Beto’s Women’s Rights Plan Promises To Address Low Income Infant Mortality Rates, Promises Full Abortion Access

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October 09, 2019
10:50 AM ET

2020 Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke released a women’s rights plan Wednesday that promises to address low income infant mortality rates and also promises full abortion access for women.

O’Rourke’s plan, published on Medium, is titled “Leveling the Playing Field” and describes a variety of ideas to achieve women’s equality. One of these ideas includes tackling the “maternal and infant mortality crisis.” (RELATED: Vast Majority Of Women Affected By Alabama, Georgia Laws Are Black)

The former Texas representative said there are “disparities in infant mortality between white Americans and black Americans that are greater today than in the year 1850” and discussed several ways he will support new mothers in need.

Statistics from the Guttmacher Institute show that abortion is increasingly concentrated among poor women and that black non-Hispanic women, as well as Hispanic women, have the highest abortion rates in the U.S.

Texas Congressman Beto ORourke gives his concession speech during his election night party at Southwest University Park in downtown El Paso on November 6, 2018. - After a close race for senate, ORourke conceded to incumbent Ted Cruz in his home town. (Photo by Paul Ratje / AFP) (Photo credit should read PAUL RATJE/AFP/Getty Images)

Texas Rep. Beto ORourke gives his concession speech during his election night party at Southwest University Park in downtown El Paso, Texas, on Nov. 6, 2018. (PAUL RATJE/AFP/Getty Images)

O’Rourke’s plan also reveals that he believes making abortion a woman’s right plays a prominent role in women’s equality.

“Beto believes everyone should have access to universal, high-quality, affordable health care, and the reproductive health care they need — including abortion,” the plan says.

The 2020 presidential candidate promised to not only repeal the Hyde Amendment and overturn the Helms Amendment, but also to appoint Supreme Court justices who will “respect Roe as the settled law of the land,” work with Congress to protect “the full spectrum of reproductive health care through insurance coverage” including “prohibiting abortion restrictions on private insurance,” and more.

O’Rourke’s abortion stances are embraced by other Democratic presidential candidates. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii is the only Democratic presidential candidate who has publicly said she does not support late-term abortions. Gabbard said she is against allowing third-trimester abortions except in cases in which the mother’s health is in danger.

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Mary Margaret Olohan

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America’s majority-black city elects its first African-American mayor in 200 years

Montgomery County, in the State of Alabama, United States, has elected Steven Reed — its first Black mayor almost 200 years after the majority-black city was incorporated.

As reported by many American online forums, voters chose 45-year-old Mr. Reed, a probate judge, to lead the majority-Black city almost 200 years after it was incorporated.

On the cusp of celebrating 200 years as a city, Montgomery, a black-majority city and capital of Alabama, on Tuesday night made history.

Reed captured about 67 percent of the vote in the nonpartisan runoff election, NYT reported, quoting unofficial results released by the city.

He defeated David Woods, a white TV station owner, after they advanced from a 12-person election in August. Ten of those candidates were black, and Mr. Reed received 42 percent of the vote.

Accepting his victory, Reed said, “This election has never been about me.

“This election has never been about just my ideas. It’s been about all the hopes and dreams that we have as individuals and collectively in this city.”

Historically, Montgomery, which was incorporated on December 3, 1819, has long been a central part of the United States’ sordid racial history.

It was the first capital of the Confederate States of America in 1861 and is home to the church where the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. planned the Montgomery bus boycott, which made Rosa Parks a household name.

It’s a city of about 200,000 people, 60 percent of whom are African-Americans.

Reed graduated from Morehouse, a historically Black college in Atlanta, earned an M.B.A. from Vanderbilt and became the first Black probate judge in Montgomery County.

His father, Joe Reed, has been the long-time leader of the black caucus of the state Democratic Party.


EMPIRE FM’s TADIFEST Nominated For ‘Art Festival Event Of The Year’ Award At Ghana Arts And Culture Awards

Takoradi-based EMPIRE FM’s ‘TADIFEST’ has been nominated for an award at this year’s Ghana Arts and Culture Awards.

READ ALSO: Empire FM Successfully Holds Maiden Edition Of TadiFest Carnival (+Photos)

TADIFEST is in the category of Art Festival Event Of The Year and it is in this category with popular nationwide events Afrochella, Pama Festival, Black Art Street Festival, Chalewote Street Art Festival, and Wormanne Festival.

READ ALSO: EMPIRE FM Unveils TADIFEST’19 Event With Fun-Packed Activities Scheduled To Take Place

The maiden edition of the TADIFEST event was successfully held last year and this nomination really shows how far the event went.

The TADIFEST event is a week-long event which was held during the Christmas period in Takoradi and after a successful maiden event, organizers have launched this year’s event.

To vote for TADIFEST as the best art festival event, please see the attached photos;




RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

Trial by Social Media

When the Atlanta Super Bowl Host Committee needed a partner to curate a series of 30 murals highlighting the city’s “civil-rights and social-justice journey”—a project that would capture Atlanta’s historic relevance and its current cultural cachet—the choice was obvious. WonderRoot, the nonprofit grassroots organization founded to promote social justice through art, was uniquely poised to pull it off.

Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms called the resulting murals, which stretched from Vine City to Old Fourth Ward, the game’s “lasting legacy.” Charmaine Minniefield, a former Spelman professor and producer for the National Black Arts Festival, painted two murals of female visionaries—one on MLK Drive of Ruby Doris Smith-Robinson, a leader of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and another on Auburn Avenue of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference’s Ella Baker—both framed by chromatic patterns inspired by West African Ankara fabrics. Near Woodruff Park, Muhammad Yungai painted New Kids on the Block, flipping the script on Norman Rockwell with suburban white children moving into an urban black neighborhood. National media, including CNN and the Chicago Tribune, heralded the series as a permanent tribute to Atlanta’s Beloved Community. Vendors organized walking and bike tours of the artworks.

“Certainly, the Super Bowl and the NFL have an important role to play in addressing social justice issues in our country,” WonderRoot founder and executive director Chris Appleton told CBS This Morning days before the February 3 game, standing proudly in front of Ernest Shaw’s Atlanta Strong mural, which depicts two images of a girl wearing the American flag, near an entrance to Mercedes-Benz Stadium. “But also, these kinds of big events can be galvanizing moments. . . . It takes eyeballs [on murals like these] to make change.”

