Miami Beach Censors Black Artist’s Tribute to Police-Shooting Victim

Update, May 31: Co-curators Octavia Yearwood and Jared McGriff have released a statement saying the artwork was removed “under duress.” Yearwood adds that she was told the entire exhibition would be taken down if she did not remove the memorial to Raymond Herisse. See the curators’ full statement posted below.

Ahead of this year’s Memorial Day weekend, Miami Beach took a new approach: The city’s tourism department recruited local artists of color to put together a series of exhibits specifically for black visitors. The theme was “ReFrame,” which the city described as an attempt to reframe the Memorial Day narrative in Miami Beach. Octavia Yearwood, an artist who curated the event, told New Times she wanted to highlight people of color’s contributions to Miami Beach and the city’s history of segregation.

In the days leading up to Memorial Day weekend — sometimes referred to as Urban Beach Week — the city promoted the art installations on its website, through email, and on social media. But while the exhibits were on display over the weekend, City Manager Jimmy Morales personally requested the removal of a piece by artist R. Jackson memorializing Raymond Herisse, a young black man who was fatally shot by Miami Beach Police over Memorial Day weekend in 2011.

“The purpose of the ReFrame cultural programming this past weekend was to create an opportunity for inclusiveness and mutual exchange. The City Manager felt that the panel in the one particular art installation regarding the incidents of Memorial Day weekend in 2011 did not achieve this objective,” Melissa Berthier, a city spokeswoman, said in an email. “After a discussion with the curators, the piece was removed.” (RE: Miami Beach first reported the news yesterday.)

The artists of ReFrame originally posted a sign saying the piece had been removed at the request of Miami Beach Police. But in an Instagram post Monday, the person behind the @reframemiamibeach account said Deputy Chief Rick Clements denied police had asked for the artwork to be taken down. Jackson and Yearwood did not respond to calls and emails from New Times on Tuesday.

The tribute to Herisse was part of an exhibit called I See You Too at a gallery on Lincoln Road. The installation, which featured art by Jackson and Loni Johnson, was meant to “explore the effects of propaganda and misinformation on the public’s perception of minorities.” By Tuesday, the event page was no longer active on Miami Beach’s website, although a cached version is still available.

Although police apparently had nothing to do with the removal of Jackson’s artwork, the piece was critical of past actions of the Miami Beach Police Department. A description beside the work explained that a Miami Herald investigation found the police’s narrative of the 2011 shooting was “inconsistent, contradictory, and missing key information.”

“This memorial is to honor Herisse, to affirm #blacklivesmatter and call into question the excessive force, racial discrimination, violence, and aggression often present in interactions between police and unarmed Black civilians,” the placard stated.

Shannon Ligon, an attorney for Herisse’s family, criticized the city for removing the artwork. “I’m really appalled by that,” she said. “If anything, I think it’s important that you memorialize situations like [Herisse’s death] just so they don’t happen again.”

The act of censorship could have a chilling effect on the city’s future collaborations with black artists. At least one artist, photographer Johanne Rahaman, has already criticized Miami Beach for its approach. Rahaman, whose name was originally listed in promotional materials and then removed, told the Miami Times she believed the art show was an attempt to “culture wash” Urban Beach Week. (Rahaman says she has never been affiliated with ReFrame.)

“Urban Beach is hip-hop,” she told the paper. “If you erase that, then you are really getting rid of the event.”

Statement from Octavia Yearwood and Jared McGriff, ReFrame Miami Beach Production Team:

The ReFrame Miami Beach production team was engaged by The City of Miami Beach’s Tourism and Culture Department to present a program during Memorial Beach Weekend, we together approached this project with a question, “How can art and culture step in as a mediator to tell stories from different points of view?” Given the fraught relationship between The City of Miami Beach and local and visiting communities of color, we agreed on programming that would spark crucial conversations about inclusion, Blackness, trust and surveillance. Curated by Octavia Yearwood and Naiomy Guerrero, with artists Loni Johnson and Rodney Jackson, the exhibition “I See You, Too” opened on Friday, May 25 as one of several activations about how propaganda and misinformation have compromised us.

