This day in black history: Dr. Carter G. Woodson was born

Woodson

Photo: Wikicommons

On today, December 19, 2013, Atlanta Free Speech celebrates the birth and life of Dr. Carter G. Woodson.  Woodson’s most famous work, The Mis-Education of the Negro, is a work that is still relevant today and calls for us to continue to question the state of blacks in America in relation to race, sex, class, and gender issues that are prevalent among the race.  He is also the founder of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History and a founding member of the Journal of Negro History. Woodson also pushed for legislation to acknowledge February as Black History Month, thus, making him the “Father of Black History.”  When remembering Dr. Woodson, let us think about the meaning of his infamous words…

“When you control a man’s thinking you do not have to worry about his actions.  You do  not have to tell him not to stand here, or go yonder.  He will find his “proper place” and will stay in it.  You do not need to send him to the back door.  He will go without being told.  In fact, if there is no back door, he will cut one for his special benefit.  His education makes it necessary.”- Dr. Carter G. Woodson

If you would like to learn more about this pioneer of Black Studies and Black History, works by Woodson, and on him are below.

  • The Education of the Negro Prior to 1861 (1915)
  • A Century of Negro Migration (1918)
  • The History of the Negro Church (1921)
  • The Negro in Our History (1922)
  • Free Negro Owners of Slaves in the United States in 1830, Together With Absentee Ownership of Slaves in the United States in 1830 (1924)
  • Free Negro Heads of Families in the United States in 1830, Together With a Brief Treatment of the Free Negro (1925)
  • Negro Orators and Their Orations (1925)
  • The Mind of the Negro as Reflected in Letters Written During the Crisis, 1800–1860 (1927)
  • Negro Makers of History (1928)
  • African Myths, Together With Proverbs (1928)
  • The Rural Negro (1930)
  • The Negro Wage Earner (1930)
  • The Mis-Education of the Negro (1933)
  • The Negro Professional Man and the Community, With Special Emphasis on the Physician and the Lawyer (1934)
  • The Story of the Negro Retold (1935)
  • The African Background Outlined: Or, Handbook for the Study of the Negro (1936)
  • African Heroes and Heroines (1939)
  • The Works of Francis J. Grimké (1942)
  • Carter G. Woodson’s Appeal: The Lost Manuscript Edition (2008)

 

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Diversity in the tech community

Currently the tech industry has realized there is a lack of diversity from boardrooms to those introducing innovative ideas.  Lucrative pay structures, business opportunity and upward mobility are the heart of the issue when it comes to the absence of a diverse workforce. Internal data from major companies has confirmed that white males own a high majority of firms as well as employee representation. Due to the lack of minority workers, over a lifetime this affects future earning opportunity and wealth accumulation.  Non-profits and STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math) programs focused on diversity are openly recruiting and partnering with major companies to address this disparity.

diversityMillennial Blacks and Hispanics are now at a very interesting crossroad to access web development, coding and other tech skills for many of the products they use as consumers.  Minorities are ahead of the curve when it comes to utilizing emerging technology and being early adopters of the latest app trends.  Now, how do we make this large minority realize that in addition to learning the required skills it is equally imperative to shift from employees to business owners?  Exposure to running a business while also affording other minorities job opportunities is essential to self-sustainment. If you do not own it, you do not control it.  Education within the technology sector can create wealth to last for generations to come.

An economic and psychological shift will occur through implementing wealth creation and understanding the impact of supporting minority owned businesses.  As non-profit programs such as #YesWeCode and Code2040 train those from minority low and middle class incomes, we will begin to see a generation that will support themselves and train future groups.  Careers such as web development and computer programming will create a class of innovative creators that companies will want to engage and hire.  As minority groups recover from the economic recession and rebuild themselves, societal issues such as racism, crime, and high unemployment will be addressed head on.