In 2004, when he was in his early 20s, Appleton had launched WonderRoot with two friends. Built on a romantic idea—that artists could “change the world”—the nonprofit transformed a run-down house on Memorial Drive into a space that housed studios and hosted experimental bands playing late-night basement sets. WonderRoot’s grants and resources were credited with helping Atlanta retain local artists, who in years past had left for other cities.

Appleton’s charisma and fluency in social-justice speak resonated with other grassroots arts organizations on whose boards he served, such as Eyedrum and Burnaway, as well as with national and corporate funders; in 2017 alone, WonderRoot received $100,000 from Enterprise Community Partners and $150,000 from the National Endowment for the Arts. In 2014, Appleton won the Emerging Leader Award from national nonprofit Americans for the Arts and announced ambitious plans to raise $2.8 million and eventually move into a 54,000-square-foot former school across the street from WonderRoot’s Reynoldstown space, hoping to turn it into one of the city’s largest arts centers. “The reality is, I’m trying to build an institution that has staying power and is going to last 50 years, 100 years,” he told Creative Loafing in 2015.

Atlanta Strong mural in front of Mercedes Benz Stadium
Atlanta Strong, a mural that WonderRoot helped bring into the city

Photograph by Audra Melton

But just four days after the Super Bowl brought the organization so much good will, WonderRoot’s triumph came to an abrupt halt. Fifteen former colleagues and staffers, seven of them anonymous, posted an open letter to the nonprofit’s board of directors on social media: “We stand together, as the named and unnamed, to condemn the egregious and systemic harm that we have endured at the behest of Executive Director Chris Appleton’s leadership.”

The February 7 letter accused Appleton of mismanagement and creating a workplace of “intimidation” with “the same dynamics of racism, classism, and heteropatriarchy that the organization purports to dismantle”—and blamed the board for passively allowing it. “Past harm can never be erased, but future harm can be minimized. We demand that you finally respond in actionable terms,” the letter stated.

Dozens of artists, former associates, and organizations shared the letter on Facebook and Instagram. Within days, the board of directors put Appleton on temporary leave, hired a crisis-management team, and recruited a law firm to look into the accusations. A week and a half after the letter was posted, and before the law firm’s investigation even had been completed, Appleton voluntarily resigned from the nonprofit. (Appleton didn’t respond to repeated requests for comment via email, phone call, text, and certified mail. WonderRoot’s board declined to comment for this story through Brian Tolleson, the interim executive director of WonderRoot after Appleton’s resignation.)

By late April, the investigators would conclude that Appleton “repeatedly behaved in an unprofessional manner with staff”—though their report did not find that he targeted employees based on race or gender or that he ever used “racial insults,” as the letter alleged. Nor did the investigation find that Appleton did anything unlawful. But without its leader, the organization had foundered financially. On August 1, the board announced it had unanimously voted to shut down operations.

Online outrage is a blunt instrument. It can flatten complicated human behavior into a binary of “victims” and “abusers”—good and evil—regardless of whether the alleged misdeed is criminal or simply offensive (or even occurred). Airing accusations on social media bypasses traditionally held notions of due process, making the highest court in the land that of public opinion.

Yet, when valid complaints or fears about prominent leaders are met with indifference or fail to generate an official response, social media levels the playing field. The platforms give voice to groups that face systemic societal discrimination—allowing their words to reverberate further and longer, and pressuring the accused and their supporters to respond quickly.

This tension is especially profound in creative communities. Many arts organizations are by nature unconventional, unstructured, and underfunded, often lacking sufficient infrastructure to resolve internal conflicts. Artists are often employed as independent contractors or work for small nonprofits that don’t offer traditional human resource channels for filing formal complaints. Jessyca Holland, the director of arts training nonprofit C4 Atlanta, says that smaller organizations “can’t put in all of these corporate-type HR constraints or else we would never operate,” though she points out that nonprofit boards can function as support systems. Start-ups running out of informal spaces help keep Atlanta’s art scene innovative, but a lack of resources can lead to less-than-ideal working conditions.

“Past harm can never be erased, but future harm can be minimized.”

Without other remedies, artists—and particularly women—have often relied on whisper networks to protect each other. But these days, whispers sometimes migrate to social networks, which can serve as megaphones.

On Dream Warriors, a collection of private Facebook groups where mostly Atlanta-based femme, women, and nonbinary members share everything from roommate listings to tattoo-artist recommendations, call-outs are common. On a 2018 post asking about local businesses engaged in “shady or unethical practices,” which elicited more than 350 comments, one member cautioned, “I’m 100% behind this post, but can we all make sure to link credible sources to back up claims? This can turn into a shit-slinging fest really quickly if we’re not careful.”

Group gatekeepers—the administrators—struggle with navigating allegations as membership grows. Dream Warriors founder Allie Bashuk says the group’s Opportunity Page, which has close to 16,000 members, has six paid administrators, but they generally rely on informal self-policing. Photographer Julie Hunter, who founded the private Facebook group RISE for local creatives in 2016, attempts to vet accusations before they are published to the group’s more than 1,000 members, asking accusers for screenshots and searching for potential police reports. “I feel like it’s partly my reputation on the line if I put something out there,” she says.

University of Georgia media-law professor Jonathan Peters says moderators and social media companies have no legal obligation to investigate claims, as long as they’re not posting the content themselves. Politicians, however, are debating how to modify the law—Section 230 of the federal Communications Decency Act—that protects them, arguing that the immunity is too broad. And there remains the question of moral responsibility: “I think what [social media] companies have to do ethically is think about what kind of community they want to be,” Peters says.

Of course, accusers themselves can be sued for calling out someone online. Ohio-based attorney Aaron Minc says his law firm, which specializes in internet defamation, has seen an “uptick” in people inquiring about their legal options after being accused on social media, since it can be difficult to “restore their reputation and their good name.” Minc says he supports victims of abuse and the climate #MeToo has created for sharing their stories but notes “there’s this delicate nuance where a certain percentage of people are malicious, and there’s no validity to their claims at all.”

Airing accusations on social media bypasses traditionally held notions of due process, making the highest court in the land that of public opinion.