On Saturday, May 26, The City of Miami Beach told Yearwood that we needed to remove the memorial of Raymond Herisse at the behest of the Miami Beach Police, due their being offended by the memorial, or the entire exhibition “I See You, Too” would be shut down. We requested a conversation with the offended parties.

Our request for a conversation was not accepted and another demand for removal was articulated. The installation was removed under threat of consequences that would have further limited our expression.

We stand by our artists and their first amendment rights. When The City underwrote the exhibition, they approved of the curatorial direction and did not ask for curatorial review. This incident was an act of art censorship, and while we as curators removed the artwork, it was removed under duress.

We are currently speaking with our creative team, reaching out the family of Mr. Herisse, and advisors to determine the best next steps. We thank the many artists and leaders who have reached out with their support and who stand against art censorship.

This story has been updated to clarify that photographer Johanne Rahaman is not affiliated with the ReFrame art project.

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

A Wave Blue World Spells Out Its Vision for Readers and Retailers

Earlier this week, comics publisher A Wave Blue World (AWBW) introduced a new distribution model called the Premier Program, where first issues are released in print, further issues are available digitally, and a trade collection arrives in stores two months afterwards.

The company also announced two new series as part of the program: Mezo, an Aztec-themed fantasy adventure by Tyler Chin-Tanner, Josh Zingerman, Val Rodrigues, Doug Garark and Thomas Mauer, and Dead Legends, a female-led martial arts thriller by James Maddox, Gavin Smith and Ryna Ferrier.

Though AWBW has been around since 2005, these current moves demonstrate a new approach to the market, closer to the disruptive intent of some of the brand new publishers we’ve seen step forward in recent months. I had a chance to speak to recently-hired VP of Sales and Marketing Lisa Wu and Editorial Director Joseph Illidge about the company’s plans and strategy from a business perspective. Our conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

Rob Salkowitz, ICV2: Give me a little background on the company. You’ve been around since 2005, but it looks like you’re becoming much more assertive in the market in the last few months. What’s behind the push?

Joe Illidge, Editorial Director, AWBW: AWBW is an independent publisher, around for 15 years, founded by Tyler and Wendy Chin-Taylor. We specialize in anthologies, art books and graphic novels, based on creator-owned stories plus ones by Tyler. The company brought Lisa and me on board to join the team; with Lisa’s expertise in marketing, sales and retailer relations, and my expertise in content, talent acquisition, and publishing vision, we were able to work with existing team of Nicola Black (art director), Justin Zimmerman (media director) and Jesse Post (book and trade). It really starts to position the company for growth and a firmer position in the market. We’re all excited about it.

Lisa Wu, VP, Sales and Marketing, AWBW: In addition, it’s nice to see a company that really cares about the comics industry and grow it beyond its limits, really believes in storytelling and bringing multitude of creative voices. Comics are impactful. I used to be a teacher. Back then, people didn’t see the value of incorporating comics into the classroom. There are so many different aspects that can be used to be creative, business-minded, work together as a team.  We believe in a better world and future. Our books embody that. You don’t see that much in comics these days – everything is dark and negative. We reflect a brighter future.

RS: Despite having been around for 15 years, I don’t think a lot of the industry has a sense of what A Wave Blue World is about. What’s the unique brand and position that you’re going for?

LW: Consumers are being smarter about how they choose, how they spend their money. People are looking to brands that have social responsibility elements in their company. They want to be sustainable, especially parents who want to build a future for their kids. Consumers who are in their 30s are looking for companies that understand them. Those are people we shouldn’t be alienating. We should welcome them into the market and attract them to the comic book world. We have amazing stories that speak to them. We want to do as much as possible to be inclusive.

JI: I’d say it’s speculative fiction that speaks to a future in which humanity will survive, the world will survive, and how we’re going to make it there. We tell personal journeys and global stories that speak to the theme of the company. Even when you go to the name, the “Wave Blue World” references Huxley’s Brave New World. But water connects everything on the planet. We’re a company that connects community.

RS: What are the key points about the Premier Model?

