June 30, 2012

Obama's Weekly Address: An All-Hands-On-Deck Approach to Fighting the Colorado Wildfires

President Obama speaks to the American people from Colorado, where he toured areas impacted by the devastating Waldo Canyon fire and met with first responders as well as families affected by the fires. The President thanks the brave firefighters and countless volunteers who are providing food, water, and shelter to those in need, and makes clear that his administration will continue to bring all resources available to assist efforts to combat the fires.

The prayers of our 'village' are with the people of Colorado.

June 29, 2012

OURStory: Wartime Propaganda Posters

Drumbeats from Jamie inform us about an aspect of OURstory that is rarely told.

The Smithsonian has a current exhibit of posters and one of the sections is on wartime propaganda.

Two of the posters in the section on World War II feature African Americans (one with a black sailor and the other with Joe Lewis). Considering the segregation of the forces it was an interesting recruitment incentive. The images are truly interesting.

Asante sana to Jamie for sharing this historical tidbit. We welcome referrals from villagers to other little-known aspects of Black history.

June 28, 2012

Supreme Court Upholds Obamacare

President Barack Obama came out as a winner when the Supreme Court upheld his signature health care reform legislation. Mitt Romney and the GOP leaders in Congress were hoping that the Supreme Court will declare the individual insurance mandate to be unconstitutional. Chief Justice John Roberts turned that hope on its ear when he was part of the 5-4 majority that upheld the mandate.

Presidents have been trying for decades to reform health care. Barack Obama is the first one to do it ... and Justice Roberts decided found a creative way to let the law stand. This is a big victory for Obama, Democrats and the American people. Methinks that history will look very kindly on the legislative accomplishments of our president.

First, Obama won victory in his battle with Arizona's 'Papers Please' law ... and now this victory with Obamacare. The way things are going I wouldn't be surprised to see the unemployment rate taking a sharp dip next week.

Barack Obama continues to play chess while his political opponents are still playing checkers.

GOP is 'Mad' About Supreme Court Ruling on Obamacare

President on Obamacare: 'I Got This'

June 23, 2012

Obama's Weekly Address: Congress Must Act on Transportation Bill and Student Loans

President Obama discusses the urgent need for Congress to act now on two common sense measures to help middle class families: preventing interest rates on federal student loans from going up and putting hundreds of thousands of construction workers back on the job.

The president had a good week and he is on the right side of politics for both of these issues. Don't you agree?

June 22, 2012

Taser Autopsy: Bobby Merrill, Jr. (Saginaw, MI)

Unidentified Saginaw police officers shot their taser five times at 38-year old Bobby Merrill when they found him running into traffic and jumping on cars back in April. One of the taser blasts connected with Merrill and he went into cardiac arrest and died.

The Saginaw County Prosecutor Michael Thomas says that the police were blameless. Thomas indicates that the man who died caused his own death with cocaine and alcohol. According to the 'powers-that-be' the 50,000 volts of electricity pumped into his body by the taser had nothing to do with his death. [SOURCE]

The investigation showed that police officers subdued Merrill with the taser shot before handcuffing him and placing him in the back of their car. The police were high-fiving each other over their 'Wild West' show when they finally allowed the medical responders to see Merrill. The medical personnel had been onsite before the tasing ... but, they weren't allowed to help Merrill. Instead the police went buck wild ... fired off five taser shots ... and now an unarmed man is now dead.

The district attorney and the police want us to believe that drugs and alchohol killed this guy. In fact, the autopsy report acknowledges that he was tased before his death ... but, the report refuses to acknowledge that the taser contributed to his death.

I suspect that the Merrill family will end up taking this decision to civil court in order to get some justice for Bobby.

June 21, 2012

Taser Death: Macadam Mason (Thetford, VT)

It happened again! This time an unarmed 39-year old man with epilepsy was electrocuted to death by a Vermont State trooper for being disrespectful. Macadam Mason needed help. Instead he got 50,000 volts of electricity shot into his body by trooper David Shaffer. Mason stopped breathing and died shortly thereafter. [SOURCE]

Shaffer and his trooper buddies indicate that Mason didn't cooperate when they arrived on the scene.
"He was certainly agitated, failed to comply with the troopers commands," said Colonel Thomas L'Esperance.

Mason was unarmed and not a threat. Why is he dead today?

June 19, 2012

Family of Teenage Everette Howard is Frustrated by Handling of Taser-Killing Investigation

An Ohio family sends their son to a summer camp at the local university. While staying in the school dorm he is electrocuted with 50,000 volts of electricity from the taser of university cop Richard Haas. The young man -- Everette Howard -- dies. But, the coroner claims that the cause of death is 'undetermined' and nobody in authority is forced to take responsibility for his death.