Stephen Elliott, author of The Adderall Diaries and other books, filed a lawsuit a year ago against Moira Donegan, a former editor at the New Republic, who posted an editable, non–password protected Google spreadsheet called the Shitty Media Men List. According to Donegan, the list was live for only 12 hours, but it went viral, with versions making their way onto Reddit and YouTube. Allegations against the men whose names were added to the list ranged from sending offensive messages to sexual assault. Elliott, who was accused of rape by an anonymous source, denies the charges and claims that he lost book publicity and agent representation as a result of the list. Though Elliott’s lawyer agreed to drop the lawsuit’s claims of emotional damage, defamation claims are still working their way through the legal system.

In 2017, after a woman named Chelsea Tadros tweeted that L.A. hip-hop producer and DJ William Bensussen (who goes by the Gaslamp Killer) drugged and raped her and another woman four years prior, he denied the allegations and filed defamation lawsuits against them. (One was dismissed within months.) In a 2018 statement, Bensussen wrote: “In suing Tadros, I am not trying to silence her. In fact, I am hoping to open a dialogue in which to examine this event in front of a judge and jury, rather than trial by social media.”

In July, Bensussen dropped the other lawsuit and released a joint statement with Tadros that said in part: “After engaging in heartfelt discussions with each other about the events of July 5, 2013, William Bensussen and Chelsea Tadros have decided that it is their mutual desire to move on with their lives and put this lawsuit behind them.”

Two months before the Super Bowl, Appleton stood onstage at downtown’s Loudermilk Conference Center as part of a sold-out TEDxCentennialParkWomen event. He was spreading the WonderRoot gospel of art creating social change, inviting the crowd “to engage, to get involved, and to be purposeful and intentional about how you engage with the cultural community.”

Former WonderRoot employee Stephanie Kong had noticed the event being promoted and was bothered by it. In 2015, Kong had joined WonderRoot as a program director, feeling “privileged” to be there “because there aren’t many organizations in Atlanta that [were] doing this type of work, especially in the arts,” she says.

But by 2017, she says, she had become disillusioned with its leader. Kong claims Appleton routinely berated her and other employees in an unprofessional manner. Her frustration came to a head when, she says, he lost his temper because a funder complained about a gap in communication. According to Kong, Appleton stormed into her office, yelling profanities so loudly that other employees could hear through a closed door. A few days later, Kong says, the funder apologized to Appleton, admitting they’d accidentally overlooked her messages.

Kong called the resulting workplace culture “toxic” and “disempowering.” She says she met with WonderRoot board member Odetta MacLeish-White about Appleton’s behavior, and that MacLeish-White told her that change wouldn’t happen overnight. (In an email, MacLeish-White declined to comment for this story.) Kong says that two weeks after the alleged incident over the funder, Appleton met with her and apologized. She says that she asked him to promise that he wouldn’t lose his temper like that again, and his reply was that he couldn’t. Kong says she resigned on the spot.

Chris Appleton
Chris Appleton, executive director of WonderRoot, helped bring a series of high-profile murals to the city shortly before allegations against him led to his resignation.

Photograph by Kent D. Johnson/AP images

The report WonderRoot commissioned from the law firm states that the board met in April 2017—just after Kong and another employee left—to address staff complaints. At the time, the board required Appleton to go through “executive coaching” and formed an HR committee. However, those precautions had not been communicated to employees, the report would later find, and current and former staff told investigators they had observed “no sustained change” in Appleton’s leadership style or management.

Nearly two years later, in January 2019—weeks after Appleton’s TEDxCentennialParkWomen talk—Kong got an email from Jenne Lobsenz, another former WonderRoot program director. Lobsenz told her that a small group of former employees and others who worked with WonderRoot in various capacities—mostly women—had started an email chain exchanging stories about their experiences working for Appleton. Would Kong be interested in joining?

Kong said yes and was looped in. Like Kong, Lobsenz says she had met with a board member, Tina Arbes, the CFO of Public Broadcasting Atlanta, to discuss Appleton in 2014—without observing results. (Arbes declined to comment for this story.)

Kong says she still believed in WonderRoot’s mission and wanted to make it a better place, but, based on previous attempts, she didn’t think a private message to the board of directors would yield results. She says she, Lobsenz, and others on the email chain felt that a public letter would pressure the board to respond—immediately.

The email participants collaboratively wrote the letter and tried to vet one another’s stories, asking about witnesses and documentation, Lobsenz says. Seven group members signed the letter anonymously, but Kong says she knew some needed to attach their names to give the letter weight.

Kong says she worried about possible legal retribution and ruining relationships in Atlanta’s small arts world. She says she also didn’t relish the thought of starting a witch hunt of Appleton. But she says going public also seemed to be the only way to draw attention to what she calls “the systems in place that support harmful behavior.”

On the morning of February 7, the letter-writers began posting it on their social media pages, along with the hashtag #RemoveChrisAppleton.

For curators, gallery owners, event organizers, and others in the arts community, the risk of online accusations raises the stakes for determining which creatives they should support. Atlanta Contemporary executive director Veronica Kessenich says, “We don’t vet [artists and partners], per se, but we’ve worked with them for such a time [that] they know who we are and we know who they are. We’re confident not only in what they’re going to bring artistically and programmatically but who they are as people.”

Kessenich says the institution adheres to professional standards of nonprofit best practices—contracts, bylaws, conflict-of-interest policies—to guide staff and contractors and to protect the organization. However, those methods can be out of reach for smaller, grassroots groups that have trouble affording legal review or that work with less-established artists.

In the absence of an official public record, like a lawsuit or police report, and in circumstances where alleged offenses occur behind closed doors, supporters and associates of the accused must make their own judgments about how to handle accusations.

Monica Campana, founder and executive director of public arts nonprofit Living Walls, says a woman came to her, accusing an artist Campana was working with of sexual misconduct. She started to fact-check the woman’s claims but then realized, “[by coming to me,] she was putting at risk her image, her name and reputation,” she says. Since that moment, Campana says, she believes women first. “There’s no fact-checking involved. And if I have to go and do that, then [the accused] is probably already someone that I don’t want to work with.”