LW:  A lot of people like to collect/sample number one issues then wait for the trade collection [which is why retailers see fall-offs on sales after #1]. We know readers don’t like the wait time. We want to give them a great collectible cover from great artists plus the full story without a delay.

JI: Fans, readers and retailers are attracted to quality, whether in a single issue or trade paperback. We’re providing quality for a single issue: good cover stock, great art, compelling stories, exclusive extra background material on world building. On the TPB side, that’s going to be a complete package with high production values we’re known for. We’re delivering that quicker than other companies in response to what the market has been looking for.

RS: What problems do you think this can solve?

LW: With the change in the retail market, it’s important for us to realize different customers want different things. Consumers have so much choice these days. If we don’t cater to that, we can lose that customer for the industry. We want people to be able to open our books and have a great experience.

JI: The digital issues speak to accessibility. People may not have a comic store nearby. We’ve all come to accept that print and digital are partners. We’re providing content through different channels, where content in each channel has value. If you want it as an entire package, it’s there.

RS: What are the benefits from a retailer perspective?

LW: Retailers have a lot of options. They can adopt the #1 premier edition. People love #1s. That’s where the sales are. Fans can have that chance [to buy and collect] before the trade. Those who can’t wait for the trade can buy online, but we want to do as much as possible to drive people into comic shops. As a former reviewer, and customer, I often couldn’t find the comics I was asked to review. I went to comiXology to find it. My reviews tried to drive people to comic shops and ask them to order. We think our program can do the same thing.

JI: When you look at direct market, we’re seeing the growth in collected volumes. Retailers I’ve spoken to over the years have advocated for collected volumes without an unreasonable delay. As a company, we’re being transparent. There are other companies that do #1 issues, which leads you on a road to different stories and different formats. We’re following a model of reader engagement, reader direction, that already has precedent, based on good artwork and good stories.

RS: Where can people find the digital copies?

JI: On comiXology. We’ll have some new announcements around digital later this year.

RS: To do this on an ongoing basis, you’re going to need to tee up the content well ahead of schedule. That’s a pretty big risk and investment. How do you plan to make that sustainable? Are you doing crowdfunding?

JI: Crowdfunding is something AWBW does with anthologies. For the Premier Program, we’re looking at providing everyone with quality content for a good price point. Quality is always a good foundation to engage new readers and satisfy existing readers. When we’re talking about single issues, we’re speaking to a cover, compelling content, production value. For the trade, it’s the same, but that expands availability into various outlets and opportunities.

RS: Where is the money coming from?

JI: AWBW is a privately owned company. The owners maintain the ethos they believe in, and that belief system brought us together as a team. It ensures our operation will grow organically and not through explosive acceleration. We’re looking at our resources and the best way to utilize them. It’s not about shelf-space domination, it’s about quality stories.

RS: Are the Premier Program titles creator-owned?

JI: That’s correct. Tyler is a creator of Mezo and James Maddox and Gavin Smith are the creators of Dead Legends.

RS: How does your editorial process work? Are you soliciting creators for projects that are already in mind? Are you open to submissions? And what efforts are you making around including diverse creative voices?

JI: We’ve been receiving submissions and reaching out to particular talent. It comes down to identifying the kinds of stories that fit with our message. We’re looking the right stories and the right creators from across the gamut of the industry: established creators, emerging creators, first-timers. We want creators to make their best stories.

Because our world is diverse, the creators will be diverse. We believe in that as a world community. We’re offering that kind of variety. That’s part of the anthologies. We’re talking about a company that’s inclusive, wants to tell fun stories, and stories with compelling characters and journeys. It’s part of our mission intrinsically. When you’re talking about stories for a better world, they have to be developed by people from diverse communities. It can’t just be one community, one gender ID, one age demographic. We have to cast a wide net.

RS: Most new comic publishers have some kind of bigger media play in mind. Is that part of your strategy? Anything in the works?

JI: That’s not the mindset from which we develop stories, but we know good stories are translatable across different media platform. For the creators, it would be great for that to happen in the future. In the new world of entertainment, we’re seeing more creator-owned projects. This is a great time. So we want that for our creators. The best way to make that possible is to be sure the comics are great.

