Marc H. Morial
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On Jan. 8, 2011, I was performing my favorite duty as a congresswoman — meeting with my constituents — when it happened. In a matter of seconds, a gunman shot and killed six people, injured 12 others and shot me in the head outside a Safeway in Tucson, Ariz. I keep the memories of those we lost that day — 9-year- old Christina- Taylor Green, Dorothy Morris, Phyllis Schneck, Dorwan Stoddard, Gabe Zimmerman and Judge John Roll — close to my heart. And I will be forever bonded to my fellow survivors who will spend the rest of their lives dealing with injuries and trauma. — Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords
“When districts with prisons receive enhanced representation, every other district in the state without a prison sees its votes diluted. And this vote dilution is even larger in the districts with the highest incarceration rates. Thus, the communities that bear the most direct costs of crime are therefore the communities that are the biggest victims of prison-based gerrymandering. The Census Bureau’s decision to count incarcerated people in the wrong place interferes with equal representation in virtually every state.” — Prison Policy Initiative, The Prison Gerrymandering Project
A report that hate crimes surged in America’s five largest cities last year has broken just as we honor the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the nation’s best known victim of a hate crime.
“I thought it was the greatest thing in the world that he was going to be our mayor. He was someone who looked like us and fought for the things we believed in and needed.
“The fact that there’s a conversation that occurs on an annual basis on World AIDS Day is significant. The fact that the president of the United States, on an annual basis, now, comments and discusses AIDS, keeps it on the agenda. I think a very, very concrete outcome of that discussion is that President Bush put forward billions of dollars toward the AIDS prevention and education effort for the United Nations. I don’t think that would’ve happened had it not been for World AIDS Day ...” — Jim Block, co-founder of World AIDS Day
“Black America’s collective response to emerging technology will determine whether it is an opportunity or an existential threat.” – George H. Lambert Jr., president and chief executive officer of the Greater Washington Urban League
In recent days, America lost two influential African-Americans who served as high-ranking members of the Congressional Black Caucus — Rep. Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland and former Rep. John Conyers of Michigan. Their loss has served to reaffirm the importance of the CBC and the election of dedicated public servants.
by Marc H. Morial
It’s hard to express how great a loss the death of Congressman Elijah E. Cummings represents for the civil rights community.
“Any attempt by a President to use the office of the presidency of the United States for personal political gain — rather than the national interest — fundamentally undermines our sovereignty, democracy and the Constitution ... Misuse of the office of the presidency for such a corrupt purpose would thus represent a clear breach of the trust placed in the President to faithfully ex-ecute the laws of the United States and to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution.” – U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff, chair of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence; U.S. Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, chair of the Committee on Oversight and Reform; and U.S. Rep. Eliot L. Engel, chair of the Committee on Foreign Affairs
“The city’s personal-responsibility refrain ... reflects many of the same racial stereotypes found in the emails between police and court supervisors. This evidence of bias and stereotyping, together with evidence that Ferguson has long recognized but failed to correct the consistent racial disparities caused by its police and court practices, demonstrates that the discriminatory effects of Ferguson’s conduct are driven at least in part by discriminatory intent in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment.” – U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, Investigation of the Ferguson Police Department, March 2015
Just over a decade ago, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the FBI produced a report titled “Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment.”
“Oppressive language does more than represent violence; it is violence; does more than represent the limits of knowledge; it limits knowledge. Whether it is obscuring state language or the faux-language of mindless media; whether it is the proud but calcified language of the academy or the commodity driven language of science; whether it is the malign language of law-without-ethics, or language designed for the estrangement of minorities, hiding its racist plunder in its literary cheek –it must be rejected, altered and exposed. It is the language that drinks blood, laps vulnerabilities, tucks its fascist boots under crinolines of respectability and patriotism as it moves relentlessly toward the bottom line and the bottomed-out mind.” — Toni Morrison, Nobel Lecture, 1993
“The U.S. ‘war on drugs’ — a decades-long policy of racial and class suppression hidden behind cannabis criminality — has resulted in the arrest, interdiction and incarceration of a high percentage of Americans of color. The legal cannabis industry represents a great opportunity to help balance the detrimental effects of the war on drugs by creating an equal playing field for all people to benefit from the changing legal landscape.” — Minority Cannabis Business Association
Eric Garner died pleading for his life on a New York City sidewalk. The chokehold that triggered his fatal asthma attack was illegal.