In January, Philippe Pellerin of Pellerin Real Estate revoked plans to host muralist Ray Geier’s Squishieland gallery at his Beacon Atlanta development in Grant Park two days after artists accused Geier on Facebook and Instagram of sexual harassment. Geier, whose nom d’artiste is Squishiepuss, was one of the city’s most in-demand muralists; his paintings—many of which featured a pink, tentacled French bulldog—had become ubiquitous on the sides of buildings around town.

Under the headline “Social media firestorm erupts over Atlanta artist,” the Atlanta Journal-Constitution quoted one of his accusers, Aliya Smith: “In the first 24 hours, I got 30 to 40 stories about women being harassed (by Geier).

. . . I feel like when one person was comfortable saying what happened, more people felt comfortable saying, ‘I thought I was alone.’”

A tagged-over mural originally by Ray Geier, aka Squishiepuss
A tagged-over mural originally by Ray Geier, aka Squishiepuss

Photograph courtesy of Julia Burke

At East Atlanta’s Hodgepodge Coffeehouse, owner Krystle Rodriguez arranged to paint over an expansive, outdoor Squishiepuss mural as soon as she saw the allegations online and released a statement on Facebook. (“We #believewomen,” it read in part.) Drogo Coffee and Tea owner Barrie Sanders blacked out a Squishiepuss-made logo on her retail bags of loose-leaf tea with a Sharpie “without a second thought,” she says. More than a dozen businesses eventually covered up or took down Geier’s work, and vigilante street artists tagged over his murals.

Geier, a prolific podcaster, went silent for three months. Then, two new episodes popped up on his channel. He appeared to address his accusers, stating: “I’ve never done anything against someone’s will. Everything was always—What’s the fucking word?—everything was always consensual. . . . If you consider sexual harassment, like, making a move on them and then someone rejecting that move, I have done that. But guess what? All of us have. . . . Women do it, too. But to sit there and fucking make me out to be this thing that all the rest of the people aren’t? This is fucking bananas.”

Earlier this year, Geier responded to Atlanta magazine’s requests for comment: “Ray Geier/Squishiepuss LLC is retaining legal counsel and will be purs[u]ing any and all civil and criminal claims to the fullest extent possible against parties that make applicable public statements.” Since then, he has not responded to repeated requests for comment via email.

After the Beacon removed Geier’s artwork from the development and terminated its agreement with the muralist, Pellerin donated the gallery space for an art show about sexual harassment and violence called If I Told You . . . Curated by 15 female-identifying artists and featuring work exploring themes of sexual harassment and violence, the event also included programming like therapeutic yoga classes and conversations about sexual health, domestic violence, and self-healing.

Pellerin is unsure what additional measures he could have taken in sizing up Geier. He says his company performs background and credit checks—once deemed a sufficient evaluation—on potential tenants, and he meets with them before signing. But how much should organizations excavate an artist’s past? And what’s the method for searching beyond what comes up in public records? “How do I do that?” Pellerin asks. “I don’t have an answer.”

Nearly three months after the #RemoveChrisAppleton hashtag spread across the social media accounts of the local creative community, McFadden Davis, the law firm WonderRoot hired to examine the letter’s claims, released its report. After interviewing 35 people, including Kong and the other named letter-signers, as well as WonderRoot’s board members, McFadden Davis found Appleton had acted unprofessionally, including “becoming irate with staff, yelling, outbursts, and using profanity when upset.” (The report did not state whether Appleton was interviewed, and the firm declined a request for comment.) But in reference to the letter’s allegations of “dynamics of racism, classism, and heteropatriarchy,” the report concluded that Appleton’s behavior wasn’t targeted toward women or minorities.

The letter had also accused Appleton of “inappropriate attempts at intimacy inside and outside of the workplace,” “solely taking credit for” the work of his nonwhite, female, or queer staff members, and “financial dishonesty.” But the report found no evidence of Appleton engaging in “inappropriate sexual behavior” or harassment and stated that he did not “inappropriately or intentionally take credit for the work of others.” And while the report concluded that Appleton “repeatedly engaged in poor financial management practices,” it cleared him of “financial theft or misappropriation.”

The next day, the AJC wrote, “After a three-month investigation by a firm specializing in employment law, the ousted director of the community arts organization WonderRoot appears to be responsible not for racial insults or financial impropriety, but for having a bad temper.”

The story also cited a text from Appleton to the newspaper: “For the past 15 years I have been focused on WonderRoot’s external growth and development and apologize for not doing more to ensure there was a stronger culture of respect toward WonderRoot’s team members and the impact this caused.”

“It made me feel that, did I put a lot of energy into something that’s not going to make a difference?”

In June, WonderRoot laid off most of its staff, acknowledging the “challenging” last few months. In August, the organization officially announced its closing: “Regrettably, since the departure of WonderRoot’s founder, Chris Appleton, the organization has not been able to reestablish the financial support needed in order to continue,” the statement read in part. “We are collaborating with the community to find permanent homes for the projects and programs of WonderRoot.”

Occasionally, Kong drives by the former WonderRoot space on Memorial Drive and sees its bright yellow and blue facade, now empty inside. She says she was heartened by some of the conversations the letter started in the arts community but says she and other letter-signers remain disappointed; Lobsenz says she felt the primary purpose of the law firm’s report was to salvage WonderRoot’s reputation rather than to “prioritize healing the pain” of the people who signed it.

Kong says, “It made me feel that, did I put a lot of energy into something that’s not going to make a difference?”

Disclosure: In 2018, Vashi was paid $350 by WonderRoot for coteaching an eight-session journalism program for teenagers.

Additional reporting by Jewel Wicker.

This article appears in our November 2019 issue.


RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

‘A historic day’: Montgomery, Alabama, elects its first African-American mayor



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MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Montgomery, a city where more than half the population is black and known as the birthplace of the civil rights movement, elected an African American to the highest position in municipal government for the first time in its 200-year history.

Steven Reed, the Montgomery County probate judge, on Tuesday beat television station owner David Woods in a runoff, gaining 32,918 votes to Woods’ 16,010 votes with 47 precincts of 47 precincts, according to incomplete, unofficial returns. He will be sworn into office Nov. 12 at Montgomery City Hall.

Reed was the first African American elected as the county’s probate judge in 2012. In 2015, he was the first probate judge in Alabama to issue same-sex marriage licenses.