An 18-year old man is dead and nobody wants to blame the officer's use of a lethal weapon? Is it wonder that the family is frustrated with how this case was handled?

June 18, 2012

Taser Lawsuit: Michael White (Vallejo, CA)

It appears that the only way that anyone can get justice for the pre-judicial electrocution of a family member is via civil action. We are simply not seeing many law enforcement officers being held accountable for their actions when they use a taser to cause the death of a citizen.

The family of 47-year old Michael White came to that conclusion this week when they filed a lawsuit in Sacramento (CA) alleging that Vallejo police officers used excessive and "unreasonable" force and were not properly trained in the deployment of their tasers. [SOURCE]

'Villagers' may recall that Michael White died June 15, 2010 after police used pumped his body several times with 50,000 volt shocks from their taser guns. The police were responding to a report that he had assaulted a woman at the Vallejo Mobile Estates.

An autopsy report said that White had cocaine in his system and died from "excited delirium."

Court documents indicate that the plaintiffs, White's daughter and her mother, are seeking $25,000 in damages for emotional distress, funeral and medical bills and loss of economic support, among other things.

June 17, 2012

Tasr Autopsy: Damon Abraham (Baldwin, LA)

The 'powers-that-be' up in Baldwin, LA don't intend to have anyone take responsibility for the taser-related death of Damon Abraham. That is the conclusion that I draw from the fact that the local coroner declared Baldwin suffered from "cocaine intoxication" that The coroner says the cause of death was excited delirium. [SOURCE]

June 15, 2012

President Obama Shows Some Cojones on Behalf of the 'Dreamers'

President Obama announces a new Department of Homeland Security policy that will allow certain young people who were brought to the United States as young children, do not present a risk to national security or public safety, and meet several key criteria to be considered for relief from removal from the country or from entering into removal proceedings.

In many ways this is a historic day. Our president doesn't have the support necessary in the Congress to debate and pass comprehensive immigration reform. So, our president decided to take action on his own -- Thanks to our president, this nation's immigration policy just became more fair and more just.

They're a group that we've come to call the "Dreamers" -- and today, the country they love is telling them they should be able to dream as big as they want.

The hundreds of thousands of people who this policy might help are people who call the United States of America home. They study in our schools, play in our parks, and pledge allegiance to our flag. Some of them have served in our Armed Forces. They've started businesses; they've started families. They are Americans in every way but on paper.

Congress still has time to pass the DREAM Act. And if they do, policies like today's will no longer be necessary.

I wonder how Congress will respond? For that matter, I wonder what 'villagers' are thinking about the issue. What say u?

June 12, 2012

OURstory: Black Brigade of Cincinnati

I have lived in greater Cincinnati area since the mid-1990s.  I'm sad to report that I only recently learned about the Black Cincinnati Brigade.  I wonder if the public schools in Cincinnati and its surrounding suburbs are sharing information about the Cincinnati Black Brigades with our young 'uns.   Probably not.   I hope that the young 'uns and the public school history teachers in Cincinnati read this blog post!

The Cincinnati Black Brigade was the first Black unit with military purpose in the Civil War as described in this 34-page document about Cincinnati Black Brigade created in 1864.

Following the success of Confederate forces in eastern Kentucky and General John Hunt Morgan 's raids there in 1862, Cincinnatians believed that Southern invasion was imminent. Anxious officials ordered Cincinnati citizens to form home guards, but Black men willing to volunteer were rebuffed when they attempted to join a defense force. Instead, police serving as provost guards rounded up many and marched them by bayonet to build fortifications in Kentucky. Reacting to the shameful treatment of the Blacks eager to support the Union, the commander of the Department of Ohio dispatched Major General Lewis Wallace to command the civilians and to liberate Black men forced into service.

Judge William Martin Dickson, who favored enlisting Black soldiers in the Union Army, assumed command of the brigade, composed of 1,000 African American volunteers determined to fight to end slavery. From September 2-20, they cleared forests and built military roads, rifle pits, and fortifications. Receiving deserved praise for their labor, the unit disbanded when the Confederate forces no longer imperiled the city. Members of the Cincinnati Black Brigade later fought with the 127th Ohio Voluntary Infantry and other Black regiments.

The Ohio Historical Society shared the original Cincinnati Black Brigade flag for display in the Civil War gallery of the America I AM: The African American Imprint exhibit at the Cincinnati Museum Center in 2010. This is an important Cincinnati story that needs to be shared with all residents in the greater Cincinnati area.

Did you know that plans are underway for a monument in Riverfront Park to honor the Black Brigade?

Did you already know about the Black Cincinnati Brigade?   Migs Hackett, 15, researched, wrote and produced an award-winning documentary [see her 9-minute video] on the Black Brigade of Cincinnati.