Tech outreach programs will provide exposure to elementary and middle aged students to successful, enriching careers. Not only will Harvard and Stanford students be recruited for Silicon Valley, but also minority institutions and historically black colleges and universities.  It will take a collective collaboration from our entire country beginning with students to demand greater access and challenge the current economic status quo.  Working a job for 30 plus years is now a mere fantasy and various skill sets are required to thrive in our fast paced society.  Creativity and ambition is at the core of succeeding in this ever revolving industry.

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Cleveland community discussion offers a pillar of hope for African Americans

Ronnie

Photo: Ronnie Holman

On November 22, 2014, 12-year-old Tamir Rice was shot and killed by a police officer in Cleveland, Ohio at the Cudell Recreation Center. The death of young Tamir has hit headlines across the country as he is the youngest of the latest cop killings of Black males.

Ferguson, Missouri failed to indict Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown. New York refused to indict a Stanton Island police officer after he appeared to have choked Eric Garner to death on July 17, 2014. As a result, this has caused a slew of protests across the country and looting in Ferguson.

On Monday, December 8, 2014, Dr. R.A. Vernon and the “Word” Church in Cleveland, Ohio hosted a roundtable discussion with local clergy and elected officials. Cleveland Police Chief, Calvin Williams was the only officer on the panel and stood firmly by the officer’s decision to shot and kill Tamir Rice.

“It’s not Tamir Rice’s fault he’s dead, but it’s also not the fault of that officer,” Williams said. “There are a lot of things that happened prior that people don’t know about which led to that officer making that decision.”

As Williams continued to speak, the massive crowd began to become inpatient with the Police Chief. They groaned and some even booed in obvious disagreement with his statements. Gerald Thompson, a residence of nearby Akron, who grew up on the Eastside of Cleveland was in attendance and he felt the emotional roller coaster.

“My emotions throughout the entire roundtable discussion were up and down,” Thompson said. “I felt completely down with most responses by the Chief when he addressed the culture of the Cleveland Police Department.”

Protest increases visibility of a cause and demonstrates power. Therefore, the attempt to find a resolution was clear. However, Thompson believes the roundtable discussion may not have found a resolution.

“I heard one resolution and that was the system itself needs to be held accountable for these types of situations,” Thompson said. “More than just the faces of the police and politicians need to be held accountable.”

According to The New York Times, the Justice Department announced that a nearly two-year civil rights investigation into the Cleveland Police Department found a pattern of “unreasonable and unnecessary use of force” that resulted in dangerous and reckless behavior by officers, pointing out the kinds of problems that have angered Black residents here and set off demonstrations across the country in recent weeks.

These findings go back to the shooting deaths of Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams in 2012. 13 Cleveland police officers fired 137 shots, but only 6 were charged in that case. An officer thought Russell and Williams fired shots from their vehicle, yet they both were found unarmed.

Another panelist, Dr. William Myers of Ashland Theological Seminary, believes officers should get more involved with the community to get to know people. He felt sending officers to churches and recreation centers will bridge the gap between the community and police officers.

“Send a couple police officers to our churches every week so we can get to know them and they can get to know us,” Myers said. “There is a gap in how we are treated.”

Certain police officers are members at local churches and know people within their communities. An African-American Cleveland police officer for over 15 years, who wished to be anonymous, said Tamir Rice’s death could have been prevented. The officer feels both the driver and the passenger should have used a more suitable tactic.

“The officer should have never pulled that close to Tamir and put him and his partner in harms way,” the officer said. “If he had pulled far enough away he could have given verbal commands over the PA.”

Unfortunately, some school-aged children are carrying guns and terrorizing their neighborhoods. Delilah Stedmire, a mother of three and Cleveland resident, received a call regarding her children being robbed. Her two youngest kids, ages 11 and 14, were robbed at gunpoint by 12-year-old kids. Stedmire believes Tamir Rice didn’t deserve to lose his life nor any other kid, even though she thinks that certain children are dangerous.