RS: What’s on the docket for the next 6-12 months? How aggressive do you plan to be about releases?

JI: We’ll be making announcements in the next few months, between now and NYCC, which are going to outline the expansion of AWBW’s publishing program and the continuation of our promise.

RS: Any final thoughts?

LW: A lot of comic shops in North America are shifting, and starting to realize there’s a change in the market. Retailers talking about remodeling their stores to attract new readers. Data shows a change is needed. We offer a great alterative. They’re embracing the positivity that’s needed.

JI:  There are a lot of new publishers. AWBW has been around for 14 years. We have a great backlist. We’re not new, but this expansion is not just about internal staffing and it’s not just an expansion of product: it’s an outreach. We’re reaching out to the entire comic book community, retailers and customers and fans, and with that, we’re expanding our publishing palette.

The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of

Rob Salkowitz (@robsalk) is the author of Comic-Con and the Business of Pop Culture.

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

Community leaders discuss race, justice at panel


Demonstrators march down Forbes Avenue in wake of former East Pittsburgh police officer Michael Rosfeld’s acquittal in connection to the death of Antwon Rose in March.

Demonstrators march down Forbes Avenue in wake of former East Pittsburgh police officer Michael Rosfeld’s acquittal in connection to the death of Antwon Rose in March.

Thomas Yang | Visual Editor

Demonstrators march down Forbes Avenue in wake of former East Pittsburgh police officer Michael Rosfeld’s acquittal in connection to the death of Antwon Rose in March.

Thomas Yang | Visual Editor

Thomas Yang | Visual Editor

Demonstrators march down Forbes Avenue in wake of former East Pittsburgh police officer Michael Rosfeld’s acquittal in connection to the death of Antwon Rose in March.

By Lauren Bruckstein, For The Pitt News

Pittsburgh has been the center of a considerable amount of discussion about race and justice since an East Pittsburgh police officer shot and killed black teen Antwon Rose on this day last year.

Pittsburgh politicians, artists and officials came together to further these discussions at a Friday panel hosted by The Atlantic at the Ace Hotel in East Liberty. The panel discussed several issues including the fairness of the criminal justice system, policing in Pittsburgh and how race affects these topics, while also speaking about what can be done at both the community and individual level.

Panelists included 1Hood Media founder Jasiri X; Brandon Flood, secretary for the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons; Rep. Summer Lee, D-34; former district attorney candidate Turahn Jenkins and Pittsburgh Bureau of Police Chief Scott Schubert.

Jasiri X, a Pittsburgh-based rapper and founder of 1Hood Media, talked about using art and media to communicate the experiences of African American men and the prison system. 1Hood Media is a website featuring African American artists and their work revolving around social justice.

X has written widely-played songs about the deaths of Oscar Grant, Trayvon Martin and other black men killed in police shootings. He said his work puts him in a position to be both an artist and an activist.

“It was really me doing art out of the passion that I had, which was servicing my community, helping the next generation of folks develop and grow,” X said. “It came organically out of the activism I do.”

Aside from just using media, X believes people of all ethnicities, as well as those in office, should participate in community conversations about these issues, and show up for families like Rose’s.

Lee said policy ideas originate from many different parts of people’s lives.

“Politics starts on the street,” Lee said. “Politics starts in your home. It starts wherever the conflict is.”

Similarly, Flood said he thinks much change can be accomplished at the local level, while also influencing legislators at higher levels of government.

“The ordinances and policies that are crafted on a local level usually force the hand of state legislators, as well as Congress,” Flood said.

Jenkins, who lost a primary battle to unseat Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala, also shares this view. After previously working as a public defender, Jenkins said he noticed there are people in government positions who don’t fully understand the consequences of their decisions.

“We need to be mindful of the people we put in these positions because they affect all of us,” Jenkins said. “[The system]’s too concerned about convictions and not treating people like people.”

Jenkins said that these officials do not worry about giving convicted people, and their families, the tools to help put their lives back together. Lee echoed these remarks, noting it costs more to fund a prisoner than it does to fund a college student.