“This election has never been about me,” Reed said in his victory speech. “This election has never been about just my ideas. It’s been about all the hopes and dreams we have as individuals and collectively in this city.”

Montgomery is one of only three cities in six Deep South states with a population of 100,000 or more that had not previously elected an African American as mayor. Beginning in the late 1960s, the election of first black mayors in Cleveland, Ohio, Newark, New Jersey, Detroit, Michigan, Gary, Indiana, and Los Angeles manifested black power, said Derryn Eroll Moten, chairman of Alabama State University’s Department of History and Political Science.

The city being led by a black mayor is an achievement pushed forward by defining moments during the civil rights movement. The outcome of Tuesday’selection is a product of the key figures who fought for civil rights from Alabama’s capital like the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, E.D. Nixon and Johnnie Carr.

“Civil rights leaders promised that an unencumbered black vote would bring real changes in American society,” Moten said.

Moten said the election of Montgomery’s first black mayor wouldn’t be possible without groups that pushed for African-American participation in local and state politics – the Women’s Political Council, the Dallas County Voters League, Rufus Lewis’ Citizens Club and the Alabama Democratic Conference.

Changes materialized in the South in the wake of the Voting Rights Act in 1965, with the election of Sheriff Lucius Amerson in Alabama and the election of Julian Bond to the Georgia House of Representatives. Both were elected in 1966 and became the first African Americans to hold these offices since Reconstruction.

Montgomery mayor: What you need to know about the runoff election

Some say it’s a paradox that Montgomery is both the birthplace of the civil rights movement and the cradle of the Confederacy. Others say it shows the resilience of African Americans that a city with a history of slavery, lynchings, white supremacy and Jim Crow laws elected its first black mayor Tuesday.

Montgomery is going through a noticeable transformation. Last year, the Equal Justice Initiative opened the National Memorial for Peace and Justice and the Legacy Museum in downtown Montgomery to honor victims of lynching. The memorial is adjacent to the slave market site in Montgomery. It has brought several hundred thousand visitors here, many who wouldn’t have visited the Deep South otherwise.

There are outside investors building downtown hotels for those visitors, and a new whitewater park and outdoor center is planned near downtown. The multimillion-dollar investment is in a near west side neighborhood inhabited predominantly by black families. It’s one of the poorest areas, in need of development but often overlooked.

Before the election results were announced, local historian Richard Bailey predicted the voters would show Montgomery’s progress since those days of racial terror. Reed’s election is the latest example of the city reconciling its past and planning for a better future.

“This will be a historic day in Montgomery,” Bailey said. “For the first time, the people of this city, especially African Americans, will be able to say that we have someone in the mayor’s office who understands the pulse of the black community.”

Big changes are coming for Montgomery with the election of Reed and new members on the City Council. The last three mayors held office for at least a decade. Mayor Todd Strange did not seek re-election.

“Montgomery is a city with limitless potential, a city that has no limits outside of our imagination,” Reed said. “The only thing that can hold us back is our fears. When we come together there’s nothing that we can’t accomplish. 

Reed said he wants to invest in public transportation and address the issue of brown water and food deserts in some of Montgomery’s communities. He talked about elevating the economy by being more receptive and supportive of young talent and making the off pace city more competitive. He mentioned working with real estate developers so artists can receive discounted rent for work spaces.

He said he was open to an ad valorem tax that would increase the millage rate for public education funds. He’s repeatedly mentioned a full day, universal pre-K program. The program would guarantee children a spot regardless of their family’s income as early childhood education can be expensive for low-income families.

Reed will be charged with overseeing the city’s $260 million budget that was adopted Sept. 17. He’ll deal with continued pressure on the internal service fund used to pay employee medical, dental and retirement benefits. Another issue he will take on is finding funds for salary increases for public safety employees to recruit, retain and address the issue of crime in the city.

“I’m aware that I didn’t get here by myself. It took all of you on the record, off the record, on the table, under the table,” Reed said. “All the things you have done to support this vision.”

David Woods, Reed’s opponent, told his supporters while conceding, “Going forward, we would have made Montgomery, the city of your dreams. And it is a great city. I think it’ll still be a great city because the people who were here yesterday are here today, and they’ll be here tomorrow. And as I continuously say, Montgomery is a special place populated by special people.

“And that hasn’t changed. And we’re just going to go forward and we’ll try to support Steven Reed as mayor. And I just want to encourage everyone just to try to continue to work together to bring Montgomery into a unified city. You know, a unified Montgomery is a lot stronger than a divided Montgomery. And we just want to go forward in a sense of unity.” 

Follow Sara MacNeil on Twitter: @sara_macneil


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US briefing: Ukraine, China’s missiles and Facebook’s backdoor

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Good morning, I’m Tim Walker with today’s essential stories.

Texts suggest Trump exerting pressure on Ukraine president

US diplomats told Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, that his hopes of meeting Donald Trump to improve Kyiv’s relations with Washington rested on his vowing to investigate allegations against the Bidens. The exchange emerged in texts released as part of the impeachment inquiry, hours after Trump himself made an extraordinary public demand for China to investigate his prospective Democratic rival, threatening: “If they don’t do what we want, we have tremendous, tremendous power.”

  • Kurt Volker. The first witness in the impeachment inquiry was the former special envoy on Ukraine, who believed he could maintain the US policy of upholding Ukrainian independence despite Trump’s attachment to Putin. He was wrong, as Julian Borger reports.

  • ‘Deep state’. The president’s allies continue to blame the so-called “deep state” for his impeachment, despite Steve Bannon himself debunking the conspiracy theory. In fact, says Richard Wolffe, Trump is becoming his own worst enemy.

Russia helping China build missile defence system, says Putin

Putin, right, with China's president, Xi Jinping, in Tajikistan in June.

Vladimir Putin (right) with China’s president, Xi Jinping, in Tajikistan in June. Photograph: Alexei Druzhinin/AP

The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, has said his country is helping China to develop a ballistic missile defence system of a sort that has so far been used only by Russia and the US. The network of ground-based radars and space satellites would give Beijing early warning of intercontinental ballistic missile launches. Speaking at a conference in Moscow on Thursday, Putin said it was “a very serious thing that will radically enhance China’s defence capability”.

  • Eurasian cooperation. The news demonstrates increased cooperation between Moscow and Beijing at a time when US relations with both powers are complicated by controversy over the Kremlin’s ties to Trump and the trade war between the US and China.

