at the time: to abolish slavery in the United States.

More than 200 years later, Boston University’s Center for Antiracist Research and The Boston Globe are planning a project by the same name. Their objective is just as bold.

“Our goal is to end racism now,” Amber Payne, The Emancipator co-editor-in-chief, told VOA. “It may feel very pie in the sky and very idealistic, but it really shouldn’t feel that way, and it shouldn’t be that way.”

Deborah D. Douglas, fellow co-editor in chief, said that the COVID-19 pandemic revealed inequalities in the U.S., especially for those historically marginalized.

Additionally, widespread protests following police killings of Black Americans, including George Floyd in May 2020, have sparked conversations about race and inequality.

The Emancipator seeks to provide context for those issues and more, Douglas said.

The official launch is tentatively planned for June 2022. But they hope to begin releasing a weekly newsletter, Reframe, as early as February.

The Boston-based team plans to reach audiences in the U.S. and worldwide with reporting on issues such as voter suppression and inequality in health care or the criminal justice system, and features on art, television and movies.

The Emancipator will be about “meeting the moment” and unpacking systemic issues related to current events, Douglas said.

“We’re really at a tipping point right now,” Douglas told VOA. “And there’s not just one place that talks about antiracism. There’s nothing that really unpacks structure, and how that impacts all of us, and how it implicates all of us in the negative impacts of white supremacy. The Emancipator can do that.”

Solutions-oriented journalism

Their approach reflects a change in how people think about journalism, media ethics experts say.

Traditionally, news outlets provide objective, neutral coverage, but journalists do not need to maintain neutrality on every issue, said Kelly McBride, chair of the Craig Newmark Center for Ethics and Leadership at the Poynter Institute.

“I think it’s an easy decision for a news organization to say we are not going to be neutral on those issues — we are for equality, we are against racism, and we are in favor of creating a news product that helps our community understand these issues better and recognize, as a news consumer, what your role is in in making the community better,” McBride told VOA.

Both Douglas and Payne stress that The Emancipator will not only address issues related to racism, but also offer solutions.

“We’re really thinking very, very deeply about knowledge and solutions, and helping people to take on real life issues,” said Payne. “That could be arming people to be better voters or be better equipped to have that uncomfortable conversation with a neighbor, or raise their hand at the school board meeting and present an idea very confidently and feel self-assured and researched about it.”

The Emancipator will help people “go beyond hashtag activism and black-square activism and create the pathway to change their life, their world and their community,” Payne said, referring to social media campaigns where users post a black square to show solidarity with groups calling for racial justice.

To that end, The Emancipator will be based in what is known as “solutions journalism” — reporting that explains events and offers information about how communities are successfully responding to those issues.

The ‘whole story’

“We call it the whole story,” said David Bornstein, co-founder and chief executive of the Solutions Journalism Network. “It’s rounding out the narrative so that you have all the information you need in order to respond to the problems and hopefully build a better community and a better society.”

When the media focus solely on challenges faced by certain communities, it influences public perception of people who live in those areas, Bornstein said.

Perception in turn shapes policies and also influences everyday “micro decisions” such as checking a person’s purse in a department store or whether to stop for someone at a taxi stand, he added.

In other words, focusing exclusively on challenges creates more exclusion, more stereotyping and more division.

“Narrative determines identity, it determines our behavior, it determines our beliefs,” Bornstein told VOA. “If you take the metro daily newspaper of any large city in the United States, and you look at the communities that have been historically excluded, whether it’s poverty or communities of color, you will find that the majority of stories about those communities are about problems and challenges.”

Asset framing

Key to changing that is a technique called asset framing — a concept coined by Trabian Shorters, board member of the Solutions Journalism Network and founder of BMe, an organization that leads training on ending racial stigma.

Shorters explained the concept to VOA, saying, “If we first define people by their aspirations and their contributions before we talk about the challenges, that’s a fuller narrative and a more accurate depiction of who we are.”

Both Bornstein and Shorters are careful to note that solutions journalism and asset framing do not mean focusing only on the positive. They are about leading with humanity, what motivates people to get out of bed in the morning, Shorters said.

“If we’re going to end racism, news media absolutely has to lean in and journalists have to learn how to tell stories in ways that don’t stigmatize people. They have to learn how to tell stories that actually lead to solutions and solutions-oriented thinking,” Shorters added.