“Are we prioritizing building up citizens who are well-rounded, well-educated, who have the resources, the tools to not even come in contact with the criminal justice system in the first place?” Lee said. “Or are we preparing for a state that’s bloated, with folks who we need to house?”

Lee said she is working with other legislators to make the County justice system more fair and efficient. Lee’s colleague, Rep. Jake Wheatley, D-19, is working on a bill that would create a licensing process and form an oversight commission for setting state police standards. Currently, Allegheny County’s many small municipalities have different training standards and resources for police.

“There is no professional board for policing right now,” Lee said.

But those in City and County government say they are already trying to improve their abilities on their own.

Pittsburgh Bureau of Police chief Scott Schubert spoke at the event about a Bureau unit whose sole job is to review national best practices and review incident responses.

“I think we have pretty good policies, but policies change based on incidents that occur to include things that happen to us over the years,” Schubert said. “We put a lot of emphasis on training now.”

Schubert said the Bureau places an emphasis on training its officers and ensuring they understand the community before they walk the streets on their own.

“We have invested a lot with engagement in the community, we’ve opened it up, we want to hear,” Schubert said. “We may not always agree, but you need that input from the community … We are all in this together. Everyone wants a safe community.”

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RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

Jobless rate for Black men rising year after year

unemployment rate


May’s Black unemployment rate was 6.2 percent, much higher than the 5.7 percent compared to the same month a year ago, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported.

The jobless rate for Black men 20 and older was 6.3 percent in May, higher than 6.0 percent for the same month last year, but lower than April’s rate of 6.8 percent.

The unemployment rate for Black women 20 and older was 5.1 percent in May, higher than the 4.4 percent recorded for the same month a year earlier.

May 2019’s unemployment rate, however, was lower than 5.3 percent recorded in April, the previous month.

The nation’s nonfarm payrolls added 75,000 jobs. The unemployment rate remained at 3.6 percent.  The number of unemployed persons was little changed at 5.9 million.

BLS reported that 589,000 Black men 20 and older were unemployed in May compared with 645,000 in April.
Health care, professional and business services added jobs, BLS reported.

The jobless rate among African American men at 6.3 percent is much higher compared to White men (3.3 percent), Asians (2.5 percent) and Hispanics (4.2 percent).

Why not now for slavery reparations, House panel is told

… and historic struggle of African Americans to secure reparations … and grapple with the racism and white supremacy … endorsing direct payouts for African Americans. House Majority Leader Steny … said, and electing an African American president, Barack Obama. … RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News

First African-American to Serve as a C&MA Corporate Officer

The Christian and Missionary Alliance
June 19, 2019

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., June 19, 2019 /Standard Newswire/– The Board of Directors for The Christian and Missionary Alliance (the C&MA, The Alliance) in the United States announced the election of Rev. Kelvin L. Walker (pictured) to the office of corporate vice president during Alliance Council 2019.

Kelvin is a graduate of Simpson Graduate School, Nyack College, and Alliance Theological Seminary (ATS), where he is currently pursuing his DMin. Since January 2019, he has served as the Metropolitan District superintendent. He has recently fulfilled roles as vice-chair of the C&MA Board of Directors and member-at-large of the President’s Cabinet. In May he concluded his three-term tenure as president of the Association of African American Pastors, Consecrated Women, and Licensed Workers of the C&MA. Kelvin has also ministered in various pastoral roles. He is the first African-American to serve as a C&MA corporate officer.

In his nomination speech, Kelvin called the Alliance family to remember our founding purpose as we move into this next era of missions and ministry. “I believe we are in a Kairotic moment,” he noted. “There are opportunities, decisions, and calls that God has laid before us . . . asking, ‘What will you choose?’ Part of that choosing, I believe, is God’s call to us to reach back and bring into wherever He’s leading us the DNA upon which we were founded.”

Also, Steven C. Lausell was reelected corporate secretary by acclamation. Steven is a graduate of Tulane University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Puerto Rico, and ATS. He is the founder and board chairman of Supermercados Máximo, Inc., and has been an attorney, a law clerk to a Puerto Rico Supreme Court justice, and a professor at Nyack College’s Extension Campus in San Juan, P.R. Steven has also served on the Puerto Rico District Executive Committee.