“The police were wrong for being so aggressive and Tamir was old enough to know better, but his death was not justified,” Stedmire said. “The 12 year olds that robbed my babies were dangerous and made a conscious decision because they had real guns.”

Frank Jackson, who has been the Mayor of Cleveland since 2006, was on the panel as well and answered some tough questions. Understandably, he was a bit emotional when talking about young citizens losing their lives in the city of Cleveland.

“At the end of the day, I am as hurt as anyone,” Jackson said. “The death of any child under any circumstances particularly by those who are responsible for protecting them–you cannot accept or justify that.”

Many African Americans may wonder, “Where do we go from here,” but many may decide to choose their own path. Some may consider this to be the modern day civil rights movement. However, one fact remains the same, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Eric Garner and Tamir Rice all lost their lives and as of yet, no convictions have been made.

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The Cosby scandal, race and rape culture

CultureFew subjects can spark such sharp divisiveness and heated rhetoric as a high-profile sexual assault scandal. The recent allegations against Bill Cosby have all the ingredients to create a media firestorm and a furious public debate. The story boasts provocative details, a long list of accusers, and the potential undoing of an American icon. Some of the dividing lines in this debate are racial, gender-based, and even economic on some levels. The public will probably never know the full and complete truth because, presumably, Mr. Cosby will not be charged with any crime because of the time that has passed. Nevertheless, the charged conversations that have emerged as a result of the Cosby story can teach us a lot more about ourselves than we ever wanted to know.

What came first, being black or being female?

When this story first broke, a number of individuals asked about my opinion of the allegations. Most of my associates presume me to be “militant” and therefore expected a sufficiently “militant” reply. They expected me to rail against the mostly white accusers and their supposedly vicious lies. They expected me to staunchly defend Dr. Cosby as a highly respected bastion of African-American leadership. They would’ve preferred me to label the whole situation as a smear campaign, maliciously aimed at muddying Bill Cosby’s good name. This time I would not live up to their expectations.

It’s hard to form an opinion with no facts and all hearsay (at least it’s hard for some of us). The Cosby narrative boils down to his word versus hers (multiple hers in this case) in the most literal sense of the term; and when I try to form an opinion I come into direct conflict with myself. Too often these pop culture celebrity scandals leave Black women, in particular, in a precarious situation especially when the accused is a prominent Black man. If you speak out against the man, your solidarity with the race is questioned. If you speak out against his accuser(s), you risk letting down fellow feminists of all creeds and colors. As a result, many women of color remain silent. The fact of the matter is that we must accept that it is possible for great men to commit terrible acts. We also know that all women are not perfect and sometimes women lie. The important thing here is not for us to decide Cosby’s innocence or guilt; rather the most important takeaway is how we as a society talk about and respond to the alleged victims of sexual assault and rape.

Whether one believes the accusers or not, each woman’s voice must be heard. We do a disservice to every victim of sexual assault when our first response is to immediately dismiss an accuser. We have no idea what the facts are in this case, but here is something that we know for sure: one in every six American women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime and only about 40% of all rapes and sexual assaults are ever reported according to the U.S. Department of Justice National Crime Victimization Survey. To effectively quell the voice of the accusers by attempting to shame and discredit them can have dire consequences on a generation that already has a poor track record when it comes to creating an environment that encourages victims to seek justice.

What does this mean for young women?

My greatest fear about how we react to the Cosby news is what our reactions tell young women about our value system and our culture. If we fail to bear witness to and give credence to the stories of these fifteen women, then what will we tell our daughters when they muster up the courage to come forward and tell their truth? Instead of continually asking why these women waited so long to come forward, we would do better to encourage younger women to heed their example and not wait to report when they feel that they have been attacked. Instead of assuming that these women are conspiring to bring down a powerful man, we must consider the possibility that many women speak out as an act of reclamation of their own personal power. They are freeing themselves from the stigma of victimhood and this usually has very little to do with their alleged attacker. As troublesome as current events have been for the lives of Cosby and his accusers, the general public has a grand opportunity to repair the manner in which we talk about rape and we may even be able to improve the way that we treat victims of sexual assault.