McBride at Poynter said that “solutions-oriented journalism gives people a pathway to make the news relevant” because it not only informs readers about issues, it provides steps for those who seek change.

Even though the terms solutions journalism and asset framing were not around when the original Emancipator was published, Shorters said the paper was still based on these principles.

“When The Emancipator was created originally, I promise you it was to fulfill Black people’s aspirations to live free,” Shorters said. “It was not focused on just what’s broken and what’s damaged and what’s wrong.”

Although the new version will be taking on weighty issues, The Emancipator’s editors, Payne and Douglas, plan to do so in a way that is encouraging and engaging.

“We’re hoping that with the power of journalism, of stories, of perspective, of solutions journalism, that’s how you shift culture. That’s how you shift narrative. And that’s how you make community change,” Payne said.

With Racial Rationing of COVID Treatments, What Can’t States Dictate on the Basis of Race?


The Chinese coronavirus has been manipulated and exploited to the detriment of liberty and justice in myriad ways, from the erosion of vote integrity, to the usurpation of our natural rights via lockdowns, pervasive censorship by Big Tech, and the advent of a biomedical security state mandating vaccines and demanding total submission to its whims.

But the seemingly blatantly illegal and unconstitutional, not to mention immoral and repugnant, racial rationing of COVID-19 treatments might represent the most pernicious development of all.

It combines the worst elements of our new regime of Wokeism and Scientism. It’s racist under the guise of “anti-racist” “equity,” and political under the guise of medicine.

Fundamentally, it means states will determine who lives and who dies based on their skin color.

That such an anti-American policy is being foisted on citizens across the country in places as diverse as New York, Utah, and, until the last several days, Minnesota, makes this an issue that should be of paramount importance to every single American.

Yet where are our purported political leaders on this? This policy implicates, as we will demonstrate momentarily, not just state officials, but the federal government. The silence across the board therefore is deafening.

If the life-and-death consequences raised herein seem overstated, consider the policies states are enacting in doling out limited supplies of COVID-19 treatments that, it bears noting, serve as an inadvertent admission as to the inefficacy of the vaccines—at the very moment the Biden administration is imposing a mandate to coerce millions of Americans into getting jabbed.

New York has deemed being non-white a COVID-19 “risk factor” that gives such infected patients priority in receiving oral antiviral treatments that are being allocated according to specific criteria given their limited supply. Those who aren’t white automatically become eligible (pdf) to receive treatment provided they’re of a certain age, exhibit mild-to-moderate symptoms, and can start treatment within five days of disease onset.

Glenn Greenwald raises one hypothetical demonstrating the perverse and discriminatory nature of the policy: “a healthy twenty-year-old Asian football player or a 17-year-old African-American marathon runner from a wealthy family will be automatically deemed at heightened risk to develop serious COVID illness … while a White person of exactly the same age and health condition from an impoverished background would not be automatically eligible.”

Setting aside class-based critiques, others have noted there are significant differences in COVID-19 outcomes based on one’s sex, which virtually all treatment allocation rubrics ignore.

Minnesota originally gave those of BIPOC status—again being non-white—priority pursuant to the calculation laid out in the state’s “Ethical Framework for Allocation of Monoclonal Antibodies during the COVID-19 Pandemic.”

As law professor Eugene Volokh writes:

people who lack “BIPOC status” (basically, non-Hispanic whites) would be “deprioritiz[ed]” precisely based on their race and ethnicity, not wealth, access to health care, being in a nursing home, or anything else. A rich non-white patient would be given priority over a poor white patient with precisely the same age and health conditions.

On Jan. 11, after this policy received national coverage notably on “Tucker Carlson Tonight” and in the Washington Free Beacon, Minnesota’s Department of Health revised its policy, stripping out language about BIPOC status.

The same could not be said of Utah’s policy, where “Non-white race or Hispanic/Latinx ethnicity” counts for two points in the state’s risk factor calculation for rationing monoclonal antibodies—same as diabetes, obesity, and being “severely immunocompromised,” and more than several other conditions like congestive heart failure and “shortness of breath.”

Only now, under political and legal pressure, is Utah “reevaluating” this policy—thought it still has not nixed it.