In addition, 13 people were elected to the Board of Directors, and a total of 11 individuals were elected to serve on Council committees.

The Alliance is a fellowship of more than 6 million evangelical believers worldwide, with 2,000 U.S. churches, dedicated to fulfilling Christ’s command to make disciples of all nations. The Alliance has a thoroughly evangelical doctrinal statement and encourages believers from diverse backgrounds and theological traditions to unite to complete Christ’s Great Commission.

SOURCE The Christian and Missionary Alliance

CONTACT: Susan Close, 719-599-5999,

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Opinion: This should be Kamala Harris’s message

Published 7:45 am PDT, Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Nine Democratic presidential candidates appeared on Monday at an event in Washington hosted by the Poor People’s Campaign, which is led by the Rev. William Barber II. The campaign focuses on the systemic and interconnected problems of racism (including voter suppression) and poverty.

It was a revealing event. Former vice president Joe Biden lambasted President Donald Trump, ran through a demonstration of moneys that would be available for antipoverty programs and others if, for example, simply one tax loophole (the step up for capital gains) were to be removed. Biden touched on his experience as a single father (after his first wife and daughter were killed) when talking about health care, his success in persuading some lawmakers to support the stimulus plan (go into their districts and campaign against them, he declared) and, of course, his tenure at President Barack Obama’s right hand. You know me. I know how to get it done. You know my heart is in the right place. Pure Biden.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., unsurprisingly pushed her wealth tax, which she claims will pay for universal child care, universal pre-K, free technical, two-year and four-year college, provide $50 billion for historically black colleges and universities, lift student debt for 95% of those carrying it, and focus on opioid abuse. It was a lot of programs, and a lot of figures. She hit all the progressive notes (e.g., eliminate the filibuster, rein in corruption). For better or worse, she sounded an awful lot like she does when talking to mostly white audiences. I’m in this fight. Everything on my list is going to help the poor, especially people of color. You can see that her policy-laden, almost academic presentation might not quite reach this audience on an emotional level.

The surprise might have been Sen. Kamala Harris of California, who gave one of her best performances of the campaign. She began with the parable of the Good Samaritan, pointing out that the story is not so much about helping one’s neighbors but defining the most vulnerable as one’s neighbor, deserving of love and attention. Yes, she laid out some of her programs (e.g., a rent subsidy, a monthly credit for working people), but she also took the audience on a journey to understand how criminal justice issues become economic issues.

Drawing on her experience as a prosecutor, Harris explained how the cash bail system forces many people of color to plead guilty – even when they have a defensible case – so they don’t lose their children, their homes or their jobs. She explained how she and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., teamed up on the issue. When asked how his constituents liked it, she recalled that Paul said, “Kamala, Appalachia loves this!”

All in one story, she made use of her experience as a prosecutor and senator, and conveyed how these issues are not merely “black issues.” When she said a familiar line – “We have so much more in common than what separates us” – it had meaning and specificity.

She stressed (as Barber did) that suppression of African American votes helps elect Republicans whose policies disadvantage both whites and blacks (e.g., opposition to the Affordable Care Act).

In sum, Harris has the personal experience, has the details, has the ability to explain how it affects people’s lives and has the ability to build a coalition. She has not, to date, given enough of that rich detail – the stories that put her in the center of major policy issues which allow people to understand that her issues extend well beyond one community. In this outing on Monday, she connected her policies, her admonitions and her biography into an emotionally compelling message. That’s what she needs more of.

What Harris has lacked, so far, is a more personalized story of how she has helped ordinary people and how people’s lives can be transformed. Warren has the story of her Aunt Bee (who solved Warren’s child-care problem and allowed her to flourish as a professional). Harris needs the stories that make her agenda personal and that put her in the role of the insightful, empathetic healer. Do that, and Harris, with her raw political talent, has the ability to win the race. And then, boy, would she give Trump fits in the general election.