Perhaps even more important, what does this teach young men?

As a mother of sons, I am acutely aware of how quickly a seemingly innocent situation can turn into a nightmare for all involved. In my own home, there have been prickly conversations about unspoken language and consent. To borrow a saying from a friend, I have made it clear, in no uncertain terms, that no girl ever owes my son’s erect penis anything. Ever. Period. This rather blunt and frank language is necessary in a culture that prefers to cloak rape and sexual assault under the cover innuendo and slut-shaming.

When we have conversations about rape in this country, too often we focus on the victims’ motives, attire, behavior, and alcohol intake. As a parent, I am actually insulted at the lack of responsibility that we place upon boys. I physically cringe every time that I hear comments like, “boys will be boys” or “all men are dogs”. It almost insinuates that by virtue of having been born with a penis and not a vagina, boys are somehow naturally inclined to behave as animals, exhibiting no self-control. It’s as if the moment that a young man is exposed to a short skirt and an ounce of alcohol, he forgets everything that he has been taught about self-respect and is suddenly absolved of all expectations that he will behave respectfully. This type of thinking is simply wrong and has to change. Our approach to the Cosby incident can either reinforce this backwards thinking or propel us on to a new path.

Right now in America, there is a talented, gifted, exceptional young man watching this story unfold. Perhaps he is an aspiring actor, doctor, athlete, or entertainer. Maybe Dr. Cosby is one of his personal heroes. Maybe he never knew much about Bill Cosby until the recent story broke. Undoubtedly, young women will cross his path on his rise towards success. If and when he finds himself in a “sticky” situation with one of those young ladies, how will he respond? What–are we teaching him?

 

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Usher: The UR Experience Tour in Atlanta

UsherHot on the heels of a blockbuster performance at this year’s MTV Video Music Awards and the release of his new single/video “She Came To Give It To You,” global megastar, Usher will tour North America this fall, bringing The UR Experience to fans in 27 cities, including a stop at Philips Arena in Atlanta on Tuesday, December 9, 2014.

Packed with an impressive repertoire of smash hits spanning his 20-year career, the critically-acclaimed showman will give his fans a unique experience that only the multi-talented Usher can deliver. His show will include a fresh take on early and recent songs as well as new music from his anticipated forthcoming eighth studio album.

“With The UR Experience, I want to give my fans an ever-changing live show full of surprises and special guests,” says Usher. “I am really excited to be with my fans and give them an Usher experience like they’ve never seen or heard before.” 

Tickets for the Atlanta date are on sale now at www.livenation.com, www.ticketmaster.com, Philips Arena Box Office, by phone (800) 745-3000 and via the Live Nation Mobile App.

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Come as you are

come as you areOver the years, I have developed a habit of reinforcing important personal principles and ideals by writing them down and hanging them up in my office. They’re on the wall, the cabinets and the door. Amongst the wise words aligned neatly in a row of sticky notes is the following sentiment: “Being gay is natural. Hating gay people is a lifestyle choice.” I am not sure who originally said it, but I heard it for the first time when Thomas Roberts said it one morning on MSNBC’s Way Too Early. The quote caught my attention immediately. I put it on the wall as soon as I got to my office.

I wish that I could say that I was brought up in a tolerant, liberal environment that encouraged me to accept individuals exactly as they are. But I wasn’t. I was raised in the Deep South in a Pentecostal church, where I was taught that simply being born different could be a cardinal sin and that God was a judging, condemning being that was to be feared above all. Thankfully, I have since grown up and experience has proved that different isn’t dangerous. In fact, it is the diversity of our lives and experiences that make the world a rich and endearing place. Each of us is fearfully and wonderfully made no matter what we look like, where we are born, or whom we love. I was uniquely blessed with a little bit of help in coming to this worldview. I am lucky enough to have a courageous big brother. He is an openly gay, African-American man and, as of this past June, an ordained minister. He lives his life with the kind of beauty and bravery that I can only hope and pray that my own children will inherit. So, when the now infamous Andrew Caldwell video went viral a couple of weeks ago, my reaction came from an interesting place to say the least.