The Free Beacon reports that this effort to set aside the individual risk factors most correlated with coronavirus comes from the top, with Utah and Minnesota’s (original) policies referencing standards prescribed by the FDA. It notes:

When the FDA issued its emergency use authorizations for monoclonal antibodies and oral antivirals, it authorized them only for “high risk” patients—and issued guidance on what factors put patients at risk. One of those factors was race.

The FDA “fact sheet” for Sotrovimab, the only monoclonal antibody effective against the Omicron variant, states that “race or ethnicity” can “place individual patients at high risk for progression to severe COVID-19.” The fact sheet for Paxlovid, Pfizer’s new antiviral pill, uses the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s definition of “high risk,” which states that “systemic health and social inequities” have put minorities “at increased risk of getting sick and dying from COVID-19.”

The guidance sheets are nonbinding and do not require clinicians to racially allocate the drugs. But states have nonetheless relied on them to justify race-based triage.

New York, too, references the FDA’s language regarding “high risk” patients and relies on similar documents from the CDC.

Using skin color as a stand-in for one’s health profile is as unscientific as it is illogical. People of a certain race may disproportionately make certain decisions, or be afflicted by certain conditions, that impact their risk vis-à-vis the Chinese coronavirus. That said, it’s an individual’s health profile that matters, not race. Race may be correlative, but it’s not causative—individuals are not more at-risk because of their skin color, but people of a certain skin color may on the average prove more at-risk.

Consider vaccination status, for example. Implicit in these policies is the fact that certain minorities—by their own volition—are less likely to be vaccinated, which according to public health authorities puts them at greater risk. But again, shouldn’t vaccination status, not race, be the controlling factor?

And are authorities simply trying to remedy systemic racism with still more racism here? Remember, places like New York City have imposed vaccine mandates that disproportionately harm the unvaccinated, who are frozen out of basic everyday life in the five boroughs. Certain minorities in New York, namely blacks, are disproportionately unvaccinated. Since blacks bear the brunt of vaccine mandates to a greater extent than others, by Woke standards, such mandates are systemically racist—outcomes trump intent. Prioritizing non-whites for receipt of COVID-19 treatments would seem to be a sort of racist corrective to this “systemic racism.”

It’s not just vaccination status, of course, that’s being elided to advance race-driven care. The same holds for many of the other underlying health conditions referenced by these public health authorities, including obesity—perhaps the greatest correlative with poor COVID-19 outcomes, which our authorities have been loath to acknowledge. Once again, though, one’s weight should matter, not the fact that people of the same skin color tend to be heavier or lighter.

People should—people must—be treated as individuals, not members of a group, when it comes to health, as with everything else in American life.

That they’re not today flows again from the top—from a Biden administration and progressive Ruling Class that has prioritized above all else “equity”—which is to say, egregiously unjust inequality. “Equity” is pervading every aspect of society, now impacting our health and well-being. Whole fields of inquiry in the Sciences and medicine are completely off limits; hospitals in some instances have begun implementing “anti-racist” policies explicitly calling for “preferential care based on race.”

Wokeism’s natural end can be seen in these COVID-19 treatment racial rationing schemes. They represent the perversion of law and morality—with life and death decisions made by the state on the basis of race.

The question that every American must be asking of their leaders is this: If governments can allocate life-saving treatments on the basis of race, is there anything governments can’t dictate on the basis of race?

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

Benjamin Weingarten


Ben Weingarten is a fellow of the Claremont Institute and co-host of the Edmund Burke Foundation’s “The NatCon Squad.” He is the author of “American Ingrate: Ilhan Omar and the Progressive-Islamist Takeover of the Democratic Party.”

Local organizations host free COVID vaccine clinic to bridge racial gap

A study in December showed in nearly half of U.S. states, Black and Hispanic vaccination rates lag behind White ones by 10 percentage points or more.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. fought for equality in all facets of life, and that includes health care. But today, people of color are less likely to get the COVID vaccine.

A study in December showed in nearly half of U.S. states, Black and Hispanic vaccination rates lag behind White ones by 10 percentage points or more.

In honor of king’s legacy, four organizations are coming together to combat that statistic.

That startling data is why the Grand Rapids African American Health Institute, an organization devoted to achieving healthcare parity for African Americans, is joining forces with other organizations to kick off this free COVID-19 vaccine clinic.