As First Lady, Mrs. Obama earned a singular place in American history as the first black woman to hold the title. But it was her dignity and grace, her compassion and her commitment to uplifting the American people that truly defined her era in the East Wing of the White House.
Civil rights groups and advocates for a fair census breathed a sigh of relief last week when the U.S. Supreme Court rejected the Trump administration’s “contrived” justification for adding a citizenship question to the 2020 Census.
The U.S. intelligence community announced it was “confident” that it happened. A Senate Intelligence Committee report confirmed it. And now the Mueller Report has documented its scope in breathtaking detail.
H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019, is the most significant gun safety bill approved by the U.S. House of Representatives in more than two decades. The legislation requires background checks on all firearm sales in the country.
Last week, the Southern Poverty Law Center announced that the number of hate groups in the United States continued to rise for the fourth consecutive year in 2018.
As a black student in overwhelmingly white schools in Louisiana, I faced my share of racial insults and slights. But one of the more memorable incidents was not even a deliberate slight directed at me. The offenders probably didn’t even think of me. But when a group of my classmates contemptuously affected exaggerated accents mocking black people as part of a school production, I walked out.
Nowhere in the country can a full-time worker earning the federal or state minimum wage afford a two-bedroom apartment at fair market rent. One in nine U.S. workers are paid wages that can leave them in poverty, even when working full time.
“People of color have a constant frustration of not being represented, or being misrepresented, and these images go around the world … I do not think there is going to be any substantial movement until people of color get into those gatekeeper positions of people who have a green-light vote. That is what it comes down to. We do not have a vote, and we are not at that table when it is decided what gets made and what does not get made.” — Spike Lee
“Georgia elections officials deployed a known strategy of voter suppression: closing and relocating polling places. Despite projections of record turnout, elections officials closed or moved approximately 305 locations, many in neighborhoods with numerous voters of color.
The Urban League Movement congratulates two states in the Deep South that took a step out of the dark Jim Crow past by passing major criminal justice reforms on Election Day.
Kalief Browder, a teenager who spent three harrowing years in a New York City jail on charges that eventually were dropped, took his own life as a result of the trauma he suffered.
We don’t yet know — and perhaps may never fully know — to what extent Russian efforts to sabotage American elections succeeded. What we do know is that, in addition to waging a massive disinformation campaign on social media, Kremlin-backed hackers:
“The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.” – James Madison, Federalist 47, 1788
The Main Street Marshall Plan, the National Urban League’s comprehensive blueprint for addressing lack of opportunity and economic inequality in America’s urban communities, has been introduced as federal legislation by members of the Congressional Black Caucus.
A nationwide assessment of the digital economy has found that black Americans are overrepresented as tech consumers, but drastically underrepresented as tech employees, according to the 2018 State of Black America.
“From 1986 to 1996, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sponsored high-quality, peer-reviewed research into the underlying causes of gun violence. People who kept guns in their homes did not — despite their hopes — gain protection … Instead, residents in homes with a gun faced a 2.7-fold greater risk of homicide and a 4.8-fold
“The housing problem is particularly acute in the minority ghettos. Nearly two-thirds of all non-white families living in the central cities today live in neighborhoods marked with substandard housing and general urban blight. Two major factors are responsible. First: Many ghetto residents simply cannot pay the rent necessary to support decent housing. In Detroit, for example, over 40 percent of the non-white occupied units in 1960 required rent of over 35 percent of the tenants’ income. Second: Discrimination prevents access to many non-slum areas, particularly the suburbs, where good housing exists. In addition, by creating a ‘back pressure’ in the racial ghettos, it makes it possible for landlords to break up apartments for denser occupancy, and keeps prices and rents of deteriorated ghetto housing higher than they would be in a truly free market.” – Report of the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders (the Kerner Commission), 1968 Former Vice President Walter Mondale, who co-sponsored the Fair Housing Act along with U.S. Sen. Edward Brooke, the first popularly elected African-American in the U.S. Senate, was interviewed recently on the occasion of the Fair Housing Act’s 50th anniversary.
“Eight days after Bloody Sunday, President Lyndon Johnson spoke to a joint session of the Congress and made one of the most meaningful speeches any American president had made in modern time on the whole question of voting rights and introduced the Voting Rights Act. And at one point in the speech, before President Johnson concluded the
We are long overdue for a discussion about immigration as it relates to black immigrants, particularly at this moment as the current presidential administration clamors to end legal protections for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA recipients. Congressional leaders lurch from one proposed bipartisan solution to another in search of a permanent legislative fix.