US to demand Facebook ‘backdoor’ to encrypted messages

Mark Zuckerberg at a hearing on Capitol Hill last year.

Mark Zuckerberg at a hearing on Capitol Hill last year. Photograph: Andrew Harnik/AP

The US, UK and Australia plan to pressure Facebook into providing governments with a “backdoor” to its encrypted messaging system, allowing them to access the content of private communications, according to a letter from top officials to Mark Zuckerberg, which has been obtained by the Guardian. The signatories to the open letter, dated 4 October, include the US attorney general, William Barr, and Britain’s home secretary, Priti Patel.

  • Data access. The US and UK have also unveiled a “world-first” data access agreement, permitting law enforcement agencies investigating serious crimes to demand certain data directly from the other country’s tech firms without going through their governments.

Los Angeles homeless face alarming increase in violence

A homeless encampment in Downtown LA’s Skid Row neighbourhood.

A homeless encampment in Downtown LA’s Skid Row neighbourhood. Photograph: Mike Blake/Reuters

As a housing crisis forces more and more people on to the streets, homeless people and their advocates in Los Angeles are reportedly facing a rise in harassment and violence. Statistics have long shown that homeless people are more vulnerable to crimes such as assault, harassment and vandalism than the housed. The Guardian’s Carla Green spoke to almost a dozen homeless Angelenos, who all said there had been a noticeable increase in attacks in the past year, by people who target them for being homeless.

  • Arson attack. Prosecutors are reportedly considering charges of attempted murder against two men, including the son of a local chamber of commerce president, for setting fire to a homeless encampment in LA’s Eagle Rock neighbourhood in August.

  • Public banks. In a bid to tackle the affordable housing crisis, California has legalised the creation of public banks by cities and counties, which could provide public agencies access to loans at interest rates much lower than private banks.

Cheat sheet

  • The EU has urged the UK government to publish its new Brexit plan in full as Boris Johnson heads to Europe for talks with Angela Merkel and other leaders, while Ireland’s prime minister has accused Johnson of misleading the British parliament.

  • The actor James Franco faces a new lawsuit claiming he and other staff at his acting school “engaged in widespread inappropriate and sexually charged behavior towards female students”, accusations that Franco refutes as “not accurate”.

  • Google reportedly told subcontracted workers to target people with “darker skin tones” when harvesting face scans from the public to improve the firm’s facial recognition algorithms, which are notoriously inept at identifying people of color.

  • Thousands of pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong have taken to the streets in masks after the territory’s chief executive, Carrie Lam, prepares to implement harsh colonial-era emergency powers banning face masks.


Kim Gordon: ‘There’s a wall of faceless men I have to climb over’

Kim Gordon: ‘There’s a wall of faceless men I have to climb over’ Photograph: David Black

Art-rock legend Kim Gordon: ‘Consumerism is killing us’

Sonic Youth, the seminal art-rock band Kim Gordon co-founded with her ex-husband Thurston Moore, came to a natural conclusion when the couple split in 2011. Now, at 66, she is releasing her first solo record. “Playing bass was never my desire,” she tells Jenn Pelly. “It was a byproduct of wanting to make something exciting.”

Why is ‘junk science’ still sending people to death row?

For decades, US law enforcement has used ‘forensic hypnosis’ to draw out testimony from witnesses and victims, despite growing evidence that it is unreliable, relying on a false notion of memory as “a vast, permanent and potentially accessible storehouse of information,” as Ariel Ramchandani reports.

The week’s best film about an extremist loner is not Joker

The superficial similarities between the much-hyped revisionist supervillain movie Joker and Rob Lambert’s grimy low-budget drama Cuck are striking. But it is Lambert’s portrait of an online racist who turns to IRL violence that is the more repellent, honest and astute, says Charles Bramesco.

Israel’s Arab wineries illustrate the Palestinian struggle

There are just two commercial Palestinian-owned wineries inside Israel, with clients including Yotam Ottolenghi and those Tel Aviv restaurants that want to avoid wine made on controversial Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank. Miriam Berger meets the vintners keeping an Arab-Palestinian tradition alive.


From teachers and hotel workers to nurses and auto workers, US labour groups have staged a wave of industrial action in 2019. But Democrats have yet to put forth policies that show they stand with the workers in this punishing economic climate, says Malaika Jabali.

Despite this growing progressive fervor, the Democrats’ congressional leadership – including Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer – have focused almost entirely on targeting Donald Trump.


Gardner Minshew II, the Jacksonville Jaguars’ mustachioed rookie quarterback, has turned out to be far more than just an Uncle Rico lookalike, writes Hunter Felt. The first four games of his NFL career constitute one of the most impressive quarterback stretches in Jaguars history.

Leicester City travel to Anfield on Saturday, hoping to derail Liverpool’s perfect league start, while on Sunday Manchester United and Newcastle will both want to hit their stride after a slow spell when they face each other at St James’ Park. Those are two of 10 things to look out for in the Premier League this weekend.

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RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

3rd Democrat joins Indiana governor’s race with GOP backer

Updated 7:54 pm EDT, Tuesday, October 8, 2019

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A Democratic state senator formally entered the Indiana governor’s race Tuesday with the state’s Republican schools chief by his side.

First-term state Sen. Eddie Melton announced his campaign before several dozen supporters in his northwestern Indiana hometown of Gary. Melton is the third Democrat to enter the race for the party’s nomination to challenge Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb in next year’s election.

Republican state schools Superintendent Jennifer McCormick introduced Melton as a great legislator who reached out to her in bipartisanship to discuss education issues. McCormick drew a rebuke from top Republicans when she joined Melton at several public meetings over the summer as he considered entering the governor’s race.

Melton maintains that the Republican-led state government hasn’t adequately tackled issues such as improving education funding, teacher pay, health care access and economic growth and increasing the state’s minimum wage.

“A lot of people in the state of Indiana feel that state government is not paying attention, is not focusing on issues that concern them and matter to them the most,” Melton told The Associated Press ahead of his announcement. “These are things that people across the board feel, that we as a state are not being responsive enough.”