Vanessa Greene, the CEO of GRAAHI, is playing a major role in Monday’s event. 

Greene said she completely understands Black people’s concerns about the vaccine, but Monday’s event is about educating the community and protecting it against this virus.

“This pandemic, this virus is real,” Greene said. “We hear you. We understand  and we share your concerns, however we are advocating for your safety, we are advocating for your health. And the vaccine is our best way out of this pandemic.”

Greene added, “We want to do everything we can do to put an end to it and we’re asking you guys to come on out and help us do that by getting vaccinated.”

Greene added a lot the hesitancy within the Black community when it comes to getting the COVID vaccine comes from historical events where Blacks were mistreated in terms of healthcare and mis-information on social media.

So again, Greene is urging everyone to come on out to Brown-Hutcherson Ministries here on Jefferson Avenue to get vaccinated. Residents five (5) years old and up can receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at the event on Monday. 

For more information click here.

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Darmita Wilson: A family’s journey through the civil rights movement

WATERVILLE — Darmita Wilson remembers sitting under the kitchen table as a child, listening to her grandparents, cousins and older aunts tell stories about their experiences in the South during the civil rights movement — stories that would become important to her family’s history.

Wilson’s mother, for instance, skipped high school with a friend in Indianapolis on Sept. 6, 1955, to attend Emmett Till’s funeral in Chicago.

Till, an African American boy, was 14 when he was lynched Aug. 28, 1955, in Mississippi after being accused of offending a white woman at a grocery store. People who lined up for his funeral in the South Side of Chicago became faint at the sight of his mangled body in the casket, a vision that would stay with her mother forever, Wilson said.

“He was tortured and beaten, and his mother decided that the world needed to see what happened to her son,” she said.

Wilson spoke virtually Monday to about 50 people who tuned in for the Rotary Club of Waterville’s 26th Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration. The event is typically held as a breakfast at Senior Spectrum’s Muskie Center, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was hosted online, according to Rotary President Jeff Melanson.

Wilson, a vice president at Northern Light Medical Group, is new to Maine, she said, having asked for 24 months to be a national health care consultant at Northern Light Mercy Hospital in Portland. In August, she applied to be — and was accepted as — vice president of the medical group. She grew up in Mobile, Alabama, and Indianapolis.

Wilson outlined her family’s history, describing her maternal family’s migration from Mississippi to Mobile. Her mother, grandmother and great-grandmother took a bus to Washington, D.C., for the March on Washington on Aug. 28, 1963, to support civil and economic rights for African Americans, she said.

On March 7, 1965, they were on the Edmund Pettus Bridge spanning the Alabama River during the Selma to Montgomery March to protest unfair practices prohibiting voting rights. It would be a day that would later be referred to as “Bloody Sunday,” as law enforcement officials attacked marchers with billy clubs and tear gas.

Wilson’s relatives also took part in the Montgomery Bus Boycott, which lasted 381 days, from Dec. 5, 1955, to Dec. 20, 1956. African Americans were forced to sit in the back of buses, even though there were spaces at the front, and a movement was launched to boycott riding buses and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. joined the boycott. Wilson’s grandmother and other relatives took part in ride shares and handed out snacks to people who had to wait hours for rides.

Wilson said she was 2 during the March on Washington. During that time, many African Americans used the nonviolent approach King taught at lunch counter protests, where people would kick them and throw ketchup, coffee and other food at them.

“They had to remain passive resistant and not attack the people who were attacking them,” Wilson said.

Wilson attended and graduated from Howard University, a historically Black university in Washington, at the same time Vice President Kamala Harris was there. Wilson has worked in more than 24 health systems across the United States in her 32-year career, and is working on a doctorate in health care delivery, with emphasis on special populations and health care disparities.

Melanson thanked Wilson for sharing her story Monday.

“You’ve moved a lot of people this morning,” he said.

Preprogrammed music included singing from Pihcintu Chorus of Portland. Attendees sang “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” said to be King’s favorite, and “Let There be Peace on Earth.”

The Rev. Maureen Ausbrook of the Waterville Interfaith Council delivered the invocation and Roger Crouse of the Waterville Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints the benediction.