Anyhow, I hope that more of us talk about OURstory. Our young 'uns need to learn about Black history 365 days of the year ... not just in February!

June 11, 2012

OURstory: Cincinnati / Indianapolis Clowns

Did you ever see the movie Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings? That movie opened my eyes to the old Negro Baseball Leagues.

Most Cincinnati residents can tell you about the Cincinnati Reds and their 'Big Red Machine'. But few are aware that a team known as 'The Clowns' was a professional baseball team in the American Negro League that began in Cincinnati in 1943. For a couple of years they playing in both Cincinnati and Indianapolis.

The team officially moved to Indianapolis in 1946. The most famous player on the Clowns was Hank Aaron who helped the team win the Negro League World Series in 1952.

Other baseball stars who played with The Clowns included Buster Haywood, DeWitt "Woody" Smallwood, showman Goose Tatum, and future Major Leaguers John Wyatt (A’s), Paul Cassanova (Senators), and Choo-Choo Coleman (Mets).

The Clowns also had a Black woman on the roster. Her name was Mamie 'Peanut' Johnson. She shares some oral history about her time with the Clowns in the following video:

It was great to see the Indianapolis Clowns uniform and some of the Cincinnati Clowns baseball pennants on display in the Jim Crow exhibit of the America I AM: An African Imprint collection when it came to the Cincinnati Museum Center in 2010.

What are your memories of the Negro Baseball era?

June 9, 2012

Congratulations to UC Riverside Graduates (Class of 2012)

I graduated from UC Riverside with a bachelor's degree in political science over 30 years ago. I haven't been back on campus very much since wearing the cap and gown ... but, I'm still proud of my college alma mater. As such, I thought that I would use today's blog post to share some love for the UC Riverside Class of 2012 who recently graduated.

Any other UCR grads or fans in the 'village'?

June 8, 2012

Unique Building * Cubic Houses (Rotterdam, Netherlands)

The original idea of these cubic houses came about in the 1970s. Piet Blom developed a couple of these cubic houses that were built in Helmond.

The city of Rotterdam asked him to design housing on top of a pedestrian bridge and he decided to use the cubic houses idea. The concept behind these houses is that he tries to create a forest by each cube representing an abstract tree; therefore the whole village becomes a forest.

I continue to be amazed at the creativity of architects from around the world!

June 6, 2012

Highlights of 2012 Blogging While Brown Conference

Have you attended a Blogging While Brown conference yet? Here are some highlights of the 2012 BWB conference held last week in Philadelphia.

June 5, 2012

Black Enterprise Media Interviews Wayne Bennett (The Field Negro)

I encourage all 'villagers' to take a moment to check out the insights shared by Wayne Bennett, creator of The Field Negro blog as documented by Black Enterprise Media on YouTube. Field explains how he uses his blog to initiate critical thinking and dialogue within the Black community about a wide range of issues relevant to people of color. He also shares the origin of the blog's name!

This is a nice feature by Black Enterprise Media. I look forward to further video vignettes of Black bloggers around the nation.

June 4, 2012

Unique Building * Habitat 67 (Montreal, Canada)

Expo 67, one of the world’s largest universal expositions held in Montreal to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Canada. Housing was one of the main themes of Expo 67.

Habitat 67 became a pavilion invaded by thousands of admiring visitors that came from all around the world, on top of being the temporary residence of many dignitaries passing by Montreal. Habitat 67 was an event in itself at the time. It still is today.

This housing complex is home for 148 singles, couples and families. It is a community with a style and quality of life envied throughout Canada.

Habitat 67 still shines with brightness, more than 40 years after its creation. Its intrinsic genius is indeed praised by both the architectural and the urban planning circles, by the public in general and particularly by its residents.

The creator of the building is Moshe Safdie. Here is a video in which he shares his thoughts on making a building unique. He talks about four of his projects ... including Habitat 67.

June 3, 2012

Unique Building * Kansas City Public Library

Established in 1873 as the Public School Library of Kansas City, the institution became a cultural center for the city. Basically, the side of the building features bunch of famous books by bunch of famous writers. Have you read all the books *ON* the building?

June 1, 2012

Artur Davis Failed in Effort to Be the 'Next Obama'; Now He Wants to be the 'Next Herman Cain'

I see that former congressman Artur Davis decided that he doesn't want to be a Democrat any longer. He announced that he now wants to be referred to as a GOP Wingnut.

Not surprising I guess. But, it is very disappointing as I thought that Davis was going to achieve great success in the wake of the 2008 presidential election of Barack Obama. We sure got that one wrong!

What is your take on Artur Davis? Will he ever be more than a sideshow in the Republican Party?