Watch: House Panel Opens Debate on Reparations for Slavery

Lawmakers on Wednesday held the first congressional hearing in more than a decade on reparations, spotlighting the debate over whether the United States should consider compensation for the descendants of slaves in the United States.

The witnesses at the House Judiciary subcommittee included actor and activist Danny Glover, writer Ta-Nehisi Coates and Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, a Democratic presidential candidate.

Coates, who drew new attention to the issue with his essay “The Case for Reparations,” published in The Atlantic magazine in 2014, told the panel “it’s impossible to imagine America without the inheritance of slavery.”

“The matter of reparations is one of making amends and direct redress but is also a question of citizenship,” Coates said.

Watch: Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Full Opening Statement at House Hearing on Reparations

[NATL] Watch: Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Full Opening Statement at House Hearing on Reparations

But another writer Coleman Hughes, who at times testified over boos from the audience, said black people don’t need “another apology,” but safer neighborhoods, better schools, a less punitive criminal justice system and better health care.

“None of these things can be achieved through reparations for slavery,” said Hughes, who added that he is the descendant of blacks enslaved at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello.

The hearing comes amid a growing discussion in the Democratic Party about reparations. Several of the party’s presidential candidates have endorsed looking at the idea, though they have stopped short of endorsing direct payouts for African Americans.

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas, who became the sponsor of a measure to study reparations after the retirement of Rep. John Conyers, said black Americans “are the only group that can singularly claim to have been slaves under the auspices of the United States government.” She said Wednesday’s hearing “is not a symbolic action,” but about legitimate legislation that should be signed into law.

“I just simply ask: Why not and why not now?” she said to a packed hearing room.

Visitors lined up to attend. Abibat Rahman-Davies, 20, from Southern California, said she was waiting more than two hours.

Georgetown Students Approve Fee to Benefit Slave Descendants

[DC] Georgetown Students Approve Fee to Benefit Slave Descendants

“I think that this has been a part of history that we’ve ignored for too long so it’s very important for me to be here and to see this part recognized,” she said.

While reparations has been moving toward the mainstream of the Democratic Party, the idea remains far from widely accepted, both among Democrats and the public at large.

Booker, who testified first, said the U.S has “yet to truly acknowledge and grapple with the racism and white supremacy that tainted this country’s founding and continues to cause persistent and deep racial disparities and inequality.”

“The stain of slavery was not just inked in bloodshed but in policies that have disadvantaged African Americans for generations,” he said.

In a Point Taken-Marist poll conducted in 2016, 68 percent of Americans said the country should not pay cash reparations to African American descendants of slaves to make up for the harm caused by slavery and racial discrimination. About 8 in 10 white Americans said they were opposed to reparations, while about 6 in 10 black Americans said they were in favor.

Rep. Mike Johnson of Louisiana, the top Republican on the panel, said he respects the beliefs of those who support reparations. He called America’s history with slavery “regrettable and shameful.”

Trump Launches 2020 Campaign at Orlando Rally

[NATL] Trump Launches 2020 Campaign at Orlando Rally

But he said paying monetary reparations for the “sins of a small subset of Americans from many generations ago” would be unfair, difficult to carry out in practice and, in his view, likely unconstitutional.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer on Wednesday called reparations a “serious issue” and said he expects the resolution will see a vote in the House, but it appears to have no chance of advancing in the Senate.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday that he opposes reparations, telling reporters: “I don’t want reparations for something that happened 150 years ago. We’ve tried to deal with the original sin of slavery by passing civil rights legislation” and electing an African American president, Barack Obama.

“It would be hard to figure out who to compensate” for slavery, the Kentucky Republican said, and added: “No one currently alive was responsible for that.”

Top Democrats pushed back Wednesday on McConnell’s comments, with one calling his remarks “sad.”

Rep. Kathleen Clark, D-Mass., a member of the leadership team, said the country’s history of slavery is a “stigma and a stain” that continues to be felt today. That McConnell wants to “write that off,” she said, is ignoring the impact and legacy of the country’s history.