“This is our first task, caring for our children. It’s our first job. If we don’t get that right, we don’t get anything right. That’s how, as a society, we will be judged. And by that measure, can we truly say, as a nation, that we’re meeting our obligations? Can we honestly say that we’re doing enough to keep our children, all of them, safe from harm?” — Former President Obama, during 2012 prayer vigil for victims of Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn.
“The film serves as a breath of fresh intellectual air, especially amid today’s sociopolitical climate.
“It is not an overstatement to say that the destiny of the entire human race depends on what is going on in America today. This is a staggering reality to the rest of the world; they must feel like passengers in a supersonic jetliner who are forced to watch helplessly while a passel of drunks, hypes,
“Let us also continue to ensure that our nation responds aggressively and humanely to the needs of people living with HIV and AIDS. Throughout this epidemic, community organizations have taken the lead in the struggle against the disease and in efforts to provide compassionate care to those in need. Across this country and around the globe, generous people perform miracles every day — holding a hand, cooling a fever, listening and understanding. Let us further support their efforts to build a better world by strengthening the partnership between communities and government in the work to stop AIDS.” – President Clinton in 1995 in recognition of World AIDS Day
“This history (of Thanksgiving) teaches us that the American instinct has never been to seek isolation in opposite corners; it is to find strength in our common creed and forge unity from our great
“You can pray until you faint, but unless you get up and do something, God is not going to put it in your lap.” – Fannie Lou Hamer
“We want to make sure we are understanding what the players are talking about, and that is complex.” — National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell
“Rightful taxation is the price of social order. In other words, it is that portion of the citizen’s property which he yields up to the government in order to provide for the protection of all the rest. It is not to be wantonly levied on the citizen, nor levied at all except in return for benefits conferred.” — Journal of the Senate of the State of Ohio, December 6, 1847
“I have been particularly struck by the many comments and reactions from children for whom Harriet Tubman is not just a historical figure, but a role model for leadership and participation in our democracy. You shared your thoughts about her life and her works and how they changed our nation and represented our most cherished values … Her incredible story of courage and commitment to equality embodies the ideals of democracy that our nation celebrates, and we will continue to value her legacy by honoring her on our currency.” — Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew
After 12 historic years leading the North Carolina NAACP, the Rev. William J. Barber II is stepping down from his post and stepping up to the challenge posed by the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. nearly five decades ago to unite the
Voting is not a privilege. It is a fundamental, constitutionally ratified right afforded to all eligible citizens. The right to elect your federal, state and local representatives and weigh in on proposed local policies via ballot is the very definition of democracy — rule by the people.
Hip-hop legend Jay Z celebrated Father’s Day this year by allowing incarcerated fathers to spend the day with their families. Pick any day of the week in America and an estimated 700,000 people are populating our nation’s local city and county jails. Of those behind bars, 60 percent — nearly half a million people, many of whom are African-American and Hispanic — will remain in jail, not because they have been convicted of any crime, but because they are guilty of the unpardonable crime of poverty and cannot afford the court-stipulated price tag placed on their freedom.
The trajectory and predominate narrative of the Civil Rights
Dear Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the 20th century called. It wants its failed, heavy-handed criminal justice policies back. In a throwback to President George W. Bush’s administration, Mr. Sessions is widely expected to formally order all federal prosecutors to impose the harshest sentences for all drug offenses and offenders, including the return of the widely unpopular and discredited mandatory minimums.
Earlier this month, voters in Kansas City, Mo., handily approved three ballot questions that will allow the city to borrow and invest $800 million over 20 years to improve roads, bridges, sidewalks and
“Overall, we conclude that there is an inadequate record to determine if Judge Gorsuch has a commitment to protecting and safeguarding civil rights and, therefore, we do not believe he satisfies the second prong of our requirement for endorsement. Based upon our review of Judge Gorsuch’s record, we have concerns that he has a narrow view of rights that are protected by the Constitution, as well as a skeptical view about the importance of protecting those rights in the courtroom. In short, Judge Gorsuch’s record does not allow us to support his nomination for the Supreme Court at this time.”
During a presidential campaign rally in Dimondale, Mich., Republican nominee Donald Trump made an impassioned, six-word overture to African-Americans, who had shown little enthusiasm for his campaign: “What do you have to lose?”