Holcomb has a big front-runner advantage while he seeks re-election, with at least $6 million in his campaign account and Republicans holding every statewide elected offices and supermajorities in both chambers of the Legislature. Holcomb has touted what he says are record hiring commitments from businesses since he took office in 2017 and investments in numerous infrastructure projects that were made while managing to protect the state’s top-level credit rating and $2 billion surplus.

Melton, 38, was appointed to the state Board of Education in 2015 by then-Gov. Mike Pence and was elected to the state Senate the following year.

He has become the point person for Senate Democrats on education issues, pushing a plan during this year’s legislative session that sought to guarantee a minimum 5% pay raise for teachers by reducing state funding for vouchers for students to attend private schools, eliminating proposed funding increases for charter schools and stretching out state payments toward a teacher pension fund.

The proposal was rejected by the Republican-dominated Senate, which backed a new state budget that boosts base school spending by 2.5% in each of the next two years.

McCormick’s participation with Melton lays bare her split from Holcomb and GOP legislative leaders since she was elected to be state schools superintendent in 2016 with Republican Party support. She has disagreed with Republicans legislators on issues including the use of standardized testing to rate schools and teachers, and her support for increased scrutiny of charter and voucher schools that receive state money.

State GOP Chairman Kyle Hupfer, who is Holcomb’s campaign manager, blasted McCormick in July as “auditioning” for the Democratic lieutenant governor nomination and questioning whether she is still a Republican.

McCormick said in a recent interview that such reaction was “comical” and “disappointing.”

“We see all that happening at the federal level, where it is so polarizing that it’s disgusting,” she told The Associated Press. “I was hoping at the Indiana level, the state level, that we could at least be a model to show that you can come together in thought and come together and reach across the aisle in support.”

Holcomb wouldn’t discuss on Tuesday what he called the Democrats’ “intramural competition,” or the split with McCormick.

“Her decisions are her decisions alone,” Holcomb said. “I’m going to continue to do my job. One that I enjoy.”

Also seeking the Democratic nomination are Woody Myers, a 65-year-old health care business executive and former state health commissioner, and 34-year-old tech business executive Josh Owens.

Myers and Melton are black, and if either is nominated, he would be the first African American on the Democratic or Republican ticket for Indiana governor or lieutenant governor. Owens is trying to become the first openly gay gubernatorial nominee.

Indiana Democratic leaders for many years have worked to avoid primary contests for statewide races, seeking to maintain party unity and preserve campaign cash for the November elections.

Democratic state Rep. Robin Shackleford of Indianapolis, who chairs the Indiana Black Legislative Caucus, said that although that group is endorsing Melton, she doesn’t think a contested primary would divide African Americans or other Democrats.

“I don’t think this race will create any more controversy within the party just because we have three qualified candidates there,” she said. “Whoever comes out and wins, I don’t think it’s going to leave a tear between the Democrats.”

Celebrate 400 years of extraordinary African-American women

RICHMOND, Va. – Delegate Delores McQuinn is proud of the upcoming Legacy Brunch- Celebrating the 400 Year Legacy of Extraordinary African-American Women. The event will take place on Saturday, October 12th from 11am – 2pm at the Peter Paul Development Center located at 1708 N. 22nd Street in Richmond.

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Wall Street weighs a President Warren

Editor’s Note: This edition of Morning Money is published weekdays at 8 a.m. POLITICO Pro Financial Services subscribers hold exclusive early access to the newsletter each morning at 5:15 a.m. Learn more about POLITICO Pro’s comprehensive policy intelligence coverage, policy tools and services at

Wall Street weighs a President Warren — While top executives on Wall Street may be freaking out about Elizabeth Warren’s rise, analysts in the industry are starting to soberly assess what her impact in the White House might be on specific sectors. The biggest impacts would likely be in finance, health care and energy, though all would be limited with a GOP Senate.

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Via JPMorgan’s Michael Cembalest: “Senator Warren occupies a place on an empirically derived political spectrum that is considerably to the left of 20th century Democratic Presidents …

“[T]he greatest valuation risks would be in store for the following, in alphabetical order: banks (large and mid-sized), biotech, chemicals, energy … healthcare managed payers/service providers…”

CapAlpha’s Ian Katz: “The finance industry recognizes that Warren … knows how to connect with the public and make weedy proposals resonate … If she were to ramble on about carried interest, voters would yawn. But by invoking job losses at Sears, Shopko and Toys ‘R Us, she draws crowds.”

Powell pushes back — Fed Chairman Jerome Powell has not made a habit of directly engaging the many attacks from President Trump. So it was pretty notable that he made an exception, though somewhat obliquely as our Victoria Guida notes, on Monday.

Powell never mentioned Trump in the remarks, in keeping with tradition. But the message was clear: He will not make any decisions on rates that are not in the best interest of the economy just because of angry tweets or whisper campaigns about his job security.

GOOD TUESDAY MORNING — Email me at and follow me on Twitter @morningmoneyben. Email Aubree Eliza Weaver at and follow her on Twitter @AubreeEWeaver.

NFIB survey at 6:00 a.m. expected to dip to 102.5 from 103.1 … Producer prices at 8:30 a.m. expected to rise 0.1 percent headline and 0.2 percent core … President Trump awards the Presidential Medal of Freedom to former AG Ed Meese at 4:30 p.m.

KUDLOW SAYS NO LINK BETWEEN BIDEN AND CHINA TALKS — During a gaggle at the White House, NEC Director Larry Kudlow said Trump’s call on China to investigate Joe Biden and his family would play no role in trade talks set to start up again Thursday in Washington: “The president’s view is there is no linkage between that and the trade talks … I guarantee there will be no linkage.”

Asked if Trump was “joking” about the China investigation — which he wasn’t — Kudlow said: “I don’t honestly know.”

MM SIDEBAR — The Chinese can easily isolate the Biden stuff from trade talks. But their incentive to make a sweeping deal with Trump is now extremely limited. They know Trump is in a weakened position facing impeachment along with a slowing economy, especially in the manufacturing sector.

They’ve signaled they are unwilling to even discuss major structural changes to the way they manage their economy. They seem much more likely to either force a limited face-saving deal from Trump or wait him out.