State Rep. Bruce White, D-Waterville, attended the virtual event, afterward referring to it as “wonderful.”

“The personal stories from Darmita were touching,” he said. “The story about Emmett Till was powerful and heartbreaking. The quotes were powerful as well.”

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Annual MLK breakfast goes virtual

St. Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church Pastor John McCants, left, looks on as Lima Mayor Sharetta Smith presents the proclamation designating Monday as Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

St. Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church Pastor John McCants, left, looks on as Lima Mayor Sharetta Smith presents the proclamation designating Monday as Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

Photo courtesy of Your Hometown Stations


Brenda Kay Ellis Scholarship: Trinity Zyir Gurley (Perry)

Charles Edward Brown Scholarship: Kayhlen Jackson (Shawnee)

Marcia Potts Scholarship: Zaria Keys (Lima Central Catholic)

Charles Edward Brown Scholarship: Diani Lawrence (Elida)


LIMA — It may have looked different than in years past, but organizers managed to salvage the 27th annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial breakfast by shifting to a virtual format.

The Sigma Mu Omega Chapter of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority partnered with Hello Lima and the Sisters in Service Foundation to present Monday’s virtual celebration. The group lived up to this year’s theme “Our Unity is Our Strength and Our Diversity is Our Power” by uniting with partners in refusal of allowing COVID to cancel this year’s event.

Traditionally, the Lima community gathers in person in honor of Dr. King. People of all ages come out for food, fellowship and to hear King’s words and learn more about the legacy he left behind. This year’s virtual event was pre-recorded and was aired by Hometown Stations in place of the breakfast enjoyed by some-600 people annually, with much of the money raised earmarked for the sorority’s scholarship that benefits local students.

Dr. Edith Peterson Mitchell served as this year’s featured speaker. Mitchell, a retired brigadier general of the U.S. Air Force and a clinical professor of medicine and medical oncology at Thomas Jefferson University, talked of a still-existing disparity in the health care African Americans receive.

Peterson shared COVID-19 exposed health care disparities over the past few years, with the coronavirus infecting and killing more Blacks than any other group in the country. While speaking about the demographical differences, the oncologist quoted Martin Luther King Jr. saying, “Dr. King Jr. said, ‘of all forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.’ As we give honor to Dr. King, we must think of health care being the most shocking and inhumane injustice of all.”

Lima Mayor Sharetta Smith followed Mitchell’s speech to issue a city proclamation designating Monday as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. day in Lima.

Before making the proclamation, Smith, who became Lima’s first woman and first Black mayor after being sworn in, honored those who paved the way for her election.

“I think of Furl Williams, the first African American elected to city council when he was elected to the 6th Ward, and again when he became the first Black person to win a citywide election as council president,” Smith said. “I think about Dorothy Riker, the first woman to serve on city council; Francis Napier becoming the first Black council member, and Alberta Shurelds as the first woman to run for Allen County Commissioner.”

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St. Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church Pastor John McCants, left, looks on as Lima Mayor Sharetta Smith presents the proclamation designating Monday as Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

Reach Joe Gilroy at 567-242-0398 or on Twitter @TLNJoeGilroy.

Racist texts should be allowed in the hate crimes trial of 3 men convicted of murdering Ahmaud Arbery, prosecutors argue

William “Roddie” Bryan’s hostility toward Blacks should be permitted as evidence, according to a new filing in the federal case against Ahmaud Arbery’s killers.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Rejecting arguments that evidence of William Roddie Bryan’s allegedly racist attitudes would unfairly bias the jury, federal prosecutors are asking a judge to allow that evidence at trial.

Prosecutors are responding to a December motion by Bryan’s attorney that seeks to bar several examples of Bryan’s alleged hostility towards Black people. 

The motion specifically asks to prevent prosecutors from “suggesting [Bryan] has racial animus towards African Americans” or “generally associates African Americans with criminality.” 

They also want to block “witness testimony that would suggest Bryan did not approve of his adopted daughter dating an African American man.”

Bryan is charged along with his former neighbors, Greg and Travis McMichael, with federal hate crimes and kidnapping charges in the death of Ahmaud Arbery, 25. The McMichaels also face federal gun charges. The three men were convicted of Arbery’s murder in state court in November and have been sentenced to life in prison.