Schumer Weighs in on McConnell-Stewart Feud

[NATL] Schumer Weighs in on McConnell-Stewart Feud

“We cannot look to him for any sort of moral authority or guidance on how we should be addressing the issues of slavery and the impact today on income inequality, curtailing opportunity and civil rights and voting rights,” she said.

Coates called McConnell’s comments a “strange theory of governance.” 

“Well into this century the United States was still paying out pensions to the heirs of civil war soldiers,” he said. “We honor treaties that date back some 200 years despite no one being alive who signed those treaties. Many of us would love to be taxed for the things we are solely and individually responsible for. But we are American citizens and this bound to a collective enterprise that extends beyond our individual and personal reach.”

He added that for a century after the Civil War, “black people were subjected to a relentless campaign of terror, a campaign that extended well into the lifetime of Majority leader McConnell.”

House Democrats discussed reparations behind closed doors ahead of the hearing and the caucus chairman, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., said setting up the commission to study what he called “one of the worst crimes against humanity” is completely reasonable.

“Mitch McConnell has zero credibility on questions of racial, social and economic inequality,” Jeffries said.

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Republicans invited two witnesses to Wednesday’s hearing. One is Hughes, the young columnist who has rejected reparations and affirmative action. The other is Burgess Owens, a former Oakland Raiders football player and Super Bowl champion, who recently wrote a Wall Street Journal editorial eschewing reparations. “Proponents of reparations act as though black Americans are incapable of carrying their own burdens, while white Americans must bear the sins of those who came before,” he wrote.

The debate over reparations for black Americans began not long after the end of the Civil War, and was long defined as financial compensation for ex-slaves and their descendants. Opponents of reparations often frame the issue as an unfair solution that places the blame or burden of the legacy of slavery on white Americans who were not alive at the time and were therefore not responsible.

Supporters point to racial disparities across Americans society as proof that while whites living today were not responsible for what came before, they have nonetheless benefited, just as black Americans have experienced the lingering effects of the slave system.

A resolution to study reparations was first proposed in 1989 by Conyers of Michigan, who put it forward year after year.

The hearing Wednesday coincides with Juneteenth, a cultural holiday commemorating the emancipation of enslaved black people in the United States.

CCAC’s Homewood-Brushton Center to host Juneteenth celebration



CCAC’s Homewood-Brushton Center to host Juneteenth celebration

The Community College of Allegheny County’s Homewood-Brushton Center will partner with TRIO Student Support Services and the black art expo to host the center’s second annual Juneteenth event Wednesday, June 19, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. The celebration will feature local entrepreneurs and their wares, Divine 9 step exhibition, a dance performance, spoken word tributes, live DJ, an art show, free food and games and activities for children.”Last year’s event was a huge success, and we think this year’s will be even bigger and better,” said Chance Wideman, success coach and coordinator at CCAC Homewood-Brushton Center.This event is designed to educate the community on the importance of Juneteenth while celebrating the legacy of late rapper Nipsey Hussle, who encouraged the creation of businesses in the African-American community and the value of self-worth. Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States. On June 19, 1865, Union soldiers led by Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger landed at Galveston, Texas, with news that the war had ended and the enslaved were now free. Today, Juneteenth is enjoying phenomenal growth within communities and organizations throughout the country.

The Community College of Allegheny County’s Homewood-Brushton Center will partner with TRIO Student Support Services and the black art expo to host the center’s second annual Juneteenth event Wednesday, June 19, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. The celebration will feature local entrepreneurs and their wares, Divine 9 step exhibition, a dance performance, spoken word tributes, live DJ, an art show, free food and games and activities for children.

“Last year’s event was a huge success, and we think this year’s will be even bigger and better,” said Chance Wideman, success coach and coordinator at CCAC Homewood-Brushton Center.


This event is designed to educate the community on the importance of Juneteenth while celebrating the legacy of late rapper Nipsey Hussle, who encouraged the creation of businesses in the African-American community and the value of self-worth.

Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States. On June 19, 1865, Union soldiers led by Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger landed at Galveston, Texas, with news that the war had ended and the enslaved were now free. Today, Juneteenth is enjoying phenomenal growth within communities and organizations throughout the country.


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