FIRST LOOK — Speaking of the trade war, Weijian Shan, Chair and CEO of PAG in a new piece for Foreign Affairs: “There have been over a dozen rounds of high-level negotiations without any real prospect of a settlement …

“Trump thinks that tariffs will convince China to cave in … China may be willing to budge on some issues, such as buying more U.S. goods … but not to the extent demanded by the Trump administration … The numbers suggest that Washington is not winning this trade war.”

TALLYING THE IMPACT — IHS Markit’s Ben Herzon and Joel Prakken: “We estimate that the increase of trade policy uncertainty from 2014 through 2018 lowered real investment spending and GDP by about $100 billion, or 0.5% of real GDP. So far this year, trade policy uncertainty has been about as elevated as it was last year”

STUDY SUGGESTS PRIVATE EQUITY CAUSES JOB LOSSSES — Our Zachary Warmbrodt: “An academic study of private equity buyouts found significant evidence of job losses at once publicly traded companies after takeovers, though not at privately held firms, a discovery that could complicate efforts to rein in the industry.”

G-20 PREP — Our Bjarke Smith-Meyer: “Trade protectionism, digital tax and Facebook’s plans for a virtual currency are all set for debate at the meeting of finance ministers and central bankers from G20 countries in Washington later this month.

“EU ministers are primed to push on those points in the meeting — and potentially set off a clash with the U.S. — according to a Council document, obtained by POLITICO. The document sets out the bloc’s shared ‘terms of reference’ for European messages to the gathering. The three-page item bemoans how trade tensions between the U.S., China and the EU are putting global growth at risk. Washington, for example, is considering tariffs of up to $7.5 billion on EU exports a year.

BIDEN TRIES TO RALLY THE TROOPS — CNBC’s Brian Schwartz: “Joe Biden’s campaign — which is grappling with weakening poll numbers, a disappointing third-quarter fundraising haul and attacks from … Trump over Ukraine ties — rallied its leading donors and fundraisers over the weekend in Philadelphia as it looks to reestablish momentum in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination.

“That means increased emphasis on Super Tuesday primaries March 3, when 40% of delegates are up for grabs, and not necessarily on the earliest nominating states, Iowa and New Hampshire, where campaigns usually seek to grab an early toehold in presidential races.”

MAJOR STOCK INDEXES VEER LOWER – AP’s Alex Veiga: “A day of choppy trading on Wall Street ended Monday with stocks broadly lower as the market extended its losing streak into a fourth week.

“Technology stocks, consumer goods makers, health care companies and banks accounted for much of the selling, which accelerated in the last hour of trading, erasing modest gains from midday.”

INVESTORS SHOULD FEAR MORE COMPETITION AMONG RATINGS COMPANIES — WSJ’s Jon Sindreu: “Inflated ratings on complex debt structures were one of the culprits of the 2008 financial crisis. While standards have since tightened a lot, new ratings companies threaten to loosen them again.”

HEDGE FUNDS POST BEST PERFORMANCE IN YEARS — Bloomberg’s Vincent Bielski: “Hedge funds are kicking into a higher gear. They gained 4.9 percent on average in the first three quarters of 2019, the best performance in this span since 2013, according to a report Monday from Hedge Fund Research. Equity strategies are leading the gains, followed by event-driven on an asset-weighted basis.”

KUDLOW: DELISTING CHINESE FIRMS ‘NOT ON THE TABLE’ — Reuters’ Pete Schroeder: “Trump’s chief economic adviser on Monday said the administration had begun studying U.S. investor protections in China, but that delisting Chinese companies traded on U.S. exchanges ‘is not on the table.’ ‘The delisting is not on the table. I don’t know where that came from,’ Larry Kudlow told reporters.

“‘What we’re looking at, actually, is investor protection, U.S. investor protections … transparency and compliance with a number of laws,’ he said, citing complaints from exchanges. He added that the administration had convened a ‘study group’ to examine those issues, but said it was ‘very early’ in its deliberations.”

WORLD BANK JOINS WARNINGS ABOUT GLOBAL GROWTH — Bloomberg’s Sarah McGregor and Jeff Kearns: “World Bank President David Malpass said the global economic outlook is deteriorating amid Brexit-related uncertainty, trade tensions and a downturn in Europe.”

HEART ATTACK COMPLICATES THINGS FOR SANDERS — Our Holly Otterbein and David Siders: “Bernie Sanders has been sidelined for nearly a week — after failing for almost three days to disclose that he had a heart attack. It’s unclear when the 78-year-old senator will return to the stump. His campaign has yet to divulge the severity of his heart attack.

“And that sequence of events unfolded as he’s been eclipsed in the polls by the other progressive icon in the race, Elizabeth Warren. Now Sanders and his campaign are laboring to contain the cloud of uncertainty that’s formed over his candidacy.”

WALL STREET AND #METOO — The Intercept’s Susan Antilla: “At a time when the long-term consequences of #MeToo on women’s careers is an open question, the lessons from Wall Street’s moment are sobering.

“We scoured court records, tracked down women plaintiffs and defendants in those marquee lawsuits, examined records in the arbitration database kept by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, or FINRA, and spoke with a dozen employment lawyers who had collectively handled thousands of discrimination cases over the years.”

NEW FROM McKINSEY ON RACE AND AUTOMATION — New research from McKinsey “shows that African American workers are disproportionately represented in occupations and geographic areas where automation has higher risks of job displacement. The findings show that the challenges automation poses are not uniform—gender, education, and age can all factor into a worker’s risk.”

South Carolina Hosts African American History Conference – Higher Education

Last week, over a thousand academics, activists and students gathered in Charleston, South Carolina for the 104th Conference of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History.

This year, the conference theme was Black Migrations, primarily focused on African-American history from the 20th century through modern day.

Dr. Carter G. Woodson

The five-day conference featured over 200 sessions, including panels, plenaries, workshops and a film festival. Sessions covered issues ranging from contemporary issues like reparations to historical phenomena like 20th century African Americans’ journey from Southern farms to cities.

Multiple panels focused on education, including a panel titled “Movin’ On Up?: Exploring Black Migration and Education in the U.S” and “Remembering Our Roots: The Influence of Education and it’s Impact on Black Families during the era of the Great Migration.”

Prominent scholars like Dr. Mary Frances Berry and poet Nikki Giovanni were in attendance.

The conference was originally created by Dr. Carter G. Woodson – also the founder of Black History Month – to delve into African American history and life in America.