In the recent filings, prosecutors said that evidence is central to their case. “Bryan’s racial motive is an element of Count Two of the Indictment—that defendant Bryan ‘did willfully, by force [or] threat of force, injure, intimidate, [or] interfere with Ahmaud Arbery, an African American man, because of Arbery’s race [or] color’—and thus the government respectfully submits that evidence of his racial animus is admissible to prove that element.”

The government’s response also alluded to additional “evidence of motive” contained in a sealed document in which “the government specifically identified the racial-animus evidence it will seek to introduce against the defendants at trial, and outlined the reasons why such evidence is relevant and admissible.” There are several sealed records on the court docket.

Bryan’s original motion in limine seeks to exclude:

  • “Text messages on or about MLK Day in 2019 and 2020 between Bryan and friends which contain racially insensitive language, both direct and euphemistic.”
  • “June 5, 2019, text message from Bryan to his ex-wife containing racially insensitive language.”
  • “January 1, 2020, text messages between Bryan and his ex-wife where each uses racially insensitive language.”
  • “Witness testimony that would suggest Bryan did not approve of his adopted daughter dating an African American man.”

The motion also asks the judge to bar an Oct. 10, 2016, Facebook comment “regarding a friend’s stolen bike, suggesting that an African American was the likely suspect” as well as a racially tinged text message from May 21, 2019 “regarding health care and disability programs.”

According to Bryan’s motion, “The Government has no evidence that Defendant Bryan has ever harmed an African American or any person of color. Likewise, there are no communications by him suggesting approval of any harmful act toward African Americans. There is no evidence Bryan has ever associated with organizations hostile to African Americans (such as the KKK, White Nationalist organizations, the Proud Boys, etc.). In the absence of such evidence, the Government instead will seek to admit text exchanges such as those wherein Defendant Bryan suggests that a particular bicycle thief was likely Black, opines that there are Black people unnecessarily on disability, or shows disapproval of his adopted daughter dating an African American.”

It continues, “The evidence Defendant Bryan seeks to exclude is of a highly inflammatory nature and would significantly limit his ability to be fairly tried by an impartial jury. An African American juror would be particularly and rightfully angered at such language and would naturally be hyper-inclined to make a decision on an improper basis.”

A hearing on the motion is scheduled for Jan. 21 at the federal courthouse in Brunswick.

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Behold the descent of America

Susan K. Smith.2 13
Susan K. Smith


Crazy Faith Ministries

There are a lot of reasons to be concerned about what is going on in America right now, but one of the biggest reasons is that, with all of the rhetoric and lying that is going on, nobody really knows what “the truth” is.

The Right is saying that America has already descended into a Communist state. Recently, Kathy Barnette, an African American woman running for Senate in Pennsylvania, said that the first five rights listed in the Constitution are “at stake.”

She has declared that “the Democrats have turned this nation into a Communist country.

I’m not quite sure what she means. In fact, I am not sure of what anyone who is saying that the Democrats are Communist actually means. I wonder if they understand what Communism is? I don’t understand why mandating vaccines and masks to fight against a killer virus, why making policies that help get more money in the pockets of everyday Americans, and why creating more jobs for Americans is Communist?

I don’t understand why there is a preference for whatever one calls the government of Republicans that has outsourced jobs overseas, approved a tax cut that benefits the most wealthy while penalizing the masses of people who are struggling to survive, made it difficult if not impossible for all people to get health care, and stolen the pensions of many – is preferred to a government that is taking care of the needs of the American people?

We are approaching the Martin Luther King holiday, and all I see is swirling rhetoric, lies and the spread of propaganda all over the country. I see the rights that King and the entire Civil Rights Movement was about being swallowed up in racist partisan political attacks on every single advancement that has been made by marginalized groups over the past 50 years.

And I see insult, slaps in the face, if you will, by Right-wing politicians who are obviously working hard to “take their country back,” or in truth, to “make America White again.”

The latest insult is the invitation of Mike Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas, to be the keynote speaker at a MLK event sponsored by the Arkansas ML King Commission. Huckabee, who has been known for his racist remarks, will speak at the invitation-only event being held at the Governor’s Mansion.

Huckabee has spoken against Blacks, Asians and Jewish people, as well as against gay people and members of the trans community, as reported by USA Today, NBC News and Politico.