I’m very proud of what we’ve accomplished together over the past eight years. Here and around the world, over 18 million people are receiving the treatment and care they need — millions of infections have been prevented. What once seemed like an impossible dream, the dream of an AIDS-free generation, is within our grasp. But we know that there’s work to do to banish stigma, save lives and empower everyone to reach their potential…Today we remember those we’ve lost, and reflect on the extraordinary progress we’ve won. We give thanks to the heroes on the front lines of this fight and tomorrow we get back out there, because together, we can do this.” — President Obama’s video message for World AIDS Day on Dec. 1 On June 5, 1981, the Centers for Disease Control published its weekly Morbidity and Mortality Report. The report, which described five cases of previously healthy, young gay men in Los Angeles infected with a rare lung infection, eventually would become recognized as the first official report on HIV/AIDS in the United States.
“I wish I could say that racism and prejudice were only distant memories. We must dissent from the indifference. We must dissent from the apathy. We must dissent from the fear, the hatred and the mistrust ...We must dissent because America can do better, because America has no choice but to do better.” — U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall As far back as June 2015, the National Urban League called upon all presidential candidates to refrain from using racially divisive and disparaging language in their campaigns.
As the general election season begins in earnest, the National Urban League has a message for the next president: Invest in America. When Europe found itself in physical and economic ruin after World War II, the United States invested $13 billion — $130 billion in today’s dollars — through the European Recovery Program, more commonly known as the Marshall Plan, after Secretary of State George Marshall.
“The burden of the brutalized is not to comfort the bystander. That’s not our job, alright, stop with all that. If you have a critique for the resistance, for our resistance, then you better have an established record of critique of our oppression. If you have no interest in equal rights for black people then do not make suggestions to those who do. Sit down.” — Jesse Williams
Day in and day out, men and women all over our country work hard at their jobs but hardly have anything to show for it. As the debate over income inequality and narrowing the ever-widening wealth gap continues to dominate our national and political conversations, private corporations and states are taking matters into their own hands, bridging the dueling divides of income and opportunity by increasing the minimum wage.
“Our nation is moving toward two societies, one black, one white — separate and unequal. This deepening racial division is not inevitable. The movement apart can be reversed. Choice is still possible. Our principal task is to define that choice and to press for a national resolution … [It] will require a commitment to national action —compassionate, massive and sustained, backed by the resources of the most powerful and the richest nation on this earth. From every American it will require new attitudes, new understanding, and, above all, new will.” — Report of the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders (The Kerner Report), 1967
Today, after almost a century of trying; today, after over a year of debate; today, after all the votes have been tallied, health insurance reform becomes law in the United States of America. Today. It is fitting that Congress passed this historic legislation this week. For as we mark the turning of spring, we also mark a new season in America. In a few moments, when I sign this bill, all of the overheated rhetoric over reform will finally confront the reality of reform.” — President Obama at signing of Health Insurance Reform Bill, March 2010
“Three decades into this crisis, let us set our sights on achieving the “three zeros” — zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths. On this World AIDS Day, let us pledge to work together to realize this vision for all of the world’s people.” — Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, United Nations, World AIDS Day 2010
Illegal and unconstitutional jury selection procedures cast doubt on the integrity of the whole judicial process. They create the appearance of bias in the decision of individual cases, and they increase the risk of actual bias as well. – U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, Peters v. Kiff (1972)
The recent visit of Pope Francis to the United States has rekindled our national conversation on how we will protect and care for our marginalized, provide access to our disenfranchised communities and promote justice for all.
All across the country, people are gathering to observe an annual academic rite of passage — graduation. In a scene that will be played out countless times during this season of celebration, family and friends will dutifully take their seats in auditoriums and at sports fields around the nation and proudly look on as their loved ones walk across stages to receive their diplomas or degrees and, finally, turn the tassel on their graduation caps.
“There is no crueler tyranny than that which is perpetuated under the shield of law and in the name of justice.” – Charles de Montesquieu, “The Spirit of the Laws,” 1748 A tragic déjà vu is playing out in communities all across America, particularly in the growingly skeptical streets of black and brown neighborhoods.
“You may be shocked by these words coming from me. But on this pilgrimage, what I have seen, and experienced, has forced me to rearrange much of my thought patterns previously held, and to toss aside some of my previous conclusions. This was not too difficult for me. Despite my firm convictions, I have always been a man who tries to face facts, and to accept the reality of life as new experience and new knowledge unfolds it.” ~ Malcolm X, Letter from Mecca, April 1964 Perhaps no American civil rights leader has generated as many divergent opinions as Malcolm X. As we near the 50th anniversary of his assassination on Feb. 21, 1965, our nation will scrutinize his life, his work and his lasting impact on our country and our continuous struggle to address racial inequality and its heinous consequences.