Like most people that I know, the first time that I saw the video filled with Mr. Caldwell’s seemingly visceral and hyperbolic emotions about his sexuality, I initially laughed. I’m human. But after re-examining the clip and also seeing other comments made during the Church of God in Christ Holy Convocation (the event where all this apparently occurred), I thought about my evangelical roots and then I thought about my brother, his partner and their experiences. Whether Mr. Caldwell is just a fly-by-night “internet sensation” or an oppressed gay man trying desperately to gain acceptance from his own community or an individual that sincerely views homosexuality as an abomination and truly doesn’t want to be gay, we as an African-American community owe him and others like him more than making his name a punch line. It’s time for a genuine, public conversation about the evangelical Black church and its demonization of the LGBT community. The longer that we allow one of our most powerful institutions to teach our children to point and laugh at and ostracize an entire segment of our population, the longer we will have to wait to see real progress and advancement in our communities. It is often said that an oppressed people eventually learn to become oppressors. Unfortunately, certain segments of the Black church have made this statement true. We often forget that the same Bible that so many of use to pass judgment on homosexuals, was used by slaveholders to justify the systematic dehumanization of African slaves in America. Not one single word in the Bible has changed. No matter which side you fall on in this debate, we must realize that this is a debate worth having and taking seriously. Personally, I wish Mr. Caldwell the best and I hope that he achieves all that he wishes to achieve in this life. That’s my sincere hope for all human beings. I prefer to live in a world where people are free to be themselves and to love themselves, exactly as they are.

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World AIDS Day

World AIDS Day is held on 1 December each year and is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, show their support for people living with HIV and to commemorate people who have died. World AIDS Day was the first ever global health day and the first one was held in 1988.

Around 34 million people are currently living with HIV globally. More than 25 million people between 1981 and 2007 have died from the virus, making it one of the most destructive pandemics in history.

world-aids-dayToday, many scientific advances have been made in HIV treatment. There are laws to protect people living with HIV and so much more is now understood about the condition. Despite this, people do not know the facts about how to protect themselves and others from HIV, and stigma and discrimination remain a reality for many people living with HIV. World AIDS Day is important as it reminds the public and the government that HIV has not gone away – there is still a vital need to raise money, increase awareness, fight prejudice and improve education.

World AIDS Day is an opportunity to learn the facts about HIV and put that knowledge into action. This knowledge can be used to take care of your own health and the health of others, and ensure that everyone living with HIV is treated fairly, and with respect and understanding.

Also, people can show support for people living with HIV on World AIDS Day by wearing a red ribbon, the international symbol of HIV awareness and support.

World AIDS Day is also a great opportunity to raise money for nonprofit HIV support groups, as well as show support for people living with HIV.

Although World AIDS Day is a great opportunity to get the public talking about HIV and fundraise, people should remember the importance of raising awareness of HIV all year round.

By WorldAidsDay.org

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Search on for suspects in cell tower copper thefts

Search on for suspects in cell tower copper thefts



Someone or a couple of people are stealing copper from cell towers in the Lehigh – Buckingham area to the tune of $100,000 and investigators with the Lee County Sheriff’s Department say more towers may be hit and more copper […]

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Apple, Google encryption ‘not helping’ criminal investigation: AFP

Access to encryption technology, the growth of cloud services, and the Internet of Things pose challenges to the way the Australian Federal Police (AFP) investigates both traditional and online criminal activity. Speaking at the CeBIT GovInnovate conference in Canberra on […]

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DOJ scores two cyber crime wins

The Justice Department scored several more punches blows against cyber criminals this week. In separate cases, a judge imprisoned another member of a massive bank hacking ring and the government secured a guilty plea in its first ever conviction for […]

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