How is it the people of Arkansas are allowing this to happen? How is it that Republicans have so successfully created and reproduced the narrative that Democrats are Communist, while downplaying their own policies which are leading America to a minority-rule, authoritarian state? And how is it that the mainstream media has been allowing this descent by the way it has covered politics since the campaign of the former president?

In Olivia Butler’s novel, Parable of the Sower, there is a line toward the end of the book where Bankole, a much-older man who becomes a part of a group fleeing destruction and eventually lover of Lauren, the leader of this group and the narrator of the novel, “I wish you could have known this country when it was still salvageable.”

Butler wrote her dystopian novel in 1993 and those words made my spirit shiver.

It seems that that desire will be the wish of all of us as America, unwilling to be healed of her racism, continues to descend into ruination.

Rev. Dr. Susan K. Smith is the founder and director of Crazy Faith Ministries. She is available for speaking. And she is an award-winning author for her latest book, “With Liberty and Justice for Some: The Bible, the Constitution, and Racism in America,” available through all booksellers. Contact her at revsuekim@sbcgloba.net.

Faces of Change: In Covid Crisis, a New Generation of Community Leaders Echoes Martin Luther King’s Wisdom

Community leaders and their enterprises are vital to promoting economic mobility in the U.S., especially in challenging times. These changemakers lead the work of nonprofit organizations, social ventures, start-ups and small businesses, alongside governments and corporations.

For many community leaders, their strategies and philosophies also embody the work of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. “We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny,” Dr. King famously said in his 1963 Letter from a Birmingham jail. “Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”

Reflecting on the past two years of the pandemic on this Martin Luther King Day, much research shows the Covid-19 crisis has disproportionately impacted the health and economic wellbeing of underserved communities, including many Black Americans. Yet data shows the pandemic has also resulted in the highest share of minority-owned businesses and minority employment in industries most impacted by the pandemic.

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“Individuals and communities are taking advantage of their agency to fill the direct needs of the community,” said Dennis Parker, executive director of the National Center for Law and Economic Justice, an organization founded in 1965 to fight for economic justice for the nation’s most vulnerable and disadvantaged communities. “These are people who feel the impact, know the impact and are taking steps to change it.”

During Black History Month, CNBC + Acorns Invest in You: Ready. Set. Grow. will spotlight groundbreaking faces of change — everyday Americans who are investing in neighborhoods, schools and small businesses to advance and uplift communities, helping to create a brighter financial future.

If you would like to nominate someone from your community to be considered for recognition during Black History Month, please complete and submit your nomination no later than 11:59p ET on January 28, 2022 here.

“What we’re seeing is an evolution of technology and access,” said Black Girls Ventures CEO Shelly Omilâdè Bell. “What people discovered while being quarantined is that they were in their homes and were like ‘If I can work at this rate and this level while I’m at home, why would I go back to an environment where I’m not appreciated?'” Bell said. “The pandemic gave us this idea of why don’t you just try something. … So people are starting these businesses.”

Bell, a computer scientist and serial entrepreneur, started Black Girl Ventures in 2016 with a focus on hosting crowdfunded pitch competitions for budding entrepreneurs. She has grown it into a community-building foundation with a network of corporate partners, including Nike and the NBA, that together have provided access to capital to over 270 businesses owned by Black and brown identifying women.

Shelly Omilâdè Bell

Shelly Omilâdè Bell

After this current wave of women — disproportionately women of color — leaving jobs, Bell says one of the upsides may be that they’ll create new employment opportunities. They’ll re-enter the workforce, Bell said, “with a skill set that our workplace has not allowed for, which is a level of entrepreneurial thinking from people who have built something from the ground up. The way that they think about things will be different.” 

From wages to fair housing, public health, student loan debt and access to capital for small businesses, “it’s important to support those efforts of leaders working to address issues that are impacting their communities,” Parker said.

As Dr. King and many great leaders have shown us, community advocates and organizers can help to inform and reinforce strategies that are needed to make government, business and society accountable for improving education, health care, housing, technology, and wealth-building for all Americans.

NOMINATE: A changemaker who is translating issues into action and advancing economic equity and opportunity. Please click on this “Faces of Change” link.

Disclosure: NBCUniversal and Comcast Ventures are investors in Acorns.

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